Hokkien New Years Celebration

So far we celebrated Chinese New Year every year since we become a couple. We celebrated in China, Kazakhstan, Sweden and now also in Malaysia.

Our celebration here, especially in Georgetown, has been to learn lots more about the Hokkien celebration and traditions. Most Hokkien people come from Fujian, Taiwan and there are also many here in Malaysia especially in Georgetown. We been lucky and been here during the start of Hokkien New Years and also meet quite a many Hokkien to talk about their tradition, culture and celebrations. Yesterday was the last day of the celebration of the New Year, also a day for many fireworks, performance and also the day when single women though oranges with the wishes for future love:).

Here are some pics we took during Hokkien New Years celebration in Georgetown

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Volunteering, Helping Out at A Dog Shelter

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When we travel we like to connect with people and also feel contribute in some way with volunteer work. We helped to teach English to monks, school kids and also helped out locally in Sweden with joining the language cafe and speak Swedish with people who needs to practice and want a local connection. We feel it is a great way to reach out and we would like to help immigrants more. Before we also done volunteering though woofing. Now, we wanted to help out more with animals and this is something we have been wanted to do for a long time since we care for animals.

We found a dog shelter, 4 PAWS, here in Penang that has over 600 dogs and needs volunteers every Sunday for a couple of hours. The owner, Barbara, is very loving and passionate person who are doing everything within her power to give the dogs the love and care they need. Being a street dog here is not a nice thing since from the religion people see dogs as dirty and treat them very badly.

Or course, having so many dogs, she needs helps and on Sundays dogs gets a bath, going out for a walk and time for more attention. There truly carve for that and need it.

For us, this experience was really deep and also affected us a lot. I think words cannot describe walking into a place with 600 dogs running around you and want the attention and also going for a walk after walk with another dog that really wants to see something new and come out for a while.

There were also a couple of dogs who became adopted during this time. Like many times, it is puppies that people want to adopt. Still, it’s good for the puppies to get an opportunity for a new home. I’m grateful that people adopt the dogs and give them a better future.

After this experience, I want to help out even more in place when possible. I want to be a part of a society that helps to improve and work together for creating something better, and that are able to spare some of their time to help someone else.

If you are going to Penang I can really recommend to help and volunteer at 4 paws or support them in anyway.

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“Little India” around the world

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Most people know that there exist many different Chinatowns around the world, for example in USA, Australia, Singapore and the list can go on.
Something that surprised me and Chris was there is also something similar called
”Little India”.
We choose to travel to both Singapore and Malaysia just because it is very diverse and multicultural countries. Even since I meet Chris I have wanted to introduce him to Indian culture and the aspects I like about the country. Now, I don’t have too, little India speaks for itself with Indian music streaming out of the speakers, Indian vegetarian food around almost each corner and the colorful clothes, dresses, flowers and temples that surround the areas. It really feels like being in India for a short period of time and this is the perfect introduction to the country.
Until now, we have been to three different Little India, in Singapore, KL, and Georgetown, Malaysia. I thought it would be interesting to share some photos and thoughts of these experiences.
Singapore

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This little India is very picturesque-.. and beautiful! The buildings have in general a good condition, are well preserved, and painted in strong and colorful colors. There are many Indian shops, cafes, restaurants. It is very easy to just sit down and order an Indian tea. The area is quite big and when walking around there, we mainly saw Indian people. We got the impression that it’s more common that Chinese people hang out in China town and Indian in Little India and so on. Still, a lovely place and bust of life and colors!

 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Our conclusion and impression for KL itself were that it felt a bit hard to get an overview of
the city and that is also true for little India. It was not a very defined area like in Singapore and the buildings were not that colorful or well kept but it definitely had its charm.
We found an Indian cinema and bought tickets and saw a movie called… about Indian female kickboxers. It was an interesting experience, we felt the honor is a bit different but like in other Indian movies it was a lot of drama, feelings, dancing and a happy ending.
In KL little India, we also had the amazing Indian food we wrote about before and met some really nice people.
Georgetown, Malaysia

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A City Is What You Make Of It, Our Time In Kuala Lumpur

 

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We aim to a review about the places we are staying and how our experiences are in the city. For us, this is a way to gather our thoughts about the city and review the period.

To start with we can compare our strategy of travel now compared to late last year:
So far, we are traveling at a bit higher speed compared to last year. Then we decided to do slow travel and more stay in one place and get the feeling of becoming part of the place. I don’t think there is a ”right” or ”perfect” amount of time to stay in one place. It depends, on situations, feelings and life at the moment. Sometimes we need to slow down and some time to have a higher speed depending on how we like the place. For sure it is easier to involve and connect when staying longer in one place. Still, there is a challenge in going out of comfort zone and pressure us in more and new situations and grow as persons and learn more from all the people and cultures we are exposed too.

