Nick's Travel Bug http://nickstravelbug.com Live Vicariously Through Yourself Sat, 17 Jan 2015 01:10:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Visiting the World’s Largest Cat Museum http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/worlds-largest-cat-museum/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/worlds-largest-cat-museum/#comments Sat, 17 Jan 2015 00:47:40 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5766 One of the more interesting things I’ve seen on my travels is the world’s largest Cat Museum. That’s right: a museum solely dedicated to cats. Whether or not you think that would be somewhat creepy, you’re right. The museum is located in Kuching, the capital of the Sarawak region of Malaysia. You might wonder what would … Read More

Visiting the World’s Largest Cat Museum is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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One of the more interesting things I’ve seen on my travels is the world’s largest Cat Museum. That’s right: a museum solely dedicated to cats. Whether or not you think that would be somewhat creepy, you’re right. The museum is located in Kuching, the capital of the Sarawak region of Malaysia.

You might wonder what would cause a city to build a cat museum. The name of the city is thought to come from the Malay word ‘kucing’ meaning cat. This fact also explains why there are random statues of cats located throughout the city.

Cat Statue Kuching Malaysia

 

On to the museum!

Things started out fairly normal, or as normal as one could hope for at a cat museum. Some more statues of cats, including some of cats as servants. There were even some porcelain dolls of cats.

Cat Servants

Cat Museum Statue 1 Cat Museum Statue 2

Cat Museum Porcelain Dolls

 

However, the further through the museum I went, the stranger things got. There were several cat paintings that I thought were pretty amusing to say the least.

Cat Museum Painting 2

 

Cat Museum Painting 1

 

Cat Chef Painting

 

It was next that things got flat-out weird. There was an area filled with what looked like cats that had been stuffed. However, the faces looked out-of-place. I happened to see someone who worked for the museum and asked her the reason for the deformed appearances. She told me that most of those cats had been run over in the street, and then their owners had brought them in to donate to the museum. They attempted to make them look as “normal” as possible, but you can tell the skin is stretched across the face on some. See what you think.

Cat Museum Stuffed 4 Cat Museum Stuffed 2 Cat Museum Stuffed 5 Cat Museum Stuffed 3 Cat Museum Stuffed 1 Cat Museum Stuffed 6

After being sufficiently freaked out by the stuffed cats, I continued wandering to see what other things I could find. Of course, there was a Hello Kitty display.

Cat Museum Hello Kitty Display Cat Museum Hello Kitty Case

I appreciated the Garfield display as I used to be a big Garfield fan as a kid.

Cat Museum Garfield

 

Just in case you aren’t giggling enough already, here are a few more cat statues from the museum.

Cat Museum Statue 4 Cat Museum Statue 5 Cat Museum Statue 6

I sincerely hope you find this as amusing as I did. If you happen to be in Kuching on the Bornean side of Malaysia, you should definitely pay a visit to the Cat Museum and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. However, as always, all opinions are my own.

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My 2014 Year in Review http://nickstravelbug.com/bucket-list/2014-year-in-review/ http://nickstravelbug.com/bucket-list/2014-year-in-review/#comments Wed, 31 Dec 2014 18:26:11 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5737 It’s always funny to see how your plans and goals you set out for the year panned out by the end. Occasionally they’re similar, but I usually find them different. I guess that tends to happen as new connections are made and new opportunities present themselves. 2014 turned out to be quite an eventful year, … Read More

My 2014 Year in Review is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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It’s always funny to see how your plans and goals you set out for the year panned out by the end. Occasionally they’re similar, but I usually find them different. I guess that tends to happen as new connections are made and new opportunities present themselves. 2014 turned out to be quite an eventful year, including moving across the country, a great beer road trip, and a trip back to Asia near the end of the year. So without further ado, here’s my 2014 Year in Review:

January

It took a bit of adjustment after just returning from traveling around the tropical islands of Thailand. After coming back from scuba diving, attempting my hand at some Thai cooking classes, and trekking around canyons, it was a tough transition to go through one of the coldest winters on record.

I started the year with a trip out to Chicago for the Chicago Travel & Adventure Show. Of course this also included eating at several of the city’s awesome restaurants.

Instagram Photo

 

As I’ve done the past several years, I went to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. I love going to see all the new models coming out and all the crazy new concepts.

