Feb 28 2010

Penang, Malaysia

Even though the financial crisis is affecting the western world quite seriously but it seems that Asia wasn’t hit that hard. Housing prices in some major Asian cities has been increasing pretty dramatically for the past 2 years, especially cities in China and South East Asia.

Noticed that there are a lot of constructions for residential properties in Penang currently and housing prices has increased quite a lot even during recession for the past 2 years.

Guess probably this might be caused by the MM2H program. Malaysian government is promoting the Malaysia my second home program, MM2H which allows foreigners to get 10 year long term visa to stay in the country.
MM2H Requirement
Property and Incentives

However, property prices in Penang is still cheaper than properties on other cities built on island such as Hainan, Hong Kong and Singapore so there might still be room for appreciation.

Hiking is a common pastime for Penangites. View of the northern part of Penang on a hill.

Today is the last day of Chinese New Year, day 15th. It’s called ChapGohMeh in MinNan/Hokkien dialect.

This also coincides with the Chinese Valentine’s day where single girls throw oranges in the water hoping to get some luck in marriage.

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Feb 22 2010

Kuala Lumpur, Taiping, Penang, Malaysia

Morning in KL

Weather in Penang and Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid especially in recent days. It’s around 34 C during the day. Just around a month ago I was in Ulan Bator, Mongolia and the weather there was -34 C.

Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur looked completely different compared to the previous time I went there. The place is re-renovated and is quite efficient. It only took me 30 minutes to submit my application with 50 people in line before me.

This is how the visa application center looked like around 1.5 years ago, the last time I went.

For single entry visa, the visa fee for US citizen is 430 and for locals it’s just 30.

I am trying to apply for a 2 year multiple entry Chinese visa (120 Ringgit~USD$35) and hope to get it in 4 working days.

A typical breakfast meal at an Indian restaurant, Mee Goreng and Teh Tarik (5 Ringgit~USD$1.7).

Went back to KLCC. Even though I have been to Kuala Lumpur many times, but I have not get up the sky bridge before. Unfortunately, the sky bridge is close on Monday.

View from KLCC

Met up with a friend for lunch and found out that he is working at a Blogging advertising company. Just signed up with Nuffnang and the advertisement on the left bottom side of my blog is in partnership with Nuffnang.
NuffNang office

Chinese new year decoration at Pavillion mall

Goodbye Kuala Lumpur

Went to Taiping to visit some relatives. Taiping is around 200km from Kuala Lumpur and it was a mining town many years ago. It’s one of the wettest place in Malaysia with rains occasionally. Taiping is a very quiet place.

Taiping Lake Garden

Going north from Taipng towards Penang, will get out from the Juru Toll. Autocity is just beside the toll exit. Went to AutoCity to meet some friends. Autocity is located just right before the Penang bridge and has coffee shops, bars and clubs for those that don’t want to go all the way to Penang Island.

Crossed Penang bridge (7 Ringgit~USD$2) back to Penang Island.

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Feb 21 2010

Kuala Lumpur Day 2, Malaysia

Roads in Kuala Lumpur are confusing, it’s like Spaghetti

View Larger Map

Compared to other cities I visited, urban planning in Kuala Lumpur is quite poor, the roads and signs are not very well organized.

I planned to visit a friend and decided to take the commuter. Even though the distance from Subang Jaya to Cheras is only 20kms away but that took me more than 2 hours to get there.

In 2 hours, I can actually drive to Ipoh which is another city 200km away.

Nasi Rendang (10 Ringgit~USD$3), a typical Malay dish at Old Town coffee shop.
Old town is a Malaysian franchise which is doing surprising well with its laid back, 60’s coffee shop theme.

Malaysians favorite pastime is shopping and there are a lot of malls in Kuala Lumpur.

New wing at Mid Valley

Pavilion mall

Twin tower at night

Durians, considered as the King of fruits. Either you love it or hate it.

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Feb 20 2010

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Drove to Kuala Lumpur (4 hours drive, 350km) for a wedding, visiting relatives and friends, as well as applying for visas for my next few destinations.

Crossed Penang Bridge again

Some typical Malaysian Chinese wedding dishes

Baked piglet

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Feb 18 2010

Penang Day 7, Malaysia

Lion Dance

My passport is full with stamps and visas so I have to get a new passport before continuing my journey. Went to the state immigration office yesterday but there were too many people, so had to come back again today.

