Dan, Ben and Steves tour of South East Asia 2002
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Wednesday 3rd April 2002
After 10 uncomfortable hours on lufthansaâs finest 747 we landed at
We got up about and headed down to the underground where we caught a very clean but very busy train down to the Star ferry terminal
Thursday 4th April 2002
We got up later than planned, 11am, and headed out into Kowloon to get some food then on to Mong Kok to see âFlower Market Streetâ and the bird market.
After a quick Big Mac (yes Macdonalds!) we headed back down and on to the Botanical and zoological gardens where we saw a crazy orang-utan and his wheelie bin, it was getting late though so we headed for one of the many shopping arcades where there was also air con.
We got up quite late again, packed up our stuff, checked out and went to get some food. I got noodles and veg Ben got some prawn wantons and Steve went for the âbeef ballsâ, they looked like boiled bollocks, he didnât eat them. From there we went down to Hung Hom rail station to enquire about the train to Shanghai, bought some tickets for the train leaving on Monday $508 about ÂŁ50.
An early rise at 0730, as we needed to get down to the China Travel Service office to apply for our Chinese Visa.
Slept in a bit later than planned got up and out for about 1530, we got some food and then went down to the crazy paved road where there was an anti dengue fever rally. A girl band called âSindeeâ were performing âliveâ, we laugh when their vocals start before they were ready and the mics are switched off when they try and speak. We then bought sun glasses, âRay Bansâ all round, got mine for $650 haggled him down from $780 though. With our new sunnies on we then headed up to the Monte fort and the ruins of St Pauls. Some good views over to mainland
Up, packed and out of the hostel for about .
Lights came on in the train about but we managed to sleep through till 12 when we got up and had some more pot noodles.
Got up late again! This has got to stop. Had a quick look out of the window and it looked cold, and worse than that it was raining and I donât have a coat. We headed out to the Bund and on route we were mobbed by umbrella sales people, Ben and Steve have coats but I bought one for a bargain Â„7, about 70 pence, my best buy of the trip so far! We went over to the Pudong district of Shanghai using the âtourist tunnelâ an underground train through a tunnel of flashing lights, very disappointing and sadly we had return tickets! The âPearl towerâ was a bit expensive to go up so we opted for a coffee at the Grand Hyatt hotel on the 54th floor, it was a good view but we paid for it at 45 Yuan a drink (ÂŁ4.
Up late AGAIN, although the drink may be a factor this time! We headed out to
We were up and checked out by 12 and headed down to
We were woken at by the crappy music that played all day yesterday. Got into Xian station at 8am and we were surrounded by touts offering accommodation and tours of the city.
Got up later than planned but not too late, got some street food before heading down to catch the number 306 bus to the terracotta army, it was Â„65 to get in but worth it, very impressive museum, there were loads of street vendors trying to sell us postcards and other terracotta nic nacs, Ben was very rude to them, but as they didnât speak English they didnât seem to mind, all very funny. Back to Xian on the bus, it was hot today but there is a dusty kind of smog all over the city so no direct sunlight. We got back had some food and then lay around in the bunker till about 9 when we went out and found a bar, it was called âMusic Barâ and the bar staff and locals were very pleased to see us, talked football for a bit was pleased to hear most of the locals are Liverpool fans.
Slept in till 12 as we are all knackered, it was raining heavily and cold so we went out to get some food but came back in to the bunker for some more rest and a few games of cards, we also watched a very funny show on a Korean TV channel, it seemed to be some sort of music show with loads of kids dancing but every so often the music would change and some mad musical conductor would come out and run around, very strange, but it kept us amused for an hour.
Arrived in Beijing at 1130am got off the train and into a taxi, using the map in the lonely planet the driver set off to try and find the youth hostel, he kept making funny noises a sort of groan followed by a snorting sound and we realise this is because he hasnât got a clue where it is. He stopped 3 times and asked local people if they knew where it was and after about 20 minutes of groaning and snorting he found it, more by luck than judgment I think, to be fair though it wasnât were it said it was on the map! The taxi ride still only cost 30 Yuan though.
We were up and out before today, sorted our train tickets to Wuchang on Friday at the hostel, hard seats again but itâs only a 12 hour journey so hopefully it wonât be too bad. We got some food and then jumped a taxi down to the
Got up early and out by 10am went down to the Bank of China for some cash before getting a taxi over to the long distance bus station for the first of 2 busses to the Great wall at Huanghua.
Got up quite early today and packed up, checked out and left our bags with reception.
No sleep on the train again, we got into
Sunday 21st April to
We spent 4 days on the ferry, it did make numerous stops along the way to pick up and drop off passengers but we didnât get off at any point, in fact every time we stopped at a port day or night we made sure we were in our cabin as whenever the local people got on they seemed to take one look at us and decide on a different room. Not that we didnât want to share but it was a pretty small room and the smell was bad enough with just us three! The one time we did end up sharing was with 2 older Chinese gentlemen who got on quite late at night and didnât sleep much but preferred to smoke very smelly tobacco in a pipe and spit on the floor, luckily they got of the next morning.
Food on board was not the best, I cant say what it tasted like I didnât try any, it looked bad enough and we donât think hygiene was too high on the agenda judging by the state of the rest of the ferry! We survived on our favourite train snacks, the pot noodles, which were available from the on board shop. I also bought what I thought were sardines in a tin, they turned out to be some sort of dried fish which tasted and smelt rancid, I threw these into the
On our second night aboard the ferry we discovered the ârecreation roomâ and we were invited in by the staff and the resident policeman, there were about 10 other passengers too (we were the only non Chinese on board). We then drank tea and listened to the karaoke. The policeman who wrestled the mic of the bar staff gave a very loud rendition of a Chinese classic, what the lyrics meant we didnât know and we left before our laughter offended anyone.
The Three Gorges, the only reason for taking this ferry, were probably spectacular, however we will never know âcos we went through them overnight and we were asleep!! But the ferry was worth it we did see plenty of interesting stuff along the river. We went through a couple of massive locks and saw part of the impressive dam being built. It is going to flood the three gorges but provide hydro-electric power.
We arrived in Chonquing at 11pm on the 24th April we got off the ferry and found a hotel, got a very nice triple room and headed out to a restaurant/bar to have some beers, met a very drunk local man and his friends, he kept pointing at one of the ladies at the table with them, smiling and shouting âChina Chonquing beautiful!â we smiled back, the poor girl looked embarrassed, we donât know if it was his wife or not.
Got up early and jumped a taxi down to the train station where we queued up for tickets. We finally fought our way to the front only to be told there were no seats or beds left on any trains leaving today and we should come back early tomorrow to try again. We then headed straight out to the bus station only to get the same answer, nothing leaving today. Got a taxi back to the hotel where we booked another night, this time in a cheaper room. Spent the rest of the day looking around Chonquing. Itâs a very dirty city and not much of real interest to look at so we just looked around the shops. In the evening we headed out to eat, lucky dip on the Chinese menu again, we got 3 dishes one of which was a big bowl of soup with âmeatâ floating in it. As we stirred the soup the origin of the meat became clear as a whole ducks head broke the surface, we left the soup alone, it tasted quite bad anyway.
Went to bed late last night and got up late today. Weâve had to book another night even though we are leaving at 2300 tonight as we donât want to carry our bags around with us all day.
The Gunt kept me awake for most of the night. At one point at about 3 in the morning Steve had had enough and whacked an empty tin 3 or 4 times very loudly to wake him (the Gunt) up, he stopped snoring for a few seconds and then he was off again, he came very close to a beating.
We managed to get a little sleep and the train rolled into
4 hours later we arrived in the border town of
As we approach the Vietnamese border control we are mobbed by taxi drivers with offers of $30 rides to
Our driver was insane, he liked overtaking even more than the last bloke, in fact at one point we overtook someone who was already overtaking someone else. Scenery was very green, lots of paddy fields, but the pain in my back and legs was of more concern. We arrived in Hanoi 2 hours later, the roads in the city are the busiest weâve seen so far literally thousands of mopeds all going in different directions, this didnât bother our driver though as he cut across traffic at every junction.
