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The rest of Kuala Lumpur

Never share dorms with Russians or drunks.

sunny 33 °C

After the amazing and exhausting day at the elephant sanctuary, we were looking forward to getting a good nights sleep. Unfortunately, that was not to be! We were staying in a 20ish person dorm, and unluckily for us there were some interesting characters in there too! As we were sat in bed reading, a very strange Russian guy came up, once to John and once to both of us, showing us something on his laptop. We thought he wanted help, but he said no and seemed to just want to show us google :s He was very strange and starey too, but after we ignored him for a while, he went away, and we thought nothing of it. Then after we'd gone to bed, we heard a commotion from the next set of bunk beds over, and after a lot of confusion, it turned out that the strange Russian guy had tried to get into bed with a middle aged Australian woman who was there with her husband and teenage daughter! Apparently he didn't just get out straight away either! The husband was (understandably!) very annoyed, and took hold of his shoulders and asked what was going on. The Russian didn't seem to understand anything and kept lighting a lighter, which he was using as a torch, in the mans face. It all looked very menacing! Eventually the receptionist moved the Russian into another room and we all got back to sleep. However, the nights adventures weren't over yet! A couple of hours later John felt someone get into bed with him, straddle him (so he had his bum pretty much in John's face!) and then get out the other side. This person then continued onto the next bed, where the dad of the Australian family was sleeping. Susie woke to him exclaiming "Not you again!", obviously assuming it was the Russian. They rushed out to tell the receptionist, who was very confused, as she'd been keeping a watch on his room to make sure he didn't come out! It turned out that it wasn't the Russian, but a drunk English guy who'd come back from a night on the town! After this, the dorm finally settled down to sleep, and, strange as it might sound, the next time we woke up, it was morning!

The next day we set out to do some sightseeing of KL. First we went to the Masjid Jamek mosque and had a little look round, but it was quite unexciting really. So we soon went on to Berjaya Times Square. I am informed by Wikitravel that it is the 13th largest shopping mall in the world, with 12 floors, and a total of a total of 3.5 million square feet of shops. Thats a lot of shops! We went to try and buy John the next book in his book series, but their only book shop was closing down, so we had no luck. However, the mall itself is an experience! So so huge - it just goes on forever and ever.
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And on the 7th floor of it, there is a theme park, which includes a massive rollercoaster, and several other rides! It's so ridiculous, and you have to keep reminding yourself that it's on the 7th floor, within a shopping mall!
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On the way back, we stopped at a tasty Muslim curry house (our favourites!) for an early lunch, and then went back and moved hostels (to a cheaper one, since the one we were in wasn't worth the extra money). After we'd settled in, we went to get a fish spa in the Central Market, where they were offering 10 minutes for 5RM (1pound). Since they have these in England now, most of you probably know what they are, but for those of you who don't (Dad), it's where you go and put your feet into a fish tank with this special type of fish in it, and they nibble all the dead skin off your feet. It doesn't really hurt (except where Susie had cut her foot before and one stupid fish kept sucking her blood!) but it tickles A LOT. John did not appreciate it at all with his super ticklish feet, but the fish must have had a feast because our feet were lovely and smooth afterwards.
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We then headed to Taman Tasik Perdana, which is a massive park in the middle of the city. We wandered around a bit, past various different tourist attraction options, but decided instead to just head to a big lake and sit and chill out and play scrabble for a while. A long while as it turned out, because the rain started, and it was so strong that we decided to stay in our little hut by the lake until it cleared off. We made friends with a local guy who was similarly sheltering, and gave him a small English lesson about the words we added to scrabble! 2 scrabble games later, when the rain finally cleared, we headed back to the centre. We got dinner at some stalls in Chinatown (tasty tasty satay sticks and weird rice squares and a disappointing rice claypot), and then went back to out hostel, watched an AWFUL film called Dragon Wars that was like watching a really bad computer game, and then went to sleep.

