Compression

Edwin joined me in Bali and we quickly took a taxi up to Bali dive central: Tulamben. The ride was pretty pleasant and our taxi driver was pretty cool with the exception of an offhand comment about rolling someone into a ditch.

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Tulamben is dive central, but good luck finding anything else. It’s a town along the main costal road alternating dive shop and restaurant for a few hundred meters.

We dove our brains out – saw the USAT Liberty wreck, the Boca wreck, and nice muck diving in Syriah and nice walls. Shore diving is pretty awesome – much more rewarding than boat diving.

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After diving most of the Tulamben sites, we took a boat to Indonesian Dive Mecca – the gili islands. Half party island and half dive island, it’s a weird mix here usually with quite a bit of overlap. Diving here is more expensive and less awesome than Tulamben, no doubt. But there’s a glut of five star PADI shops and resorts, so I decided to do my rescue course here.

Edwin doing as the locals do.

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Dive shop games

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No motorized transport on Gili Trawangon.

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Soccer game

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After a few days in the busy east side of the island, I rented a bicycle and took a hour ride around the circumference. I ended up at a real reggae spot on the north of the island. Five guys with dreads down to their waists were jamming and I joined the circle. They were so talented I came back the day after to record them with my Rode microphone. Check it out! http://snd.sc/1c4R7vp

Cultural Overdose

Bali is an amazing place. I’ve never felt like I was in such an exotic environment.

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Hindu statues are everywhere. Around every corner, in the street, in the dry cleaners. Indonesia is almost 100 percent Muslim except for the island of Bali which is Hindi. Stonework on the island is intricate but the basic pieces seem easy to cast.

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Coconuts are plentiful and are good for hydration and a quick snack. Apparently falling coconuts kill a few people per year.

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Uluwtu, a Hindi temple. This is a view from the temple.

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There’s plenty of five star resorts here, but you won’t see the typical concrete block hotel. Traditional building thrives here! Intricate structures built with bamboo and local wood.

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Worlds most beautiful laundromat?

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Sacraments are everywhere – outside temples, in the street, in the doorways of businesses.

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What is going on here?

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Street food at the religious event.

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I rented a bicycle, not an easy feat considering everyone rides motorbike here. Riding in traffic felt like second nature after my Europe tour!

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Kuta beach! Reminds me a bit of Hermosa beach. Includes the same surfer dudes sporting short boards and AC/DC tank tops.

The Jungle

The ride to Taman Negara…into the jungle

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The village is pretty small and full of guesthouses and floating restaurants.

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And a strange mix of technology

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The oldest rainforest in Malaysia harbors enormous trees.

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I tried arranging a two day trekking tour but failed because there simply weren’t enough tourists here in the slow season. I went to a nearby cave by myself.

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Olga from Catalan means business.

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Jasmine from Switzerland walks the plank to the floating restaurant.

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Kuala Lumpur

I’ve never seen such a multi-cultural city.  In Kuala Lumpur (and presumably the rest of Malaysia) is a heterogeneous mix of Malay Muslim, Chinese Buddhist, and Indian Hindi. There’s temples and places of worship all over the place, but people don’t seem to be very strict adherents (through my untrained observation).  Skin color, dress, and food is different and recognizable.

 

Buddhist Temple

Buddhist Temple.  Old style with contemporary building techniques, so mostly concrete here.

A very tangible upshot of this is the food.  There are often Indian, Chinese and Malay restaurants all on the same street.  KL’ers don’t tend to cook and fantastic meals are inexpensive even for locals ($1-$5 with drink).  Meals are once again social, as the places to eat are ubiquitous and inexpensive.  I think this would be the only positive aspect of bicycling in this country, though.  Traffic is crazy as usual and the weather would be oppressively hot if you’re cranking up any kind of hill.  I met a pair of German cyclists and through their stories and experiences I feel that cycling in this area is not for me.  Not being able to sleep at night because it’s hot, humid and no breeze?  No privacy for wild camping anywhere?  No thanks.

Roti Canai, a light meal

Roti Canai, a light meal

I took a trip to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), an academic/tourist campus on the edge of the rainforest.  There’s a few awesome hikes, complete with waterfalls.  The humidity is so high I was dripping just walking up a hill so I took an impromptu bath in a waterfall basin.

I'm a hit with high school girls in the rainforest

I’m a hit with high school girls in the rainforest

Weird rainforest canopy

Weird rainforest canopy

On site, there are two great replicas of traditional Malay homes.  The construction is fairly simple (as expected) with the key points of using thin wood wall exterior, the main floor raised on stilts, large attic ventilation, organic or clay tile roofing and many wooden windows to open.  Interesting that most of the buildings constructed now are concrete, which seems to be the exact opposite design that their ancestors used.  One of the buildings was made without nails, though it’s not as interesting as it sounds as they just add a bunch of wooden pegs in the same way a nail would be used in contemporary housing.  Unfortunately, the kitchen and another outbuilding were not reconstructed (in too bad of repair as the sign said), so I don’t have any insight into the cooking technique except that it was in an outbuilding which makes sense to me.

Traditional Malay house

Traditional Malay house

Pretty glass inside the house

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After the rainforest adventure, I met up with Eric on couchsurfing.  He’s a pretty amazing man – a retired realestate manager who is running a Live-Work-Travel-Learn-Play collaborative housing project out of his spare condo.  The longer I’m here, the more I believe in the project and I’m glad I can participate as a prototype member and help out wherever I can.  Check it out at SOHO Land Collaborative.  Here’s a picture of our work environment, which I’m sharing with an Algerian web developer and entrepreneur (Eric is in front)

SOHO Land (Small Office, Home Office)

SOHO Land (Small Office, Home Office)