Travel Asia

Kerala, land of coconuts and curry!

Kerala is located in the West Coast of Southern India. The climate is excellent for growing spices such as cardamon, cloves, cinnamon and peppers.

Cochin (Kochi)
The beautiful beaches of Cochin (Kerala), with graceful coconut trees must have been a welcome sight to weary European sailors. Cochin became a very important trading post settled by the Portuguese. Cochin’s history goes further back. Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Jews and Chinese have all traded in Cochin and along the Malabar Coast. Its natural harbor and trade made Cochin to become the Queen of the Arabian Sea.

Take a houseboat cruise through the calm backwaters of Kerala. The lush greenery is breathtaking.

Or visit Cherai Beach with beautiful coconut groves in Kochi (Cochin), Kerala.

Kerala Food
Seafood is abundant here and many dishes include coconut. Freshly grated coconut has a delicious taste. It is not the same as what we get here in the US in the frozen section. Fresh coconut makes delicious chutneys and coconut oil is used to cook pretty much everything in Kerala.

Try some Kerala Karimeen (local fish) and huge Kerala prawns (shrimp) cooked with local curry leaves and spices. This region of India is a paradise for food lovers. You can find tasty vegetarian and also a variety of delicious meat dishes in Kerala.

Getting here
Now you can fly in style into the green solar powered Cochin International Airport (COK). Cochin International Airport has grown quickly to become the 4th busiest airport in India.

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The New Old Silk Road

The Old Silk Road is being revived with modern infrastructure and technology. The New Old Silk Road is being built and extended from places like Shenzhen, China (Silicon Valley of China) to Duisburg, Germany (strategic river harbor with access to the Atlantic). Now you can travel on paved roads and high speed trains instead of the camels of old on China’s New Belt and Road. Marco Polo would be impressed!

However it is still the ancient charm of places like Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent, Samarkand, Uzbekistan that draws tourists to retrace the steps of ancient travelers on the Silk Road. Ideas, food, goods and culture were exchanged between the Far East and the West on the old Silk Road. You could say this was the “interstate” or the “internet” of the old. Things sure moved more slowly then. Timur or Tamerlane of the Mongol Empire invested in building up Samarkand which is now in Uzbekistan. Amazing cities on the old Silk Road!

Nowruz (new day) marking the beginning of Spring is a good time to visit to soak in the Uzbek culture and warm hospitality. Enjoy some Uzbek Plov (Lamb Pilaf) and Samarkand bread.

Fly Uzbekistan Airways to Tashkent International Airport (TAS) which is the largest airport in Kazakhstan. You can get to Samarkand via train from Tashkent.

Almaty, Kazakhstan is another one of those cities that has grown and thrived! Imagine what the travelers on the Old Silk Road would have felt when they saw those beautiful mountains! In modern Almaty, Kazakhstan, you can find both the Russian Orthodox Ascension Cathedral and the Muslim Central Mosque. You can also try some great Central Asian cuisine influenced by the Great Steppe and nomadic life. You can try some Kazakh Cuisine such as Beshbarmak and Sirne.

You can fly into the Almaty International Airport (ALA) to begin your journey.

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East meets West in Singapore

Travelling to Singapore by air:

Most overseas visitors will enter Singapore from the airport.  It’s a very nice airport and a friendly place.  The security guards checking our passports even gave our kids candy! There was a nice selection of restaurants and shopping while we waited at the airport. Changi airport  even has a wonderful kinetic rain display which is absolutely mesmerizing to watch.   See it in action on their YouTube post.


Singapore is a very business-like place.  It is a financial capital in Asia, and a good place to meet to have international business meetings.


You will encounter a variety of cultures in Singapore.  The majority of the population is Chinese, and there are also quite a few Malays (Singapore was originally part of Malaysia) and Indians.  In addition to that cross-section of Asia, I was surprised to find some of the best French pastries and also authentic Italian food that I have ever had the pleasure to try.  As a business hub for Asia, people come from all over the world.  I felt like the European influence when it came to restaurants was something totally unexpected.  It is truly a place where you can feel like the whole world is meeting up to do business.

