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Penang’s Georgetown– A Budget Travelers Dream Town

Posted by on Jan 25, 2011 in Malaysia Sandbox, Sandbox Photography, StumbleUpon Sandbox, Uncategorized | 7 comments

Good memories of a previous visit to historic Penang prompted me to stop there on my way to Bangkok. After thirteen hours of chugging along on a train I was ready to find my street legs again.

I had a great nights sleep at the historic Red Inn on Georgetown’s Love Lane. Their breakfast of delicious local food gave me the energy to do one of my favorite things….walk. I grabbed an excellent brochure from the lobby… “Traditional Trades & Foods of George Town” (Self-Guided Walks).

Red Inn

My first stop was at Mr. Lee’s joss stick making shop. He hand makes several hundred of these a day. They are purchased by Taoists to use for worship at home and at the temple.

Joss Stick Maker

Before stopping to see the flower garland weavers I dropped into the Kuan Yin Temple next door. Commonly known as the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy, it’s believed to be the oldest temple in Penang. Being the 15th of the month, the temple was extremely busy with worshipers lighting incense and praying to the gods. I love the huge pink joss sticks that they burn at the entrance.

Kuan Yin Temple


Kuan Yin Temple

Then, it was next door to watch the flower garland weavers create their magic from beautiful fresh flowers. I was amazed at the speed that this weaver worked. In the ten minutes or so that I watched he easily finished three garlands.

Flower Weaver


Flower Garlands


Flower Garlands

Have you ever wondered about those “funny” black hats worn by Muslim men. Well, they’re called Songkok and Haja Mchidin is a second generation songkok maker. He can complete one songkok in about two hours.

Songkok Maker


Songkok Maker



At 165 Lebuh Chulia the bertram blind weaver was busy varnishing a newly completed blind. Like the songkok maker, he is the second generation of his family to produce these blinds. They are handwoven from the stem of the bertram palm, and protect store fronts from the sun and rain. You will see them everywhere in Penang.

Bertram Blind Maker

My next to last stop was the “Cotton Bedding Maker”. Mr. Ong has been making bedding from his store front for the past 60 years. His bedding is stuffed with kapok (Java cotton), which is the local secret for a good nights sleep in the local tropics. I wonder if this is the secret to his longevity?

Penang Blanket Maker

Finally, I headed over to see Auntie Sim the local fortune teller. She is easy to find at stall 20 on the corner of Lebuh Chulia and Jalan Masjid Kaptan Keling. She’s advertised as one of the last “sidewalk fortune tellers” in Penang. For 20 MYR (Malaysian Ringatts; roughly $6US)) she read my palms and my face. Like most good fortune tellers she didn’t tell me anything to worry about. Apparently, I have a lot of years left in me, and I am going to be prosperous (hope that happens soon!). Of course, as Auntie Sim mentioned several times…”It’s all up to you (me).”

Auntie Sim

A walk around Georgetown wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the local street food. I have to say it was a scorcher of a day, and my appetite had vanished with the heat. However, I couldn’t resist sampling an onion baji (the one in the front). OUTSTANDING! ……

Onion Baji

All of these crafts people have their shops in or around Little India, and with a map are very easy to find. This is an economical and fun day for any budget traveler. I spent less than $7US, and most of that went to Auntie Sim.

I booked the Red Inn through Hostel World , and highly recommend it. My room was clean and comfortable. I really enjoyed the breakfast of local food. Finally, you can’t beat the location.

Love Lane


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Through the Sandbox Lens #12 — Japanese Fans

Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 in Japan, StumbleUpon Sandbox, Through the Sandbox Lens, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Japanese Fans

The Japanese love their fans, and they are well used during the sweltering summer heat. The average temperature while I was traveling around was between 35 and 40 Celsius. Definitely, fan weather.

I was surprised to discover that fan making is very much a cottage industry. In Kyoto I visited several small shops where fans were being made at the back. I was also told that many people produce fans in their homes.

This shot was taken in a fan shop in Kyoto. All of the fans were produced in a small area at the back of the shop. Budget travelers looking to bring souvenirs home will find fans to be a great option. Even the least expensive are well made.

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Through the Sandbox Lens #10 — Souzhou, China — Along the Canal

Posted by on Jul 10, 2010 in China, StumbleUpon Sandbox, Through the Sandbox Lens, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Let me begin by saying that Internet access is agonizingly slow here in China. Even a good proxy and an Internet connection does not guarantee that you will be able to send even the shortest email.

I took this shot in the city of Souzhou, which is known for its waterways and gardens. I stayed in the historical section of the city, and as you can see the buildings are beautifully lit at night. Click through to Flickr should you want to see a larger version.

