In many parts of Malaysia, pork and other goods deemed as haram (forbidden) by Islam can be hard to come by, as many places outside of the cities are majority Muslim regions.
In deference to those that are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or agnostic/atheist though, stores in these parts of the country often have a dusty shelf towards the back where devilishly delicious pork products and other forbidden goodies can be bought.
image credit: photo by CC user 70626035@N00 on Flickr
Well, we’re halfway through January, but with all the freelance work I’ve been bashing my way through, this year in review had to wait for awhile. In many ways, 2014 was defined by the growth of my mobile business, which caused this blog to be neglected at times ( Mama’s been busy, but I still love you all … sorry!).
In true digital nomad fashion though, I managed to get in tons of travel between the ever frequent 12 hour work days (the less glamorous aspect of the trade), starting in Chiang Mai, Thailand on New Year’s Day and progressing through Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, Mexico and Belize.
Everywhere you go in Malaysia, one life-changing meal after another can be found in the numerous cafes, food courts and restaurants can be found on the main streets and back alleys of its cities, towns and villages.
While the home of Malaysian society can be found on the Malay Penninsula south of Thailand, the lip-smacking cuisine (such as the claypot chicken and mushrooms with rice dish above) can also be found throughout its holdings on the northern third of Borneo.
Malaysian food in Borneo is taken very seriously, so any foreign tourists that come here expecting a good meal are in for a serious treat!
Penang Malaysia is often a curious blend of the old and the new, with soaring condo developments overshadowing Chinese shophouses, food carts and establishments that crank out time-tested recipes, and ornately designed temples and mosques that testify to the faith of those that live on this lively and industrious island in the tropics.
Of the latter, the mosque with the most inspired architecture on Penang is none other than the Floating Mosque. Located around the northeast corner of the island, it stretches out into a shallow bay, blending in with the surrounding landscape, yet standing out in its own special way.
While most people travel to Kota Kinabalu only to continue on to climb one of the tallest mountains in Southeast Asia (Mount Kinabalu), lovers of tropical beach paradises take note: there are some idyllic hideaways lying just offshore of this frontier city in Malaysian Borneo.
Head to Jesselton Pier and purchase a ticket to one of the islands that comprise Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, which is a chain of coral islands that lie mere kilometres away from the core of downtown KK.
When traveling through Southeast Asia, access to food is rarely a concern. Convenience stores, food carts, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants abound everywhere you go, leading to an unexpected conundrum: instead wondering if you’ll be able to find good food, you’ll be debating just where you’re going to have one of an endless variety of meals to satisfy your hunger.
Another option to add to the list: the fruit market. The tropics offers a cornucopia of fruits (many of which look exotic and intriguing) to choose from, and even if you’re aren’t jonesing for a snack like I wasn’t at the time I took this photo, it makes for a colourful shot to add to your trip photo album!
New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai is a holiday that is treated by the locals in the manner that we regard Christmas. It’s a joyous occasion where people get to get with their families, celebrate, and make wishes for a prosperous and happy year ahead. One of these traditions involves lighting a lantern and releasing it into the sky. On the day of/in the days leading up to the big day, vendors will be selling these collapsed paper bags with a wick that is shaped like a doughnut. This is what you and thousands of people will be sending into the sky en masse on New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai …
Sweeping views of Thailand’s second city are hard to come by, as much of the place is kept low-rise by the fact that most business headquarters are located in Bangkok, and due to the presence of an international airport well within city limits.
Fortunately for those that love these lofty vantage points, there is a mountain that abuts the western part of the metropolis. Doi Suthep towers above this part of Chiang Mai, with views from Wat Phra That being suspended thousands of feet above the streets and buildings below.
As my time in Northern Thailand is winding its way to a close, I’d figure I’d share more pics to show you what the mountains up in this part of the country are like. The highlands up here are (believe it or not) the furthest of the foothills that radiate out hundreds of kilometres from the main ranges of the Himalayas. They don’t reach up high enough to get snow in the winter time, but they do provide a bit of novelty for the Thai population nonetheless, as the coldest nighttime lows in December/January get nippy enough to cause frost to form!