A Travellerspoint blog

Day 110 - 112 Ubud

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Puri Lukisan Museum Garden
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We got a taxi to Ubud from Bukit because public transport in Bali is pretty much non existent. The traffic was tiring and it took about 2 hours. We were both starving so on arrival we checked into our bug free hotel room, with his and hers beds, and went out it search of a burger. We ate at Three Moneys overlooking the rice fields and it all felt like a right treat after cooking for ourselves out of one pot in an outdoor kitchen for 10 days. Ubud is sticky and air con is scarce unless your in one of those glass atm booths. Its so humid that I've got prickly heat rash on my face. Probably because I dragged Dan to Puri Lukisan Museum to look at Balinese paintings. Dan sat outside patiently while I read every description about religious symbolism. We were both thankful of the free Sprite at the end of the visit at the cafe which had fans.

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Dan is well rehearsed in waiting for me in art galleries
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The next day we went on a tour to visit the temples and sights after deciding the roads of Bali were too stressful for scooter rental. It was a great choice as we got to see all the major attractions in one day with two other people in a wonderfully air conditioned car. Which is truly needed after climbing 300 steps at Gunung Kawi. We went to the Elephant cave, rocky temple (Gunung Kawi), Holy Spring, Mt Batur (active volcano) a coffee and spice plantation. Neither of us drink coffee but we both loved trying coconut coffee, ginseng coffee, Bali moca and lemon tea that tasted just like lemon curd. However we did not enjoy the Bali black coffee or the red ginger tea which burnt my throat worse than a flaming sambuca.

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River at Gunung Kawi
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Mt Batur
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Climbing rocks at the elephant cave
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Free coffee tasting samples
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Balinese-hindu worshippers queue up to wash themselves in the Holy Spring
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The journeys between temples were so picturesque and here's a picture from the rice terrace to prove it.

On our final day in Ubud we took it slow and went for tacos. I dyed my hair out of a cup with my fingers and a tiny mirror. As a result I stained alot of my skin/the floor in the process. Anything to avoid sun bleached brassy (ginger) hair. In the evening we saw a traditional Balinese Kecak Fire and Trance Dance show at a temple. Dan was less excited for this but I kindly chose a night that ended with a man kicking coconut husks on fire around . In the end I think he enjoyed it more than I did.

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We've got to the point where we've sent three expensive packages home full of trinket souvenirs and our bags are near capacity so walking past the numerous gift shops is a test of restraint. So many pretty $1 sarongs/trousers/necklaces. Everything is $1 and thats before you've started haggling. Must. Not. Spend.

Posted by vincerb 13:52 Archived in Indonesia Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains art bali temple backpacking travelling ubud rice_field backpacking_asia mt_batur gunung_kawi kecak_fire Comments (0)

Day 105 - 109 Bali Workaway Continued

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Professional stencil work

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The rest of our time at Mandala Bali bungalows continued with painting and stencilling and to be honest we'd had enough of it by the end. We both know it was for the greater good - damage prevention to our money and something to do in our extra 3 weeks. I'm glad I was able to convince Dan that our last 'spare' week should be spent seeing some more of Indonesia- especially when the flight cost to stop off en route to Singapore wasn't too great.

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A bit of old wood and a few hooks. Good work Kemp

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Balinese builders tools. They were napping. Again

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On our last two days we rented a scooter and faced the stressful roads of Bali. We both got annoyed on the first trip out after over paying for petrol by 10x the amount. There was a big queue and it was a moment of lax concentration from both of us. All the zeros and converting rupiah into pounds amongst a queue of staring Balinese men meant we paid about £7.50 instead of 75p for a full tank. Even though we'd asked for half. Too much time in honest Malaysia has taken us of our guard. (When paying at a market in KL we didn't haggle for a £10 item so the stall owner knocked a few ringgit off even when we had the cash in hand.) The petrol incident put both of us in a bad mood (not because of the value, although £6 goes far here!) But because we were clearly struggling to work out the notes and were taken advantage of.

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Dan's mood was lifted when we stopped at an all inclusive resort he stayed in when he was 9 years old. This is also the same place he gave up on being a vegetarian after a week of egg and chips. Since finding tempeh and chilli filled courgettes I don't think he will do the same again. My mood dwindled further as I looked from a distance at the row of luxury resorts with double bed loungers and swim up pool bars. Oh how I'd like to stay at one for just one night and not have to worry about gecko's shitting on me. Or finding gecko tails on the doorstep in the morning, more cockroaches falling of the straw roof onto me in bed, ants running around my chocolate bar wrapper, jumping spiders in my bag, big ants in my bra, geckos falling off doorframes as I walk through them, huge gecko's running across the kitchen walls because of the million moths attracted to the flame of me cooking on the hob, some of whom in had to fish out of my dinner. I'm fed up with bugs.

