April 24th - We checked out about 8am and had ourfree breakfast of toast and tea. We both also left a bag of stuff that we wouldn't be needing for the next couple of weeks at the guesthouse as we would be going back there for a night before flying to Hong Kong. We then got a taxi to the bus station for our 9am bus to Penang. We had a stop half way and then changed buses just before Penang as our bus was heading on somewhere else, the journey took 5 hours and we arrived at the bus station about 2pm. Unfortunately there were no real buses to take us to Batu Ferringhi where we were heading so we got a taxi which took about 45 minutes but wasn't expensive.
We had already booked a guesthouse so were dropped there and it was fine, very basic but ok and cheap. Batu Ferringhi is a beach resort but the beach was very narrow and its out of season and the place was dead. And unfortunately it was rainy as well. We went for a walk along the main road near the beach and got a sandwich before using the internet. We then walked back to our guesthouse and chilled out on the upstairs balcony for a couple of hours which was really nice and overlooking the sea. Another English couple had arrived that day from West Sussex and we ended up going out that night for dinner with them and walking around the night market which was good. The place was a bit more lively in the evening but we had decided to head back to George Town, the capital of Penang in the morning.
April 25th - We were up at about 10am and had some breakfast in a restaurant on the beach. We left the guesthouse and got a local bus back to George Town with Naz and Amy. They had been to George Town already which helped us as they knew where to get off the bus. We walked around a few guesthouses before finding The Old Penang Guesthouse which was great. It is a really old colonial style building with really high ceilings. We got a double room with air conditioning for less than 10 pounds for the night. We got a map of the town at the guesthouse and went out for a walk around the town in the afternoon and saw the 'sights', lots of temples etc. We skyped Neil's parents and saw Dylan on the webcam which was great as he is able to wave and point at us now and then we skyped Laura & Jonathan.
We tried one of the local food areas that night which was great with about 20 stalls selling local traditional cuisine and the food was very good and cheap. We then had a few drinks as it was saturday night before heading back to the guesthouse.
April 26th - We got up and had the free breakfast (toast & tea) at the Guesthouse. We had planned to go on a train up to the top of Penang Hill but it wasn't a very clear day so we wandered around the town for a while before heading to the main shopping mall. It was a massive place and we walked around the shops for a couple of hours, Emma treated Neil to a new wallet, as he had been looking since he lost his in Laos and this was the first one he liked, real leather and a bargain! We walked back to our guesthouse and bumped into Steve, one of the blokes from Morden we had met in Kuala Lumpur.
He had just arrived and was staying in the same place as us. We went back to the guesthouse after using the internet and Emma skyped back home and chilled out for a while. We had decided to go back to the Soho House bar where we had had a couple of drinks the night before as the food looked good and we fancied some western food. Emma had a jacket potato with cheese and beans and Neil had a cottage pie, the food was great. Steve came out with us as well, his mate had gone back to Australia that morning.
April 27th - We got a taxi at 7.45am which took us down to the port for our 8.15am ferry over to Langkawi island. The trip was about 3 hours and we spent the first half inside and the second out on the back deck which was nice.
When we arrived at the port in Langkawi we found out there are no buses on the island so we took a taxi and headed for Pentai Cenang beach which is the main beach resort area on the island. We had been told about a good guesthouse so asked the driver to srop us there, Zachary Guesthouse. It is a little bit away from the main beach but there was an Irish lady there who showed us a couple of rooms that they had available and we took one. The guesthouse is on the edge ofd the forest and is a really cool place. There is a really nice communual area with sofas, TV, DVD, tables and even a small kitcen and bar. The guesthouse works on an honesty basis so you can help yourself to beers, soft drinks, spirits, wine etc 24 hours a day and you pay for what you've taken when you check out, it's a great set up! We went for a walk and found a cafe on the beach where we had some lunch.
We spent a bit of time on the beach and looking around the shops before heading back to chill out, although it was quite a walk back to the guesthouse we enjoyed it and the exercise. We wanted to cook in the guesthouse kitchen as we hadn't been able to for so long but nowhere sold vegetables and even for us to have beans on toast it worked out more expensive than eating at a restaurant! That night we ate in a cheap Indian restaurant called Red Tomato, Emma just had veg and Poppadums and her meal cost 60p! Neil was hungry and had two full curries, rice and a Naan, very expensive at 2.50 pounds! We went back and went straight to bed, Neil felt a bit ill, think he'd eaten too much!
