A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: CLBandy

The final month of travels...

featuring Thailand & Malaysia

Apologies its been a while, in our defence we have been busy flat hunting, jobhunting and generally readjusting.

Our last blog left off in Coron, the Philippines, from where we undertook our last of many back to back flights, finally landing us in the backpacker hub of Bangkok (Banglamphu) just in time to see all the freaks on the streets. We really enjoyed the craziness and randomness of Bangkok, although it was a bit of a culture shock coming from the tranquility of the tourist starved Phillipines. Bangkok is rammed, smelly, traditional, modern, Eastern, Western, sleazy and cultural all at the same time. The chaos of the bars, stalls and nightlife of the Khao San Road can also be seen in the main temple – beautiful but bursting with tourists.

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We enjoyed the spicy food obviously, and managed a trip along the Klong on a river taxi, before riding the monorail into the new high-rise and shopping precincts before hopping on a tuk-tuk back to tourist town. If there were awards handed out for the number of modes of transport we in one day, we could be in with a shot!

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After a night out on the Khao San road, longing to escape the hoards of backpackers, we boarded a train for Ayuthaya, resisting the temptation to get haircuts on the platform… Ayuthaya was a strange place, a sort of island surrounded by four rivers, home to a multitude of ruined temples, Buddha images and packs of stray dogs. The old city was originally built as the capital of the Siam empire but was later sacked and near destroyed by the Burmese, who have recently apologized and donated a heap of cash. The ruins remain as they were left by the Burmese army – very cool actually – along with being overgrown in places by the routes of sacred Bodhi trees.

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Dinnertime in Ayuthaya was spent at the exciting night market eating spicy fish dishes and hot and sour seafood soups (Tom Yum) among the ruined battlements that line the riverfront. This was of course washed down with Bandy’s favourite ice cold asian beer, Chang, it would simply be rude not to.

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Another day and an overnight bus journey later and we were in the northern city of Sukhothai. A bit like Ayuthaya’s older, bigger, less wrinkly sister, Sukhothai and its temple complexes are larger and much better preserved. The walled city is so large that we hired bicycles to get around, which was a real highlight as we zipped around from temple to temple on retro bikes, with Bandy snapping away madly on her beloved camera. The thai schoolkids were out in force that day with many a different group approaching us to practice their English, and they seemed to think Mark was some kind of celebrity asking en mass for his autograph.

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Another bus ride and another delightful northern thai town, we next hit the bustling cultural centre that is Chaing Mai. More well established on the tourist trail than Ayuthaya or Sukhothai, Chaing Mai had at times a Bangkok-esque feel. However, there is never a shortage of things to do, and we were spoilt for choice from treks to the nearby hill tribe villages to white water rafting.

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Aside from spending the evening eating and people watching at yet another amazing Night Market, our love of filling our face won out and we opted for a Thai Cookery course at Baan Thai Cookery School. Surrounded by a group of likeminded, greedy foodies the day began with a visit to the local market to pick up the ingredients for each of the five mouth-watering Thai dishes we had chosen to cook (and eat!) that day. Our patient teacher explained each and every one of the multitude of Thai produce on display, along with their nutritional value and regional origin.

Back at the school we tucked into Thai snacks and tea before getting stuck into the cooking. As well as cooking a plethora of delicious dishes, including pounding our own curry paste in a gigantic pestle and mortar, we also of course got to eat them all. We ate so much that, having rolled out of there once the course was over, had to sit very still and digest for quite a while before venturing out of our hotel room.

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After a few days back staying in the Siam Square area of Bangkok and Christmas shopping at the quite simply gigantic Chatuchak market, we boarded our Air Asia flight back to Kuala Lumpur en-route to Australia. Room service and a film in our upgraded deluxe room at the splendour of the Impiana hotel later and we were on our way again, headed down under for our lengthy stint in Melbourne, but thats one for the next blog!

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Posted by CLBandy 21:58 Comments (0)

Island Hopping around Palawan...

... taking it slow with a snorkel

An early breakfast by the beach kicked off our island hopping boat trip through the myriad islands between El Nido and Coron in Northern Palawan. As we boarded the wooden 'bangka' (a modified traditional filipino fishing boat with long bamboo outriggers) named 'Aurora' that would become our home for the next 5 days, we were joined by 9 other western passengers (a mix of Brits, Danes, Canadians and a Norwegian) and 5 filipino crew members including our unstoppable tour guide Zaza.

