Monday, June 13, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Even though I barely had 24 hours left in Singapore after returning from Malaysia, I did not waste a second of it. Aunty Lay Hoon took me out to a nice quiet dinner around East Coast Park where they are famous for their Chili Crab. Unfortunately, I don't like spicy food so we settled for some steamed crab instead. After dinner, I met up with Pam and the gang for another movie. This time we watched Fast Five, which of course defied everything that Romana stands for in terms of women's rights. We did start bothering the people sitting around us, but it was all we could do to not start laughing whenever Vin Diesel or Dwayne Johnson opened their mouths. You just can't take them seriously... especially with that awful patch of facial hair on The Rock's face. The good news was that the theater in Singapore actually had salty popcorn!

After the movie we headed back to Pam's house, where I was staying for the night. Romana joined us and we had a nice sleepover complete with McDelivery at 3am. The next day was my last day in Asia, so for lunch we met up with some friends at the mall. After lunch, Pam needed to give tuition, so I used that time to go shopping and spend the rest of my Singaporean cash. By the time I got on the plane that night, I had $6 left in my pocket.

Since Aunty Lay Hoon picked me up on my arrival in Singapore, she insisted on being the one to drop me off at the end. My grandmother's two sisters were so kind as well and wanted to come with to send me off, so I had an entire departure party as I was leaving for the States.

The flight home wasn't as bad as the flight to Singapore in January since I was now a seasoned traveler. This time I was smart enough to pick an aisle seat before I was shafted to a center seat. I also wore my University of Connecticut sweatshirt since it wouldn't fit in my suitcase (which was conveniently 0.1kg under the weight limit) and that provided a conversation starter with some of the other passengers. I did make some new friends in the JFK airport who were from Connecticut College and had spent the last semester in Vietnam, so we were able to swap some traveling stories. One thing that everyone agreed on was that I chose to study in the most expensive country in the region.

After getting my bags and passing through immigration, I had to wait awhile for my parents who were, as always, late. But when they got there, we had a wonderful reunion. I was so cold though in my sweatshirt and yoga pants, but apparently the weather was nice so my parents were in shorts and t-shirts! The first place they took me to was Denny's, where I had the BEST American breakfast (even though it was lunchtime).

Since the Denny's is directly next to the outlet mall, I'm not sure why my parents were surprised that I insisted on going shopping after we ate. And while I've been blind to this specific American stereotype, coming back to the US after four months in Asia made me realize that we really do have an obesity problem in this country...

Now after a 22 hour flight, I did not have the patience to sit in a car for 2 more hours as we were driving home, but we finally made it! As we were pulling up the driveway, I saw a pastel banner strung across the front door which I assumed was a leftover Easter decoration (even though we never decorate for Easter), but it was in fact a little "Welcome Home Becca" banner =)

The first person that I saw besides my family was my best friend KC. I'm not entirely sure how I survived without her since December, but I couldn't wait to see her! She suggested going out to eat for a good American meal or cooking one ourselves, and since I was broke we opted for the cheaper option. We made the tastiest American meal of chicken and potatoes for dinner and she surprised me with dessert afterwards!

Unfortunately, I started working the week after I got back, although that did mean that I started earning back all the money that I had spent this semester. I've slowly started seeing everyone from UConn though, since Meg McCabe came down to visit and Meech stopped by the area. It makes me sad though that KC had to go to DC for an internship, so I don't really have many friends in the immediate vicinity. Lucikly, Adrienne is staying at UConn this summer and I got to visit last weekend! I felt like I was going home as I traveled the back roads up to school and drove through campus.

While my travels are limited for the near future due to budget constraints, I'm looking forward to visiting Niagara Falls and Philly this summer! Hopefully someday I'll get to travel the rest of the world too, but for now it's home sweet home in Southeastern Connecticut with the best family in the world!


Leeches and Whatnot

Before leaving Singapore, I decided to squeeze in one last trip with some friends. Our amazing friend Pam planned the whole trip (she also planned Cambodia), for which we were very grateful! My last round trip flight from Singapore was to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo, Malaysia. The purpose for this trip was to climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Southeast Asia. We were all prepared for leeches and cold weather and were ready to summit this peak in one day, but as I've found out during all my travels, not everything goes according to plan. There were eight of us going on the trip and in order to climb to the summit you need a guide, but a guide could only take a maximum of four people. While the obvious answer is to get two guides, that didn't work since I guess they didn't have extras to spare for us. So two of our group went to the summit on an overnight trip while the rest of us settled to just do some hiking in the rainforest.

