A Travellerspoint blog

Chapter sixty four - Kuala Lumpur

A tale of two beds

sunny 29 °C

Day 235: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 21/05/2012

Up around tennish, a spot of toast, a look online and we are soon on the bus for KL, after riding the rustbucket local bus where the back seat has sunk through the decaying floor. On the bus with a shedload of sweets and the two hour journey to the capital is easy enough before jumping on the train downtown. Jump off when we see a hostel name we recognise, then have a hunt for a room. Not the easiest hunt thus far - some real shitholes. Try one last one before a cab to one we saw online, and it's a good one at a good price. We take.

A quick look around our immediate neighbourhood - Chinatown and environs - and check the market out. Lots of buzz about KL, lots of places to eat and a real lively atmosphere. Good dinner. Retreat.

Day 236: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 22/05/2012

A fitful night's sleep before I am awoken by Gemma in our unnaturally dark room. I take this opportunity to go for a run and despite it being just after ten, the temperature is ridiculous. Huge sweat. Then off for a haircut, where the poor woman doesn't want to touch me for all my perspiration. The haircut is horrendous, compounded by the fact the owner wants a picture for his catalogue to attract more western clients. Don't think this particular chop will endear anyone to step foot in the shop again but I willingly scowl for the camera.

Do some laundry in the DIY machines at the guesthouse and after lunch we go to see some sights. Visit the I ♥ KL museum, which is disappointing, photo opportunities apart. Stumble across Little India, visiting a Hindi DVD shop in search of Billa 2. Search for the Petronas towers and with the weather looking more than ominous we head back to the hostel and watch a film in the common room. A really weird Jordanian guy is staying - think body odour, zero social skills - who earlier interrogated me on my family, all whilst giggling away to himself. Oddball that he is, he decides to just fast forward the bits of the film he doesn't like despite the other viewers.

Leaving Borat to it, we get the latest country tats, have a spot of tea and buy personalised keyrings. Cultured.

Day 237: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 23/05/2012

Watch breakfast and watch a film in the common room. Watch the Jordanian guy write a full letter, two sides of A4, again giggling to himself, before he rips it up. Take this as our cue to leave. Shower then head out for lunch and see some more of KL. Lunch is down a back alley then we head off for a walk. We take in a forestry department exhibition (poor), sit on KL's biggest sofa and then get up close and personal with the Petronas Towers, formally the tallest building in the world.

Head inside the Petronas mall and it is nice to get into the safety of the air conditioning. Take a walk around the park here, where there are lots of people jogging. Talking of which, my legs feel adequately sore after yesterday's half hour excursion. Agony.

Head back to the central market for another personalised keyring then tea and bed. Somehow, I manage to put my foot through the wall whilst writing in the diary. Quick exit needed...

Day 238: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 24/05/2012

Lazy morning, breakfast then leave before a surveyor can check the walls in our room...Sad to be leaving the strange Jordanian behind, lunch at the same place we have been frequenting on the street. Then upwards and onwards to stay with some expats (friends of Paolo's) so on the LRT to Bangsar, where Bev and Mark live. Not sure what time to expect them home (should have read the email) so sit on their front step before we head for a quick walk, whilst parking our bags in the cosy little cupboard set into their perimeter walls (it's for the dustbins). Get back and before long Bev arrives, lovely woman, and before long we are sat having a cold drink. Lovely home - great place to stay for a couple of days.

We head out for dinner after a couple of drinks and find ourselves down the entertaining Bukit Bintang, which is a circus of great street hawker food stalls. Have frog, fish, chicken and Tiger and head back to find poor Mark locked out as we are out so late. Sorry.

Day 239: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 25/05/2012

So after a few drinks and the comfort of being in the first proper home since leaving the UK, we are terrible guests and stay in bed a bit later than we hoped and are down for a very late breakfast. A cup of tea and a round of toast and we are back at the LRT station (after a very cheap cab ride). Head back to the Petronas Towers for photos (no camera last time) and Gemma masters the art of perspective and photos (ask her about the Statue of Liberty episode). Then head back downtown to satisfy our need for walking miles a day.

Head back about sevenish and Gemma wants to take full advantage of a house kitchen so we run out to the most pretentious supermarket ever. I mean calling itself and an 'Urban Gourmet Hub' and having a car park full of Lamborghinis surely indicates the price point but in all fairness homemade Spag Bol is amazing.

Day 240: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 26/05/2012

Up a little earlier this morning (not hard) and we are soon out with Mark and Bev who take us to see some more of the sights of KL. We visit the Batu Caves, a huge cave complex with a Hindu temple built into it, with massive stalactites and stalagmites, lots of steps and some great views of the city, as well as lots of resident monkeys.

