Last Day…

It’s hard to believe that this amazing, crazy , awesome journey is about to one to an end!

We finished off our trip by spending the morning on Orchid Road, a 6km long shopping street in Singapore before hitting up the famous Singapore zoo – one of the highlights of our trip!!!

We are now sitting at the airport waiting to board to Brisbane.. See ya later Asia, you have been amazing!!

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Singapore Arrival

We enjoyed a days stopover in Malacca, Malaysia on our way to Singapore. There isn’t much to see there but we wandered around the small town, saw the ‘Christ Church’ , a few museums (from the outside only..) , wandered along the river side and explored the street markets. The highlight of the city though? The name of our hotel we stayed in ; Hash House Hotel.

At 7 am we were up ready to catch the bus to Singapore and after a rainbow paddle pop and a McDonald’s pancake breakfast we jumped on and relaxed for the 3 hour drive to the border. We made one of the quickest border crossings I think we have ever had and got back on the bus to take us to our hotel which is literally a two minute walk from the Presidents house.

We arrived before check in so we dumped our bags and went on a walk through the city. Our first stop was at the Raffles Hotel, one of the most famous hotels for celebrity guests and we spotted our very own celebrity Jackie Chan as he was getting into his limousine!

We continued on through the labyrinth of sky scrapers and made our way to the water front. We saw Singapore’s icon, the Merlion , a half lion, half fish? water fountain and many impressive hotels, buildings and Singapore’s very own London Eye!

After sightseeing we all went our own ways for the afternoon and met up again for the farewell dinner of our trip. We chose a (very overpriced) seafood restaurant right on the waterfront and enjoyed the groups company one last time before I headed off early to catch up with an old friend for the evening!

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Kuala Lumpur

We clicked with Kuala Lumpur in an instant! We arrived on nightfall in this bustling city and were in awe of the sky scrapers and their shining lights before we actually reached the border to the city.

We found our hotel which is right in the heart of China Town – the markets are at our doorstep (literally), Chinese lanterns are everywhere and there are strange combinations of food stalls along the street. We ventured out with our group for dinner and caught the train to the Petrona Towers , the iconic buildings of Kuala Lumpur. It was love at first sight! The towers were lit up, we watched a water fountain and light show in front of the tower and snapped a few pictures before actually going inside to our favourite shopping mall where we found the food court and everyone tried something different for dinner! We caught the train back to China Town where a few of us found a Reggae Bar and stopped for a couple of drinks before going to bed.

The next morning we went on a mini excursion to the Batu Caves. This is an Indian Temple on a cliff face and if you manage to climb the 272 stairs you can go inside the giant cave where there are more shrines and a whole heap of monkeys to find. We managed to climb the giant staircase – it wasn’t easy in the humidity but the downpour of rain sure helped!

In the afternoon we headed to Central Market for our Valentines Day lunch and then we headed back to the Petrona Towers for a little shopping. We didn’t end up buying anything though but we did end up at the cinema watching The Impossible and both sobbed away for the entire two hours. We rushed back to the hotel after to meet Nop, Matt, Naomi and Tom and caught the train to another shopping area of the city for dinner. We chose a Thai street restaurant and enjoyed some super spicy food while Nop laughed at us and then headed to the bars for a few more cocktails to finish off our time in Kuala Lumpur!

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Petrona Towers

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Kuala Lumpur at night!

Traffic Jam!

What should have been a 4 hour journey from Penang to the Cameron Higlands became an almost 7 hour journey thanks to our new favourite holiday Chinese New Year. We came to a literal stand still through the mountainous region leading up to the highlands and continued at a snails’ pace to our hotel – this was not a good time to need the bathroom!!

We wolfed down some food once we arrived in the small town and then Nop took us for a mini jungle trek just out of the city. As we came to a halt to turn around and make our way back it began bucketing down so we stayed a little longer enjoying the scenery and being told about a merchant who went missing without a trace along this trail many years ago. No sign of him was ever found and some conspiracies include him being in the CSI and all sorts. As the conversation moved on to the topic of leeches we decided the rain had eased enough to move from our spot and to go back to the comfort of our hotel!

Darkness had almost fallen by the time we were back at Kate, Matt, Naomi (an Australian couple) and I decided to venture to Starbucks for a hot chocolate. We stayed there with a bit of home comfort for a good our or so chatting, complaining that there isn’t anything to do in the town we are in, and planing the nights out that we will have in Kuala Lumpar! – it sounds like they will be rowdy!

We headed back for what we thought would be an extremely early night (as there is literally nothing else to do in this town) and as we hopped into bed, Naomi came in and told us of the tv room! We quickly redressed and joined her in watching the Glee Concert Movie. We tried getting other unsuspecting tourists to join and we were sure Nop secretly wanted to but we weren’t successful at all. The hotel had an 11pm curfew so our movie night didn’t last too long , although the fireworks from the NY celebrations continued long throughout the night.