Our main concern on our hike was leeches. We had heard so many horror stories about people hiking in the rainforest and finding these bloodsucking creatures on their feet or in other places on their bodies, and Pam's Lonely Planet guide did nothing but heighten these fears. Apparently these things can slip through the mesh on your shoes and can squish themselves flat so you don't even know they're there. They suck for a couple hours then detach if you don't find them, but you know they were there because they inject something that keeps your blood from clotting so you just keep bleeding for about an hour after they fall off. So we were NOT taking any chances when it came to leaches. We coated our socks in Tiger Balm AND sprayed them with bug spray before putting our shoes on, and made sure to stay away from any wet or muddy spots on the trail. 

After being stuck in the city of Singapore for so long, the greenness of the rainforest was a very welcome change.

It did happen to start raining and getting dark which made us worry towards the end of our trip, but it ended up just adding to our adventure. We could now say that we had been stuck in a rainstorm in the rainforest. In the end we managed to survive with only a couple scrapes, albeit a little soggy.

We rewarded ourselves with some nice, unhealthy KFC for dinner and followed it with a movie. We were really looking forward to buttery popcorn and were quite disappointed when we found out that all they had was caramel popcorn, but getting lost in Thor's blue eyes made up for it.

The next morning we checked out the market before leaving town and then it was off to the airport for my last return flight to Singapore. And even though this marked my fourth trip to Malaysia, I would not hesitate to go back!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wo Ai Beijing

After our memorable night in Marina Bay, Ricky and I headed to Beijing... What an adventure. Basically everything about our trip to China came as a shocker. 

Day 1
The first shock came right when we stepped off the plane and it was foggy and cold. told me it was supposed to be in the 70s but that first day when we landed it was only 55 degrees and it was so cold! The next shocker was when we went through immigration. We were expecting to have to wait in a long line, but surprisingly, the line for foreigners was so short! I guess not many people outside of China visit China. After we successfully passed through immigration, it was time to head into the city. The hostel we were staying at provided us with very detailed directions on how to get there by train, and we were doing fine... until the train just didn't stop at our station. We were supposed to get off at Qianmen and we bought a ticket there, but the train literally just passed by it. So we had to get off at the next stop and then manage to find our way back to where we were supposed to be.

We finally made it to the hostel though and then decided to explore. We were walking distance from Tiananmen Square so we decided to stop there first (after buying a jacket of course). We saw the spot where Mao's dead body was preserved, the National Museum, the Great Hall of the People, and the famous large picture of Mao.

After that, we stumbled across the Forbidden City, so we decided to check that out next. It was pretty cool getting to see the place where emperors used to live and walk. The only thing that made it not so fun was the hordes of people everywhere. I guess we should have expected it since it is China after all and we were apparently there during their Labor Day weekend.

We had to do so much walking that first day. After we left the Forbidden City, they wouldn't let us out the same way that we came in, so we had to walk all the way around the city and back to where we started from. Our legs were sooo tired and we were exhausted, but we slept like babies, even on our hard-as-rock mattresses.

Day 2
We decided that our itinerary on the second day would consist of the Temple of Heaven, the Olympic stadium, and the Summer Palace. We meticulously researched how to get everywhere via subway so that we wouldn't have to deal with tuk-tuks and taxis. Our first stop was the Temple of Heaven, which we reached with no problem.

 Basically, the Temple of Heaven is where the emperor would come and do a ritual sacrifice every year in order to grow a good crop that year. I think there may have been another reason for this place, but that was all I could remember. One of the coolest places of this compound was the echo wall.

Apparently its round shape allows you to whisper something on one end, and someone on the other end of the wall can hear you because it echoes perfectly. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to get close enough to test it out.

After seeing the Temple of Heaven, we headed out to Olympic Park to see the Bird's Nest and the Water Cube. I was super pumped, since I love watching the Olympics, and I love Michael Phelps, and I couldn't wait to see the spot where he won 8 gold medals. It was so neat to be able to see these places in person.

Unfortunately, the Bird's Nest was closed that day, and we couldn't figure out why since none of the guards could speak English. It was only later that we found out from some random person that the stadium was closed because there was a concert going on in there that night. Of course it would be closed the ONE day we decided to visit. 

Lucky for us though, the Water Cube was still open. It was so cool to see in person what I had only ever seen on TV and to see the spot where legends have swam.