Five days and 4 nights of relaxation followed as we hopped from one deserted island to the next. Words and pictures do not do it justice - we saw some amazing scenery, snorkelled along bright coloured reefs, swam with stingray, barracuda and clown fish, slept on deck, on the beach, in bamboo huts, swam to deserted picture perfect beaches, ate fresh fish everyday, had bonfires on the beach, visited tiny villages with playful villagers, met some great people and generally had a wonderful, relaxing time.

Boat trip - Day 3 - seaweed fishermen

Boat trip - Day 3 - seaweed fishermen


Boat trip - Day 3 - waking up on Daracuyon island2

Boat trip - Day 3 - waking up on Daracuyon island2


Sunset in the Calamain Islands

Sunset in the Calamain Islands


Boat trip - Day 2 - Cadlao island in the morning2

Boat trip - Day 2 - Cadlao island in the morning2


The last boat home - our group

The last boat home - our group


Another sunset in the Bacuit Archipelago

Another sunset in the Bacuit Archipelago


The Aurora

The Aurora

The trip we did was with Tao Philippines - we would highly recommend it - www.taophilippines.com

Boat trip - our route

Boat trip - our route

We arrived in Coron with 3 days to go before we arrived in Thailand (after a group trip to see some ladyboy karaoke that is).

Coron

Coron

Posted by CLBandy 05:33 Comments (0)

Filippino Island Hopping

...our first weeks in the Philippines...

sunny -30 °C
View MGCB-SEAsia on CLBandy's travel map.

Another epic travelling session from Malaysian Borneo finally landed us in Cebu City in the Philippines late at night, via an 8 hour delay in Clark Airport, Manila.

This late night view of sprawling Cebu led us to a swift exit the next day in search of a quieter life (Cebu was chaotic and dirty, but good to have witnessed). We jumped on the fast boat to nearby Dumaguette (a mere 4 hours), a student town on the island of Negros.

Dumaguette was a great antidote to Cebu - good food, an almost European waterfront promenade ( must have been the spanwards) and a laid back atmosphere. It also provided our first tricycle journey - not to be missed, these are basically motorbikes with metal framed sidecars - loud, fast and adorned in a mixture of either staunchly Roman Catholic or cheesey 80s movie slogans. They love their cheesey music here too, epitomised by the Celine Dion classics belting out over numerous Karoake machines.

Dumaguette seafront

Dumaguette seafront


Our first (of many) tricycle rides

Our first (of many) tricycle rides

View from our room at Harold's Mansion, Dumaguette

View from our room at Harold's Mansion, Dumaguette

After a couple of nights amongst Dumaguette's laid-back student population, we headed on another boat to the famously 'spooky' island of Siquijor (what better place to spend Halloween than amongst the infamous witch doctors). A hut right on the beach was our home for six long lazy days. The sunsets from our veranda were beautiful... as was lounging in the hammock with a cold beer and a trashy novel.

CB in the hammock outside our beach hut

CB in the hammock outside our beach hut


sunset the beach hut

sunset the beach hut

kyak's eye view of the hut

kyak's eye view of the hut

On the one day we managed to rouse ourselves, we hired a motorbike for a sight-seeing trip around the rest of the island, exploring waterfalls and spanish era churches along the breathtaking coastal road, a pretty good day.

Waterfalls on Siquijor

Waterfalls on Siquijor

MG jumping

MG jumping

MG waterfall feet

MG waterfall feet

On the road...

On the road...


Church in Siquijor

Church in Siquijor

We even tried out a bit of kayaking, exploring neighbouring beaches around the headland from our hut (though we found out later that we had the boat the wrong way round..i though it was hard!).

Kayaking around Siquijor

Kayaking around Siquijor

We were sad to leave Siquijor, we have never been smiled at, waved at and generally greeted so much as in the Philippines, and in particular on this tiny island. However, three solid days of travel beckoned (via over-night sleeper boats, budget flights and dusty long distant bus journeys) which have finally got us to El Nido, from where we start our boat trip exploring the Bacuit Archipelago of Palawan...

View from our hotel, El Nido

View from our hotel, El Nido


Children playing in El Nido

Children playing in El Nido

Posted by CLBandy 21:51 Archived in Philippines Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Jungle Japes

...10 days in Malaysian Borneo...

sunny -32 °C
View MGCB-SEAsia on CLBandy's travel map.

