Raphael Kessler

Home | Travel Photos | House | Friends and Family | Random | FAQs | Links | Contact Details| Search


South East Asia 1999

  1. Vietnam - February 1999
  2. Thailand - April 1999
  3. Malaysia and Singapore - May 1999
  4. Indonesia - June 1999
Africa to home, the long way
- Africa
  1. South Africa
  2. Namibia and Botswana
  3. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya
  4. Uganda
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Egypt
- Middle East and Balkans
  1. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey
  2. Balkans
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
- Asia
  1. Pakistan
  2. China
  3. Tibet
  4. Nepal
  5. India 1
  6. India 2
  7. India 3
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Myanmar
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Laos
  14. China, Macao and Hong Kong
  15. Mongolia
- North America and Caribbean
  Caribbean, USA, Mexico and Canada
- Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  1. Russia
  2. Sweden
  3. Baltics
  4. Poland and Czech Republic
South America 2002
  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Chile and Easter Island
Central America and Mexico 2002
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. Honduras
  5. El Salvador
  6. Guatemala
  7. Belize
  8. Mexico
South America 2003-4
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
  3. Venezuela
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
  6. Peru
  7. Bolivia
  8. Argentina
  9. Uruguay and Paraguay
  10. Bolivia 2
  11. Peru 2
Specific Pacific
  1. California to Fiji+ French Polynesia & Cook Islands
  2. Samoa, Niue and American Samoa
  3. Tonga and New Zealand
  4. Australia 1
  5. Australia 2

Malaysia and Singapore


Since last e-mail I had a look round Chiang Mai - not much cop in my opinion. A couple of nice temples etc. 

I then went via Bangkok to Hat Yai just near the Malay border. In Bangkok I went to Burger King (Whopper & Fries) I thought it would be nice to have something familiar, I didn't realise how familiar it would be as half an hour later it was back - spraying a loo with whopper ad fries - unbelievable - in the past two months I've been eating from dodgy little pavements vendors and restaurants - camp cooking etc. and not a problem - have a burger king and it totally screws my stomach - for twenty four hours I couldn't even hold down water. Still, everything's okay now. Yesterday got a bus to Georgetown  - Penang - Malaysia from Hat Yai and met some decent folk - we're all staying at the same hostel and went out for food etc. last night and it's really odd how all the people here speak and the signs are in English and the whole place feels so different from Thailand etc. it'll take a couple of days to adjust I guess - especially to the currency - I keep on getting that a bit screwed up. Anyway, not much news otherwise just e-mailing to say I'm in Malaysia and alive and well - as opposed to the folk round here dying from this Pig virus. 



Just to tell you I'm in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia still and it would seem have not yet contracted this Japanese Encephalitis that's killing off folk.  

I must say it's quite nice that I will be spending the next two months in places that Israeli's can't get in to - a welcome relief as they can be rather demanding. 

Tomorrow - Jacek (pronounced Yatzik (he's Polish Canadian) - a guy I met on the bus in to Malaysia from Thailand and have been travelling with since (5 days)) and I will be going to KL (Kuala Lumpur) after doing a bit more of a tour tomorrow, we got here yesterday at different times as I had to post my sleeping bag (that I have so far used once) and a couple of bits and collect my laundry (I lost a T-shirt and gained a Polo T-shirt and some shorts - not bad as I was going to buy some shorts as my others are a bit big now - Jacek got the T-shirt as it was a bit dodgy and also a  bit small). After KL we're going to Singapore (maybe together - saves money etc.) then back to Melaka where I get a boat to Sumatra (Indonesia). No doubt I'll have opportunities to keep you all posted though. 



Firstly, if anyone gets any news of any mad stuff going down in Indonesia please keep me posted as that will be my next stop - probably in under a week.  

