A Travellerspoint blog

November 2013

And a new entry straight in at no 1... George Town, Penang

sunny

When I say number 1, I suppose I'm talking about towns/cities. It's really difficult to have favourites overall as nothing compares to the majesty of Angkor Wat or the natural beauty of Halong Bay's formations. But when it comes to towns, George Town has definitely gone straight in as our favourite so far.

Where to start!

Ok, in a nutshell... the buildings are stunning, the food is incredible, there's tonnes of street art, interesting heritage places to visit and the people are genuinely helpful and friendly.

We didn't know anything about George Town other than it achieved UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2008, so we didn't know what to expect. It's really exciting when a place you know little about blows you away and you love it from the off. We ended up staying for 5 nights as there was plenty to do...

Street art
Our first day was spent looking for street art. There are two types of art around George Town... wrought iron comic style works set away from the walls, providing information about the area or street it is placed and wall paintings which sometimes have 3D objects incorporated. The latter have only been in the town since last year.

It was good fun hunting them down using a city map which marks out their locations. Here's a selection...

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Places of interest
There's a lot to tick off, including churches, mosques, temples, shophouses, historic mansions, art galleries and colonial buildings.

Highlights were the Khoo Kongsi chinese temple which was so ornate and painstakingly detailed within, the Penang Peranakan Mansion and the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion - the latter being listed 2 years ago by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 mansion houses in the world to see.

It was built in the 1880s for Cheong Fatt Tze, a local merchant trader who left China as a penniless teenager and ended up as 'the Rockefeller of the East'. The house sits on the 'dragon's throne', meaning that there is a mountain (Penang Hill) behind and water (the channel) in front – the site was chosen for its excellent feng shui. It's only since 1990 that it's been restored to its former glory.

I'll let the pictures do the talking (there's a lot of them...).

Khoo Kongsi Temple
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Peranakan Mansion
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Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (aka La Maison Bleu)
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Old meets new

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Best of the rest... shophouses...
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Mosque and churches...
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Little India
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Colonial...
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Misc..
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Pom-pom-tastic

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Nessie found!

Food
Penang is rightfully known as the food capital of Malaysia. Not much more I can say other than it was generally superb (and so cheap!). I had the best Indian food I've ever had at a fab food night market hall... and on our best day spends wise, breakfast, lunch and dinner for both of us came to a whopping £6.80!!

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Bustling food court complete with Phoenix Nights singer

Outside of George Town
Penang is a reasonably large island joined to the mainland by two very long bridges (it took us around 3 hours by ferry from Langkawi to get here). As we had a few days, we were able to explore beyond George Town. Unlike Langkawi, the public transport is excellent with a one hour bus journey costing all of 80p.

We headed out to the Tropical Spice Garden which offered three different trails through indigenous tropical plants, flowers and spices. We saw several skinks and a beautiful bright green lizard which hot-footed it over some ferns and up a tree quicker than we could even take the lens cap off the camera...

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Another day, another bus ride took us to Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si temple - the largest Buddhist temple in SE Asia. An impressively long funicular train takes you to the top of the former, where you're afforded far stretching views of George Town, other parts of Penang and the mainland beyond. It was a pity though that (other than the views on offer) the top was spoilt by naff tourist 'attractions', but good for kids I suppose. However, the ride up was fast and fun.

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Kek Lok Si temple was closed by the time we got there but as we weren't appropriately dressed anyway (knees and shoulders need to be covered) it was more to look at it from the outside. It's pretty large but rather higgledy-piggledy and close up wasn't that attractive - the best views are further away when you can appreciate the grandeur of all of it. The scale was impressive though, particularly of the Buddha statue at the top, something which our photos don't convey.

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Can thoroughly recommend putting George Town on any SE Asia itinerary. It's a real gem.

