Archive for December, 2012

Here I was the country that inspired my whole trip..the first door to freedom…

I got only 15 days visa but it seemed to be ok as I planned 3 countries for December. My first stop was Krabi to see my friend Cooper. I spent the first night in Krabi (Pac- up hostel..if you are up for party, this is the place to go) I wasn’t because the previous nights were I didn’t appreciate the shouting young English fellows in the middle of the night. Next day I went to Ao Nang, and spent the next 2 days just relaxing and catching up with Cooper…and certainly partying in the evenings….:)

Party time Party time

I did some sightseeing, had a look at the local market in Krabi and enjoyed a couple of massage sessions too.

Temple Market

After Ao Nang I headed to Kao Lak, the jumping off point of my big dream..a diving cruise around the Similan islands and Richelieu Rock..

I was very optimistic going there hoping to get a space on a 4 days liveaboard ship on the night when I arrive and after a couple of hours shopping around I found a dive centre that offered an amazing last minute deal starting in a few hours.  So I didn’t even need to book accommodation or have dinner..went straight on the boat and the fun has started. It was a nice big group..mixed aged, mixed nationality..4 days on the boat, 14 dives, hundred and thousands of fishes, turtles, octopus, sea horse..loved every minute. I was hanging out most of the time with Bas from the Netherlands.

Fish identification The beach


There was a Thai celebration one day when the Thai staff prepared little floating flowers with incentives and a candle on top and we all sent off our bad spirits..

Thai flowers Sending off bad spirits

boomLike a fish....

the team

After the diving adventure I went to Bangkok to submit my visa application for India..(takes 6 working days and unfortunately there were 2 bank holidays in between so I knew I would stay longer than my Thai visa. In this case you pay 500 Baht fine/day (around 10 pounds) So on the day I arrived to Bangkok I took a nightbus to Chiang Mai to meet Bas and visit the north with him. As soon as I got off the night bus I met 3 people, a honeymoon couple from Argentina and Zergio from Venezuela! Of course super amazing people..and yes again..I felt very nostalgic…

I spent one day in Chiang Mai, hired a scooter and visited an amazing temple on the hill.

temple on hill with my Thai baby

In the evening we went to  place near the lake where you don’t see a single tourist.authentic thai restaurants attached one to another..Now here I had a story…lol..

I put my bike key in the helmet..then I saw the stunning evening view over the lake so I decided to take a picture..and had the glowing idea of using my helmet at a tripod….By this time I had a few beers so no wonder…I forgot about the key which landed straight in the water…classic!

The place

Next day we took a minibus to another city about 160 km north west from Chiang Mai called Pai..Very charming little town ..however this time of the year it was packed with southern Thai people and this is the coldest place and time in the year so Thais love it! The King’s birthday also contributed to the crowd..long weekend, everyone on holiday. Luckily we found accommodation in Mr. Jan’s Guesthouse (in the massage room only though) and for the next day we booked a 2 day rafting trip with Bas. We had 2 seriously funny guides and a group of Americans and a Dutch girl..the water on the 1st day was pretty slow as it’s dry season now so it was more like a chilled out flowing on the Pai river. When we arrived to our camp we went to a cave…we had no clue what was in the cave and what are the conditions there so it turned to be a great challenge for everyone…crawling in tiny spaces full of muddy water ..if you are claustrophobic DON”T DO IT! But the attraction in the cave was amazing…the silent waterfall as our guide called it:

Rafting cave crew

dirty team

On day 2 the water was around 3 so more fun…when we arrived to Pai we went out with the Amerians..had an interesting conversation with Nesh, psychiatry (by the was Bas was a psychologist too so….not only my travels make me realise things about me 😉

Few pics on Pai and surroundings that we discovered with Bas on scooter again. Pai has a lot to offer..mountains, hot springs, massage centres, cooking classes etc. The street food is amazing! Tried a lot of things and the favourite was meat ball on lemongrass stick..

Pai canyon Pai countryside

After Pai it was time to go back to Bangkok to pick up visa. Bas went back to Holland and I spent a couple of nights in Bangkok..

My friend Noppadol always takes care of me..I stayed in his hotel last year, the Grand China Princess hotel in the heart of China Town and he invited me for dinner with fine Peking duck, melon crab salad and excellent whiskey..I ended up again on the stage singing just like on my farewell night last year:)

GCP team

On my last day in Thailand I went to the floating market near was truly amazing.

Floating market

Next post soon about Cambodia.

