Tweed enters onto the scene for City to Jungle to Islands!
12.02.2012 - 03.03.2012 29 °C
12th Feb and i touch down in Singapore in the wee hours of the morning. We’d used our bible (aka the lonely planet) to book a nights accommodation at the Prince of Wales Hostel. Initial we tried to book the one in Little India, which sounded a pretty fun and vibrant area to be based, however it was full...this worked out splendidly!! They suggested their other hostel in Boat Quay. It was ideal!! Perfectly located, right on the river in the heart of the city with a view of what i call the flying boat!! Its this ridiculous monstrosity, a boat on top of three rectangular towers! (bit like the Sydney opera house, i seemed to have accumulated rather a large number of photos in different lights, diff angles, a diff times of the day, yardayardayarrr...anyhowwww had arranged to meet Nina, a friend from Sydney who’d just moved out to Singapore! So awesome meeting people in these random locations around the world, so nice to catch up and see what they’re up to! We had lunch then drinks, thennnnn a rather beveraged Hils (hockey friend from uni, who’d also recently moved out to Singapore) arrived on the scene. She’d been to the famous Singapore “brunch” (an all inclusive affair). Had a entertaining catch up (lots of high pitched screaming and questions haha), before heading to china town for some scrummy cheap food!
Next day Amy and I walked the streets of Singapore, along the river to Robertson Quay, up to Orchard Road (shopping central!! To cross the road you have to cross the labyrinth of the underground malls, and inevitably get lost before finally surfacing!) Then up to Little India, good for cheap food and Arab Street and Habi Street are cool. This is where we saw the Prince of Wales hostel we originally tried to book and thought, Result!! Next it was back towards Marina Bay Sands via Raffles and a few parks, very nice walking route, to meet a slightly hanging Hils to discuss the possibility of her joining us on our next leg of travels!!! She’d recently got a job, an apartment and was due to move in and start around the 1st of March so had a week and a half at her disposal!! The plans were discussed and she was to join us in Kuala Lumpur (KL)!! Love it how things work out! Spontaneous rendezvous!! We left Hils to go meet Raspal (another Sydney friend, who’s from Singapore, hence knows all the good places to go!) for dinner! Nina also joined us and we had an awesome meal over in Dempsy at Samy’s Curry (which you eat food off banana leaves).
14th Feb...Valentine’s day...a romantic stroll through the botanical gardens, a western lunch (quite the luxury after a month of mie gorang (fried noodles)) and then a bus ride, which we only just made due to rush hour, lack of free taxi’s (apparently you have to call taxi’s in order to get one, not so easy to hail one on a Friday arvo of valentine’s day!). Missed the first bus, ran across to another company, they would only accept cash and as we were leaving the country and had been used to using our cards in Singapore (the only place on our travels so far it has been so easy to use!!) so a mad dash to the atm, we were able to make the bus! As Sods law would have it, my bank card (which had been swallow and block in indo and which mother dearest had very kindly sent out to Raspals place) had just arrived at Raspals...the day after i see her and when im about to board the bus, with no credit and no way of contacting her i had to wait and luckily with Hils joining us later, Raspal (legend!) and Marc (Hils very kind and lovely boyfriend) were able to meet up and arrange the delivery of my bank card!...the dramas and stresses of travelling, never as plain sailing as you think, well certainly in my case!
Arrive Malacca around midnight, taxi to Chinatown to stay in a historic building (Eastern Heritage). We only intended to stay in Malacca for that day and leave in the eve for KL, but having walked around and been told the food in Malacca was good so we decided to take the morning bus. It was Amy’s birthday the following day, so we went for drinks along the river, very nice, then went searching for the night markets. Massive fail, ended up eating this broth that you cook a plate of seafood in...noooo idea what i was eating?!
KL was cool! Hil’s flew in and joined the crew for some shopping and a few birthday bevies. Stayed in china town, which has an awesome market with knock off EVERYTHING! Bags, electrical, clothes, Absolute vodka which was more like rum! Had a walk around town, through Bintang area and past the Petronas Twin Towers, awesome! At the back of Petronas is a pond which has a water display, and when the lights come on, its a pretty impressive building! Didn’t get to go up, as you have to queue really early in the morning or book a min. 2 days in advance, so went up the KL Tower, which was good too! A guided walk around the jungle below was included in the ticket...dont bother, just do it yourself, got stuck with this crazy tour guide.
Up early for our Taman Negara tour...bus to a jetty, boat 3hrs to Taman Negara (the jungle). So nice cruising along the river, only about a foot above the waters surface. Arrive at this little floating village in time for dinner and a night safari. Hil’s who’s not done much travelling was definitely thrown in at the deep end. In the dark, walking around looking at Tapier’s, Scorpios, spiders, frogs, deers and the potential to see a tiger. No tigers and actually not as much wildlife as i thought, but still quite interesting walking around in the dark in the jungle. Just after we crossed the bridge she nearly flashed us all trying to get a moth off her, however by the end of the tour she was buzzing!
