A Travellerspoint blog

Kuala Lumpur

Shopping heaven

rain 31 °C
View Evie's Asian Adventure on Slummin_it2's travel map.

It was only a short one hour flight from Penang to KL but had I researched a bit more thoroughly I would have driven as it takes about 4 hours by road and the scenery would have been more interesting than the construction sight that is Penang airport and the inside of an Air Asia plane !It also takes an hour from KL airport into the city centre.

I was staying in the Bukit Bintang area which is the shopping and commercial district near the Petronas Towers, I arrived early morning so it was a quick check in and dumping of bags and I was off exploring. It's a really easy district to walk around, all the malls, I think 6 in total are situated close together and some linked by air conditioned walkways so much easier to navigate around than Dubai. The malls rivalled Dubai too, full of top end designer shops and each looking swanky in their individual design. I'd been starved of Malls for about 2 months now so it was a welcome relief from nightmarkets !! I spent the day mooching, as you do, stocking up on essentials and paying a visit to the hairdressers which was well overdue and a very nice pamper session as it included a massage and glass of wine.

Pete was in town, so he had researched and found us a lovely restuarant for us to eat that night for our anti-valentines meal. The restuarant wasn't far from my hotel but did require a short taxi ride. Now Taxi's in KL are an experience best avoided if you can, there are mainly 3 types.

Red Taxi's - The one's you haggle with a stubborn driver for, generally in very poor repair but do usually have seats and 4 wheels
Blue Taxi's - Metered, modern and clean therefore impossible to find when you need one
Yellow Taxi's - A haggle job too but a bit easier as I think from my experience driven by learner drivers who have no idea where they are going

I of course ended up in a yellow taxi in the evening rush hour traffic, which is dire in the centre of KL from about 5 till 8pm, my 15 minute planned journey took nearly 90 and I got dropped off at the wrong restaurant. Mistakes are good though as I was able to have a wander around a really nice area full of busy bars. A very pleasant evening was had by all, great company, great food and way too much wine.

Next day was a later start, this might have been due to a slight hangover and I was off to find the Petronas Towers. Easy to spot on foot and easy to lose again as they well to me, didn't seem that tall and got lost amongst other sky scrapers. I'm used to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which you can always see from any point towering way above anything else in Dubai. The towers are an amazing sight to see though, I wasn't able to go in as I hadn't got there at 6.30am to queue for a ticket that I may or may not have been lucky enough to get, they operate on a first come , first served basis for an allocated number of tickets per day and you can't purchase beforehand online. Rubbish huh ?

I really liked KL as a city and was viewing it from a could I live here perspective and the answer was a definate YES, I hope next stop Singapore is the same. I'm using travelling as an excuse to suss out potential new places to live and work and therefore actually avoiding looking for a job !

Posted by Slummin_it2 23.02.2012 17:39 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Penang

Not entirely sure why I came here ?

sunny 33 °C

Writing this entry is a bit of an effort in fact I nearly skipped it entirely as I wasn't sure I wanted to remember but I was convinced that I should and it is part of the trip and a record for me in the future.... to make sure I never return !

The journey to Penang didn't start particularly well as I was suffering a bit with the well known ailment travellers tummy and with a 2.5 hour ferry journey to endure from langkawi where the facilities on board are usually best avoided unless you have a snorkel mask and waders on I really wasn't looking forward to it. The ferry terminal and ferry were in fact a pleasant suprise compared to Thailand. It's a bit like a small airport terminal with gates, porters and trolleys and you get an allocated seat on the ferry !! Yes no playing sardines and wondering if you will sink on these little Malaysian numbers, they even played a movie for us to watch. All going very well until the ferry got caught up in a fishing net half way and we were stuck firmly for nearly 2 hours while a lone diver in superman pants untangled us.

The ferry docks in Georgetown, where I was due to spend a few nights but my taxi driver ( amateur tour guide ) kindly put me off saying an hour or two and I will have seen it and the waterfall is tiny and butterfly farm rubbish and after driving through very slowly in the rush hour traffic I got his point and decided to cancel the Georgetown stay. I did see Jackie Chans holiday penthouse though so that's kind of sight seeing.

