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Published: March 4th 2006
Well, hello there everyone!
As I am so far behind with my travelblog, I've decided to summarise the places we've visited to date. That way I'll still have some secret stories to tell when we get back too! So, here's a super-speedy whizz through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Bali!
KOH PHI PHI 27 DEC 05 - 04 JAN 06
This was just a week of chilling out on our paradise island, and these are the main things we did:
* Volunteered for HiPhiPhi- Koh Phi Phi consists of two islands (Lei and Don). Koh Phi Phi Lei is a national park and not inhabited- thought it was here that the film The Beach was, erm, filmed. Koh Phi Phi Don, however is inhabited, and was struck by the 2004 Tsunami on both sides- as the middle of this island is little more than a sandbar, the waves washed straight over it, taking everything in its path with it. Since then, HiPhiPhi, a charity, has been there working to help get the locals back on their feet. We managed to help out on the last day of volunteering (our first day on the isalnd), as they were finishing, had done all they could do, and now it was the locals who would take over. One year on, and after a memorial service celebrating life on the 26th, the islanders were finally ready to help themselves now that they had been helped back onto their feet by others. (one of my best mates at Uni was here in the summer volunteering -she is a Doctor-, and Fairy, they remembered you!)
* Chilled out on the island's beaches.
* Ate a lot of tuna baguettes (a bit of a novelty!) and drank a lot of banana shakes (mmmmmm yum yum!).
* Day trip around the two islands- some fanatstic snorkelling, saw some wild monkeys (kept my distance as not had my rabies jab!!!), and also saw some wild dolphins!!
* Luke did a diving trip, so I went along for the snorkelling- Luke saw a shark!!
* A yummy New Years Eve dinner and dancing into the night under the stars!
PULAU PENANG 05 JAN 06- 08 JAN 06
* See all the sights- it's a very multi-ethnic community so we visit al the main religious areas, see the sights and eat some yummy Indian food.
KUALA LUMPUR 08 JAN 06 - 14 JAN 06
* Malls, malls and more malls!! The Malays really like to shop!
* Visit the Petronas Towers- the tallest twin towers in the world, at 452m (88 storeys tall) and 274x my height!! (a little machine in the visitors centre worked that out, not me!). Walked along the glass- bottomed skywalkway- some great views of the city.
* Visit the National Museum- explores the history of Malaysia and its multi-racial background.
* Visit Chinatown and yep, eat some Chinese food! They also have a really good market here!
* Go up the KL tower- the tallest Communication tower in Asia- the view is spectacular, and we watch the city move from day into night.
* Go to FRIM (the Forestry Research Institute of Malaysia) to walk across the rainforest canopy walkway, but it's closed due to a Tiger sighting in the area! So we do another walk instead and see a troupe of monkeys making its way through the forest.
* Visit the Lake Gardens and Butterfly park (they really seem to like Luke, or maybe it's just his red t-shirt!), but unfortunately the Orchid and Hibiscus gardens are closed for maintenance.
* We have our special Malaysia meal in a gorgeous Italian restaurant- yummo!
MELAKA 14 JAN 06 - 16 JAN 06
* A place with SO much history, and we have to fill it all in one day!
* It was once an area held by the British, Portuguese and Dutch- so lots of different things to see, namely the different architectural styles!
* Chinatown, as elsewhere, is decorated beautifully in preparation for Chinese New Year!
16 JAN 06 - 18 JAN 06
We only have two days to do this entire city/country, so here goes.....
It, again, is a beautiful mix of races and religions- and seemingly no trouble is caused by that at all!
* Chinatown is really something here- stall after stall selling decorations and nik-naks. We eat at the hawker stalls here...
* See the colonial areas, the main sights and also the gorgeous Botanic Gardens where we get caught in the BIGGEST thunderstorm ever! But it is still beautiful- the Orchid Gardens are stunning!
* Go for the must-do of a Singapore Sling in the Raffles Hotel- complete with throwing empty peanut shells on the floor! We also go up to the 71st floor of the Stamford Hotel to a very trendy bar- where lucky fo us it's Happy Hour!! So I have a Metropolis- which seems very fitting considering where we are!
Some people say that Singapore is too 'sanitised'- but I didn't feel that way- it was clean, and everything ran on time. (And considering I sat in some chewing gum last night at Sydeys's Mardi Gras- I think a chewing gum ban is genius! Though I do like a chew now and then, but people...put it in the bin when you're done please!!)
UBUD 18 JAN 06 -22 JAN 06
We have decided to go to Bali for only 5 days instead of the initial plan of two weeks. The weather here is a bit iffy and we didn't feel like running off the beach every twenty minutes when a thunderstorm blew over! So we decided to spend 5 days in Ubud, the cultural centre of Bali and save the beaches for another time!
It really is a beautiful country with the most beautiful people. There is so much to see and experience- the traditional dancing, art, food, and of course the endless views of lush green rice terraces.
* We do a cycling tour of the area (25km- mostly down hill though!). We have brekkie overlooking a volcano, see coffee/tea plantations, bamboo/weaving/wood carving villages (each village has it's own talent), visit a traditional family compound (very tricky to do on your own). All this while all the locals come and wave at you as you cycle past!
* Also treat myself to a Mande Lulur- a traditional Balinese spa treatment, (a body scrub, and massage) that concludes with a floral bath (yep- real flowers in my bath!). Bliss. Must say it made me feel pretty special!
* While waiting for our flight (it leaves at midnight) we decide to visit Jimbaran Bay, a beach area not too far from the airport. So after dropping off our things at the airport, we head to Jimabaran. It seems this is a great time for the locals as they are all out on the beach, and this is probably the only time of year they have the beach to themselves!
The situation here in Bali is very desperate. They are by nature such gentle souls, and the recent bombings have really hit them hard. They are so grateful for any visitors to their beautiful island, and at any opportunity, thank us for being there. You see, Bali relies on tourism- 95% of the countries revenue comes from tourism, and obviously they are getting no where near that now. This is what the terrorists wanted- but it is not fair to the Balinese. I didn't feel unsafe at all anywhere, and really Bali is a little gem that I would recommend visiting- I know I will be going back!
Well, sadly, that concludes the South East Asia leg of our trip. I am so sad to see it go- we have had the most amazing experiences in the last 3 1/2 months- I would recommend it to anyone to go there. I feel like this was only a little taster though- and when I have the opportunity I would love to go back and explore the wonderful countries and cultures some more!
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