Sorry I haven’t updated the journal for quite a while, but I’ve been in Phi Phi for a week and this place kinda grabs you by short and curlies, and gets you involved – so the inclination to sit and type for an hour or two has been a little lacking.
I left off in Bali, heading back to beautiful Ubud, to go back to the same paradise hotel, and same room as I’d stayed at before.
Had a lovely time, only to be broken up by traveling back down to Kuta and on to Ulu Watu, a stunning Surfers paradise. All you mad for it surfers out there will almost certainly have heard of it. And from what I could see, it really is a great place to surf.
Waves break all over the place so plenty for surfers to get their surf teeth into. Didn’t have a go ourselves – it’s way above our league of surfing and with no real beach to speak of, there’s no safety net either! So we gave that one a miss.
The real gem on this south coast of Bali though, and one for all you who are traveling after us, is Padang Padang! Very beautiful quiet beach with lovely calm waters and stunning scenery, but you do get a little hassled by sellers wanting you buy 400 million sarongs!
As far as Bali goes, though, Ubud and Padang Padang beach are the places not to be missed.
Lovina is to be given a wide berth unless you Dive!
After leaving Bali we arrived for a couple of days in Singapore.
Staying at the very swanky YMCA on orchard road, more like an expensive hotel than a YMCA, with a roof top pool and a basement gym, but hey, who’s complaining?
So Singapore is nice – nice being the way you describe a place that is extremely clean, very crime free, on account of draconian laws that give you 6 lashes of a whip for littering and minimum 6 months prison for touching a woman’s boob….if she complains that is! This means no drugs, no crime, no….fun…really.
Singapore is all about business and if you don’t have one or are not involved in one, you’re not really part of the gang.
Did have a good couple of nights here though to be fair. Boat quay for a dinner that is bought to you on a sizzling rock was definitely a must as is sitting in the Sahara bar watching Spurs draw 2-2 with Liverpool with a massive Shesha pipe in your gob, and a dancing girl in the doorway! Late night that one and very needed it was too.
Checked out Little India, where we were the only white faces in the whole place and Claire was the only woman. And we are talking on a very, very busy market night 5 – 6 thousand people on the streets maybe! I loved it, Claire felt a little conspicuous. I would too if I was stared at all night, I suppose.
Went to china town as well – another market atmosphere, with slightly less people but no less charm.
This is one of the greatest things about Singapore though; you have all these diverse cultures and religions living in harmony with each other. Religious tolerance is something that Singapore is most proud of and is a real lesson to the rest of the world.
You kind of get to thinking that it’s not so bad that all different cultures and religions have their sections on a country, it works well and gives a real character to towns.
Note: have to pop into Southall when I get home and have a different look around.
(Southall is the Indian quarter of West London – Editor)
Ok now paint it white, every station, on the same day. Then over that put a little splash of colour, say a bit of red here, some green there, nothing too gaudy.
Ok so far. Now put brand new tiles on the floor and install brand new ticket gates – THAT WORK! Then install state-of-the-art ticket machines that give you plastic tickets for your journey, dished out by a touch screen machine that is so simple to follow that children and OAP’s alike use them with ease.
Now install safety screens on the trackside and clear announcements. Put this with super wide trains that are air-conditioned. And there you have it…Singapore’s greatest achievement – a clean underground system.
Ok so it’s not that enthralling, but honestly you could eat your dinner off the floor…TRACKSIDE!
Hell, I was impressed. And it’s beautiful! Speaking of which, so is Raffles Hotel.
Well, you can’t go to Singapore and not have a Singapore Sling in the Long bar, the very bar where it was first created.
Good bar too – They feed you monkey nuts all night while they fully encourage you throw the shells on the floor. A very cool bar indeed (a sling will set you back 6 quid not bad for the shear history of it) More nuts sir? Why thank you my good man.
People going to Singapore in the future will have 2 new casinos to play with – a massive boost for the Chinese communities and tourist communities alike, because until then, we all have to travel to Malaysia for a little light money laundering. 1st class ticket to Kuala Lumpur please!
The train takes 7 hours, and 1st class is about 2 quid more expensive, with movies and a food car…no contest!
