Bed Bug Bonanza
Next stop was Semporna, from where I would embark on my diving expedition in Sipadan. I arrived in the dark and wasn't sure where the hostel I was planning on staying in was, there was a man with a random red car asking me if I wanted a taxi for 20 ringgit which I knew was a joke because the hostel should really just be down the road, I just didn't really fancy walking around lost in the dark by myself, so I tried to negotiate with this guy as there were no licensed taxis around. I got him down to about 10 ringgit but still thought it was too much, but luckily I had just bought a Malaysian sim card for my phone and had the Dragon Inns phone number so I called them and asked them how much it should be by taxi and they said 2 ringgit!! I had a feeling he was trying to rip me off! I told him it was 2 or nothing, and in the end I had to settle for 4, because otherwise he was going to leave me in this random bus shelter. Dragon Inn LOOKS really nice, its like this huge resort type hotel on stilts in the water, and a tiki chic vibe which has expensive rooms, but also a long house style dorm but this is maybe the worst dorm ive stayed in, none of the beds had been changed and as soon as I lied down I could feel bed bugs biting me, I have only felt this once before in New Zealand but somehow I didn't manage to get any visable bites and it was the same here. I could actually see the little blood spots on the bed where they had bitten people before. I think all the other beds were the same though so I sucked it up and slept there that night- I didn't really have a choice, luckily I didn't have many bites the next day, for some reason unlike mosquitos I don't react to bed bug bites which is great because it means I can sleep in any old place.
Uncle Changs, Mabul and Lara Croft round 2
I had booked to stay on Mabul, anearby island at Uncle Changs, a cheap diving company where you can pay to just stay and eat all for 60 ringgit. At the check in thing, I met Monika from South Africa and a couple Prav and Jade, and David from England. The boat ride over there was in a storm and the waves were huge. It was quite exciting, and all our bags got really wet. One girl fell over on the boat it was quite bad (but also secretly funny). We arrived on the island and straight away realised it was quite dirty, as Prav put his bag next to a dirty nappy! But I had expected this as some people had told me before hand. We walked across to a village on stilts reaching out into the celebes sea, it was amazing! It did feel a little like it was going to break in the storm but it soon calmed. You might remember I spoke about some annoying people on the previous trip, particularly Lara- the girl who thought she knew everything about everything? Well Monika wanted me to stay in the same room as her, and guess what I noticed… Laras boots (we had wrongly names her Lara Croft) next to the bed next to me, I thought I couldn't be true, I then walked into the lunch room, and there she was!! Out of all the rooms and all the millions of dive companies, how was it possible I ended up with the most annoying person in the whole world on the next bed! I just couldnt stand the girl, so I sneakily asked to change rooms to be with Jade, Prav and co before Lara even found out I was there! PHEW!
The dive place was so cool, really sociable, lots of big tables on a big verandah overlooking the ocean, and then there was a sunbathing deck with some deck chairs. Met some characters there, and American called Tanner, which I quickly changed to Tina Tanner (Turner.. get it?), one of the dive master girls Kay who had hurt her foot from falling off the jetty. Prav and Jade turned out to be the couple from hell arguing and throwing things at each other (reminded me how glad I didn't have to put up with any of this crap). He turned out to be a really nasty guy and he did things to her I don't even want to remember in this blog, but trust me it was bad. Then there was Dave who had some funny banter, and worked for Sky in London in product Marketing said he will try and get me a job there when I get back.. I may well need his help otherwise I will be living in a gutter somewhere.