Posted by Galavantie 02:38 Archived in Malaysia Comments (2)

Langkawi - the good, the bad and the ugly

rain

Lang means "eagle" and kawi means "reddish brown", more succintly Langkawi means "red eagle". Although it's actually named after the Brahminy Kite, not an eagle at all. So now you know.

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First views of Langkawi from the transfer from Koh Lipe

We had 3 nights/2 full days here and struggled to find decent accommodation within our budget. We therefore ended up in a fairly faceless large corporate looking hotel close to the airport, it felt a bit like a stay through work by Manchester's airport! The room was fine but we were very out of the action. Turns out our stay coincided with school holidays when hotel prices can double, plus the added bonus of loads of kids about. Ah well.

Now, I'm sure the experience of many western tourists to Langkawi is to check themselves into a luxury top end hotel (of which there are many), returning home satisfied they've been suitably pampered and had a wonderful holiday. And there's nothing wrong with that. But scratch beyond the expensive-hotel-bubble surface and we found Langkawi surprisingly disappointing. (It probably didn't help that it rained for half the time we were here.)

It's a fairly sizable island with no public transport, so it was a choice of taxis, scooter or rental car. We opted for the latter for our first day and got a small runaround to explore in.

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Our diddy transport

So, onto the good, the bad and the ugly...

The Good
We were struck with how courteous and friendly everyone was from the start, from immigration staff to taxi drivers and the welcoming hotel receptionist.

The beaches were nice enough but busy with watersports, and to be fair we had been spoilt on Koh Lipe.

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Cenang beach

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Pasir Tengkorak

One of the most popular attractions is Langkawi's Cable Car which runs for 950m up the mountain. With a 42-degree incline it boasts the steepest cable car ride in the world. Unfortunately there was a lot of fork lightning and storms the day before, and the attraction was closed due to technical problems as a result. We wandered around the somewhat jaded tourist trap 'village' at the base of the mountain, but did have fun trying out segways for the first time on a special track.

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Couldn't get more posed if we tried

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We also took the car up the long twisty climb up to the top of Gunung Raya, Langkawi's highest point at 881m. It was very atmospheric as the mountain mist rolled across the road and the only company for most of the journey were macaques sat scratching on the roadside.

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Sign at the summit. Now you put it like that...

You're not meant to make eye contact with the macaques or bare your teeth else they consider it a challenge. I did make eye contact as we stopped the car and this one started to make a definite beeline for us... "go, go, go!" I shouted to Ant after snapping a quick shot!

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You looking at me?

On the way down Ant spotted some particularly cute monkeys munching fruit high up in a tree which was level with the mountain road. They were a different species to the macaques and much more attractive. We stopped for a while trying to get a good view of them. We found out the next day they were Dusky Leaf Monkeys... aka Spectacled Lemurs.... aka Drunken Monkeys (they sit for hours eating fruit which then ferments in their stomach turning to alcohol, so come mid-afternoon they're basically pissed).

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Taken around 4pm - their mouths looking suspiciously like Father Jack's...

We'd read nothing but rave reviews about an eco-tour company, Dev's Adventure Tours (an impressive 5 star rating on Trip Advisor), so we booked 2 trips with them for our 2nd day... a morning's cycle ride through the villages and countryside, and an evening jungle trek. Both were excellent and really enjoyable. The bike ride was just the two of us plus our guide 'Shoot'.

Local kids in the villages we passed through were super cute, saying hello and behaving as if we were celebrities (weird for us)... getting very excited whenever we waved or said hello back to them. Our guide said it's because of the way we look... paler skin, bigger eyes and fairer hair colour. Malays (and most Asian cultures) love the western look and consider it very beautiful. Incidentally, as an aside, I was really surprised to see in Thailand the wealth of skin whitening products for sale and so many Thais leaving visible cream on their face in an attempt to lighten their skin tone.

Anyway I digress...