This morning we were up ready to go on what we thought was a jungle trek. However it consisted on us sitting in an ancient Land Rover driving about the country side, stopping off at various ‘attractions’. The first stop was a butterfly farm where we saw (a lot) of butterflies, lizards, spiders and even snakes (they were small so they were actually okay – until one moved and then I ran!). The next stop was at a tea growing plantation where we saw the fields and fields of tea plants, the factory where they process the leaves and then our favourite part ; the cafe! Our “trek” was next on the agenda. We were kind of expecting to climb through the jungle, maybe up a mountain. What we got was driven up the mountain and then got out and went for 30 minute stroll at the top of a hill across wooden platforms with visibility of about 2 meters infront of us because of the fog. Cold, damp and quite disappointed we jumped back in the Rover and headed to a strawberry farm where we brought a punnet of fresh strawberries each and even indulged in chocolate dipped strawberry kebabs which made the whole day worth it!

We are now sitting on the bus to Kuala Lumpar which will be a little more exciting than this little town was! Lets just hope the traffic has cleared as the New Years celebrations are officially over – thank goodness for that! 😀

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Tea fields

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Great outlook from the mountain :p

Hello Malaysia!

13 hours on a bus and we arrived in Penang, an island in Malaysia which is connected to the mainland by a giant bridge. We arrived after dark and had 15 minutes to settle in and stretch our legs before dinner. What we didn’t realise was that all the Chinese and most Malay shops would be closed as it is Chinese New Year at the moment so what was actually still open was crazily over crowded and dinner took forever to come! Some even had to chase up there meals a couple of time as they ha ‘disappear’ – in other words, other people were enjoying them!

We went on a walking tour of the city once it was light again – we were meant to met at 8 and somehow we mucked up the alarm so we received a call at 8:10 asking if we were still coming. Getting a shock we threw on whatever was next to us and headed down in a hurry much to the entertainment of some of the group members!

We wandered around the town, visited the beach and a Chinese ‘clan’ village where only people in the Chew family are allowed to live. We attempted to go to the museum but that was closed too thanks to the New Years so that was a no go!

In the afternoon Kate and I tried to find something to do but this town is like aghast town. Everything is closed and the tourists were wandering around like lost sheep. We did hear that the egg who sings Gangnam Style was in the city and was performing at 1pm at a school but there were an expected 60,000 people at the concert which we didn’t feel like taking on in this heat! To much of a hassle to just have a laugh at him! We took a relaxing option instead and took our books to a park and sat in the shade reading and chattering for a couple of hours to pass some time.

A day of relaxation can never hurt right? 🙂

Photos of our elephant trip;

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Feeding him after

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Baby elephant and his tricks!

Beaches, Broken Doors & Elephants!

>>Sorry for the slow updates, our internet here is very limited!! Photos will come when we find a decent Internet connection<<

We boarded our boat again at 7am and took of back to the main land. A mini can was waiting for us and we enjoyed watching Ratatouille whilst on our way to our next exciting stop! We arrived in Ao Nang, Krabi, just before the movie ended which we were all secretly a little upset about!

Ao Nang is a beach town very similar to Phuket and no more than 40 kms away from the famous island. Restaurants, bars, spas and tourist stores line the beach broad walk so there is always something to look at!

We had a day and a half of free time here. Our first afternoon we tried to soak up some sun on the beach but unfortunately it was just too hot. We spent most of the time we were there in the water as it was unbelievably warm but still a little cooler than being in the direct sun. It was also crystal clear – we saw a couple of fish and jellyfish (and managed to not get stung!) – and it is deep at all. We were still standing with the water up to our waists at about 50 meters from shore!!

That night we tried to find some night life – an attempt that failed miserably! There were so really cool bars all along one 'walking street' but there was no one there to chat to! We had an early night instead and we up again early for another attempt at some sunbathing!

Late morning we went back to the hotel where the funniest thing happened! We were standing outside our room ( literally only a meter away ) talking to a guy from our tour called Tom. As we were chatting and discussing the plans for the afternoon the door slammed shut thanks to the wind. We got the spare key.. It wouldn’t open the door. The cleaners key? Neither would that. The locksmiths attempts to open it? No luck. Try climbing in from the window above or below us? To bigger gap. Cleaners tying sheets together for a ladder? Hilarious, but a little too dodgy for our liking. Over an hour after this all began one of the receptionist girls who clearly eats well (put simply ; she resembled a sumo wrestler) came up to finally try to open the door by force. Now this girl would really be over 100 kg and was trying to quite literally kick the door in. After running at and kicking the door with full force for a few minutes, and just about putting us on the ground from laughter, she tried the key one last time and it just popped open ( with no damage which saved us a lot of money!!! ) Thanks Miss Sumo!