We arrived in Malaysian Borneo having spent at least 10 hours in Indonesian airports (Denpasar, Bali and Jakarta, Sumatra respectively). We flew into Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, a city famous for its mountain, 180 degree sunsets, and as we soon found out, extortionately priced alcohol. A teetotal visit to Borneo ensued... We did, however, eat well. This culinary experience started with the seafood food court which we frequented regularly over our time in Kota Kinabalu. Our first experience saw us choosing our own crabs, which were cooked in a tomato sambal (chilli) sauce, and eaten without cutlery (who needs cutlery?!), but delicious. Many a meal of exceedingly cheap, fresh and delicious sushi was to follow.

Traditional Malaysian tribe huts

Traditional Malaysian tribe huts

A glowing recommendation (thanks Dave) led us to a jungle retreat close to Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. The orangutans were incredible, so human in their movements and facial expressions. Despite loving being spectators at their feeding frenzy, we may well have enjoyed our jungle stay even more (www.paganakandii.com). Consisting of several small huts set amid lush jungle, the resort featured a great chef, friendly owner, swing seats and a viewing tower hovering over miles of greenery. Our hut itself was great - sliding doors on all sides opened it up to the jungle breezes, an outdoor bathroom and a little balcony for spotting odd looking insects and birds. We made it up the tower for both sunset and sunrise - amazing, the photos do not do it justice.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabitilation Centre

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabitilation Centre

Our jungle hut in Sepilok

Our jungle hut in Sepilok

Sepilok again

Sepilok again

Borneo Rainforest - MGCB

Borneo Rainforest - MGCB

Borneo Rainforest - MG

Borneo Rainforest - MG

Jungle japes were followed by a stay in nearby Sandakan, a port town with many colonial remnants. A trek up to the highest point in Sandakan took us to the house of Agnes Keith, who wrote extensively about her time in Borneo, her book 'The Land Below The Wind' was made into a film that our older readers may have heard of (we hadn't). The neighbouring English tea house drew us in and we very surreally dined on tea and scones (although, like us, the cream struggled to cope with the jungle heat), overlooking both jungle and sea, there was even a croquet lawn!

Sandakan tea

Sandakan tea

Tea and scones, Sandakan

Tea and scones, Sandakan

View from the hill over Sandakan

View from the hill over Sandakan

Agnes Keith's house on the hilltop

Agnes Keith's house on the hilltop

Our Malaysian Borneo stay ended back in Kota Kinabalu where we joined the locals in their alcohol free pastimes - bowling and pool - they all seemed to be pros at both and our comparatively feeble attempts at times had them in stitches. We have now arrived in the Philippines, where beer and rum are cheap, so we will definitely be having one or two to celebrate my little brother's 21st on Monday (as, I'm sure, will he) xx

Posted by CLBandy 21:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Rain & Ringitts

everywhere we go we always take the weather with us..

rain 30 °C
View MGCB-SEAsia on CLBandy's travel map.

Dear All,

So we finally escaped and have been living it up in Kuala Lumpur for the past few days. We stepped off the plane after 14 hours and were immediately hit by the heat, 30 degrees and 89 percent humidity. We collected our bags and headed to our fancy hotel (we promised ourselves a little luxury before the budget kicks in - thanks Vicks) and we weren't disappointed.

This place is amazing, we stumbled in off the street with all our bags, drenched in sweat and feeling more than a little out of place (i have also shaved my head before setting out for minimum maintenance, so look straight out of Shameless). No sooner had we stepping into the air-conditioned luxury of the hotel lobby than a bowing hotel porter rushed over to take our dusty rucksacks, followed by another proffering chilled wet towels for our faces and glasses of refreshing iced tea. Not bad for £30 a night eh?

However we also seemed to have brought the rain with us and it began lashing it down about 2 hours after we got here. Born and bred in sunny Manchester, I was not about to let a little rain stop me enjoying the delights of the roof-top infinity pool though
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Luckily, by the time we had got over the jet lag the weather has picked up and we ventured out on an archi-geek wander round the once-highest-in-the-world Petronas Towers (also i might add featuring quick prominently in the film Entrapment alongside the legend that is Sean Connery)
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More sight-seeing ensued including the old colonial district, complete with very English cricket pitch, and dinner in China Town.DSC01753.jpg

Thats about it for now as we are still getting into the swing of things. Tonight is the the famous Saturday night market in 'Little India', where we are hoping to sample some tasty Indian treats, and hopefully we will avoid any 'Ghandi's Revenge' before our flight to Bali tomorrow when the adventure really begins.

Posted by CLBandy 22:36 Archived in Malaysia Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

Welcome to our website...

We will be uploading photographs and writing blogs as much as possible as we go...

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Posted by CLBandy 09:31 Comments (0)

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