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Malacca, Malaysia – Bring On The Street Food!

Our first stop in Malaysia was Malacca.  Conquered by the Portuguese in 1511, the town was one of the first sultanates and had already been a center of trade for hundreds of years.  After the Portuguese the city had many other rulers including the Dutch, British, and the Japanese during  WWII .  The city is full of different architecture styles melting together the different cultures and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008.

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The city was quiet during the day but Friday-Sunday nights everything went out for the Jonker Walk Night Market.  Everyone piled into the street for amazing food and lots of random stuff to buy.  We tasted so many things and enjoyed ourselves a lot at the market.

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We made it to Malaysia!!!

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Jonker Street Night Market – Malacca, Malaysia

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Of course there’s karaoke!

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Anyone need a ride? We’re suckers for bright lights.

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Laksa – It’s the best!  Noddles with a fishy, coconut, lemongrass, and red pepper broth.  Usually there are some fried fish pieces and a hard boiled egg!

Malacca also had a nice river where you could take boat cruises.  It was either too hot or raining whenever we wanted to do it but we can’t do everything.

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Malacca River

There were temples and churches and mosques all on the same streets, everyone living together in harmony.  I know some other people in the world who could learn a think or two from that.

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There are always tigers and dragons guarding the temple doors.

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Here is a giant statue dedicated to Mr Malaysia, the pride of Malaysian bodybuilding.

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We really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of this city.  It felt like a small town really.  The food was fantastic and made us super excited to explore more of the country!  Stay tuned for our trip to the big city, Kuala Lumpur!!!!

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Chacos – The World’s Greatest Shoe

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There is no debating it, the people at Chacos have put together the worlds greatest shoe.

Some of the best uses for Chacos are:

Hiking:  They really grip those rocks and don’t move around on your feet.

Backpacking:  Super durable and maintenance-free.  Your feet stay omfy and dry fast after you get them wet.  It’s also great to not need as many pairs of socks, which always smell and are hard to wash in the sink.

At the salsa bar:  Great for showing off those gringo dance moves.  The chicas will be muy impressed by your super style.  They come in several styles and hundreds of colors.

On the bus:  Throw on some socks under your Chacos for those air conditioned rides and rock that classic dad look.

Church:  That’s right, Jesus would have worn them on the pulpit.  Birkenstocks? Yeah right!

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Jesus rocking an early Chacos prototype.  Disclaimer: Walking on water not recommended

In the rain:  Chacos are super-waterproof and grippy even in wet conditions.  However, if you’re planning to go hiking in the rain with deadly snakes and flesh eating fungi, think twice!  Just don’t do it with any shoe.

 

Chocos in the jungleThis hike full of poisonous plants and animals is not recommended for Chaco-wearers.   This picture is from the day I got a weird rash all over my hands and feet.  Most of my fingernails and toenails died, peeled off, and looked really stupid for the next few months.

They retail for just under $99 or 3000 Thai Baht or 0.02 Bitcoin and you can get them from REI or anywhere that sells outdoor gear.  If your local store doesn’t have them than you really just need a better local store or figure out how to use the internet for things other than selfies.  So why don’t you stop wasting time here and get out and buy some killer sandals??

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Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok, Thailand

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Yim Yam Hostel & Garden in Bangkok, Thailand, epitomizes the new generation of hostel life.  It’s chic design emanates feng shui calmness to chill you out in the midst of your big-city adventure.  The dorms offer big, comfortable bunk beds with privacy curtains and the private rooms provide hotel-level luxury at a hostel price!  The backyard garden is a great space to enjoy the free breakfast, do yoga, or drink beers and play board games with your new hostel friends!

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Yim Yam is more than just a well-designed hostel.  It’s also a community.  “Yim yam” means “Happy smiling” in Thai, and staying here sure will make you smile!  The friendly staff will help you get involved with all the hostel activities, like free yoga classes, game nights, or trips to famous weekend markets.  By hanging out in all the beautiful communal space, you’ll definitely meet some friends who. you can go party it up with on Khao San Road.

Best of all, since Yim Yam has only been open for two months, their rates are still super cheap!  You can get a special 30% off deal for your entire stay just by liking Yim Yam on Facebook.  Just book your stay on Hostelworld and ask the front desk for the Facebook discount when you check in!

Services Included:

Super-fast WiFi

Free continental breakfast with dorm booking

Free hot breakfast with private room booking

Air-conditioning in all rooms

24-hour reception

Cafe and bar serving food and drinks

Activities, games, and books!

Address: 503/2 Petchburi Road, Phaya Thai District, Ratchathewi, Bangkok, Thailand 10400.  Only steps away from the Ratchethewi BTS Skytrain station.