We also found out that there was a water park inside the Water Cube! If we had thought to bring out swimsuits to China and if we had more time, it would have been cool just to say we had done it. You can also swim laps in the warm-up pool, which would have been cool too. You could say you swam where Olympians swam in Beijing... I just think that's pretty epic.

After we finished there, it was time to move on to the Summer Palace. This is where we ran into our next problem. We walked back to the subway station that we came from, but it was gated off! We didn't know if they had just closed that one specific entrance so we walked to the other three, but we found out that they had closed off that station entirely. We tried asking why it was closed or where we could go since we needed the subway, but once again none of the guards spoke any English. We decided we would be able to get a taxi, forgetting that no one knows English. We asked about 5 taxi drivers and none of them knew what we were saying, and when we tried asking someone for help since he had been watching the ordeal, he said in perfect English, "Sorry, I speak no English." Luckily, there was a tuk-tuk driver who was also watching this whole ordeal, and the only English word he knew was subway. We didn't know what else to do, so we had to trust this guy to get us to the closest subway station, which he did without a problem. Once we were back on track, we got to our next destination without any more mishaps.

We didn't have much time to explore the Summer Palace, but after all the walking we had done that day, we didn't really mind. The highlights of the Summer Palace are Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake.

We decided to climb up the hill to get a nice view, and ended up climbing up a random dirt path that wasn't supposed to be a path and literally going straight up the hill. The view at the top was worth it though so I tried not to complain.

Since this was our last stop of the day, we headed back to the hostel afterwards for some much needed rest before our trek up the Great Wall.

Day 3
On the last full day of our trip, we booked a tour to the Great Wall of China. This tour included the Ming tombs as well, so we stopped there first. The tomb we visited was the Changling tomb, which was a good representation of all the tombs. The outer court is in the shape of a square, symbolizing earth, and the inner court where the bodies are actually buried is in the shape of a circle, symbolizing heaven.

In this tomb, the emperor is buried with his empress, and then there are two wells to symbolize the concubines that were killed when the emperor died. But, as Tony the tour guide would say, don't worry, there are no bodies in the wells, just lots of sunglasses (from all the tourists peering inside).

After seeing the tombs, we hit up a jade house to see how jade is carved and to have a nice lunch. It was actually pretty cool to see some of the things that they made, since there were many intricate creations in there. There was a giant dragon boat made entirely of jade, and there was also a garden statue of a tiger that was selling for around $11,000. If I had that much money to spend, I wouldn't spend it on a giant jade statue. After walking around the showroom, we were brought upstairs for a delicious Chinese "lunch." I call it "lunch" because it was served to us at 10:00 in the morning... Needless to say, we were the only people eating that early.

After lunch, it was time to finally see the Great Wall! As soon as it came into view, we all started snapping pictures of it. And of course we played "I'll Make a Man Out of You" when we were climbing it. It was actually rather difficult, as none of the steps were made with the same proportions. Some steps were as high as my knee, while others were only at about the height of my ankle. There was also no resting, as the steps just went all the way up the mountain. Some places were also more narrow than others, so if anyone decided to rest by sitting on the steps (which many people did), there was limited space to get past them so you couldn't go up at the same time as someone going down. It was a pretty sweet experience though when you think about how we were on the one man-made structure that can actually be seen from outer space.
(This isn't even half of how high it went.)

The view from the top was quite spectacular as well.

On the way back into the city, we stopped at Dr. Tea, where they let us sample different types of tea and taught us how to properly brew and drink tea. It was a good way to end a long day. Once we returned to our hostel, we were once again really tired, so we decided to take it easy again. We went out and tried to get some authentic Chinese food for dinner, but we were so poor we could only afford KFC. I did manage to find a really sweet treat though that a lot of street vendors sell. I didn't get a picture of it, but if you can picture in your head a really long kebab stick with about 10 strawberries, all drizzled in a hard sugary substance that turns into something like candy. I wish I had found this sooner, as it was absolutely delicious. I just had to try not to think about all the sugar that I was feeding myself.

Day 4
On our last day, we really only had a half day since it was time to head back to Singapore. We decided to go back to the national stadium since we hadn't been able to go inside it on the day that we visited. We got there with no problem, but we had a problem when we tried to buy our tickets. Apparently, the ticket cost more than we had anticipated, and since both of us had perfectly planned for the amount that we thought it was, neither of us had enough to get in. We thought that since we were in a large tourist area, we would be able to find an ATM or a currency exchange, but not a single ATM could be found among the plethora of pay phones in the area. Since neither of us had enough money to get in by ourselves, we pooled our money and I went in with both of our cameras. The Beijing Olympics were probably my favorite games, so I was pretty psyched to be where the epic opening and closing ceremonies had taken place. Unfortunately, the view was partially obstructed by the equipment from the concert a few days earlier, but it was still pretty cool.