Instagram Photo

 

February – March

Aside from trying not to freeze my face off, I managed to road trip down to Cleveland to see The Ataris do a 10-year reunion show for their So Long, Astoria album. They definitely getting older, but still put on a great show.

Instagram Photo

 

April

In April I decided to go and visit a couple of friends down in Austin, Texas. A week turned into 2 weeks, which turned into 3 weeks, and after about a month I decided to get an apartment down here and stay a while. I’m still living in Austin and have enjoyed every minute of it. There’s live music all the time, more food trucks than you could ever imagine, and an endless amount of great people around.

Instagram Photo

 

I also attended my first celebration of Eeyore’s Birthday. Just another way Austin is keeping it weird.

Instagram Photo

 

May

In May I flew back to Michigan for my Mom’s wedding (congrats!).

While I was back in the area, I couldn’t leave without my yearly trip to Cedar Point. There were a couple new rides I hadn’t been on yet, such as The Gatekeeper.

Instagram Photo

 

June

In June I once again headed out to Chicago, this time for BlogHouse. I’d been accepted to spend a weekend living in a giant house with a bunch of other travel bloggers, learning all the tricks of the trade and having some fun along the way as well.

Instagram Photo

 

After BlogHouse, I headed back to Detroit, packed up what I could fit in my car, and began to make the excruciatingly long drive down to Austin. At first I thought it would be fun to drive across the country, but about halfway through the drive I just wanted to be there. I did make sure to stop in Memphis for some delicious BBQ Cornish hen!

Instagram Photo

 

July

Shortly after getting back to Austin, it was time to leave again. This time for the World Domination Summit in Portland. I got into town about a week early and drove out to Bend for a couple of days of beer tastings. I think we were pretty successful.

Instagram Photo

 

Then it was back to Portland to attempt to break another World Record during the Great Namaste and meet a lot of people doing great things in the world during WDS.

Instagram Photo

 

After WDS was over, I headed out for some hiking at the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls. Oregon has some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen.

Instagram Photo

 

August

I decided I’d try to stay put in Austin for a bit and enjoy some of what the city has to offer, like the amazing BBQ!

Instagram Photo

 

September

Now you know I can’t sit still for very long. In September I was back to Michigan again for another wedding, this time between two of my good friends.

 

October

I was back in Austin just in time for the Austin City Limits music festival. 3 days of music, 80,000 people, and an incredible lineup this year! Some of the headliners included Eminem, Outkast, and Pearl Jam.

Instagram Photo

 

Also in October, I was invited on a trip out to Malaysia to celebrate the Deepavali Festival. While there I got to visit an orangutan sanctuary, tour the magnificent Petronas Towers, and eat some phenomenal street food up in Penang.

Instagram Photo

 

November

Once I got home from Malaysia I decided I’d try to chill out for a while, but not without trying to pick up some new skills along the way.

Instagram Photo

 

December

For the 3rd time this year I headed back to Michigan, but this time to hang out with friends and family for the holidays. While I was up in the great white north I went to see a hockey game, because that is definitely not something that’s popular in Texas.

Instagram Photo

 

Also, I finally made some time in towards the end of the year to redesign this website. I hope you like it!

 

As you can see, 2014 has been quite a busy year for me. There’s no sign of slowing down in 2015, either. My schedule is already filling up for much of the year and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you want to see more pictures from my adventures, follow me on Instagram.

What were some of your highlights from your 2014 year in review? Please share in the comments below.

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The Magnificent Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/petronas-towers-kuala-lumpur/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/petronas-towers-kuala-lumpur/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 23:49:53 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5681 One of the icons of Malaysia are the magnificent Petronas Towers in the center of Kuala Lumpur. At a height of 1,483 ft (452 m), they are currently the tallest twin towers in the world. Standing at the base almost makes them seem unreal.   Touring Inside the Towers I enjoyed the view of the … Read More

The Magnificent Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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One of the icons of Malaysia are the magnificent Petronas Towers in the center of Kuala Lumpur. At a height of 1,483 ft (452 m), they are currently the tallest twin towers in the world. Standing at the base almost makes them seem unreal.

Petronas Towers Daytime

 

Touring Inside the Towers

I enjoyed the view of the towers the most at night (obviously), but took a tour and went up in them during the day. The tour started by going up to the Skybridge at about 558 ft (170 m). The bridge connects the 2 towers between the 41st and 42nd floors. While there are actually 88 floors, the 86th floor is as high as you can go and where the Observation Deck is. The 2 upper floors are for maintenance, antennas, etc. You can really see how hazy the city is when you’re all the way up there. I’d only recommend doing the tour on a pretty clear day so you can see further.