Next day we did a canopy tree top walk, 40m above the rainforest floor. Pretty wobberly, but awesome to be walking up in the canopy. Unfortunately there were so many people that all the wildlife in the area would have avoided this area at all costs ha! After a nice walk up to a view point, and a village tour with a lesson on how to light fire (would have been useful for “30 days has November”) and shoot using this blowing poison arrow thing, quite good fun. Next on the agenda was “River shooting” – the worst but funniest “rafting” experience i’ve ever been on...over little “rapids”, they spray you using an ore to fire water at you, and rock the boat from side to side (sit 3 rows from the front for ultimate soaking)! After dinner there was an abundance of cicads flying around, making a huge noise flying into the fans waking them towards us, making us eat bowed over our plates. After a slap round the face by one and one land landing on my back, which the guy behind was shining a torch on it, to which Hil’s was somehow already on the other side of the restaurant shouting, “Stay calm” to which her and I panicked..having decided to evacutate the restaurant we tried to go to the room. It was a bit like the movie “Entrapment” having to get through the lazers, where the lazers were replaced with cicads! But with a dive shriek and slam of the door, followed by a number of cicads hitting the wall (like daggers thrown in an Indian jones or james bond movie!) we made it to safety! All in all, it was an entertaining tour, but really a bit touristy and didn’t really see much wildlife.
We bypassed Cameron Highlands, travelling past the strawberry and tea plantations, stopping for tea and scones, dellish!! It was pouring there though, and actually we saw the next day there had been the worst floods this year, so good decision! Instead we arrived in Georgetown, Penang. It was a stunning drive through the mountains, long, but made it! Stayed at Banana Hostel and the next day, it was laundry (6RM), book boat tickets, sort out a 60 day Thai visa (140 RM which we only needed 20days, but as we were entering overland you only get 15days and it cost 1700 Baht to extend an extra 7 days), then did a pretty comprehensive tour of the historic town, really interesting! Walked for the whole day, going to temples, the largest mosque, the state museum...finishing with a batik (design, draw wax on material then paint) lesson! Soooooooo relaxing & only 35RM.
Fast boat to Langkawi (island off Malaysia), which we were icy cold in, but captivated by a robot film (yes i know??) called Real Steel ha! Arrived from Jungle, historic town to tropical paridise! Taxi to Geko (a cool looking place but expensive and full) so walked nearer to the beach and found Chaneng Guest Hosue which was right next to the beach and a cool regae bar called Babylon. Straight to the beach, so appreciated after so long since we’d seen beach (i know tough life, but really it was since Bali!!). Had a relaxed couple of days just enjoying the beach, books and a island tour. The island tour was great value (25RM) to whiz around on a longtail boat to a lagoon via some super aggressive monkey’s that we had to fight off a screaming French girls rucksack...Amy and I were at the forefront trying to rescue the bag which the monkeys were opening and taking everything out of (including purse and passport), whilst hils was having a blast as chief photographer...we all had a good old giggle after, but be warned, monkey’s in tourist spots are dangerous!! Onto some eagle feeding, then a beach for a swim and snorkel, lovely day out, and back in time for our usual spot on the beach for a beer and a sunset, all in a days work!
After Langkawi (Malaysia) we intended to island hop our way to Krabi (Thailand), however travelling between the islands worked out pretty pricey..so instead we went back to the mainland via Satun to cross the boarder, bus to Krabi then as it was a Friday we managed a quick sprint to the later ferry at 4.30pm to Koh Phi Phi! What a result!! Arrived Koh Phi Phi after a stunning afternoon cruise to arrive at crystal clear waters, pumping music, lively atmosphere and huge rocks protruding out of the waters. Found a couple of Brazilian guys, a Canadian girl and found some accommodation at Flower Bungalows. Great location and cheap for a nice little bungalow. Hils was horrified at first, but once in bed she woke to say she had the best night sleep! Even woke up waving her hands saying hello...hello! and giving me the thumbs up, before going back to sleep haha! Phi Phi is stunning by day, amazing coloured waters and really stunning beaches! The water is a bit gross actually coz it is a mudflat or something and there are bits of mud floating in the water at high tide, but the tide goes out really far at night time and early morning. Long beach is a good 15min walk, but well worth it and there are sharks up the north end where the rocks are (black tip) which i discovered whilst snorkelling alone one arvo :-s There’s also a view point, well worth climbing the mountain of steps and pay 20 Baht to what the sun go down over the tombolo! And we did a day trip (250 Baht) going around the islands, doing some snorkelling, seeing Maya Bay where the Beach was filmed, then back to watch the sunrise. By night it is a party island, with unreal fire shows (main beach is better), tourist kick boxing (highly entertaining, tourist fight tourist for a free bucket, very scrappy), neon paint, reggae bar (which included a didderly didderly player...as in an Irish violinist in the reggae, positively unique and really worked rather well!). Really liked Phi Phi for its mix of serenity and craziness, but sadly we had to say goodbye to Hils, who’d been a great asset to the team for comical quality and great chat and a fantastic first time traveller! A natural!! Next stop Railay (near Krabi, Thailand)...