Star Date:  January 2012
  Malaysia; Bangkok, Thailand


Hello Dear Family & Friends!


"Selamat tengahari!"

(Good Afternoon!  Malay)





"If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived?  Find your passion, whatever it may be.  Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you."

T. Alan Armstrong


Rekindle your passion. Discover the unexpected.  Look inside.  It is there.  Ask yourself what do you love in life?  Carpe Vita - Seize your Life.  Start by adding some joy to those who are less fortunate.  It will spread like wildfire.

Love music?  Sing loudly - on key or not.  Love dancing?  Dance the salsa, tango, do some skankin'.  Make up new steps.  Share your new found  freedom and joy with those around you. Dance with babies, whirl senior citizens around in wheelchairs.  Love the water?  Get wet.  Kiss a flower or count stars.  Give a kind smile to someone in need.  Dive into what stirs you, the fire that burns deep in your core.

Modern life full of schedules, deadlines and 'busyness' tends to throw cold water on your flame until it sputters and goes out.  We are made to think that this is how life should be; that stress is normal.  Life becomes just one day after another.  Be spontaneous.  Be a free thinker.  Make the time to claim that part of you that makes you feel alive.  Climb out of the rut and never look back.  Watch "Joe vs. the Volcano" for a smile and to blast open the ever increasing rigid box you are creating around you.

Each of us should have a cause to help with, in our own back yard or around the world.  A need that lights a spark in your soul.  A chance to give instead of get.  Without giving back some of what we receive in life, life becomes just a spectator sport and we should be charged admission.

We traveled by truck through the LRA territory in Uganda making friends with many of the victims and families.  Invisible children.  Beautiful souls with glowing smiles in the midst of adversity.  Check out March 2010 on our homepage.
Let this video ignite a spark in your heart. Please share it.  Stand up for justice on this planet we all occupy.   80 million hits in the first week and growing.  Watch this inspiring video: <>  See how the passion of a few can change our world.  This is guaranteed to light a fire under you! 

As travel becomes easier and more widespread it seems our planet is shrinking.  Prejudice and ignorance about our formerly unknown neighbors is dissolving.  Within hours you can be halfway around the world, thrown into a mind boggling exotic land.  And so we unexpectedly left Africa and arrived in Bangkok, traveling by land to Malaysia.

Bangkok, Thailand an international crossroad, has become a 'home away from home' as we crisscross the globe en route from Africa through Asia to Hawaii.  Thailand has long been a popular stop for travelers.  Tides are changing here as 'tourist worn' locals lose the very thing that attracted visitors in the first place - smiles.  The 'land of smiles' is changing along with the tighter visa regulations. 

Neighboring Malaysia is only looking forward with open ideas and open arms to travelers.  A diverse country, this rich land offers beautiful white sand beaches, remote islands where you can hide away, mountain vistas and dense verdant jungles in the interior.  Plant and animal species, often rare, are slowly being pushed into protected areas as the fever of modernization sweeps the country.  Excellent infrastructure makes for easy, efficient travel.  Are the payoffs worth the inevitable globalization?

Remote regions should be sought out to get a feel for the rich past and cultural mix of Malaysia.  There are 64  groups of indigenous people, all speaking their own languages and adhering to cultural customs.  Many of these groups have used the educational opportunities provided to them in their rural sustainable villages, to take more control of their lives, while respecting their cultural heritage.  Grab an Air Asia flight ($20) over to the Island of Borneo where an array of cultures await the more adventurous in Sarawak and Sabah.  Most live off the land hunting, fishing and farming.

The 'orang asli', the original people have inhabited the thick forest and jungles of Malaysia for a millennium.  Some of the world's oldest jungles, shrouded with  mystery, were the playground of spirits, both benevolent and mischievous.  The world of myths and legends is woven into the colorful fabric of Malaysia.

Tioman Island is said to have been a dragon princess who decided to make her home where the island now rises out of the sea.  Tranquil Lake Chini  is thought to be the site of a magnificent Khmer city now sunk beneath the lotus blossoms, in the wilds of Pahang. Mount Ophir, in Johor, is said to be the home of 'Puteri Gunung Ledang', a legendary princess once wooed by the Sultan of Malacca.

The supernatural is woven into Malaysian life itself.  The 'orang asli' believe that one's 'semangat', soul or life force, travels abroad during sleep; dreams are the record of the soul's adventures.  No wonder we wake up tired some mornings!  If you listen and look closely while wandering through the vibrant jungles it is possible to feel this strong connection with Nature.

