Monday, February 8, 2010

A Straya & the end of Asia... For now!

Well, it's good to be home! The place where nothing ever changes. Friends and family doing pretty much the same thing as when I left.
Even though I'll only be home for just over 3 weeks, I think that I am going to get bored here (I say this because I already am). I've been planning to leave the house and going to the beach, but the weather has been crappy since I got he
re and it looks like it will continue like this for another week or so. It has been good to catch up with everyone though!

Well I traveled around China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in only 3 months. This was a very short to see so many countries and I really feel like a rushed things a bit. There were definitely places that I wished I had spent more time and places that I wish I could have visited. But maybe I'll get back to this part of the world another time. If so, I will give myself a whole lot more time.
During these 3 months i visited 35 different cities/towns and spent about 300 hours on trains and buses (half of that was with no ipod). You do get used to the transport though and find it much more rewarding to take buses and trains rather than planes.

Well this is the end of this blog for now. It won't be updated until I start to travel again. For now you can just assume I will be in Aus or Korea. I may begin another blog for my time in Korea, so stay tuned for that!



Singapore was my last stop on my journey back to Aus. I arrived in good time on what was a pretty simple and straight forward trip from KL.

Well the rumors are true. Singapore is expensive! Not ridiculously overpriced, but it's a lot more of a shock than the rest of SE Asia. My hostel was pretty pricey but it was the cheapest around and there was a decent bar attached, so it had advantages that other hostels didn't. I was staying in 'Little India' too, which was a pretty interesting place. A lot of Bollywood, Indian restaurants and well... Indians I guess!

Singapore is well know for being the hub of Asia. This is made quite apparent through it's diversity and multiculturalism (one thing the rest of Asia is missing). The place seems to be made up of Tamil Indians, Chinese and Malays. Because of this there is no dominant language, which pretty much makes English their official language. Though most ethnics speak their native tongue, you would have a difficult time finding someone that didn't speak excellent English.
Another thing that Singapore is well know for is for being crazy clean. And it is certainly that! I was even tempted to lick the pavement because of it. But it's nice to see Asians being very clean... a contrast to what you may see in other cities. This could be due to their many bins scattered allover the streets (one thing Korea hasn't really heard about). It could also be due to a bit of Singaporian pride and the locals want to keep the city clean. I personally think it's due to the whopping big fines that are strictly in-forced and the people are just too afraid to disobey the law.
One highlight in Singapore for me was actually going to the zoo. I have never really been that into zoos, but thought that I would head to this one to see if it was as good as I'd been told. The first highlight of the zoo was the fact that I got in for free. This was because a Singaporian family had a free pass and offered it to me for nothing. Sweet huh! Thanks guys!
The zoo itself is pretty nice too. Lot's of cool animals and the park is a comfortable place to wander around. Plus I even got to see a rare bread of monkey having sex. Lucky huh!

I also ate some kick-arse Indian food in Singapore too (one of the advantages of staying in Little India). I'd write about the food but I might get a little to excited a start to literally eat my words!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kualas and Lumpurs

It turns out the trip from Langkawi to Kuala Lumpur was actually a whole day affair. Which involved a ferry and then a long bus ride. A bus, more precisely a coach which only had 4 passengers on it.
I didn't really have any problems
finding a place to stay in KL though. The bus dropped me right next to Chinatown and I walked down the main street and found a cheap clean hostel within minutes!
Eating in Malaysia has been pretty exciting due to it's variety of foods and I have managed to enjoy
a nice mix of Indian, Malay and Chinese cuisine. On my first night in KL I found an outdoor street stall that was cooking up Chinese clay pot. It was cheap and delicious!! I also found many other vendors that cooked up suburb fried noodles and spicy curries.
Chinatown happens to have a bumping
night market. So, I went and checked it out. The market is large. Though the merchandise is typically tacky and typically fake. So, I really didn't open my wallet in this area (though I did pick up a sweet set of Transformer Uno cards).

