So we ended up spending 16 days in Thailand for our second visit there. We weren't overly impressed with Krabi and Ao Nang beach and yet for some reason ended up staying there for a few days! Just laziness really but that's the beauty of our trip, we're not in a hurry! We moved on to Khao Lak because we wanted to dive the Similan Islands and the season ends there at the end of April. There's not much to Khao Lak, just a main tourist strip but we had a cute bungalow back from the main road and were only there to organise the diving. We decided to book a live-aboard dive trip which was amazing! We only allowed ourselves to splurge for one night on the boat but we got six dives! After the morning and afternoon dives, we opted for a night dive so had a few hours to chill on one of the islands waiting for the sun to go down - it was completely deserted and beautiful to have an island to yourself! The night dive was incredible
! We saw a turtle and no other divers. It was so peaceful! Sleeping on the boat was delightful,
we were gently rocked to sleep like babies. Then we were up at 6am next day for another 3 dives. It was short and sweet! After diving we moved on to Koh Phi Phi and had a typically long and boring day of travel to get somewhere which really wasn't that far away. We were made to leave Khao Lak at 8am, arrived at a boiling bus station in Krabi at 10am and were told we would be waiting there until 1:30pm for the bus and then boat to Phi Phi. 3 & a half hours in a disgustingly hot and highly uncomfortable bus station does not a happy Cec make! When we finally arrived in Phi Phi, we were taken to a cheap bungalow at the other end of the island and walked through millions of mini-marts, tourist offices, shops, bars, restaurants, etc. Way too touristy for my liking! It's mainly just a party island. We took a boat trip around Phi Phi and went to Maya Bay, the beach the film "The Beach" was filmed on. Suffice to say it was packed with tourists but fortunately we hung around for a while and when most people left it
was very beautiful. We did some snorkeling, bit dull after two days of scuba diving, and then waited for sunset. It was nice enough but Phi Phi was a little over-rated for me. We left to go to Malaysia but had to go back to Krabi for one night to get the bus next morning to Langkawi.
We arrived in Malaysia, country number 5! It's pretty developed and westernised like Thailand but very beautiful and the people are lovely. We arrived in Langkawi and took a taxi out to the main backpacker bit, Pantai Cenang and found bungalows run by a very sweet Japanese lady! She gave us welcome drinks and a lot of advice and we headed out with a couple of guys we'd met on the way into Malaysia, Guy and Kieran, for our first taste of Malaysian food ... I ordered a cheese burger! The menu was confusing and the waiter rushed me! After that I quickly discovered that Malaysian food is SO tasty!! There's a mix of Indian, Chinese and Malay and it's all so good! My favourite thing is 'roti canai' which is basically a savoury pancake with curry and sauces to dip it
in. Curry and pancakes? Best combination ever! And it usually costs about 1RM which is about 20p! Billy bargain!! Although I was informed the other day that it's horrendously calorific! Too late now! Anyway I got sidetracked by food, standard! Where was I? Ah yes, our first night in Langkawi ... we set off to walk down the beach and soon discovered it was low season and there weren't many people about, except in one bar, Babylon, a reggae bar with live music and drinks on the beach. We went there every night as it was the only place to go! The next day we hit the beach; beautiful white sand, calm waters and best of all, hardly any people! We spent the morning sizzling and then the four of us rented scooters and rode around the west coast of the island. We went on the Langkawi cable car which was incredible. It provided the best views I've seen so far! Langkawi is actually a cluster of 104 tropical islands so the view from the top of the mountain was spectacular! You can also see Thai islands. Amazing!
After Langkawi we parted from Guy and Beth, Kieran and I
headed to Penang. We spent a very hot day walking around; we walked through China town, little India, saw a temple, went to the mall, visited Fort Cornwallis - British fort built in 18th century - dull. Penang was pretty, we stayed in Georgetown and the colonial buildings were nice to view but as sight-seeing goes - dull. The food on the other hand, amazing!! Curries, satay, roti, stir fries, sooooo good. I don't really have much more to say on Penang, as you may have sensed, I found it dull. Beth and I parted from Kieran and headed to the east coast to visit the Perhentian Islands. Well it was just tropical paradise!! SO beautiful! We had a cheap bungalow on the beach (the best kind!), there was soft white sand, the bluest sea I've seen and we were surrounded by lush green jungle! We ended up staying for a week, it was so chilled and lovely. We only left because I ran out of money and there wasn't an ATM on the island! Also food was pricey because they know you can't leave! Still I didn't mind paying a little bit more for a delightful week on the
beach. We didn't have the internet and I don't think my mother was too impressed that I disappeared for a week but I had a lovely time! We literally did nothing but lie around, read books, drink shakes; it was bliss. I love mini beach holidays in amongst the travelling! Sometimes you need a holiday from all this travelling lark! (HA I can already hear the disgruntled, reproachful remarks coming) We left for the Cameron Highlands, back on the west side, we kind of zigzagged the country! The highlands were nice and chilly after a boiling week on the beach. We signed up for a tour of tea plantations and things and were the only two on the tour! We had a very enthusiastic English speaking guide, the only problem was his accent was impossible to understand. He talked all day and we only understood a handful of words so just tried to smile and say 'yeah' and 'mmm' at the right moments! He took us to the first plantation and I'm sure
told us many interesting facts about tea leaves! Sadly I got none of it. They we went on some 'mossy walk' through, you've guessed it, loads of
moss. Classic. I asked when we booked the tour if I needed to wear walking shoes, 'no, no, sandals are fine' was the reply. Well he mugged me right off! I looked like your typical girly moron slipping, sliding and squealing my way through the mossy, and carefully left out of the description, MUDDY walk! Not ideal. I can't really be bothered to describe the rest of the day. We took pictures, went to a tea factory, drank overpriced tea, went to a strawberry farm, drank more overpriced tea - this time strawberry infused tea, posed for pictures with Asians; you know the drill. A nice enough day but nothing special and shockingly, not
our first tea plantation day tour!
