Our trip to Kuala Lumpur was less than two months ago, but it feels like a world away. It was Joel and my first visit to Malaysia and we weren’t quite sure what to expect. We anticipated a mix of high end Singapore with some of the grittiness of Jakarta. We were pleasantly surprised to find a city that has managed to cultivate a polished, multicultural identity while staying affordable and easy to navigate.
We did a fair amount of cliche touristy activities, but zipping through town on the double decker tour bus was downright delightful. I highly recommend the National Textile Museum and of course their gift shop full of batiks and traditional woven goods. We braved the heat to stroll through Little India taking in the colorful storefronts and fragrant Indian cafes. I bought some cheap samosas from the street vendor as an afterthought, but they ended up being one of my favorite treats. We had a number of other delightful meals at Pavilion Mall including fantastic shrimp dumplings at one of the Chinese eateries and a super spicy laksa soup at Simple Life. We were so excited to find great vegetarian food that we ended up at Simple Life more than once.
KL exceeded our expectations with it’s food and design, cleanliness and affordability. I think we were a bit sad that it had taken us so long to get there (it would have been a very easy and affordable weekend getaway from Semarang) and disappointed that we couldn’t explore a bit deeper. Like Jakarta, it’s a city with so many hidden gems if you just take the time to look. We hope for more KL visits in our future with lots of time to explore all nooks and crannies in depth, not just from atop a double decker bus.
We came across Waterville, WA in our search for cooler sleeping arrangements after the AC went out in the RV. The flawlessly vintage Waterville Hotel was just too adorable to pass up. It saved us from a sweaty 100 degree night in the RV and it also provided us with an interesting look into small town life.
On our trip through Eastern Washington we passed through dozens of small towns, some prosperous and others not so much. Joel majored in Urban Studies so he’s rightly fascinated by what makes one town flourish while others fail. I’m sure there’s a multitude of historical and geographical evidence that we could uncover to get to the bottom of why Waterville is so desolate. But we instead chose to simply enjoy the night we had there by strolling through downtown taking in the Mayberry-like wholesomeness. If you’re ever driving though Eastern Washington searching for a blast from the past, I highly recommend cruising through Waterville.
After living in Seattle for three years, I felt like I knew a little something about my adopted home state. This trip through Eastern Washington showed me that I need to get quite a few more treks under my belt before I can truly say that I’ve conquered this region.
Joel’s parents graciously offered to take us on a little welcome-back-to-America trip in their RV. Growing up in Washington, their family vacationed and camped throughout the state so they knew all the biggest, brightest, most badass places to stop on our excursion. We planned our overnight stops for Winthrop, Sun Lake and Leavenworth, but as the saying goes, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Along the way we pulled over for a nature walk in Newhalem, an overlook at Diablo Lake, touring the Grand Coulee Dam, another overlook at the expansive (and dry!) Dry Falls and a staggeringly colossal antique store in Cashmere.
A surprising highlight of our outing was when the AC broke in the RV. In 100 degree heat that wouldn’t sound like a highlight, however it forced us to freestyle a bit which is how we came across the quaint and tiny town of Waterville. I took probably a zillion shots in this picturesque town, a selection of which I’ll be posting soon.
As I mentioned before, our days in Central Java are dwindling, so we’ve got lots of odds and ends to tie up before leaving Indonesia to head back to Washington. One item on our to do list has been furniture. While prepping to move here, I downsized in a big way and most of my furniture went to Craigslist (coincidentally that’s where most of it came from in the first place). So when we go back, we’re returning to clothes, shoes and a bunch of still-in-storage wedding gifts, but no bed, sofa or dining table and chairs. Being the diehard thrifter that I am, Joel and I have been doing some browsing to see if should make some of those big ticket furniture purchases here. The teak and mahogany furniture market is huge here and the prices are insanely reasonable (like reasonable enough to make up for the fact that we’d be shipping it across the world).
The pictures above are all from our trip to Jepara, the furniture capital of Central Java. We spent a long weekend there in April browsing furniture shops, meeting teak craftsmen and taking a little time to lounge by the pool.
So, so many photos from our week with my mother-in-law, Kirsten. It certainly means we packed a ton of activities into our six busy days in Jogja. The mother-son scooter was a sight to see. With Joel driving his mom and me scooting solo, we wound through busy city streets to see the palace and Water Castle, then through rural villages to climb ancient temples. At the temples we were photographed by local tourists like we were more exciting attractions than the colossal feats of engineering that produced five story lava rock towers covered in Hindu and Buddhist gods. Another morning we drove south down rice paddy lined streets to the Indian ocean where Joel and I had previously never explored in our half dozen trips to Jogja.
Kirsten and I also embarked on a tour of the traditional market with a guide who schooled us on the ingredients and formulas of making jamu. Jamu is a traditional beverage made from roots and barks that is said to cure ailments large and small. We listened wearily to tales of jamu being prescribed to heal broken bones. The tour concluded with a massage by a blind masseur that was interesting to say the least. It was certainly a memorable and educational day.
With our days in Indonesia soon coming to a close, I’m glad to be taking home so many amazing memories. This trip was one to remember.
We don’t get a lot of visitors from home seeing as how the travel time is about 20+ hours with a $900+ price tag. But Joel’s mom Kirsten braved the crappy plane food, jet lag and exorbitant expense to come and spend our week long spring break with us and we’re so glad she did!
It was an exhilarating, action-packed week that started in the colossal, congested capital of Jakarta. We met up there for a short weekend before traveling on to Yogyakarta. Having only one full day to sightsee in Jakarta, we compiled a list of top picks sure to impress Kirsten. Unfortunately, Cafe Batavia turned out to be closed (despite the listed hours on their website) so we headed south to Cayenne Home in Kemang for breakfast and to kick off our day of shopping. From there we drove in circles to find Pak Denny, the iron maker featured on the blog A Journey Bespoke, then hit the two biggest, fanciest malls we could find. Finally we capped off the night with an amazing and intimate dinner at 1953 Restaurant Indonesien (that I completely failed to capture). But don’t worry, I outdid myself with the photo taking once we got to Jogja. Those pictures coming up next…
Long stretches of bathrobe-clad lounging interrupted only by pedicures and pool time. It was a truly luxurious weekend in Jakarta. We’re not known to slum, however 24 hour butler service doesn’t come standard at our typical hotel. Joel entered and won a contest through What’s New Jakarta gifting us one night in a suite at the Raffles Hotel Jakarta. Saying we enjoyed ourselves would be a drastic understatement.
The hotel being attached to Lotte Shopping Avenue meant virtually anything we needed could be purchased without leaving the building. We got a little shopping out of the way early, then snacked, soaked and slumbered the rest of the day away in our suite. Valentine’s weekend couldn’t have been sweeter.
A big thank you to What’s New Jakarta and Raffles for the five star treatment! Now I’m off to persuade my lucky little hubby to enter any and every contest under the sun.