After I checked out the national stadium, it was time for us to head back to our hostel and pack up for the airport. Everyone laughs at us for spending so much money for so few days in China, and for not booking with a package tour, but we were happy with our trip. We managed to hit all of the tourist destinations in just three days, and the physical exercise was good for us (or for me at least). The only shadow over the trip to Beijing was the final exam I had to take the day after we got back, but I tried not to think about it most of the time, and had a very memorable second to last trip.


On Top of the World

Goodness gracious I'm so far behind. But I feel as if I need to finish this since my travel blog wouldn't be complete without my last few adventures in Asia. I'll begin with the night of April 28th. This was a night to remember and I couldn't have asked for a better beginning of the end. Haga had gotten in touch with Gina every time he came back to Singapore and this last trip was the first time that she was actually in the country during his visit, so we decided to meet up with him for dinner. He insisted on going to a French bistro in Marina Bay Sands where he apparently knew the manager, so we dressed up for a nice night out.

Haga was quite the gentleman and paid for our meal, and his friend Sebastian the manager was kind enough to bring out three complementary desserts and some lemon pastries right out of the oven. After our delicious meal was finished, we snuck up to the SkyPark, which is the observation deck at the top of the Sands. Once we were up there, we managed to get into the pool area thanks to Gina's natural charm and beauty. Only after we got inside the area did we realize that the changing rooms were outside the pool area and since we didn't want to risk leaving and having to come in again we just changed on the pool deck. Once inside the pool, the view was spectacular.

Our experience at the top of the Sands was the best way to spend our last night out together.

After swimming in the pool and sitting in the hot tub for way too long, we changed back out of our swimsuits and met up with Jochen who took me to 1-Altitude. 1-Altitude is the highest rooftop bar in the world, and stands 63 stories above Marina Bay. Even though I was clearly the youngest person up there, I wasn't going to let anything ruin my fun. We walked around the perimeter multiple times (there was nothing else to do up there) and got the see the city from a whole new perspective.

After this trip, I'm pretty sure I photographed the Sands from every possible angle. It was so cool seeing it from the top of 1-Altitude though, because it was a whole different perspective than anyone is used to seeing. Because of the distance between us and the building, it looked so tiny and squashable. It makes you realize that the way you see anything in life really does just depend on and change based on your point-of-view.

I've always said that the Marina Bay area at night is my favorite place to be in Singapore, and I was so happy to be able to spend my last night here in such a spectacular way.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Partyin' Partyin' Yeah!

I'm pretty sure our whole time in Thailand, we never stopped making fun of Rebecca Black and talking about how awful her life will be when she goes to high school and college. So that is the backdrop for our ballin' week in Thailand.

We started off in Phuket, which is a large touristy island off the coast of Thailand. One of the first meals I ate was pad thai, which was amazinggg. Everything in Phuket was chill, so it shouldn't have come as any surprise when we ran into a guy with a baby elephant in the street.

On our second day, we decided to take a boat tour around to the surrounding islands. We got to see Maya Beach where Leonardo DiCaprio filmed The Beach, we got to snorkel with the fish, and we went to the Phi Phi Islands which have some of the nicest beaches in Thailand. The water out there was amazingly blue, and the cliffs were so tall.

The beaches had the whitest sand ever too. Phi Phi was basically a paradise.

The sad thing though was that we didn't have enough time in Phuket. The day after our boat trip, we had to catch a 12 hour bus ride to Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The bus didn't leave until 6:00, but we had to be ready to be picked up at 3:45. We were planning on going to the beach in the morning, but it rained so we were stuck just sleeping and eating all morning.

And although Kenny gave me a hard time about booking a bus instead of a plane to Bangkok, it turned out to be a fun adventure. We watched a Thai TV show that featured an ape looking guy with the voice of a 5-year old. And after that was over we watched Black Swarm in Thai, which is a movie about killer bees. And it's so much funnier when you don't know what they're saying because then you can make up everything that is going on. Bees were stinging people and turning them into zombies, and people who had been stung were vomiting bees at other people... We found it to be a very humorous movie.