We got up late as we had planned and headed out to âlittle
Back at the hotel we had some beers in the bar and got talking to âCunâ the barman, he studies English at
Later after showering with my trousers on we heard a cat fight right outside our door, I jumped up still in my sleeping bag liner and tried to step off the end of the bed falling flat on my face as a result, Ben and Steve were now convinced I was bladdered. It was a great night, apart from pissing my pants.
Got up and out for lunch then we walked down to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, which was closed. We got whistled at by the guards for walking on the pavement just outside, AK47âs all round. We headed around the corner to the presidential palace, had a walk round the gardens and saw uncle Hoâs stilt house before moving on to the one pillar pagoda, which was in a very small pond. Ho Chiâs museum next, a museum dedicated to the life of the great man, some very strange exhibits on the top floor,
We were woken at by our crazy tour guide who we later found out was called Van and is a bit of a dragon. Spent 2 hours on a bus to a small river where we transferred into a small boat, there was us 3 an Aussie called Andy and a local guide plus the little old lady who was going to row us 1 hour up the river! Once we were all in the boat it was about an inch from sinking and we all had to keep very still. 15 minutes into the voyage the sky turned a dark grey and the wind picked up, our guide informed us we were going to get very wet, all I had was the umbrella I bought in
We arrived at the start of the steep walk up to the pagoda and an hour later, and nearly dead we arrived at the large cave inside which was the pagoda. The actual pagoda itself was not that impressive, but the trip was worth it just for the rain storm. After walking back down for some lunch we tasted some local snake wine, which was wine with a pickled snake in it, it tasted like sherry. On the bus back an American bloke (who looked like Jesus from the film the Big Lebowski) talked absolute shit for 2 hours so loud the whole bus could probably hear him. He knew someone in every country in the world, or so it seemed. In the evening we went down to the Funky Monkey bar for a few drinks with Andy, top bloke, he told us how heâd been robbed in Nha Trang though which didnât sound too good. We returned to the hotel early as weâre up at again for the Ha Long Bay trip.
Got up at , we checked out due to us staying on Cat Ba Island tonight. We put our bags in the âleft luggage roomâ which is actually a mezzanine floor with a metal ladder leading up to it at a 45Â° angle. Ben climbed up with his bag and as he neared the top the metal hooks holding the ladder on bent off and sent him crashing down on top of me and probably woke the entire hostel. We eventually lock our bags away and got onto the bus for the 4 hour ride to Ha Long Bay. On the way our driver (so we were told by an older guy sat in front of us) kept falling asleep, he seemed to be swerving all over the road and braking suddenly for phantom mopeds and donkeys. The older guy goes to the front and has a word with him, that seemed to wake him up a bit and we made it to the bay in one piece! We got some lunch and boarded the boat for a 4 hour cruise through Ha
Long bay to the
Got up at around 7. Feeling rough. Onto the boat for the return voyage to Ha Long city. We went swimming again which helped with the hangover a bit. We laughed as 2 gay French blokes appeared wearing matching Speedoâs. On the bus back to
Got up and were checked out by 12 but locked our bags up again, taking care on the ladder. Wandered around
Arrived in HuĂ© at 0930 after a very hot night, it was hot outside even that early, but not as humid as
Got up late today, and as expected Steve shaves off the rest of his beard, a sad day, I am now the only one with dodgy facial hair. We walked down to the citadel area and took some pictures of the tanks on display. We could see kites flying over in the festival area and headed over for a look. One very impressive kite had over 14 âbirdâ tiers and went high into the sky. We stayed watching the kites so long the citadel had closed for today so we missed out looking around inside, probably nothing compared with the
Up and out to the âStop and Goâ then onto our mopeds for the city tour. I had Yum as a driver and guide. Visited various sites around the city, Japanese bridge, royal tombs and a hill overlooking the river, Iâm glad to say very âsafeâ driving by Vietnamese standards. Some members of the tour got lost and met up with us later back at the Stop and Go where we had lunch. Back on the road for more sites, the military museum, Mr. Doâs brothers' garden and the towns market before we stopped at another one of Mr. Doâs other cafĂ©âs for some drinks and food, some very good quails' eggs. Back at the Stop and Go my camera was playing up and didnât rewind the film when it had finished, back at the hotel in a dark bathroom I reeled it back in by hand, and then discovered the camera is knackered. I stayed in while Ben and Steve headed out for some food. We are leaving HuĂ© for Hoi An tomorrow.
Got up pretty late and checked out, left our bags in the hostel though. Over to the Stop and Go for some breakfast and to book a bus to Hoi An, bus doesnât leave until so we wandered around HuĂ© for an hour and I buy a disposable camera as mine is broken. On the bus by 2pm, it goes along a mountain pass on the way to Hoi An and on the way we see the aftermath of a crash between a lorry and what looked like a petrol tanker, there were lots of locals standing around looking at it, many of them smoking! We arrived in Hoi An around 1800 and checked into a hotel before heading out to look around some of the famous local tailors, after some food we chose the best looking place and ordered some tailor made shirts in the most garish materials they had, we pick them up tomorrow. The girls in the shop thought it was very funny and were amused by Steves uneven chest. Went to Treats cafĂ© for drinks and some pool and headed back to the hotel late, sleeping in again tomorrow, picking the nasty shirts up at 1pm
Got up and went to collect our shirts, very niceâŠ. Good fit too so I decided to order 2 more a plain blue one and another nasty one in green with gold dragons, collecting them at 7pm today! Back to the hotel to try the shirts on again and Ben and Steve decide they want to hire some mopeds and go to the beach, I tell them its not a good idea as something bad is bound to happen, I also said I had images of Ben losing control and smashing his bike upâŠ. We hire some anyway for $3 and with no helmets we head off for the beach 4km away. The roads were pretty quiet and there are no major incidents on the way. We arrive at the beach and are flagged down and told we need to park our mopeds in a covered bike park, Ben then proceeded to lose control of his machine and clatter into a concrete post holding the roof up, the throttle jammed open and his engine was screaming as he scrambled from under the bike and got back up. Me and Steve had now parked up and were pissing ourselves laughing. Ben was OK bar a few grazes but the moped did not get off as lightly, the front wheel was bent beyond repair the fairing was cracked and one of the foot pegs was bent. After a lot of messing about we decide to go to the beach for a bit anyway. Ben was very worried about what it was going to cost him seeing as the local boys are charging him $4 just to get the bike back to where we hired it. We had a swim and then head back. Bens moped is loaded onto a bicycle powered trailer and I have to carry him on the back of mine. We arrived back at the hire place and the guys look very surprised/shocked to see only 2 mopeds, we point down the road where the broken one is being brought back on the trailer. After a bit of poking around they agree on a priceâŠ.. $100, which is much less than we had thought, but Ben has the cheek to barter them down to $90! The most expensive trip to the beach ever. We all have a laugh about it at the hotel and then get changed to go and pick up our new shirts. They werenât quite ready so we went back to the hotel and used the internet to tell everyone about Bens moped stunt. Me and Ben went back to collect the shirts, I keep the nasty green one on to walk back to the hotel, got some laughs from the bars and restaurants on the way. We have booked a day tour of the local area tomorrow, it leaves at 0630 so it early to bed tonight.
Up at 6am! Onto a crappy little mini bus, no air-con so windows open. Drove for an hour to a local temple, looked like an old brick works, it was crap. Back on the bus to a lake, which turned out to be a man made reservoir, we got onto a small boat for a trip round the âlakeâ. Stopped at a hotel on the side of the lake for 15 minutes for no reason then back onto the boat round a small island and then on to a âhot springâ. Sounded quite good. Turned out to be a hose pipe connected to a buoy with hot eggy smelling water coming out of it, brilliant. Back onto the bus for a 2 hour ride to a beach, this turns out to be the best part of the day, some good food and a swim in the sea. Ben and Steve got sunburnt but I was ok. Onto the funbus again to the
Got up at 1130 packed our bags and then got some lunch and played pool at Treats bar for a few hours. Ben posted some postcards and we collected our bags from the hotel before catching the bus to Nha Trang at . The bus had air-con but no reclining seats. Very bad roads, we donât get much sleep.