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Next we went to Museum Pacifica. On the way a guy on a scooter asked where we are going and Dan told him. This has happened in most countries Dan always answers honestly and I later tell him off. So this random guy led us to the museum where it was then down to me to shake him off with rude 'thanks/bye/waves' otherwise he'd want to be our guide for the day with a tip and potentially taking us to his mates batik shop. Okay, so maybe I am way to cautious and have read too much travel advice but someones got to be the paranoid one. The museum was wonderful with loads of Indonesian inspired paintings.

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On our last day we made the most of our expensive petrol and headed to Uluwatu temple and beach. Unfortunately our host got dengue fever so we had to have the last afternoon off. It felt like a snow day or that time you unexpectedly get to go home from work early. We're both aware that the trip is coming to an end soonish and have remembered that the real world with jobs and decisions is waiting for us at the end on March. We might have to be official adults :-S

Posted by vincerb 00:30 Archived in Indonesia Tagged mountains beaches art people trees sky bali indonesia temple volunteering backpacking travelling scooter scam workaway backpacking_asia Comments (1)

Day 99-104 Bali


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On Tuesday we got up early for our last minute flight and exchanged our remaining ringgit for Indonesian rupiah at the airport. Suprisingly the fashion police didn't stop me at customs. Although we had doubts about going to Bali I was more optimistic for this workaway and the chance to see some of Indonesia.

Thr workaway at Mandala Bungalows certainly has more structure. We work for 4/5 hours in the afternoon painting or gardening. My artistic flair has been unleashed in the form of stencil making. Think changing rooms circa 1997. Our host likes them so much that I think I've got five days of stencilling ahead of me.

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The place is practically empty because it is low season so we've had a good look in all the more expensive rooms. Our free room is usually €25 a night so somewhat a luxury for us. The roof is thatched with geckos living in the beams. One night I was unfortunate enough to spot a huge spider up there... even Dan wasn't happy. We slept with sarong face protection. There is yet to be a non-eventful night in the bed for me with gecko's shitting millimetres from my face and a cockroach jumping down my top. But honestly it's really nice!

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Dan has been empowered by the vegetarian breakfast menu and is making all sorts of 'when I get home I'm going to cook this' claims... The food couldn't be fresher as they pluck the salad and herbs from the garden as you order.

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Our host has taken us to a local Indonesian restaurant twice for lunch and its so yummy it may take the crown of best cuisine from Malaysia. If you follow me on instagram then you already know I've made a cat friend. Who keeps trying to eat the baby chicks! And Dan has made a doggy pal too.

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So far we are enjoying being settled. I actually hung clothes up. I've also been making one pot wonders in the outdoor kitchen. Although a big beatle fell into the curry last night. For the next few days we intend to relax and watch game of thrones before heading to Ubud for one last Asian adventure.

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Posted by vincerb 02:28 Archived in Indonesia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches night volunteering travelling backpacking_asia Comments (0)

Day 97-98 KL #2

We returned to KL after the jungle while we waited to hear from another workaway project. We attempted to say goodbye to Bronwyn and Miguel twice but ended up staying on the same floor in the KL hostel. A hostel which ranks quite highly in the list of worst places we've stayed. One windowless sweat box with a mattress on the floor and grim shared shower rooms. Unidentifiable stains polka dotted the carpets and walls. Once we ventured to the common room where 18 hippies glared at us before we ran away to subway for breakfast.

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I also lost a bet with Dan in the jungle so we had our second KL Nando's despite my distaste at it's expense.

We had a bad day in KL. Nothing went successfully. By the time we got to the mosque it was closed for prayers, we couldn't find a museum (later to realise this was because there was no sign on the building but we had the right one) we walked far to much and got hot bothered and lost. After giving up on culture Dan then dragged me round 4 malls (one connects to another like a never ending shopping hell) where he bought himself a tablet. If I thought a £10 Nando's was over budget you can imagine my protest at the purchase.

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When we returned to the hotel Skype wasn't working properly so Dan couldn't get a full sentence to his mum without it cutting off. However we had secured a workaway in Bali and late that evening I booked a flight for the next morning. The repreave of the day was meeting Bronwyn and Miguel for drinks. No photos of this so here is a shot from the bus stop the day before. The perfect location for a shave.

