Malaysia is a great place to eat cheap and delicious food. It is cheaper than Bangkok, and not as many tourists to fill up the good restaurants. I had a good dose of cheap traditional restaurants like this one in Chinatown.
The tallest buildings in the world at the time, the Petronas Towers put Malaysia on the map.
Yet, the density tapers off quite dramatically once past KLCC.
There is a significant Chinese population here, so the Chinese community is not only visible in Chinatown per se.
Plaza Rakyat was abandoned as the Asian financial crisis wrecked havoc in the region. Only some foundation works have been made and you can see the site just next to a working train station.
Public transport is a major issue in the city. Integration has taken place but many train lines were not designed to connect with each other. As a result, many residents drive.
Menara Telekom is one of my favourite skyscrapers with a unique twisting design, skygardens on many tiers, and a helipad on top. It has no tall friends nearby, which makes it stand out even more.
I paid visits to a few local markets to photograph the typical organized chaos. I knew I would get my shoes dirty but it was well worth it.
Chinese New Year is a great time to travel far, but Europe in the winter originally was not appetizing at all, with short days and cold temperatures. But airfares dropped and there were deals even at the last minute, so I tried my luck and found myself rather alone with few Asian tourists in the country.
Much of the city was razed during World War II. The Soviets came afterwards and built this massive monument which still is a landmark today.
Yet there are new modern skyscrapers nearby to give it some company.
The war left a very dark mark on the city, which is quite prominently showcased in several museums. Among the amazing rebuilding efforts was the Royal Castle.
The city didn't feel like Eastern Europe at all, with modern infrastructure and tidy streets.
However, across the river in Praga, there was still a lot of grit. Guidebooks recommended not to venture out alone at night, although things have improved already with gentrification.
A modern and clean train took me to Krakow in 2.5 hours, where a beautiful new station gave me a great first perception of the city. I wasted no time and ventured into the old town to enjoy the blue skies.
The McDonald's here actually restored a medieval cellar in the basement as part of its dining area. This is worth a visit even if you don't plan to eat.
Poland is a religious country and people would drop in for a quick prayer.
These donut-like snacks are everywhere. They are a good choice for a quick break between meals.
The atmosphere outside the old town changes dramatically. The Soviets built Nowa Huta to be a Communist paradise. There is a major steelworks nearby and this town was built for the workers.
Perhaps a cold, grey, and rainy winter day is the right setting to see this place of death. Auschwitz was liberated in January 1945 by the Soviets and a museum was created here in 1947 to present the murders that happened here during the Third Reich.
The old town is quite interesting with a weirdly L-shaped central square fronted by Baroque and Renaissance architecture. I only budgeted a full day here, and was lucky to have the weather on my side.
Some interesting sights include this 24-hour flower market for the forgetful men getting an emergency birthday present.
On a cool winter day, it wasn't too painful to hike up the church's side to see the beautiful town.
This church had an elevator and nobody seemed aware the observation deck was open. I couldn't believe it!
Heading back indoors, this university has beautifully-sculpted rooms to enhance the learning experience.
With a medieval design, this tower is actually a recent construction.
As I rushed back to the train station for the next stop, I spotted this monument for democracy in China at a busy intersection.
After enjoying a relatively cleaner KL at bargain basement prices, I dont' find Bangkok a backpacker's paradise anymore. The city is over-touristed and has gone too high-end. I chose a cheap activity to ride the Skytrain above the streets. The persistent political instability and odd terrorist attack every now and then continues to overshadow the city's chaotic excitement.
The street markets are still bustling, although I wouldn't dine here just to be on the safe side.
However I gave in to the coconut and ice-cream stand. You pick the ice-cream and topping and they put it into a half coconut with the meat ripped up already for you.
Traffic is bad, although still better than my South Asia travels. There are lots of modern buses and trains running around but every now and then, I see a historic relic like this.
Star-attractions are getting costly throughout China. To photograph the city from above, I had to pay for the cable car, an admission fee, then another chair lift ticket. Although Kunming is a cheap place to live and eat, this total package seems way out of touch for the commoner.
Many Chinese cities have brand new museums showcasing the typical ancient Chinese works, such as bronzes and ceramics.
I have been to so many traditional Chinese temples but this one in the hillsides far from the city centre was odd for its huge assortment of statues that decorate 2 particular rooms.
Yet, on the outside, it looks just like any other Chinese temple.
I was surprised there were so many double-decker buses on the streets. They were a relatively larger portion of the fleet than other Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. But then, their rail network is still very small so the capacity is needed.
Yunnan is home to many minorities, some of whom use their own writing language and not the Chinese script.
I headed out of town to see the karst formations in the Stone Forest, which has been beautified with a hefty admission fee for the tour groups. Away from the noisy markets within the UNESCO World Heritage site, I found many places to admire these geological wonders.
There are a number of restaurants and bars with views. Up here, it wasn't so hot anymore and it was possible to enjoy a drink and sunset together.
When different religions co-exist in harmony, you get interesting combinations, such as Chinese tributes for an Indian temple.
Over-preservation seems quite prevalent across shophouse architecture. With a new coat of paint, these historical buildings don't seem so historical anymore.
You don't need to be rich to enjoy a million-dollar view. These were taken from public housing blocks.
No trip to Singapore is complete without a dose of chili or pepper crab!