Malaysia

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Malaysia was amazing. It was such a privilege to fly over to complete a crowdfunding reward from last year. Nate, the manager of Loco Bar in Bukit Bintang bought a gig off the campaign so I got to go over to Kuala Lumpur to play a 3 set gig in conjunction with DJ Dean who spun tunes in my breaks. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of people to rock up because, you know, I’ve only been to Malaysia once before but I was so touched to see an array of people come to support me.

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Suen is a local artist in Malaysia who has such strong powerful vocals. She sat quietly in the corner of the venue listening and it was only when a friend introduced us that she made herself known to me. We traded CDs.

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Twin Petronas Tower

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Another amazing musician to rock up to my gig was renowned Malaysian songstress, Liyana Fizi. She is huge in the local scene and I was just baffled that she rocked up to listen. From our short time spent together she has become my big sister and I can’t wait to listen to one of her gigs next time. Also big thanks to Ronny Hasbi of Stonebay for helping me get a beautiful Ovation guitar to borrow for the gig so that I didn’t have to fly my own over.

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Before the gig I got to quickly explore Kuala Lumpur for a day. I made a rule not to bring my point and shoot camera so that I can finally learn how to use my SLR that was collecting dust in the corner of my room. We were going to be touring with photographer, Bryan Yong so I thought it was an appropriate time to try and get some pointers from a professional.

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KL Tower

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We got used to having such amazing foods in parcels for breakfast

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After the gig, we started our Malaysian adventure.. except it was raining and the night fell way too quickly so we pulled over in this campground parking space and asked the security to let us stay despite the office being closed. He was fine with us camping in the carpark so he could keep an eye on us. There we made friends with two of the friendliest puppies and in trade for some food, they slept in front of our tent to guard us.

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We finally made the ascension up Cameron Highlands.

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And were meant with beautiful views of tea plantations.

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The architecture of Cameron Highlands reminded me of inconsistent German lodging.

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There were also so many adorable greenhouses with plants.

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There were also many strawberry farms up on Cameron Highlands so we got to enjoy a variety of strawberry cakes alongside a strawberry milkshake.

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We drove alongside trucks that were driving to the east side of Malaysia to assist with the terrible flooding that occurred recently.

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The abundance of rubber trees in Malaysia. Malaysia is very well known for their rubber and palm oil plantations. The land was absolutely covered in either of the two.

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Took this little stall photo as we drove by at 100kms an hour!

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We saw so many lorries go by with beautiful rainforest tree logs. Every single day we saw so many of them. I can’t fathom how much deforestation goes on.

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Then there’s also the South East Asian love for burning rubbish. Chokes the skies at dusk.

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Palm, palm, palm.

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Deforestation.

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As we headed towards the East to get to Taman Negara, the oldest rainforest in the world. We realised that the flooding had reached all the way to here. Tourists were few and none as the devastation deterred plans to visit. I preferred it that way as I like the peace and quiet but it was sad to see all the destruction.

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We took a hike and got to trudge up through the canopy trees on kilometres of hanging walkways. The scary thing was that they were just strategically tied to the trees as opposed to drilling it in to ensure the health of the trees.

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After this view point, our hike changed dramatically. When we decided to take a different path back to base, we got to realise the true flood devastation. There were warnings everywhere to be careful as no one has had the time to check trails or ensure the safety but we didn’t think the floods could rise so high and cause so much damage. Firstly, there was mud everywhere. Paths that existed were smashed by erosion, or trees falling or screws coming loose. Signs were on the ground as opposed to telling directions on a post, the biggest trees I have ever seen in my entire life created barricades that required making friends with other tourists to heave each other up. Ropes were also loose and I fell into the depths of the rainforest at one point… which was hilarious but not for the leeches. I saw leeches jump for my ankles as I had to hike through mud and plants and I ended up being victimised by three of them. Yuck. I didn’t even want to pull them out so I left them for a bit until I was brave enough to ask someone else to get them. It was obvious that we were running out of patience as our 1.5 hike turned into a 4 hour one and we weren’t sure if we were even walking back to the river or heading deeper into the rainforest. The amazing thing I got to see was elephant poo. And that poo trail lead us to safety.

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Cats were bold and daring to get a feed.

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After our devastating hike, we went back to do a night tour as 70% of bugs and animals are active at night. This time I wore long pants, long sleeved tshirt, high socks and a thick paste of insect repellent.

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I’m definitely not a National Geographic night photographer but I was pretty impressed that I was even able to catch this owl.

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Massive ants that were the size of my pinky..

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And then a whole nest of them…

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This spider was huge. Apparently they are reaaaaaallllyyyy dangerous, especially the mummy spiders. First we saw the baby hiding in a tree hole and then looked up to find this massive thing staring at us. It was as big as my hand but you can’t tell as she was high up in the tree.

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Little native bird

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Giant gecko

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Millipede – they squirt this foul odour to scare off predators. It smelled like Betadine to me.

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Little glow bug – wasn’t a worm though! He’s got a whole array of disco lights going on his body!

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Baby green tree snake

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Stars

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River

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We made friends with locals and got a little bit deranged. They decided I was the masculine one while all the others became… feminised. They were fantastic help for us on our trip as we were stuck in a pickle for a while so they even offered to give us the space next to the office to camp for free. Eventually we found a place to crash.

