So when zoe left this last time (as we had to rush off to make a train) we'd just left Koh Tarutao, and we're heading back to Hat Yai. The journey back was fine up until the point where we tried to get off the minibus, as we realised we were right next to the hostel we wanted to stay in. The driver didn't like this idea (even though he was letting other people off) and told us to stay on. Thinking he was going to be extra nice and take us to the hostel door, we stayed on only to find him not going to our hostel but to the train station instead. He the told us we needed to change here to go to Penang ( an Island in Malaysia). As another man came over we explained we wanted to be in Hat Yai. It appeared the confusion came from the only other person left on the minibus with us, who the driver thought we were with. He was going to Trang (a near by city in Thailand), however, not Penang, and even though he had paid for the whole journey they were saying he had to pay to get from Hat Yai to Trang. We took this moment of confusion between the others to sneak off before we were forced to go to Trang or possibly even Penang! Our evening in Hat Yai was chilled out, just getting some food and watching the house band sing covers of some all time greats. 'When you say nothing at all' (with attempted Irish accent) and 'Sorry seems to be the hardest word' were two of the highlights.
The next day we headed of to Kuala Lumpur, on what was meant to be a 9 hour journey. It started off well with us being a massive bus that only had 10 people on it. The seats were really wide and the leg room huge. This took us to the boarder and where we were speedily out of Thailand and then on to the Malaysian customs. Zoe went through fine, however, my entry was not as smooth or speedy. As Zoe mentioned in a previous post, my passport had taken quite a soaking when I went tubing with it on in Laos. This had smudged a lot of the stamps in it, and apparently for some reason immigration like to know where people coming in to their country have been beforehand. So I was told to go to the special immigration office, and had to wait there for a while, as it someone else was being seen. I met a nice guy, who was being kicked back to Thailand as he didn't have a visa, as he thought he could get one on arrival, so had to go back to Thailand and fly in, as they do visa's on arrival in airports. I was then seen by the head immigration man, who was very much like a head teacher. I was asked what had happened to my passport, and told that it's a very important document and I shouldn't swim with it, and that if he tried to enter England with a passport like that he wouldn't be allowed and so should he not allow me to enter Malaysia. It was decided that, no it doesn't mean he shouldn't let me enter and I was given my stamps and on my way. A guy waiting outside asked if it was all sorted and then took me to a bus, a different bus to the first bus but as we'd been told to take everything off the first bus I assumed we were just changing buses, and when I asked if Zoe was on that one he said yes. So i put my bag in the bottom and climbed aboard to see a packed bus, with no Zoe. After going to the back just to check she wasn't hiding, I concluded this probably wasn't my bus, and so told the driver to stop and let me off. As soon as I got off I saw my bus, with the driver waiting outside waving at me. Back on the right bus, we were off again, and I found out being stopped by immigration is a good way to make friedns as everyone wants to know why you were stopped.
The rest of the journey was fairly simple, stopping for lunch at a self service canteen place, and not having a clue what things were except rice, and eggs and baked beans. So I had rice and eggs and baked beans and Zoe had Rice. We had a couple of weird battered Tofu and random meat things but they were not nice at all. Here I also found out that the other person on our bus who was stopped had to pay 200 Ringet (35 quid) to get across and was not even told why she was stopped or why she had to pay, so I felt a bit lucky. The 9 hour journey turned in to an 11 hour one though, and when we arrived and were about to start the hostel search, a couple on their way out for dinner said they own a hotel so we followed them back to their. It was nice enough and we couldn't be bothered to search for alternatives so we took it (it had a hot shower too so Zoe was very happy with it). It was a bit pricey though (5 pound each, I know it's laughable that that is classed as pricey but it is) so the next day we changed to a place with cold showers and slightly worse rooms but was less than 5 pound in total. We then spent the morning getting to know that city an seeing the sights. It was a nice city, with a strange mix of East and West. A lot of the places to eat were the stalls and pretty grubby open fronted, tiled cafe/restaurants that we were used to but there were also lots of McDonalds, KFC's Burger Kings, and things like Starbucks and Nando's too. After a stall lunch of Won Ton Mee (noodles and Won Tons) and roast duck and rice, we went to a tea house ( where you have to sit on the floor), and I had a type of Chinese tea that meant I got a proper Chinese tea experience, Two tea pots and two tiny thimble like cups, on a wooden box with holes in. The woman showed me how to make and pour it all properly, which was cool, and we relaxed there for a bit, Zoe had an iced tea which just came in a glass, so I shared my tea with her. We also went to the National Mosque, and were spoken to by a guide who was very friendly and gave us lots of information about Islam, but also didn't let us leave for ages. At one point he asked if we had any questions and we said 'no, thanks very much' and started to leave, but he then said 'what? not even ....' and listed off a few questions which he then started to answer, and then gave us a stack of pamphlets, and a translation of the Quran before we left and went to Mederka Square (where the ceremony was when Malaysia was given independence), and then on to the train station to book our tickets to Singapore. That took longer than we expected as they had a massive queue, and you had to take a ticket and wait for your number to be called. Luckily the woman behind the counter gave people about 5 seconds to get there before moving on to the next number, so lots of people missed there turn and we got seen quicker. For dinner we went to a place that didn't have menus in english so used the 5 words we recognised from our guide book to guess meals, but it worked out very well, and we had a nice meal.We then wandered round the old market quickly as it was shutting.
The next day we went up the Petronas towers, which was cool, and had a really good view of most the city. We then went to the shopping centre next to it and had a wander round before going to the Cinema to see Vantage Point. It was dirt cheap, and a very good film (not sure when it's out in England but I recommend it). We then booked our tickets to Taman Negara (the oldest rainforest in the world, apparently) and went to Nando's for dinner, before going to another market, and then heading back to the hostel where we chatted to a young English guy for a bit. He was a hardcore traveler, who was starting Uni when he gets back, and was worried about how he'd cope being in the country for two years without going away traveling.
