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What do exercise, veggies, and writing have in common?

Word.

The Daily Post

Part of the mission that drives The Daily Post is to provide encouragement and inspiration to people who want to be more active writers, bloggers, and creators. We often provide tips on how to write or prompts on what to write, but today, let’s talk about why to write.

Science stands firmly in support of what many of us intuitively know: writing is good for you.

Studies have shown that just the act of putting words together to express yourself leads to several physical and mental health benefits, including:

  • Improved mood and sense of well-being
  • Decreased stress and anxiety levels
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better memory and sleep

Writing has been shown to boost immune responses, speed post-surgical healing, and help cancer patients cope with their diagnosis and treatment. Writing has also been linked to improvements in managing chronic conditions such as asthma and arthritis.

A note about privacy: If you prefer to…

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Sleeper train – Bangkok to Chiang Mai

After missing my first chance of the sleeper train from Malaysia, due to cancellation, I was super excited to get the chance at doing it again. Truth is, as a mode of transport I love trains. Buses are uncomfortable, due to the stupidity of others on the road cars scare me, and well planes are in the bloody sky! I like my travel, like my people, down to earth. At least on a train you can get up, walk around, stick your head out the window (careful) and have a piss!

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Striking a pose in Hualamphong Station (Krungthep) – Bangkok’s Main Railway Station

We booked a 2nd class sleeper, which cost about 800THB, always choose the lower bunk as it has more room! We were very excited about sessioning in the train, as we had heard so many great stories of a party carriage /restaurant. To our surprise when we got on there were signs everywhere stating absolutely no alcohol. After a bit of googling we found out why…. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/girl-raped-killed-on-overnight-thailand-train/story-e6frg6so-1226982665457?nk=cca4ab9f3d9ff622a25eec24c0836180 …. Must stop googling on my travels. Due to this horrific incident, there is now a large amount of police and security presence on the train, which will add to your comfort.

Lower Bunk - Leg Room

Lower Bunk – Leg Room

After settling in into our bunks, and ordering our food (200THB) for a set meal, having that festival camping feeling, we decided to do the sneaky and pour vodka and beer into plastic bottles. Staff and security on the train copped this straight away, and giving us a knowing cheeky smile, turned a blind eye. I think if you are not going to be loud and smashed, they really do not mind. We were quite lucky to have got a carriage where a few others were doing the same, and so a mini session ensued. A lot of laughs getting to know fellow travellers, all the while we were on our very best behaviour.

Polaroid fun of the shenanigans

Polaroid fun of the shenanigans

I woke up in the morning to the sun shining, and the wistful sound of the train running on the tracks, seeing the beautiful Thai countryside outside my little window. I had a great sleep but it’s not to say it is for everyone. I did feel very safe on the train, and there were a lot of westerners using this form of travel through out Thailand.  For the last part of the journey, I nestled down in my little cubby hole, reading my book and glancing up ever now and again to take in the stunning scenery as we whizzed by.

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Would love to experience this again at some point in other countries.

C x

Orangu-tans!

If you only have a few days in Kuching, this is must-see! I usually hate anything ‘must-see’, ‘must-do’, yada yada. Partly because I don’t like crowds, and more so because of my somewhat rebellious black sheep nature of having to go against the grain. But sometimes, I’ve got to give in. In truth, I am from a small town in the South East of Ireland, when the fuck am I actually going to get a chance to see this magnificent animal again? I could say on a Saturday night at 2am outside the a pub, but that would be completely insulting the Orangu-tans.

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Orangu-tan, Semengoh Rehab Centre, Kuching 05-DSC_5858

Semengoh Rehabilitation Centre is not actually a place where these wild animals go to get off the smack, or are suffering from ‘exhaustion’. It is a sanctuary for rescued animals, taken into care after they have been abandoned or abused by captivators who treated them not so nicely to put it mildly. There are two feeding times, when members of the public can attend and hope to get a glimpse of these beautiful endangered beings. Note, if the Orangu-tans come out at these times is NOT guaranteed, but worth the wait. Feeding times are at 08:30 and 15:00 hours. I went to the afternoon feeding, and these lads kept us waiting for 30 minutes! The keepers leave coconuts and fruit on a platform, from which you are about 100 meters away. You have  to be far away, as these animals are wild – so don’t go there with an expectation of hugging and kissing a cute little baby Orangu-tan. This is there natural habitat where they are allowed to roam free, they rule the roost!