I arrived in Batu Ferringhi and within 5 minutes had a big rat on my balcony which wasn't particularly pleasant as they frighten the life out of me so I moved rooms to a higher floor as it was late and moved hotels the following morning upping the star rating dramatically which meant I was now staying in a hotel with several saga tour groups. This was actually quite nice as my fellow holiday makers were really friendly and they didn't like to see me on my own, so I spent one afternoon playing cards and drinking tea out of thermos flasks with a gang of old ladies,had several interesting chats with a moth collector who was unhappy that he'd travelled to the Cameron Highlands to collect a particular species but hadn't realised it was a full moon so had come back empty handed. A memorable moment was when I was sat in a bubble pool and an elderly gentleman apologised to me, I asked why and his response " oh my dear, I have a dreadful tummy so I thought I'd sit in the bubble pool so no one would notice my bubbles but I think you have, so sorry " I sympathised as Penang didn't agree with me either !! Shame because part of the appeal of Penang is the world famous hawker food but sadly I may well be the only visitor to Penang not to experience as this as I lived on cheese sandwiches and bread rolls.

The beaches on Penang are really not where anyone would wish to spend anytime and in fact they didn't. They are filthy dirty and the water is brown and full of jellyfish. One guide told me this is always the case and due it being on the Straits of Melaka. So My advice if you like beaches is avoid Penang as you won't find a nice one.

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There was a highlight to my visit, I went to Orang Utan Island on the mainland one day, which was a bucket list thing to do. It's about 2 hours from Batu via suicide bridge ( best place to jump so they say as the currents are so strong ) and a nice journey through rubber plantations and feng Sui fish farms. The Island itself was home to 39 Ranga's as part of a rehabilitation programme and for once it was the tourists that were in a cage rather than the animals. You walk through a caged tunnel and it's up to you to look for the Ranga's which you may see if they are wandering around or you might not as they are left alone to do what they want. I was lucky and saw 7 in their own environment including the old man Mike, who was huge and a mother and tiny Baby. It was very difficult to take photographs as the cage was several layers thick and to be honest I was more interested in watching them than taking photo's. They did however on the day I visited have 2 babies in the nursery room, which had a glass front so you could watch them play with their soft toys and each other. The day ended in another rat sighting, time to leave !

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Next stop Kuala Lumpur - Yay a nice big city and collision number two with Pete

Posted by Slummin_it2 15.02.2012 08:59 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Langkawi

Swimming with sharks

sunny 33 °C

Two flights, one of them a bit on the bumpy side and I arrived in Langkawi feeling a bit like my insides had been through a fruit shake blender. The first drop of rain hit me as I stepped off the plane and by the time I was through immigration I was in the midst of a full blown tropical rainstorm. The taxi's quite rightly decided not to make any attempt to drive, so I sat until it eased off under a shelter in the car park watching the lightening and cowering under the big bangs.

I did eventually reach my lodgings which was inbetween the resorts of Pantai Tengah and Pantai Chenang, it continued to rain heavily all evening so there was little that I could do than sit and watch it out of my room. Inbetween is the hotels description on the internet, inbetween actually I discovered means stuck in the middle of nowhere. I'm learning the tricks of the trade lingo now.

Next morning it had brightened up and I decided to head to Pantai Tengah beach. The roads were a bit muddy and I managed to fall over into a drain. first little war wound of the trip and it was a very smelly one :-( The walk to the beach was worth it though. Tengah beach has only a few upmarket resorts dotted along it but hidden back in the trees and the Lighthouse restaurant so no beach bars or sun beds spoil it's landscape. The sand is golden and a bit grainy but the water green and crystal clear but best of all I was the only one on a 50 metre stretch of it for most of the day. Langkawi is part of an archipelego made up of 99 islands and you can see several of them clearly from the beach. It was so nice to see the sunshine again to recharge the batteries.

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That evening I decided to walk the other direction into Pantai Chenang with the aim to find a beach bar to watch the sunset for which Chenang reportedly has the most beautiful. I had read my trusty guide which told me that only a few bars along the front actually served alcohol and bingo how lucky am I, first little alley I chose to get onto the beach was the one belonging to one of the bars 'Little Lilia's chill out cafe' So I had my first of too many Pina Colada's of the evening sat sunset and people watching. The beach is probably at it's busiest at this time of the day as families all gather in big groups to enjoy the cooler temperatures and the watersports. The resort itself is one strip full of shops selling sarongs and boardshorts with a few posher souvenier shops thrown into the mix so I bought another sarong as you do to keep the economy going and headed off to a mexican bar for some food and corona where I met a mad couple from Colchester ( small world) and a group from Uzbekistan and had a fun night and a poorly head following morning.

