There’s a Monster Outside my Room…

OK, I’m stealing my favorite line from M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs”, but it seemed highly appropriate for this post.

As I was checking into the recently upgraded Rock Garden Chalets on Pulau Perhentian, an enormous monitor lizard came shuffling down the hill right towards me. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was the biggest, the fattest, the most monstrous lizard I had ever seen. Even the hotel cleaning lady came running down to snap some shots of it with her cellphone!

Even after all the monitors lizards we’ve encountered, there’s something so exciting about seeing these enormous creatures lumbering around between the bungalows. Although I imagine that the sight of one of these mini-dinosaurs could come as quite a shocker to some unsuspecting tourist trying to find his room late at night.

Unfortunately, Tony didn’t get to see this beautiful giant, but he’ll definitely have the chance to top this sighting. As we are heading down to Indonesia this year, you can be sure that tracking Komodo dragons – the kings of all lizards – is at the top of our list. I can’t wait.

Diving Pulau Perhentian

We’re back in Malaysia and we’ve decided to take a quick side trip to Pulau Perhentian to exercise our diving muscles before we head out to Borneo. We only intended to do one dive to test out my newly repaired tooth before we shell out tons of cash to dive world-famous (and expensive) Sipadan. But due to a lack of self-control, one dive turned into three.

We dove Sugar Wreck, T3 and Temple of the Sea. Exciting discoveries included the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen, our first bamboo sharks and blacktip sharks, candelabra-like coral, and some stunningly psychedelic anemones. All three dives were enjoyable, but only Temple of the Sea ranks as a must-see site. (If you dive Temple of the Sea, keep an eye out for that mega-barracuda!)

Returning to Kota Bahru’s Central Market

The colorful central market in Kota Bahru holds a special place in my heart. I first visited in 1991 while traveling from Bangkok to Singapore via the famous Malaysian jungle railway. Despite the fact that I have been to a thousand markets across the world from Guatemala to Ethiopia to Tibet, this particular market remains one of my absolute favorites. I was eager to bring Thomas here to experience the visual feast.

And while a host of modern grocery stores are starting to erode the importance of this fabulous institution, it remains the highlight of any visit to the city. The colorful vegetable stalls and beautifully dressed Malay saleswomen are still very much present, although not quite in the same numbers as in 1991. It was also quite interesting to note Continue…

Is Thailand Worth It?

We’ve written many posts about Thailand describing reckless overdevelopment, pollution, instability and a host of other problems. After reading some of these descriptions, our readers might be wondering if Thailand is still worth it? It’s a legitimate question, especially for serious travelers.

The reality is that Thailand gained its reputation as an off-the-beaten track destination decades ago, famous for pristine beaches, authentic tribal culture and fascinating Buddhist heritage.

But during the last twenty years, Thailand has modernized and developed much faster than anyone could have imagined. While this modernization has brought about vast improvements in infrastructure and advanced the standard of living for the people of Thailand, it has also impacted the flavor of the country in many ways. But is the new Thailand just as enjoyable? Continue…