April 28th - We decided to try the beach right opposite our Guesthouse and although it was long and quiet it was very dirty so we ended up sitting in front of one of the nice resorts where the beach was cleaner.
On the first day and today we walked around most of the nicer looking resorts and hotels in the area as we had decided that for the last few days on the island before we fly back to Kuala Lumpur we would treat ourselves with some better accommodation. We looked at a lot and some were very expensive but we ended up finding a reall nice one with a fantastic pool and as it is the 'off' season we got a good discount and booked a room (inc buffet breakfast, TV, Mini Bar, Air Con, ensuite) for about 24 pounds for the room, a lot less than we paid for 2 dorm beds in Australia! We booked in for 5th, 6th & 7th May. That night we met some people in the guesthouse and stayed up drinking til about 2am and went to a cheap restaurant nearby for some food. Chris was an aussie guy who works as a commercial diver on the oil rigs and spends months at a time in a pressurised chamber under the sea, and Sam was an English guy who left the UK in January 2008 and has been cycling his way round the world, through Europe, USA, Central America, New Zealand, Indonesia & Asia.
He's going back home for a wedding soon but has clocked up about 40,000km on his bike! He's even going to ride his bike back from Portugal where the stag do is.
April 29th - We slept in this morning although we had planned to get up earlier and rent some bikes. The weather was nice so we walked right to the far end of Cenang beach and found one of the nicest resorts on the island, was very expensive but we sat on the beach in front of that resort and it was beautiful, the beach is great, very wide and so quiet as it is 'off' season so there is nobody hassling you or trying to sell you things. Later in the afternoon we walked back along the beach and stopped off at a really chilled bar on the sand and had a drink before heading back and chilling out in the guesthouse.
We ate at the same restaurant as the night before, main course and 2 drinks each for about 5 pounds. We had an early night as were both knackered.
April 30th - We had to change room this morning as the one we were in was booked out. We had planned to hire a moped for the day but it wasn't much more expensive to get a small car so we went for the safer option. The car was so small, don't even know what make it was but it went so that was fine. First we went looking for a new guesthouse to move into the next day as the place we were at was fully booked and didn't have a room for us with air con and it was too hot for just a fan. We looked at a few places and found a nice Guesthouse, Rainbow Lodge, which a bigger and nicer air con room than we were staying in and it was a bit cheaper so we booked it for the next two nights.
We then set off with our map of the island, the island is not massive, think about 60km all the way round. We went to the harbour, Pantai Kok beach, Seven Wells waterfall where we swam at the base of the waterfall, which was lovely. We then drove to the north of the island where the best and most expensive resorts are and all the beaches are for guests only! We then drove back through Kuah
, the capital of the island but there wasn't much going on there so we heading back to the guesthouse and got back about 5pm. We showered and changed and followed Chris and Sam on their mpoed to a night market they had been to before, it was fantastic. All local people selling different foods, Neil had spring rolls, potato pancake, a piece of chicken breast, corn samosa's and banana cake.
Emma hadn't a bit but wasn't keen on all the deep fried food. We came back and Emma got some vegetables from the chinese next to our guesthouse. We fancied playing pool so the 4 of us went to an Irish pub up the road to see if they had a table, it was a really good bar and we ended up staying for a few hours and having quite a few drinks and playing pool and darts. The good thing about being on Langkawi as opposed to the mainland is it is duty free so alcohol is more than half the price! We had a good night and stumbled back to our room about midnight.
May 1st - Neither of us slept that well as the new room we were in was not as nice, and we could here lots of footsteps and scratching above our ceiling. We checked out and paid the bar tab we had run up from the guesthouse, we were fairly honest but definately got away with a few free bevvies! We put all our bags in the car and drove it to the new guesthouse, lucky we had the car as it would have been about a 45 minute walk in the heat.
We put the bags straight in the new room as it was ready and we drove the car back to where we hired it from as our 24 hours were up. We then walked back to Cenang beach for some lunch. We then had the afternoon on the beach in the lovely sunshine. That night we went for some food and then had an early night.
May 2nd - We didn't sleep that well as we heard very heavy rain in the night and when we got up it had cleared up. We went to the beach but after about an hour it started raining very heavy. We took cover in a beach bar until it stopped and then went back onto the beach. We decided to have a walk along the beach as it was getting a bit cloudy, we stopped to have a drink in another bar as it was getting very gloomy and windy. It then started chucking it down and everyone took cover around the bar.
