G’day (ancient Aboriginal greeting) from Australia,
In the spirit of Tiger I’d just like to say that we’re very very sorry for the delay in blogs. My only defence is that it is all Rach’s fault.
Despite where all the smart money was being placed we’ve made it out of Asia alive and have been tooteling around the East coast in a number (that number being 2) of camper vans. So here’s your round up…
First up was terrible food poisoning (why do bad things happen to good people?) for myself. However the next day it was time for tubing in Loas’ Vang Vieng. Tubing is a truly despicable past time which should not be allowed for simply being too much fun. Essentially you rent a large tire rubber inner tube, get a Tuk Tuk out of town, then attempt to float back to town stopping at the numerous bars dotted along the river bank. Activities provided for your amusement at said bars include loads of trapeze style swings into the river, mud volleyball, mud tug of war, luminous paint (which I still have on 2 weeks later, maybe I should take a shower?), an unending amount of free whiskey left in bottles on each bar, free food and loud music to sway to. After 2 days tubing every traveller has to make the decision whether to leave or stay forever, get a job in a bar and set oneself up for a short lived life of hardcore partying. Choosing the former we headed south along the spectacularly beautiful winding mountainous roads of Loas to the capital Vientiane. Staying only long enough to get a good feed and have a final beer with our tubing friends the next day we flew to Kuala Lumpa.
Kuala Lumpa is hot and sticky. Walking around the city is a prolonged exercise in sweating. This fact has no doubt been the fuel behind the creation of the cities many vast super malls our first port of call on arrival. On walking in we were instantly dragged back into western civilisation after our 4 month absence. For Rach this released a number of conflicting emotions, firstly excitement at the sheer breadth and quality of retail experience, secondly anger at prices often higher than England and finally depression as she realised she couldn’t afford a thing. I took all steps to try and improve the situation, in equal amounts trying to cheer her up and keeping her on the ground floor for fear of her jumping, and we made it through. The next day after strolling the wonderfully diverse streets of Kuala Lumpa full of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian influences we set off to the Hindu Batu Caves on the local bus. While on the bus the heavens opened unleashing a tropical storm, though easing slightly, the rain continued when we were shouted off the bus which we assumed to indicate our stop. At the mouth of the cave stood a huge golden Hindu statue guarding the towering steps we had to climb to enter. The caves themselves were tranquil with the smells of India and Hindu’s quietly praying. On attempting to leave the heavens once again opened leaving us stranded at the top of the steps with an Indian family and 2 American tourists. After 40 minutes and pleasingly 10 minutes after the Americans had decided to face the elements the rain let up and we shuffled back to the road eventually finding a bus. On our final day we, and half of the oriental world, ventured up to the viewing bridge of the Petronas towers offering pleasingly pleasant views of the city.
The next day after an enjoyable bus ride (Malaysian buses may be the best in Asia) we arrived in the much cooler Cameron Highlands. The Cameron Highlands was a strange mix of the colonial (think British sea side and cream teas which we embraced within 2 hours) and the same Malaysian mix as found in the cities (Indian for both our teas.) The highlight of my stay was my attempt to break into the Malaysian wilderness with local guide Yen whose sign I’d seen on the first day which read:
Pregnant women – You think about it
Toddlers – You think about it
Children – You think about it
If you’re not fit – You think about it
Disabled people- See me
No one holds the group back, those that can’t keep up will be left behind. Yen
The next day following the notice board instructions I waited patiently by the entrance of the hostel. Expecting to see a large crowd I was surprised to be stood on my own for 10 minutes. During this time I drank some water and started to put some suncream on when a spritely middle aged Chinese looking man announced ‘Are you looking for me? Waiting for me? I am Yen. Let’s go!’ I was at this point covered in suncream which I hastily rubbed in and zipped up my bag. Unfortunately by this time Yen was half way down the road and I had to run to catch him up. Yen’s walk included pointing out colonial houses, finding out about the animals of the forest (there aren’t any here), walking through a stream, finding out about the local people who now only come to drink in the forest, eating wild strawberries, talking politics and climbing the third highest mountain in the highlands. By the end of the 5 hour hike I was thoroughly exhausted and in Rach’s words ‘stunk’. The next day we set off to Melaka.
Melaka is probably one of the nicest towns in Asia. The small winding streets are filled with antiques shops, brilliant little eateries and historic buildings. We stayed in the Chinese quarter in an old Chinese river warehouse with a landlady who insisted on baking cakes and leaving them out everyday. We spent three days and nights strolling around, occasionally popping into historic buildings and even making it to the cinema.
Next it was over the border on the bus and back to Singapore almost 4 months after we’d last past through. On our days of sightseeing we walked around the colonial Raffle’s hotel, got sucked in by the mega malls of Orchard Rd and watched people with money enjoying themselves in Clarke quays. However my personal highlight was finding a brewery company that made a decent IPA and enjoying my first real pint of the travelling campaign. However with the prices already shooting up it was clear that our days of cheap booze were well and truly over. It was thus with serious concerns as to the alcohol flow of these travels that we boarded the plane to Australia...
Concerning missed birthdays I’d just like to say huge happy birthdays to Aunty Trish and Nan Fran. Hope you both had a great day.
Hope this has satisfied your interests in the short term. The first Australia post will follow soon.
Still having a brilliant time. Loads and loads of love
Joe and Rach x x x x