The Floating Village of Kids, Kittens and Cockerels
Spent most days lazing around and chatting. Some snorkelling and sunbathing. Food and accom all up 60 ringgit 12 quid. Went round the island had drinks. Millions of kids in the village and they all just gaze at you as you walk though. It was an awesome village, so much character and the people really friendly, all living in huts on stilts with washing hanging everywhere and cockerels, kittens and kids running riot and we made friends with lots of them. One night they had a band at Uncle Changs and this was party night- about 10 of the kids came to watch, they were really well behaved and shy not sure if they were allowed to come over, so we told them it was ok, and they sat down with us. They were so cute, one of the little boys wanted to hold my hand and he put his head on my shoulder and my heart melted. We went to buy them some sweets and some coca cola. It was their lucky day! They were so excited, but they didn't grab or anything, all waited their turn. The night was lots of fun, all the staff were dancing, I as always had to have a dance off with the Malaysians and they were really good dancers! They thought it was so funny. At one point it was just me and this blonde dutch girl with life jackets on and snorkels and random hats on and all these Malaysians just dancing like crazy all around us. They also made a snorkel into a funnel and poured beer down the top and I had to drink it through the mouth piece, it was pretty gross, I nearly drowned in beer.
We named one of the dive instructors bad santa, basically because he looked like him which provided us with quite a lot of entertainment, particularly because he had the hots for a girl with a really red burnt nose who was obviously…wait for it…. Rudolf. Monika and I thought this was the funniest thing in our drunken stupor.
The Shark Fin debate
One of the days Tina Tanner saw some of the locals pulling up about 6 sharks from a boat which they had caught, and when he asked them where they were from, they denied even having them, he had to keep asking and finally they slyly showed him all of them, and they were cutting off the fins to sell for shark fin soup, a chinese delicacy which is really expensive and sought after. It is illegal to kill sharks just for their fins, and they had also obviously caught way over their allowed quota, that's why they were shady about it! Tina Tanner thought that some of the shark meat was going to be thrown away so he bought some and got uncle changes to cook it up for him in anice sauce and we had some, it was sooo tasty. There was a big debate on the table about whether they should have caught the sharks and whether tanner should have bought the meat. To be honest Im glad he bought some otherwise it might have been thrown away which would be awful. I think it is very bad if they are throwing meat away, but I don't think it is too bad if they are actually eating the meat, its just like killing any animal. The problem is, people who dive have a very special love for sharks and find it hard that people catch them. I think aslong as there are enough sharks, and they are not endangered, its ok to catch them within reason. I think these guys were just catching too many and being too greedy.
We also saw lots of Malaysians catching loads of all different coloured crabs which was cool to see. I learnt a lot about Malaysia staying here, and had a really great time. I was glad I wasn't diving with this company though as the equipment was very old and dodgy. After a 4 days I left the little floating village as I was picked up by Seaventures, and taken to the Oil rig I had been so looking forward to.
The Oil Rig, Mr Bond.Starring the PADI Advanced course and Miss Scubapenny
The Seaventures guy was friendly who picked me up and took me on the boat to the rig. There is a platform which slowly raises from the sea a good ten 10 metres to the top of the rig. I felt a tiny bit like I was in a James Bond movie. You might be wondering why I decided to stay on an oil rig and how this all came about. Well firstly it's just really AWESOME, and secondly it was an actual working oil rig in Brunei but when it was abandoned the diving company 'Sea Ventures' who with a stroke of genius decided to paint it orange, yellow and blue and transport it to create a lovely eye sore for the people living and holidaying on Mabul (the nearby island, I had just been staying the other side of), but actually being ON the rig is great! We get the best views! Greeted with orange juice in a wine glass, then got taken to my boudoir, yes I said Boudoir! I actually had my OWN room!! And a double bed and my own bathroom! This was looking good, and I thought I would be slumming it on an oil rig! After jumping on my bed with joy for a few minutes, I made my way down to the main outdoor bar/ restaurant area to start my advanced PADI diving course. I met the three other people in my group, all aussies surprise surprise, but I was VERY thankful it wasn't a bunch of Chinese, as lovely as these people are, they just CANT swim and the very thought of scuba diving with them filled me with dread. I have never been so happy to see a bunch of Aussies in my life.