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Posted by vincerb 01:37 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur malaysia backpacking klcc kl backpacking_asia Comments (0)

Day 92 - 96 Jungle

Okay so we signed up to 'workaway' and arranged to meet our first host at a train station on the outskirts of KL. This lead to a few worrying outbursts from me where I quizzed Dan what we would do if it turned out to be a murderous crazy person who picked us up. My fears where only half true.

The guy was a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

At the station we met the host and he drove us up a windy road to his Bamboo Village with Bronwyn and Miguel (a Canadian/Mexican couple who were also volunteering). When we arrived we met two girls who had been at the village for a few days and they gave us a tour and a run down of the place. I became apparent that it was going to be very little work and that work might just be febreeze-ing the sheets between guests.

As the time past over the next 2 days the craziness of the host was realised. We all started out overly keen to help and looking for structure. I expected to be doing 4 hours of gardening or hand washing sheets. To my delight the most I did in one day was an hour of raking leaves- and that was because I felt like I should be doing something. The host was a man who started one sentence, got distracted and began another. He'd ask for help with one thing an then walk off in a different direction. The lack of communication and organisation from him lead to a lot of reading and slacking from me. My goody-two-shoes hard working honest persona was lost right after I finished raking those leaves. After that over the next 3 days I boiled the kettle for tea a few times, changed a pillow case, swept a floor and replaced a loo roll. Surprisingly Dan took a bit longer to realise that we could get away with doing nothing so he cleaned a few ponds and showed some guests to their rooms. If you know us then you know that it is strange that I had to tell Dan to stop working and start slacking.

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It's hard to describe why we think the host was such a nut case now that it comes to writing it down. He was extremely particular about one thing i.e matching blanket colors in rooms, (despite not actually owning these) which to us seemed irrelevant, and he was completely uninterested in important things. Such as drinking water. He would come and go on his motorbike and announce something incomprehendable on arrival. He would go away from hours and return with 40 loo rolls and a loaf of bread. We'd clean a communal space and then he'd go in afterwards rearrange the furniture and turn a table upside down, be distracted and leave it. At first we were unsure and cared that the place could be great if he just did a little bit more organisation. Then we just retired to a life of reading, chatting and eating.

And it was good.

Whilst we were staying a permaculture course was running and it was a privilege to hear and watch the attendees do their 5 daily prayers on one of the gazebos. Although (understandably) the female volunteers were asked to hide their drying undies from the washing line! We could also hear the call to prayer from a nearby mosque which was a peaceful morning alarm from our bamboo hut. The 3 roosters however were not appreciated by Dan as they cock-a-doodle-doo-ed from 3am. Me and Dan saw a chicken lay 7 eggs, came across a monkey on a jungle walk, saw pineapples growing and played with the' village' cat.

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On the first night we got a lift to the local night market for dinner from one of the hosts many friends who came by each day to 'hang out'. After that we went to buy food for the next few days and bug spray. (So many bug bites and no mozzie net!) It was going to take at least an hour to walk back so while trying to find a taxi- in the middle of nowhere- a man pulled over and offered us a lift. As a four I thought we were pretty safe and we hopped in. Our first hitch-hike! Turns out the driver was a backpacker himself and always wants to help travellers out so when he travels someone might help him. We didn't know our turning so he even pulled over and called the host for directions. He even drove through the jungle road which was pretty dodgy to drop us at the door. He was so friendly that I began to think he might be a little bit mental too. That's English pessimism!

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Overall it was great for four days. We didn't pay for accommodation in return for folding a few blankets. We spent 16 pounds on cooking our own food and made a small dent in our spare 3 weeks with little effect on our budget. There wasn't much to do around the village so four days was plenty. If it wasn't for Bronwyn and Miguel it would have been much tougher, thanks guys! Dan asked many Mexican related cooking questions and is now swearing to never to eat a wheat tortilla again!

The next step? Well, one more workaway project for a week would be ideal. We might return to Penang for a week because it was so nice. Elsewhere in Malaysia we may go to Malaka but anywhere on the East coast is currently closed/raining so that might force us into a cheap flight elsewhere. Jakarta? I'll let you know!

Posted by vincerb 18:27 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia jungle volunteering backpacking bamboo travelling backpacking_asia Comments (0)

Day 87-91 Kuala Lumpur

Dan:
We left the chilly Cameron Highlands behind and took a coach into Kuala Lumpur. A city full of shiny skyscrapers, real infrastructure and pristine shopping malls - it wasn't until I saw a woman squatting in an alleyway having a piss that I realised I was still in Asia!