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The next few days were spent at a very nice beach resort so I did nothing but enjoy the pool and private beach with a little shopping trip to Kuah to replace my camera in one of the numerous duty free shops.

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Final day and I'd left it till the last minute to go on a day trip to Pulau Payer Marine Park which is about an hour away by ferry from Kuah jetty Payar is in the northern part of the Straits of Melaka. Black tip reef sharks are frequently spotted and part of the days activities was to watch the baby sharks being fed. This activity has now been stopped due to several larger sharks up to a meter long being a bit greedy and injuring people so I didn't think I would get to see a shark and being a bit scared of fish was a little bit relieved. How wrong was I, I'd only been in the water a few minutes and my eyes clocked one in front of me only a very small one but I still muttered an expletive and moved away faster than the shark did. I got braver and stayed in the water and began to actually enjoy spotting them and was lucky enough to see two larger one's swim beneath me in a really shallow sandy area, I regretted not buying an underwater camera from the tour guides ! I had a great day, the snorkelling was fantastic,fear of fish definately gone and the experience was far better than in Thailand with the variety of fish and size of them that I saw and the water was so much clearer. I must get a fish identification book one of these days as one of my friends who is a bit of a marine expert recently pointed out !

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I leave tomorrow by ferry to Penang and for the first time on this trip I'm really sorry I'm not in Langkawi for longer as it really is beautiful and there is still a lot here that I haven't explored.

Posted by Slummin_it2 08.02.2012 06:55 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Chaing Mai

rain 29 °C

I left Luang Prabang by flight ( haha Pete !) LP is the smallest airport I have ever seen, literally a wooden check in desk and room with plastic chairs but it does the job efficiently and my 1 hour flight back to Chaing Mai was very pleasant on a very small but modernish aircraft. I'd pre-booked accomodation a little bit out of the old city, this time in a boutique hotel with a pool hoping I would have some chill out time in the sun but the weather was against me again and it was overcast and wet for most of the time. Boutique hotel sounds very flash and it is if you paid to stay in the luxury traditional Thai style section but me , nope I was in the backpacker lodge attached but it was clean and we had a better view of the luxury wing than they did of our concrete block !

So, no sun meant plan B, visit Tiger Kingdom which is about 30 mins tuk tuk ride away from Chaing Mai. So I wandered onto the road to find one just as the heavens opened again. Luckily a tuk tuk appeared out of nowhere in seconds which they normally do but this one looked like it was held together with bits of string and broken umbrella's and was being driven by a very old man who spoke no english so bartering a price was interesting with a show of fingers etc and he gestered for me to get onbaord. We were overtaken by people walking so I was beginning to wonder just how long it would take to get to see the tiger's but a little further into town my driver stopped and spoke to a local who spoke english and asked me where I wanted to go so I quickly said 'oh night market please' which I was very close too by this point and hopped off to find a more stable vehicle. I tried to pay the old man and he wouldn't take any money so I forced him to take 30 baht, he nearly kissed my feet and I realised he wasn't really a taxi tuk tuk but just a nice man who'd stopped and given me a lift because it was raining. Thai people are so lovely :-)

Tiger Kingdom was so much better than I thought it would be, I got to spend about 15 minutes playing with babies less than 3 months old and then with their Mummy's and Daddy's. The babies were in a playful mood and the handlers shake a plastic bottle full of beans around like a rattle and they jump up trying to get it. I got nibbled a few times as they ran around me and very luckily they looked at the camera for about 2 seconds so I got some photo's.

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The grown up tigers aren't playful. They were quite moody, I would be too if I had to pose with tourists every day for a living. You can't help but feel nervous in their company, they do what they want to do when they want to do it and regularly have a little roar and show their teeth. I think there were 5 in the enclosure I was in so all the time I was looking over my shoulder to see where they were and the handlers repeatedly tell you to move away if you are too close or too near the head but they do encourage you to pull a tail or stroke the backs whenever possible. At one point a tiger jumped up onto a table to eat some leaves and the handler said quick , quick lay on top of him but I was a chicken and declined plus it was raining and the fur was wet and smelly, good excuse I thought. They are amazing creatures to watch and be around and I do feel very lucky to have been able to experience being in such close proximity to them.