Click to read more on Singapore

Cameron Highlands Malaysia

The English developed the Rain Forest in the mountains where it is cooler into tea plantations with beautiful English Style houses. The famous Boh Tea Plantations below is worth the visit.

Boh Tea Plantation in Cameron Highlands

You can find green houses hugging the side of mountains filled with all sorts of flowers. The valleys are terraced and planted with rows of vegetables.

Cameron Lavender Garden Malaysia
Various flowers everywhere at Lavender Garden Cameron Highlands Malaysia
Cameron Highlands Strawberries Malaysia
Cameron Highlands Strawberries Malaysia

You can also get the best organic strawberries from different green houses in Cameron Highlands.

Dubai International Airport

The world has become a much smaller place. Most flights to the Pacific Rim are usually via the US West Coast.  Of course you could fly from Chicago, USA via the North Pole over China to say Hong Kong. Do consider another way to get to the Pacific Rim via Dubai. You would have then circumvented the globe by going over Europe, Turkey, Iraq and the Persian Gulf to get to Asia or Australia. Qantas and Emirates have partnered to offer codeshare flights. Transiting via Dubai Airport to the Pacific Rim was easy. There is no need to leave the airport. Just relax and take a break and you will be on your next flight to your final destination.

New York to Dubai

Flying Emirates Airline New York (JFK), USA to Dubai (DXB), UAE and beyond

The new Dubai (DXB) Terminal 3 is a beauty. Dubai International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world.  Flying Emirates Airlines is an experience. Food was great and the planes were new. The flight attendants were multi cultural and fluent in multiple languages. Most of them looked like models. Emirates passengers can eat at their lounges. The buffet was good and complimentary.

You will find both Western and Asian toilets at the Dubai International Airport. You can get all the modern conveniences of shopping in Dubai. This airport is like a huge mall with many places to both eat and shop. While you wait to board your next flight you will have plenty to do. You can get around the airport and everyone serving you was able to speak English.

You can also people watch. East meets West.  You can hear languages from all over the world. Shops are staffed by mostly foreigners from outside of United Arab Emirates. You can find the whole world transiting through this airport. A sampling of people groups, for an example Americans, Europeans, Africans, Asians, Middle-Easterners,  Central Asians, Russians, Indians, Indonesians and Australians. Watch people with different ethnic clothing headed to different destinations, for an example some dressed for pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

There are also spas, health centers, medical facilities and hotels within the airport. Dubai International Hotel is located in Terminal 3. So the airport is pretty much a “city” of its own.

Top 5 Places You Should See in West Malaysia

petronas towers kl malaysia

Kuala Lumpur at night – Petronas towers

  There is so much to see and do when you visit Malaysia.  After all, Malaysia is a popular travel destination because it is a microcosm of all of Asia. Whether you want to explore the culture, food, and people of China, India, or the Malay and Indonesian people, you can find it all in Malaysia.  The West coast of Malaysia is the most densely-populated area in Malaysia, so we will focus our list today on that area.

1.  KL Tower

KL Tower

KL Tower, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

  It goes without saying that you should really visit the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, also known as KL.  There area lot of great sites to see in the city, including the twin Petronas Towers which were at one time the tallest building in the world.  However, if you want to be at the high point that you can easily visit for a great view of the city, your best bet is actually the KL Tower.   You have the option to go all the way to the top and enjoy an open-air view of the city, including a couple of places with a see-through floor, where you can stand above the city and look down, if you are brave enough!  It’s a great place for souvenier photos.

2. Melaka

Christ Church Melaka

Christ Church Melaka

– The locals have signs with that map of Melaka, reading “Don’t Mess with Melaka”, much like the USA’s “Don’t mess with Texas” saying.  They are known for being independent thinkers.  The city of Melaka is a wonderful place to visit for historical cultural information.  The city square features Christ Church Melaka, established by the Dutch in the 1300’s, and a short walk takes you to the Formosa, a part of an old Portuguese fort.  There is also a beach area with some nice hotels where you can enjoy the beach, and some water park resorts as well.  There are plenty of possibilities for a nice family vacation, not to mention a variety of great eating places.