Just to keep you all posted I am now in Kuala Lumpur (KL), home of the KL tower - the worlds fourth tallest free standing structure which is also home to the worlds highest McDonalds, the Petronas towers - the worlds tallest building, the KL city mall - the worlds largest shopping centre and most importantly Kenny Rogers Roasters - the country & western singer obviously makes damn fine chicken - check the queues round the block. Other than this stuff - checked out the National Mosque (a bit boring), the National Museum (not much better) and the bird place (aviary sort of deal), which was quite cool as you walk through as all these exotic birds walk, fly, sit and nest around you, with everything from Golden Eagles to Parrots - To Hornbills - to Ostriches - may sound a bit crap but it was actually quite cool.

  Tomorrow we're off to some caves nearby and then in the evening to Singapore - after which I will go to Melacca to get a boat to Sumatra Indonesia. Although Malaysia has been reasonably cool - positively freezing at times (especially in the Cameron Highlands) - I can't say I will be upset to leave as it is a little bit too modern to be interesting (Peninsula Malaysia at least). Worst of all myself and Jacek (a Canadian Polak I've been traveling in Malaysia with) conducted an objective critique of Cadbury's chocolate in Malaysia - the fruit and nut has the wrong fruit, the wrong nuts and different chocolate and the dairy milk is too sweet. To be honest these things are difficult to tolerate and it just shows that this so called modern society is just a facade as they can't get the most fundamental things right. Don't even get me started on the imported "Time Out" bars.

Take care everyone - I haven't heard from many of you in ages, so get off your arses and e-mail.


P.S. As you may or may not have seen in the press regarding Indonesia, some folk in Kalimantan were beheaded, churches and mosques are being torched in a tit for tat retaliation deal on Java, Irian Jaya is going more spastic than normal, East Timor is involved in a type of civil war, riots happen daily in Jakarta as well as people being dragged by Honda "Dream" motorbikes through the streets with their heads in the shopping basket in front. I know these bits but please keep me informed if any of you find out about problems in any of the following parts - Sumatra, Bali, Lombok, Flores and Komodo - although any news would be appreciated as it would be useful to know if anything is getting at all out of hand. By the way - between various folk and myself it has been decided that if I am to have my body dragged behind any bike with my head in front it is to be a Norton (you have to have standards and why not go out in style) - so if any of you see anything of Nortons being exported to Indonesia please inform me immediately as they may have heard about my demands. Secondly - if you actually see someone being dragged behind one, I'd just like to say I had a good life with no regrets (insert the lyrics of My Way here).




Since last e-mail it could be said that I have witnessed a country and western hero break new ground in the fast food business. Of course I refer to the Kenny Rogers Roasters - allegedly the finest chicken on the planet. But without a doubt the most classless franchising of a celebrity name. The chicken wasn't bad the decor (consisting of Kenny's press cuttings and gold discs was classless and when Jacek and I quizzed the girls serving us firstly whether Kenny was around and then whether they had ever met Kenny, they did not seem to realise that Kenny is more than a Colonel Sanders or Ronald McDonald and he that this doyen of fast food chicken is also a great country and western musician (if that isn't a contradiction in terms I don't know what is).  

The following day after all that excitement (and finding out that at the rooftop bar with every eight bottles of beer you get two free) we once again got up late and went to the Batu caves near KL - not really worth the journey in my opinion - certainly not worth the 262 steps (according to the vegetables at Lonely Planet) up to the mouth of the cave - to see a couple of rabid monkeys and a big cave with a Hindu shrine in. That afternoon we got a bus to Singapore - this was without a shadow of a doubt the finest bus I've ever been on with large, soft, armchair style reclining seats and a good view of the TV - Jaws was on - always good for a laugh,  

Upon arrival we got completely lost looking for the hostel and ended up getting a cab - the first said he wouldn't take us as he didn't know the place - we showed him the location on the map - the cabby didn't know how to read a map either (so he said) - so we got one who did. Nice place and Armitage Shanks toilets - that is a true sign of culture. 