That night I visited the night market for the first time, a girl does need a shopping fix now and again ! It's a big market and sells a bigger variety of items than I'd seen previously, some nice jewellery stalls and different types of bags etc and it had a nice atmosphere walking around it. It started to spit with rain again so I grabbed a starbucks take away and a tuk tuk and headed back to the hotel for shelter. Good call as it poured again with rain for the rest of the night.

The following morning it was time to head off to Langkawi via KL so I arranged a taxi and again haggled on the price. I thought I had got a good deal until he then picked up some Malaysian guys from the other side of Chaing Mai and charged them the same as me so well done Mr Taxi driver double pay for a trip. The haggling is something I won't miss, I can't tell you the number of times I've overpaid during my time in Thailand and I thought I was a good haggler ! The Malaysian guys were lovely though and were sooooo excited I was heading to Langkawi and gave me lots of suggestions of places to see. One of them is a hairdresser who works next to the hotel I've booked in KL and has offered to sort my tangled mess out for me so that's something to look forward too !

Good bye Thailand, I'll be back one day :-)

Posted by Slummin_it2 06.02.2012 05:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Luang Prabang

sunny 28 °C
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I stayed in what I thought was the prettiest building on the High Street in the Bakery Guesthouse and I was lucky enough to have a balcony on the front so I had a great view up and down the street, I spent many hours sitting watching the steady stream of tourists with backpacks walking up and down to the market or hiring their bikes from the shop opposite me. Nights were fascinating because until about 10pm it's lively and full of tourists shoping in the night market, grabbing a fruit shake from one of the numerous stalls or eating in the restuarants but by 11pm it's like a ghost town, lights go off, shutters and doors are closed and everyone disappears like magic every night. Luang Prabang is definately a city that sleeps.

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Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage city and is centered around the High Street and the road that runs along the Mekong River. The town is full of small guesthouses, boutique hotels and tourist friendly restuarants and bars selling local Laos and western cuisine. The pace is very slow and most people just meandered around taking photo's and admiring the buildings which were a mix of tradional Laos wooden houses or French european style. Laos beer is very tasty I decided much better than Chang or Tiger from Thailand and after walking around exploring in the sunshine there were plenty of lovely spots along the river to have a beer break.

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I spent a few hours one afternoon sat in a reclining wooden chair by the river with a bottle of Laos beer having a much needed Manicure, Pedicure and essential foot scrub all for the grand sum of 40,000 kip ( Just over 3pound) no chemicals were used just fruit such as limes rubbed over the nails to clean the mud off and it worked ! I'm not sure the finished result would meet Dubai standards but it was good to finally have clean, tidy, mud free nails again and it was sooooo relaxing.

My friend Pete was in town, Pete and I worked together in Dubai and are both travelling in Asia at the same time but slightly different routes so we arranged to meet for a catch up in the coconut garden. Such a good find with it's lush green garden and red chinese lanterns hanging on the trees. I had a western meal of pork ribs and they were delicous, the first hot meal I'd had for 3 days. Pete and the others had Laos cuisine such as sausage and deep fried morning glory which looked good too. we spent a few hours comparing slummin it stories, I think Pete is winning so far with smelly trains and gruesome rooms but we both agreed so far every minute has been worth it.

My final morning was supposed to be spent watching the traditional Alms ceremony at 5.30am but.....I overslept and missed it. I was disappointed as I'm told it really is an amazing sight to see and feel spiritually watching hundreds of monks in their orange robes pass in silence through the town collecting food such as rice and cookies from kneeling villagers in their bowls. Oh well a good reason to come back one day ...

Posted by Slummin_it2 31.01.2012 09:03 Archived in Laos Comments (1)

Laos

Luang Prabang

sunny 26 °C
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I am so pleased that I decided to fly in the end, I know it was expensive compared to the other options but the flight was great and only an hour from Chaing Mai so in my book worth every penny. I still had to decide on my exit route though, bus, boat or plane but decided to park that decision to later in the week.