The Chinese were famous for trading near and far around the globe.  During the Ming Dynasty, in a gesture of good will the Emperor of China betrothed his daughter, Princess Hang Li Po, to the Sultan of Malacca, ruler of the rich and strong port city of Malacca.  This royal princess and her entourage numbering over 500, formed the first permanent Chinese settlement in Malaysia.  With their new Malay brides they lived at Bukit China or China Hill and the mixed Malays/Chinese became known as Peranakan.  Soon adopting Malay traditions, customs and dress they formed a hybrid subculture, strong and powerful to this day.  While some Chinese rituals are practiced in scattered temples, most of life in Malaysia today is a fusion of all the immigrants who have arrived at her shores.  Buddhists (24.6%) worship next to Hindus next to Christians next to Muslims
(61%).  Today holidays such as Islamic Ramadan are practiced.  At the end of the month of fasting is the festival of Eid ul-Fitr, known locally as Hari Raya Puasa or Aidilfitri, when many locals take one to two weeks off to 'balik kampung' or return to their home towns to meet family and friends.  This is one of the many times in a year when major cities like Kuala Lumpur has virtually no traffic congestion.  Chinese New Year (around January/February), Deepavali or Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights (around October/November), the Buddhist holiday of Wesak (around May/June), and Christian Christmas (25 December) are all honored.  Why not?  A day off work puts a smile on anyone's face.  This diversity lends a tasty eclectic flavor to
the food of Malaysia. 

In 1511 the Portuguese conquered enticing Malacca and ruled for 130 years.  Next the Dutch, then British East India spice Company spread their influence near Penang or Georgetown.  Stirred into the pot were immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and neighboring Thailand to name a few; making Malaysia a destination that whets the taste buds. British food was drowned out by an exciting array of taste sensations unique to Malaysia.  In the land of the coconut everyone cooked with coconut oil for centuries and the cream in the curries added a mouth watering richness.  Coconuts are a healthy self contained package of nutrition, good for the heart and health in general (see Thoughts on Health for more info).  Malaysia was free from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure centuries.  Now all the 'rich mans diseases' are currently rampant in this progressively, upward affluent society.  A healthy palm tree vibrates with life.  It bends with high winds without breaking.  Every bit of it is used in constructing huts or for food.  Endless miles of coconut groves have been leveled and replaced with palm oil trees.  Palm oil, as with all the GMO oils in the west (corn, soybean, canola, etc) are poison to your body after they have been chemically extracted and processed at high temperatures.  The wonders of technology.  Nature knows.  Why do we have to keep trying to perfect on perfection?  Too bad we can't learn from the destruction of the palm trees and society of Easter Island.  And so history repeats itself.  Each time the stakes are higher.   

For us to be able to have authentic Indian food served on banana leaves in Indian Town or Chinese Buddhist vegan chicken drummies and vegetables the next day, followed by Pad Thai, or Malay curry during the week we feel the trip was worth it just for the food.  From metropolitan Kuala Lumpur to Penang, and everywhere in between, the fires are lit and the food is bubbling.  My taste buds are tingling.  I think I'll take a break and go find a snack!   Simple pleasures are life's treasures! 


And so it goes.........................................Next month back to the U.S.A., to help my Mom after a serious stroke.  Until then let's try to find our passion.  The clock is ticking!
Thanks for sharing this website with friends and family.  First hand experiences and information, not influenced by the media, help us to learn more about this fascinating planet we all share.  Celebrate diversity.  Share your passion.  Thanks for keeping in touch - we love getting your emails! 



Love, Light & Laughter, 
xoxoox  Nancy & Joseph



Travel notes:

$1.00 US = 3.20 Malaysian Ringgits Malaysia:

When in Bangkok we usually schedule a few days in KL and a longer time in Penang or coastal areas of Malaysia.  You can take the sleeper train down for an enjoyable experience or fly in 1 hour with Air Asia for $10-15. Joseph stayed in Malaysia for 3 weeks while I flew back to move and settle my Mom from the Midwest U.S. to Hawaii.

Remember to check out the deals on throughout Asia, and now China, Australia, London, India and more each year.  They give away free tickets 3 times a year - get on their mailing list. Good dependable airlines, usable secure website, but recently NO refunds - only changes.  And once you print a boarding pass (at time of payment usually) there are NO changes so only print once your plans are secure.