We saw loads of native birds including herons, egrets, two types of kingfishers and probably the most impressive - several oriental-pied hornbills. We visited a rubber tree plantation and saw the latex being collected and a small village where the residents had planted various trees all bearing different fruits... papaya, coconut, mango, tamarind, guava, custard apple and so on... which the locals all share and benefit from. Makes perfect sense and such great community spirit. We also got to try a local (Indian) dish, roti canai, which was delicious.

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Oriental-pied hornbill (google image as they were too high in the tree to get a photo of)

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Collecting the latex

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Rubber tree plantation

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The rubber trees in Asia are all thanks to a British dude who stole a seed because the Brazilians (where the trees originate) wouldn't sell him any

The evening jungle trek through the rainforest was really interesting, if a little scary and put us on high alert throughout due to all the bitey/poisonous/life-threatening creatures that our guide casually mentioned in passing... y'know scorpions, snakes... that type of thing.

Our guide was impressively knowledgable about the wildlife and fauna. Langkawi is home to cobras, vipers and pythons, all of which live up in the trees and come out to feed at night. Great! Just the right time for an evening stroll through the jungle then. As they're secretive we didn't see any but God knows how many were up in the canopy above our heads...

We did see some amazing colugos, or 'flying langurs' although they neither fly as such, they glide, nor are they langurs! They actually look more like flying squirrels but are more closely related to primates. One swooped down just inches over Ant's head, I thought it was going to face-plant him!

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So cute!

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Beautifully marked gecko

We also had to walk through tonnes of black termites and check our shoes carefully once through. The soldier termites are equipped with very powerful mandibles which are considered to be amongst the strongest jaws in the animal world, relative to their size anyway. Ant felt the pincers of a dead one and said they were like steel. No wonder they can chomp their way through wooden homes, thankfully they didn't chomp through our feet.

The Bad
Many of the buildings in Langkawi (fancy hotels excluded) are either scruffy and run down or they've been given the Disney treatment and rise up as hideous gaudy monstrosities in candy pinks and peaches.

The main tourist area is Pentai Cenang which we really didn't like. We had good food overall, but the main strip was pretty souless comprising of endless naff clothing shops, ugly duty free stores/malls and importantly virtually no bars!!

We drove around the northwest of the island, checking out Temuran waterfalls and some of the coastline. The former was impressive but we were really dismayed to see how much litter the resident monkeys had been able to get their hands on. Temuran means "heritage" which was pretty ironic seeing as there seemed no evidence of the islanders looking after theirs. I don't think the UK has any falls as high as Temuran, but if we did, you can bet your life the National Trust et al. would be all over it like a rash to protect and preserve its beauty. Granted we don't have pesky macaques rooting through bins, but you counter that somehow, right? We've got the bigger brain afterall...

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Lots of rubbish

The Ugly
Within our first few hours of being on the island, we took a taxi to Pentai Cenang. As we drove along the main strip, a car overtook on the right but as there clearly wasn't enough room for him to pass, he hit us as if we were bumper cars. He didn't stop and contined revving his engine like a prize idiot behind the next car, before deciding to stop his car in the middle of the road, get out, leave his car door wide open and walk off to one of the buildings on the street.

It was therefore difficult for cars on both sides to pass his abandoned vehicle and gave our taxi driver no opportunity to speak to him. No harm was done to any of us but the poor taxi driver had damage to his car. Very odd.

Our hotel was just so-so, pretty average but did the job. We obviously always lock away all valuable items, but it was a shame when I discovered the cleaner had pinched my mascara. It got us wondering what else might have gone walkies and made us more paranoid about locking everything away. To give the hotel credit, after reporting it, my mascara was duly returned a day later... but surely it's got to be rule number one for any hotel staff - don't nick from your guests?

All in all a bit of a mixed bag. The tours and wildlife spotting were excellent but other than that we were quite happy to move on to the next place.