Again, there were still a lot of people. Probably that was because the office was close for Chinese new year for the past few days and people like me who came back for vacation were trying to renew their passport as well.

Compared to other government department, the state immigration office is more efficient and is possible to get back the passport on the same day.
While waiting, walked around Georgetown area. Georgetown is listed as a UNESCO heritage site with buildings from different architecture style.
Colonial buildings

Pre war buildings at the old district. These old buildings are still surviving and people are still living and doing business like it was during the 1960s.

Church

Buddhist temple

Mosque

Lion Dance

Little India

Old buildings

Fort Cornwallis built by the British

Sea view

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Feb 13 2010

Penang Day 2, Malaysia

I have lots of relatives and friends here and will be pretty busy visiting them for this week, especially since I have not spent a lot of time back home for the past 7 years. Tomorrow will be the first day of Chinese new year.

I will try to post some photos but it won’t be like my usual backpacking trip.

My bike from high school.
A typical Malaysian motorcycle, small but powerful. 0-80km in 6 seconds

Chung Ling High School, which has the same school anthem with Cornell.

Penang Bridge which connects the Island to the mainland, 13.5km. One of the longest bridge in the world.

Penang is famous for its food. In the 2004 edition of TIME magazine, Penang was voted as having the best street food in Asia. Penang has Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine, as well as food from multiple types of influences.

Briyani Rice with tea (10 Ringgit~USD$3)

at an Indian place

Below are Penang street food.
Wan Tan noodles

Fried oyster

Coconut water

Hokkien Mee, Shrimp flavored noodles

Curry Noodles

Pancake

Koay Teow soup

Nasi Lemak, coconut rice on banana leaf

Char Koay Teow, Fried Noodles

Fried Stingray

A typical hawker centre

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Feb 12 2010

Penang, Malaysia

The flight was delayed and got to Kuala Lumpur at around 1.20am. It’s around 4 hours flight in the air.

Saw Reeses chocolate at the duty free shop. It’s selling for 27 Ringgit~USD$8 (USD$1~3.4 Ringgit). In US it only cost around USD$1.5. All the duty free stuffs in airports are not really duty free, except cigarettes.

Airasia is a low cost airline so it landed at LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) which is some distance away KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport).

Since I have another flight to Penang at 6.55am, I just waited at the airport until then.

Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Penang (108 Ringgit~USD$30).

It’s around 350km, an hour flight Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

View Larger Map

Flight was delayed again and got to Penang at 9am.

Penang has a big Chinese population and is the second biggest city in Malaysia with a population of around 1.5 million. Georgetown is a UNESCO heritage area and the city has the best food in Malaysia.
The Island looks just like a turtle.

View Larger Map

About Penang

This will be my first Chinese new year celebration at home after more than 7 years. After traveling around China for 1.5 months, it’s like I spent more time in China than Malaysia for the past 7 years.

In 2009, Penang was ranked number 2 in New York times under the readers’ popular vote category as one of the top places to visit.

Unpacked all my stuffs. I have lotsa maps, especially maps from China.

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Feb 11 2010

Guangzhou, China to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Got on a boat across the Pearl river from FangChun port

Old colonial building

Kicking a bird feathered ball, a type of Chinese sports

Got on bus 208 to the east train station. Passed by the main city center to TiYuGuangChang which housed most office buildings.

Took bus 175 to BaiYunShan (White Cloud Mountain).
Flower exhibition at BaiYun park

BaiYunShan is the most famous hill in Guangzhou. The highest peak is 382 meters high. Usually I prefer to go on foot if possible but because of time constraint, got on the cable car up to the hill (25 Yuan~USD$4).

It will take more than an hour to get up the mountain on foot and 15 minutes by cable car.

The words are saying BaiYunShan welcomes you

View of Guangzhou from the mountain

The weather in Guangzhou was quite warm. Took another car back down from the mountain (20Yuan~USD$3).

Took tour bus 1 from BaiYunShan to Chen Clan Academy. Chen Clan Academy (ChenJiaCi, in Cantonese it’s pronounced as ChanKaQi, 10 Yuan~USD$1.40)

This is very well preserved architecture from the 19th century. It used to belong to a wealthy family by the name of Chen and now houses many articles including ivory sculptures and artistic statues. Again, my camera ran out of battery so I wasn’t able to take photos inside the building and had to steal photos from the web.