We stayed about an hour then went back to our guest house. We sat outside reading our books then had showers before making our way to Gecko guest house which was just down the road. It was meant to have a good night life and when we got there there was a few people drinking and then Chris and Sam arrived from Zacharys. We carried on drinking and went for some good cheap food with a couple of others and then went back to Gecko's for the rest of the night. It was a good night and the drinks were cheap so even better! it had been continuously raining all afternoon and night.
May 3rd - We woke up and it was raining really heavy so we stayed in bed a bit longer then ventured out for some food but unfortunately it didn't stop raining. We looked on the internet at the forecast and it showed heavy rain in Langkawi for the next 5 days which was rubbish! We decided to try and look at other places that we could go to get away from the rain.
.but the rest of Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia were all the same. Neil decided to look up on his favourite 'Air Asia' website and found some cheap flights to Perth in Australia and after lots of umming and ahhing we decided we would try. We checked at different travel agents to get off the island, but as it was a bank holiday weekend it was very busy. We finally found a boat and bus to KL the next morning and got it booked and the flights to Perth. Yeh! We then booked a hostel in Perth on the beach, it meant travelling all the next day and flying out at midnight but we thought it would be worth it as we wanted to see western Australia when we were there but never got the chance. That night we went to a British pub to watch the Newcastle game (and lost 3-0 to Liverpool), it was a funny night though as there was a very loud geordie in there with his friend the owner who hated Manchester united and gave us shots of vodka with ground up fishermans friends to toast hating Man U.
May 4th - We were up at 7am to start our long journey to KL, it was the start of a very interesting day! We were picked up at 8.15am in a minibus which drove us to the port where we were booked on the 10am ferry, it was packed and we were the only westerners on board! We had directions from the travel agent when we got off the boat where to walk to catch our bus at Kuala Perlis bus station. When we got there it was very quiet but we found the ticket counter and the lady gave us a ticket for the 12.30pm bus but we had been told our bus was 12pm. When another bus from a different company arrived at 12.10pm the lady came over to us and said we could go on that bus which left at 12.
15pm. We got on and off we went. We had been told the journey would take about 7 hours which was fine as we didn't have to be at the airport til about 10pm. The bus picked a few more people up on the way and when had a break about 3.30pm. Neil asked the driver what time we would be arriving into KL and he said it would be about 9pm! He said that this bus was not direct and we had to stop in a town called Ipoh on the way which was about an hour out of the way. This made us a bit nervous as it meant we would be getting to KL a lot later and we had planned to go back to the guesthouse we stayed at there before as we had left two bags of our stuff there. Anyway the bus carried on and when we had another stop about 6.30pm for some food a chinese guy who was on the bus came up to us and must of realised we were getting worried about not making our flight, he said that it was over 2 more hours to KL so more time was lost.
We then didn't stop anymore but when we were about 25km out of KL at about 8.30pm there was a big bang on the bus and the driver quickly pulled over to the side of the motorway, he and the co-driver got out with a torch and were looking around the bus and we were now thinking we weren't going to make it (Neil especially who had been getting more and more stressed all day!). Finally the drivers got back on and we set off again, the bus seemed to rattle a lot more after that but at least we were on the way. We pulled into the bus station in KL at 9.15pm and were glad as we now had plenty of time as we had been told the taxi would only take about 45mins to the airport and we had until 11.05pm at the very latest to check in. We decided to leave our bags at the guesthouse there though and sort that out later.
Luckily there was a taxi there so we jumped straight in and off we went, we said to the driver that we were a bit late and could he drive fast. He definately took us for what we said, he was a lunatic driver! At times he was doing 150km/hr and weaving in and out of traffic, we had to tell him to slow down a couple of times as we didn't want to die! We had been going so fast we thought we'd be at the airport with loads of time to spare but he pulled off into a petrol station and asked us if it was ok, which we said no problem to as it would only take a couple of minutes. We were there for nearly 20 minutes in a queue, as he was putting gas (NGV) and not petrol in the car! We set off again at rapid pace still with time but he seemed to be driving and driving and not following signs to the airport.