I had pre-booked accomodation just outside Luang Prabang at the Eco Mahout lodge as I wanted to do a Mahout training course while I was here. I don't think I had actually realised what I'd booked until I turned up and had to climb down a steep mud bank with my bags and jump into a leaky wooden boat which would take me to the lodges. So a bit shell shocked I had a good look around my lodge. It looked idyllic and the views of the river were amazing it was just the big gaps between the lodge's wooden walls and the roof which concerned me slightly as I think there were more Mossies and other creepy crawlies in the lodge than outside. It was also really chilly and the bathroom was basically outside. Oh well I thought 3 nights it's ok it's an adventure. The first night I stuffed towels and t-shirts around the tree trunks that were growing through the room and the big gaps around them to stop any rats climbing up them and into the room. I don't know if rats actually would do this but I'd seen a few outside and was completely paranoid by this stage. I slept with my ipod on not to stop any noise but to make some as it was just so quiet all you could hear was your own breath and the occaisional flap of wings in the pitch roof. I sprayed myself and the mossie net liberally with bug spray and hoped for the best.

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I slept like a log ( huge sigh of relief !!) and headed off at 7.30am to meet the driver who would take me to LP to the boat station so I could join a tour for the day. Caves, lunch and waterfall was the plan back at 4.30pm. Ok well very quickly I realised that Laos time is very much like Dubai time, it will happen when it happens and will happen how it happens inshallah. So I think the boat finally set off about 9.30am it was to take me to Pak ou to see the cave. The boat was a wooden number and there were well over a hundred of us waiting at the boat station so we were split into smaller groups of about 10 each which was a painfully slow process. Lots of boats were ready so nobody was turned away.

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It took about 90 minutes to get to the cave via a quick pit stop at a local village to buy local crafts. The caves were a disappointment, very small with a lot of old broken buddha statues in it and far too many tourists. We than headed back the way we had came and by this point I was wrapped up in my towel freezing cold and thirsty so I probably didn't appreciate the scenery as much as I should have. I grabbed a quick coffee at a cafe by the river and realised I had no idea how I was getting to the waterfall, everyone had gone their own way after caves and there was no tour guide in sight. About an hour later a tour guide lady turned up to find me on a motorbike as they had lost me ( whoops I had missed a packed laos lunch box lunch in the tour office, such a shame !) I jumped in a van and off I went with a new group to Kuang Si waterfalls.

The waterfalls were a much better experience than the caves. Cool pools to swim in and bears at the bottom in a sanctuary to see so I enjoyed the few hours we spent there. I eventually got back to the lodge at about 8.30 after crossing the river in that leaky boat in the pitch dark ! I had met some french girls at the waterfalls who were also staying at the lodge so we ate together ( bad, bad food at the lodge the cheese baguettes were just about edible) and played cards drinking Laos beer for the rest of the evening.

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Next day was Mahout training. What an amazing day. Lots of elephant rides, learning how to control an elephant and the opportunity to ride the elephants neck ( which I found petfrifying) and the finale was to bathe the elephants in the river. This part was the best of the day, my elephant was very good at obeying the command boun boun, which means spray water from trunk. My Mahout made sure that I got well and truly soaked but as he had been a star all day and had put up my shakes and gripping of his hand when I was riding the elephants next I forgave him and it was all part of the fun. Casualty one broken camera and all my nails.

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I had arranged to go tubing ( bobbing around in rubber tyres on the river ) with the girls and for a short trek in the forest on my final day which was fun and muddy ! then we all departed the lodge and the elephants for Luang Prabang for a few nights.

Posted by Slummin_it2 30.01.2012 09:05 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

The route to Laos

Phuket and Chaing Mai Ok I know maybe not the most direct route but I kept changing my mind

sunny 30 °C
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It's been a while since I blogged, sorry ! so I'll try and catch up in a quick blog and to be honest remembering some of the nights not going into detail is probably a good thing.

I decided that to get to Laos I would fly rather than take the 2 day slowboat option or the bumpy bus which meant I needed to get to Chaing Mai or Bangkok so I decided CM. So I left Ao Nang on the ferry to get to Phuket for a couple of nights before my flight onwards from Phuket to CM. The weather was fantastic and the ferry empty so it was a very pleasant couple of hours in the sun until we reached Phuket and the heavens opened again and I was soaked through. I'm getting used to this now but will purchase one of those plastic poncho's when I next see one. I thought this was supposed to be the dry season in Thailand but hey ho you can plan all things except the weather.