Email: info@yimyambkk.com

Website: www.yimyambkk.com

Prices:

12-bed dorm: 420 ฿

8-bed dorm: 483

Female-only 12-bed dorm: 448 ฿

Private for 2: 1113 ฿

Family room for 4: 2450 ฿

Twin room: 1323 ฿

Double room: 1323 ฿

Deluxe double room: 1533 ฿

Singapore – The Prize Jewel of Order in Asia

It had been a long time coming but we were finally out of the country.  We sold all of our stuff in sunny San Diego, California and packed what was left in our tiny Prius and left it with my family in Arizona.  From there we downsized to backpacks and left with one-way tickets to Asia and no plans of when to return.  The feeling of liberation was unbelievable.  I had forgotten how much joy I could get from so little; a bag of clothes, a few books, some cameras…  Forget the constant struggle to work with no end in sight and the urge to consume, consume that pulls us all deeper into the system (“American dream”).  We were over it.

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So we had a quick night’s layover in Taipei, Taiwan, where we got to eat once and stay in a hostel and that’s about it.  Taipei Youth Hostel and Capsule Hotel was space age with sliding Star Trek doors and computerized toilets.  There was hope that a typhoon would hit us and force us to stay a few more days, but the weather went north and left us with just a rainy night.

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Rambling in search of street food

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Pork rice and fried tofu

Sleep was hard, our internal clocks always urging to us to wake up.  Before we knew it it was morning and we were back in the airport.

Five more hours on the plane and we touched down in Singapore, Asia’s model city of cleanliness and order.  We purchased three-day unlimited metro passes that were good on a variety of public transport options.  It was so easy to navigate and the metro and buses were some of the easiest and cleanest we have ever seen.  We soon met some friendly cartoon characters posted on all of the train cars reminding you how to not be a jerk as part of the Singapore Thoughtfulness Campaign–Stand Up Stacy, Bags Down Benny, Move Back Martin, and others showing off their perfect traveling etiquette.  We soon arrived at our CouchSurfing host’s apartment.  She wasn’t there but we met her children and her helper lady who showed us to our room with a view of the city.  With Singapore being so expensive having a Couchsurfing host was a life saver.  Our stomachs were grumbling so we headed out on the bus then the metro to the downtown area looking for a food hawker center, which is like a food court which serves all the delicious things at affordable prices.  Unluckily for us the entire downtown was sectioned off for the Formula 1 race, one of the biggest events of the year.  Huge track walls blocked all the major streets and it was a pain to find a way to cross it.  Eventually we found an awesome food center under a shopping mall where we had our first of many, many delicious meals of the trip.  My chef brain was going crazy with the new smells and layers of flavors.  I couldn’t wait for more.

After eating we went to look at the skyline.  The Marina Bay Sands hotel with its three towers and rooftop garden connecting the buildings was definitely dominating the view.  There was also the brightly and colorfully lit Merlion that looked over the bay, watching over the city.

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For our first night we were tired though so returned home pretty early.  Sleep was again rough; jetlag is real folks.

Day two was a busy one.  We had purchased unlimited metro passes for three days at a cost of $30 Singapore.  When you leave you can sell back the card to get $10 back.  Our first stop of the day was for traditional Singaporean breakfast, kaya toast.  This is sweet coffee along with soft-boiled eggs and toast.  The toast has butter and coconut (kaya) jam on it and you dip it in the eggs after you put soy sauce and white pepper on them.  It was delicious of course.

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Our next stops were our first of many temples on our journey.  We went in Hindu and Buddhist temples that were near each other and the toast shop.  You take off your shoes at the front and make sure you dress appropriately, females especially.  The Hindu temple was my favorite with its intricate designs and wall paintings of the various deities.

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We walked and walked and metro-ed too.  Our next stop was Little India where we found The Teka Center, a food hawker center near the metro station.  Hawker centers, like food courts, are THE place to get food in S.E. Asia.  There are usually at least 20 stands selling various things and your senses go crazy.  We got some biryani that was spicy spicy and roti canai (stuffed pancake) with bananas and we were in heaven.  It started raining hard as we ate so we slowed our chewing to make it last through the storm.

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Little India’s main street

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A stand selling temple offerings

Our next destination was the Islamic area, Kampong Glam.  The shops were selling amazing textiles and we listened to the call to prayer from a massive mosque.

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It was refreshing to see all of the religions existing peacefully alongside each other.

On the way back to take a nap we saw signs for a jungle trail in MacRitchie Reservoir Park and couldn’t resist.  It was weird being in the city one second and feeling so far away the next.  Signs warned of wild boars so we were slightly on edge.

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A lot of rules for the trail, like everything in Singpore

Our Couchsurfing host was home when we got back so we got to chat about her experience as a French expat in Singapore.  She was a personal trainer which was very popular in Singapore because apparently everyone wanted to be good at sports but no one was.  She had been there for seven years and her two children had no real memories of France.  It was their home now and they didn’t plan on leaving.