Last year we stayed in Portugal for 4 months, two months in Porto and two in Lisbon. We also had to shorter trips during that time to Madrid and Morocco.

This time, we feel we want to experience a bit more and also try out a more challenge with working in more countries and travel the same time. In short, our plan is to be more flexible and has less fixed plans from the start. Also, we are aiming to also come to smaller cities that why we travel quite quickly though the major and bigger cities, at least for now:) This time, we wanted to take advantage of being able to travel a bit more first and to stay longer time when we feel like it. Let’s see how it turns out.

 

Below are some thoughts from our time in Kuala Lumpur, often called KL, Malaysia.

PROS:

A green city with nice parks and areas to discover
When traveling around, we always see lots of greens areas around KL. There is even a bit preserved jungle or maybe, it’s better to call it a well-preserved park, inside the city. The park serves as a home to python
and other animals. The entrance is free and the park has a really nice treetop walk:)

Another great idea is to see wild animals at the botanic garden.We saw a big lizard, black swan, lots of cute squirrels and birds. At the buddha there were lots of wild monkeys and as a bonus also the buddha caves, Indian sculptures, and nice mountains.

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A place that cares for the poor
Some countries ban beggars and ban people from helping them too. In KL we, it’s not the case. We saw and talked with volunteers who helped homeless people and handed out food. It was great to meet such antistatic and caring people.

 

Great vegetarian food
The food was amazing, we had some of the best Indian food experience so far from a totally vegetarian restaurant. Felt like being in a vegetarian paradise:)

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People who reached out
This might not happen all the time but, at least, a few times, we had lovely talks with our neighbors at the next table at the restaurant. We learned to form other Malaysians about the country and more about their relation to be the second and third generation in the country. Many times we thought that people most relates to their original country but so is not the case at all, here you can really experience and grow your culture in Malaysia,

Another nice experience was when we traveled by train from KL to Penang, we sat next to a guy from Malaysia. We ended up talking the whole way and had a great chat about culture, countries and all kind of things for a couple of hours. There was even a nice Swedish guy, who seen us before, who came and joined us for a couple of hours. We love this spontaneous and open-minded people:)

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Festivals
We meet up our friends friend who is from Malaysia and had a great day together with her and her mom. Together we all experience the celebration of Chinese New Year, in China Open House celebration was interviewed by a newspaper and had a great time also seeing Indian culture and celebration at Buddha caves. Since Malaysia is a multicultural country there are many red days for various traditions.

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Newspapers to share

We found a great newspaper that was free to read. And like in China they have the same system here, each side of the newspaper is loose and not bonded together so everyone can share a newspaper. That is also common to do. We think that is a great idea, why not share so everyone can read one page at the same time?

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Lower costs
This is not the most important but still it makes an impact of course. The prices here is about half of Singapore’s prices.

 

 

CONS:

Hard to get an overview
We had a hard time to navigate in KL. There are many different kinds of transportation called everything from LRT, KTM, moon train and lots of busses. Also, the lines aren’t that effective, many times when we searched for how to get to a place by local transportation we ended up walking instead since it was smoother.

It is harder to get a grasp over KL. For example in Singapore every area, like little India, China town, is very defined and different with special buildings. In KL, it’s harder to know the difference from the areas even though it is possible to find. We felt more from the multiculturalism in Singapore compared to KL. Maybe it will be different in Penang?

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KL feels a bit more strict regarding rules maybe since it’s a Muslim country.
Maybe it’s not the case but it is really a feeling of walking around and it’s hard being a couple traveling without holding hands, kissing and just being relaxed. This affected us a lot to be more strict and also our sense of humor, many others probably don’t have these similar feelings at all but for us it is important to feel free and be able to relax and not think about all the rules all the time.
There are many similar rules as in Singapore, for example, forbidden jaywalking, chewing gum, drink and eat but on busses and metro. Oh, and if you smoke in you can go to jail for two years, or pay a high fee, glad we aren’t smokers.

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Reflection:

We love nature and smaller cities more and are longing to come to a smaller city. For us, we had this week in KL more as a transport on our way to Penang. If we had come during another time it could be totally different.

Our circumstances and situations can say more than the city itself.
A city is what you make it, what time you visit it, and what you have been through the past. For example, we work at afternoons and evenings and that makes it harder to meet people. If we could have been more social during our time in KL we would probably like the city more. Relationships and people from travels affect us a lot and we hope to be able to connect more in the continue of this trip.