I'd booked a slightly better hotel as after the skank -o-meter failures I was in need of some comfort and a bath tub for a few nights. Lucky me on arrival I was upgraded to a one bedroom suite free of charge and it was so nice I honestly could have cried. I found a bookshop to stock up on chickflicks and Boots the chemist for a mini pamper kit and that was me sorted for the next few nights so I thought. I'll fast forward very quickly past a few very drunken nights in Molly Malone's with some new friends from Ireland and Sweden which did involve a ping pong show and a 4.30am Mcdonalds.

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Time to leave Phuket and Patong never to return I think and to head north to Chaing Mai. I arrived quite late at night and I was staying near Thapae Gate but on arrival my guesthouse seemed to be in the middle of nowhere and all the little streets were dark and looked unfriendly so I decided against going for a wander to get some dinner and went to bed early. This was the first time I wished I had someone with me to go out with, bit scary sometimes being on your own at night in a new place.

I only had one day in CM as I was flying to Laos the following day so I decided I would spend the day exploring the old city and the temples. I walked about 3 minutes up the lane from my guesthouse and found myself on the main road with willing tuk tuk drivers all with laminated pictures of the places they could show me. So I paid the nice man way too many bahts (300 scammed again !) to take me around the temples and a city tour ending up on the river. The Riverside was a lovely place to just sit and relax with a glass of wine after the hustle and bustle of the city. I walked for miles searching out places from my lonely planet book, I found a little boutique I was looking for and bought a new hat which caused much amusement during the day as several Japanese tourists approached me and asked to buy it !

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Nice day, took lots of photo's not one of which truly show the beauty of these temples and little streets and by the evening I was exhausted so an early night but I will return back to CM as there is a lot I still want to see and do, maybe after laos.

Posted by Slummin_it2 30.01.2012 07:38 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Phi Phi for a day

sunny 31 °C
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I was supposed to be going to bed early last night as I knew I had an early start this morning but .... it rained and I mean really rained and I was stuck out in the town so after 2 hours and waiting for it to stop I decided to make a run for it. I didn't get very far as a band in a bar I ran past was playing a Bon Jovi song and I like them so that was it, another planned early night down the pan and cocktail bucket consumed. The nicest thing I have found about Thailand so far is that you are never alone in a bar for very long, and rain makes it fun as everyone is wet through, laughing about it and huddled inside.

I went on a day trip to Bamboo Island and Phi Phi today by speedboat and it was a brilliant day. I've been to some lovely places before but honestly these Islands are beautiful and the pictures just don't do it justice.

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We started off at Bamboo Island and for the first time I saw the white sand and clear turquoise sea that I love so much. I snorkelled a bit by the shore and saw a few brightly coloured fish but preferred just sitting on the beach taking in the view.

Next we headed to Phi Phi Ley around the lagoon then viking cave, here we were able to snorkel in deeper water, some divers were diving underneath us and the water was so clear I could see them and a million fish, I have no idea what type they were except fish and they were different sizes, I haven't seen them on a fresh fish counter before and they were very pretty. Now I like snorkelling and being in the water and I like watching fish from a distance but I don't like it when they get very close. The tour guides threw chunks of pineapple at us in the water and fish like eating pineapple (???) so if you were unlucky and got a piece thrown at your head you had fish in your face literally. Luckily I'm a quick swimmer so I was out of there like a shot to calmer water and actually really enjoyed myself and felt quite smug.

Maya Bay was next. Maya Bay is the beach where 'The Beach" was filmed so I was expecting great things. On arrival I just laughed, it's a tiny bay and every inch of it was packed with daytrippers. Even to get to the beach was an effort for our driver. Imagine a lorry trying to park in a gap suitable for a mini then remember boats are not static they move, well that's what our driver had to do and he did it by nudging the other boats out of the way. A quick photo opportunity for those who wanted it and we were out of there on our way to Phi Phi Don the main Island for some lunch and exploring time.

I had a good walk around, it doesn't take long the Island is very small and there are no roads or cars to contend with. The beach we were dropped off at was Tonsai Beach, pier side and that was full of boats as you would expect but I walked across to the other side of the Island and the beach was just gorgeous, only a few longtail boats disturbing the peace. I was suprised at the amount of rubbish in piles on the walk through. Such a shame as the beaches are just beautiful but the very small town just seemed dirty and bearing in mind this Island has been rebuilt after the Tsunami I would have expected it to be more cared for. I'm pleased that I only visited for a few hours rather than a few nights as I had initially thought I would.