We finally pulled into the international airport at 10.32pm and paid the mad taxi driver. We went in with our bags and asked someone behind a desk where we could check in for Air Asia, he told us that Air Asia didn't fly from this airport! They flew from the new terminal, we couldn't believe it! We ran back outside and a taxi was pulling up dropping other people off, we asked if he could take us to the LCC terminal and at first he was reluctant and said it couldn't be done in half an hour, we begged and he said he would drive fast! He was a much safer driver but still drove very quickly and we watched the clock on the dashboard ticking away, we pulled into the airport at 10.57pm and rushed in, we had made the check in with about 8 minutes to spare!!! We checked in and sat down very relieved we had made it and very excited that we were off to Australia!
May 5th - The flight took off at 12.
30am and took about 5.5hrs. The flight was quiet so there were lots of spare seats and we both had 3 seats to ourselves to try and get some sleep. We both managed a little bit but we were excited and it was very bumpy and absolutely freezing!! We didn't have time to put on any more layers at the airport. We got in at 6am and arranged an airport shuttle to the train station in Perth which would take us to Cottesloe where our hostel was. We arrived at the station in Cottesloe and then walked for about an hour to our hostel. The walk was fantastic even though we had our backpacks on (and went the wrong way!) as the weather was great and there was the bluest sky ever! We walked through a golf course meeting lots of friendly locals on the way and then a path along the beach.
The beach was amazing and we were so happy! We couldn't check into our hostel until 1pm so we had about 3 hours to spare so we went to the supermarket to stock up...it was great shopping for food again! The area where the hostel was was beautiful and well off. we were about 1 minute from the beach and the best part of the beach a local told us! We checked in, showered and went straight down there. It was probably the best beach we have been on in Australia and the sea the best of the whole trip, although it was freezing and woke us up as we had not slept for over 24 hours. We both dropped off on the beach but not for long, and then we went back to the hostel to chill out, we then caught a train into Fremantle for Neil to skype his parents but he didn't manage to get through.
We went back to the hostel and then cooked for the first time in over 4 months. The kitchen was clean and tidy so we loved it. As we were so tired we then went into our room. We were staying in an 8 bed dorm which was big and quite tidy, we both took top bunks as you have less chance of getting bed bugs supposedly. We read for a while then went to sleep about 8.30pm. It was great being true backpackers again!
May 6th - We were up and made breakfast, cereal for Emma and beans on toast for Neil in the kitchen. We then headed straight to the beach and were there just after 10am. We stayed for a few hours and went back and made a small picnic to take back to the beach! About 2.30pm we caught the train ino Fremantle to skype both sets of parents. We then walked to the harbour area which was really nice and we found an amazing pub with it's own brewery in it.
We sat out on a huge outside patio area at the back and treated ourselves to a couple of drinks looking out over the harbour. It started getting dark and in Perth the temperature drops really quickly so we decided to head back and get the train back to the hostel. We were both still quite tired so had another chilled night watching TV and having a bit of dinner before going to bed.
May 7th - We were up and walking along by the beach at 8.30am towards the train station. It was fantastic looking out over the sea with amazing blue sky. We got the train at about 9am and got there 9.30am. We wandered around and asked at the information office where we should go for a couple of hours and she recommended the Mint at 11am, so we wandered some more, shocked at how small it was and then went to the Mint.
Unfortunately it was $15 to get in so we didn't go as we weren't that bothered. We then went to get a picnic and a bus to Kings Park which took about 10 minutes. The park is full of wildlife and botanical gardens and small walks but we just got our rug out and admired the views over the city. The park was really well kept and a fab spot for our picnic! We stayed about an hour and then wanted to go back to our beach as it was getting hot and we needed the sea for a dip! We were on the beach by 2pm and stayed all afternoon. It was great, and the water was still lovely and 'fresh'. That night we went to the bar next to the hostel and Neil got a bbq and beer pack. It was enough for 2 so Emma didn't get one. We stayed for a drink then went back to the hostel and hung out with the other backpackers until we went to bed.
May 8th - We were up again early to make the most of our time in Perth. We were on the train to Fremantle just before 9am and were there just after 9am. We had come for the Friday Fremantle markets that are recommended in the guidebooks. The markets were great, and Emma treated herself to a new pair os shoes. There was all the usual stuff from clothes, arts and crafts and food etc. We stayed for an hour or so and the decided to head back to the hostel and spend our last afternoon on the beach. We managed to contact the guesthouse in KL and they agreed to get someone to drive our bags to the airport the next day and meet us which was great. We had a great afternoon on the beach, the weather was perfect again and we were in and out of the sea. That night we went to a couple of bars nearby the hostel for a few drinks as it was our last night in Oz.
