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I eat Singapore noodles in Singapore, and climb 272 steps to a cave temple in Kuala Lumpur

It does a disservice to both places to lump the extraordinary cities of Singapore and Kuala Lumpur together. But here goes.

The city state of Singapore is the glistening and ultra-modern financial capital of south-east Asia where strict penalties have all but eliminated crime and garbage on the streets. It is supernaturally clean and - after the bustling grubbiness of Thailand and especially Vietnam - seems like something out of a Hollywood fantasy.

Josie, Virginia, Tilka, Ed, Terry, Antonio and his British girlfriend Lynne, and I walked off the ship and hired a guy with a nine-seater van to show us the sites.

Singapore, like Malaysia, has managed to successfully blend three cultures and religions- the Malay people who are predominantly Muslim, the Chinese who tend to be Bhuddist, and the Indians (and other south Asians) who are mostly Hindu.

Our first stop was Chinatown where we all bought some trinkets.

Singapore, which means lion island, got its name because some long ago king arrived here and said he saw a lion even though there were never any lions in Singapore (you didn't correct a king in those days). So, when it gained its independence from Britain in 1965, they put this Mer-lion statue at the port. Terry agreed to pose beside it.

There are also some pretty spectacular buildings.

We walked around Arab town. I was tempted to buy a pashmina because there were so colorful and so inexpensive ... but I just did not need it.

And then went for lunch at a local restaurant recommended by our guide. I had Singapore noodles and was very very happy.

Sadly I did not get a Singapore Sling - which were invented at the Raffles Hotel in this city to give ladies something to drink at a time when it was not respectful for them to do so.

Then Josie, Virginia, Terry and I split from the rest to see the Gardens by the Bay- the other four went to Little India. I am not gonna post a million flower pictures here. Let me just say that, the garden domes are unbelievably beautiful and if you find yourself in Singapore, they are a must-see! This is just a small sample.

The next day we landed near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Malaysian flag has 14 stripes to represent each of its 14 territories- except it only has 13 territories ... Singapore was supposed to be number 14 but opted for independence instead.

Port Klang, where we docked, is an hour's drive from the city so we saw a lot scenery before our tour, which was offered by the ship, got to the outskirts of massive condominiums.

Kuala Lumpur means muddy river mouth - it is where two muddy rivers join - so that is where our awesome guide took us first.

Then we went to the square built by the British colonizers.

And we stopped at a garden where they have a statue celebrate Malaysian independence that was based on the famous US statue marking the battle of Iwo Jimo. It was created by a guy who maybe had not seen Malaysian people because the soldiers look kind of American. But hey.

There was a quick stop at the Petronas Twin Towers which opened in 1999 and remain the world's tallest twin skyscrapers.

They took us to the Capri hotel in Kuala Lumpur's downtown for lunch which was delicious and served in a banquet room on the 40th floor.

Then we bussed to the Batu Caves where a Hindu temple is located in a set of caves 272 steps above the ground. Those are the rainbow coloured stairs on the left side of the golden Buddha and they were as steep as they look.

Virginia and I made the climb... and so did a bunch of monkeys. It was exhausting and a bit scary - I wasn't sure whether I could trust my knees to take me down.

But worth it in the end.

Then it was off to Penang where I had a day on my own ... which brought the biggest scare of the trip. I am still shaking as I write this. But the Penang story will wait for tomorrow.





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