Rachel and Matt’s World Tour

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Malaysia
Farewell Malaysia!

It’s been just over 2 weeks since Rachels parents went back to Southampton. We can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by.

We spent a few more days relaxing in KL after our busy few weeks with Bob and Sue before heading north to Taman Negara National Park. Taman Negara is the worlds oldest rainforest, and home to lots of animals including Tigers, Elephants and Bears. We got to Kuala Tembeling by bus before getting on a longboat for a 2.5 hour trip upstream to Kuala Tahan, where we would be staying for the next 2 days. On the journey we saw indiginous tribe people and water buffulo on the edges of the river. The night we arrived we went for a night walk through the jungle. We weren’t expecting to see any large animals, but we did see lots of insects including a big hairy spider and a scorpion. Needless to say, Rach wouldn’t get anywhere near the spiders!

The next day we went on the world longest canopy walkway. It all felt very precarious but we got to the end safely. After that we walked to the top of Teresek Hill. Not a particularly long walk, but the path was steep in places and the humidity was very intense, so we all looked like we had run a marathon by the end. We also visited a local indiginous tribe for an hour or so. There we learned about the traditions of the Batek tribe, the only humans allowed to hunt in the park. We also were shown how they create fire, make blowpipe darts as well as apply the poison! I got myself a cut down blowpipe, so if any more roosters wake me up at 4am they had beter watch out!

From Taman Negara we took a long and very cramped mini bus journey north to Kuala Bestut, where we got the fast boat to Perhentian Kecil, one of two islands a few miles offshore. We had heard a lot of positive things about this place and we weren’t disappointed. White sand, crystal clear water, and a great chilled out atmosphere make it our best island retreat so far.

A couple of friends we made in Taman Negara, Oliver and Marianna had also come on the same boat, so we stayed with them at Fatima’s at Coral Bay. Oliver and Marianne were doing their PADI diving cert so Rach and I entertained oursleves by basically bumming around on the beach for 5 days. We did take a snorkelling trip where we saw massive Green Turtles, Reef Sharks, and Sting Rays. In the evening the local bar has a fresh seafood bbq and Rach intoduced herself to shark and blue marlin and I tried kingfish and barracuda.

After 5 days we begrudgingly headed back to KL via the night train, and after the most boring day of our trip so far (12 hours in KL LCCT airport!) we are now in Phuket, Thailand, land of the touts. Our tans have reached such a level that we are now being mistaken for Aussies. “Hello boss” has been replaced by “G’day mate”, though my accent isn’t really up to scratch. Any tips Rob?!

That’s all for now. Till the next update…

Matt

June 19, 2009   5 Comments

Malaysia
Bye Mum and Dad. So glad you came!

Hey all

We are now back in KL again and were very sad to say goodbye to my Mum and Dad the other day. We crammed so much into 3 weeks, they really enjoyed themselves, but now need the holiday to recover from the holiday!

Since our last blog we all had a relaxing time on the island of Langkawi. We hired a car for a day and toured the island. We took a ride up the cable car, which was very steep and scary but the views at the top were well worth it. We stopped off at several very pretty waterfalls and came across the most amazing deserted beach that had bath water warm sea and eagles flying overhead!

After Langkawi we spent the best part of a day travelling  by van and boat to the Cameron Highlands. Luckily the crossing was much smoother than the previous one so Mum managed to keep down her breakfast. In the highlands we took a tour of a tea factory, and enjoyed tea and scones overlooking the plantation. We had yummy fresh strawberry shakes at the strawberry farm. We also visited a gorgeous flower garden, honey bee farm and chinese buddhist temple. The town in the highlands, Tanah Rata, was a bit of a dump but the area around was lush and it was nice to escape the humidity of the lower ground for a couple of days. We went for a jungle walk by Robinson Falls and saw a billion ants (termites? who knows) in procession along the path which was an awesome sight, we followed them for about 30-40 metres!!

After the Highlands we returned to KL. Dad’s birthday was on the 2nd so we went to Sunway Lagoon for the day. We spent most of the day in the water and sunshine but did manage to get Mum and Dad on a ride or two in the theme park as well! We had a great dinner in a steak house overlooking the Lagoon, and of course there was choccie birthday cake for pud and all the staff sang ‘Happy Birthday Mr. Bob’. Bless ’em.