Well, funnily enough I met up with my French friends from Koh Phangan/Chiang Mai again. We ended up waking up early on the 2nd day to line up for the Petrona Towers visit. This is free, though it does involve half a day of queuing. The visit then takes you to the bridge in between the towers rather than the top of them, which was a bit of a let down... But hey! It was free.
My time in KL also involved a trip to a mosque, a visit to a mall and a walk around a park. That's pretty much it though.
Overall KL was okay... not a whole of fun, but fun comes at cost in KL! As we found out when we tried to go out drinking one night. Service charges, tax and crazy beer prices.

Lazy Langkawi

Once I hit Penang I realised that I was still craving a bit of sun and beach. So I backed tracked a little up the West coast to the Malaysian island of Langkawi. This involved a relatively quick ferry trip. But the day then involved a long stroll around town in hunt of a cheap place to stay. I met a Dutch guy on the ferry who joined me in the quest for budget accommodation. This turned out to be quite difficult in that Langkawi was actually a little more developed than more previous spots in Thailand. And there seemed to be a different market of travelers on the island - no longer the poor backpacker crowd, but the wealthier holiday getters. However, we did end up finding some cheapish accommodation and some other backpackers to hang out with.

Langkawi's beaches are quite nice. Nice sand and warm water. Not too mention the weather was stellar! I spent a good deal of time relaxing and reading on one of these beaches and sometimes even a bit of sleeping.
Another great thing about Langkawi was that everything on the island was tax-free. Don't ask me why! This includes alcohol. Which is surprising because booze on the mainland is ridiculously expensive. So it was nice to be able to have a few drinks to ease the pain of paying for expensive accommodation.
On one of the days I decided to go do some diving. I boarded a boat full of people thinking that this was going to be a busy activity only to find out that all the people were actually going snorkeling and that I was the only one diving. I didn't mind this so much though as it is nice to go diving with few people. The diving however turned out to be a little lame compared to that of Thailand. We did see some large schools of snapper and a really strange Scorpion fish. The visibility was a pretty poor though, so a lot of the time was spent orientating myself and trying not to lose my instructor.
At night in Langkawi I hung out at a cool reggae bar that would constantly fill up with people. This place was chill and right on the beach, which was nice!


After 2 weeks in Thailand I was forced to head on out, mainly due to the fact I only had a 2 week visa. So, I made tracks down to Malaysia! My first stop being Penang, which is an island on the West coast connected to the mainland by a large bridge.
I arrived in Georgetown Penang quite late and had a bit of trouble finding a place to stay. But after a bit of walking around I managed to find a decently cheap place to crash. That night I went out to a large food court to find some Malaysian food. This placed turned out to be the most exciting part of Penang. Not to say that town is not that nice. It is! It's just a little dull and there is not much happening.
Can't even remember what I did on my 2nd day in Penang. Think I wandered around for a while, got Bored and then read a book. Well it only took me a few hours to realise that I needed to catch a boat on out of here. So, that is exactly what I did! Sorry Penang... Nice food though!

Are you feeling Krabi??

Krabi was my last stop in Thailand, and what better way to finish my time there then doing a bunch of climbing and a bit of diving.
Krabi is on the South West coast of Thailand's mainland. It is popular for it's excellent climbing as well as being a jumping off point for Koh Phi Phi.
I arrived in Krabi at about mid-afternoon and headed over to Tonsai beach to find Mark and Clare (2 English teachers based in Namhae Korea). They were on vacation for a couple of weeks and were spending the whole time in Krabi. It didn't take me long to find them as Tonsai is not the largest place. In fact there is no car road leading to Tonsai, so I had to Catch a long-tail boat around to it.
The first day/night was pretty chill. We just hung out, ate, drank and watched a guy fire dance on a slack-line. While we were watching the Slack-line fire dancer I happened to find Marko, the cool Croatian guy I had met in Laos. It was totally random to see him here, but I've had a lot of these random moments throughout my time in Asia.