Orangu-tan, Semengoh Rehab Centre, Kuching

Orangu-tan, Semengoh Rehab Centre, Kuching

 

Momma and Kid Orangu-tan, Borneo

Watching these majestic animals swing through the trees was just awe inspiring.  So flexible, I even captured one of them doing Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana A, jealous! They are one of the closest living relatives to man, with the name Orangu-tan meaning ‘Person of the forest’, a derivation of the Malay and Indonesian words orang meaning “person” and hutan meaning “forest”.

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Orangu-tan, Semengoh Rehab Centre, Kuching

To get there you can take a public bus No 6, 6A, 6B, or 6C from the Public bank in town, take a taxi or like me, hire a guide (very easy and inexpensive way to discover things in SE Asia). It costs just 3RM to enter the centre, bare in mind the walk from the gate to the feeding platform takes about half an hour. If taking the bus, note that for the afternoon feeding, the last bus back to the city is at 4pm, and with a half hour walk you might miss seeing these beautiful animals if they decide to take their time in coming to hang out!

Yoga-tan!

Yoga-tan!

This is the first time I am posting pictures where I used my humble Nikon D7000 to shoot. Luckily I had lots of time while waiting for the guys to show their faces, to adjust the settings. I am finding getting the right settings a bit difficult in SE Asia, due to the harsh glare and haze off the sun, and also due to the humidity giving everything a lovely grainy glow.

Orangu-tan, Semengoh Rehab Centre, Kuching

C x

Beautiful Borneo

As the old saying goes, ‘When one door closes, another door opens’. I had no intention of travelling to Borneo, one part of which belongs to Malaysia, and the rest to Indonesia. My intent was to travel in a straight line from Penang, up through Thailand, with the end destination being Chiang Mai in Thailand. Why would a woman travelling alone want to go to Borneo? After all, to my teenage knowledge, it was full of cannibals, wild animals, and jungle right? Wrong-ish.

If train travel in SE Asia is anything, it’s consistent in it’s lateness or the fact that the trains may not run at all. I was super excited to get my first overnight sleeper from Butterworth to Thailand. Hungover (smart girls get drunk the day they are before to travel) I picked up my ticket, ferry across from Penang to Butterworth, dragged my 25kg suitcase (yes, 32 now, no backpack for me) to the train station, and it was locked up. I had some poor older Aussie guy running up and down steps with my suitcase, and without, trying to find out what was going on. After an hour, we figured out the train had been cancelled. Back to Penang, checking into my old hotel, Chulia Mansion – www.chuliamansion.com, I was greeted by the hotel manager Fred, who asked me what I was going to do next “You should go to Borneo!”, he exclaimed. Fred is from Kuching, Borneo and had sent a few people that way from the hotel after speaking so gloriously about his home place.  After a cup of coffee and a thinking cigarette, I booked my flights and was off to the jungle to be head hunted.

Kuching is the capital of the Sarawak state in Malaysian Borneo. Rich in history, this state and it’s people have a lot of culture and a lot to be proud of. The first thing that struck me was that I didn’t feel like I was in Malaysia. I later found out from my guide that Sarawak only entered with Malaysia for economic purposes in the mid 20th century, everyone still has to go through immigration to get into the country, another stamp – yay! It really has it’s own culture, own people, own laws and own vibe.

Sarawak State Legislative Building, Kuching

Sarawak State Legislative Building, Kuching

I stayed at a fantastic hotel just outside the city, Basaga Residences – http://www.basaga.com/, which acts like a little oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city (not that it is too bustling in Kuching). There are heaps of food courts all around Kuching, but Top Spot Seafood Centre, a huge food court which takes up the top level (6) of a few storey car park was the best place I have eaten on my travels so far. What I liked even more about it, was there was a mix of Muslim and non-Muslim food all cooking and eating together under the one roof (not the literal sense, as not sure there was a roof?!). This is not something you would find so openly in Western Malaysia.