Posted by Galavantie 05:44 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

'Antie's Thailand in a Nutshell'

Seeing as we have a whole lot of time on our hands (sometimes methinks too much, we have started googling some whack stuff like... what was the name of that 80's programme presented by Dr Miriam Stoppard with the Jean Michel Jarre theme tune?), we decided to pose each other random questions about Thailand, as an affectionate look back on our time travelling together... this could be a continued theme as we leave each country.

Annie's questions to Ant...

What's been the most fun?
A complete lack of routine and the only days that matter are today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

Did anything about Thailand surprise you?
Yes, Bangkok. It's more intense than anywhere I've ever been. Sometimes good (vibrant and busy), sometimes bad (seedy and smelly).

Favourite food?
Khao pad gai... or chicken fried rice as we know it.

Best day?
The day we certified as open water divers.

Most impressive thing you've seen in the sea (apart from Annie)?
The wall of Giant Barracuda at Chumphon Pinnacle, Koh Tao.

Biggest disappointment?
Overall, Thai food. I had high expectations but I'd say it's no better than the Thai food at home.

If we could have had one more place on the itinerary where would you have liked to go?
The Similian Islands, off the coast north of Krabi, for diving.

Favourite place?
Bar at Castaway Resort, Koh Lipe. Really chilled even if they did like their Gregorian chanting a bit too much.

Scariest moment?
Being in charge of a scooter with me and Annie on, something I said I wouldn't do.

Anything you would have liked to have done but didn't?
I wish we had gone to see Muay Thai (kick boxing).

Ant's questions to Annie...

Funniest moment?
Whilst learning to dive I had to take my weight belt off, but lost my balance and started to giggle as I was all over the place! Then realised it's pretty hard to laugh underwater.

Favourite item/article you've bought?
A ring I bought in a great little arts and craft shop in Lanta Old Town.

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Favourite restaurant?
Time for Lime on Koh Lanta I think.

If you could have squeezed one more thing into your rucksack, what would it have been?
Paper guidebooks. Nothing beats thumbing through a book (we've got e-reader versions) and I love putting stickers all over them.

And what would you have sacrificed for it?
Some clothes, because you can buy them as you go.

One piece of advice for others travelling to Thailand?
The best food is quite often the cheapest, so don't be afraid to try the simple looking street restaurants.

Has your everyday outlook been changed by any of your experiences?
Usually when we go anywhere I plan and research everything to death, this trip is already changing that. Quite often we are researching the next place the day before we travel there.

Where would you go back to/avoid?
I'm not in the habit of going back to the same place twice, but I'd go back to Koh Lanta just because we didn't have that long there. Hopefully I'll never need to go to Bangkok again! Surat Thani was also just a means to an end and offers nothing for the tourist.

On a scale of 1-10, overall how likely is it that you would recommend Thailand to a friend or family member?
10

Which makes the NPS for Thailand...?
+100. I see what you did there.

Posted by Galavantie 03:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Koh Lipe - paradise found (with a few small buts)

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We arrived mid afternoon, docking into a crescent shaped white sandy beach and crystal clear turquoise waters. Nice welcome Koh Lipe! It pretty much impressed from the off.

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We had to push the budget for our accommodation, it was either that or stay in a bamboo hut crawling with bugs (no sirree). Comparatively to the rest of Thailand Koh Lipe is expensive - but that's because it's 40 miles from the mainland and of course everything is imported. It's also part of a national marine park.

All of which meant our lodgings (Castaway Resort) were £46 a night. But so worth it! We wouldn't think twice spending two or three times that for a European city break hotel, but when you're away for 9 months (with no income), circumstances are a little different! We were really pleased when we arrived to see tastefully decked communal areas for the reception, bar and eating area. At night, the resort is lit up by candles... very pretty.

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So what does just shy of 50 quid get you? Your very own 'treehouse' as I called it! A two storey wooden hut with bathroom below and bedroom above with a small balcony. Very cute and quite homely. No aircon but a fan and cold showers.