Head back to the city centre from here, where we are taken to experience some more great views, having a cocktail overlooking the Petronas Towers from the bar at the top of the Traders Hotel. A couple of Mai Tai's and some great photos later we head back down, go back to Mark and Bev's and enjoy some early evening drinks at theirs before heading into Bangsar village itself for dinner. A rather nice neighbourhood, a great city and we will certainly miss the home comforts we have been treated to here...

Posted by tevs 06:03 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur food malaysia city capital petronas Comments (0)

Chapter sixty three - Melaka

Boom shaka Melaka

overcast 28 °C

Day 230: Melaka, Malaysia 16/05/2012

Up and out for about nineish and after a quick breakfast it was back on with the backpacks and the short stroll to the Queen Street bus terminal to catch the bus back into Malaysia. A painless bus journey over the border and we are impressed with just how efficient and clean the whole immigration experience is both sides of the fence. We appear to have alighted the bus a little early and we have to catch another bus to the main bus station in Johor Bahru to get a connection up to Melaka. A combination of a huge lunch and a very comfortable bus leads to an inevitable, slack jawed, dribble inducing nap.

Arrive at Melaka Sentral station where we are met by the friendliest, most helpful touts we have ever come across, and it seems there is quite the range of modern, affordable guest houses to choose from. After a quick bus ride (fourth one of the day) we are soon checked in to a city centre room and after quickly getting ourselves sorted, we go for a stroll and mini exploration of the area. There are two huge shopping malls opposite each other, each with the essential mix of turbo air con, western shops and multiplex cinema that makes for a winner. Oh, and of course both malls have an indoor, top floor archery centre as one would expect.

A quick stop at one of the cinemas to watch Johnny Depp in Dark Shadows (with obligatory dirt cheap, huge bucket of caramel popcorn) is followed by dinner on the street and entertainment in the form of the chef performing a bit of karaoke. Back to the room and bed.

Day 231: Melaka, Malaysia 17/05/2012

A good night's kip is followed by a hearty breakfast of tea and toast and we head out to see a bit more of Melaka, undergoing our usual routine of walking, walking and walking some more. Although the legs feel heavy after the Singapore Marathon (not an actual one) we manage to cover a fair bit of Melaka, snaking our way through Chinatown and Jonker Walk, being amazed by the many antique shops and the many trinkety places selling all types of mystical Oriental items. Meet a man who makes wooden clogs by hand - 'Girl you want clop clop shoe?' - and have lunch at a Chinese place that has a range of cool Chinese articles on the wall, including numerous portraits of Chairman Mao. Hmmmm, Red. Woman here is impressed with my very limited use of Mandarin.

We try to find the supermarket Gemma claims to have seen, which is easier said than done, though in fairness it is hidden underground with its entrances through a department store or multi storey car park. Turns out to be rubbish and we only buy bananas. Back at the hostel I make a start at updating the blog before being coerced into playing playstation instead by some Belgian guy. Shades of university...

Back off out - flit between the two malls in search of food, ending up in an incredible food court where the cheap food is not only delicious but served in the type of ridiculously huge portions yo mama used to give ya. Back to the cinema to feed the latest habit (popcorn and Hollywood). Whilst buying tickets a huge poster for the Bollywood 'straight to DVD' epic we starred in in Goa reveals itself and promises the film to be a mega Indian blockbuster. Billa 2: a must see I think.

Day 232: Melaka, Malaysia 18/05/2012

A lazy morning - breakfast and a morning watching the telly. Catch the bus to the zoo for the afternoon but first must get to Melaka Sentral station, which is meant to be around the corner but takes forever as old women direct the driver to stop outside their front doors, where there is the biggest Tesco this side of Slough to delay us further...

Eventually get to the zoo (cheap), which is amazing! Beautiful birds, naughty monkeys, tigers, lions, a (lonely) chimp and orangutans, one of which knows how to open a bottle, drink the contents and then refill it with water from the moat around its enclosure. Don't approve of giving iced tea to an animal but still pretty amazing to watch. More dexterity and resourceful than half my siblings.

Leave the zoo after a thrilling couple of hours then proceed to spend a less thrilling sixty minutes waiting for the bus back. Find the last bus to town centre has gone when at the station and find an unsuspecting English girl to share a cab back with. Tea is followed by another trip to the pictures, leave about half twelve and return to the guesthouse to find that the weekend market is in full swing outside. Investigate, hold a python (not that one) and freak Gemma out as she looks up to see me with a great serpent in my hands.

Day 233: Melaka, Malaysia 19/05/2012

An uneventful morning, find a shop where there are over a thousand pairs of football boots stacked precariously and 'everything is half price'. Poor. Back to the hostel after a solid lunch and I really make a start at typing this ol' blog up (about five hours worth). Due to technical issue with the memory card, Gemma goes to the internet cafe round the corner to upload some piccies. We talk to each other online which is strange.