From Kuching, trips can be organised to many attractions in the surrounding area. As I was on a whim with only two days, I chose the Cultural Village (touristy, give it a miss), Bako National Park (cancelled, story of my travels so far) and  Semengoh Orangu-tan rehabilitation center (deserves a whole post of it’s own) for my tours.

Taxi, Waterfront, Kuching

Taxi, Waterfront, Kuching

Borneo, I will be back! For a much longer stay, including a 4 WD rental and a drive into that jungle to meet those head hunters!

Orangu-tan Mural, off Little India, Kuching

Orangu-tan Mural, off Little India, Kuching

C x

Street Art – George Town, Penang Island, West Malaysia

Penang Island is part of Western Malaysia, and was the first stop on my trip travelling solo. If I completely honest, I did not do my research and knew I didn’t want to go to Kuala Lumper again so just picked the next biggest city on the map. My over all impression of Penang, gave me the same uneasy feeling I felt in Kuala Lumper, magnified by the fact I was travelling alone, and also doing my research a bit late in the day.

In transit in Singapore airport I typed into Google ‘Penang this week’ and was happily greeted by this wonderful story an hour before I was to board my flight…

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/46-murders-in-penang-since-january-cops-set-up-special-team

…oh dear. Throw in a massive Irish goodbye session the day before, and couple with the amount of heckling I received from men on my first day (it will have to be another post), I was all about ready to repack my bags and fly back Down Under. On my second day I found the strength somewhere to go and have a wander and I am so glad I did.

The UNESCO World Heritage city of George Town has possibly the best, most creative and  versatile collection of street art I have ever seen. The street art are either in the form of installations or mural paintings, and seem to pop up so unexpectedly around every little corner you meander. Murals vary in size and style, with most installations being wrought-iron pieces depicting the history of the area, and the street which they are on.

Installation, Wrought Iron Pieces, Off Love Lane, Georgetown

Installation, Wrought Iron Pieces, off Love Lane, Georgetown

Installation, Wrought Iron Pieces, Off Chulia Street, Georgetown

Installation, Wrought Iron Pieces, off Chulia Street, Georgetown

Installation, Wrought Iron Pieces, Off Love Lane, Georgetown

Installation, Wrought Iron Pieces, off Love Lane, Georgetown

Some, more famous ones are both installation, and mural where you can become part of the art!

Me and the mural 'Brother and Sister on Swing', Step by Step Lane, George Town

Me and the mural ‘Brother and Sister on Swing’, Step by Step Lane, George Town

The more famous ones are on Lebuh Armenian, of course I don’t have pictures of these ones! I went there in the afternoon when it was really busy, and there were queues to take photos, and if anyone who knows me, knows I don’t do queuing (Princess or Impatient?).

I found this handy Google search which shows where everything is on Google Maps. https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zfP8JNnikALg.kaUN6WQlZsuE&msa=0 I still wonder at the futuristic world we live in these days! My tip, and I think it is more fun,  to  just wander around by yourself, in the mornings, and see what you can find. The best part being it is a completely free activity! Yay! Love free stuff!

C x

Kuih (Kek) Lapis – Malaysian Layer Cake

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Kuih (Kek) Lapis. A popular snack in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (Kek) , this is the most prettiest cake I have ever seen. So time consuming to make, but I reckon worth the effort entirely! All the colours of the rainbow! And all the flavours, watermelon, cheese, peppermint?!

Myself and my my travel companion, Diana, bought 3 between us in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. We almost ate a whole one between us in one night, I finished it the second day!

All the colours of the rainbow!

They are sold on the main Bazaar, hundreds of them, in every country flag you could want. We took a boat taxi across the river (apparently the best place to get them) and just as you get off behind the food court, you will see a rainbow sign, and a purple building. Ring the doorbell and a lovely little old Malay lady will get up from her soap opera and come out and meet you. 10 RM per cake, so soft and moist. We tested loads of the flavours, and it actually tastes what it look like! They keep in fridge for 3 – 4 days.

For those of you brave or patient enough, here is a recipe I found!

http://honestcooking.com/steamed-layer-cake-snack-recipe/