We spent our first afternoon in our new, exciting city stuck on the computer researching what we are going to do with the spare three weeks that have cropped up as a result of not being able to move our Australia flights. Currently we're likely to be volunteering somewhere in Asia - specific I know. In the evening we headed to a particularly busy street full of hawker stalls and ate cheap rice dishes (yep definitely still in Asia).

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On day two we ticked the big KL tourist attraction off our list, Petronas Towers, whilst it was no Rockefeller Centre it was still nice to be 86 floors up. I could stare at big shiny buildings all day, whereas Becky isn't so keen! Afterwards we shopped hard and in the end we both came out with skinny jeans and flannel shirts - we will be a perfect pair in New Zealand. Unfortunately the 'spray on' skinny jeans were just too restricting for me - it was like wearing a Boa Constricter for trousers. We treated ourselves further in the evening to....NANDOS! Whilst not as good as England it was still a treat (under four quid for a meal too!).

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On day three we went to Batu Caves with quite low expectations but both really enjoyed it. The ludicrously big (42.7 metres, thanks Wikipedia) gold Lord Murugan statue outside was a wonderful welcome to the cave, although the 276 steps were not. The cave itself was mightily impressive and we were lucky enough to visit on a day of celebration. Men, women and children were taking part in Mundan - a Hindu tradition of head shaving in order to cleanse for the gods - this also brought music and offerings to the gods. This felt like a genuine slice of India and Hinduism - the gods, art and pretty much everything visual in sight was stunning. If only I had disposable income to spend, although I did treat myself to a £2.40 incense stick holder.

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To feed our artistic appetites more we visited the Islamic Art Museum - a really wonderful gallery showcasing Islamic influenced art from Qur'an's to architecture. We were both pretty wowed by it and this has definitely bumped the Middle East up our travel wishlist. Hopefully an invitation to Omar's wedding can help this - no rush or anything mate.

On day four Dan made some friends. Asians love photos! Unfortunately we only managed to see the textile museum and Kuala Lumpur museum which were both nice but treks to the closed Police museum and craft complex dampened our spirits. On the plus side I finally managed to find a replacement five-panel for the Mighty Healthy one I left on a catamaran bound for Koh Tao.
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Day five in the city and we're confident KL is one of our favourite spots so far. We had a lazy day as we both felt pretty weak/old after yesterday's pavement pounding. We ate more good food (Malaysia is easily the best country for street food so far. Today I had a wok full of noodles and vegetables for £1.50) and managed to catch a screening of Mandela at the cinema. If you haven't seen it do, it made us feel 1) ashamed we aren't better educated on not only Mandela but South African history and 2) embarrassed to be white (although this is a common emotion).

Tomorrow we leave for the jungle - we have secured a week long volunteer placement of gardening, chopping and general jungle duties at a bamboo resort outside of the city. Wish us luck!

Posted by vincerb 06:36 Archived in Malaysia Tagged kuala_lumpur malaysia volunteering backpacking travelling klcc kl petronas_towers backpacking_asia Comments (0)

Day 85 - 86 Cameron Highlands

Oh so this is what being cold feels like!

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Luckily I got a pair of knock-off trainers in a night market in Ipoh just before arriving at the drizzling Cameron Highlands. After checking in we went straight for an Indian served on a banana leaf for about 1.60 each. It was cold and raining so we booked onto a tour for the next morning and spent the afternoon researching where we might go next and backing up photographs onto USB's. An admin afternoon. After computing our eyeballs out there was only one thing to do. Eat cake for dinner. Spending a massive 8 pounds in Starbucks on hot chocolate and muffins. The evening was spent under a blanket in the shared TV room watching Drive.

The next day we set out in a jeep to visit the BOH Tea Plantation, Mossy Forest, trekking and the top of Mt Gunung Brinchang.

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Comically we couldn't see a thing through the fog so the climb up the tower was a damp and pointless activity.

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The views from the tea plantation were spectacular and it smelled good too. We lunched with tea and scones with strawberry jam from the hills.