We could be in KL ten different times and have ten different experiences just related to our circumstances. In the end, sights, cafe’s and such is not what makes the place. It’s the memories and the nice stories. Maybe we have more and others in the future from KL:)

Celebrating a Building’s Birthday With the Bai People of China

Sometimes you just want to indulge in good old sweet memories and today we feel just like that. So here we are in our hotel in Kuala Lumpur reminiscing away for an hour or two. Recently, we talked a lot about China which lead us back to this specific endearing memory. This is an old one but a good one from back when we were traveling in Yunnan province in China.

We had cycled around the villages in Yunnan, not too far from the wonderful city of Dali, we stumbled upon a lovely village full of Bai people. This day turned out to be a very special one, in fact this day was the one year old birthday of someones home, and the local villagers couldn’t wait to invite two laowai’s who barely could understand any Chinese at the time. (Nor could we speak their dialects!)
Nevermind the language barrier, they made us stay all day and we just precious this memory so much so we thought of sharing a glance. Enjoy the song of joy!

193 Documentaries & Countries – Bangladesh

Where do the shipwrecks go? Well, apparently loads of them ends up in Bangladesh and there are both important and pretty unheard stories to be heard from the ship wreckers behind this very physically demanding profession. Many people may have heard about the difficult situation of clothing manufacturer but this is a completely another story.
This documentary let’s us not only see the harsh and dangerous work of disassembling huge ships but also gives us perspectives of where does wrecks and old industrial machinery goes? Another question I had is why Bangladesh? See the documentary yourself and help sharing the ship wreckers story.

Pros & Cons In Singapore

Pros and Cons of Singapore:

We have stayed in Singapore for about a week now and are heading to Malaysia tomorrow. We thought of sharing our opinions of pros and cons before we leave. Here we go:)

PROS:
Very multicultural country
This is the county is truly diverse in cultures. Everywhere you can see and hear people speak different languages and there is good collaboration too. So far it seems very peaceful between the different races and multiculturism also seem to be pretty deep in the national consciousness.  There is also places where people from one country dominate and have more stores, restaurants, and items from their country, for example, Little India, Arab Street, China Town. There are much more like Indonesian, Thai, Vietnam, Philippines and so on. There is even a stop called Holland Village although it’s maybe not that much to see. We don’t travel to Singapore to experience Western culture but we really love and get inspired of the multicultural in this country.

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Tasty food 
Singapore is a food paradise and the prices lots higher than some other Asian countries but it’s still OK. Most times we paid between 4-6 Euro for 2 meals. There is also soo many kinds of choose between and the food hygiene is quite high. There is food from many different Asian countries here, we especially like and found vegetarian food in Indian, Indonesian och Chinese food.

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Green and modern
Singapore feels like a futuristic Country, probably the most so by the places we been so far. It feels more modern in a holistic level then Dubai. There are lots of modern skyscrapers but they often also includes lots of green plants and gardens. We feel stunned by the views and cool parks like Garden by the bay. Awesome that they choose to have this big park next to the water and not only buildings.

Values nature
Like we mentioned before, there are many parks everywhere in the city and there are also trying to do their best to find people from littering. There are many hidden gems in the city and this reminds us a bit about Madrid which is also a really green city in our opinion.

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Low crime rate
Because of high fees for doing things against the law, there is a very low crime rate and we felt very secure.

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Peaceful, no stress, running or pushy sellers
My big difference compared to many places in China this is a place where you don’t feel stress at all. People are not rushing, rather walking more slowly, no yelling from shareholders who tries to sell you things. Less stressful doesn’t mean it’s not crowded, though. We noticed that it was lots and lots of people out during Friday and there are probably other days too.

 

 

CONS:
Too many rules
OMG, this is the country of too many rules. Even though rules and fines keep crime rate low there is a way to many rules. People even buy souvenirs about all the rules.
For example, you are not allowed to chew a gum, not drink or eat at metro, not look strange, not sing in public or disturb people, not walk where there is no crossroad. For us it was really hard to keep up with no drinking (even water) on metros and no jaywalking. Its really difficult to cross streets when there is not so many crossings around. There is also a death penalty for people who use drugs. Not that we do take drugs or even would like to but it still feels kind of harsh that they may kill people for not that severe crimes.

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More expensive than most other Asian countries
There are more expensive like Brunei but still it is quite expensive to stay here for a longer period and everything costs even though all in not expensive. There are possibilities to get around without too much money but to truly experience this country it still costs. Of course, a hyper-modern and developed country comes with a price.
Very hot and humid humid 
Since Singapore is almost on the equator there is a really warm and humid climate here. We felt really exhausted by walking for a few hours. We have experienced more heat before though, in Thailand during Songkran 2013. Compared to that this is still OK and possible to walk within.

 

Final thoughts:
We really liked Singapore, like A LOT! Since we mostly heard about all the roules but not that much about the colorful city with lots of culture and things to discover we where positive surprised and defently want to come back another time.

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