We ended the night with a 3D movie, Monsters vs Aliens, just so I could laugh at Mum and Dad in the specs!

Before their flight home we also managed a trip up the Petronas Towers to the skybridge, shopping in China Town, dinner in Bukit Bintang district, a walk around the Lake Gardens, and a visit to the largest shopping mall in the world, Berjaya Time Square.

It was an emotional goodbye, but the first half of the trip has flown by so we will be home before you all know it!

We are off to the jungle and another paradise island or two next so…

Laters x

June 7, 2009   6 Comments

MalaysiaSingapore
KL and Singapore

Hello everyone.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes. We did go out for a great curry in KL, but as the beer is so bloody expensive we didn’t really spend too much time in the Reggae Bar.

Rachels folks arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the 17th, so we spent the week preceding mooching around China Town and various shopping malls until the big day.One of the more unusual things I did was go to a fish spa. This involved putting my feet in a big fish tank and letting the fish eat all the dead skin from my feet! It tickles alot but it did work a treat.

First on the agenda for Bob and Sue was a trip around the night market in China Town. Full of fake handbags and dvd’s, it’s noisy, dirty and sometimes very smelly but we all liked it very much! We stayed in China Town Inn, which has a great location on the main market street meaning Rachel and Sue could haggle to their hearts content without worrying about missing the last bus!

The next day we took a trip out to Batu Caves, a huge Hindu temple built into a cliff face. The 272 steps to the entrance was certainly hard work in the heat. Inside we were a bit disappointed to see that the local monkeys had raided the bins but no-one had cleaned up the mess. It was still worth the trip though just for the monkeys, who attacked this Chinese guy for his can of sprite!

Next morning we went into the business district for a trip up the Petronas Towers. Unfortunately we arrived a bit late to get a slot so will be going back in a week or so. The same afternoon we got onto a minibus for a trip to see fireflies on a river west of KL. On the way we stopped to see some wild monkeys of the friendly variety. As you can see by the pics they loved Rachel and Sue almost as much as green beens! After a great seafood meal by the river we jumped onto a small boat to see the firefies. No pictures unfortunately as it was pitch black, but try to imagine a whole riverbank lit up with fairy lights and you’ll be somewhere near.

We were up early the next day to take a bus ride south to Singapore, which was everything we were expecting. Super-clean, high-tech, efficient and judging by the cars, very wealthy.

We spent our first day having dinner at Clarke Quay where me and Bob managed to break our records for the most expensive beer ever (£6 for half a pint!!). From there we headed to the famous Raffles Hotel where we all had the required Singapore Sling at the Long Bar. They were very nice and Sue bought Rachel a glass as a souvenir.

We spent most of the next day on a Chinese Junk taking a tour of Singapore Harbour and nearby islands. The first things you notice are the hundreds of ships anchored just offshore and that the docks are massive making Southampton’s look tiny. In the evening we did China Town, Singapore style, which was spotless, and very civilised. A complete contrast to KL.

Bugis St, which many Naval personnel would frequent while on shore leave has now been turned into a street market, much to Bobs disapointment, but he still managed to get himself a picture in front of the sign. From there we headed to Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. Both were excellent and watching the White Tigers feeding time  was a highight. One thing that was definately not a highlight was the fire dancing at the Night Safari. I was dragged onstage where I had to strip to my waist and imitate their tribal moves while they threatened to put fire in  my mouth. I can honestly say it’s the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done, though everyone else seemed to thing it was hilarious!

Our final stop in Singapore was Sentosa Island, a small island which has been turned into a leisure resort  with man made beaches, a viewing tower, luge ride and many other attractions. We had a great day exploring Fort Siloso, which saw action in the Japanese invasion of Singapore during WWII, aswell as going up the viewing tower and walking through the butterfly farm. The day  was capped off by “Songs of the Sea”. This was a spectacular musical show, with the best laser, pyrotechnic, water and light effects we have ever seen.