We left for Kuala Lumpur the next day. We've had a load of great tips from Beth's sister Jen who lived in Malaysia for a year but KL was the best! We shirked most of the tourist stuff and did the stuff ex-pats do. It was good to do some less touristy things for a change! We arrived in KL around lunch time and went off to Little India for a delicious banana leaf curry. We found a restaurant
down a little alley and it was a proper locals restaurant. We got a lot of stares! We wandered through Little India, China town and explored the markets. Next day we went to the Pavilion Mall. Biggest mall I've ever seen! It was amazing and I've never found it harder to resist the temptation to shop! But resist I did and instead spent my money on the best cinema ever! We paid for 'gold class' tickets, about the same price for a standard cinema ticket back home and got to view the film in the VIP gold class cinema, seated in giant, reclining leather arm chairs, with blankets almost at duvet consistency to keep us warm in the air-conditioned room AND had a call button on our table for waiter service!! I don't think the cinema will ever be the same again. Oh we also bumped into a boy from our year at school! Mental! The next day we went to FRIM (good word) which stands for Forest Research Institute Malaysia. We ventured a little out of the city, armed this time
with my trusty walking boots and took the nature walk/climb up to the canopy walkway. From here you
can get an amazing view over the forest and nature park but also out to the skyline of KL. It was a horribly sweaty experience though! Hiking uphill in the midday Malaysian heat is probably not the best idea ever but we had fun! That night, taking heed of one of our tips, we headed to a street with amazing Chinese food! It was so yummy! We wandered the city and it's very grandiose at night; the golden triangle is full of twinkling high rise buildings, offices, luxury hotels, malls, bars, etc. - it's charming. Next day we went to Time Square where they have an indoor theme park! The rollercoaster weaves its way through three floors. FUN. That night we went to the Trader's Hotel (another tip) to the sky bar. Wednesdays are ladies night so we got free cocktails and sat opposite the Petronas Towers! The view was incredible and KL looks beautiful at night, especially from an elevated viewpoint. We met an American guy who guessed we were German? Swedish? Canadian? - Uhhh say what now? I'm used to people thinking I'm American or Canadian (apparently I've got some funky accent) but German? That was new! The
following day we decided to try a fish spa in the central market. I've always thought them a bit gross but for £1, I was intrigued. It was excruciatingly tickly! I felt quite sorry for the fish having to dine on my traveller feet but they seemed happy enough. We then went out to Mont Kiara Plaza to meet Jen's friend Claire, an ex-pat who'd also given us great tips! We would never have known about Mont Kiara Plaza and it's safe to say we were the only backpackers there! The food market was unbelievable! We gorged ourselves and then went for drinks. I LOVED KL but I think it's mainly because we had such good tips and did some different things. After nearly 5 months away, some stuff does get a little samey so it's good to go somewhere and do different things! Or indulge in things like the cinema and sky bars!
We left KL in the pouring rain (I think it was sad we were leaving!) and headed south to Melaka. It was very nice, lots of cute shop houses, Dutch influence, British influence, Portuguese influence, lots of maritime stuff, street food, night market, wandered down
the river but nothing that
interesting. We did find several tributes to 'Mr Universe, Mr Asia, Mr Malaysia, Mr Melaka' which we found rather amusing but other than that, Melaka doesn't really command too much attention. We left this morning and took a bus to Singapore. Singapore seems very exciting although rather expensive! For the first time we've properly planned what we want to do here because it's too expensive to spend lazy days! It seems like a cosmopolitan place, like Malaysia and is quite rich compared to other parts of Asia and so far boasts equally tasty food! Food is a big component of my trip! When else do you live your life eating out every single day? It's a great culinary education! I would never have tried half of the foods without this trip and my palate would be the poorer for it!
SO we're in country number 6, nearly at the 5 month point and will soon be heading to Indonesia! I loved Malaysia and look forward to visiting the Borneo side later in the trip! And apologies again for this very long entry, if it's any consolation, it takes a while to write it!
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