Head out for tea, tackle the night market again and then watch a DVD before enduring the embarrassment of watching the Champions League Final that never was. Some of the Malaysians at the hotel are Chelsea fans which makes for a bit of fun.

Day 234: Melaka, Malaysia 20/05/2012

Wake up late after staying up til all hours with the football. Gemma runs out for lunch as I doze and comes back to tell me that there is a B-Boy contest in full swing down the road. Lunch, ice cream, breakdancing. Some incredible dancers including a troupe of seven year old girls dancing inappropriately let's say.

Uneventful evening - skype, blog - then bed.

Posted by tevs 04:32 Archived in Malaysia Tagged chinatown history malaysia cinema melaka Comments (0)

Chapter sixty two - Singapore

The urban jungle

semi-overcast 30 °C

Day 228: Singapore 14/05/2012

Shhh, I have a dirty secret to confess to. Today, we had both a McDonald's and a Burger King. I feel sick even thinking about it. This is how this happened. We got up at seven for our taxi to the airport, where we take the opportunity to grab some breakfast, and for the sake of convenience and cost a sausage and egg McMuffin ticks all the boxes. We check out the airport and before we know it we have arrived in Singapore, the smallest state of our tour so far. Amazing how green it looks from the air.

The airport is incredible - so clean, efficient in a way Heathrow can only dream of and free wifi to go with the range of designer shops. We talk to the woman on the visitor information desk, who might be the most helpful person I have ever met. At this point we take the chance to sit down and decide where we want to go and occupy a seat in Burger King with the sole intention of having a drink and a pore over the map. I order two soft drinks and somehow a Whopper and a chicken burger present themselves in front of me. Shocking.

Anyway, find a room easily enough after a ride on the ultra efficient underground system and after a shower and a check online, we go exploring. Have a bit of a heart to heart in a park and eventually find our way onto the marina bay, seeing Singapore for the beautiful, modern city that it is. There are lots of nice green spaces and an abundance of sleek, smooth buildings. End up in a shopping mall full of stuff we will never be able to afford, before watching the daily light and water show that is shown on the waterfront. We walk back (via the most pedestrian unfriendly route ever) and have a Chinese served by the rudest person seen yet.

Day 229: Singapore 15/05/2012

Arise for our only scheduled full day in Singapore and after a quick breakfast we are back up and out. Some crazy, weird Americans staying at our place. Must avoid.

We stroll to the MRT station nearby and jump on the train to Kranji, where we will get the shuttle bus to the nearby frog farm care of the local countryside alliance. A bit of a wait for the bus so we have the cheapest lunch yet, costs about two quid, and we are soon at the frog farm, where the noise of the bull frogs is deafening.

Take the train back to Orchard Road, a very upmarket part of town, with all the designer shops you could ever want. A McDonalds hot fudge ice cream sundae and I manage to get some shorts that actually fit me! We then proceed to walk and walk and walk around Singapore, stopping only get changed back at the room. We pass thousands of people queuing for a video game release and head back to the bay to watch the light show again and get some photos of the incredible cityscape. An incredible city with so much going on - a huge arts festival due to open the day after we leave, which we see people rehearsing for, and after a very late dinner we get back to the room after midnight after what seems like twelve hours plus of walking. Both would like to spend a bit longer here.

Posted by tevs 05:06 Archived in Singapore Tagged singapore city marina_bay_sands Comments (0)

Chapter sixty one - Kuta

Paradise to hell in one foul swoop

overcast 25 °C

Day 227: Kuta, Bali, Indonesia 13/05/2012

Up at 7am with heavy hearts - we don't want to leave the Gilis! Bloody visas. After a quick breakfast we were on the beach waiting for the shuttle boat across to Lombok for the ferry across to Bali. Funnily enough we are on the boat with an Aussie couple that arrived on the same boat across to Gili as us (though they originally succumbed to the horse and trap con). However, wise to the horse and cart trick, we walk to the bus point with them.

Messed around a little bit - bumped from one minibus to another (seems everyone is being pissed about to be fair). Wait for the ferry with about a thousand other travellers taking the same route, with backpacks, surfboards and suntans aplenty. The ferry ride across is eventful with everyone flocking to the back to watch a huge crane being loaded onto the boat. Rough seas saw motorbikes parked on the lower deck falling over and the crane rocking violently from side to side. Cue a man straddling the crane - with no regard for health and safety - tying it down with a seriously big rope. Meanwhile, a little boy playing around the sleeping Gemma is sick in her hair and the fourth minibus of the day to take us to Kuta. We arrive about eightish and check in online for our Air Asia flight. Eventually track my family down on skype and find a beautiful, overpriced, grimy shithole to stay in for the night.

