Malaysia and Singapore are both very interesting and VERY different places. Since I visited Malaysia first I'll begin my entry with an explanation about my adventures there.
The Muslim population in Malaysia is incredibly large. This may seem like a strange observation to start off with, but as an American coming from the U.S. and all its hoopla surrounding Islam I couldn't help but feel fascinated. Pork is hard to find on Malaysian menus, Mosques are everywhere and most women wear traditional Islamic garb, albeit in varying degrees. I spent the majority of my first day in Kuala Lumpur at the city's National Museum of Islamic Art. It was wonderful. The museum's permanent collection includes impressive scaled-down models of all the major Mosques in the world as well as beautiful Qur'ans, scrolls, traditional Islamic clothing and textiles, jewlery, metal wears and so much more. I really learned a lot! Did you know that Mecca can fit as many as 1 million people inside its walls? I sure didn't. The museum's temporary exhibit featured Islamic jewelry. IMPRESSIVE. The largest and most valuable ruby in the world is there. Its inscribed with Islamic text and weighs in at about 130 karats. Remember the giant red forbidden jewel in Disney's Aladdin Cave of Wonders scene? That's what the ruby reminded me of.
I also toured the world's largest aviary while in KL and saw some funky birds and later visited Malaysia's Batu Caves. A 140-foot-tall, gold Lord Muruganis statue (its Hindu) stands at the foot of the caves' entrance (the largest statue of its kind in the world). In order to enter the caves you must climb 272 steps. I thought I was dying at about stair #100. A group of funny African dudes made fun of me and my lack of cardiovascular abilities... The caves' interiors are decorated with Hindu statues and shrines. They are grimy and tacky and oh so wonderfully Asian! However, there was a sort of tranquility and calming nature to it all. Tons of monkeys hang out in and around the caves and I was afraid they were going to pee on me or steal my sunglasses or something.
Singapore was pretty cool as well. I ATE SO MUCH. Alex and Eric Cassella: Thank you for the pointers. The food I ate was so delicious. However, Singapore is way too expensive for my taste and although there are really great parts of the city it was a little boring at times. Its a very pretty city and very clean. The taxi's are cheap and the people there are incredibly friendly but I think I prefer the grit and grime and hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. I also drank a lot while in Singapore. I particularly enjoyed the Raffles Hotel Singapore Sling. You may have heard of the cocktail. It was invented at the Raffels back in the good ol' days of British imperialism. Originally a ladies drink, the Singapore Sling became a classic Sigaporean staple. I wrote down the ORIGINAL recipe for all of you! They are really yummy. Here it is:
Raffels Hotel Original Singapore Sling
- 30 mL Gin
- 15 mL Cherry Heering
- 7.5 mL Cointreau
- 120 mL Sarawak Pineapple Juice
- 15 mL Lime Juice
- 10 mL Grenadine
- A dash of Angostura bitters
- Garnish with a slice of pineapple and a cherry
Sorry that I don't have any pictures. My camera went missing right before we left. However, Justin's beautiful camera just arrived all fixed and new from the shop so I will be able to put up more photos from now on! Yay!