Everyday Adventures: Sidewalks and Galleries

With the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions, we have traveled around the city much more. To keep safe, we look for uncrowded city streets and empty indoor venues. Museums are not popular currently, so it has been a dream to view the exhibits at our leisure, talk to the guards. We have better luck on weekdays keeping social distance, especially in popular museums. Galleries are generally good any time. [As always with the new WordPress, right click the images to view the larger version]

The GMBB, Gamuda Mall Bukit Bintang is a mall with event and art exhibit spaces, a creative community mall as their website says. This artist, Phillip Wong, creates sculptures from everyday materials.

Artwork based on culinary experiences SE Asia

In a similar way the Intermark Mall exhibited new fashions using recycled textiles.

The Fahrenheit88 Mall in Tourist/Shopping district has a marvelous gallery on the top level with interesting displays. A bus ride took us to the Kedai KL Mall near the University. It features boutiques featuring local entrepreneurs.

KedaiKL upper floor

As I write this entry at the GMBB, local illustrators invited me for a little bit of Hari Raya treats celebrating end of Ramadan Fasting.

Nasi Lemak wrapped in Banana Leaf

They have an exhibit here until the end of May and Congress coming in September.

The Illustrators

Back on the street, there is new art popping up all over the place.

The sardine curry puff must be delicious
An Indian Temple tucked underneath a major shopping complex

The REXKL is a repurposed cinema as a bookstore with art gallery, restaurants, and music venue.

In the day, the pillion rider watched movies seated where there are now books

The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia was really interesting. There were only two or three others the day we visited so the galleries were wide open for photos. Really clear explanation and displays on Arabic writing.

Astrolabes along with books on Chess

In contrast to the Islamic Museum, an early mansion houses the Wei-Ling gallery. Very lively art works along with Exhibit catalogs dating back twenty years.

Experiments on brown wrapping paper

We’ve been to the Ilham Gallery a couple of times. It’s a smaller space in an office buiding. The lighting and area provide a good space to present works with local appeal.

Three paintings by Klang artist, Kok Yew Puah

Everyday Adventures: The Parks

Even though we are still stuck in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, we keep looking for new places to go. That is the beauty of this city. There is always something. Beyond that, I have been stuck in WordPress trying to figure out their new block formats. It seems I am better at configuring Open VPN in Puppy Linux than I am at getting my blog to look right.

I have reset my WordPress theme in hopes of improving the response time when I create a new post. Nope, that’s not where the problem is. Also, tried accessing via Microsoft’s Edge browser under Ubuntu Mate Linux. Nope that didn’t change the editing slowness, either. In fairness, I use WordPress for free and they do provide a lot of information and tutorials on how to get the best experience.

Oh well. Rather than one huge post here, I’m settling for several posts with a few photos describing our different adventures. Accept my apologies in advance if the photos load slow. I’m still working on this. It seems right clicking on a photo to open in a new tab works well if you wish to see the larger version. Of course, it is framed with WordPress advertising. šŸ˜€ šŸ˜‰

Parks and hiking trails are still a favorite. They are outside and easy social distancing. During weekdays with few visitors, face masks are optional except at the entry and exit

One day we hiked the Kota Damansara Community Forest Reserve. We reached it from the Kwasa Sentral MRT station by taking a Grab share taxi. The walk to the lookout at the Three Princesses Peak (Denai Tiga Puteri Peak) qualified for our weekly strenuous exercise.

View from the Three Princesses Peak

On a Sunday, we had an enjoyable outing that was not too busy at Taman Tasik Permaisuri (Empress Lake Park in Bandar Tun Razak). One section near the lake has terraces of unique plants such as these orchids.

On the north side we explored Sentul Park. There are lakes, trails, a Performing Arts Centre, a barbecue and a coffee roaster. I’m checking out the cement living room.

Joining a Happy Birthday chorus earned us a piece of cake

Sometimes we just settle for an urban park. This is the Raintree Plaza. It is a walk from the construction at the new TRX tower to Jalan Imbi in the direction of Fahrenheit88 shopping mall.


Sometimes we just count the monitor lizards on the River of Life.

Or observe the jungle reclaim the construction cranes.