Got into Nha Trang at 7am and book a triple room, I get the single bed and Ben and Steve are sharing the double. We got some sleep until about 2pm and then headed down to the beach for some food, while we were down there we had a swim but it was getting late so we had a coke at a bar and went back to the hotel to put our nasty shirts on for a night at the Nha Trang sailing club bar. We arrived at the club and find its 2 for 1 on san Miguel, we have a few beers but then Ben and Steve decided to take full advantage of the 2 for 1 offer and get mental drunk, Ben is sick all over the floor outside we then hit the dance floor, or tried to! We left about and flagged down some cycloâs (like rickshaws) back to the hotel. We couldnât find the hotel in our drunken state and after being driven round for what seemed like hours we gave up and got stung for the ride ïżœïżœ" I managed to get away with $3 but Ben and Steve paid more. After wandering the streets for a bit we find (I find) the hotel and the shutters are down, we knock on the door and the night security lets us in, I felt sick and puked in the toilet before falling into bed.
Up late feeling terrible, Steve informs us that he has shit the bed during the night and has washed his sheets in the toilet; literally, he had put them down the toilet and flushed it a few times! Ben gets very annoyed when he realises that there is also some of Steves accident on his sleeping bag liner. We asked Steve where the sheets are and he tells us he put them over the balcony to dry. We have a look and they were not there, they had fallen off. One was on the balcony below and the other was on next doors roof 3 floors down, I nearly pissed myself laughing. After some explaining to the hotel manager he manages to get the stained sheets back and we headed down to the beach for a swim and some lunch. When we returned to the hotel we found some nice clean sheets on the bed! We went out in the evening to the Rainbow bar to book some scuba diving tomorrow, had a pizza and decided to lay off the beer as we are up at tomorrow, an early night.
We were up at and got picked up in the Rainbow bus by a crazy Frenchman, who we later find out is called Jean-Philippe. Steve and myself did a âtry a diveâ which meant we did some snorkelling off the boat while Ben (who got his scuba licence in
Boarded the bus to
Up at 1120 just in time to catch the last of the free breakfast and then out to find the ANZ bank, we got a bit lost and ended up walking through a park full of smackheads shooting up ïżœïżœ" we left very quickly. Found the bank and get some dollars, I then blow it all on a new camera. Back at TM Brothers III cafĂ© we sort our visa for
Out early for TM Brothers half day tour of the Cu Chi tunnels, used by the VC during the war. Our guide for the day is excellent and seems to enjoy his job. We were shown around the sites, the tunnel entrances, the tunnels themselves- both original and the American friendly ones built for fat American tourists! Some hand made mines and other weapons and some man-traps which at one point the guide nearly fell into. The tunnels were hard work at times and a bit of a tight squeeze, they are built on 3 levels and in the section we crawled through we got to see all 3. Part of the site had a rifle range and we took the chance to fire an AK47 and an M16, 5 rounds on each @ $1 a bullet. I hit the bullseye first shot with the M16 but missed with all the other 9 shots. Not much in the way of ear protection and our ears were ringing for a bit. After the tour we headed back to
Up early again, these tours are a pain it the arse,
again, slept ok just very hot. First stop today was the floating market on the
Got up and checked out, after our free breakfast, then round to TM Bros III for the bus to
Very hot night with no air-con so got very sweaty, the local mosque also has a loud speaker system that blasted the service out for the whole city to hear from early in the morning, Got up very late at 1pm I stupidly took my doxy before eating which made me feel ill and I left most of the beef in plum sauce I ordered for lunch. After a rest I felt much better and we walked down to the central market , looks massive from the outside but it was quite small inside, We wandered down to the riverfront where we found the âHappy Herbsâ pizza place and ordered our pizzaâs âhappyâ. A crowd of moto drivers gathered at the door and as we paid and went to leave they block the doorway and offer us lifts back to number 10, after some bartering we all get one for 2000R. On the way back to #10 the âherbsâ from the pizza begin to take effect. We are all stoned and just sit in the bar by the TV all night watching films, the killing fields, panic room and some of chill factor, but we go to bed not long after it starts. We are glad that we didnât order our pizza âvery happyâ
We all got up late, feeling a bit lazy and still a bit âhappyâ. Didnât do much today just the internet, a bit of laundry and wrote up yesterdays events in the diary. We went out to eat and I wait 30 minutes for what looked like super noodles and chicken. Back at #10 we drink banana shakes, play pool and lay in the hammocks before going to bed. Killing fields tomorrow.
Got up at 10 to go to the killing fields and the S21 museum. The bus we thought weâd be on turns out to be a car with just us 3 and our driver. It has air-con but itâs still very hot. Worryingly there was an empty bullet case on the floor by my feet in the front. Both places were quite shocking, many many bones and skulls on display and pictures of all the âprisonersâ who went through and most probably died at the S21 prison. We got dropped off by the silver pagoda and royal palaces, but they were closed so we walked back to #10 via a CD/DVD shop where I bought Spiderman and Star Wars episode II. We got back to #10 and watched both, SWepII was ok but Spiderman was quality.
We got up very late and do nothing for ages then decide to go down to the bank as we are running low on the dollars. We got there so late it was shut but called into a hotel on the way back to #10 and they tell us about one thatâs open were we go and get some cash. Went out this evening by moto to the âHeart of Darknessâ bar where we get plenty of drinks in, there is a very funny obnoxious Aussie banker, Ben canât stand him though. Some very friendly local girls, we were unsure as to their professions, they seemed happy enough to sit with us though, one girl called Li asked me if Ben had drunk too much. We were all pretty bevvied and danced to rage against the machines classic hit âfuck you I wonât do what you tell meâ A local lad says Ben is âMichael Jackson number 2!â Very funny night. We left in the early hours and got motoâs back to #10 our drivers race all the way. I am sick.
Got up quite late again and walked down to the Khmer boxing the hotel guy had told us about. 3500R to get in with free cigarettes and chewing gum ïżœïżœ" bargain! The local street kids were being chased around by the security guards, some got caught and are given a swift boot up the arse or a stick across the legs, they didnât seem to mind though it was more of a game to them. There were 6 fights, 5 of the were Khmer, all good, some near knock outs and a very dodgy disqualification. One seemed to be a gay fight with both fighters smiling throughout and giving each other water at the end before a draw was announced as the result. Winners got a deep fat fryer and 6 bottles of Evian. Back to number 10 in the evening then out to red corner for some tacos, internet then watched â
Up before 12 and checked out of Number 10, we thought we would never leave! Caught the bus to Sihanoukville on the coast, very good bus. Arrived and it was pissing down, we got a moto up to the Victory beach end of town and check in at the Mealy Chanda hotel. Went up to the restaurant were we bumped into Nic the girl we met on the infamous night in Nha Trang, she was also at number 10. There are also 2 other English girls staying here , no one seems to be happy though as the weather is crap and they are going back to Phnom Penh tomorrow even though they only arrived today! The hotel bar shut disappointingly early and we head to bed.
Up late, no change there, still raining but we took a walk down to Victory beach, its pretty dirty being next to the port. On the way back me and Steve get a hair cut at a roadside barbers, mine is not too bad but Steve is not happy with his and when we get back to the hotel he tries to finish off the cut himself giving himself bald patches in the process. We put our Hoi An shirts on (me green, Ben black and Steve only has the one) and headed up for a night at the Peak Casino, Me and Steve also put on the âRolexâ watches we bought in HuĂ©. Very scary walk up to the Casino past some dogs whose bark was probably far worse than their bite. Into the Casino and we were the only people there apart from the 15 members of staff who watch me and Ben lose $30 each on the roulette wheel, Steve on the other hand looked like a pro (he has been to Vegas though) and he wins $81 ($61 from $20 chips bought) We cash up and leave for the dark walk home. When we pass the dogs from earlier they run towards us barking I stood my ground and they just ran past me and chased Ben and Steve who had run off down the road arses twitching like rabbits noses. We stopped for food on the way back to the hotel, the table cloth matched my shirt. Back at the hotel we got some ABC extra stout and at 8% two cans was enough for me. The hotel has a resident gecko that is huge, it lives behind one of the speakers in the restaurant. We watched an excellent Chinese film about kung fu footballers with super powers, very funny.