From Singapore we took a short flight to Penang, a large island north of KL. As it’s largest city Georgetown is World Heritage listed we were expecting something a little more grand than what we got. Still, our hotel was very nice with great views of the sea and we ate the required curry from a hawker centre in Batu Ferringhi market.

We are now in Langkawi, another island near the Thai border. Getting here involved a treacherous ferry crossing from Penang. The sea was extremely rough as there was a storm early in the morning . Sue was a bit ill, along with most of the other passengers. Hopefully the trip back to the mainland won’t be as bad!

We are now half way through our trip and can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by. We hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine in England., or wherever you may be. See you in 6 months!

Matt

Here is a special guest entry by Sue and Bob:

We arrived after a long tiring flight. We were so pleased to see Rachel and Matthew , who met us at the airport. They both look healthy and well bronzed. Well, where do we start?

As you can see from Matthew and Rachels blog our feet have not touched the ground. They have been wonderful hosts and certainly have their wits about them and know exactly what they are doing – more than I can say for us old wrinklies!!

We are having a marvelous time. The trip to the typical Malaysian fishing village where we had dinner and watched the sunset was followed by a magical boat ride to see the fireflies. They were spectacular.

Singapore was very special and we had our Singapore Sling at the Long Bar in Raffles. We went to Turtle Island on a Junk boat trip around the harbour. The last night in Singapore was spent overlooking the sea, watching a superb laser/light show on Sentosa sland.

We are now chilling out on a glorious beach on Langkawi island. We are hiring a car tomorrow to see the sights here. Looking forward to our trip to the Cameron Highlands and the rest of our holiday.

Thank you to our hosts for planning and organising our time with them. What memories we will take home with us. We have enjoyed this holiday so much, but sadly will have to leave them to complete their travels, whilst we return to Blighty. We wish them both a safe onward journey.

Love from Bob and Sue.

May 27, 2009   5 Comments

IndonesiaMalaysia
From Indonesia to Malaysia

Hello everyone.

Just a quick one to keep you up to date on what we have been doing for the last few weeks. We spent a few days lazing around in Lovina, Bali where we had a great bungalow on the beach and a massive pool, often all to ourselves.

From Lovina we took an overnight bus to Probolinggo in Java. Luckily Rach was paying attention to the road signs at 2am as the driver did not tell us when our stop was and nearly drove straight on through to Yogyakarta! From here we went to visit Mount Bromo. As per our usual luck the weather meant getting up at 4am for the sunrise was a waste of time; lots of cloud obscured the view. It was much colder up there and for the first time since the US the wooly hats came out! We took a 4×4 up to the viewpoint which was pretty cool even though we had the grumpiest driver in the world. I would be grumpy too if I had to get up at 3.30am every morning.

We took a 10 hr minibus journey to Yogyakarta, where we feared for our lives as the driver was in the habit of overtaking 3 abreast close to oncoming traffic. We stayed in Yogyakarta for 5 days. The city was a bit of a disappointment with not many sights to see but we did take a trip to Borobudur and Prambanan – 2 ancient temples that are world heritage listed sites. They were very impressive, and we enjoyed the stories of the guide we hired at Borobudur. Sadly Prambanan was much damaged in a 2006 earthquake and had yet to be fully repaired, hence the scaffolding and large piles of stones. Take a look at the pics.

We have now flown to Kuala Lumpur which could not be more of a contrast from Indonesia. It’s very modern and comparatively wealthy with huge shopping malls and monorails etc. The massive mall that we visited had a theme park and water park inside the complex!! After we spent all day swimming then (window) shopping we went to the cinema, which was only £1.50 a ticket!! By the way the new Star Trek movie is excellent, even Rach agrees. We are enjoying our stay in China Town with the night markets right outside the front door. Lots of fake gear.

Highlights of Indonesia:
Good, cheap food and drinks
Beautiful beaches and scenery everywhere
Fantastic snorkelling on the north coast of Bali

Lowlights:
‘Transport mister?’ every 10 seconds
Litter problems from the tourists

3 days til Rach parents arrive so she’s very excited and it’s my birthday today, so we’re off out to Little India for a decent curry and to The Reggae Bar for lots of beers!