Peak Buoyancy and Navigating Monster Turtles
In the course there are two compulsory dives, that is the navigation and the deep dive, and then we have the choice of lots of different ones to choose from for the 3 others. Luckily we all wanted the same ones, night dive, peak buoyancy and drift dive. We had decided to go for it and smash out three dives on the first day so we could relax the following day and have some fun dives at Sipadan- the place where there are only 120 permits a day and people are literally fighting eachother for a place. Its crazy! I had luckily booked ahead so it was all sorted (for once). We started off with peak buoyancy and it took a little time for us all to get used to all the equipment again. We had go down to the bottom and use our lungs to raise and lower ourselves whilst swimming. We also had to just hang there in the water without swimming to show we could keep ourselves buoyant. We then had to swim through a hoop without our tank hitting the top and without touching the hoop. I found it ok! The next dive, the navigation was firstly myself and leoni (my buddy) had to swim in one direction for a certain number of kicks (to measure distance) and to come back the same way by looking at visual natural markers, which sounds easy, but he took us to a place that was just a sandy bottom with not much else! We did manage it though. The next one was to do a square using a compass, again with my buddy, the visability was really poor which made the compass more useful. As we turned the first corner we were swimming straight mostly looking at the compass to make sure we weren't going off course, and we actually nearly bumped into the BIGGEST green turtle I have EVER seen. It was as big as our dining room table, or maybe bigger! And it just looked up at us with sleepy eyes. I completely forgot about navigation! To hell with it ! I wanted to play with the turtle, and Leoni and I had a silent underwater dispute (my first underwater argument)- she was pointing at the compass willing me to follow tocomplete the course, whilst I was pointing at the turtle and cursing at the compass! It was pretty funny! After a minute I waved goodbye to Mr turtle and got the navigation completed. If anything this proves that our compass skills work, when you go off on a tangent, you can still stay on course J
Underwater Night delights and frights!
The final dive of the day was the night dive, and this caused the most excitement and nerves, we were lowered into the water on the platform at about 8pm, this really was SO Bond. We shone our torches into the water and we could see MILLIONS of HUGE fish at the surface, it was actually scary! Anyway we made our decent with our hearts beating twice the pace, leoni and I were basically hugging eachother to stay close, but once we were down there was more light than I thought with everyones torches on. We saw a few cool things, such as sleeping parrot fish- they sleep with a smile on their face, its quite cute! A ghost pipe fish- this tiny thing that really looks like a tiny piece of weed with legs and arms. We saw some quite big grouper hiding in some of the wrecks they have down there. We were all a bit too excited, and using air fast, and before I knew it I was down to 20bar! We finished the dive and got back to the rig.
Diving Paradise: Sipadan!!
Had to read some more chapters of the diving book in preparation for the next dives at Sipadan! Deep dive and drift dive. We had an amazing dinner and got to bed early ready to be up at 5am the next day. I was almost already awake I was so excited, had been looking forward to this for a long time. First dive was the deep dive to 30metres which was a bit scary and we were told it was only for a few minutes and the instructor would be looking out for any signs of nitrogen narcosis which is not harmful in the long term but it makes you feel a bit drunk underwater and you do silly things like try and give your regulator to the fish and you are not as aware of how much air you have etc. But luckily none of us showed any signs, and I felt completely normal. It hits different people at different depths, but usually at about 40 metres and deeper.
Filming the Blue Planet
Sipadan is an idyllic sand island, with coral fringing around the outside, but the thing that makes it so special is the huge drop offs down to about 600metres at the edges. As we descend, you are basically just looking at a wall of coral and nothing below you! The first dive was called Coral Garden, and we mostly saw quite a few hawksbill and green turtles swimming around, nothing I hadn't really seen before, but then towards the end of the dive something amazing happened. We saw a huge school of bumphead parrotfish, now I have seen millions of parrotfish but these were the biggest, light blue in colour, with a menacing big bump on its head, and the massive bright white teeth! There was a clear 'manager' of the group, he was about double the size and looked even more scary. They came towards us all split up, and the manager started rounding them up like sheep, and they all slowly turned into a perfect formation, and then just stayed there without moving. The manager kept coming over to us to tell us to go away, I think even the instructor was a bit scared when he got a bit too close! It was like watching a David Attenborough special in 4D!