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On the way back to the hotel the tour finished at a Butterfly Farm where animals were poked and picked up for tourists enjoyment and kept in small, dirty, overcrowded cages. Asia's knows that the westerner likes animals and this place was built purely as a conveyor belt for tourists to come and have photos with scorpions on their heads. Despite massive signs discouraging visitors to pick up butterflies our guide pinched them by the wings and put them onto members of the group with out warning. At one point Dan was handed a rhino beetle on a stick. I swiftly ran away as the man plunged his hand into a tank of attacking snakes. Yes we like animals. But its enough to just look at them and let them get on with their stick sitting in peace.

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In the evening we discovered that our Australia flights cannot be bought forward. So an evening of panic set in.

What the fuck are we going to do for the next 3 weeks?!

A frenzy of whatsapp messages to travelled friends and brainstorming ideas for damage prevention on our budgets begun. We keep having to remind ourselves that this is a pleasant pickle to be in... I was just so ready for the art galleries of Melbourne and going home to my family early. Sob!

Posted by vincerb 03:17 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 83 - 84 Ipoh

Ipoh (ee-po) was a stop over town so we spent one day on a bus and the other looking around Kellies Castle.

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Kellie's Castle was meant to be a home away from home for Scottish Planter, William Kellie Smith in the 20th century. Being far away from home, Kellie desired his new residence to be reminiscent of his home back in Scotland. The castle is perched on top of a hill in what used to be a rubber estate.

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The idea to go to Borneo is probably now off because of weather. Bali was always going to be something we decided to book whilst out here and I don't think either of our hearts are in it. So we've requested to move our Australia flight forward by about 3 weeks and are waiting to hear back on availability and cost. This may mean we end up coming home early. For blog fans that's bad news I imagine.

Posted by vincerb 02:51 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 80 - 82 Langkawi

When backpacking on a budget you can't always get it right. Some days just won't be a success and you get bummed out. We booked a hotel online away from the beach, based on budget restrictions, with intent to rent a scooter to get us around. Unfortunately our hotel had a reception desk but no receptionist. It was by luck that Dan found a cleaner in a room on the second floor who was eventually convinced to let us check in. Being in the middle of nowhere you really need a receptionist to help you book tours, taxis, rent scooters and provide general information. Without one you spend a fair amount of time wondering in the humidity or googling everything. Due to heavy rain we were unable to rent a scooter and were forced to get expensive (by backpacking standards) taxis everywhere trying to avoid the stormy weather.

The plus of not having a receptionist was that there was no one to pay when we wanted to stay an extra night. Dan simply went behind the desk and penciled ourselves in for an extra night free of charge. Karma blah blah.

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Whilst in Langkawi we went to the cinema and saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which was a lovely tale so boost our somewhat homesick and sad moods. We took a visit to the cable car and bought a tacky souvenir plate to display with pride when we get home and play house together. I also fed lots of bunny rabbits.

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We went on a mangrove tour to see bats, mud skippers, long tailed macaques, snakes and Dan hand fed a stingray. I planted a mangrove tree seed.

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Posted by vincerb 00:37 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 76-79 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Hello Malaysia!
We left Koh Tao via an over night ferry in the hope that the sea would be alot calmer than on our way in- and to save on a nights accommodation. It was actually alright. We paid about £2 extra to get the bigger, air conditioned bunk bed ferry (as apposed to fans and shared floor mats) and it was completely worth it. Then, after two mini buses and 11 hrs, we arrived in George Town, Penang. Our hostel was located above a chocolate museum and we had a four bed dorm to ourselves.

As we were always going to be in Koh Tao for Christmas we thought we should probably go to NYE full moon party. Having had enough of the Thai south islands and in desperate need of some culture and substance we realised we were only going because we felt that we should, not that we fancied it. So instead we arrived in GT on NYE and went out to Little India, got icecream and went to a pub for a few drinks. We sat outside and watched fireworks. Dan had been inside a few times to get drinks or go to the loo. When I went I was disappointed that he hadn't warned me of the excitement within. The Malays were rocking out on the dance floor. Noteworthy were the men who danced without care or skill but were having so much fun. Imagine a Carlton Banks bunny hop mash up. At first I laughed and then I felt jealous. I care way to much about trying to look like I have some rhythm when I dance.

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On New Years Day we got cake for breakfast and wondered the beautiful streets of George Town spotting street art. I had my first pie in 2 1/2 months at the camera museum (and claimed that I'll eat pie every day when I get home) Obviously we both loved the museum and are excited to pick up our analogue cameras again when we get back.

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In the afternoon we went to the mall and I skipped into H&M excited to shop and stock up. Only to find winter coats, scarfs and jumpers. I didn't mention that it is very hot and humid here. Completely useless. In the evening we went to see the hobbit and this made me very happy. I heart Martin Freeman.

