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Published: October 9th 2012
Day 107 Monday 1st
September to Day 115 Tuesday 9th
Malaysia – More beaches, resorts and slowing down to reflect the last 4 months on the road. Team Free are coming home!!!
4 months ago, this moment seemed so far away. It’s currently 11:40pm here in KL, Malaysia on our final night of our epic ‘overlanding’ adventure from London to KL (Kuala Lumpur). We fly back to Australia on Air Asia’s D7207 to Coolangatta at 10:00am tomorrow.
Arriving into Langkawi by ferry on day 107 saw us enter our last country. Country number 20. We joined together with 3 German backpackers, who were travelling with us from Krabi, to get a van to our hotel. This saved us a massive $4.00. Here we found our nice budget 3 star hotel/resort on the beach. We planned to have 3 days here, then 3 days in Penang and 3 days in KL.
Our 3 days in Langkawi were very relaxing and carefree. We even turned from ‘hard global travellers’ into tourists. We hired a car. We hired jet skis and we even had a go at parasailing. When you look at the cost compared to Europe, the
US and back in Australia, you need to grab these opportunities. We avoided any car or jet ski hire in Thailand due to all the scams you hear about. Malaysia is nothing like Thailand. The locals didn’t treat us as walking ATM’s nor did they want to sell me suits, massages or rides in Tuk Tuks!!!
While we had the car in Langkawi, we drove around the island and found a few small quiet beaches to have a swim and we took the boys to see the waterfall on the west side of the island. It’s only around 70km to drive around the island. We hired a couple of jet skis and after Melissa had decided that she had had enough, Jackson took over riding with Harrison, while Hunter and I tore up the oceans. Australian operators certainly wouldn’t have allowed a 13 and 11 year old on a 1000cc jet ski by themselves. Once again, gotta love Asia.
Out the front of our hotel we came across the typical paragliding operators. As things were very quiet that afternoon, I managed to negotiate and absolute bargain for the four of us. Melissa wasn’t so keen!!! The boys loved
it. Me too. Jackson, Harrison and Hunter were very surprised when I told them I’ve had to wait 43 years to do this. They think Melissa and I have been to every country in the world and have done everything there is to do. Even after 4 months of doing new things, they still get surprised to find out that most things on this trip have been a ‘first’ for us too.
After 3 relaxing days on Langkawi we caught the 3 hour ferry down the coast of Malaysia to the island of Penang and ‘splurged’ on our last resort type accommodation. We stayed at an amazing beach resort called The Lone Pine. In Australia is would have cost 3 or 4 times what we paid on-line. The service was exceptional. We put Lone Pine and the Mia resort in Vietnam at the same level. We couldn’t fault it. The small things make the biggest difference. This included staff walking around the pool every few hours with ‘cold refresher towels’ (like the ones you get on airline flights, but cold), they adjust the umbrellas during the day as the sun moves to keep you out of the hot sun,
they bring out little tables for your poolside meals, and they even have free thongs for all guests to use and take home after your stay.
These 3 days gave us all plenty of time to relax and psyche ourselves up for the return to normality in a few days’ time. We took a shuttle to George Town, the capital of Penang. We were staying at Batu Ferringhi on the northern end of Penang Island. Penang can often be referred to as 1 of 3 places. 1. The capital city (George Town), 2. The island of Penang and 3. The State of Penang. A bit like New York, New York. George Town is an old colonial town established by the British as a port for trade between Europe and China. A lot of the architecture is now heritage listed. A number of these buildings need some restoration as they are starting to look like Angkor Wat with some massive trees growing out through the roofs Tomb Raider style. We wandered through the old town and through ‘little India’, here we took some great photos of some of the local artwork on the sides of buildings.