Once we had finally gotten inside we rushed to get changed, grab our belongings and a banana-Nutella pancake before our guide picked Kate, Tom and I up to go on an afternoon Elephant experience.

We arrived there and quite literally jumped on our elephant straight away ready for our two hour elephant trek through the jungle! We weren’t sure about the flimsy rope tied across our laps to keep us on the elephant but we didn’t fall (there were a few close calls…) and we enjoyed the trek and getting up close and personal with these amazing animals – we even had a mini bath on the way because our elephant was too hot and decided that it wasn’t just him who needed calling down and we watched how an elephant can be quite childish after he picked up a huge log which he wanted to play with and then threw it back disgruntled when his keeper told him off. They also enjoyed munching on any appetising looking bush along the way and Toms elephant seemed to have a problem with itching himself on every tree which seemed sturdy enough! The trek itself went by way too fast but we arrived back at the center and we were allowed to feed to elephants bananas who were surprisingly gentle even though they are huge. After all of the bananas were gone we were allowed to meet a baby elephant which was just 2 years old and about the same height as we were. It showed us some tricks like playing the harmonica for us, putting a hat on our heads and walking on just three legs which it had been learning. It was incredibly cute and extremely friendly towards us!

We left the elephants behind and went to a fish farm on the way back (strange I know but it came with our tour!) We got to see a few crocodiles and feed some horrendously ugly looking cat fish. At the park though they had a gorgeous little swimming hole which Tom got in (it was a little cold for me!!) and then we left for our very very late lunch which was also included in the tour. The lunch was delicious, we had rice with sweet and Sour chicken, chilli chicken, and stir fried veges which was freshly made for us in a dinky wee place on the side of a road in goodness knows where! The three of us demolished the lot and set off back to the hotel.

Jungle Stay

Our first day with our new group was out exploring the two main heritage / touristy sites in Bangkok; the royal palace and Wat Po (yet another pagoda!). There we battled with the heat and managed to see a collection of golden Buddhas from all around asia, an emerald one and a giant golden Buddha which is one of the biggest in all of Asia!

We enjoyed a free afternoon to relax a little and to cool down before we hopped on another night train! – this one however was a little more pleasant than the last! There were no cabins as such but our group was all places together at the back of the train ( away from the toilets thankfully!!!) and every bunk bed was freshly made for us at 8:30 (they were jumping the gun a little considering curfew was at 10pm!) and we also had curtains to close our beds off to the isle. The only real downside was the air conditioning!! It was absolutely freezing! I slept with 2 singlets, a t shirt, a cardigan and long pants on and still woke up with a cold in the morning! Most people didn’t sleep properly though as it was hugely bumpy and as with a majority of public transport here there was a delay which meant our 11 hour train ride was turned into a 13 hour long one.

On arrival we went to a cafe for breakie before finding out that we don’t actually have a bus from the station to our next stop, a jungle home stay!! Some wires got twisted somewhere but our leader Nop organised a Tuk Tuk for us and we all squished onto the incredibly hard benches for the 1.5 hour journey to our home stay. We made it there with very sore bums but that was instantly forgotten when we saw where we were staying ; a resort complex set up in the middle of the jungle with the bedrooms just being small bungalows placed separately around the place. The room itself was very simple but the setting it was in made it idyllic and we both said we could stay there for an extended amount of time without a problem!

In the afternoon the tour group went on a canoeing trip up a river which weaves through the jungle. Luckily every two person canoe had a driver so we could just sit back and take in the scenery! We stopped at a point in the river though, both of us confused as to what was going on when we were handed a packet of ‘food’. We quickly saw a giant school of fish swimming around us and were told they were piranha. They caused an absolute frenzy to feed them but it was highly entertaining getting splashed by these crazy creatures!

We were allowed a sleep in this morning when we had to leave at 11am. We had another 2 hour Tuk Tuk ride to a river where we boarded a pretty dodgy looking boat (water just happened to drizzle in the sides..) and we sailed to James Bond Island – the island where two of the James Bond Films were made. Afterwards we were dropped at our next stop for tonight , a Muslim fishing village. A whole community built on stilts over the oceans with the population being 100% Muslim! We had to cover up here before leaving the hotel as to not offend anyone and then began exploring the labyrinth of houses and walkways ! We even found a soccer field which floats on top of the water!!

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Dining area and pool at our jungle hideout!

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Canoeing!

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James Bond early!

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The floating soccer studium!