We then headed to Taman Negara, via bus and boat, which was fun, but it chucked it down for a bit on the boat at which point everyone pulled out there raincoats except me and Zoe, who didn't have them on us, so we got a bit of a soaking. While at Taman Negara, we did a 2 day jungle trek, and stayed over at a hide. There were two paths to the hide, we decided to do the harder on on the way there which went via canopy walk, a set or bridges of wood supported by rope that was high up amongst the tree tops, and the easier one on the way back. The hard walk turned out to be very hard, 7 hours constantly up and down, with nowhere to stop without getting mobbed by leeches, it still required us to get a stick and de-leech our boots every 10 mins before they got in on to our socks. It was not the most fun, and by the end we were arguing a bit and just fed up, but we made it to the hide just as it started to pour with rain. We'd picked up someone who had also started on the hard route but gave up and caught a boat up the river to near then hide. The animal spotting didn't go well at all, apparently animals don't like walkign round in the rain either. There are elephants, tigers, tapirs, mouse-deer and many other animals living near the hide and we saw... fireflys. They were nice to see but a bit of a disappointment. Even the guy who stayed up all night to animal spot didn't see anything but claims to have heard an elephant walking around in the wood,but I think it was just a tree falling over, as thats all I heard all night. The next morning we had to decide whether to get the boat back or walk the easier way. Zoe was leaning towards boat and me to walking. Then we found out it was 15 quid each for the boat so decided to walk, but then found out we had to wade through a river that was chest height, and meant stripping off to allow leeches to attack all your body, so we were undecided again, and then finally found that it was 15 for the boat (not per person) and there were 4 others getting the boat, so we joined them.
Once back at our hostel we just ate and slept most the day, before meeting up with the people we got the boat with for dinner. After dinner we went to a posh place, for a drink as it's the only place that serves alcohol in the who village. There was a group of ten of us, and when we got there it turned out that beers were 19 Ringet (3 pound 50) each about 4 times more expensive than normal places in Malaysia, so most people changed on to getting cake instead to save the money.
Then next day we started on our trip to Singapore via Kuala Lumpur. We had a few spare hours in Kuala Lumpur so had a final explore there before heading to the train station and getting on our night train. We'd book beds so could actually sleep,and the beds themselves were pretty nice, but there was nowhere to store luggae so our bags ended up taking up most of the bed. There was also a guy who was either on his phone talking loudly, or maybe even better, asleep snoring loudly while his phone rang. So sleep wasn't too easy. We were woken at 4 to be given an arrival card to fill in, and then again at 6 to go through immigration. So not the best nights sleep. We arrived in Singapore at about half 8, and walked to china town where there are meant to be cheap hostels, only to find that they've either shut or gone up a lot in price. We then got advised of a local bus that goes to little india where we found a place that only had dorm room but gave us breakfast and all the tea and coffee we want so we went with them.
We ditched our stuff and headed off to Pulau Ubin an island off the east coast which is meant to be the only part of Singapore that's not developed. We rented bikes and cycled round. it's pretty small so we cycled across to the other coast, and saw a few types of birds and Zoe saw a monitor lizard, but I missed it, as it scampered off. We then headed back to central Singapore and explored a few areas, Orchard Road (trendy shopping area, we didn't buy anything), China Town, and Little India. It was a really nice place and luckily we'd bought tourist travel cards for the MRT (tube equivalent) as the areas were just far enough apart to mean walking would have been a pain. We had dinner in China Town including a weird desert thing, which was crushed ice with condensed milk and mango on top, and flavourless jelly cubes, sweetcorn and some kind of bean in it. It was really strange and was quite nice at first but then got a bit sickly. The next day we went to the zoo, which was really good. They have as few enclosed areas as possible, so you're looking at the monkeys in their play area and then realise that a few have climbed out and are above your head. They had loads of types of ape, elephants, tigers, lions, bears, cheetahs, leopards, rhino, snakes lizards, otters, penguins. Just loads really. We saw an elephant show, where they show how the elephants use to be used to clear forests, and also just get the elephants to mess about and spray each other with water, and a sealife show, where they feed penguins and manatee, and then get sea lions to preform and splash everyone. I was picked to go and throw a frisbee to the sea lo, maybe because they said they wanted an adult and I was the only one put my hand up(luckily I threw 2 out of three fine so it managed to catch them). We then headed back and picked up our stuff before going to the airport for our flight to Bali, the airport had free internet and also a toast shop, so I had egg and soilders, zoe decided to be more of an adult and have banana cake. The flight was fine and quick and we had the our first pasta dish in ages on the plane which was really nice. We arrived in Bali at around half 11, had to pay 10 dollars for a visa, which we didn't expect and then jumped in a taxi to Kuta. We walked for a while to find a hostel, and when we found one open and with rooms we took it. It was fairly skanky but had a bead in it (as well as lots of mosquitos). Then next day we moved to a nicer place, that should have a pool (most places have pools here) but it's having work done on it, so is out of use (but we got a discount because of that). We wandered round and had an explore. It's boiling here and very cheap so we have decided Bali is our chill out place, we're planning on doing 5 days of little/nothing except lying around and eating and drinking cold drinks. Today we were planning on relaxing on the beach, but it's overcast and showery, although still boiling hot! So instead we're just sitting around in cafes and looking in shops. I'm going to go to a barbers and have a shave soon, as it's dirt cheap and I can't be bothered to do it myself but I'm getting pretty ginger, and it's just uncomfortable in this heat.