Souzhou, China....Along the Canal at Night

Comments, stumbles, and tweets are all appreciated!

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Favorite Stumbles for the week June 7th – June 13th

Posted by on Jun 22, 2010 in Sandbox Reviews, StumbleUpon Sandbox, Uncategorized | 7 comments

I’m running a little late with “Favorite Stumbles”, but here they are. These are my favorites of all my stumbles between May 31st to June 6th. (Just click on the title to navigate to the post.)


Lindsay and her partner are on a tour of North Korea. Have a look at the best burgers and milkshakes in the capital, Pyongyang. If you are at all curious about NK you will enjoy this post. Includes great photography.


If you’ve been thinking about investing in an e-book reader then you’ll want to check out this post by Alison over at the Cheeseweb Alison provides an in depth review of the Kindle providing everything you need to make an informed decision before the big purchase.


A trip to St. John’s, Newfoundland is not complete without a stroll down George Street to check out the pubs. Check out Candice’s post for the scoop on Atlantic Canada’s favorite party street.


Great ideas for keeping your blog going while you’re on vacation.


Jessie over at Wandering Educators brings us a great list of travel planning tips from travel writers she knows. Enjoy your Scottish travels Jessie!


Guest poster Mark from Migrationology pens his tried and tested practices on how to land on your feet in a new place.

That’s it for this week. If you like this post please leave a comment, give it a tweet or a stumble.

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Favorite Stumbles for the Week May 31st – June 6th

Posted by on Jun 12, 2010 in StumbleUpon Sandbox, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I’m running a little late with “Favorite Stumbles”, but here they are. These are my favorites of all my stumbles between May 31st to June 6th. (Just click on the title to navigate to the post.)

1. Life Inside the North Korean Bubble

If you are at all interested in North Korea, you will like this recently filmed documentary by the BBC. Very well done, and revealing, despite the frustrations with really getting “behind the scenes”.

2. Camera Talk: Cleaning Your Camera

Every time I travel I think….”oh I really should have cleaned my camera before I left on this trip” Here’s the perfect blog post to get me going. I love this step by step guide. Camera cleaning sounds easy!


Check out the fantastic travel photography!

4. Top 3 Exotic Foods and Local Specialties by Travelers Around the World

Check out the different ethnic food that travelers are eating around the world. This is part of a weekly series “Top Things by Travelers Around the World”. Each week Dina and Ryan ask travelers to submit their “top” suggestion re. a particular topic. Makes for some interesting reading.

5. 4 Ways Every Traveler Can Make Money from Their Travels

Informative post on how to make money from your travel blog.

6. 44 Organizations Providing Internships, Volunteer Vacations and Long Term Programs in Africa

If you’re looking for an internship or volunteer vacation, this article will help you get started. Lots of great links to various organizations.

7. 64 Ways Location Independent People Earn a Living

Find out how others are traveling and living a location independent lifestyle.

8. Interview with Bernard and Danielle from

Traveling through Africa, their goal is to bring stories of hope to as large and audience as possible.

That’s it for this week. If you would like to see your blog post in my favorite stumbles, simply add me to your Stumbleupon subscribers.

Here’s my address

If you like this post please leave a comment, give it a stumble or a tweet.

Until next week…………………..

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Favorite Stumbles for the Week May 23-30th, 2010

Posted by on May 31, 2010 in StumbleUpon Sandbox | 0 comments

StumbleUpon is a great resource for getting your blog posts out to the blogosphere, and for finding posts on just about any topic that interests you. This is a new weekly column where I will be featuring my favorite blog posts that I found and stumbled during the week. If you would like to have me consider one of your articles to be included in my weekly favorites, simply subscribe to my StumbleUpon site, and ask me to stumble your post. If yours becomes one of my favorites you may find it featured in my weekly column.

My StumbleUpon address is:


Although lots of articles have been written about packing this one is worth a read. I’m all for organizing clothes, etc. into containers. I use net laundry bags bought from the dollar store. They work like a charm.

Interesting article on how we benefit personally from traveling.

Here’s a fantastic “to do” list for Japan. This article is timely for me since I’ll be traveling in Japan this summer.

I tried this, and came up with some wonderful sites for planning my upcoming travel in China and Japan.

Yes, there is a dark side. Great article, but don’t let it stop you from embracing the expat lifestyle.

This is funny and a bit weird.

This is a fantastic photo essay of some amazing festivals around the world.

Drop by again next Sunday/Monday to discover my latest stumbles.

If you like this, please leave a comment, give it a stumble or a tweet. I will reciprocate.

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