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The island is tiny, you can walk from one side to the other in no more than 15 minutes. Our resort was right on the best beach on Koh Lipe - Sunrise Beach. The sea was amazing - along with the best I've ever swam in... 30 degrees! Pattaya Beach (the main one) is too busy and overdeveloped in our opinion.

We spent some blissfully lazy days here. We enjoyed the resort's salas - raised wooden lounging areas - reading, swimming and snorkelling as the hours slowly passed. I felt such contentment when occassionally peering over my e-reader to take in the views.

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If one picture could sum it up, this would be it

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Even the clouds 'like' it here

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Salas

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Wagwan Terry, me feeling vexed... oops wrong part of the world!

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Locals area of the beach. Due to its geography, between the two world wars the Thai government moved a population of "sea gypsies" to Koh Lipe to ensure the British didn't claim it as part of Malaysia. The Chao Ley people thrive on the island to this day.

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Snorkelling just offshore we saw loads of clown fish! So exciting, super cute little fellas and I've been dying to see one. It's impossible not to think of the Dad in Finding Nemo as they swim a little bit out from their anemones and dart quickly back in again, "be careful, Nemo!".

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I mention a few buts in the title. We had decided to extend our stay but thought it prudent to check out a number of other accommodations to see if we could stay somewhere cheaper.

We took a stroll through the middle and up to Sunset Beach, the smallest of the three main beaches. We were saddened to see what they're doing to the island. There's seemingly uncontrolled building going on, the centre is a state. They seem to have little regard for litter, stray dogs, junk just left around... it was pretty shabby and a world away from our resort. It was a bit depressing and definitely took the shine off.

We looked at some alternatives and for £14 less a night you get a hut which is completely open to the elements at the top of the walls, and a fairly grotty bathroom. They suddenly made our 'higher end' hut look like excellent value for money. So we extended our stay. Twice.

As our little two storey hut was already booked out, they moved us to a single storey one which we actually preferred as it was more spacious.

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And the other buts? Mosquitos and dogs. We've obviously had to contend with mossies from the off and it's nothing a high dose of deet won't deter. But the mossies here are plentiful, big and when the odd one did slip through, I seemed to react to their bites more than anywhere else. Still, again, nothing some afterbite doesn't soothe. I mentioned the stray dogs too? There's quite a few, including on the beach. They don't bother you and some are well cared for, sadly others not and are woefully thin or mangy.

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It's a dog's life...

What else during our week here... we had a couple of film nights at a backpacker bar. Despite appearances from two greats, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, one of the films - Now You See Me - was just plain silly and inplausibly laughable, but it was a joy to lie back chomping Haribo and catching a movie all the same. I have a great love of films and am really missing the chance to curl up and watch some (also not helped by my current read... The Good, The Bad & The Multiplex by Mark Kermode).

We also did a dive to 'Stonehenge', a popular dive stop nearby. It was the epitomy of an underwater garden with masses of soft purple coral wafting in the current. We saw two, yes two, titan triggerfish which gave me the opportunity to do the underwater symbol for them... a 'lock and load' (says it all really), but thankfully they weren't interested in us this time around. Our Dive Master had a scar on her leg from a previous run in... crazy mental fish! We also spotted lionfish, scorpionfish, barracuda and pufferfish. Very awesome.

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On a day's boat/snorkelling trip we saw loads of other goodies including beautiful powder blue surgeon fish and a banded sea krait (latter pic thanks to my friends at google).

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Its lethal venom packs a punch ten times (!) more toxic than a rattlesnake’s, but thank the lordy they're timid creatures and don't pose much of a threat to us humans. Billy Connolly was right. We don't belong in the sea. They are also alone among the sea snakes in that they are amphibious and able to spend up to ten days at a time on land.

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Stunning 'fields' of coral

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Brightly coloured Christmas tree worms

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Pipefish on the bottom - of the seahorse family

More from the boat trip...
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I was howling in the sea taking this!

