A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: mattsalleh

Sunrise Summit and Afternoon Afloat

A bit more of Bali... Gunung Batur and the Ayung River

If you've ever hiked up a mountain side for a sunrise summit then you know the drill...

Wake up at 2 a.m. and get to the trailhead in time to hike up for a spectacular sunrise.

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Combine that with an afternoon floating down a tropical river and you've got yourself a full day of adventure and sensory overload that leaves you exhausted and enlightened... if you're so inclined.

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Life's good if ya make it out to be!

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-MATT SALLEH

Posted by mattsalleh 01:29 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Toba or not Toba? That's the question!

Lake Toba, Sumatra... good work if you can get it!

NOTE: Trip was during December 2006

To say Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia is spectacular is true albeit cliche since so many places in Indonesia are spectacular for various reasons...

Whether it's giant lizards, giant orange apes, flying lizards, snakes and frogs, erupting volcanoes, immaculate rice paddies or just plain old cheap food, beer and beaches... Indonesia is a place to be and see.

What makes Lake Toba special is the fact that the lake is actually an old supervolcano that erupted about 74,000 years ago and left behind a great big ole hole. Well, that hole eventually filled up with water and created one of the largest volcanic lakes on the planet at 100km long X 30km wide X 500+m deep!

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The eruption was so big, in fact, that is is believed to have changed Earth's climate temporarily and possibly even the genetic history of local populations of humans in Africa and India back then...

Nowadays, if a body is so inclined they can fly into Medan... then catch a van or bus to Lake Toba.

But lemme tell ya though, the drivers in Indonesia are something special!

They like to play chicken with each other and try and scare the BEJEEZUS outta tourists by refusing to get back in their lane until the last possible millisecond!

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You have been forewarned.. wear DEPENDS undergarments when taking a van anywhere in Indonesia... but especially Sumatra... chances are you'll mess yourself somewhere along the way!

If you survive the Russian Roulette transport system then you'll arrive at a tranquil and lush Garden of Eatin' known as Tuk Tuk Island. The island in the middle of Lake Toba is bigger than Singapore but much less densely populated by mall goers, trendy Starbucks coffee drinkers and hawker stalls than the Lion City.

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There ain't a whole heckuva lot to do in Toba except eat, relax, eat, sleep, eat, nap and eat.

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Of course you can rent a motorbike and tool around the island... check out the orchards and fertile gardens. And it's well worth it... especially since you'll need to work up an appetite before you eat again!

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You can also check out the local Batak tribal art and crafts and their unique style houses.. which makes for an excellent afternoon...

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And if you're lucky you can sneak into Jenny's kitchen for a lesson on how to make her special BATAK SAUCE! IT'S MIGHTY TASTY!

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So... TOBA OR NOT TOBA?

If you're looking for a beautiful and incredibly laid back atmosphere with nothing much to do but soak in the scenery, catch up on some sleep and indulge in incredible local cuisine...

Then it's not a question... LAKE TOBA IS FOR YOU!

Life's good if you make it out to be!

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-matt

Posted by mattsalleh 22:46 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

I Love Mee!

Epicurean Adventures on the island of Penang, Malaysia

Mee means noodle in the language of Malaysia...

And a gazillion varieties are found all over the peninsula... not to mention surrounding islands.. and the rest of SE Asia!

Despite philosophical ideology, it is a fact that not all noodles are created equally. Much like the people I've met during the course of my life... some are soft, some are hard and crunchy, some are yellow, some are brown, some are thin, some are fat, some are spicy.. I like some of them.. and others I don't care too much for.

Some noodles are dry, some have a brown sauce. Some have a clear soup. Some are made from wheat while others are made from rice.

One thing is for sure.. no matter size, color or state of being... all noodles have the right to be enjoyed and eaten while having their individuality preserved, honored and respected.

I believe in equal opportunity!

And after all... it's best to enjoy noodles at a stall on the street that would never pass US Health inspection in a million years with an ice cold beer... or lukewarm beer.. or any beer for that matter!

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Next time you're in Penang... head to Gurney street.. the most famousest of all hawkers centers on the island... made more famouser by Anthony Bourdain and his culinary escapades on Discovery channel!

You'll see countless hawkers.. with infinite variety of aromas, flavors, colors and popping noises!

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One of the most famous is Kuey Teow.. which is most often spelled differently at every stall you go to!

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It is a broad noodle... with a rich brown sauce... and fried with various and sundry things plucked from the ocean.

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Laksa is one of my favorites!