Posted by tevs 04:49 Archived in Indonesia Tagged beaches hotels bali indonesia gili_trawangan Comments (0)

Chapter sixty - Gili Trawangan

Paradise. Suppose my brother has to be right about something...

sunny 30 °C

Day 222: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia 08/05/2012

Picked up at 8.30am by the minibus taking us over to Bangsal (the ferry point serving the Gili islands), where we are told to wait at a cafe with a load of other people that have been dropped off for the boat. We are then all told to get ready to go and are taken to a horse and cart 'not included in the price'. We'll walk then. 'But is 1km away and boat is waiting'. The walk is about a hundred and fifty metres and the boat hasn't even arrived yet. Cheeky bastards. Sly.

Cross the water to the biggest of the tiny Gili Islands and once again the scenery is breathtaking, with the mountains of Lombok looming large over the sea. The views of our destination ain't half bad either. Arrive to what seems on the surface to be a really busy beach given the size of the island and we are taken by a tout to a small homestay, which turns out to be fine and at a good price (though the water supply on the island is salty), reached only by passing the nice looking diving resorts that line the beach front. Check in then off to explore.

Wow! This turns out to be about the only thing Billy has ever been right about in his life as Gili Trawangan is stunning. Amazing views across the impossibly blue water to Lombok, Mount Rinjani and the other Gili Islands. Some surfing at one end of the island, some beautiful beaches at the other, no traffic (literally no cars or bikes - just horse and cart) and job's a good'un. Incredible location and the prices are not as high as first feared (as washing is a lot more pricey). Dinner is at an incredible night market, with loads of food stalls, where food cannot get any cheaper. Stuff ourselves silly.

Day 223: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia 09/05/2012

Up, breakfast, out. Successfully haggle the old lady down on our mammoth load of washing, get a great price on a surfboard for the next four days and go for a surf. The waves are not as good as Pangandaran but what a place to do it! Meet Cribbo up the island at the beach where we have lunch and a perfect afternoon on the beach. Told the best surf is late afternoon so take a walk back to the other end of the island, where the low tide and rocky reef mean I turn straight back round to meet Gemma back where I left her. She hasn't moved a muscle.

Dinner again at the night market, before we go for a few very cheap drinks at the local.

Day 224: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia 10/05/2012

An early surf blows away the cobwebs from last night but no such luck for G, who is dying up at the other end of the island. We have lunch and Gemma cannot even finish her 'deliciousy' chicken baguette and fries (so it is left to me to pick up the pieces...) and she eventually perks up. We absolutely love it here - the beach is perfect, it is quiet and the views are amazing. I play a bit of keepy uppy with the locals in the afternoon, somehow running into the odd WBA fan from Sengiggi...Another great night market dinner!

Day 225: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia 11/05/2012

I head off for an early morning surf, and being a lot earlier than usual (and taking the cross island detour) I arrive and the tide is still out, so I go for a walk around the end of the island, which is scenic, deserted and strangely eerie, with a load of abandoned bungalows and cafes left to decay. I eventually get into the waves - the best since getting here - and meet a couple of brothers from Bali who are insanely good at surfing. Funny how living somewhere like that has that effect.

Meet Gem at the beach bar where we have befriended the staff and taught them to play Uno. D'Hiel the barman is pretty good and enjoys screwing everyone over with the +2/+4 cards! We then go for a snorkel and the scenery underwater is incredible. Unbelievable colours, crazy fish and we are lucky enough to see a big sea turtle. However, an urgent call of nature about two minutes after getting into the water sees me have to make a mad dash to the toilet! Disaster averted and we head back in have an awesome time, even Gemma has gotten confident in the water!

Dinner again at the night market, where we meet a couple from the UK and nice guy from Sydney and we go on for drinks at Rudy's again. We meet up with another British couple and proceed to have more than just the one drink we intended...

Day 226: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia 12/05/2012

Well, feel hellish after last night - Rudy's has a lot to answer for. Breakfast helps marginally before we drag ourselves to the beach (surfing is even on the back burner the way we feel). More Uno, a good lunch and we decide to go surfing again. See another great big turtle and follow it around for what seems like ages (so tame), seeing lots more weird and wonderful things under the surface, including novice divers. The heavens open and we get back out to save the stuff from getting soaked. However, we are now freezing as the wind gets up as well and we have to head back to the room to warm up. This takes a while but we get there eventually.

Have a skype session, then have another night market dinner, before walking through the storm to have a drink with our friend at the beach bar. Get back, dry off, bed. Packing the bags is so easy now after our huge clearout in Bukit Lawang. I almost look forward to it now!

Posted by tevs 03:40 Archived in Indonesia Tagged beaches snorkelling indonesia paradise gili_trawangan gili_islands Comments (0)

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