After napping we headed back into the city.  We had to see the Supertree Garden and the nightly light show.  We passed through the base of the Sands and what was probably the most extravagant shopping mall we had ever scene, exceeding even things in New York and Las Vegas.  The joke was that shopping was the national sport of Singapore.  It was more fact than fiction.  We found the exit to the mall and walked through some cool lighted bridges in the impressive Botanical Gardens before posting up under one of the larger Supertrees.  The Supertree Rhapsody was a 15 min long light and music show that played at 7:45pm and 8:45pm nightly.  They played show tunes and the lights were very impressive, definitely the coolest thing that we saw in Singapore.

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With the expense of daily life in Singapore, we had only planned two nights there.  We spent most of the time jetlagged but still found time to enjoy ourselves.  There are many, many more things to see, and we hope to someday go back there, maybe next time with a little more funds in our pockets.

Stay tuned for our ventures into Malaysia!!!

Portlandia!

We were long overdue on a trip to Portland, Oregon.  Over the years we’ve met so many friends who’ve lived there or who were moving there.  It always sounded like a place that we would love.  And we did!

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Portland is one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world, so food was our number one priority!  Of course our first stop had to be the super-famous Voodoo Donuts!  They have regular and vegan donuts there.  I never used to be a huge donut person, but somehow in the last couple years I’ve become a super-fan of these creamy, dreamy delights.  With their funky creative looks and flavors, Voodoo did not disappoint.

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The rest of our two days was spent mostly wandering around seeing some of the sights and eating more.  Highlights were vegan chicken wings (really!) from Fire on the Mountain Buffalo Wings, shopping and coffee and pie from the Vegan Mini Strip Mall (which consists of a coffee shop, a grocery store, a vegan clothing boutique, and a vegan tattoo shop), ice cream from Salt & Straw, and the most amazing vegan pizza ever from Virtuous Pie.  Seriously, go there.

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Maple Fennel and Roasted Strawberry from Salt & Straw

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Virtuous Pie amazingness

We also enjoyed checking out all the amazing street art around town!  We especially loved the Alberta Arts District where we each found a mural of our favorite animal that perfectly matched the shirt we were wearing.  Crazy!

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Oh, and Portland also has a vegan strip club, which we didn’t have a chance to make it to.  I guess it’s great to be able to support veganism no matter what other activities you’re into!

We took a break from the city one morning to drive down the Columbia River Gorge, checking out several beautiful waterfalls along the way.  We ended our drive at Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks, a PCT and road bridge spanning the river and crossing into Washington state.  Sadly, about one week after our visit, the whole north side of the gorge area was set ablaze in a careless human-caused wildfire and the views will never be the same.

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Multnomah Falls

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Back in Portland, we drove up to Pittock Mansion to watch the sun set over the city.  Our visit was too short so we’ll definitely have to go back for more someday!

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Solar Town – The Great American Eclipse

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Driving into Solartown

As soon as we entered Oregon we could tell that this thing was going to be huge.  Every car was loaded down, tents and coolers strapped to the roof.  The Great American Eclipse, as it was being called, was turning small towns across the nation into giant festivals with fields full of thousands of campers.  Several years before, a few farmers near Madras, Oregon had noticed that the eclipse would pass right over their fields.  More than 5000 campsites were sold just in those fields, with other farmers hosting similar events nearby.  We arrived on Saturday in the evening; the big event to happen Monday morning.  The place was already a mad house and I believe we took the last available space, with many more people circling for spots.  Solartown was the name of our event and Solarfest was happening in the town a few miles away.  We were already super efficient and competent campers so we had ourselves some chuckles at everyone struggling with their new tents.  The town was simple with portapotties and free showers, along with a variety of food vendors that we never sampled because of the long lines and our tight budget.

We had fun meeting our neighbors and even got to hang out with our friend from home Kelly, who ended up being camped in the next field over!

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Check out Mount Jefferson in the background!

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We made a short video about our experience so you can get a taste of what it was like.  We didn’t actually get a shot of the eclipse happening because we didn’t really try to.  We wanted to be fully present.  But you can see Solartown and see our reactions to the wonder!  We both cried when totality happened.  There was nothing that could have prepared us for those moments.  If you ever get the chance to witness an eclipse, DO IT!

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Cuba Highlights

Here is a long-overdue short video from our travels through Cuba in January 2017. Cuba was one of the countries most devastated by recent hurricanes. They have been largely skipped in the international aid effort and the United States makes it nearly impossible to help them in any way. We are researching ways to help and will report back if we find something legitimate. Please comment if you have any ideas!!!

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay tuned for more videos!!!