Woke up and we were surprised to see the sun is out so we hired (the worst) bikes (in the world) and pedal (very quickly as they were stuck in very low gears) past all the beaches in the town, we finally arrived at Ocheuteal beach and got some deckchairs under cover. Went straight in for a swim as I was sweating more than I had ever sweated before, ever. The water was warm but not too clear, nice enough beach though. When me and Steve leave the water we find Ben has some new friends, the local kids selling fruit. They all speak very good English and are quite amusing, they tell Steve his hair looks very nice, very âup to dateâ. One of the girls asks if I can write a letter for her to the person sponsoring her for English lessons. She tells me what to write, it turns out that her sponsor may be stopping her money as her English teacher is away in Phnom Penh for a while getting a degree at the University, the letter is to show her sponsor that her English has improved and to ask if she can continue to get sponsorship for night school. I hope it works. My bike was noticeably worse than the other two and I found the hills a nightmare, I swapped with Ben for the last part of the ride and he agreed that Iâd had a rough deal. We got back and have some food in the hotel restaurant, the waitress saw us looking at the giant gecko and tells us we can feed it anything ïżœïżœ" itâs no wonder itâs so massive. Went out in the evening for a few beers, bumped into Kevin a welsh lad weâd met earlier in the day and he joined us for a drink. A few beers Turned into a drinking session that went on till 3am, we were joined by some working girls at about 2am but they didnât speak any English so not much banter, we got back to the hotel after leaving Kevin in the bar with the girls, the gate was locked. We squeezed through some how and were let in by the night watchman, very drunk although the beer didnât seem that strongâŠ
Up late not feeling too bad, until Ben tells us he has done his speciality, pissing the bed. My bag has a wet strap as his piss was so big it went through the mattress and across the floor. The maid came in to change the sheets as usual, very funny for me and Steve but Ben is slightly embarrassed and has to leave the room, weâre almost sure she noticed. We finally get out and have some food than head down to Victory beach for the last of the days sun (it was !) after some rockclimbing we get onto the slightly cleaner of the two beaches and have a swim before going back to the room. Out this evening to âthe melting potâ for some very good tacoâs then we had a lazy night in the room. Heading back to
Got up at 11 and checked out. Took our bags and went for some food, the moto drivers who hang around outside the hotel followed us to the cafĂ© and watched us eat, there were 4 of them and 3 of us, someone wasnât getting paid. We finished our food and are surrounded, 3 of them grab our bags and put them onto their mopeds, Ben had got to know one of the drivers but it turned out he was the one who had missed out on the job, he wasnât very happy. Down to the bus and back to Phnom Penh, another moto ride back to Number 10 where we get a room all 3 of us for $4 a night. We head back to âhappy herbsâ pizza by moto, I get my pizza âhappyâ but Ben and Steve ask for âvery happyâ we eat them and get motoâs back to #10 before the effects kick in. We lay in the hammocks on the jetty over the lake for about 2 hours, Ben eats chips, a banana pancake, another pancake with lemon and sugar and he would have eaten more but they stopped serving food! We watched some of orange county again and then went to bed in the room that was more like a sauna, extremely warm and only one fan that was over Steves bed.
Woke up and it felt like the room was on fire, it has a metal roof and it was a very sunny outside. We had some food and went out in the afternoon to get some passport photos for Ben and I wanted to get a roll of film developed, I had no idea which pictures it would be. Got Bens photos sorted and put my film in on a hour processing for $4 so we found some quality shops as they usually have air conditioning. Stopped at an electrical goods store for a cool down and I bought some headphones to go with my CD player as the ones I got with it were knackered. Spent the rest of the hour wait in an internet cafĂ©, it started to rain really heavily though so we stayed there till it died off a bit before collecting the photos which turned out to be a mixture of
Got up at 0615 and checked out before getting a minibus to the âexpressâ boat to Siem Reap. We got onto the boat which looks nothing like the one in the advert at the hostel, it looks a bit slower, and sure enough it was the 5 hour trip took 7 and a half hours. Was a nice change to the bus rides weâd become sick of. We travelled down the river for a bit and then it opened out into a massive lake. We were dropped off on a floating jetty near the edge of the lake and I spot my name on a card held up by one of the guesthouses, the guys at #10 told us this would happen and that we could get a âfreeâ lift to their sister guesthouse in Siem Reap. All hell broke loose as we got onto the jetty, the locals swarm around everyone getting of the boat trying to get everyone to their hotel, we grabbed our bags and followed our man onto a very small boat that seemed rather unstable. One lad getting on was not happy with all the pushing and shoving and went totally mental at the locals turning the air blue, he finally got his bag off and waited for another boat. We motored on leaving a trail of dense black smoke behind us from the motor which sounds like its dying. Onto dry land and a moto, my driver is called
Up at 8 and got some food then into the car for the first day of temple touring. Itâs an old Honda Accord but it has air-con. Stopped at the ticket office and picked up our 3 day passes, theyâre laminated plastic with our passport size photos in, look very official. We drove past Angkor Wat to the first stop of the day the âBayonâ. Itâs a large square plan structure with 3 levels, each getting smaller towards the top where there are many pillars with large faces carved into the sandstone. Four faces on each pillar facing north, south, east and west. Quite impressive. Also a lot of detailed artwork carved into the lower levels. There were a lot of elderly ladies with shaven heads offering us incense to pray, I guess they were Buddhists. We had a walk around the surrounding area and see the terrace of elephants and the leper king, there is quite a lot of restoration work going on at the moment so some areas are closed or covered by scaffolding. Back into the car and on to a smaller temple that was slightly less impressive we had a quick look around and moved on. Next was Ta Prohm, a temple that is totally un-restored and has been taken over by the jungle. Massive roots climb the walls some even growing through them, we are told that scenes from the film Tomb Raider were filmed here. This was the best site of the day I thought. Parts of the temple looked pretty dangerous and were falling down other parts were closed off but still got some very good photos. Next was Banteay Kdei, as we walked through the temple I spotted some local kids chasing a snake, as we get closer the snake is hiding in a crack in the stonework. After a bit of poking around with a sharpened stick (the kids did this we watched from a safe distance!) the snake came out fighting and was coshed over the head by one of the kids with a stick till it was dead, but still moving, one lad holds it up like a trophy for a photo. We left and walked over to a lake nearby where I realise I have dropped my sunglasses, probably back where we saw the snake. I ran back only to find that they are smashed on the ground (probably stood on by me!) and that the frame has been nabbed by the kids (an old guy told me this). It was raining by then and I was very wet and very pissed off, but shit happens so we move on to the next site, after a quick look around our driver takes us to a local crocodile farm where we get to hit crocodiles on the head with a bamboo stick until they try and bite it, very scary. Back at the Victory guesthouse we watched
Up and out for 9 for another day of temples, did the âgrand tourâ today. Mostly similar to yesterday although not quite as big. In one we spent about 20 minutes trying to get a snake skin down from a wall with big sticks, also saw some impressive giant centipedes and spiders. The policemen around the temples run a sideline in police ID holders we had offers from them from $10 down to $3 but we decided against buying one for fear of being arrested for impersonating a police officer! Stopped for lunch at a restaurant near Angkor Wat and watched some videos on the temples, they were narrated in a hilarious â
Up at 9 and sort out tickets to
Had to get up far too early for my liking and got onto a crap bus that is too small and rattles all over the road. No air-con and with the windows open and the dust getting in we looked like Arabs. At one point there was a very loud bang from underneath mine and Bens seat. We stopped and found the suspension was knackered, but the driver fixes itâŠ.using a block of wood. We drove on at a snails pace to a garage where a more suitable piece of wood is wedged into the broken suspension. A crawl to the border town of
Got up late today and went down to the