Matt

May 14, 2009   10 Comments

Indonesia
Bali & Lombok

Hello – hope everyone had a great Easter and gorged on chocolate.

We have now been mooching around Bali and Lombok for nearly 3 weeks and after a few more days in Bali we are heading to Java.

Our first stop in Bali was Sanur. The lonely planet describes it as ‘snore’ as it is much quieter than Kuta, but having then gone on to experience Kuta we much preferred it! It has gorgeous bars on the beach for enjoying the evenings Bintangs (local beer).

Kuta was our next stop – the beach is great and full of surf bods but the sea is raging so no good for swimming. We stayed in Poppies Gang I, the main backpacker strip – small alleyways full of the usual stalls and shops. Lots of annoying touts and hawkers ‘transport mister?’ ‘you want massage?’ ‘looking, looking, we have good sunglassses/ sarong/ t-shirt/ necklace/ etc/ etc’. We had an awesome day at WaterBom park which had great slides, but unfortunately too many hairy, eastern europeans in skimps. Think Borat Mankini!

Next stop Seminyak, supposedly the posh end of Kuta. It was certainly more expensive but the beach was not half as nice and there was little choice of bars and restaurants as it is mostly just big resorts there.

We then moved on to Ubud which we both loved. We stayed in Sania’s House where we had a very pretty room overlooking a lush, flower filled courtyard and pool, in the middle of the village. We went and saw a traditional dance performance. It was very impressive but slightly freaky in parts – lots of big, wide staring eyes and double jointed fingers?! Matt being the cultured one describes the music as a bunch of 2 yr olds banging on bin lids.

We also took a day trip to Gunang Kawi, which has 11th century carvings in the cliff sides. It was pretty impressive as were the beautiful rice paddy views on the way down into the valley. The sweltering walk back up the 350 steps was hampered by ‘you look hot mister, we have nice cold drink’ every 10 seconds as the steps are lined with stalls. Very lovely sarongs here are 3 for 10,000 rupiah (60p)! We also visited the holy spring temple amongst others and to a viewpoint of Mount Batur. Please look at the pics, there are some goodies. One stop was at a coffee plantation, where we both tried Kopi Luwak. This is made from coffee beans that have been ‘processed’ by a mongoose i.e. eaten and pooed, then the beans collected and roasted!! Apparently it is a very expensive delicacy and Peter Jones (Dragons Den) sells it for 50 quid a cup in his London cafe!! I just think it’s gross.

From Ubud we took the bus and a very slow boat to an island just off the Lombok coast called Gili Trawangan, aka “party island”. We walked all the way around the coast in an afternoon, it was stunning. Snorkelling was very good, we saw lots of colourful fishies. We watched movies in huts on the beach, ate some very good food, and Matt drank some more Bintangs. And Mum I promise I said ‘no’ to numerous offers of pot and magic mushrooms – one restaurant puts them on the pizzas, another blitzes them in milkshakes. I got ill, so wasted a couple of days in bed. We then moved on to the Lombok mainland, staying in Sengiggi.

The beach here was excellent. It’s really steep so each wave really pulls you around on the shoreline. Great fun for swimming in. The highlight was going snorkelling off the beach and seeing a huge turtle!! Bloody brilliant, although he made a very swift escape when approached. On our last day there, the beach was packed as all local families gather on the beach on Sundays. Lots of kiddies playing in the water, around all the fishing boats, and flying kites. Matt had his hair cut, which included an unexpected and thorough head, neck, and back massage by a very lovely tranny!

We travelled by ferry back to Bali, which was an experience. First hounded by locals selling what looked like home made pork scratchings, we passed the 4 hrs by watching a very violent samurai movie, followed by ‘Death Race’, and then some low budget, blood and gore zombie film. The toddlers sat around us didnt seem too affected.

We are leaving Tulamben today, where more excellent snorkelling included swimming around the USA ship ‘Liberty’ that was torpedoed during WWII and sunk just off shore. We hired a camera so there are some pics for you to look at.

We will probably post next from Malaysia, when my Mum and Dad will be with us!! I’m so excited, I can’t wait to see them!!

Laters x

April 29, 2009   9 Comments