The first stop in Malaysia was the stylish capital, Kuala Lumpur. It was a bit of a mission to find the hostel I booked (Sunshine Bedz KL) but it was my fault..oh and the monsoon rain didn’t helped either:)

Patrick, the owner welcomed me very nicely..this hostel  was just like being home..The crowd was cool too. My first trip was to the KL Towers..breathtaking high tech look:

KL Towers

Then went to an AMAZNG place, to the Sky bar in Trading hotel. Pool in the middle, view on the towers, fashion, luxury. Didn’t quite match with my sweaty, scruffy traveller look but who cares it was amazing to be there!

Sky bar

I was soo in the mood to go out but Athene (English girl I was hanging out with) didn’t feel good so I opted for a quiet night too.

Next day I walked around in the Sea Gardens, Orchid/Hibiscus garden, Little India and Chinatown. In the evening I was ready to play out. We were only a few of us, Patrick, Sheldon (Zimbabwe) and another guy from the US. It was an ok night, nothing crazy. First day of experiencing the Malaysian food..I have to say it’s seriously delicious…

food DSC_0105

Me and Sheldon wanted to go to Tioman but we missed the bus..doh, so went back to the hostel and visited the Batu Caves..nice:

Batu caves

The next day  we made sure we didn’t miss the bus, and Athene joined us too, so we arrived after 5 hours to Mersing, the jump off point to Tioman islands..There was only one ferry going/ day and we missed it so we spent the night in Mersing. I this town there is not much to do really and even though we did everything to blag ourselves into a cargo boat or get a speed boat to the island nobody took us so we had to stay overnight. Sheldon after this decided not to come to the island and I was pretty indecisive too as I contacted a few dive centres and all were pretty much closed for the monsoon and the only reason why i wanted to go was because of my AOW course. In the end I did go..we met Kai (Finnish guy). Athene went to Juara (East coast) and me and Kai went to ABC beach (the best on the west!) I had the time of my life on this island with a super cool Malay group of guys. They were celebrating the closure of season  (Ray’s dive school ) in A peace bar drinking off all the leftover booze.

A peace party


Then I started my Advanced Open Water with B&J Dive centre. Sammi, my instructor was super cool with a lot of knowledge..i got so much more confident in diving. Next step will the Rescue diver level. Meanwhile i got involved in their season closing celebration too. It was so nice not to be in a very touristy spot with full of the timing was perfect for the island. I spent here 5 days, then I continued to Singapore.

I would describe it as a perfect, neat little artificial city. High buildings, luxury, warm weather and incomparably delicious food. I found a very cheap hostel too, Wow Hostel (book it via hostelworld so it’s 8 SGD but if you walk in it’s 18).

I spent most of the time with Pang, I met him in Bali and he is from Singapore. It was nice to see him again and have a local guide. We indulged in food together.

singapore Pang

Oh my whole Singapore experience started with Candy..I was queuing for the bus when she warned me from behind that my bag was loose and about to we started chatting. Turned out she was from Penang (Malaysia) and she visited his friend (Jovan) who was from the same place but living in Singapore. They were both supernice..I had no clue about the transport and they almost came with me all the way to my hostel..See this is what is missing from the western culture..humanity and unconditional care for people…even if you don’t know them at all!

Overall you need about 3 days for Singapore (for the main attractions) of course you need more time to really ‘feel ‘ the city which I didn’t have. On m last day I visited Sentosa island with Jovan which is even more artificial than Singapore itself..with its giant Universal Studios, Casino, cable car and beaches it’s very popular for the locals and tourists as well.

Don’t leave Singapore without trying the chilly crab, carrot cake (it’s not a dessert!!), murtabag, nasi padang and Tiger!!

chilly crab

After Singapore my next stop was Melaka. Melaka is about 3 hours north from Singapore and 2 hours south from KL. I arrived quite late (10pm) so I happily accepted the approach of the guesthouse sales man waiting at the bus station. He got me  cheap room and cheap taxi..the only thing he didn’t tell me that the place (‘Home sweet home’ ) was a brothel. 3 girls from Taiwan were getting ready for the night next door so I left as quickly as I could. I was walking on that dodgy street in the middle of the night but then when i reached China Town a party rickshaw with a super fun guy picked me up and took me to Ringo ‘s Foyle hostel (i had to be persistent with him so that he accepts the money..again Malaysia..super nice interest..unconditional care..simple is that). In Ringo’s Carol welcomed me so nicely..and the people were cool..there is a roof terrace in this hostel so first night I was up there boozing with the people till 6am…nice start:)

The next day I was walking around by the river and in China Town and in the evening I met Silke (German lady living in Melaka, whom I first met in Pulau Weh- Indonesia if you remember). We went to an excellent restaurant called Pak Putra and had a walk around..But I was too tired from the previous night so we got home around midnight. The last full day I spent with her again, Melaka is a place to chill and walk and absorb the art and culture..