The 2nd dive of the day was called Barracuda point, and this was the BEST! As we submerged we found ourselves in the middle of a HUMUNGOUS school of Jack fish, the fish themselves are not particularly spectacular but together they looked like a giant fish as big as a whale! At one point we were being circled and all you could see was a blanket of orangey flashes. As we decended down the coral wall, we saw massive turtles everywhere and black tip reef sharks all over the place, and my buddy and I kept almost knocking each other out, to point something out, but there was so much it became pointless. As we looked up to the surface there was a blackish cloud and we swam up a little to find it was a huge circling school of Barracuda! They are really fat and long with almost mackerel markings, and pretty big teeth. I had only ever seen the odd one before, they gave us a spectacular performance. This was a drift dive- so we got our advanced course completed! The 3rd dive was just a fun dive at 'hanging garden' and was similar, with tonnes of sharks and turtles and pretty good visibility.
Oil Rig entertainment.. Mamma Mia??
The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the rig with some of the Malaysian crew members. Pretty funny, they were telling me how much they don't like French people. Also, that night there was a live band- pretty surreal watching a live band on an oil rig overlooking the beautiful lights of mabul. The Malaysian singer/guitarist was a legend, he was singing heavy rock songs for the majority, but then suddenly broke into Mamma Mia and some more Abba classics. I was loving it! He would randomly stop in the middle of the song to have a quick drink, then carry on, much to our amusement.
First dive without a dive master!
Next day we woke up really early and did a dive off the rig, our first dive without a divemaster, it was just me Leoni, Dori and Michael, but we had checked it was ok and planned it well. Plus it was pretty safe and easy to navigate around the pylons of the rig. We had a look at the wrecks that had been put there, which had quite a lot of life, saw some crocodile stonefish- which look really strange, and also VERY poisonous (if bitten you only have a few hours to get to the hospital). We saw a sea snake and loads of beautiful lionfish- also very poisonous. We then had a break and took the boat to Kapalei, a site called Mandarin Balley where we saw pipefish scorpion crab, an octopus and a ray. There was also this really cute thing called a frogfish. This dive was really cool because there was a sunken boat, and you could see inside all the random fish living in it. Was also quite eery! Only problem was that we were in a really big group with a load of Asians, I think they may have been chinese, don't get me wrong I love chinese people, but they really cannot swim and they take pictures of everything. So imagine being 20 metres under the water with these people! There were also 3 really big chinese guys and they took spoons down to hold onto the coral with, I guess to keep themselves in the same place…but seriously!! I really hate people who don't atleast try to avoid touching the coral, it's a living organism and everytime you touch it, you kill it! This should really be taught to everyone who goes diving/snorkelling because people just don't know, or just ignorant. The reason diving is so amazing is because of the coral, and you see so much dead coral on the bottom, its really sad. This is what has happened to the Barrier Reef! So these big guys were kicking us, kicking the coral not looking where they are going. I nearly lost my reg at one point, I grabbed one of their fins and shoved it back into him I was so angry ha. And then when out DM showed us something- like a cuttlefish for instance, they just kick at you and past you to get in first with their big fat underwater camera and take a MILLION photos, we couldn't even see it! And I still never saw the cuttlefish which I had never seen living before!
Anyway, last dive was Pandlema, Mabul where we saw some trumpet and angel fish, a moray eel, and lots of pink jellyfish.
