On Monday 14th April we left for Ko Phi Phi - a seriously hench journey! Anyway after 3 buses, 2 boats, 1 songthaw and a partridge in a pear tree, we arrived to an absolutely beautiful island, surrounded by limestone cliffs and clear blue water. After much contemplation and backpacking around the various sea-front hotels, we picked the nice enough Andaman Beach resort. After a not so convincing dinner, we headed to Apache, a backpacking magnet of a club. Even so, it was still suprising to see Zak, Sammy and Chris - 3 boys we knew from back home!
Jamie got up nice and early the next morning to go diving, thoroughly enjoying the hospitality of the small dive company (even though his boat lunch of fried beef and rice was served at 10am!), even if he didn't manage to see the much promised whale sharks or any turtles :-(! Obviously, lots of cotching in the afternoon by the pool. That evening we booked a flight from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur, a seemingly simple enough procedure. However, not only did Jamie manage to forget his name (typing Jamie instead of James), we also later realised that we wouldn't be able to take our baggage on board the plane as it exceeded the 15kg allowance...idiots!! We met up with the boys again that night and after much pool and a few buckets we made our way to Apache and later a Thai boxing joint.
Wednesday morning, Jamie armed with a Salmonella burger garnished with sewage-washed remains of lettuce, we boarded the boat to Phuket. Accomodationless we got on a minibus with the boys and headed for Patong. After a scenic route around Phuket's travel agencies and dingy dormitories, we settled for a guest house in the middle of town which actually turned out to be bloody brilliant! As this was our last evening in Thailand, Jamie decided to mark the occasion by spending around 1/2 hour choosing his variety and type of seafood for his meal, only deciding on 5 hench tiger prawns after everyone else had already finished their meals! Phuket was everything we expected it to be: hoards of prostitutes (female and ladyboy variety) and seedy bars. Yet, even we were suprised when random brers forced monkeys and/or chamelion's on our shoulders in order to take a photo for money-laundering purposes! More pool and buckets before we said goodbye to the boys and headed back to the guesthouse.
Thursday morning we boarded our flight to KL and were met at the airport by another contender for 'legendary cab driver of our travels' award, Owen. Owen kindly took it upon himself to give us a brief history of Malay and KL history, stating that "Malaysia is a Muslim country, but a modern one - this means we still like to drink and like to f***"! Nice, Owen. We decided to live it up a bit in KL, staying in the Swiss Garden hotel, a gemstone in the midst of dirty budget hostels. This place was serious luxury: plasma on the wall, a bath, comfy beds, sauna, gym etc etc! After finally agreeing that our entire KL experience could not be spent in the hotel, we ventured to Chinatown for dinner, eating on the street between market stalls and eager shoppers.
The next day we decided to conquer KL. After an early rise and a smashing buffet breakfast, we headed to the Petronas Twin Towers - the tallest of their kind in the world! We were too late to get tickets up to the viewing section but we had a brief gander around the shopping mall, before we realised that no single item cost less than 5 grand! Jamie's prediction that Malaysia was ridiculously cheap was beginning to come under some early scrutiny here...! We then went to the KL tower to go up to the viewing platform and observe the amazing KL skyline, listening to a guided tour to make sure that every site was seen. After lunch we made our way over to Times Square, a relatively large (12 storey) shopping centreÂ containing an indoor theme park! Fuelled with fast food, we went on the dodgems, a hench loopy rollercoaster and the aptly named 'Dizzy Lizzie', which did wonders for Dan's stomach. The shopsÂ and Playstation hunt beckoned us to the shops, where we began our search for the cheapest deals on a PSP and aÂ PS3.Â Despite the good prices, we leftÂ without a PS, insistentÂ onÂ finding the best deal at a later date. WeÂ returned to the hotel and made the most of the gym, pool and sauna.Â That night we went to Little India for dinner, expecting a melting potÂ of culture and spiceÂ - we however did not find either and later found out fromÂ a cab driver thatÂ "Little India had closed because it was tooÂ dirty and smelly..."! We decided to eat at Planet Hollywood instead, enjoying theÂ food, live music and amazing pool tables.