The day after we had a chilled out day. We has breakfast at another Muslim curry house, then walked to the train station, where we were going to get the train to the airport from that night. It was a long and VERY HOT walk there, but we were still thinking that we'd walk that night, until the guy in our hostel warned us that there had been lots of occasions of muggings, so we decided to get a taxi instead! After that stupidly hot walk, we chilled out in our hostel for most of the rest of the day, seeing as we had done pretty much everything that we wanted to in KL. In the evening we went to the same curry house we'd had breakfast in, and had our last Malaysia roti canai :( sad times!

We then went back the hostel where we looked through all our flight info and realised that we didn't have anything that said we'd paid for our bus to the airport...and on checking we realised that we were about 10sen (about 2p) short of having enough money for the internet to check whether we needed to have another page or not. It was an entirely ridiculous situation, and in the end we solved it in a slightly immoral way, by John keeping a lookout and Susie using the laptop of the other people in our dorm since they'd left it on their bed while they'd gone out. It was stressful, but we established that there was another page just before another person from our dorm came in and we panic-ly closed the windows and got (quickly and nonchalantly) into our beds! We had a good chat with the guy who came into our dorm. He was a local who was staying in the hostel whilst the people lived with had guests to visit. His English was fantastic and he gave us some interesting insights into local life. He had travelled quite a bit too and gave us some advice for our future trip. After that, we went to sleep early, seeing as we were getting up at 2am to get our flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia for our volunteering.

Posted by Susiep539 21:06 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur malaysia berjaya_times_square Comments (0)

Ahhh, paradise!

sunny 30 °C

Well, our last week has just been bliss! We've been in the Perhentian Islands in North East Malaysia for 6 nights. We've been staying on Perhentian Kecil (which means small stopping place - as opposed to Perhentian Besar, which is the other island, which means big stopping place). They are your picture postcard, traditional, white beached, blue sea type of islands, with jungle going straight back from the beach.

We had amusing journey from Khota Baru, where we tried to get a bus, failed as the next one wasn't for 90mins, then got a taxi with an absolute joker for the driver, who took a massive detour, then stopped for 10 minutes to have his breakfast. This was followed by a 5 minute burping session, which he apparently seemed to aid by shaking his arm violently!) We then got a speed boat (70 ringitt - £14 return) from Kuala Besut to the island. John's comment on arrival - "It looks just like Typhoon Lagoon...except it's real!". He spends too much time at Disneyworld, but it really is beautiful!
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Since then, we have spent 5 lovely days here. We're staying in a little beach hut thats about 10 steps to the beach. We've got our own room and bathroom, as well as a little porch, all for 40RM (£8) a night for both of us. Lots of wildlife likes it too though, which has its good and bad points. God = the nice kittykats and butterflies. Bad = ants (especially the biting ones) and mosquitos. The ants get EVERYWHERE! The nature also has its down right ridiculous side - these huuuuuuge lizards, that are basically just dinosaurs. The biggest we saw must have been nearly 2 meters long, and really did look like a creepy crawly dinosaur. Susie didn't like it, John did, but neither of us could really comprehend a ting like that calmly wandering around outside our little house!
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We have done lots of diving (Susie has done her Advanced Open Water - hurray! - and john has done his Peak Performance Buoyancy Speciality - and we've both done some fun dives - John's up to 25 dives now, and Susie's done 12. We're getting quite happy and confident in the water, even if Susie does seem to use her air up much quicker than anyone else! Between dives, we've done some snorkling too. Sadly the visibility hasn't been as good as usual here - it's been between 3 and 12 meters, but with all this time in the water, we've still seen rays, cuttlefish, angelfish, clownfish, parrotfish, pufferfish, small reef sharks and a turtle (who only had 3 legs!).
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During the time we've not been in the water, we've spent far too much time eating at a lovely relaxed and tasty cafe called Amelia's, that's just a 2 minute walk down the beach. It's been various forms of fried rice for lunches (all with a random fried egg - mmm we love random fried eggs), which cost 8Rm (£1.60) each - quite expensive by malaysian standards, but still pretty good! And then the same again or an amazing fish BBQ for dinner. Yum yum yum!! We've also spent lots of time reading - yes, even John! - and playing scrabble (John keeps winning).
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Tomorrow it's time to sadly leave paradise :( We're off to Georgetown in Penang, on the West of Malaysia for a few days, then it's on to Kuala Lumpur after that. I'm sure Georgetown will be lovely when we get there, but after 6 days of chilling on the beach, a 6 hours stuffy train ride does not appeal!!