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Final stop of the day was Monkey Beach. Not a monkey in sight, not sure if I was just unlucky or if the monkeys have done a runner , so we snorkelled again. This time I did freak out. I saw jelly fish lots of them and omg so many fish and they weren't scared of me swimming towards them, usually my trick is wave my hands about in the water and they swim off but not these one's, they were swimming into my mask and touching my skin so I got out and will remember next time to look from the boat and assess the number of fishies before I jump in !

Another boat again tomorrow, I head back via ferry to Phuket ready for my flight to Chaing Mai.

Posted by Slummin_it2 20.01.2012 08:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Monkeying Around

Ao Nang

sunny 32 °C
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Visiting Ao Nang wasn't in the original plan but due to my inability to make a decision on if I go to Phi Phi or not and several recommendations from fellow traveller's over a beer one night here I am. The trip from Lanta again on the ferry was a delight rather than the dismal trip I had experienced before. The sun was shining, it was only 2 hours and more importantly there was room to move and I wasn't concerned about sinking.

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Ao Nang is a small holiday town really and it's a really good base for trips inland such as trekking, seeing the tiger temple and hot springs and the like, none of which I have done or plan to do of course. Well ..... the sun finally came out and the weather was fantastic so it was Beach for me and again Ao Nang is great for day trips to a multitude of small islands either by cheap longtail boat or speedboats.

The town is shaped in a T which for me is brilliant as it means I can't get lost AND a starbucks was on my walk from the guesthouse to the beach, a Macdonalds too but shhh I'm supposed to eat Thai food when in Thailand. To be fair I have been eating some and it's been ok ( I hate spicy food ) but I was getting a bit tired of chicken fried rice so a sneaky Cheeseburger was yumm. Eating out so far has been incredibly cheap and I haven't been eating street food either but typically I'll pay 100 baht for dinner which is about 2 pound and in Dubai you can't get a peanut for that.

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On arrival in Ao Nang I experienced my first accomodation 'Oh Dear' moment (politely described) so let me introduce you to my friend Pete's accomodation Skank-o-meter. I used to work with Pete in Dubai and we are both travelling Asia at the same time and our trips collide at several destinations where we hope to meet and share stories, so it's good for us to use the same language.

So the Skank-o-meter is below

Basic but clean: Room slightly damp - mould may be present

  • Basic but noisy: Room may be damp, running water sketchy and racket caused by all and sundry
  • *Pass the sanitizer: Containing many features from the above plus unnecessary grime/stained bedding.
  • ** Grim: Wet mattresses (from urine and/or steam cleaning) resulting in many room changes to find one where you can breathe and not bathe in someone else's pee pee.
  • *** Utter filth - urine present on mattresses along with other unidentified substances. Plentiful unpleasant and unrecognisable smells. Retching may be imminent and full body sanitizer and/or vodka required to remain unharmed.

Overall conclusion: where are Kim and Aggie when you need them?

My Accomodation I would rank * plus it had no windows and was the size of the bed, not quite the pictures I had seen when booking on the internet so I dumped my bag and decided to go for a walk to find an alternative. Epic fail, 4 hours later I'm still in the beach bar drinking cocktails with a new friend from Germany. They sell cocktails in plastic buckets here, brilliant idea I thought. Anyway the evening continued with a bar crawl venturing into the small go-go girl bar area, several bars with Live bands singing either Highway to Hell or Hotel California and a locals bar which is a stall on the side of the road and before you know it it's 3am and not only have I not found alternative accomodation I've been locked out of the one I had ! Guesthouses don't all allow 24 access so it seems. I did get in btw and moved room the following morning AND moved again the following day. I learnt my first Thai word that night Kob Khun Ka ( thank you) repeated a million times.

There are monkeys here too and I love monkeys they just sit and play with tourists bags scavaging for food at the very end of the beach, it's a bit of an effort to get to see them, firstly I had to walk past the long strip of massage sala's which means getting hassled at every one and then the beach where the monkeys are is across a dip on the beach. I didn't time the tide very well so had to cross through waist height water lifting my bag over my head but it was worth the effort but then the heavens opened and the storm came. I was already wet from the crossing so getting wet from the rain again didn't worry me but the thunder and lightening did so I decided to take shelter and have a massage until it passed. I now have a massage addiction and have managed to squeeze a massage into my daily routine :-)

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Highlights - Too many to mention it's been great but I suppose the monkeys would be top of of the list
Lowlights - Getting locked out and 3 room changes !