Night bus Mexicano style, and Kota Kinabalu round 2
Leaving the rig was really sad, and I had had a really good time with the Aussies and the crew, but all good things have to come to an end. Took the boat back and I took my first night bus back to Kota Kinabalu. When I went to buy the ticket earlier in the day, it was so crazy, I turned the corner into there were about 20 Malaysian men shouting at me trying to get me to buy their ticket, and they were all selling the same thing! It was funny when it happened the time before when I was with the girls, but being by myself it was a bit more stressful. I did force myself to see the funny side though. And at one point I just shouted at them all to be quiet and talk one by one and tell me the price and times etc. And to my astonishment they actually did shut up and listened to me! I felt like I was a band conductor or something. They all thought I was really funny too, I don't think they get western girls shouting at them very much, but it was the only way! The first price was 70ringgit, which is the price it says in the 'Phony' planet so I didn't actually expect to get it much cheaper, but with this commotion it was clear there was some negotiation to be done. The first guy said 70, then immediately said 60, the guy next to him said 50, then another said 40, but I thought he was a bit dodgy so I went back to the first guy, who the dive guy had told me was a good company, and asked if he would do it for 40, and he accepted and I got a window seat! Awesome! For once I really really wanted there to be some western people on the bus, just so I wouldn't end up arriving at 5am in KK and not have anyone to share the taxi with. Thankfully when I got there later there were too really nice Mexican guys sat on the table outside and they were getting the bus with me. I was so relieved! Really cute guys, and really nice. Makes me want to go to Mexico now! They had paid 60ringgit for the trip! I secretly felt quite chuffed with my negotiation skills J girls definitely get a better deal in Malaysia. I managed to sleep a bit on the coach, and I shared a taxi back with the guys who luckily were going to the same place as me. One of them, the nicest one also took my contact details so maybe I can visit them in Mexico sometime!
Back in KK was pretty boring but I managed to get some rest. It was one of my best friends from Uni Amy's Birthday in a day, and she happened to be working 3 hours from me in Malaysia- as she is a marine biologist on the big tanker ships! I couldn't believe it! The number of times she has been in Australia but on the wrong side and we haven't managed to meet, and this time it was her Birthday I really had to see her!! That morning I went to the market in KK to try and find a silly present for her, but it made me really sad, they had puppies, and kittens, and little turtles in tiny cages to sell. I did consider buying her one, but I thought it might not be practical considering she was living on a tanker ahah I settled for a crappy bracelet and some iced jems hopefully going with the excuse that I am her real present.
Amy Boaden I love you, and the terrible port of Labuan.
So I took the boat for 3 hours to an island called Labuan, which as far as I saw was just a horrible ugly shipping port with millions of tankers everywhere. Again I was the only white person on the boat- in economy area where you can't really see out of the windows. I was so excited to see her I didn't care! It had been SO long since I had seen someone from home, let alone my best mate!! I came through the terminal and when we saw eachother we were screaming and running and had a massive hug. All these Malaysians were just staring at us in shock! I was sooooo happy to see her!! We had SO much to catch up on, we were chatting about everything. Looking for somewhere cheap to stay, only problem was there didn't seem to be any backpackers which was worrying because I really couldn't afford much. Amy was so nice she subbed me for a really nice hotel 100ringgit for the night. It had marble floors that's all I need to say really haha. I promised to pay her back when I actually earn some money. Her work had given her 300 ringgit for the night to pay for us to go to a posh hotel called 'The Dorset' (!!!) for dinner! It was so nice to hear all about her job and what is happening with everyone at home, and she said she was eager to hear all my travel stories- but im sure they get pretty boring after a while. She had done quite a bit of the same stuff as me in Oz, so we talked about that and all the girly stuff we always talk about. It was exactly the same, nothing had changed.
The night reluctantly had to come to an end because she was working early the following day and I was really sad to say goodbye, felt like leaving home all over again. Made me feel really homesick I would really love to have a night out with all the girls from home like old times, nothing beats that really! I guess you have to travel around the world to realise where you really belong.
Goodbye Borneo, Hello Kota Bharu and the Perhentians!
The following day I took my flight back to peninsular Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur round 3! I had booked a connecting flight straight to the Kota Bharu, a city north East. Funnily enough Dori and Michael were on the same plane! So was nice to hang out with them in Macdonalds in the airport. All flights booked with Air Asia and so far so good, always on time, or even early! I was impressed! Got to Kota Bharu airport at night and really couldn't be bothered to work out the buses to walked up to 3 girls and asked if they wouldn't mind me sharing the taxi, they were really nice aussies from melbourne and accepted and only cost me 5 ringgit instead of 25! I found a little backpackers in the centre called KB Backpackers, after dodging about 4 huge rats! The reception guy, known as 'wan' was so funny and helpful, and spoke amazing English. We had a long talk about diving as he had been in a decompression chamber as he came up too quickly. It was scary but really interesting.