Here’s an update. On May 2 from the Bukit Jalil Recreational Park. We were caught in a downpour first in a Japanese garden, then in a Chinese garden (where I snapped this photo looking from the Malay house).

The Japanese Garden (the shelter roof leaked).

Caught by Nostalgia

A lot of emails come through the various mailboxes I monitor. Today, one came through from Citybike Wien with a newsletter announcing their Advent Calendar. The charming graphic reminded me of wonderful days we spent in November 2015 wandering around Vienna. We were there for about a week and luckily had a chance to visit the Christmas market on the first weekend it was open.

“The snow flutters down quietly…” and other Christmas carols will soon be on the radio again, proclaiming:“Welcome to the pre-Christmas season! “.

I get this newsletter because I rented through their bike sharing program while we were there. In the past, I have thought about unsubscribing but it was cumbersome getting through their website. All is well. Instead I am going to register with the Citybike Uphill team so I can enjoy the rest of the Advent calendar graphics from Hannah at hana.rts.

Update. After some more fooling around on the Citybike website, I found out I already have an account. After choosing my handle of “Capo in B,” a simple click has registered me with the uphill team. It might be a little difficult for me to manage this challenge as we are still stuck in Malaysia. But it is diverting to see that I still have ā‚¬ 1 in my account.

I don’t have strong memories of holidays growing up in a small town of Windom, Minnesota. Looking back through our albums, a lot of memories come flooding in around the experiences with our daughter growing up in Minnesota, Frankfurt, and then some side trips to Ecuador and Vancouver and Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur. Here’s one photo that captures this feeling for me today.

Must be Istambul but maybe Constantinople

In case you are curious about Austrian Christmas Songs, the one quoted is here on youtube. Perhaps, I will return to this post if I am able to unlock any of the doors on the Advent Calendar. All the best to you wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, and more importantly enjoy all the memories of the seasons. Cheers.

Yay, The Botanical Garden is open.

Even though Kuala Lumpur is in Covid Recovery Phase 1, authorities have relaxed some of the lockdown restrictions. Some parks in your neighborhood can now be visited. The Perdana Botanical Garden is just a 2 km walk away so it qualifies as a local venue. Two days ago, only one gate was open on the far side from us making it a bit of a chore to enter. Today, we discovered the tunnel shortcut has been re-opened. Better than that, the upgrade of the path around the lake has completed and parts of the bamboo play area are open. (Note on the website link above: The website does not have any updates on the changes for the Covid Lockdown. Current signs posted state opening hours from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.)

Bamboo Play Area taken from the New Walking Path

Other activities of our life in exile include astronomical observations from our balcony.

A Stonehenge Moment: Marking the last day (July 28) we can see sunset on the horizon.
Lightning from a storm far away.

The weather is a little cooler with regular rain showers. In the evenings, we sometimes see heat lightning from storms 20-30 km away. It’s just luck to catch the flashes with my simple iphone camera. In the hour before dawn (around 6 AM), seeing lightning from storms in the west over the Strait of Melacca reassures me. There’s something nostalgic about it.

Movement Control in Kuala Lumpur

As the Malaysian government try to get some control on the Covid-19 pandemic situation with an alphabet of plans and procedures, we only adventure out to buy groceries once a week. We walk 1.5 km to 2 km to one of the shopping centers. All shops are closed except those deemed essential. Lately our preferred route is along a six lane highway. It is noisy but the walkway is well maintained. Another plus is that hardly anyone else takes this route. Occasionally, with a small detour, we can find a fruit stand with Durian. If you stay in SE Asia, you either love or hate this fruit. The smell is so strong we find a motorcycle rest stop to sit and eat the fruit before returning home.

Trees blooming along the pathway by the motorway.
Taking a break with Village Durian

Views from Isolated Walks

For the good of the realm, we continue in exile. The conditions have relaxed and then tightened. We now stay home in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur except for necessities. Sometimes, we have taken a longer route along the River of Life to get groceries. Other times, we spent a little longer in a large shopping mall near here. Here are some reflections from those times.

The good news is that both I and the pillion rider have our first vaccine shot. We’re grateful.