Tower Observation Deck

 

Night Time at the Towers

Night time is the best time to go and see the Petronas Towers. I honestly couldn’t take enough pictures of them at night, so here are a few of my favorites.

Petronas Towers Side View

Top of the Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers 2

Have you visited the Petronas Towers? If so, what did you think? If not, they are definitely a site to see in Kuala Lumpur.

Disclosure: This trip and the tour were sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. However, as always, all opinions are my own.

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Having A Heart2Heart With the Orangutans in Sarawak http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/heart2heart-orangutan-sarawak/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/heart2heart-orangutan-sarawak/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:55:33 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5640 Just outside Kuching in the Borneo region of Malaysia lies a wildlife sanctuary for one of the most intelligent primates and one of our closest ancestors…the orangutan. The word ‘orangutan’ is derived from the Malay words ‘orang’ meaning ‘people’ and ‘hutan’ meaning ‘forest’. So orangutans are known as ‘people of the forest’, and rightly so, … Read More

Having A Heart2Heart With the Orangutans in Sarawak is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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Just outside Kuching in the Borneo region of Malaysia lies a wildlife sanctuary for one of the most intelligent primates and one of our closest ancestors…the orangutan. The word ‘orangutan’ is derived from the Malay words ‘orang’ meaning ‘people’ and ‘hutan’ meaning ‘forest’. So orangutans are known as ‘people of the forest’, and rightly so, because the males are the largest tree-dwelling mammals in the world.

First and foremost, this wildlife centre is NOT a zoo. Contact with the animals is kept to a minimum in order to reduce the dependence they place on humans and ensure they have every chance of survival when they are released back into the wild. The main objectives of the Heart2Heart program are as follows:

  1. To raise additional funds for Orangutan conservation and rehabilitation works
  2. To extend ownership of the program to other citizens of the world
  3. To disseminate information on Orangutan conservation efforts done in Sarawak

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a half-day at the Matang Wildlife Centre learning about this endangered species and the orangutan conservation efforts currently ongoing throughout Sarawak. Orangutans are on the brink of extinction due to poachers as well as their natural habitats being burned and/or cut down.

Orangutans are brought to the centre through a few different channels. Some are captured when they are found injured in the wild. Some are confiscated from their owners while attempting to be smuggled out of the country. The children are sometimes found abandoned when the parent(s) have been shot by poachers. If they are not rescued, there is an extremely high chance that the orangutans would die or be killed in these situations.

Baby Orangutans

The Rehabilitation Process

The rehabilitation process for young orangutans recovered in the wild goes something like this:

  • Admission and background investigation
  • Quarantine: The orangutans go through a health check before being integrated with the other animals. Special dietary and medical requirements are determined.
  • Training Stage 1: This is the initial training where the young primates are taught basic skills like tree climbing, food gathering, and social interaction in confined areas of the centre. They are closely monitored as they are typically with the mother for the first 7 years of their life.
  • Training Stage 2: This would be considered primary school and the orangutans first exposure to the forest. Again, they are still closely monitored at this point.
  • Training Stage 3: This would consist of more advanced deep forest skills training.
  • Release and Monitoring: Once the orangutans have successfully mastered the required skills, they are released into the forest. The staff from the centre still monitors them to ensure proper assimilation (usually for a week or so). If everything goes well, then the animal is left to live in the wild from then on. If any skills still appear to be lacking, they will be taken back and the training will continue for a bit longer before another release attempt.

In the rare case of a permanent disability or other failure to assimilate into the wild, the orangutan would continue to live at the wildlife centre indefinitely to protect them from harm in the forest.

Orangutan Cage Cleaning

Getting our hands dirty

Getting Involved

During the half-day visit we learned a lot, but were also able to get involved in the day-to-day care and maintenance for the orangutans. We began by cleaning and scrubbing down one of the large cages for Peter, the most senior male Orangutan at the centre. Next was preparing the enriched food for the animals’ lunch. The meal consisted of some greens, nuts, and honey, all blended together. Each of us stitched together a cloth bag, stuffed it with the mixture, and stitched the bag closed. Figuring out how to open the bag provides a bit of a challenge for the orangutans and stimulates their brain. I think Peter was getting a bit antsy while we were preparing the food.