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We stopped for lunch at this little street stall. You would never just decide to stop by but Bryan was obviously used to stuff like this being a local. It was one of the best foods I had eaten on the Malaysian trip too so I was so glad. Two words – pineapple curry.

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We decided to take the mountainous way to Penang so we were met with a lot of monkey onlookers.

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A peek of Ipoh city on a peak

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The bridge to Penang. We were so glad we finally made it.. it was an intense 9 hour drive from Taman Negara to Penang Island. Once we got there the first thing we ate was Nasi Kandar, an Indian dish.

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And holy geebus this tandoori was so good we had to have it twice while we were there.

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Like the rest of Malaysia, Penang had an eclectic mix of cultures and religions and it was so interesting to see that play out in each of the city quarters.

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But of course, Penang is most well known for their celebration of street art. I couldn’t stop taking photos at every corner of the street. It definitely wasn’t a city of modernism and perfection. Textured walls, battered concrete and hidden alleyways provided a perfect canvas for artists to express.

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I’ve actually never seen nutmeg..

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I decided to take a boat out to explore the national park that was on the island. You could also hike through there but as our afternoon was limited, we took the boat option to Monkey Beach.

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Mosquitos love me in South East Asia. How could I not notice one biting my face?

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The water was so warm I couldn’t handle it. It was just way too hot I felt like I was in a spa in a sauna haha. So this was how I enjoyed the water haha!

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I miss the street food in Malaysia. And yes it’s street food but I actually did not get sick at all. Malaysia was pretty clean and apparently avoid using ‘gutter oil’ I think that’s what Bryan said. There was always so much variety all over Malaysia and we were always fed so well. Ohhhh and the price, so cheap cheap!

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After I spent a week travelling with this boy, he became like a big brother to me. I miss him very much. Our humour were so similar and when I had my crazy bouts of in-car-driving-too-long-attacks, he just joined in. I don’t think I wrote how we met, but we met last time I was in Malaysia with my mum at one of my gigs. Him and his mate Wai-Lee run a blog on creative artists and they asked for an interview. It really ended up being more like an interview with my mum rather than myself but that created some hilarious results.

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I stood here for 10 minutes trying to capture a motorbike going past this street art.

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I loved the story this dinosaur told. It just looks like a very quick pass-by graffiti but actually there was an old artwork a few blocks down with a boy holding a leash to what was once I’m sure, the dinosaur. Due to old age and the crumbling of facades, the dinosaur was no longer and all you could see was a boy with half a leash. And now this quick do up of the dinosaur creates a story of it running away and holding its own leash. So cute.

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No Pants Bruce Lee vs. Cat

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Bryan with his photo squat.. no wonder why he gets such amazing photos. It’s all in the gluteus maximus.

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Cat vs. Mickey Minion

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You could find art anywhere in Georgetown, Penang. Even in the most hidden locations there was art to be found. The above painting was next to a drain beside a house that many people wouldn’t walk by, and it was the size of a small plate.

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We took a little detour through an adorable narrow cafe/bar/gallery called China House that ran through the whole block with entrances on two street sides. Within the venue were little precincts of a live music bar, bakery, quaint cafe and an art gallery on the top floor.

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This artwork highlighted the issue of pollution. Within 4 hours residents of a small village that sat at the sea end of the river was able to collect this variety of rubbish. That was one of the issues that provoked me as I travelled through South East Asia – there was absolutely no education on rubbish. It’s a difficult one as it would take a lot of investment by the government and there are so many different communities and social stratification to be sensitive towards. I was just saddened to see sights like seas speckled with plastic and beaches strewn about with food packets. Just reminded me of that time in Vietnam where I was enjoying the surfs of one of the beaches, it was beautiful and the sun was setting. The tide changed and I was suddenly surrounded with rubbish like.. used nappies. GROSS.

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Beautiful old floorboards that bowed underneath my step.

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Our last stop in Malaysia was Pangkor Island. For some odd reason the whole island was extremely quiet. When I read about it it said it is a hugely popular budget destination for Australians and Malaysians but there was not many people around at all. Which again, made me happy. But it was sad to see some abandoned resorts. We asked the locals and all they said was that they had been abandoned for months but didn’t give us an explanation as to why.

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I was super patient with this hermit crab to capture it in close up on film and photos. I caught this awesome footage of it creeping out onto my hands and then it pinched me! It’s pretty hilarious as you just hear me yelling out in pain.

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Native bird, hornbill lurking around waiting for us to drop some bread.

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We took a little tinny boat out to a small island where we snorkeled and fed thousands of fish. It kind of freaks you out when they mistake your fingers or feet for bread though.

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Newborn kittens warming each other up!

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Our home for two nights, along with a spider and an army of mosquitos.

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We ran out of fuel at one point on the trip.. the petrol station we were depending on ended up being dry and had absolutely no petrol left. How crazy unfortunate is that?

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I can’t wait to come back to Malaysia. I fell in love with the country within a week and can’t wait to explore it some more. I would love to see the east side of the country when it recovers. Thank you so much to Bryan Yong for being such an amazing host and showing me the beauty of his country. Also for being so patient with me in teaching me how to use my camera hahaha. Can’t wait to visit again!