AstraZeneca vaccine administered at University Malaya

Walking the Burma Road

We are back in Kuala Lumpur after four months in Penang. I have not been busy but I have been lazy in posting impressions on those four months. My recovery from cataract surgery completes giving me 3D and depth perception back. I don’t get so tired typing on the notebook computer.

The famous Burma Road was an allied supply artery to China during World War II. Leaving Lashio at the Northern border of Burma (Myanmar), it ran to Kunming and Yunan in China.

In Penang, Jalan Burma (Burma Road) runs from the edge of the Heritage Neighborhood of George Town up to the Mount Erskine area through a district known as Pulau Tikus. Historically, this area was the meeting point of various ethnic groups, cultures, and commerce of Penang Island. It was only a 10 minute walk from our place, so regularly we went exploring along the main thoroughfare and the side streets. We found some famous temples, unique spots to grab takeaway, and the occasional surprise.

Storefronts of Penang

Malaysia has re-implemented the Movement Control Order meaning we stay at home except for necessities of food and medicine. Rather than complain, we will consider it as being exiled for the Good of the Realm version two. This time we have been banished to the island of Penang off the coast of Malaysia in the Straits of Malacca. Within the city boundaries of Georgetown the authorities allow us time to exercise maintaining a two meter distance from the other inmates.

Georgetown and environs on the island offer many interesting sights for our exercise walks. There are Religious Temples for Hindu, Islam, Buddhist and Christian, colonial offices and mansions, street art on winding streets, open markets, seafront jetties, and interesting local cuisine available for take away.

One thing I grapple with is understanding how the needs of a modern city can work with the traditional neighborhoods and historical venues. One area where I see this working well is in the renovation of the shophouses in Georgetown. Some of these date back over a hundred years to the time of Sun Yat Sen (Father of modern China) residing in Penang. Most, however, were built in the 1950’s during the reconstruction after World War Two.

Here is a selection of photos that capture the old and the new. I particularly like the traditional buildings that are painted with modern color schemes. Another thing I like is the refurbishing of walkways using traditional patterns on a single long stretch without steps or ridges.

In my mind

What the eyes see, the mind perceives, remains just a smudge or a ripple of digitized pointillisme. A fisherman guides his boat on a tranquil morning-swept bay

Penang Strait
A fishing boat

Obviously I am not a fisherman in anyone’s imagination. Spotting two boats out this morning with my 8x handheld monocular, I could imagine the salt fish smell, the light lapping of water, the morning breeze promising midday heat. My photos taken through industrial glass capture nothing but a smudge

Favorite Things – Breakfast and Snacks in Malaysia

Traveling has given us the opportunity to experience some great cuisines, interesting combinations and textures, and many traditional recipes. I have enjoyed the adventure but lately I’m returning to small meals and snacks. In Malaysia, it is really easy to pop in anytime to a Kopitiam coffee shop, food court, or open market for the types of food I really like. Here are some photos that I have collected mostly in the last few months mainly from our stay in Penang.

Two coffees (one black – no sugar, the other with evaporated milk at the bottom). One butter toast with kaya (coconut jam) one local croissant. One half boiled egg (2.5 minutes). Many coffee shops offer this breakfast in Penang.

This shop, Ah Wang Cafe, only opens in the afternoon. One of the best croissants in Malaysia. It’s found in a back alley next to the UDA flats near Tanjung Tokong Beach in Penang.

Here’s breakfast next door to the open market of Brinchang in the Cameron Highlands. In ordering two types of noodles, server asked if we wanted them empty. Saying yes, we just got plain noodles with sauce (mine was very nice curry), and we chose vegetarian add ons such as tofu and tofu skin.

At another market, we found really typical dumplings, the near ones with chopped chives, the far ones with chopped rutabaga. If I order kopi susu (coffee with milk), I like the evaporated milk undisturbed (as they say in Malay).

Upper left: Roti Telur (Grilled Yeast Pancake with Egg served with Dhal), Upper Right: Nasi Lemak (Rice, Sambal spicy sauce, tiny anchovies, peanuts, and half a fried egg, wrapped in banana leaf and paper). Lower: Thosai (crispy crepe of fermented batter served with various curries).

Roti Telur always brings back memories of my first Malaysian breakfast in Kota Kinabalu August 1981.

