Earthquake rattles Singapore and thousands flee!!!

Trip Start Mar 05, 2007
Trip End May 01, 2007

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, March 10, 2007

I'm not sure where to begin. I don't have Clay's flair when it comes to entertaining blog stories, so I'll just spit out what has been going on. First of all, I want to point out that in Singapore, when I spoke Chinese to the caby, well at least he KNEW I was speaking Mandarin. I was quite pleased with myself. No, I haven't found anyone else to speak Chinese with. I keep hearing people speaking it, but mostly all I've heard is some way crazy versions of Mandarin, and I don't know where to start. I have been studying Putongua, which is the common form of Mandarin.

We hauled out of Singapore pretty fast. It was expensive - for us anyhow, nothing like the states but expensive, and we were eager to get into some real humidity. The coolest part was visiting the Muslin temples. Incredible. Their devotion is so evident. Very polite. We got to try on some traditional robes at the entrance because we were lucky enough to wear shorts - considered inappropriate for the temple. Their chanting and singing in the morning as the call to pray was impressive. Certainly gives Christian faiths a run for their money as far as devotion goes.

Taking a bus out of Singapore into Malaysia was boring but eventful. On the bus, off the bus. On the bus off the bus. The boarder crossing is easy, under the presence of guns powerful enough to take down an elephant (maybe that's what they are there for...), you sign a form, get your stamp, and back on the bus to the next crossing. As soon as we got into Jerantut in Malaysia - outside all the big cities, about a 6 hour train ride - we finally saw what we came for. Jerantut is a beautiful little town surrounded by dense forest. Probably only alive because of the train stop. We hoped off, spent the night, and then took a breath-taking 3 hour up-river trip into the rain forest. There's no way I can describe it. Exactly what I always thought a rain forest would be like.

Taman Negara is supposedly the oldest living rain forest on the planet. And it is impressive. The Malaysian government is celebrating its' 50th anniversary and really working up the tourism here. The rain forest boarders the river Sungi Tembeling (where does a rain forest stop and start anyhow?) and is dotted with floating restaurants and supply shops. Last night we geared up and trekked into the forest to what they call a 'hide' which is impressively, a very nice cottage in the middle of the forest. It overlooks a small clearing that has a strategically placed salt lick for the animals to come feed on at night - much like Jurassic Park sports caged goats to lure in the nasty sharp toothed T-Rex. We only hiked into the forest about 5 kilometers though - so no elephants unfortunately or T-Rex. We did see a TON of bats (also visited a near by bat cave where Clay slipped and fell SMACK into a ginormous load of bat turd - He was mad at me for about 15 minutes), a Tapir - which is a huge pig on steroids, several monkeys - one tried to eat our empty water bottle in the middle of the night, lots of exotic birds and butterflies, and a ton of mosquito's.

Other highlights were a canopy trek, which is actually a series of canopies attached together way way high up in the air. Took us about an hour to get through because we were taking our time. And of course the Aborigines, which we kept embarrassingly stumbling upon while trekking around the jungle. The women seemed to be terrified of us, and the men were polite but distant. We trampled upon a group of women and children washing clothing in a muddy pool of water which was slightly awkward. We all just stood and stared at each other. Their village, which you can actually hike to and visit was very small. They are nomadic, but seem to be fairly sedentary. The women dress more cultural then the most of the men, who wore western style clothing like most of what we have seen. They offered to teach us how to use the blow pipe and how to make fire, but we declined. All in all, this first week has been priceless. Clay and I are having an amazing time.

In case anyone was worried by the way, we missed the earthquake in Indonesia. We were in the air. And we didn't see any evidence of "panic and mayhem in the streets" in Singapore.
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