Got up late again and went out to visit the national museum. On our way there various local people tell us that everything is closed and then one particular guy stops us to tell us the same, he seemed very friendly spoke very good English and had lots of information and even gave us some alternative sites to visit and marked them on the map in Steves lonely planet. He then offered to flag us a tuc-tuc down and said he could talk Thai to the driver and tell them where we wanted to go. We decided we want to have a walk around for a bit so politely decline his offer, this seemed to upset the âfriendlyâ localâ somewhat and he calls us stupid before walking off. We then realised he was one of the local con men we had been warned about in the lonely planet, he was probably going to flag a tuc-tuc down and tell the driver to take us to one of his âbargainâ gem stores. We found the museum, it was open, and we had a look around. It was a bit boring really but only as weâd seen quite a lot of that sort of thing in
Went to see the royal palaces today, very shiny and grand but I think weâve had enough temples to last us a lifetime now. We were going to go for a trip on the river but when we got to the ferry port it was chaos and a bit of a free for all so we didnât bother with it. Back out this evening to the Lumpini stadium for some Thai boxing action, it was 600 baht to get in. The arena was disappointingly empty except one particular section where all the locals were stood waving their hands frantically at the âbookiesâ (gambling is illegal In
Up at 9am and down to a cafĂ© to get some breakfast and watch the Tyson v Lewis fight, Lewis does better than I was expecting and it was worth getting up for, Tyson is not the force he once was though. Not a lot going on today so we got our train tickets to Chang Mai in the north and then had a walk around
We arrived in Chang Mai at 0930 and were mobbed outside the station with offers from guesthouses, we chose the Libra representative and got a very pleasant free ride to the guesthouse in a 4wd. Itâs a very nice place. We got a room and book one of the 3 day jungle treks through the guesthouse before going for a walk around the town. Itâs very quiet compared with
We got up and went out to an internet cafĂ© for an hour before heading back to Libra to watch
Thursday 13th June
Up at 0830 to pack our trek bags. We stored our own bags and money belts away and jumped onto the back of a pick up for a 3 hour ride to the start of the trek, it was very cosy with all 12 of us in the back and âcoconut headâ our guide and the driver in the front. We stopped half way there for a break and I bought a torch. When we arrived at the start point for the first days walking we were introduced to our second local guide, Dr.O or the âDoctorâ (Dr.Opium to give him his full title). We had some lunch and began the trek to the first hill tribe village where we are staying tonight. Both Coconut head and the Doctor are completely crazy and like to shout a lot. On the way they taught us âhelloâ for the tribe weâre staying with, âObuya (pronounced Obujah) and the pair of them shout it all the way there. Dr.O who was leading and just in front of us sang to himself about opium and told us it is good and would help us to âsleep goodâ. The conflict with
We got up at 0830 and had a boiled egg before getting packed up for todays walking, the village cockerel had woken most of us up at about 4am and I heard quite a few strange noises during the night. It was a very tough 3 hour walk to the bamboo rafting, reminiscent of the Great Wall, I made it though. We stopped for lunch, some super noodles, and the Doctor had his pipe out and was lying down smoking some of his famous opium. He spotted us watching him and offered us a go, after a while Steve had a go and me and Ben were not far behind, although the rest of the group didnât try it. It tasted a bit like liquorice and it didnât seem to have much effect on us, but we all agreed we did feel a bit âdifferentâ. After lunch and the opium we got onto the bamboo rafts and set off down the river. There were 4 to a raft plus one local who took control of the front stick and did most of the steering, we also had sticks to help guide the rafts and keep them away from the river bank. Ben was the first to fall off, Steve also had a dip and Kelly one of the Canadian girls fell in just after we had passed a heard of buffalo who were shitting in the river! At the end of our river ride we went down a weir, Coconut head had described it as a waterfall on the way but it was more like a weir, it was still quite scary as we approached, it did sound like a waterfall. From the rafts we walked to the second village, hello for them was âAcoobamoâ which sounded like â A couple moreâ (to be honest we could have been saying anything!). We dumped our bags and had some food, and as the night before the villagers brought out the tat to sell, we bought some catapults this time and tried to knock mangos from the trees, a village kid was a much better shot than us. A bit later we all had some beers and played a game called I have, I havenât, it got quite late and most people including myself went to bed. Ben, Steve and Kelly stayed up drinking and got quite rowdy this was keeping a few of us awake and pissing me right off, after about 2 hours they fell into bed, I didnât get much sleep as Ben was thrashing about. Ben wet the bed but denies this the next morning.
Got up and onto the elephants that were waiting for us just outside the village. Ben and Steve were feeling rough which seemed only fair as I was knackered from lack of sleep. The elephants were pretty smelly but it beat walking and it was a good ride through the countryside. At one point the elephant Ben and Steve were on stopped for the biggest piss and shit I have ever seen. I found sitting on the elephants neck was more comfortable than the seat on its back. We left the elephants for the pick up truck and drove up to a cave, on the way we got stuck in a hole in the âroadâ on a very steep section, we thought weâd have to get out but the driver managed to get it out. It was a short walk up to the cave and then a long walk, and in some parts climb, through it. Lots of bats, and bat shit, it stank. We saw a large spider at one point, about the size of my hand. Once out of the cave we had some lunch. Coconut head was smoking some weed in his home made bong made from a water bottle and some bamboo, he offered us a go on it, it was some very strong weed and we were in a right mess for the group photo that followed. Got back onto the pickup and enjoyed a very stoned ride back to the Libra guesthouse. After a shower and a change of clothes we sorted our laundry and watched
Got up late today we were all pretty knackered from the trek. We got some food and went into the town to get a Thai massage,
Got up at to go to the elephant sanctuary, we are told by the woman at reception that the working elephant camp is better so we went there instead. We got a ride there with Libras own Tuc-tuc driver, he is a bit of a simpleton but got us there safely, despite his mobile phone distracting him every 2 minutes. Cost 80 baht to get in, there were loads of elephants, adults and babies, we got to feed them bananas. Ben held his bunch out and a large adult took the lot, me and Steve fed them one at a time. Watched the keepers washing the elephants in the river and then we headed for the main show arena where the elephants played the harmonica, took penalty kicks and painted using their trunks, most entertaining. On the way back to Libra we stopped at a snake farm and watched a show with cobras, pythons and a jumping snake. The show compare was hilarious, he kept shouting âHey! Come back to the show!â whenever the snakes left the arena and towards us in the crowd! We all posed for a photo with a python draped round our neck. Once back at Libra we watched a bit of football and I got some photos of the trek/elephants and snakes developed. Had a lazy night tonight didnât do much really except use the toilet quite a bit!
Checked out of libra today. Ben and Steve were doing a Thai cookery day and were out for 9 but I stayed in bed until 1130 then got up and went for a walk into town. On my way to get some food I put another roll of film in to be developed and used the internet for an hour, my cash card finally worked in one of the ATMâs too. Collected my photos, they were from the Thai boxing, royal palace pat pong and some of the trek, some good photos. Back at the Libra I waited for the two Jamies to finish cooking and we hung around the Libra till it was time to catch the train back to
Arrived in BKK early and hung around in the station for a bit, found somewhere to store our bags and had a KFC. There was a very strange moment when some music started playing and everyone in the busy station stopped and stood in silence, we later realised it must have been the Thai national anthem. We walked down to the
We got off the train just as the sun is coming up in Surat
Thani, got straight onto a bus which took us to the boat to the
Got up and had a swim and a snorkel before watching the England Brazil game, we watched the first half in a restaurant then the second half in Mcdonalds as it had air con.
Got up late and did very little all day except swim and lay on the beach, also got some tickets for a the boat to Koh Pha Ngan in the morning.
Got up early and a taxi down to the pier. Onto the boat to Koh Pha Ngan, it was extremely busy as it is the full moon party tomorrow night. Some people on the boat looked like theyâd been travelling for too long, one looked like mr Cadburys parrot with coloured feathers weaved into his matted hair. Got to the island and got a pickup to the sun view bungalows on the north of the island (Had Rin beach site of the full moon party is on the south side). Booked into a bungalow and went snorkelling on the beach below. Another good reef with even more fish than Koh Samui, however it was more of a challenge getting to the water! Went down to the âBeach Barâ in the evening, Charlie the barman sells more than just beerâŠ The bar is only lit by UV lights and the walls and ceilings are covered in UV paintings. We played a card game called arsehole with a Swiss guy called Oliver, I was the arsehole for a few games but then had a run of âkingâ games.