I’m generally not big on fancy overpriced coffee shops. The exception is Have A Seat Cafe in Penang. Hot milk with espresso ice cubes. Spending an hour and a half experimenting various combinations of milk and sweetness mixed with strong almost cold press coffee taste.

Here is Nasi Goreng American (American Fried Rice). I have found this offered mostly where there are Backpacker Hostels. Not sure what makes it American, possibly adding the frozen mixed vegetables. Not my favorite but my patriotism comes through.

This was a little bakery/cafe located on the third level of the Linc KL Mall in Kuala Lumpur. Secawan Sepiring served their style on deep fried tofu and local cakes.

This is one of the few malls where you can find one of a kind restaurants instead of the usual food chains.

In the Mt. Erskine Market a typical breakfast bowl of noodles with some shredded meat and fish balls. In this case the Penang Laksa Noodles in soup.

The only restaurant I visit regularly is Annalakshimi in the Temple of Fine Arts in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur. This is a vegan, vegetarian restaurant connected with a dance and performance venue. Always tasty and fresh.

Most of these are not strictly vegetarian. On my journey I have had to include a little bit of animal protein in my diet to insure the balance my metabolism needs.

Market Day in Penang

After living in the Malaysian Highlands of Cameron for a month, we trundled down to the island of Penang, about a 30 minute ferry ride from the mainland. Our trip had a slight detour due to Covid. We expected to cross one of the bridges to the island. As cases are increasing in Malaysia and especially one hotspot in the Southwest of the island, government Conditional Movement Control Order closed both bridges. We were wondering if the ferry would run. Only half the ferries were running but that was enough to get us over and find a taxi to our place. The CMCO limits the range of our activities. Basically, we can go for groceries or takeaway along with daily walks for exercise. A few restaurants offer socially distanced seating. Mostly we try to stay out of harms way. Sometimes, adventure just waits around the corner.

We are staying north of the main city of Georgetown. Our place is near the Erskine Hill market so Saturday we headed there to stock up for the next few days. Afterward, we took a local street back by the fire station that lead to an interesting encounter.

The pride of Mount Erskine Firefighters, Notice the implement in his hand.
What is in this yellow container. It is hissing and not happy.
Just a 120 cm (4 ft) Cobra found in a house near here. Don’t forget to close the windows.
Guess what he had in the back. A knot (I counted 4) of pythons waiting to be returned to the hills.

The cobra will be taken to a veterinarian for health and safety check. Our man with the snakes said after being resettled up in the hills, they’ve had no repeat offenders.

Escape to the Highlands

We escaped from our exile in Spain when the state of emergency was lifted. We found a circuitous route to Malaysia. After quarantine and four covid tests, we had a short stay in Kuala Lumpur. Then, we fled the heat of the city for the slower rhythms of Cameron Highlands arriving the first week of October. This is just a few hours bus ride north of KL, but contrasts with a cool wet climate. Highs around 23Āŗ C (75ĀŗF) with mist and rain everyday. After sweltering in the Spanish summer and then in Kuala Lumpur, it took a little time to acclimate.

Our place is halfway between the two main cities of Tanah Rata and Brinchang. What is unique about our month stay is that we have no car. We actually thought we were booking a place near the center of Tanah Rata. As it turned out, this location we have is ideal for walking as we are just 2 km from each city, about 30 minutes walk along paths through villages, beside the Bertam river, along the golf course, by All Souls Church. Wife grew up just 65 km (less than 50 miles) from here. Although the schedule is curtailed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Regal bus still runs from Tanah Rata up 20 km to Kampung Raja.

We are near to several jungle trails that lead up to the mountain peaks around the area. Historically, this is the area where Jim Thompson disappeared in 1967. Some of the trails (specifically the one to Parit Falls) are closed due to maintenance and Covid concerns for the wardens. We were able to follow trail 9 to Robinson falls which was quite impressive. Our journey on trail 3 became an adventure when we chose the 1 km trail 2 back to Brinchang. It was 90% vertical climbs through fallen trees and thick brush, real jungle trekking. Thoughts of Jim Thompson crossed our minds.

The Rose Valley Garden provided a nice surprise on one of our outings. We expected to see a few rows of cultivated flowers with a gift shop and then move on. Instead, we spent most of our morning there following trails up the hillside, visiting several different flower displays including cacti, and comparing notes with staff about the tulips in the Netherlands.