Once we arrived in Bangkok, we needed to take a taxi to our hostel. Luckily, the only guy who spoke English knew where we were going, so he told us he would take us there for 450 baht (a little more than $20). Only later when we took a metered taxi did we realize how much this guy had ripped us off. And since we got to our hostel early, there was no one to check us in, so we slept in the lobby of the hotel next door and got some nice street food for breakfast.

After a couple hours, we decided it was time to get out and see the city. We decided the Grand Palace would be a good place to start, since we didn't know anywhere else to go. And that's when the adventure started. We told our taxi driver that we wanted to go to the Grand Palace and he seemed confused, but then it was as if a light bulb went off in his head and he finally knew where we were going... Except he didn't. He ended up dropping us off at the Centara Grand Hotel. So we had to go inside and ask the concierge to flag a cab for us and tell the driver where we were going.

When we finally got to the palace, some guy outside told us that it was only open to Thai people until 2:30 (which is what they tell every tourist) and sent us on a tuk-tuk ride around the city. We went to a temple with a giant buddha statue and then went to a tailors and a jewelry shop. Kenny and Austin decided to get tailored suits, and I settled for a tailor-made dress shirt. After that, we finally made it back to the Grand Palace. We managed to see some of the temples that were at the palace before it started to rain, and then we just got a glimpse of the palace before we decided to leave.

After we left, we tried to find our tuk-tuk driver so he could take us back to the tailor for our fittings, but he was nowhere to be found. We tried killing some time by wandering around and trying lots of delicious street food, but it seemed that he had disappeared so we decided to take a taxi back to the tailor. This guy was a true tourist scammer. He asked us if we had a phone so he could call the tailor (don't ask me why he needed to do that) even though all of our phones were international phones. And then later, his phone rang and he answered it. So he obviously had his own phone, he just didn't want to use it. He also took us the long way so that we got stuck in traffic and ran the meter up just for waiting. And when we got to the tailor, we tried to pay him with a 100 baht bill, but he told us he didn't have any change. What kind of taxi driver doesn't have change??

But at least we got there. After leaving, we needed to then take a taxi back to our hostel. Which is in such a remote part of town that not many people know where it is. So we finally find a cab that knows where we're going. And as we're driving, we pass a 7-Eleven that is right next to a Vietnamese restaurant. Since that is directly next to our hostel, we told him to turn around. And after getting stuck in traffic on the highway, he drops us off there. Except that wasn't where our hostel was... so we had to get another tuk-tuk to take us back. And at around 8:00pm, we finally made it back to our hostel to enjoy some good food and go to bed.

The next morning, we started off the day with a disgusting amount of delicious street food.

Our task for the day was to go the Vimanmek Mansion and find some shopping. Luckily, the first taxi we found didn't have much trouble getting to where we needed to be. The first thing we saw when we got there was the parliament building, which housed an arts exhibit.

In order to go inside we had to dress properly, so we had to buy some Thai-style sarongs, but I liked to say that Kenny and Austin were forced to wear skirts.

Unfortunately, they didn't actually allow photography inside the buildings. And if they hadn't taken our cameras at the entrance, I definitely would have snuck in a few pictures because it was absolutely amazing inside.

Our ticket to that allowed us to see other things, including the Royal Elephant Museum and the Vimanmek Mansion Museum.

This mansion is the largest teakwood mansion in the world and used to be the royal palace before the new one was built. After visiting the mansion, we decided to head to Siam Square, which is where our front desk told us we could find shopping. And boy did we find shopping. There were malls attached to each other with 5 or 6 stories, and inside were shops along with markets. Anything that you wanted, you could find here.

So after a successful day in Bangkok, Austin and I decided it was time to get a true Thai massage. Luckily, we found a really nice place right down the street from our hostel called Magic Hands. The name may make you laugh, but it was a really legit place. We payed 150 baht (mad cheap) for an hour massage, and they washed our feet beforehand and gave us warm tea and hot towels afterwards. If it wasn't our last day and if I hadn't already taken out a loan from the Bank of Ricky, I definitely would have gone back there.

But unfortunately we had to leave for the airport at 6:45 the next morning to head back to Singapore. And now here we are, studying hard and taking our final exams. The only thing getting me through this time is the anticipation of my last two trips and my return home! I can't wait to see everyone soon!! xoxo


Singapore Sling Me Baby

After our return from Malaysia, we decided it was finally time to visit the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel, which was the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. There isn't really any special taste to this drink (except that it's really sweet), but if you're in Singapore you have to say that you tried the original Singapore Sling. So we read up on the history of the Singapore Sling in the menu and decided to give it a try for ourselves.