For the 2nd day we decided to do some climbing. On Tansai, everyone is climbing! That's pretty much what the beach is known for. And there are no shortage of places to climb there! There are a shortage of easy climbs though, so for the less experienced climbers; (myself) had to attempt difficult climbs or just sit round and watch the pros go.
Our first spot was quite nice, right on the sands of Tonsai where some of the climbs weren't too difficult. My lack of climbing (or hard labor for the matter) experience showed though. Not so much in my skill, but on my hands and in my arms. After only a couple climbs my fingers were quite torn apart and my arms were incredibly unhappy as I had just woken up muscles that had been sleeping for quite some time!
By the time we went to our 2nd spot in the afternoon, my body was pretty much done! It was good to watch the boys climb though. Marko is an exceptionally good climber and Mark is definitely more than decent as well.

For my last day in Krabi we had arranged to do some diving over at Koh Phi Phi. I was quite excited about this, as I had heard that the diving over at Phi Phi was a lot better than that of Koh Tao.
The day was perfect for diving! Clear skies, 30 degrees, not much wind. Couldn't have been more ideal! Plus the boat we were on was quite nice too.
The trip out to Phi Phi took about 2 hours and when we got there we jumped off at Maya Bay for our first dive. The first dive was okay. We saw a cool turtle along with several interesting fish. but we weren't here to see fish! We want sharks damn it!
For the 2nd dive we moved to another spot where they had reportedly seen whale-sharks in recent days. We didn't see any of those boys, but we did happen to see a black tip, as well as a few leopard sharks. Plus we also saw a couple sea snakes and a trumpet fish. this was easily one of the coolest dives I've ever done, though all the excitement did see that I ran out of air much quicker than the previous dive.
Well the most exciting part of the day actually happened to be trip back to Krabi. We were about 30 minutes away from docking at the beach when the captain noticed some fins out in the ocean. He slowed down and followed them around for a while. At first we thought that maybe they were dolphins. Then we were thinking that maybe they were small sharks. They actually turned out to be huge whale-sharks! I'll never forget the moment where one of them came right up to the side of the boat. Everyone's reaction was the same! Loud gasps and complete shock... It was amazing!

Everyone was buzzing all the way back to the beach too. No one could stop talking about what we had seen!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

No Moon party in Koh Phangan

If you haven't heard of Koh Phangan you have more than likely heard of the "full moon Party." Well, this is the place where it all happens! though I wasn't there for the party I was there for a bit of the fun and festivities.

When I arrived, I met up with a Swedish couple that offered to share a room over at Hat Rin. We agreed to share mainly because there was only one room left at the place we had found. It worked out well though, the room was large and we all saved a bit of cash!
Later after we had checked in I discovered that my roommates were quite young. 21 and 18 to be exact. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It was just that they started to make me feel really old. Plus they were one of thousands of Swedish that were invading Thailand. Seriously! Travel through Thailand and Malaysia for a while and see if you can go a day without meeting some people from Sweden. I dare you!
Well, the first night was probably the most exciting. We went over to Hat Rin Nok, The place where the "Full moon party" takes place. There was definitely no party tonight though. In fact it took a lot of searching to find a place that had people about! The whole place was certainly set up to accommodate a large party though, with stands selling buckets of all kinds alcoholic crap and they are using all kinds of methods to attract attention (dirty catch phrases, yelling and whistling etc). We ended up stopping at 'Cactus bar' which is quite a famous place in Hat Rin and that was the bar that had the most people. I also met up with some French friends that I had met on my bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Anyway, the bar managed to fill up a bit; so the night was not as boring as I had earlier predicted. They served up a bit of fire frantics, such as 'fire limbo,' as well as the always popular 'balloon on the ankle' game.
well it turns out the room that I was sleeping in held the light of day out very well, because I ended up sleeping into about 1pm. This was not a totally let down though, because I did wake up to torrential rain and was forced to stay inside for most of the day anyway.
That night, our resort was hosting a 'pool party' which was heavily publicised all over the island. The night was not quite as exciting as we had predicted, though it was still plenty of fun! It was pretty much just me, the Swedish couple and my French friends hanging out. We did end up having quite a fun night though, which didn't finish to early in the morning.
Well this is pretty much all that happened in Koh Phangan. There was a 'black moon' party on the last night I was there, but I skipped that due to concerns about my 6am departure the next morning.