Chen Clan Academy

Got on the metro

to FangChun bus station and took the 5.30pm bus (22 Yuan~USD$3, 70 minutes ride) to BaiYun airport located around 30km north of the city.

Got to the airport at 6.40pm for checking in.

I booked an AirAsia flight from Guangzhou to Kuala Lumpur about a month ago (837 Yuan~USD$120). That’s why I had to rush my trip around China. My original plan was to travel overland from China all the way to South East Asia but because of Chinese New Year, I decided to fly back to Malaysia first for Chinese New Year celebration and continue the journey later. Another reason is that my current passport is quite full and I will need to get a new one.

AirAsia is a low cost airline company based in Malaysia and has flights to destinations around South East Asia, a few cities in China, South Asia and flights are rapidly expanding to destinations further away.

Wiki page about Airasia

Currently there are flights from Chengdu, Guilin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Tianjin to Kuala Lumpur for around 800 Yuan if book early.

Got on the 8.45pm flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Dinner on the aircraft (20 Yuan~USD$3).
Nasi Briyani (A kind of Indian cuisine from Malaysia)

The flight was delayed and landed at around 1.20am.

Malaysia is a multi racial and multi lingual country.

This year, Kuala Lumpur was ranked as one of the top places to visit under New York times.

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and has a population of around 7 millions.

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Feb 10 2010

Guangzhou, China

Walked around the city of ChangPing.

This sign is saying don’t marry young.

Decided not to go to Dongguan since I don’t have enough time. Went to the train station

Took the 11.29am D7072 expess train (50 Yuan~USD$7.5, 30 minutes ride) to Guangzhou.

The train runs at a speed of around 200km/hour

Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province and is inhabited by more than 10 million people. The Chinese dialect spoken here are more difficult to understand, one reason is because Guangdong is surrounded by mountains so the language are more protected.

Many years ago during Song dynasty, Guangdong was thought to be a place inhabited by barbarians so law breaker were sent to the province.

There are now 5 metro lines in Guangzhou. Took metro 1 to FangChun station and stayed at the only one hostel in Guangzhou located at ChangDi road (50 Yuan~USD$7).

The hostel is right beside the Pearl river and is situated at a pretty good location.

There were a lot of people on the street in Guangzhou.

Beijing Lu Pedestrian Street

Was trying to visit the provincial museum but it was closed for preparation work to migrate to the new museum. Like other provincial capital, the government seems to have a lot of money and is constructing newer buildings for museum.

Around the city

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

Yuexiu Park

View from the peak

Playing cards, Chinese favorite pastime

Stone Statue of the Five Rams, the symbol of Guangzhou

Met LiYuan, an old university friend for dinner at Shangxiajiu Pedestrian Street.

Camera shy

Dinner

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Feb 09 2010

Shenzhen Day 3, China

Went to Shenzhen old museum, however there aren’t a lot of things to see there.

DongMen, a famous street for shopping and food.
This McDonald here is the first one in China.

Went to Shenzhen new museum located at Shenzhen Civic Center (ShiMinZhongXin). This is the new developed area in Shenzhen with the government office, Shenzhen library and a concert hall.

ShiMinZhongXin has some very beautiful architectures. Since the weather is warmer in Shenzhen, I only can keep one camera in my pocket. It ran out of battery so I am trying to steal some photos from other sites.

Shenzhen library is built by a famous Japanese architect. The library is equipped with an advance automation technology and is the world 2nd largest RFID-enabled library automation system.
Shenzhen library

Shenzhen concert hall is located just beside the library.

Shenzhen museum is wonderful with some great contents about the history of the city.

Took bus 373 all the way back to SheKou.

Decided to visit Dongguan since it’s on the way to Guangzhou. Went to LuoHu train station and took the 10.20pm D7046 train (40 Yuan~USD$6, 30 minutes ride). There are a lot of people at LuoHu train station because Chinese New year is just around the corner.

I just found out after arriving that the Dongguan train station is located at ChangPing and the city Dongguan is 40km away from the train station. Since it’s late at night, I just stayed overnight at a bath house.

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