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A yellow noodle.. with a sourish sauce made from tamarind, hot chilies, and various marine organisms!

In the top of the photo you can see rojak.. a mixture of raw fruits and veggies topped with peanut sauce.. and to the right you see top hats.. crispy shells stuffed with cabbage, carrots and a spicy sauce!

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Top hats up close... in case you wanted to a better view!

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Yee Mee is also one of my favorites! A brown crispy noodle that's fried until golden.. Cantonese Style in the way I like it... which means it's topped with a rich gravy full of eggs, pork and various gilled critters!

But it's not always about noodles.. of course, there's a heap of other good stuff to be stuffed down yer gullet!

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Satay is another of my many favorites! It's basically meat poked on a stick... grilled and served up with peanut sauce! That's good eatin'!

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And if you're from Georgia, USA or any other redneck trailerville.. you'll appreciate the variety of deep fried goods.. although... mama never made fried tofu when we was little!

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And lest you forget you're in Asia... well, the variety of shelled critters, critters sans exoskeleton.. and other stuff we'd use for fish bait back home are displayed... and ready to be sampled.... with a spicy sauce and a cold beer, of course!

But only if you're the adventurous sort!

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In case you get a hankerin' for tripe or chittlin's.. well, Malaysia's got that too... you can get all sorts of pig parts in the predominantly Chinese island of Penang... even though Malaysia is a Muslim country.. they got pork!

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And no trip would be complete without a little fish ball soup, a century egg or two... and McTuckey Fried Chicken!

It's enough to make a good ole country boy feel like he's in hawg heaven!

And if you ever figure out what a convolvulus is... please let me know!

It sounds kinda erotic...

Good Eatin'!

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And drinking!

ENJOY!

- Matt Salleh

Posted by mattsalleh 19:31 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

It Ain't Exactly Christmas

Deepavali- Hindu Festival of Lights

Deepavali (or Diwali) is the biggest holiday of the Hindu faith. It's a lunar holiday so the date changes every year.

We just celebrated this year's Deepavali in Klang, Malaysia. A small town near the coast of Malaysia about 60km East of Kuala Lumpur.


More about Deepavali

It's kinda like Christmas unencumbered by all the commercialism, seasonal depression and rigmarole that Wal Mart and Saint Nick sell to consumers every year.

Basically, it's all about the family and food. Coming together to share a meal of gastronomic proportions and have a chat and gossip with family about this auntie or that uncle and what they're been up to.

Gifts are exchanged... but in general you get 1 gift... a moderate priced Indian style shirt is what I get most years NOT the latest greatest X-box type gizmo and certainly not US$200 name brand shoes or any number of things that kids seem to somehow NEED nowadays for parents to prove they love them.

It ain't exactly Christmas.

Deepavali starts with the making of the Kolam... a symbol of beauty and impermanence. Since it's made of colored rice powder (or sometimes sand), it will be gone within a few days after it's creation.

The Kolam is meant to remind us that all things are transient. You can't cling to anything in this life not even love or beauty.

More about the kolam

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The culminating event is the lighting of the lamp to bring light. Light symbolizes knowledge and wisdom, something sacred to Hindu's.

Then comes the food. And lots of it!

It tends to be an open house atmosphere with folks visiting several houses and eating all day long. Food is the ultimate social magnet. All cultures I know of value food and it's ability to bring people together in a congenial atmosphere to share experiences, resolve business or just have a good ole time!

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And of course, a nice cold fermented beverage always helps!

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It's a good life if you make it out to be!

-Matt

Posted by mattsalleh 16:51 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Spirits of the world

'Everybody needs something to believe in. I believe I'll have another drink'

Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.

(locations are below photos)

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Bali, Indonesia

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Koh Samet, Thailand

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Athens, GA, USA

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Kathmandu, Nepal

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Bozeman, MT, USA

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Seoul, Korea

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Seoul, Korea

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Phuket, Thailand

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Krabi, Thailand

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Seoul, Korea

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia- House Warming Party

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Batu Caves, Malaysia

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Ampang, Malaysia

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Bogor, Inodnesia

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Mulu Caves, Sarawak, Malaysia

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Kuching, Malaysia

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Bali, Indonesia

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Mini-Guinness
Bali, Indonesia

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Seoul, Korea

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Seoul, Korea

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ARAK
Homemade Rice Wine Moonshine
Flores, Indonesia

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Bali, Indonesia

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Georgia, USA

Posted by mattsalleh 22:42 Comments (4)

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