As we have
been travelling for 4 months with 4 backpacks, we haven’t had any opportunity to pick up many things on our travels to date. We told the boys that they can buy all their ‘fake’ Nikes, watches, t-shirts etc once we got to Malaysia, mainly KL. We have picked up a few smaller things along the way such as a t-shirt here and there for the boys. Well now their Malaysian Ringgit from their aunties and uncles and grandparents is now being put to good use with some great markets right out the front of our hotel in Batu Ferringhi. We all have a bit more room in our backpacks as we posted some things back to Australia a few weeks ago from Bangkok. This included some ‘Lonely Planets’ books, some maps and our warmer clothing from Europe and Mongolia. Travelling in SE Asia is so easy. A few t-shirts and shorts and a pair of thongs pretty much covers it. None of us have worn our shoes since arriving into China 2 months ago. We didn’t post these home as it would have cost an absolute fortune. After picking up a few more things, we organised our bus from Penang
Day 113 Sunday 7th
of September saw us having to deal with our first real issue since arriving in London 112 days earlier. At 1:29pm we were sitting on the bus ready to depart George Town at 1:30pm when I suddenly realised our passports were still in our safe in our hotel room 50 minutes away at our hotel. Instant panic set in along with a sickly feeling!!! What do we do? Quickly we made the decision for Melissa and the boys to remain on the bus and I would join them later in the evening in KL after locating our passports. Once their bus departed I phoned the hotel and organised for them to put them in a taxi and send the taxi to the bus station. As our hotel was around an hour away from the bus terminal, I would not have necessarily made the next bus 2 hours later to KL. The hotel kindly said that they would organise it. While waiting alone at the bus terminal I realised that the last 356km of our 22,000km plus trip wouldn’t be completed together!!! Such is life and I suppose this is another story the kids
will remember for years to come.
As the clock ticked by and the next bus was due to depart, I was still thinking that there was a chance that the taxi driver has got lost, was planning to sell the passports on the ‘black market’ or just decided it wasn’t worth the fare and bailed on me. 5 minutes later guess who sat down in front of me with our passports? One of The Lone Pine Hotel concierge. This just proved the quality of the hotel we stayed in. The hotel didn’t want to risk our passports being lost and drove the nearly 2 hour return trip personally. The concierge didn’t want to compensated financially for his services, but I insisted he took the 50MYR ($17) as this is what the taxi would have cost me.
I arrived into KL and found our hotel where Melissa and the boys had already safely arrived and checked in 2 hours before me. We realised that the last 7 hours was the longest I had been apart from any of them in the last 113 days. It was really weird as it felt like a few days since I had seen
them. I swear Jackson had grown another inch.
KL was always going to be a place to relax for the last 2 days of our trip and let the boys put all their bartering skills that they had developed in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand into practice. They all picked up some cool things and Melissa and I even managed to add to our small collection of items that we had purchased along the way. Poor Jackson desperately wanted some shoes, but as he’s grown, he could only find one pair that fitted. He’s now a size 12 and we’re lucky his thongs allow for a bit of overhang!!! All the boys have definitely grown over the last 4 months, but Jackson is the definite standout as he is now well and truly taller than Melissa. I need to watch out, as he’ll have me covered in the next 12 or 18 months!!! I reckon Uncle Dunc @ 6’7” will only be a matter of time. I’m sure everyone will notice how the other 2 have also grown, not only their hair!!!
We spent some time wandering around Petronas Twin Towers and got some great photos. We didn’t
bother going to the top as the skybridge connecting the two towers are only on the 41st
floor. Our hotel room is on the 21st
floor and they want the Eiffel Tower and Moscow Towers to remain the highlights.
Tonight we ventured out after a massive thunderstorm to grab a few last things including another small piece of luggage for the trip home. It wouldn’t be South East Asia without the regular thunderstorms in the late afternoon. Our taxi is picking us up at 7am tomorrow and we will be arriving into Coolangatta on the Gold Coast at tomorrow evening.
The boys are in bed and we’re ready to head home tomorrow. See you all soon……………….
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