The following day we went to the zoological gardens (more than just a zoo) which was really excellent, There are very few proper enclosures and some of the animals are allowed to roam wild - such as the golden tamarinds - cute little dudes - monkeys and other things. Saw the Komodo dragons being fed - they gave them a couple of chickens tied to trees, which they descended upon like a shoal of piranhas ripping the things apart and eating an entire wing in one go. There were also cool orangutans and stuff - definitely the best zoo I've ever been to. I also bumped into a couple of guys I first met in Vietnam.

In the evening there is a night safari next door to the zoo where one can see some of the more nocturnal animals under special lighting behaving how they supposedly behave in the wild. This was also very cool, I found that you can really freak out the deer my using a flash when taking photos (flash photography is strictly forbidden for some reason), I also played with a funky striped tortoise who refused to move so I tried to help him, I think it may have had a heart attack when I picked him up, or maybe they just pull that face anyway. We then found out that if you get chatting to the employees they know plenty about the animals and also can get some decent action going to which end we saw bears fighting for domination of the group, some odd dear type things playing about, bongos - honestly that's what they are called - not doing too much, hyenas on the prowl, leopards climbing trees and otters going fishing. One of the highpoints however was when we met one guy who decided to feed the tigers for our benefit - four of these huge cats came bounding out of the darkness and leaped about 15 feet towards the glass (we were fortunately on the other side of), it's indescribable how beautiful and powerful these things were. The bloke said that when they are getting fed properly they put a live goat or pig or something similar in the enclosure - but not when visitors are around. Jacek and I tried to explain that most people would pay more to see that, the guy just thought we were a pair of sick bastards though. After this bit we went and saw rhinos, a couple of great big tapirs lying on the side of the road, some anteaters - eating ants, believe it or not and the coolest of the creatures was most definitely the sloth, so called as it is the slowest moving mammal in the world. This is an animal that anyone who remembers their student days will strike an immediate affinity with, this thing moves so slowly that algae grows on it. The sloth we saw however was positively hyperactive - in sloth terms anyway - it was scratching itself very slowly. We felt privileged to see such dramatic movement and are apparently in a very exclusive minority of people who have seen this.

The next day we went to the raffles hotel, nothing so special really, saw the Merlion statues - half lion half fish. Saw the Raffles statue and had a look around Chinatown - apparently one of the highpoints of any visit to Singapore - the biggest pile of pants in a long time, the whole area has been redeveloped - load of bollocks. Had a look at the Anglican cathedral - nothing special either and then went on the river cruise - I fell asleep during it, it was that exciting. That evening I had probably the best Indian meal of the past year, definitely the best in south east Asia, but also the most expensive - that meal alone justified the journey. We then went to Sentosa island where there is a light and laser show with musical fountains and a huge Merlion with lasers coming out of its eyes. A lot better than it probably sounds - the story of the Merlion was a bit pants - but in true Singaporean style was very efficient - it being there was a big storm and then a Merlion came out the water and somehow calmed it instantly. That's it. Good isn't it. 

Left Singapore yesterday, all in all not a bad place but bloody expensive, just one example, road tax for a car can cost up to 7,700 Singapore Dollars, about 3 grand English. 

Got to Melacca and found another inept cabby who dumped me half a mile from the hostel. There was a major tropical storm going on after which it had subsided to a large part I went for a walk, there was some great fork lightning going on over the sea, walked about for several hours - completely lost not seeing any of the sights I meant to (the Lonely Planet maps are such pants) asked various folk if they knew where the place I was staying was. Eventually about midnight these guys decided to help, so we drove round until we found the place. I offered them some cash and they knocked it back, just decent folk I guess - these Malays seem to be pretty decent folk. Speaking English is definitely a bonus too. 

Tomorrow I'm getting a boat to Sumatra - Indonesia, cheers to those of you who have sent me info regarding troubles out there, keep keeping me posted please. 

I don't know the situation as far as internet cafes goes in Indonesia - so keep e-mailing and hopefully I'll be able to respond soon. 



All the images and text on this website are the copyright sole property of Raphael Kessler and cannot be copied or reproduced without his express permission. 
If you want to use any of his intellectual material please contact him via the link above