Kuala Lumpur:
Alamanda Hotel right in the thick of the night market in Chinatown - got a good promo on the internet - about $16 night.  KL is expensive.  Small rooms but ok.  Get one up high with a window.  Amazingly you don't hear any noise from the rambunctious market right down stairs.
No. 85, Jalan Petaling   603 2070 4566  The taxi drops you off 1/2 block away - at the end of the market.  Make sure to ask someone which side of the street the hotel is on as you can't cross over through the market.  A busy but fun place to stay.  

Le Village Guest House
No 47 (2nd - 4th floors)
Jalan Petaling   phone # 0173349688
Very friendly and helpful owners. Small rooms and outside toilet but kitchen, A/C, washer dryer, free drinking water.   Fast, free internet.  About $12 for a single.
Also a 2nd branch for backpackers on #99Jalan Tun H.S.Lee  - not as nice but cheaper and great amenities.  "5 star comfort for 1 star price."  Book through Air Asia -$22 reg -watch for sales.  Our room was $6, right at the LCC airport.  The room was a miniature, classy, spotless a/c room with bathroom.  I would certainly check out their availability throughout Asia.  One is opening downtown KL also.  Hotel;  Petaling Street, right in the heart of Chinatown, phone # 603 2070 2208,  Book on the internet for cheaper rates (we paid about $12 which is unheard of in downtown KL).  You can stay in a basic but quiet, clean room, with spotless white sheets, comforter and A/C.  Check out the backpacker places for the same price and you will be sold.  None of the budget places have windows around here but at the Orange Hotel you don't have to put up with other people's smoke and noise at night.  We did miss our friend Adam at the backpacker place though.  Hi Adam, thanks for keeping in touch.

Stardust Guesthouse.  370-D Chulia St.  Phone # 2635723  Centrally located near little India and GREAT Vegetarian Buddhist Chinese restaurant. Stayed here twice.  Clean, friendly, outside bathrooms but fast internet - which Joseph liked.  About 30-40r depending on fan or ac.

EE Beng: GREAT Vegetarian Buddhist Chinese restaurant.  20, Lebuh Dickens (across from the police station)

Info on living in Malaysia:  Scott


Dental Time:  Khao San
Dr. Thanathon  (excellent)
Tele# 02-629-0344  Fax 02-641-8991
177 Jakrapong Rd., Chana Songkhram, Phra Nakorn, 10200

Turn left at end of Soi Rambutri - walk down left side of street for about 2 blocks - very professional and friendly - they speak English.  Not all dentists are the same in the office.  Let us know if you can recommend a good one.  Joseph had all the mercury removed from his teeth, or I should say repaired from an incomplete job done in Uganda.  He checked at the Dental College near Siam Paragon and although it was a bit cheaper you had to return many times to have all the work done.  Better to just go to Dental Time.  The Dental Time next to Burger King at the end of Khao San Rd. is more expensive but just as good.  It costs about 500 baht per surface filling, discounts for a lot of work.

We have been to Bangkok so many times we forget to include sites to visit such as the Grand Palace, the water taxi up and down the river (drop off along the way at Chinatown, etc), the national museum, the floating markets.  Ayuthaya is a 2 hour drive from the city. A smaller version of Angkor Wat in Cambodia but with tickets so cheap why not just fly on Air Asia to see the real thing?   Don't miss an up close encounter with a 600 lb. tiger the Tiger Monastery in Kanchanaburi about 3 hours away.

Also check out past webpages for more info on Thailand: click here to see
Jan 2008 or March 2009 on the homepage.

Roof Garden (Sun) Guesthouse, 62 Soi Rambutri,
Phra-Athit Rd., phone #: 02-6290626, email:  Get a room in the new section in the back, (521 or 421 at the top of the stairs), these rooms have an extra side window with good air and light.  Spacious rooms, newly done, at 400b a night (360b weekly rate paid up front) these are a good deal and a real step up from many of the dingy rooms for backpackers.  Soi Rambutri alley has all the amenities for travelers and is like Khao San Road 20 years ago.  The management of the hotel (Mama and Papa and son Art) are a bit indifferent but Nee at the internet/travel agency on the ground floor, is really helpful (# 081 8477682).

Just down the alley, is Mr Kim's street side stall.  He makes the best fresh Thai food in Bangkok!  Don't miss his mouth watering dishes - for about $1 a plate.

Sunset along the river with the locals is a relaxing event.  Just head down the alley from Soi Rambutri towards the Chao Praya River and keep walking 1-2 blocks until you come to a sharp right bend in the road.  The park is on the left side along the road and is a fun people watching place.  The impressive span bridge lights up at night.

Don't miss going to see the 'circus' at night along Khao San Rd., and the lights along Chao Fa Blvd are spectacular, especially around the time of the King or Queen's birthdays.  The Grand Palace and a ride up the Klongs are not to be missed.  The list of sights in Bangkok is endless.