So what can you say about KL, as it’s known? Ummm…. It’s dirty, full of traffic, smells a bit (open sewers) and it’s humid…really, really humid.
The good bits? – Petronas Towers: 2 really beautiful steel-constructed towers in the heart of the city, which incidentally are now the tallest buildings in the world.
Menara Tower: The 5th tallest telecom tower in the world, giving you a beautiful view of the city and beyond, although a humid haze kind of cancels that out a bit.
And Times Square – a massive shopping centre, with a theme park in it!
Yep, an actual theme park in the building ON THE 5TH FLOOR!
Funny thing, that, and weird to see at first. The only good ride they have, though, is the roller coaster, and because it’s not busy we went on it 3 times! – Twice at the front and once at the back, just for that whiplash feeling. Well, why not! Yep, loved that. Good fun.
Also, they have an IMAX cinema here and, for those that hear that Melbourne has the biggest screen in the world. B@@lsh@t! That’s all I can say to that – this screen was twice the size of that one!
Watched Robots – ok film…bit cutesy…one for the girls and kiddies I think maybe. Still, enjoyable though.
That was it for KL for us. Couldn’t wait to get to the Cameron Highlands. Thank you Jo and Woody for pointing it out to us.
Made up mainly of rain-forest and beautiful tea plantations, which look like freshly laid carpets of emerald green, rolling down the hill sides, we could have stared at them all day. We didn’t really explore the rain forests much, just a short walk on one of the days, as well as a tea plantation tour, which took us into the tea factory to see how it was all made and, of course, to sample a local brew. We ended up at a butterfly farm, which, as well as containing beautiful butterflies, housed some very interesting creepy crawlies.
A Bird-Eating Spider (made Claire run for 6 miles in the opposite direction), all sorts of bugs, including rhino beetle, stick insects, leaf insects, leaf frogs, fascinating things that are so perfectly camouflaged, you know you are looking at one but just cannot see where!
Also, scorpions and chameleons, which I was allowed to pick up and handle – great stuff.
Nice place, the Cameron highlands, not sooooo impressed with the actual town centre though; could have been a bit more in keeping with the surroundings. I think tourism hit it square in the face and they built fast to accommodate, a big economic crash 5 or 6 years ago didn’t help either. It’s still well worth the visit though – KL hot and sweaty, CH lovely and cool. No contest.
One 6-hour hot and dangerous bus-ride later and we arrived in Penang. Georgetown didn’t impress on first look, so we took a ride straight to Batu Feringghi, a beach town with a lot more charm than the big city we’d left behind.
Well worth a visit, this place; lovely beach, but with a little sting in the tail – Jellyfish. Not the killer type, just the painful type – enough to keep you out the water most of the time, but not enough to stop the guy in the speed boat dropping you in the water just as you were enjoying the views on your parasailing ride!
Or not enough to stop us from playing with mega fast jet bikes, which on one occasion threw me a good distance for daring to try to turn 360 whist going full pelt. Great fun.
Our place cost us about 8 quid to stay in and the hotel next door would have cost us 50 quid per double; not bad when you consider we are talking proper 5 star accommodation, in stunning surroundings, beautiful pool, 2 bars, 2 restaurants.
So instead of staying there for 7 times what we were paying, we just used all their facilities for about 2 quid each! Bargain.
The other thing about Penang is the night market, a great place where you can buy just about anything very cheap. Good atmosphere and very little hassle.
There are also some very good eating places here, so all in all, a good place to visit.
Back in Georgetown, in order to escape the wild throngs of the city, we took the world’s slowest train ride to the top of Penang’s highest mountain, on which the only highlight is seeing the monkeys fighting with each other (outside the train not inside). But once at the top, you are afforded some great views, a beautiful Hindu temple, a dodgy Muslim mosque and some even dodgier food stalls.
Back at the bottom, visiting a very large Buddhist Temple (whose name escapes me) was definitely a highlight. There was a room with 1000 Buddha’s in it, which is aptly named the room of a thousand Buddha’s …Funny that.
Not my favourite place, Georgetown, so I wasn’t to fussed about leaving, although that 10-hour bus trip to Thailand was quite something!…Still, that’s for the next delightful little tome.