TheÂ next day we headed to Merdaka Square and visited the National History Museum before walking to the Central Market, a huge indoor mass of handicrafts and knick-knacks. Jamie then went off to find some ChineseÂ temples, one Hindu and one Buddhist. That evening we watched the FAÂ Cup final over a splendid burger in a really nice restaurant. Again the live musicÂ was fantastic, although Dan would ratherÂ have listened to Andy Gray's dulset tones. The next morning we rushed likeÂ hell to get on the bus to Singapore - power walking down KL's streets with our backpacks to the bus station. Dan decided to go to the toilet at 10.29:53 with the bus leaving at 10.30 - narrowly avoiding being left behind. It was a shame to be leaving KL, a great city and very different to the others that we had visited in Thailand.
We arrived in Singapore later that day and followed Lonely Planet's advice on a cheapÂ hotel in a good location. This was all very well and good until we arrived at a building site, being told that the hotel wasÂ being rebuilt! Lonely Planet - some bible!! After many calls to Singapore's hotels and guesthouses which were all fullyÂ booked, we followed a lead to theÂ 7th Storey Hostel which thankfully had vaccancies. That night we went to (Little) IndiaÂ - theÂ "little" in brackets as this could wellÂ have been theÂ centre of Bombay! People crammed into the back of pickup trucks, sitting on the sides of streets - a thriving social gathering! WeÂ obviously went to an Indian restaurant and after gentle force, DanÂ had his first experience of Indian food. Everyone in the place was eating with their hands and we were the only white people in the place, but it was great nonetheless! We muscled our way out of LittleÂ IndiaÂ and walked to Arab Street via BaghdadÂ Street... dodge! We found the Sultan's Mosque an amazing building and even went inside for a peek and a prayer. Â Â
The next morning (Monday 21st)Â we got the metro to Orchard Road - Singapore's answer to Oxford Street (but clean!). More PS hunting and finally Jamie bought a PSP, ruining any form of future communication between us! That night we went to the world's first night safari, enjoying encouters with fruit bats and Dan even snapped a picture to prove it, despite being told several times not to use the flash! We also saw lions, tigers, hippos, white hyenas and cheetahs and went to the 'Animals of the Night' show - a very cool experience! On Tuesday we went to Singapore's largest and newest shopping centre, Vivo City.Â We metro'd it back to Orchard RoadÂ toÂ finally complete the PS hunt and buy Dan's PS3 before busting it back to Bugis Market - a hip, funky, open market. That night, after a sizzilingly good steak, we treated ourselves to the famousÂ Singapore SlingÂ at the famous Long Bar inÂ Raffles hotel.Â The live music was phenomenalÂ once more and we had a very sophisticated cotch!Â We then crossed over theÂ road to the Swissotel to visit the 70th storey bar, overlooking Singapore's dazzling skyline. This lift took approx. 25secs to get from 1-70 wheras theÂ 7th Storey Hostel takes 3mins to get to the 1st floor (seriously it wasÂ quicker to walk)! Unfortunately,Â our timeÂ at the bar was short lived afterÂ a bouncerÂ politely reminded us that this was an over-23Â venue. We rounded off our final night in Asia with a traditional hour session of pool before returning to the hotel.
Final day in Asia :-(! Dan decided to waste it by spending 2hrs in the post office sending his PS3 home. After a great lunch we got our final bit of siteseeing done as we visited one of Singapore's 2 synagogues, being guided by a legendary security guard who was not Jewish, but knew far more about our religion than we did! We decided to get the efficient, air conditioned metro to the airport to save 30p on a cab and arrived in plenty of time to check in for our flight to Sydney! As Jamie is a lanky brer we even managed to get the emergency exit seats! Speak to you in Oz!!