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Our trip to South East Asia 2013

Trip

01trains
I take a train from Saarbrücken, a small town in the suburbs of Paris, to the city center.
01airplane
This is our plane, an Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner. One difference between the A380 and a car...
01wait
... is that it takes 11 hours to change a weel.
01flight
Finally we take off. Here a picture taken with my iPhone from the stern of the plane.
01buggy
Thanks, we have had enough buggy services for today. We arrived late in Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia and missed our flight to Bali/Indonesia.
01hall
Air Malaysia pays us a 4-star hotel, and will also hear from us again.

Ubud

02ubud
The next day we arrive in Ubud, a town in the middle of Bali. It is the time of the Galungan festival.
02offer
It marks the victory of the good force (dharma) over the bad force (adharma). On this occasion, shrines have been set up.
02kids
Kids dress up as animals.
02dress
The gods have also dressed up on the occasion.
02flowers
These gifts are spread everywhere on the ground and shall bring benediction.
02bridge
We visit the Monkey Forest,...
02leaf
...a place with a noteworthy flora...
02monkey
...fauna,...
02figure
...spirits,...
02temple
...plus a Hindu temple in the jungle.
02ring
We also have something to celebrate.

On the road

03breakfast
After a breakfast at 7:00 am (i.e., in the morning!)...
03bike
...we're on the road to see the surroundings of Ubud.
03street
We visit villages...
04river
...valleys,...
03rice
... and rice fields.
03entry
People are very nice and friendly, and smile without expecting anything in return.

Bali tour

04smalltemple
We rent a driver and take a tour. If it seems that every second house is a temple,...
04redtemple
...then that is because every second house *is* a temple.
04gate
Every household (right) has its own private family temple next to it (left). It serves around 20 people of the extended family.
04nature
We also visit a public temple...
04templestairs
...in the jungle.
04water
A sign tells us “Do not drink the holy water”. I wonder what happens if we do...
04door
We continue to the sacred spring temple.
04pray
Balinese Hinduism worships gods, demigods,...
04offers
...ancestor spirits, a supreme being (to conform to Indonesia's constitution),...
04prayer
...Buddhist heroes, agricultural deities, and sacred places. So there is a lot to pray.
04spring
The water is clear, but the spring at its ground makes little clouds of black sand.
04wash
No wonder everybody wants to bath in it.
04girls
Local tourists, foreign tourists, and the temple all find each other interesting.
04plantage
We continue to a coffee plantage.
04spices
These things are used in Bali to make life spicier or sweeter (foreground of the picture).
04coffee
And this is the cartesian product of spices and coffees.
04rice
Our tour end with a view on the rice fields. The photogenic guy at the bottom right is a natural ingredient of the local scenery.

Denpasar

05beachagain
We go to Denpasar, the capital of Bali.
05beach
The beach is utterly boring...
05entrance
... so that we stay at our hotel.

Borobudur

06way
We arrive in Yogyakarta and take a bus. The wind shield doubles as safety belt.
06temple
We reach Borobudur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world.
06templeway
The temple tells the story of Buddha.
06nice
It also contains an introduction “Buddhism for Beginners”. In short: If you are nice to your fellow humans as in this picture...
06family
...then you will have a happy family life as in this picture.
06bad
If you are not nice, you end up fat like these people. Just to make it clear to those who wonder, the inscription at the top says that this is “bad”.
06jungle
The temple offers spectacular views. It is the single most visited tourist attraction of Indonesia, with millions of tourists each year.
06mess
This has brought wealth to the village, and has led to the development of charming facilities around the temple.
06garbage
The atmosphere is complemented by a sense of hospitality and friendliness of the locals that matches the beauty of the surroundings.

Stopover in Singapore

07fines
We have a stopover in Singapore. It is probably the only country for which the Wikitravel page warns 9 times more of committing a crime than of falling victim to one.
07way
In return, everything is excruciatingly clean and safe. We have 6 hours and visit the botanic garden.
07coolhouse
In tune with its climate, the garden does not have a hothouse, but a coolhouse - to simulate colder climate conditions.
07thatcher
They breed different novel types of orchids and name them after famous people. This particularly beautiful result is for Margret Thatcher.

Phuket

08form
Visitors to Thailand are requested to fill an immigration form (which contains what your passport contains), bring a picture (in addition to the one they take with the Web cam), ...
08visa
...hand in an application form (which contains again what your passport contains), and pay 1000 Baht (payable only in cash in Thai Baht, ATM is after immigration).
08taxi
There are no buses to the city center (who would want to go there?). We team up with other tourists and take a taxi.
08wait
The taxi driver has outsourced his brain to the taxi central. He has to ask them where he shall bring us. We learn that we will need two drivers, because we go to two destinations.
08wait
Meanwhile, a lady tries to sell us a tour package. We tell her that we already booked one trip with them and did not yet get what we booked. Suddenly, we only need one driver and can go.
08wait
The lady wore a veil. I doubt that their god really rewards wearing a veil more than being honest to tourists. But I am not an insider.
08taxi
Unsurprisingly, the taxi driver still has no brain and still doesn't know where we want to go. He asks locals. These are more helpful and tell him.
08beach
We take a tour to Ko Phi Phi island. The “ph” is pronounced “p”, which is bad for Ko Phi Phi, but good for Phukit.
08view
The landscape and sea are beautiful. We go snorkeling.
08walk
Ko Phi Phi is touristic, but people are nice and leave us in peace.
08house
The city center of Phuket town itself is cute and clean.

