I had a window seat on the motor coach in Rangoon and saw this scene from the major road we were on. It was an elevated curve that went over multiple railroad tracks, in the background on the upper right. What seemed so dangerous to me was the fact that the dirt foreground is the shoulder of the road with no guardrail. Below, is a community of people living in shacks next to the tracks. It would be so easy for a driver, especially at night, to go off the road and barrel down into the houses and the people who live in this impoverished neighborhood. A disaster waiting to happen. Or maybe it has already happened.
On a recent walking tour of Malacca, Malaysia, we took off our shoes and entered historic homes in a historic village within the city. As continued our walk, we passed this home with its ornate gate. I was on the outside looking in. The home, in the village of Kampung Morten, is a traditional Malay design being preserved under Malacca’s Preservation and Conservation Enactment. Eighty-five homes, including 52 Melaka (a second spelling) traditional dwellings, make up the village within the city. The government provides the villagers with funds and assistance to ensure the village remains in its natural form. It’s historical designation has made the village a tourist attraction, boosting the tourism in this city of half a million people.
I admit it. When I learned our cruise was making a day stop in Kuala Lumpur, I had to look it up to see where it was and what it was. Turns out it is a beautiful, thriving, on-the-move city and the capital of Malaysia with nearly 2 million inhabitants. It is one of the fastest-growing metro regions in Southeast Asia.
But it was its early years that fascinated me. The lyrical name, Kuala Lumpur, actually means Muddy River. Kuala meaning confluence and lumpur meaning mud. The city began as a mosquito-infested shack town at the confluence of two rivers at the mouth of the sea around 1857 when Chinese miners opened a tin mining camp. Eventually rubber took over with the advent of car tires. Today it is one of the leading cities in the world for tourism and shopping. It is the seventh most visited city in the world. The city is also home to three of the world’s 10 largest malls. What?
So my photo of Kuala Lumpur is in the heart of the city at the actual confluence where it all started 161 years ago.
Loved finding this crocodile bench at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay complex. Of course, it begged the question, “do crocodiles live in Singapore?” And the answer is Yes! The type is the Estuarine Crocodile, a saltwater croc found in coastal areas, rivers, and occasionally parks in Singapore. Adult males can reach 20 feet. They are the largest of all living reptiles, as well as the largest riparian predator in the world. They are listed as “Critically Endangered in the Red List of threatened animals of Singapore. Development is ripping out mangroves and other natural places the crocs live, so they show up in unexpected places where humans are as they find new territory. Someday these carved wooden bench may be all they have to show for a huge reptile that roamed Singapore’s waters.
The National Orchid Garden within the main Singapore Botanic Garden houses the largest orchid collection of 1,200 species and 2,000 hybrids. Having begun its breeding program in 1928, the orchid garden is a leader in orchid studies and a pioneer in the cultivation of hybrids, complementing the nation’s status as a major exporter of cut orchids. The equatorial climate ensures the high humidity these beautiful orchids need to flourish. The Botanic Garden itself was begun in 1859 and has been ranked Asia’s top park attraction since 2013, by TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. It was declared the inaugural Garden of the Year, International Garden Tourism Awards in 2012, and received Michelin’s three-star rating in 2008. We were delighted last month to be among its 4.5 million annual visitors.