Peter the Orangutan

He was probably a bit happier after I gave him his food bag.

Feeding the Orangutans

Orangutans are incredibly intelligent creatures and it was a wonderful experience to be able to aid in their conservation efforts at the wildlife centre. While the half-day program was a great introduction, I hope to go back and volunteer for 1-2 weeks at some point in the future. Only then can you really start to get a feel for their everyday lives.

Orangutan Dancing for Food

Thanks so much to the Matang Wildlife Centre for giving us this great experience and I highly recommend visiting if you are in the Sarawak region of Malaysia.

Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. However, as always, all opinions of the trip are my own.

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Celebrating the Deepavali Festival in Malaysia http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/deepavali-festival-2014/ http://nickstravelbug.com/malaysia/deepavali-festival-2014/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:32:31 +0000 http://nickstravelbug.com/?p=5595 On my recent trip to Malaysia I was able to attend the celebration of the official Deepavali Festival in Melaka, just a couple of hours south of Kuala Lumpur. Dignitaries and ministers from the country were all in attendance. In fact, I was seated at a table next to the Malaysian Prime Minister! Background You might … Read More

Celebrating the Deepavali Festival in Malaysia is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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On my recent trip to Malaysia I was able to attend the celebration of the official Deepavali Festival in Melaka, just a couple of hours south of Kuala Lumpur. Dignitaries and ministers from the country were all in attendance. In fact, I was seated at a table next to the Malaysian Prime Minister!

Background

You might be wondering what the Deepavali Festival is. Let me explain.

Deepavali (also known as Diwali, depending on the region) is a ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrated by those of the Hindu religion. The festival signifies the victory of light over darkness and goodness over evil, marking the beginning of the Hindu New Year. In preparation for the festival, people go out and buy colorful new outfits, decorate their homes, and prepare a feast for their family and friends. As Malaysia is a cultural melting pot, the holiday has become an occasion for people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds across the country to share meals and develop friendships with each other.

Pre-Festivities

The day began with some pre-festivities in a small village called Bukit Katil. The village is known for its use of bullock carts, which are used to transport paddy and other goods from the nearby rice paddys. Here we were welcomed by a group of children playing some traditional songs for us.

Bullock Cart Village Children Singing

After this we journeyed out into the rice paddys, wading through knee-deep muddy water in some parts. Check out this video if you’d like to see the proper technique for this.

 

As I was beginning to wade out of the paddys, a few local kids were holding a thick rope. They pointed at me and made the gestures for tug-of-war. Of course I want to play tug-of-war in muddy rice paddys! So I gathered a team and we took on 10 or so kids. Now either the kids were abnormally strong or maybe just more adept at holding your ground when your feet are sliding through mud. I’m going to go with the latter, but nonetheless, we all had a great time.

Video courtesy of Arienne at http://seeyousoon.ca/.

The Deepavali Festival

After cleaning up a bit, we headed back into Melaka for the official Deepavali Festival celebration that evening. On the way, I couldn’t help but notice that even the tuk-tuk drivers decorate their vehicles. I wonder if they were having a competition because some of them were decorated really well.

Decorated Tuk-Tuks

Once we arrived at the festival site, I was seated fairly close to the front. However, it was still somewhat tough to see the performance stage because it was lower than the platform we were sitting on. So after the first couple songs, I decided to get a bit closer and join the local journalists and TV media that were down on the floor. This turned out to be good and bad. It was good because I was able to get some really good photos of the performances, but bad because I couldn’t go back to my seat as secret service was apparently on strict duty not to let anyone back up on the platform. There were a series of speakers and when the Prime Minister was giving his speech I went back to my table and was finally able to eat dinner.

Here are a few photos from the performances and the vibrant costumes.

Deepavali Festival 2

Deepavali Festival 4

Deepavali Festival 6

Deepavali Festival 7

Deepavali Festival 8And finally, THE FINALE!!!

Deepavali Festival Finale

Do you celebrate Deepavali in your culture? If so, what are some of your traditions?

Disclosure: This trip was sponsored by Tourism Malaysia. However, as always, all opinions of the trip are my own.

Celebrating the Deepavali Festival in Malaysia is a post from Nick's Travel Bug

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