He told me that I didn't have to go to Penang to get my 90 day Thai visa which is what I originally thought, I could get it here, which was much better! He also sorted out my bus and ticket to the Perhentians, some little islands nearby, my sole reason for coming here. Next day I took the public bus and Wan came with me as he had to do some business there. When I got off I was rushed though the boat terminal as if I was a VIP and skipped all the queues (im not really sure why, I think wan just knew people) and paid less for the marine ticket and got onto the boat just before it left! I saw the three ozzy girls again on the speed boat, and we enjoyed the very bumpy ride. No1 on the boat could believe that I hadn't booked anywhere on the island or even have a clue where to go. It part of the fun of it though, there is always somewhere! I knew I was staying on the small island called Kechil, and long beach is the main place to stay there. I got the boat driver to take me there.
Pulau Kechil and The Shark
I stumbled up the beach in the boiling heat and wondered whether I should have booked somewhere! I saw a huge group of backpackers sat down at the restaurant and walked up to them and asked if they knew somewhere to stay, and they pointed me in the direction of sunrise guest house, they warned me it wasn't really nice but it was close, and that's all I cared about at that moment, the Irish guy told me to check in and then come back and join them for a drink. Which I did! Really great group of people and I became part of their gang for the rest of the stay. Great irish man called 'teeth, with a K' as he introduced himself and his friend Mareid. There was David, who became Rave with a D, and I obviously became Fanny with a D. Standard. I also met a Dutch guy Dan in my room who I dragged along, also the two essex girls, one who had pulled the Italian, Marco who was really funny, oh and the token French guy Orellio who wore really tight shorts which left little to the imagination. Lots of other people in the group but I would be here for ever explaining them all. I spent the entire first day in this restaurant with these people, and the conversation was good, lots of silly jokes etc. The beach was really nice, bright blue clear water. We did manage to go for a snorkel that afternoon and Teeth with a K was pretending I was their private snorkel guide, just because I did a bit of it for my job in Cairns. The snorkelling was awesome, so clear and some amazing luminous green brain coral which I had not seen before and millions of really colourful clams and bright purple anenomies. We were just casually swimming along, and suddenly a2-3 metres shark swam out from the shallows really close to us. Was amazing we all screamed! Teeth K couldn't believe it, neither could I! Had never seen one that close whilst snorkelling!
That night we went to this all you can eat restaurant and had one long massive table which was fun, then to 'Monkey Bar' which sells something called monkey juice, which is a bit like rum, and on the front there is a picture of an orang-utan! We sat on this raised roof area on the floor with little cushions overlooking the whole beach. It was so nice! Later we all went to black tip bar, which is just a shack on the beach with some huge speakers and some stakes with fire, and lots of little tables on the sand you can sit at with little candles. It was soo pretty, and everyone, including us were dancing like maniacs doing dance offs with the Malaysians etc.
'The Sober Sisters' hit Malaysian Pop Music Charts!
Next day spent the whole day doing pretty much nothing, sat in the café and a bit of sunbathing and swimming in the sea. I couldn't believe how clear the water was! The following night we did the same in the monkey bar. We met another dutch girl called Karijn who has an American accent from watching too much MTV and friends, who is so obsessed with John Mayer she has been to 14 of his concerts which is pretty impressive! She became part of our group, along with 'Divemaster Stu' his name derived from the fact he was currently doing his open water diving course at the time. Karijn and I didn't want to spend too much money so we decided not to drink but it made us a little crazy and we became the 'Sober Sisters' and we made up loads of songs about not kicking the coral or touching turtles with sunscreen on your hands. It was all very silly...but also educational! We also performed a little dance in front of the whole crew which caused a stir.
