Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Had a Dream

Along the way I would be asked:  Where have you been?  Why are traveling--in Asia, for 3 months? They are the opening questions among travelers and from there spill stories of far flung adventures, and yes, dreams.

My answer was always:  I have dreamed about this trip for so long.  I don't know why Asia, just I knew I wanted to go and wander.  Take my time.  It was my dream.

The last leg were the long flights back to San Francisco.  Singapore to Tokyo to San Francisco.  After some long bus rides, these flights lined up to be a piece of cake.

The final leg was an adventure.  I flew ANA on a code sharing flight with United.   Compared to the United flights (all the other 3 legs over and back) -- this flight made flying fun again!

Each passenger was greeted with a smile during the boarding process where passports & boarding documents reviewed.  As you entered the plane, again a genuine smile of greeting.  I am in economy class (of course) and after take off -- here come the trays of warm, moist towels.  A bit later the first round of food:  juices and rice crackers.  Then dinner:  a rice box with rice (um, really), fish, noodles, yogurt, pickled vegetables of all sorts, noodles, fruit.   The best part a tiny little bottle of soy sauce to mix in with a wasabi.   Free beer and wine.  Hagen Das ice cream.  Sweet.  Then I sleep until the breakfast is served.  I pick the omelet with potato gnocchi & cream sauce, eggplant ratatouille, yogurt, and fruit.  Yummy.  And each interaction included eye contact and a smile.

The entertainment system has an endless menu for movies, documentaries, games, audio.  I have been trying all sorts of options but settled on a music playlist entitled:  DREAMS.  Oldies song that all feature the Dream in the title.

The jumbo 747 jet flies ever closer to San Francisco.  I peek under the window cover and suddenly there is the California coast basking in sunshine:  the gorgeous hills and rugged coast visible in exquisite detail.  I have a front row seat as the entire Bay Area slowly comes into view:  Point Reyes, Marin County, Highway 101, San Pablo Bay...spots so full of memories!

And...I am not making this up....the Golden Gate Bridge pops into view under the wing of the plane just as California Dreaming starts playing.  I sat there stunned.  I looked at the City Scape; found my old house on Lake Street, Golden Gate Park....and suddenly burst into tears.  California had been a dream once.  And I did leave a bit of my heart in San Francisco but I know too, that DREAMS, even big and long delayed can become a sweet and wonderful reality.   But you "gotta cross the stream" as the song I Have A Dream says.

Little tears kept falling as the plane went down to San Jose and then banked and flew back up to land at SFO.   Time for my next Dream...

So sing along to I Have a Dream and dream big:

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
REFRAIN:  I believe in angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in angels
When I know the time is right for me
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream

I have a dream, a fantasy
To help me through reality
And my destination makes it worth the while
Pushing through the darkness still another mile

I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Back to the Beginning

And so the adventure draws nearly to a close.  I returned today to Singapore on one of those bus rides.  It was day light & only 5 hours but it featured one bus change (reason unknown), Malaysia emigration and Singapore immigration.  All in a driving rainstorm.  But the AC worked.  Phew.

I think those fancy machines at the border crossings are all feeding photos into some huge picture database.  At this crossing I did not have to do thumb or finger prints.

Tomorrow...The National Botanic Gardens.  I intend to spend the morning there and will retreat only if the rains re-appear.  Within the Botanic Garden is a dedicated Orchid Garden with over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids.  I am charging up all my camera batteries!!

Like most the hostels I booked -- I found this one through Hostel World.  Liked it enough in January to return.
AC, internet, breakfast, and a female dorm.  PJ party every night!
I will miss the women I have meet & shared stories with.  These young people are AMAZING.

May this PLEASE be the last staircase for me to lug my suitcase up.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Wander and Wander

On one street in Melaka, nicknamed Harmony Street, is the oldest mosque, oldest Chinese temple, and oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia.    So I walked Harmony Street and several other back alleys.  I am hoping the rainy afternoon will clear so I might enjoy an Indian dinner followed by the Jonker Night Market.

A few snapshots of street scenes.

As I am a Horse -- I love the energy and passion these animals are showing.

A thousand candy treats from coconut and palm sugar.
I buy the small bag of 3 coconut rounds -- for about 30 cents.

I was walking towards a temple with incredible drumming sounds.  I stood outside awhile.
An old man sitting there said:  go inside, have a look, take a picture.
I have no idea what was happening, but this was clearly a big day for this man!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Old Melaka

Today I joined a walking tour of Old Melaka.  We ambled through the historic part of this old city -- Portuguese, Dutch, Indian, Chinese, English -- each have left a mark here.  Only the Japanese occupation seems to be erased from the place.

Compared to Penang (a co-Unesco  World Heritage City), Melaka seems more dynamic & alive.  And I guess they are more dependent on tourism so are working to do renovations and preservation.

The City is divided by the river.  Old treasures are still found here & just off shore.

Fountain in Queen Victoria's memory

New version of the Malay Sultans palaces.

Only remaining section of Portuguese wall built to protect the city in early 1400s

Artisan creating the stone tablets to adorn businesses.
Most have converted to wood, but he maintains the trade.

Oldest Mosque in Malaysia.  Built in a Chinese style -- no dome.
Close enough for me to hear the call to worship!

In case you don't get to the mosque earlier enough to be inside....
here is the arrow pointing to Mecca.

Roof detail from oldest Chinese temple.

One shop still hand makes these "historic" shoes.
They were TINY!!!

Lovely buildings line the river and there is walkway on both sides.  Boats ply the river.

Empty buildings backing to the river have all been used for paintings & murals.  Nice touch.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Moving South Towards Singapore

My last "new place" is Melaka, Malaysia.  Founded in the 14th century it is city steeped in history with Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British rule through time.

Mostly today was about getting to Melaka -- relying on quick, clean, and very efficient bus lines.   Not much fun & certainly no stories in that!

 Slowly inching my way back.

KL Long Distance Bus Terminal...20+ gates, all very clean and efficient.
The bus left on time & it wasn't even full.

I would have jumped aboard this pedi cab if it had air conditioning.
Alas, I just walked and sweated.  And like why did I book the room with the fan and not AC?

A touch of the Dutch legacy

Bell tower in the main square--called Town Square by some, Dutch Square by others.