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Singapore and Malaysia

Singapore is nothing like we had envisioned. It is super-modern, high tech and unbelievably clean. Beautiful architecture and sculptures are everywhere.   The Marina Bay Sands Hotel looks like a model ship on a stand. It has an infinity pool at the top, but unless you pay $25 to use the elevators, you're not allowed to see it.
The Marina Mall was hosting a fashion show
and the paparazzi was ready.
  Nearby the kid's play area reflected the neatness of Singapore. Everyone took off their shoes before entering the carpeted area.
Tiffany's high school friend, Eric, is living here and spent the day showing us around. In Chinatown, we had lunch.   It was easy to pay the bill, when nothing cost over $5.00!! Fresh fruit smoothies and shakes were $2 or less in Singapore Dollars. So that is $1.60 for us.
A glass of fresh squeezed sugar cane juice was only 80¢.   You can reach Sentosa Island near our cruise ship port
on the monorail or via SkyTram.
Little India sported a modern mall
next to original colonial buildings.
  The top of the Hindu temple looked like fantasy figures in porcelain, but each held religious significance.
We walked, then ate at a café along the Singapore River in the evening without any mosquitoes or other insects bothering us.   The warm weather during the day made a Singapore Sling taste really good with our Asian meals.
The Changi International Airport in Singapore was amazing. Floral displays were inside and out with high-tech monorail cars running between terminals.   The lounges looked like five star hotels with arm chairs and end tables. Free foot massage chairs were available with directions to use them for at least 15 minutes.
I was in heaven!
The public areas were divided with live orchid displays.   There was even a Butterfly garden, Koi pond, several waterfalls and beatuiful bathrooms that made the airport almost spa-like and peaceful.
We arrived in Penang, Malaysia to a different environment. Hawker food stands on the street
worked with less than sanitary conditions.
  Century eggs were sold at the markets. They are buried for 2 months in a mixture of tea, salt, sodium carbonate, slaked lime and ash. Signs claimed they were "lead free".
In the historic Georgetown area, it seemed like Chinese temples were on every corner.
One of them was used during the 1999 filming of Anna and the King, starring Jodie Foster.
We also saw piles of paper offerings burning in the streets and sidewalks in front of many homes.
Since today was the Ancestor Day Festival, shops were filled with people buying things they could burn as an offering to "send" to their dead relatives. Everything a spirit would need was created in paper - stacks of paper money, jewelry, clothes, beer cans, watches. . . even a paper i-Pod!!!
The Snake Temple was the scariest one we visited. Live pit vipers were in the temple on the altar and in its garden. They are free to roam. Local folklore says they do not attack, since they are in the safety of the temple. We weren't totally convinced, but made it out alive.   Trishaws competed with taxis and busses for business.
Paul is walking across a bridge in Penang National Park. It is one of a series of canopy bridges that are in the tree tops where you can see the birds at eye-level.   For lunch we went to KFC and were surprised to see an Asian-looking Colonel Sanders. Our side was colonel chicken rice instead of mashed potatoes.
Our hotel was Trader's in the capital city,Georgetown. But we also had guest privileges at the sister hotel, Golden Sands, in Batu Ferringhi. We spent the day at the pool. . .   And Vicki took a lesson before her first parasail flight.
At $20 per trip, it was awesome.   After all that work, she had to relax with a 60-minute full body massage on the beach. Again, for only $20!!!
Back in Georgetown, we visited the Thai Buddhist Temple and the Standing Buddha. Monks sat to the right.   Dinner at Master Choo's was fried rice and hot buns filled with BBQ'd pork.
We took the ferry from Georgetown to Butterworth
(on the mainland of Malaysia).
  The ride wasn't crowded
and the open-air deck made viewing easy.
Many of the birds at the Penang Bird Park in Butterworth were out in the open
and we could get up close and personal.
As we prepared to fly back to Singapore from Malaysia, we reflected on the differences between the two places.
The airport bathrooms kind of summed it up. On the left you see the luxurious Singapore ladies lounge with live plants,
muted tones, soaps and fixtures worthy of a four star hotel.
On the right you see the Penang airport ladies' toilet, with step up facility and hose for rinsing the area.
Back in Chinatown, Vicki bought an original clay tea pot
and the owner gave her a Chinese lesson
when she asked how to pronounce the artist's name.
Yi Yi Jun is not very easy to say!
  The chop stick shop had beautifully boxed sets in wood, ivory, ebony, steel and in-laid mother of pearl. They started at $1.00 and went up to hundreds for a set.
We shared a table with the wonderful Goh family
and really enjoyed meeting them.
We spent nearly an hour visiting and learning about their
lives here in Singapore. We hope their daughter comes
to visit us in the USA one day.
  We also met Eric's girlfriend, Christine,
and had a lovely evening with them.
There were acres of orchids that lined the walkways
at the National Botanic Garden.
  After all that walking, Vicki decided to go to a
Reflexology & Fish Spa to let hundreds of tiny
Doctor Fish exfoliate and massage her legs and feet.