Following day I went on a snorkelling trip with the boys, we went to 5 different snorkelling spots around the whole Perhentian islands, and I thought it would be a rip off, but it definitely wasn't!! We saw loads of sharks, and a little bit scary because I saw one eat a little fish and saw its teeth and at the same time realised there was no1 near me and they started circling below me so I swam away pretty quickly, I was probably over reacting though Im sure. We later saw a big hawksbill turtle eat a big jelly fish, and then some big bumphead parrotfish again.
The next couple of nights were a big blur, all in the monkey bar and beach bar. We also went to the other side of the island to watch the sunset. The last night was really nice watching the live band sat on little tables on the floor, and candles around beautiful setting etc. The Perhantians were amazing, great beaches and fantastic group of people to hang out with. We all left on the same day, all going to different places, apart from a couple who stayed in kota Bharu again with me. I would definitely recommend a stop in the Perhentians if you are coming to Malaysia, it's a great mix of party and relaxing.
I arrived back at the original hostel, and was great to see Wan again. He told me I wasn't allowed to pay for the night I owed him for from before, because I brought some friends back to the hostel! I tried to but he just wouldn't accept it!! Hes really funny, really great character. He was telling me earlier how he lost a load of money on poker the night before, and then told me he was going to fix the fridge and pointed at what I thought he meant my laptop and he said I can put it in the fridge and keep cold, and I looked at him weirdly and then realised he meant my water which was next to it, and told him what I had thought, then said oh yeah then you could say your laptop is 'FROZEN' hahahaha banter!
I Heart Malaysia! 25/07/11
Today I went to the Thai Consulate to get my visa, obviously I was disorganised and forgot that they might need a passport photo so had to come all the way back and then back again, but got some good exercise in I guess. Costs 110ringgit for a 90 day visa for Thailand, you can get a free one overland but it is only for 2 weeks, and then I think the extend fee is a lot more that 110 ringgit, also its a lot more hassle. With any luck I should have my visa tomorrow and be good to go to Langkawi for my last few days in Malaysia before I hit Thailand overland. Will be really sad to leave the country, the people are just so great, and touch wood I haven't had a bad experiences yet! Even in Kota Bharu which is the poorest city- where I am at the moment, I still get calls from out the window of cars 'WELCOME TO MALAYSIA!!' it's so funny, I don't know whether it is because they haven't learnt any rude words or if they are just genuinely really nice, but I don't really care. Beautiful country, fun people, fantastic food (Indian and Roti Canai and Tisu). Highly recommended to anyone, and I'm not sure really why people miss this place out of their South East Asia itinery, or just cut through it, you lot are really missing out!
That night I met a girl from Germany and went to the night market with her. We bought some weird tofu/soya drink that was solid and then you mix it up with brown sugar sauce thing and it comes out really blobby but it wasn't too bad. We had Pau Ayam, these big white puff bread things with chicken (ayam) in. And some really tasty chicken on a stick mmm.
Ok all sorted on the visa front! Got a nice stamp in my passport. Had a lovely day hanging out with wan and his wife chatting and joking all day, they made this amazing breakfast with loads of donuts again and cakes, but also huge plate of noodles etc.
I am also learning the language- I now know what to say if I hear locals saying "Orang putih buduh" which means stupid white person, I say "Siapa Buduh?" which means "whos stupid??." Wan said he went into a restaurant the other day and heard someone saying to some western guys "what do you want stupid man?" in Malaysian and he didn't have a clue. I also learn a few swear words incase it comes to that! Malaysians do not expect that we know any Malaysian atall, so I am kindof hoping that in the last few days in Malaysia someone calls me Buduh so I can embarrass them!
Wan has also been so kind, he has helped me book my bus and boat for tonight, and tried to help me with my plan of attack in Thailand. I really am overwhelmed by their kindness. He calls me his best friend haha he makes friends easily! And says he might come over to England with his wife, and his baby who will be born then for a while so I said he can come and stay (hope that's ok mum!) and we can cook him some English food, and he can cook some Malaysian.
Next stop Langkawi...