Having fun in the Great Outdoors in Southeast Asia

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Elaine and I, plus her mom, Mary, spent 18 days on a combination, honeymoon/vacation trip in four different Southeast Asia countries (China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia) and while there, visited countless cities.

We flew more than 30,000 miles (roundtrip) on 10 different flights and had an absolute ball doing so.

About now, there probably has to be at least one poor soul reading this column who is undoubtedly thinking, "Hey, why isn't he writing about fishing and fish plants, so I can go somewhere and catch some of those planters and then brag about my fishing success."

Well for the record, this is an Outdoors page and it is about all kinds of things associated with the Great Outdoors. That's why it is called the Outdoors page rather than the Fishing page.

My Outdoors page covers a wide array of activities ranging all the way from all kinds of fishing to many other interesting outdoor things such as hunting, backpacking, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, white water rafting, photographing wildflowers, wild game recipes, pack horse trips, etc.

Today's column will focus on a number of interesting activities found in the Great Outdoors of Southeast Asia. We left on April 3, returned on April 20 and in between, here are some of our activities:


1. The three of us spent one entire afternoon strolling on the huge Promenade along the Hong Kong Harbor.

We watched and photographed the many thousands of other walkers and the countless boats in the harbor.

While we slowly strolled, we also photographed hundreds of fishermen who were fishing from the Promenade. I have no idea what they were fishing for because we did not see anyone catch any fish. Not one! Geez, that's just like a typical Don Q fishing trip!

2. We rented a motorized sampan with its driver and took a leisurely tour of Hong Kong Harbor where we had the chance to see, up close, very close, the many Chinese who live on boats.

Some of those boats were really dilapidated-looking but they were obviously a home for an entire family.


1. We visited the Chinatown portion of Singapore where we got to eat ethnic food in the Food Court, which is quite an experience in itself.

Where else can you see an advertised luncheon special of Pig Innards and Chicken Feet? No, we did not eat that special. Yuk! No way!

We ate fried noodles and fresh-caught shrimp and we did it, very skillfully with chopsticks.

2. After leaving Chinatown, we went to the National Orchid Garden which is the largest orchid garden in the world. Mere words can not even begin to describe the breathtaking beauty and color of the many different species of Orchids. You have to be there to enjoy.

It was awesome and I shot a ton of close-up, color video of the many thousands of beautiful flowers.


1. One of our tours took us to the salt fields of Bangkok. They are the largest salt fields in all of Thailand and cover a vast area. At those fields, the workers process the sea water to create the coarse salt used in that part of the world for cooking and seasoning.

2. Another tour took us on a walking visit of the Flower Market. At that market, you can find and buy every possible type and color of flower found in Southeast Asia. Some of the Orchid and Rose arrangements were absolutely stunning.

I bought a large, gorgeous, hand-made-on-the-spot, Orchid Lei for Elaine, Mary and our female guide, Pui. Those three Leis only cost me a total of 240 Bahts ($5.11 US). Try buying three freshly-made Orchid Leis in the US for $5.11. Good luck!

3. Another tour took us on a walking visit of the Vegetable Market.

At the market, you can buy every type of vegetable found in Southeast Asia, some of which we had never seen.

In addition, you could also buy all types of cooked pork, chicken, shrimp, squid and fish dishes.

Or if you preferred, you could select your own fresh-caught fish, squid, etc. to take home to cook later.

4. We visited a coconut farm where we had the chance to see how virtually everything from a coconut tree is processed for sale.

While there, we watched while they made coconut, brown sugar and got a chance to sample that tasty output.

5. However, our favorite excursion, while in Bangkok, was the boat tour of the Floating Market.

We got into a motorized sampan and cruised through a series of canals (lined on both sides with homes built on stilts above the water) to the location of the Floating Market. Once there, you can leisurely wander all over and buy all types of fruit, vegetables, fresh fish, cooked food, clothing, souvenirs, art work, etc.

Heck, there was even one Thai walking around with a huge, live Python wrapped around his chest and neck. He was a lot braver than me to be carrying a reptile of that size around his neck.


1. Our five-star hotel (The Sheraton Nusa Indah) was on the edge of the Indian Ocean at the City of Nusa Dua.

While staying at the Sheraton for a total of eight days, we walked long distances up and down the pure-white, sand beaches, swam in the bath-tub temperature waters of the Indian Ocean, looked for seashells along the shore, watched the native fishermen trying to catch fish, admired Para-Sailers being towed by fast boats, photographed all kinds of Asian-style fishing and cargo boats, played water basketball in the hotel pool and soaked up the sun's rays while lying on lounge chairs on the beach. That's how I got sunburned on the top of my bald head!

2. One of our tours took us to Kintamani, the site of an ancient, Hindu, holy temple. At that location is Mt. Batur, Bali's highest peak at 1,500 meters. From Kintamani, we also overlooked Lake Batur, Bali's largest freshwater lake.

3. My favorite activity in Bali was the day that I rented a motorized, glass-bottom dugout, complete with operator, so I could go snorkeling at a nearby reef. I rented the boat so Elaine and Mary (who don't swim) could watch the thousands of tropical fish swimming over the reef while I snorkeled.

I did some serious bartering with the operator to rent his boat. His starting price was 450,000 Rupiahs ($45 US) for one hour of snorkeling for me.

When we got done bartering, I had rented the dugout for 1.5 hours, all of the necessary snorkeling equipment and Elaine and Mary got to go along to sightsee for a total cost of 160,000 Rupiahs ($16 US). Not too shabby!

So, in summary for that poor soul who only wants to read about fishing and fish plants, my response is, "There are lots of fun, outdoor things to do in Southeast Asia and I'm sure glad that we had the chance to enjoy some of them on our trip."

It sure beats fishing for planters.

-- Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon he can't tell you the size of the Island of Bali.

If he answers, "The Island of Bali is about 80 Kilometers wide by 140 Kilometers long," you lose this bet.


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