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One island had tonnes of rocks where people had made small cairns, this was ours...

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And they were hot enough to fry eggs on

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Evenings spent on Koh Lipe...
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My dinner... before...

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during...

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and after :)

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Our last night coincided with a full moon - the locals came out in their droves to light ornate decorations, pushing them out to sea. It's a big festival for Thai people even if we, as westerners, tend to just associate full moons in Thailand with the infamous all night parties on Koh Phangan. It seemed a fitting end to our time here.

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We're a little sad to be saying goodbye to Thailand, it's been a wonderful country to explore and Koh Lipe was definitely a highlight. You can still keep Bangkok though!

So, next stop Malaysia!

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Posted by Galavantie 05:44 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Indochina - random pics

The problem with taking pics is that we can't easily capture ourselves in various activities. We're on the wrong side of the lens (or the right side depending on your point of view).

So the following photos are a collection from various stages of the tour, and have been shamelessly pinched from a few other tour members, namely Luke, Danny and Shiva Rod (thanks guys). There's also a few from our waterproof camera which we previously hadn't uploaded the photos from. They make a good break from all the recent beach ones in Thailand...

Thailand

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Chao Praya River longboat trip, Bangkok

Laos

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Crossing the Thai/Laos border

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Gemma, Dan, Lucie, me and Ant... aka the Brits!

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First Laos cuisine in Pak Beng (overcooked buffalo - but Laos food did get better)

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Fab place in lovely, lovely Luang Prabang

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Ant mid jump. I should have photoshopped him out and made it a Spot the Ant competition

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Cute little bug at the falls (I'm getting better)

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Short boat trip to go cave tubing in Vang Vieng

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I'm going in!

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And I get out where exactly?

Kayaking (and getting a soaking) also in Vang Vieng...
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Brilliant shot! Pretty much captures how we were all feeling about going kayaking in that!!

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Vietnam

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Kayaking in Halong Bay

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Nightmare... I mean night... train!

Hue on bikes...
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Blair, Ant and me overlooking the Perfume River

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Making cinnamon incense sticks, he was pretty good!

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I'm to the right of the guy in black in the middle

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Rush hour!

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Hoi An

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A good shot of how Ho Chi Minh is, I'm sometimes too guilty of taking a beautiful building or a scenic shot and not 'just the way it is'

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Me being a fool in HCM

Cambodia

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Anthony's plaything, much to the disgust (and shrieks) of the rest of us!

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Cyclo tour, Phnom Penh

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Beautifully lit temple also Phnom Penh

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Anika, Gemma, Louise, Lucie, Christine, me and Verena - girls just wanna have sun (and cocktails) - Siem Reap

Posted by Galavantie 06:52 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

The route from here...

rain

We never heard back from the Philippines Red Cross about helping out so we've decided to not to pursue volunteering as, without the guidance of the experts, we wouldn't know where to start.

Instead, we're focusing on Malaysia to take in Langkawi, Penang (where we've just arrived today... and it looks like we're in for some treats), Ipoh, the Cameron Highlands (tea and scones anyone?), Kuala Lumpur, Borneo and, hopefully, a quick cross over the border into Brunei (maybe get the rich fella to part-fund some of our trip?).

We have 2.5 weeks left of our Asia leg before we fly from Hong Kong to Cairns on 8 December.

Can't quite fathom that Christmas is only a few weeks away as we're not getting any build up to it at all (other than everyone's Facebook updates back home!) but this will probably change in Oz. We did youtube all the big retailer's Christmas ads one evening to try to get a bit of the feeling! Ho ho ho...

Annie x

PS for any regular readers who don't already know, you can subscribe to our blog if you wish so that you receive a notification email when we add a new entry, to save you coming back to check.