Take the river taxis up and down the river.  At the far end, away from city center, is Nontha Bri Market.  Get off at the clock tower at the end of the line.  Amazing sights to behold.  The taxis run back every 30 min until 7pm, but you would want to leave before dark.   

Pantip Plaza:  Computer heaven in Bangkok.  If they don't have it, it doesn't exist.  Bus #15 or 47 from near Khao San.

New Year's Eve Thai style:  Take the river taxi before 7pm from Soi Rambutri to Tha Chang pier and walk to the field opposite the Grand Palace.  You will need to patiently take a land taxi back to Khao San.  If there is ever  question of a possible traffic jam bargain for the price ahead - point to point, or it will cost too much via meter.  Once you know the prices you can bargain - ask a local standing next to you.  Meter is better if you don't know the cost.

The 'tuk tuks' will offer you a cheap city tour or ride to the malls if you stop and shop in a jewelry or tailor shop.  They get a gas coupon - whether you buy or not.  We have helped out a couple of drivers when we had extra time.  DON'T take the tuk tuks back during rush hour (5:30-7pm) or you will get gassed to death in the jam.

Vegan in Bangkok:
Good Karma - Thailand's online health food store.

The Happy Cow website lists vegetarian places in Bangkok, but every restaurant can whip you up something vegan in a jiff.  They love vegetables here and haven't added all the terrible western diet items yet.   

A little ferry crossing to Pra Arthic pier from behind Soi Rambutri to Wang Lang has a small organic vegetable produce market.  Just ask.

Ethos Vegetarian & Organic Restaurant.  Left at Burger King on the end of Khao San Rd, right down alley, left into lane.  Tasty food, juices and deserts.

Siam Paragon, Gourmet Grocery: Longing for anything familiar overseas?  You can find it here! Also has a delicious salad bar you can eat safely and a whole organic vegetable section to purchase.

Tamarind Vegetarian Restaurant:
Next door at the international food court on the 5th floor of MBK Plaza.  Great, fresh cooked to order dishes.  Choose your veggies and have them cooked to taste. is still the cheapest airline in Asia.  Great service, modern planes, young energetic staff, great safety record.   Go to their website and sign up for their newsletter.  You will get notices for the 1 million free or reduced seats they give away annually.  Just got a notice that for under $40 we could fly from Kuala Lumpur to London, 4 places in India, 5 places in China and less to inter Asia destinations.  Professional  - reliable website.  Don't miss them.  From Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok is only $10-15.  We also heard Jet Star is cheap from Bangkok.

Highly recommended on the southern island Koh Samui: Lemai Beach - Green Villas.  Bungalows only 350 b per day near the beach.

Koh Chang Island:
Take the large luxury bus right to the island from Soi Rambutri for 300 baht.  They say 4 hours but it really is closer to 6 hours.  If you pay for your return at the ferry it is only 250 baht.  They give you a phone number to call one day in advance.

Once you get to the north end of the island it costs 120 baht (posted) to Bang Bao at the complete southern end of the island (about 40 min).  Riding in the back of a covered truck 'sawngthaew' is kind of expensive so plan your trips around the island wisely. Chartering to a remote beach is also expensive so find others to share with you.  You can walk to Kong Koi Beach, about 1 mile from Bang Bao but better to check it out first as the K.K.B. Huts are often full.

Bang Bao:
The friendliest family and the best simple food in Bang Bao - the small restaurant next to the fruit stand (same side heading out of town).  Lost the piece of paper with correct names but this family is just great and their food is very tasty for only 40-50 baht.  We shared lots of fun over food.

Their are several good restaurants along the pier for some tasty Thai food at sunset. 

Great snorkeling- go about 1 km up the hill away from the pier.  Turn left at Nisa Cabana.  Continue about 700 m to the end.  The shore near Paradise Bungalows has great snorkeling.

Bang Bao Cliff Cottages:  A relaxing, scenic sitting area and restaurant ( too pricey -120 baht per curry) overlooking the bay.  Wifi free.  A 10 minute walk from the pier.  Very rustic cottages, some with stunning views, with small balconies/ shared toilet - 350 b.  Fancy a/c rooms 600b.  phone # 08590 46706  Let friendly Euan and his Thai wife make you feel at home.