Here is the gallery of photos that capture some of our sojourn. Click thumbnail to see full size.

Here are some places we liked with a link to Google Maps (no particular order).

  • Restaurants (with the Covid-19, schedules of many establishments are flexible)
    • Tong Yeng Cafe – Interesting and organized Food Stand, Unique ordering and lunch experience in Tanah Rata
    • Bliss Coffee – Oat Toast with Kaya jam in Kampung Raja
    • Sri Brinchang Curry House for breakfast and Banana Leaf Rice in Tanah Rata, even had vegetarian chicken curry
    • Lord’s Cafe – Scones, small place in the back, upstairs. Friendly and well organized in Tanah Rata
    • Cottage Delight – Our go to place for breakfast noodles before shopping at Brinchang Wet Market.
    • Warung Ikat Tepi – A simple little Malay eatery with delicious real food beside the touristy alleys of Kampung Taman Sedia village.
  • Experiences
    • Rose Valley Garden – Trail and an international mix of flora near Tringkap village
    • Brinchang Wet Market – Our weekly trip to stock up on fresh local produce
    • Bus Station Tanah Rata – Regal bus departs after 8:30 10:30 1:30 4:30 7:30 (Times are for boarding, actual departure is usually 5 – 15 minutes later.
    • Note on trails below: check reviews and online guides for the suitability of hiking. Trail 2 was hard to follow and quite arduous.
    • Trail 3 entrance on left before Arcadia Bungalow. Beyond the junction with Trail 2, it gets rugged.
    • Trail 9 to Robinson Falls, enter through Rainbow Garden Center
  • Touristic
    • Smokehouse Restaurant – British Colonial Experience and Garden
    • 200 Seeds Restaurant (Abang Strawberry) – Nasi Lemak with Strawberry Sambal. This is in the heart of Kampung Taman Sedia, a touristy village with many homestays, restaurants, strawberry themed experiences. There is a shortcut from the Desa Anthurium Apartments beside Building B.
    • Golden Hills Weekend Night Market – Very popular for strawberries and white corn but not that unique experience. Out of the way for us so we only visited once.

The last days in Spain

It ended up that we spent several months in exile in Spain. The last part resolved itself into waiting in Madrid for a chance to avoid travel restrictions. Many borders closed to our passports so we had to negotiate the changing regulations in several countries. Here are a few of the photos I like from our walks. It seems my favorites are plazas, street art, and oddball galleries.

This last one shows reflections in the Tavern Viva Madrid. JosƩ Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, lived next door and drank his coffee here in 1891.

Sorry about all the WordPress advertising when clicking fotos. I’m experimenting with different ways to use WordPress new block editor. The exercise is a bit frustrating as they have decided to hide information that I thought was useful. Stay tuned.

Cordoba, final city before leaving Andalusia.

Staying in Sevilla, it was just a one hour trip on the high speed train to visit Cordoba for a day. The old city keeps the feel of a medieval village with its winding streets and historical references to the Jewish quarter. The Mosque-Cathedral (Mezquita-Catedral de CĆ³rdoba) is the center point for tourist visits. Underneath the foundations, researchers have found remnants of possible Visigoth Christian temples. We wandered around a number of different streets before heading back to Sevilla. Here are some views around and in the Mosque-Cathedral. I captured some of the intricate patterns that I found mesmerizing.

Seeing Sevilla

There is the famous gothic cathedral along with the Basilica of the Macarena, but I was not so interested in churches. We wandered around interesting neighborhoods, and the usual markets and shops. For us, three things summarize Seville: Las Setas de Sevilla (a wooden like structure reminiscent of a Science Museum Store), Plaza EspaƱa – location of the 1929 Ibero-American Exhibition, and curious streets and street corners. There are some descriptions on the photos but I’m not sure how the new WordPress editor displays them. Leave a comment for further explanations.

Lost in the history and streets of Granada

Continuing our exploration of Andalucia under the easing of our exile, we spent a week in Granada. As of July 1, travel within the EU has for the most part opened for residents. For us, we are confined to Spain, and wait out the changing climate remaining in Andalucia.