Got up very late as we will be up most of the night for the full moon party. Bought some âmagic mushroomâ omelettes off a guy who works at sun view, they had no effect. Got a very scary pick up ride to Had Rin beach, some VERY steep roads. Once weâd battled through the crowds we arrived on the beach for the party. It was not like Iâd expected it to be, it was more like a busy resort beach with all the bars trying to play their music louder than the next. There were some speakers on the beach playing proper âfull moon tranceâ but they were not loud enough. We got some buckets of vodka, redbull and coke and sat on the beach drinking them. I spotted Paul Ino a lad I knew from home, introduced him to Ben and Steve and get some more drink. I somehow lost Ben and Steve after they said they were going to a drum and bass bar, I did look for them in there but there was no sign. I joined up with Ino again and danced on a table (fell off) on the beach. I was feeling quite rough so I had a few more redbulls but these only made me worse. Ben and Steve finally re-appeared hours later with no t shirts on covered in fluorescent paint and wearing rubber masks of Osama bin laden and Saddam Hussein. They claim to have been in the dab bar all night, which may well be true as I wouldnât have seen them in the masks! I left on my own about and got a taxi back to the bungalow I was pretty pissed off with the other two and feeling pretty tired.
Got up as late as possible and just stayed around the sun view resort, used the internet and sorted a ticket out for the boat to Koh Tao tomorrow. Was supposed to go an meet up with Paul in the evening but I was too knackered so didnât bother.
Still felt tired today but we got up early for the boat. There were a few touts from various dive resorts on the boat over to Koh Tao, we chose âBuddha Viewâ and got a free lift from the pier to the resort. Me and Steve signed up on the PADI open water course and Ben signed up for some fun dives tomorrow. Our PADI course started today with some video watching, quite funny really the video was really bad âFact, scuba divers have more fun than regular peopleâ. After the vids we headed down to the beach BBQ and plenty of real meat and fish for a change. Seems a very friendly place.
Me and Steve got up pretty early today as we had some âlecturesâ in one of the air-conditioned classrooms, all very simple stuff. Ben stayed in bed as he was not diving till the afternoon. We had a bit of a quiz and then a break for lunch before our first diveâŠâŠ.. in the swimming pool. Even though we had done the try a dive in
More learning and some tests in the morning and then lunch. In the afternoon we got a pick up ride down to the pier for our first dive in the sea. We sailed around the island to Mango bay. We got kitted up and into the water. Did a few exercises on the surface first (BCD on/off, weight belt on/of) then we dived to the bottom of the bay for some more exercises (mask filled/emptied, regulator out/in and some fin pivots) After the exercises we had a look around the coral and rocks in the bay. Some cleaner fish seemed to enjoy the taste of my scabs and it was very distracting and sometimes painful when they had a bite. After the dive we did some snorkelling around the bay. We didnât go that deep today but it was still a good dive, our group all seem quite competent. Beach BBQ in the evening and an early night as diving first thing tomorrow.
Got up at , checked our equipment and got in the pickup for the ride down to the pier. The first dive site of the day was in lighthouse bay, Alex told us our group was so good in Mango bay we would only have to do a couple of exercises and the rest of the dive would be a fun dive. Water was visibly deeper than yesterday and we descended on a rope to 12m. The visibility was good and there were plenty of fish to see. Steve had used all of his air in the pool but we were all ok with our air today. We were down for 46 minutes and then back onto the boat and over to the Japanese garden dive site. Down to 10m this time for 45 minutes, lots of coral and fish on this dive, we also did some navigation exercises on the bottom using compasses. Visibility was good again and we could see a number of other dive schools were using the site too. Back at B.V in the afternoon we did our final âexamâ and I passed with 49/50. We met up with Ben and went snorkelling in âshark bayâ. We had some trouble getting out into the bay over the coral reef as it was pretty shallow but once out into the deeper water we saw our first black tipped reef sharks, they were pretty small though (3 feet). After a while though we spotted a huge one, it looked about 6 feet long and fat, it was swimming on the bottom about 6m below us. We swam after it but it disappeared back out into the darkness. On our way back in we swam with a hawksbill turtle that was hiding in the reef. A great afternoon. BBQ again tonight and a few white Russian cocktails on the beach. Early start again tomorrow.
Up at again and down to the pier and onto the boat. We headed out to the open sea of the
We got up late today and didnât do any diving instead we sorted out our visa extensions with the stoned mr.J at the local shop, we also changed some travellers cheques. Our passports are not back from the mainland until 4th July some and Steve signed up for the Advanced open water course, Ben booked some more fun dives as he had done the advanced course while we were doing the open water. Ben also did a shit in a Pringles tin today, no idea why but it was very funny.
Another early start today as it was the deep dive and the underwater navigation dive. First dive site of the day was Hin Wong, we did a test to see if we were affected by nitrogen narcosis on the deep dive by doing a timed calculation on the boat and one at 30m down. I had trouble with my sum on the boat and then we all got ready to descend to the bottom at 30m. There was a thermo cline at about 27m and it was very cold with poor (3 feet) visibility. We did the second sum and I thought Iâd done better. Only had 10 mins on the bottom as air goes very quickly then up to 20m for 17 minutes having a look around, visibility was back up to ~20m there. We saw a mappa puffer fish a razor fish, fusiliers and some barracuda. After a safety stop we surfaced and got back on the boat. Our instructor Ricky (full name Ricky Martin) told us our sum results, I was incorrect on the surface in a long time but correct at 30m in a shorter time, think itâs safe to say I had no narcosis! Our second dive was at
Up early and down to the pier onto the boat to Southwest pinnacle, good visibility again. We did our multi level and peak performance buoyancy dives today. First one was the multi level dive 24m for 10mins 16m for 15mins and 12m for 10 mins, no exercises just a cruise around the pinnacle. Alex was our instructor again today so we had a laugh on the boat. Saw a Trigger fish (Alex doesnât like them after one attacked him so we stayed well back) also a massive brown marbled grouper. Second dive of the day was the PPB at
Got up late today and collected our passports (with visa extensions) from mr.J and bought some tickets for the ânight boatâ to Surrat Thani tonight. We cleaned up the 9 days of rubbish that had collected under our beds, it filled a bin bag and more. We got a taxi down to the pier and the night boat. Made our way up to the very crampt sleeping deck, only about 4 foot high. Tried to sleep on a stinking mattress and was woken at one point by a cockroach crawling over my back, a very unpleasant night, we got into Surrat Thani at .
Off the boat feeling very dirty and tired, got a tuc tuc to the bus station and waited there for the bus to Krabbi at . The bus had very efficient AC and we were all freezing cold by the time we arrived at Krabbi bus station. We eventually decided to make our way to Railay and got a taxi (via various other places) to the long tail boat ferry. Eventually got into a long tail boat and it started to rain really heavily, we all got soaked. Had to wade in the last 20 metres on the beach at east Railay, got a room at the â
We got up pretty late and went out to find the West beach. Arrived there just as a storm was hitting, it was raining pretty hard and the wind was strong too so we sat in one of the posh hotels on that side of Railay until it died down a bit. Took a walk down the path we walked last night and saw loads of monkeys (noises last night) in the trees above. The sea was very rough and it was still windy so we headed back to our room before it started raining again. Walking past the restaurant we spotted the Plymouth Uni lads (Rob Si Tom Ed and Damien) from B.V. We met up with them in the evening for a drink at the Gecko bar, a few Changs later (Carlsberg for me!) most of the lads left but Simon stayed with us and we had a few more before heading back to the resort. A good night.
Woke up late and I felt OK but Ben and Steve both said they have the worst hangover ever and feel terrible, we had some breakfast then they both went back to bed, I just chilled out and in the afternoon I went down to the beach for a swim, Steve came too but he still felt bad, Ben stayed in bed. Some big waves (not that big really) and I had a swim for a bit before we walked back to find Ben still in bed, still feeling rough. In the evening we had some food and then Ben and Steve went to bed pretty early. I went down to use the internet for a while and listened to some CDâs. They both now think it is more than just the dirty Changs
Up quite late today and they are feeling quite ill now and stayed in the room most of day. In the afternoon I went down to the beach and bumped into the lads. Did some bodysurfing and then went back to get changed to climb up to the lagoon with the
Got up about 11 and they both still felt ill, Ben said he had a very bad toothache too so got his emergency dental kit out. He soaked a swab in clove oil and bit down hard on it, this nearly makes him spew as it tastes disgusting. He still had the toothache. Steve was also feeling rough but we went down to the beach leaving Ben in the room. Met up with the lads and just lay about on the beach and had a swim. We returned to the room where Ben was still having tooth problems. In the evening we all went down to eat there was also a fire show on in the restaurant, 2 lads and 2 girls twirling burning sticks and balls on chains, pretty good really. After the show we went back up and to bed.