Check out the Koh Chang Bang Bao Boat for dependable service in booking snorkeling (500 b p.p.) or the elephant rides (500 b p.p. or 900 to include giving your elephant a bath).  Located on the right side across from 7-11    phone #084 -661886

Kong Koi Beach:
(About 1 mile walk from Bang Bao)
K.K.B. Huts: on Kong Koi Beach are simple but clean thatched huts with attached baths/shower; 350 baht per hut per night. 400 baht for short stays.  Gay and the woman owner and her brother are really friendly and helpful.  Her boyfriend isn't but chose your people to deal with.  For our 10 day stay we walked to town, bought fruit, veggies for salad, and 20 lt bottles of water and hired a ride back.  Just get off at the bridge and get a cart from the K.K.B.  Huts to carry your stuff.  The draw of course is the quiet beach with chairs in the shade under the coconut trees.  Take a swim, read, sip a coconut or eat at one of the many shops along the beach.  At dusk the beach clears out completely and you have it to yourselves without the thud thud of music.  The place next door is luxury 2 bedroom units at 3000 baht and up.  Best to swim in front of their place.  Don't miss a massage for 1 hour for 300 baht under the tree in front of their hotel - the best. 

Around the corner is the Tropical? Hotel.  Indifferent staff and small servings of food. Free wifi sometimes.  Rooms from 800 baht and up.  No more hotels on this beach.  Back towards town but right near the road is a small beach with a great bunch of hippies hanging around and 2 very basic rooms for 200 baht.  An option until K.K.B. Huts open up.  Also along the way to town is Hippie Huts for 150 baht per room per night.  Again very basic but ok.  No beach and next to construction on gigantic Tranquility Bay Hotel.  The hotels on the pier are about 400 - 500 baht with some nice ones to choose from.  The traffic on the pier stops by 9pm so it's quiet but during the day it's a hub of activity.





A new friend at a large mosque in Kuala Lumpur.  First she
took us around her mosque then we took her out for lunch.
She was a wealth of knowledge on the Islamic faith.

We have found that Muslims are a great group; friendly and helpful.
This guy showed us around his mosque library.

Mosques are designed to be simple and spacious.  This one was
particularly striking with the stained glass windows,
 not a common feature.

Enjoying the views from high atop Petronas Towers.

The Petronas Twin Towers.  The world's tallest twin
 towers, standing 1483 ft (452 m) high.

Hanging out with a family in the gardens below the Towers.

Commendable religious tolerance in Malaysia.  Take your pick.  There
 are many roads to heaven.  p.s.  Remember to bring your wallet!

A roller coaster inside the Times Square Shopping Center
in KL.

The covered night market in China Town in KL.  Many Jalan Petaling
tels (see below) are hidden behind the stalls.

One of the many mosques between KL and Penang.


A brightly painted Chinese building in the old part of Penang.

A welcoming fami
ly ready to serve us some of their famous
mouth watering peanut based Penang curry.

Chinese Buddhists enjoying a lunch of vegan vegetables &
imitation meat dishes (made from soy and mushrooms).
Excellent flavor and texture.


Rickshaws rule the roads in Penang.


May they live happily ever after.  Probably the last time
he lets her dress him in bright pink satin!


The festive entourage.

Taman Tasik Taiping.  Hop on a swan to paddle around
the beautiful lake.

A little excess water, compliments of a monsoon deluge!

Colorful markets full of fresh fruit.  From l to r -mangoes,
pink dragon fruit, paw paws.

Curry paste to suite every taste and recipe.


Each basket about 20 cents.

Fresh eel.

This pig got in the last word.  Well maybe not.

A creative display of dried fish.

Malaysia has thousands of miles of shoreline.

Lush vegetation in the jungle forests of the interior.

Happy orchids abound.

A flashy kingfisher watching for a fish snack below.

A wise old fellow of the forest.

 The Buddhist temples in Bangkok are intricately
carved and decorated.

A monk and his new puppy.

Buddhists worshipping in Thailand.

A teenage elephant and his mahout strolling the streets.

Celebrating my birthday.  We enjoyed an evening of
fine dining, music and dancing.

A classical quartet in the luxurious lobby of the Orchid Hotel.

Beautiful Thai dancers.

Now that's relaxed.

Our favorite street cafe in all of Bangkok.  Mr Kim serves up the tastiest
fresh vegetarian Thai food along Soi Rambutri (see travel notes). He
proudly shows off his son's photos or occasionally the real thing.
Say "Hi!" from Nancy & Joseph.

What more does a dog need than 2 fans and an umbrella?

Every morning Joseph make a delicious breakfast.  One of our two
raw meals a day, usually with papaya, bananas, mango, oranges,
 fresh ginger, passion fruit and or pineapple.  Yummy.



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