Here is the Link to Pete's Blog, it's a really informative read and of course hilarious http://slummin--it.travellerspoint.com/

Posted by Slummin_it2 20.01.2012 07:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Left laundry in Lanta

A week of relaxation :-)

overcast 30 °C
View Evie's Asian Adventure on Slummin_it2's travel map.

I was up bright and early for a 7.15am pick up from my hotel to the pier to catch the Ferry to Ko Lanta which should take 4.5 hours. For those of you that don't know me ,I'm not a morning person and coupled with no sleep in Patong the night before due to firecrackers going off outside my window at 3am I was not in the best of moods. However I thought a few hours sat in the sun on a nice boat looking at some lovely scenery would be fine and of course I was heading for a week of peace and relaxation.

What I didn't realise was that they cram as many people as humanly or inhumanily possible on these ferry crossings. I got a few inches along one side sitting on the floor and settled down for the trip. I had to change boats half way and then more and more and more longtail boats joined us along Railey Beach with passengers and rucksacks all being piled onto a ferry which I am suprised didn't sink !

On arrival at Saladan Pier in Lanta the heavens opened and we all and our luggage got soaked this was a theme that would continue for the rest of my stay. The pier itself was really quaint and I saw my first glimpse of the Thailand I was looking for, buildings on stilts, old buildings, lots of tuk tuks and longtail boats. I had already pre-booked accomodation but I needn't have worried on arrival lots of accomodation touts and tour desks are there to help those passengers who hadn't.

A quick transfer by tuk tuk ,9 km for a bargain 120 baht ! and I was in my first ever bamboo bungalow a few steps from the beach. The Bungalow was cosy and comfortable and the first thing that struck me was the lack of noise. After Dubai and Phuket it did take a few hours to get used to only hearing the sound of waves and at night animals, it was perfect.

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I stayed on Khlong Khong beach and the beach although sandy was very rocky so hard to swim but during the day it was so quiet when I did venture onto the beach I had 50 metres of it to myself. The sunsets there were amazing and watching them with a chang beer from one of the several comfortable, chilled out bamboo bars along the beach was an evening must do. The bars at night look so pretty with lanterns and sparkling lights of multiple colours it was candy to the eye.

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The weather was overcast with some random rain showers so I took the opportunity to explore the island and also go on the 4 Islands boat trip. I had been thinking about where my next destination would be and was considering Koh Ngai and as this was one of the 4 Islands to be visited on the trip I thought I could 'try before I buy' type of thing. I was glad I did as Koh Ngai is very small, one beach really and if the weather stayed overcast there wouldn't be an awful lot to do. I did some snorkelling around Koh Ngai, saw Bats dangling from trees on Bat Island and had lunch on Koh Kradan.

The beach at Koh Kradan was beautiful, the water was crystal clear and that perfect light blue Brightly coloured fish swam around you as you paddled in the shallow water. The sun actually made a brief appearance for this part of the day too. The last part of the trip was to Emerald Cave on Koh Mook. I swam 70metres through a pitch black cave ( and I mean pitch black there was literally no light at the end of the tunnel ) to get to an emerald green watered cove, white beach and mini jungle the other side. It was like being in a volcano and the story is that pirates used the cave to hide their treasure and that swallows nests used to be stolen from it for some kind of dish, there always has to be a story at these tourist destinations doesn't there ? Anyway it was a lovely highlight at the end of a lovely day.

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I moved resorts to spend the last few days at Hat Phra Ae ( Long Beach ) as I had read this beach was great for swimming and the resort was busier than Khlong Khong. I wish I hadn't really as yes the beach is longer and has no rocks but the resort just didn't have the same relaxed vibe and backpackers hanging around so Hey ho you can't win them all and at least I'd seen it.

Highlights - 4 Island Trip, Staying in the Bamboo hut and just chilling out reading for a week. Air Asia also announced a 3 day sale with 20 % of all flights so a flurry of activity with a group of us on laptops in the bar frantically trying to book cheap flights and save some valuable pennies.

Lowlights - Leaving half my laundry behind swinging on trees, bikes and hut roofs. Note to Evie, make a note of what you leave with the laundry lady and make sure you get it all back and the weather, sunshine please come back out to play soon.

Next stop Ao Nang and Railey Beach and Phi Phi Island.

Posted by Slummin_it2 17.01.2012 08:27 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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