Up late Ben was feeling a little better but still had a toothache, he did his clove oil trick again. We all went down to the beach, the
We got up and packed our bags before checking out at 12. Down onto the beach and wade out to the long tail boat back to Krabbi town. We arrived to find the hostel we wanted to stay in was full but they gave us a free lift down to their other âhostelâ, it looked more like a safe house, luckily weâre only here 1 night. We found a local post office and posted off our PADI certification to
Up at 0630 and down to the shop where we got onto a very small bus to the Malaysian border, we had to change buses at one point but we eventually made the border crossing and after a quick check of our bags for any âcontrabandâ we made our to customs and got through with no hassle. Once we were out on the Malaysian side we tried to find a bus to Kota Bharu, the local taxi drivers told us we just needed to wait for the bus at the side of the road. 2 very full buses went past about 20 minutes later and didnât even stop so we jumped a taxi instead for 20RM. Loads of old Toyota and Datsun cars on the roads, all with big exhausts and chrome alloy wheels, plenty of Protons about too. Arrived in KB and made our way towards the guesthouses on the map in the LP guide, en route we were stopped by a tout from the KB backpackers lodge, he seemed like good bloke so we followed him to the hostel just around the corner bang in the centre of the town and got a triple room. The tout turns out to be an absolute nut case but really funny, he keeps quoting Ali G and scenes from Lock Stock, he also sings a lot. He had some good advice for us about taking some booze to the Perenthian islands as apparently the drinks are very expensive once there, he offered us his bottle of Watsonâs extra dry gin but we decided to try and find our own. He also asked us if we had âsecretsâ which threw us a bit, until we realised he was actually saying cigarettes! We headed out in the evening to a fast food place called A&W they sold good root beer, also had a look around the night market. No sign of any alcohol anywhere and all the locals appear to be Muslim. We had a look around âthe Storeâ a massive air conditioned department store that sold everything under the sun, except booze. We retired to bed after watching a very bad film.
Up around 12 and we had a walk around the town, this is probably the smelliest place we have been so far (except Chonquing of course, that would take some beating). Not really any tourist attractions, Ben has also developed a rash but we didnât have any luck finding a doctors, we did find a dentists but his toothache has now gone! This evening we went out to the central market and had a look around, Ben and Steve had some food there, I didnât like the look of it so went for a mozza burger at A&W instead. Not long after his âcurry pancakeâ Ben had to run back to the room and use the toilet. We left it a bit late to go out to find some booze to take with us to the islands, and it was also pissing down very hard, the drains which are pretty big were all full to overflowing and the local kids were playing in them ,canât be healthy! We walked around for ages looking for a shop that sold alcohol but couldnât find one, and all the Chinese owned shops that did were shut. We went to bed after sorting out a wake up call for 0830.
Got woken up at 0830 and checked out before getting a taxi to the boat to the
I got up and went snorkelling again, this time I took my underwater camera, Steve joined me after a while and we swam a bit further around the bay. We saw a couple of blue spotted rays this time and loads of parrot fish. After about an hour we came back in. In the afternoon we got a speedboat around to Dâlagoon as we had heard it was the best site for snorkelling on the island (we are staying on Perenthian Kecil one of the 2 perenthian islands) when we got in the water is was not as clear as when we sailed past the first day but still worth it. We saw a big bumphead parrot fish amongst other things. We got the speedboat back to
Up early and down to the Spice Divers for our first dive of the day which was the wreck dive. We checked our equipment and had a briefing from our divemaster âsuperlicious Cindyâ a young Canadian girl who seemed a bit dizzy but was very nice. We got into the speed boat, (very different from the big dive boats on Koh Tao) and headed out back towards the mainland. We reached the wreck which was marked with a danger buoy. We rolled off into the water and found there was a very strong surface current so we had to hold on to the boat and descend via the buoy line. Looking down into the deep the wreck looked massive (it was actually 60 metres long) it is a cargo ship that sunk in Jan of 2001. Visibility was about 10 metres. The ship was lying on its side and we did about 5 lengths of the deck at different depths. Saw lots of baby fish, some bamboo sharks and a scorpion fish, at either end and at the top of the wreck the current was very strong but sheltered behind it as we were it was ok. We also saw a cuttle fish and some squid. We surfaced using the buoy line again and climbed back into the speed boat back to LB, the kid who was with the other dive master âmuskyâ was sea sick on the way back, it was pretty rough with some very bumpy waves. We got back and cleaned our equipment before having some lunch, we also got our dive logs signed off and stamped with the âsuperlicious Cindy stamp. The next dive was at the dive site called âthe
We checked out at 12 and sat in the restaurant watching the sea for our return boat ( we had a return ticket but didnât know which boat was ours!) Some lads were waiting for a room and were offered ours, I warned them about the rats/mosquitoes/heat but they like us 2 days before had no choice and took it. We spotted a boat coming into the bay and quickly got a speed boat out to it. Amazingly it was our boat. Back on the mainland we got a taxi back to Kota Bharu and into the same room at the KB backpackers. We enquired about the jungle train and we found out we need to be up at 0430 to catch it! We went out and got some money and had some food before returning to the hostel to watch Rush Hour and Training Day, then back out for more food before going to bed early as we would be getting a wake up call at 0430.
Woken at 0430 and out to a taxi to the train station to catch the âjungle trainâ to Meila where we got off and onto a minibus which took us to a jetty on a river where we got onto a very long and narrow boat for a very enjoyable 3 hour river cruise to the village where we got a triple room at the River View âResortâ. We went out for food and then had a look around the minimart before going to bed, no beer here either by the look of things!
Got up at about 11 and had breakfast, Ben kept a lookout for his brother Nick and his mates who should be arriving some time today. I used the internet and by the time I returned Ben said his brother had arrived. Nick and his mates Oli, Dan and Rob joined us at our resorts restaurant after checking in at the one next door. After eating we decided to go for a walk into the jungle to the âbatâ caves, we tried to get our park permits and camera permits but the office was shut so we went off into the jungle illegally! After a long walk with some more âgreat wallâ moments we reached the caves. Looking in we couldnât see much there but after we crawled and climbed through the first section of very low caves we reached the bats, thousands of them, all hanging from the roof of the cave, very smelly. Our noise and torches caused many of them to take flight, one flew into Nicks face at one point. Some very steep and slippery climbs followed using ropes covered in bat poo, we eventually reached the end of the line and made our way out into the light. We had seen nobody else inside the caves but there was a Japanese tour group arriving as we left, some of them dressed in all white (we got absolutely filthy!) and others a bit on the heavy side, we were pretty sure they wouldnât all manage to get through the opening section. Oli, Rob and Dan set off back to the resorts at a fast pace and us 3 and Nick took it easy but managed to get lost and end up on the river at a jetty where a boat had just pulled up. We managed to get a bargain 20RM ride up the river back to the village where we waited for the other 3 to arrive, looking a bit confused. Later in the afternoon we all went ârapids shootingâ in rubber inner tubes, they werenât the most rapid of rapids but it was a good laugh, Ben and Nick made a slow start and Nick also got hit by a passing boat but about 2 hours later we jumped a boat back upstream to the village. We all went out on a mission to find beer this evening , the best deal we could find was 8RM a can so we had 5 each delivered by a man on a moped. We sat outside drinking till late before going to bed.