Singapore

09drops
We have 2 days in Singapore. The airport shows us that, contrary to the common experience, modern art does not have to be ugly.
09way
“Singapore provides a welcome refuge from the crime, dirt, and chaos of the surrounding countries” [Wikitravel]
09show
We are lucky to have our friend Hady, who shows us around...
09eat
... and introduces us to the local cuisine. We learn that Singaporeans are not fat. In school, fat pupils are made to run around the block until no longer fat.
09garden
We visit the Garden by the Bay, which is a garden in Singaporean style: a giant plant house.
09bridge
We learn that one key to Singapore's success is the combination of a benevolent autocratic government and a confucian meritocratic society.
09toilet
The country welcomes two types of immigrants: Low skilled workers, on a strictly temporary work visa limited to 5 years,...
09skyline
...and high skilled workers, with incentives to become citizens. The harbor produces money, and Singapore has no debts, but extra income from interest from surplus.
09mushroom
Land can never be owned, but only be leased from the government. Imagine what that would mean for European wealth dynasties.

Cairns

10bus
Welcome to Cairns /ke:ns/, Australia. We take a shuttle bus from the airport to the city center (Thailand take note).
10rain
I find it impressive how, in a place that has more rain than Saarbrücken,...
10jungle
and amidst a flora that is more toxic than Mensa,...
10shuttle
the Australians have built up one of the highest life standards on Earth.

Trip to the Jungle

11skyrail
We take the Skyrail gondola across the jungle.
11across
It offers spectacular views across...
11down
...and into the rain forest.
11jungle
With this tour, a jungle that is otherwise hostile...
11way
...becomes a Disney Land for Eco-tourists.
11village
The tour ends in an authentic aboriginal village.
11lollo
We admire the flora (here: a giant lollo rosso salad leaf)...
11butterfly
...and fauna...
11train
...before taking a scenic railway back to the city.

Trip to the Great Barrier Reef

12ship
We take a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef.
12float
We go snorkeling in cristal clear water (note the shadow of the boat)...
12bird
...and visit a bird sanctuary. The tour is three times as expensive as the snorkeling tour in Thailand...
12island
...but extremely well organized, with a clean ship, life guards in duty, and personally accompanied snorkeling excursions for non-swimmers.

Conference

13susie
We attend the ICDE conference in Brisbane. Nicoleta presents our paper.
13dinner
The conference comes with a nice dinner evening, ...
13food
...and delicious food. But everything has a price. We listen to a didgeridoo performance.
13abo
We discover that if something is ancient, indigenous, or difficult to do, that does not automatically make it nice to listen to.
13abo
Music is melodic, varied, and rhythmic. The didgeridoo is none of these. Who wants to listen to a 20 minute oral fart?

Brisbane

14church
Brisbane is a lively combination of different building styles.
14redchurch
People are kind, and proactively helpful without being intrusive. Overall, Brisbane seems a very nice place to live in.
14bus
All staff (bus drivers, taxi drivers, cleaning staff) are polite, relaxed, and very friendly.
14city
The debate of Leitkultur vs. Leidkultur vs. Lightkultur is solved as follows: We learn that “becoming an Australian citizen means committing to the Australian way of life”.

Koala Sanctuary

15koala
We visit the Lone Pine, the only Koala Sanctuary in the world that is in Brisbane (they seem to love superlatives here).
15lizard
The park allows for interesting encounters with local animals.
15bird
We see birds of prey...
15emu
...emus...
15sheep
...sheep being shorn...
15kang
...and kangoroos (left)...
15food
...in different forms.

Kuala Lumpur

16air
Air Malaysia is notable for the complete absence of Singapore on its maps. Malaysia kicked out Singapore from the Malay-Singapore federation in 1965, making it the first country to become independent against its will.
16spot
A video spot in the plane tells us how beautiful Malaysia is.
16veil
In reality, this beauty is a bit more veiled. We arrive in the morning in Kuala Lumpur, and have 18 hours in the city.
16metro
The subway system is token-based, clean and very efficient. The train to the city center runs 100 km/h driver-less and has Wifi.
16petronas
The Petronas Towers were the highest building in 2001.
16tower
We see them from the TV tower. The observation desk has no fence, but a sign tells us that jumping over the edge is for authorized personnel only.
16old
The old city can easily be distinguished from the financial center. Most likely, a law prohibits heritage buildings from being modified (or maintained).
16palace
This is the palace from which Malaysian independence was declared in 1957.
16blend
200m away, the city shows us how old and new architecture can blend seamlessly.
16china
China Town is marked on the map as a great shopping area. Indeed, we see Louis Vuitton bags for very good prices. China Town is also recommended for its food.
16mall
We prefer the food court in the shopping mall, which offers the food under more hygienic conditions.
16water
People are very friendly, speak good English, and help us when we are lost. The KLCC park offers us a spectacular water show...
16petronasnight
...and a last glimpse on the Petronas Towers.

Flight back

17sunrise
Since we fly west, we have 5 hours of uninterrupted sun rise. That will be enough for me for the years to come.
17flight
As we land, there is no video spot about how beautiful Paris is.
17eiffel
Maybe that is not necessary...
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