The price was a little on the expensive side, and if we were thinking of going there today I definitely wouldn't have the money for it, but at the time it was fun! And we got lots of free peanuts... it was just like Five Guys where you eat the peanuts and throw the shells on the ground. So if you have a peanut allergy, this is not the place for you! Come to think of it, if you have a peanut allergy, you probably shouldn't be in Asia...

But anyways, now that we've tried the Singapore Sling, we can check one more thing off of our list of things to do in Singapore. And we can move on to our list of things to do in Thailand!


In My Pants

I can't believe the semester is almost over... Finals are upon us and there are less than two weeks before I leave for home! And once again, I've fallen behind on updating my blog =( So first things first, I'll tell all about our trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Petronas Formula 1 race.

The races were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but not much was going on for the first two days, so we used Friday to do all of our sightseeing in KL (there isn't much to see, so one day was enough). We started off very early at the Petronas twin towers, which used to be the tallest towers in the world until they were surpassed by Taipei 101. The only problem was that ticket sales start at 8:30am, and it's first come first served. So we got there at 6:15....

None of us were really fully awake either, so we were all lying on the ground in line until the security guards told us we had to stand up. We then proceeded to play those hand games that all little kids in elementary school played, and even got the Mexicans to teach us some of their games that Evan and I didn't know. Once ticket sales started at 8:30, we were almost the first to get tickets. We wanted to go all the way up to the top, but the first visit to the top wasn't until 11:00 which we weren't going to sit around and wait for, so we chose to go up to the sky bridge at 9:20.

From up there on the 41st floor, you could get a pretty good view of the surrounding city.

After our visit to the Petronas towers, we headed out to the Batu Caves, which has the world's tallest Murugan statue.

After climbing 272 steps, you finally reach the caves. Which are home to many monkeys that may look really cute, but are actually evil. Ricky told us that if we brought Cheetos, we could feed the monkeys. However, this mean old monkey came up to us and snatched the bag right out of our hands before we could even open it and offer it to them.

The other monkeys weren't really much better either. There was one monkey who stole a water bottle from a girl and proceeded to drink from it. And there were times where it seemed like they were circling us and we're going to attack! Evan thoroughly enjoyed it, but Montse, Adriana, and I were more than ready to leave. We had had our fair share of monkeys.

After the Batu Caves, we were originally going to go to the KL Tower which is another really tall tower in the city, but we were exhausted so we just went back to our hostel to shower up and do some studying.

On Saturday, we went to the race track but nothing exciting really happened since it was just preliminary stuff going on. But when we went on Sunday, it was super fun. In order to get there, we first had to take a train to the airport, and then take a bus from the airport to the race track.

Once you get to the track though, you have to take another bus which circles the track and takes you to the stands where you're seated, which proved to be a little bit of a problem when we were trying to leave. We had covered hillstand seats (which means that bugs crawl all over you when you're sitting), and they were PACKED on Sunday.

The race was so cool to watch too. The cars were going so fast! And they were so loud it was a good thing we had all bought ear plugs.

The only problem we ran into that day was when we were trying to leave. We needed to take the free shuttle bus back to the parking lot so we could catch the bus to the airport, but everyone else was taking the bus too. Every bus that drove by was either full, or it didn't stop at the bus stop (which we were waiting at) because people just stood in the middle of the road and blocked its way. So we had to resort to hitch-hiking, which actually worked surprisingly well and left us with a good story to tell. The first truck we got in was the kind of truck that, in Asia at least, is made for workers to sit in the bed as they drive around. So we fit all eight of us in there, and then stuck in about four or five other random people. We thought it was great... until the guy told us he couldn't go any further because he had to drive home. So we had to get out and start walking again. The other three people who were with us had no problem picking up a ride in a little car, but we had a little more trouble finding a vehicle that would fit all eight of us in it. Luckily for us, a pickup truck stopped to pick us up. There were already three people in the bed, and we weren't sure we would fit, but they managed to squeeze us all in. All of us except for one of Austin's legs. So we had to hold on to him a little bit to keep him in the truck. Eventually, though, we did make it back to the parking lot. We had to wait about 45 minutes just to get on the bus, and then the ride back to the airport took about an hour and a half (because some genius didn't realize that a rotary would slow down traffic, not speed it up). But we eventually made it back with some great stories to tell of our times in Malaysia.