Posted by Susiep539 04:18 Archived in Malaysia Tagged diving malaysia coral_bay malaysian perhentian_islands perhentian_kecil Comments (1)

The longest train ride in the world!

sunny 33 °C

Now some people think commuting is a pain. Getting up at 5 or 6 and spending maybe 2 hours on a train. They may have a point, but if they want a real challenge they should try the Jungle line from Singapore to Tanah Merah in Northern Malaysia (practically in Thailand).... Due to our ticketing cock up we were forced to take the day train rather than the rather more appealing sleeper (which leaves at 6pm and gets in at 7am). The day train on the other hand leaves at 330AM and arrives at 6PM....a very long day indeed! The process was also made all the more stressful because, due to political complications, the station in Singapore is still owned by Malaysia. You therefore enter Malaysia BEFORE you've left Singapore! You then go through Singaporean immigration before finally crossing the border. Part of the complication is that the Malaysian border police do not stamp your passport, or provide you with a visa, you get that when you leave the country (ridiculously). So of course noone explained this to us, which made for a very stressed Susie for the entire journey, half expecting us to get thrown into a jail somewhere and be deported! Fortunately this is not the case....

The train itself was pretty fun. You get amazing views of the countryside and how "real" Malaysians live. It does go on FOREVER though but fortunately (and unsurprisingly) John managed to sleep pretty much the whole way. Susie didn't.
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We finally arrived in Tanah Merah to be greeted by a rather pushy taxi tout and a suitably inept driver (more on this later) who assured us they'd take us to Khota Bharu where we would spend the night before going to take the boat in the morning for the Perhentian Islands. Upon arriving in Kota Bharu, after a drive of about an hour (much more than we had been expecting), we showed the driver the address and he semi-told us he didn't know where it was. Hurrah! NOT. He then proceeded to ask a random passer by who didn't know either, followed by a phone call to his friend, presumably the pushy one from earlier. He sent him in....well it was the wrong way to put it simply. We ended up on some country road in the dark on the way to an airport. God knows where we'd have ended up if it wasn't for us thrusting the phone number of our hostel in his hand and telling him to call it. As if we were in a monty python sketch, the hostel was completely the other direction and actually just a few roads from where we had turned onto the road to nowhere earlier! Eventually he found the way (after another call to the hostel, and his mate), practically threw our bags at us and was off into the night 80 ringgits richer but more than pissed off!

Fortunately the lady at the hostel, which was called Pad D (PADI?) was friendly and greeted us kindly (however she did tell us we'd got off at the wrong train station, a mix up by both of us, but not the end of the world). She told us we could get something to eat at the nearby night market so we headed there to fill our, now growling, stomachs.

The night market was down a dark alley (her reassuring words) and was a collection of stalls selling traditional Malay food, with not a drop of English in sight! A rather Taxi-stressed out Susie did not appreciated this forced cultural experience and sent John out to acquire something to eat. The busiest stall was inevitably the one without any signs, menus and, of all things BLUE rice! Of course John had to go there and "explore". He waited for a good 10 minutes until a rather burly woman said something along the lines of "go get that white boy some food2 in Malay. Soon I had blue rice and curry in hand (literally, because there was no cutlery anywhere). The food itself was amazing though! We even went back from seconds! (Irresistible at 5MYR (£1) a time!).
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Finally we headed back to the hostel to get some kip, and to prepare ourselves for another day of travelling tomorrow! These islands better be worth it!

Posted by Susiep539 04:06 Archived in Malaysia Tagged taxi train malaysia jungle rice blue d line pad malaysian khota bharu Comments (0)

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