May 9th - The alarm was set for 3.45am and we were in the taxi on the way to the airport at 4.30am! We were checked in quickly and had a bit of breakfast before our first flight of the day back to KL at 6.50am. Luckily the plane was fairly quiet again so we both had room to be able to stretch out and get some sleep. We arrived at KL airport about midday and after getting our bags we went outside the terminal and the guy from the guesthouse was waiting there for us with the two bags we had left. We repacked some of the stuff in our backpacks and got something to eat before we checked in for our second flight of the day to Hong Kong. The flight was at 4.40pm and took about 4 hours but luckily the plane wasn't full again so we had a bit of room. We landed to Hong Kong about 8.
30pm and the airport was massive. We got our bags and got two tickets for the fast train to take us into the city. We had booked into a hotel on Hong Kong island and after getting off the train at the station we got a taxi to the hotel. We had taken a bit of time booking a hotel in Hong Kong most of the reviews say that they are tiny rooms etc but we were really pleased with the one we had chosen. It was now about about 10.30pm so we just went for a walk and found a cafe to get something to eat before going back to bed as we were both knackered.
May 10th - We were up and out by about 9.30am and first got a bus outside the hotel to the tram to take us up to the peak. The tram was very steep right up the side of the mountain and although it was quite misty and cloudy views from the top were still amazing.
We stayed out on the lookout platforms for a while before then going on a walk along a path that leads around the side of the mountain to other viewpoints of Hong Kong & Kowloon islands. Once we got the tram back to the bottom we did one of the walking tours from the Lonely Planet guide and saw some of the sights of the city. We then caught the ferry over to Kowloon island and took the subway to the top of the island and started another walking tour that took us through a market and we stopped and had Dim Sum (steamed dumplings) which were excellent, luckily the menu had a bit of English on it! Kowloon had a very westernised shooping district but there were lots of roads off of it that were typically asian housing, shops etc. We had been walking all day and fancied a drink so we stopped off at an Irish pub and had a few bevvies, luckily it was happy hour.
We wanted to get the ferry back to Hong Kong island once it was dark so we waited and got the ferry about 7pm and the views of the city at night were amazing. We then made the most of our last full night of the trip and went to several bars recommended and had a really good night. We finally had some dinner about 11pm before going back to the room.
May 11th - We were up and out by about 10am and decided that we might as well do the final walking tour in the Lonely Planet which meant we had seen most of the city on foot. We visited a couple of temples & an indoor market. Hong Kong is a fascinating city with lots to see but we both thought that 3 nights was enough time there. The most amazing thing there are the escalators that run up to the residential areas further up the mountain away from all the skyscrapers at the bottom where most of the locals work.
The escalators run downhill from 6am to 10am everyday for people going to work and then from 10.30am to midnight that run upwards. We then spent the rest of the afternoon looking round some shops, Neil bought a new pair of jeans, and we even went in a massive Marks & Spencers and bought a bag of Percy Pigs for the flight home! We went back to the hotel to get showered before going out that night for a mealin a place quite near our hotel that we had seen. It was a very westernised bar with loads of ex pats drinking after work and we had some really good food and a few drinks. We then had to do the sad thing of going back to our hotel for the very last time on the trip!
May 12th - The taxi picked us up at 4am and took us to Hong Kong airport. The check in desk opened just before 5am and when we got to the front Neil asked if there was any chance we could get exit row seats for extra legroom. The lady said there ould be no need for that as on the system we were booked in to Premium Economy, result! An email sent to BA a couple of months before must have worked. We got on the plane and were drinking a glass of champagne at 7.15am! It was a great way to end the trip as we had lots of room to get comfortable, there were good films, good food and the flight seemed to pass quite quickly although it was over 12 hours. We landed at Heathrow about 1pm local time and went through immigration and got our bags quite quickly. We were both sad but quite excited at being home to see everyone. Neil's parents, sister & Dylan were there to greet us. We all went to terminal 5 so Emma could check in for her 4pm flight to Newcastle and then had a drink in a cafe at the airport. At about 3pm Emma went through passport control to get her flight and it was a strange feeling that we were both not getting on the same plane together after about 30 flights in the past year. Emma's flight back was very bumpy although she got back to Newcastle a bit early to be greeted at the airport by her parents and Grandma with Granda waiting in the car. We couldn't believe that our year away had passed so quickly but we will never forget it, it was quite simply amazing! We can't wait to see the rest of the world someday.