We got up pretty early and went down to the jungle canopy walkway, it was about a half hour walk through the jungle and when we arrived there were already about 200 people waiting to go up. The book to sign up for it was 3 pages long before us, we waited around for our turn but Oli, Dan and Rob had to leave on the 2pm boat so they left before we went up, nick went with them but he managed to get back before our group had been called! We finally got the call and made our way up. It was very high and seemed to move about quite a bit, we had to stay 5 metres apart on the walkways, 10 metres on some longer sections, canât imagine they let many fatties on it! We made our way down at the end and headed back to our room, Nick moved his stuff in too and we all went out to find a waterfall. We paid a boat to take us up the river to the next village/resort and paid for the way there, the guy said he didnât want paying for the return yet as he may âforgetâ to come back, we told him to pick us up at anyway. We made our way into the jungle following signs for the waterfall. Some of the signs however where lying on the floor having fallen from the trees or posts! We eventually came across a very small waterfall and pool, we got into the water and swam over to the fall. Only one other lad was there and he climbed up onto a tree that had fallen across the pool and jumped in. We asked if he touched the bottom and he said he hadnât so we all gave it a go. We swam about for half an hour then just before we left Nick attempted a somersault off the log but didnât quite pull it off, I gave it a go and did it but slapped my back on the water as I landed, then Ben gave it a go but ends up just jumping in and hitting his foot on the bottom. We walked back to the jetty and waited for the boat which never showed, but weâd sort of guessed that anyway. The problem was though it was now dark and there were no other boats on the river. We told the staff at the resort by the jetty who agreed it was indeed a problem, we asked if we could borrow some of the rubber tubes we had done the rapids shooting in to float back to our resort on but they just laughed, we however were well up for it! Instead we negotiated through a middle man for a lift back in a four wheel drive through the jungle. Eventually we agree on 60RM (ÂŁ10) as it is the only option really. 60RM well spent though we got a very enjoyable ride through the jungle in the dark, the driver even offered to take us to a shop that sold some beer, but sadly we had no money left as weâd spent it all paying for the lift back! We got back and went out for some food then played some cards before going to bed, Nick slept on his, Bens and Steves sleeping bags on the floor.
Up and checked out early but left our bags with reception so we could go for a short walk in the jungle. On the walk Nick told us how he is glad we have seen no snakes as he has a phobia about them. We eventually reached a clear section of the normally muddy brown river and Nick waded in to clean his shorts, about 15 metres downstream we see a green tree snake swimming across the river, Nick didnât seem that bothered by it though. We headed back to the resort picked up our bags and got the boat back down the river to the bus to Jerantut where we stayed in a hostel Nick stayed in before he met up with us. A very camp member of staff was very happy to see Nick again as Oli, Rob and Dan had left there that morning for
Got up a bit late but I didnât feel too bad, checked out and went down to get the bus to
We got woken up by about 11 by very noisy traffic outside our window. Went out for a look around this side of the city, our first stop was the tallest flagpole in the world by the cricket pitch and the national history museum then we had a walk over to the national mosque, then the police museum which had a large display of guns and rifles used by the Malaysian police. We then returned to Chinatown where I collected the photos I had developed from my disposable camera they were of Vietnam/Cambodia and some from Thailand- very funny pictures, the one of the shit in a Pringles tin is not there although the negative is, bit strange. This evening we went out to eat and then had an early night as we need to be up early tomorrow for the Petronas towers.
Up early and onto the LRT down to KLCC for the sky bridge up the Petronas twin towers, the tallest building(s) in the world (for now!). We got there at and got a ticket for 0945. The towers look very impressive from the outside and the shopping complex inside was very good too. We got some breakfast before getting the lift up to the sky bridge. Ben somehow misplaced his ticket for the bridge and went a bit mental, blaming me for some reason. He finds it where we had breakfast and we eventually get up top the bridge through the metal detector first though. The sky bridge is only about half way up the towers but the views over the city are amazing, we only had 7 minutes on the bridge and then back down to the shopping centre where I bought a new cap (Ben took his back that Iâve been borrowing for the whole trip when he spat his dummy out over his lost bridge ticket earlier) and I also got a â Whereâs Wallyâ book for the plane home. We left the towers and had a walk around the Petronas park where there is a public swimming pool built by Petronas for the people of KL. After that we walked over to the communications tower where we pay to go up to the observation deck and have another look out over the city , a good view of the twin towers. We then went bowling and played some pool before walking back to
We got up around lunchtime and headed down to KL zoo on the bus. We got our tickets and free postcards on the way in. All the usual zoo animals, a few apes a good selection of monkeys, also some very active Tigers and a couple of mental bears. The highlight of the day though was seeing a snake eating another snake while it was still alive! Then after about 10 minutes and with half the snake swallowed we saw the eaten snake wriggle its was back out still alive and well! Got back to
I woke up today feeling very rough, head was killing me. Ben and Steve went out to a butterfly and bird park but I stayed in bed and slept off the hangover eventually getting up about 5 to go to KFC. In the evening we all went down to the night market again, I bought some more CDâs and then we went back I watched the start of a film then went to bed to listen to the CDâs Iâd bought.
We got up around 12 and asked at reception if there were any water parks nearby. Got the bus down to the
We got up planning to visit the F1 track at Sepang but the bloke on reception told us there was no point going there as they only let you in when there is an event on and there isnât today. We had a very lazy day instead went out to a snooker hall where we saw an extremely drunk man watching the demo on the arcade racing games over and over again, we reckon he thought it was a film or something. Spent some time on the internet too, Pretty boring day really.
Got up later than planned and headed out for the Batu caves, got a bus down to the site and had a look around the cave art gallery, some very tacky Hindu sculpture. On the way out we saw a pigeon that had strayed too close to the edge being attacked by some terrapins in a nearby pond. The main Batu cave was situated at the top of a hill, we climbed the many many steps past some hungry monkeys to a very smelly not very interesting cave, had a look around and then made our way back down and got the bus to the bank for some money. Called in at the internet cafĂ© again and then returned to the hostel.
Checked out for 12 and got on the bus for the
One week now until we fly home. Got up at lunch and saw it was pissing down outside so we watched the commonwealth games for a bit and used the internet. Later in the afternoon Ben and Steve took a long walk up to a local golf course only to find out it costs 95RM for a round! The rain was starting again too. I had stayed back in town and just had a look around, not much to do really but walks in the hills it seems, and as it was raining we didnât do that today. Watched some films in the evening and some more of the games before trying to get some sleep. The cats that kept me awake on the first night are out on the roof again.
We got up and decided to try one of the Jungle walks but the rain started about 15 minutes after we started so we turned back. Spent some more time on the internet and bought a ticket for the bus back to KL tomorrow. Went out for a âsteamboatâ at the local Chinese restaurant, it was a bit like a fondue but with soup. We had our own cooker on the table and various items to cook in the âsoupâ but it was all pretty nasty, we had a good laugh with it though. Watched another film in the evening and then bed, no cats tonight but Staves snoring woke me up so I hit him with my money belt, this solved the problem.
Up and out for 9 onto the bus to KL, Steve was a bit confused about what happened during the night and got a little bit angry when I told him it was me waking him up. We arrived back in KL and bought tickets for the bus to Melaka. Had 4 hours to kill so we played snooker and had a session at our favourite internet cafĂ©. Got onto the bus to Melaka at 1930. 2 hours later we arrived and got a taxi down to Sunnyâs guesthouse, very good service but the room is a bit smelly. Went out for some food then had a beer in a bar which looked like it was a florist shop by day, very strange, also played some pool. Back in the hostel we went to bed and listened to the heavy rain hitting the window.
Got up late as usual and went down to yet another shopping complex for some food then took a short walk to the Maritime and Naval museum. Had a mess about on a naval patrol boat then had a drink before heading to the museum of enduring beauty- a museum dedicated to those who have changed their bodies to look âbetterâ when we got there it had burnt down so we didnât get to see them. We visited a ruin of a church and a fort on a hill, we realised that weâve had enough of site seeing in the last 4 months and headed for the air conditioned shopping centre for some ten pin bowling instead, also played pool and some more internet before retiring to Sunnyâs.
Went to get tickets from the bus station for our last overland journey to Singapore tomorrow then had a walk through the Chinatown area, not much happening so we went back to the bowling alley and after a bit of a wait and a few frames of pool we had a couple of games. A crowd gathered at one point to watch Ben who had an unfortunate run of zero scores, his power and spin technique seemed to have a flaw, a complete lack of direction. Went to the cinema in the complex and watched âthe Touchâ which was truly awful, after the film we headed back to the hostel where we watched a very funny south African film called âYankee Zuluâ. Early to bed as weâre up at 0730 tomorrow for the bus to
Monday 5th August to
It was at this point that I stopped writing the original diary, canât remember why. Anyway we got a bus from Melaka to Singapore stopping on the way at the border control which was just before the bridge over from Malaysia to Singapore island, through with no problems. We arrived in