3. Penang


Penang Malaysia

It is no wonder why Penang is sometimes referred to as the Jewel of Malaysia.  It has all the makings of a great vacation – nice beaches, great food, interesting historical sites to visit, a butterfly park, great shopping, Penang hill, and more.  There is no shortage of great things to see and do.  You can stay either in the city of Georgetown on the coast, or venture across to the Island of Penang by either one of the world’s longest bridges or a short ferry ride.  In fact, the newer second bridge is the longest in Southeast Asia.  
flamingo hotel pool malaysia penang

Flamingo Hotel pool area, Penang

We have preferred to stay on the beaches on the Island of Penang.  The more popular western tourist beach is Batu Ferringhi, which has a lot of touristy things to offer.  We actually got a better deal at the more local-oriented Tanjung Bungah, where we found the beaches to be less crowded.  Check out the Flamingo Hotel and its wonderful breakfast buffet – we highly recommend it.

4.  Ipoh

 Okay, so the locals don’t necessarily consider Ipoh as a resort kind of place, but there is actually a lot worth visiting there and we highly recommend it.  Especially if you love Chinese food, because Ipoh is a mecca of great Chinese specialty dishes.  And it is near the source of the white coffee that is popular in the region – you really should try it!  It’s an easy train ride from KL, not quite the half way point if you are headed towards Penang.  Just be sure to book ahead for train tickets, as many travel back and forth on the weekends if they work in KL.  Be sure to look around the historical train station when you arrive in Ipoh – the architecture is both beautiful and historical.  Enjoy the closer proximity to mountains with slightly cooler weather.  And experience something closer to a small-town feel than you normally find in west Malaysia, while still enjoying the conveniences of the city.  Again, it’s worth the short trip from KL for the Chinese food and white coffee alone.  

5. Langkawi

Langkawi Cenang Beach Malaysia

Langkawi Cenang Beach Malaysia

If you’re looking for the ultimate island get-away with pristine beaches, Langkawi is the place for you. As a popular tourist destination for not only locals but also Westerners, Langkawi offers a great variety of accommodations and dining options.  You can also find a lot of extra tourist activities, such as boat rides, museums, etc.  Of course, we think of Langkawi mostly for its unbeatable beachfront options.  Keep in mind that it is an island, or actually a main island with a series of related islands, so you will need to either fly there or ride a ferry.  It’s an island get away vacation that you will not soon forget. Depending on what you like for your accommodations, you can stay right on the beach in the photo here for anywhere from $35 USD for the  – $145 USD per night – pretty great deals for a beautiful beach get-away!

Hong Kong International Airport China

Hong Kong International Airport China

Hong Kong International Airport China

This is a major transportation hub in the Pacific Rim. You can get from pretty much anywhere in Asia to the USA from Hong Kong. We flew Cathay Pacific. You can get all the Western food and tasty Chinese food at the airport. Our kids got their McDonald’s. The bathrooms are clean and the airport is run efficiently. The airport is a huge mall.  It is a great place for a break after the long journey across the Pacific Ocean from the United States.

Hong Kong International Airport China

Hong Kong International Airport China

Sunway Resort Sunway City Malaysia

A hotel with a mall and theme park attached. The food is fabulous and the swimming pools are lovely. You have all you need to rest and enjoy time with your family.  You can get all your Western food for the kids while you conduct your business or do work using the high speed internet access. Kuala Lumpur City and the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) are within easy reach of this lovely oasis in the Klang Valley.

Sunway Resort Pool Malaysia

Sunway Resort Pool Malaysia




Flamingo Hotel Tanjung Bungah Beach Penang Malaysia

Flamingo Hotel Tanjung Bungah Beach Penang Malaysia

Flamingo Hotel Tanjung Bungah Beach Penang Malaysia

Beautiful Beach right outside the Flamingo Hotel at Tanjung Bungah Beach in Penang Malaysia. Photo taken in the morning as I was enjoying the walk on the beach.

Flamingo Hotel Tanjung Bungah Beach Penang Malaysia

Flamingo Hotel Tanjung Bungah Beach Penang Malaysia

The pool is right by the beach with lovely coconut trees gracing the property.