Even though Malaga has been inhabited longer, the history of Granada is as convoluted as the streets. We enjoyed living right on the edge of what was Jewish quarter until 1492. The Alhambra palace was just a 15 minute walk away. A longer walk took us to the Monastery of the Cartuja. This is one of the finest Baroque churches with incredible detail. I was re-introduced to the American writer, Washington Irving, and his wanderings and writings in Spain 200 years ago. I also remembered my modern theater class working through Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca. Here are some memories we carry.

Leaving Malaga

In the last six years, Malaga now holds the record for the city where we stayed the longest. Our ten week stay in the last apartment is also a record for us. Now that the realm has eased our exile, we are off discovering other parts of Andalusia, Spain. Here are some of the memories we carry with us: Streets for discovery, fresh tastes, views across the Mediterranean, tranquil museums to contemplate one culture building on another.

Museums in Malaga

Although we continue exiled for the good of the realm, the kind and noble government has allowed us to visit some museums. All museums were closed during the State of Alarm in Spain since March 12. Under restrictions of mandatory facemasks, social distancing, and limited numbers, several museums opened in Malaga on May 26. Many of the exhibitions have been curtailed but as the museums experimented, they waived entrance fees. After walking around outside of these museums for a month, it was nice to see the interiors.

Here’s some of the photos of what we saw:

Our wandering the first day did not go unnoticed by the Euronews channel (after the first minute, skip to 2:20 for a nice cameo): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qV6YGENykHM&list=WL&index=16&t=0s

Journeys of a Young Traveler

Over the past month, I have enjoyed scrolling through photos of our journeys. This brings me back to the original idea of Misplaced Map Case, comprehending the memories of travel. One thought comes to mind is our conscious decision to provide our daughter with experiences more than things. Nothing so original about that idea, but here are a few photos that brought back fond memories of the results. Most of our photos include her but I only post a few of those here.

Monaco 1997

At 6 months old, we went to Malaysia to visit pillion rider’s family. After that we continued on to Europe for three weeks visiting London, Paris, San Sebastian and Valencia Spain, Lisbon, Montpelier France, and Monaco. Today, her memory of these experiences has completely faded. Here’s one showing the November weather a little milder on the Mediterranean.

Monte Carlo_Nov 21-22, 1997

Iceland 2000 / 2002

With a 3 month contract in Germany that lasted almost five years, we crisscrossed the Atlantic a number of times. Twice we stopped in Iceland, once in winter, once in Summer.

Aruba 2006

In the summer of 2006, we needed a break and booked a trip to Aruba. On very short notice, it was easier to choose an all inclusive resort. On arriving with just two small bags, the receptionist queried, “Is that all you have?” 

“We just need swimming suits, right?” She agreed. We drove around the island one day. Another we rented bicycles. We splurged on a submarine ride for a unique experience.

Ecuador 2007

In 2007, I had a few extra days of vacation and decided crossing the equator would be a good experience. We traveled to Ecuador so we could do it on foot. We stayed in Quito and then at an Eco Resort in the mountains.

Wales 2009

We traveled around the world with her several times when she was quite young. In 2009, we decided to book Round-The-World Tickets to give her memories to remember. We started in Minneapolis and visited: London, Zurich, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Tokyo, Honolulu, and finally back to Minneapolis. Besides side trips to Oxford, Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and the Southern Jurassic Coast, we headed up to Cardiff Wales.

Puerto Rico 2010

In 2010 we made a research trip investigating whether to relocate to Puerto Rico. I would be able to work remotely, but still be in the United States. Along with this, we checked out a couple of high schools. High priority on our list was the access to fresh roasted coffee. Here are beans collected at a co-operative ready for processing.

Some observations about traveling with children

  • We kept the focus on experiences and sights interesting for her age.
  • Priority was on activities more than seeing. Parks and playgrounds took priority over museums and buildings.
  • The pillion rider always had creative toys, books, and art materials whenever we went out. One flight of 13 hours (Kuala Lumpur to Frankfurt), she brought PlayDoh type clay. At three years old, she played with this until she slept, then played some more.
  • Adjusting schedules for meals and activities according to her internal clock.
  • We let her help out with packing, pulling luggage, carrying groceries. We let her choose a few things to pack in her bag, a few things to buy when we were out