Melaka Melaka

After Melaka I went to KL again to see my friend from Tioman Afiez ( his bar: A peace)..I spent a couple of days at his house..cooked some Gulyas for the guys and relaxed.

Cook assistant Gulyas

After KL and the relaxed days I needed some fresh air and hiking so Cameron Highlands was a perfect place for it. I got here late too but it’s a very safe place. So I was walking to the hostel I looked up before but unfortunately there was a little obstacle to get there..due to the heavy rains a little lake formed on the road with hip height water level so I had to alternative routes to cross…on the left on a mud hill or on the right on a slim edge..None of them were ideal but my common sense suggested the mud cause even if I fall there I’ll just look like a turtle with my backpack and legs in the air but if I fall from the other side I might break my neck..So there was a Swedish guy, Adam who was on the same bus as me and we accomplished together this mission..I got muddy only till knee level..and no falling:) Once we got to the hostel we had to go back to town for a same mission 2x more..but the dinner was worth it We tried the famous Malay speciality called Steam boat. Basically they bring you a massive pot of either chicken soup or tom yam and a lot of raw fish, vegetables,  chicken, mushroom, tofu that you put in your boiling soup and cook it..(the soup arrived at the table on a gas cooker) here is a pic:

steam boat

Once we finished this delicious meal we went back to the hostel. Next day we decided to do some hiking. In Cameron Highlands there are plenty of trails that you can do individually or you can take a tour to the Mossy forest and to tea plantations and strawberry farms.

We teamed up with a lovely couple (Scottish girl, English boy) and we started the adventure together. It took us a while to get onto the right trail but eventually after walking in a private garden with cabbages and strawberry around us we found the trail. Oh it felt good to trek again!! It’s been a while..When we reached the top it started raining and I suggested to take a different route on the way back (I hate returning on the same route) this was a real it was steep and  the soil was mainly clay and the water was streaming down on I had a very stylish fall there which made my day as I couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the day..Once we arrived back in critical conditions, we bought some booze, had dinner and spinned the bottle in the  hostel 🙂 It was truth not dare..and we learnt a lot about each other.

Next day Phil and Christy left and we had another day with Adam..but woke up at midday so we went on a short trek to Binchang to see a tea plantation but we didn’t make it in time so went to a strawberry farm instead.

The next morning we left for Penang..Now Penang is a great island with fantastic food.

Very similar to Singapore, food courts everywhere. We checked into the Cocoa Mews Hostel in Little India, then started walking on the promenade towards one of the best food courts in Gurney Drive Food court. We met Candy there and we started some food orgy:) By the way..another amazing gesture in a phone south American phone doesn’t seem to be working with the sim cards on this part of the world..and i didn’t want to spend on a new phone so..the shop assistant gave me his old Nokia phone for free….so nice!

After we finished with the fried chicken skin, sting ray cooked in banana leaf, fried oyster, ambra juice with sour plum and the rest delicious pieces we went to Bora Bora beach for cocktails..which ended again with night bathing in the sea..oh..again nice memories from Colombia…

The next day I went with Adam to the Thai embassy (when you cross to Thailand by land you get only 15 days visa) I was thinking to apply for 30 days too but then I realised that I have only 30 days left in South East Asia and I have still Laos and Cambodia on my list so I didn’t apply in the end. We then went up to Penang Hill for a stunning view on George Town and then we met Phil and Christy for lunch, and then we walked along on the heritage trail to see the wall paintings:

street painting Penang

Early everyone was ready for the Friday night karaoke! On Friday we separated ..I rented a bike and went to Penang National park, trekked to the Monkey beach and back, and went into the island..i love discovering on scooters!! So cool!

Monkey beach

In the evening we went to eat and then hit a private karaoke bar in one of the shopping Malls..the night finished at 4 am..had a lot of fun AGAIN.

Next day Adam had to catch his ferry to Langkawi and me the bus at midday to Krabi..

I loved Malaysia A LOT. One of my favourite countries..nice people, nice time I will not skip the Perhentian islands (which were closed because of monsoon) and Borneo..