Posted by Galavantie 05:06 Archived in Malaysia Comments (2)

15 minutes (or maybe longer) of fame

Just spotted today that our blog is highlighted on Travellerspoint homepage as a 'recently featured blog'. This makes me very happy. I am a sad creature. The next challenge is to get one of our photos featured!

Posted by Galavantie 20:18 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

Koh Lanta... ahhhhh

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When you arrive on Koh Lanta, there should be a sign saying "Take one deep breath in, exhale slowly - welcome to Koh Lanta". You don't even watch sunsets sitting up, everything's geared to a more horizontal approach. Quite possibly the most chilled place I've ever been...

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Cute little fella who joined us for dinner

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Love the moodiness of this one, it's more like a painting than a photograph

Lanta is located close to the mainland and is still in the Krabi province, the island is 32km long, 20km wide. We decided to come here whilst we were in Ao Nang. That's the fantastic thing about travelling... the question "where shall we go next?".

We booked 3 nights in the northern end, a place called Klong Dao beach. Our hotel was fabulous, as the guidebook said "a 3 star hotel with 5 star service". They weren't wrong. It was located on the road but within a 5 minute walk to the beach. We should probably learn to rough it a bit more...!

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Lanta Mermaid Boutique Hotel

Now to be fair, Koh Lanta's beaches and sea aren't its crowning glory. The best beach we saw was Long Beach, but even then the seas were a little murky. I'm not sure I can describe, but it's just the feel of the place. It's unbelievably relaxed and unhurried. I loved it.

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Where the tiny crabs live :)

Technically it's now high season, but early into it - high season starts 1 November, we arrived on the 7th. As a result it was pretty quiet everywhere. Our hotel was full but that was down to its knockout reviews, otherwise restaurants and bars were generally one fifth full at best.

After some initial reticence, we rented a scooter from the hotel for a day and had brilliant fun exploring the island. We rode over Lanta's central hilly spine to Lanta Old Town, where 100+ year old houses jut out over the water on stilts. By chance, we happened upon probably the best spot on offer for lunch.

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Table for two, sir?

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Net fishing off the jetty

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Lanta Old Town to the left

The freedom the bike gave us was fab. We stopped off at a little independent jewellerymaker's and bought a bracelet each... found cafes perched on hills overlooking the sea... caught the strong scent of an avenue of hibiscus flowers as we drove past... and made it down to almost the southern tip seeing numerous bays and small resorts clustered along the coast. A really wonderful day.

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Yup, ours was the pink one

One evening in Klong Dao we had dinner at a place called Time For Lime. They offer cookery classes which we considered doing, but the prices were a bit steep for our budget. Instead we had their 6 course Thai taster menu which was superb - the nicest food we've had in Thailand so far. It also bucked the trend of empty restaurants and was full of happy eaters and cookery students.

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The view across the bay from our table

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They take their name seriously - everything is lime!

The boat service to our next stop, Koh Lipe, only runs alternate days until high season properly kicks in (in about a week's time), so we needed to stay an extra night on Lanta to pick up our boat trip the following day. We moved to Ban Saladan for our last night, the 'capital' of Lanta, although saying that is pretty funny seeing as it's just three quiet streets dotted with shops, restaurants and bars. Again, all the restaurants are built out on decks over the water making it very a quaint and great place to eat.

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Brekkie spot

The next morning we caught the fast boat to Koh Lipe (3 hours ish), which by all accounts looks to be a paradise island. We sat next to a brilliant character, Mo, a 56 year old from East London (no, not the one off Eastenders). Mo retired from teaching early and is now living on Koh Lanta permanently.

Two years ago she took her gap year and as part of that, joined the 'Kiwi Experience' - a New Zealand backpacker fun bus she referred to as the 'Chlamydia Express'... ha ha ha. She was like a Mum to them all apparently. When she returned to the UK she got itchy feet so took herself off to South Africa to volunteer with animals, and is now doing the same on Lanta. Good on her.

Posted by Galavantie 02:37 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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