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While in GT we also visited Kek Lok Si Temple. After a sweaty hill climb (and a paddy from me- too hot, hungry, tired) we reached the beautiful red and gold adorned temple. Getting the local bus here was a heart warming ride. The driver conversed with all the passengers like close pals and wished everyone a happy new year with enthusiasm. This is what some of the Thai Islands lacked. Authenticity and local people.

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Posted by vincerb 18:21 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 73-76 Diving in Koh Tao

Dan's second post on the blog:

We did our three day open water SSI with Roctopus after much careful research due to the endless dive schools on the islands and I think we're both in agreement that it was one of the best things we've ever done.

After watching videos, signing our lives away, doing homework and exams and learning basics in a swimming pool it was time to step into the ocean.

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Much of our first dive was spent 'bouncing' up and down in the water as we struggled to find a neutral buoyancy to allow us to float freely. It was super frustrating but fortunately dive two was much more successful. We both managed to execute basic skills and it was awesome to turn around and see Becky swimming along like a professional whilst I tried my best to look good (proud boyfriend!).

Our third and forth dives were another level, by this point we were both uber confident in the water and even though Becky threw up off the side of the boat moments before the day's first dive she still leapt in first. As we bobbed on the surface it was impossible to see the sea bed and once at the bottom it was impossible to see the top - an exciting experience at 18 metres deep. I had a utopia moment when we reached to bottom, I was laying on the sea bed with brightly coloured fish swimming around everywhere - does it get any better?!

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Our second day was filmed and we have a copy of the dvd - we're looking forward to boring you all with it when we come home as we both played up to the camera as much as physically possible. After being confirmed as qualified open water divers we were wiped out and decided to treat ourselves to a full body oil massage. It was an interesting experience for me as my masseur whipped my boxers off from under the thin sheet covering my modesty and then proceeded to tuck said sheet into my arse crack! I was too tired/relaxed to care, the massage was awesome and with Becky next to me the whole time I was confident I wouldn't be molested further.

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We headed to Koh Nang Yuan on our last day in Koh Tao - another stunning island jam packed full of tourists and litter! I snorkeled around the bay for a good two hours leaving Becky to read/guard the valuables. The reefs were just as busy as the beaches, although luckily with fish rather than fat whiteys. I saw literally thousands of fish, it was awesome. I tried to chase after a few massive ones (including a 3ftx2ft trigger fish) but they eluded me. In the evening we had our last (and one of our best) Thai meal with Fausto and Janelle from our diving course - they told us about the wonders of ice cream cake in America, why don't we have this yet England?!

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We left Koh Tao on a surprisingly calm night ferry and whilst the diving was stunning it was yet another Thai islands all but ruined by the white man. I can't fathom what the islands were like before, paradise I guess. They retain their beauty but are now covered with all the negatives of the Western world. You have to take the rough with the smooth out here. We've had a great stay on the island but spent a lot of it looking past scantily clad tourists drinking from buckets at midday.
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Posted by vincerb 03:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 69 -72 Christmas in Koh Tao

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Dan and I are in agreement that the catamaran to the island was without doubt the lowest point of our trip so far. We bought an express ticket from Koh Lanta and of course we were not told there would be a 3 hr wait at the pier. As the boat smashed up and down we closed our eyes to the soundtrack of vomiting. The stack of luggage at the front swelled up and down as if was breathing. It felt like 3 hrs of the smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers. Each time the boat took a big dive freezing cold water poured from the aircon onto my head. I was unwilling to move having already planned my sinking ship escape route. At the point when I thought it was all over and the boat had docked and switched its engine off. I threw up into a 7-11 bag. Dan sweetly held my hair back despite being a complete mess himself. So much of a mess that he accidentally left his beloved hat on the boat. We're waiting to see a random Thai man wearing it.

On arrival at our Christmas hotel which we'd splashed £35 per night on (this is a LOT) we were given a one night upgrade to a room with dressing gowns, a hairdryer, a fridge and a real bathroom! We had forgotten what real life can be like and I proclaimed that the dressing gown was the highlight of the trip so far. Okay I was a bit drunk with excitement. I did wake up in the middle of the night to find Dan watching the football on mute. It was a success all round.

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The next morning (Christmas eve) we downgraded and booked onto our open water diving course. In the evening we went for a nice meal and headed to a beach front bar where Dan got one serious man crush on a Thai fire dancer with tattoos who loved getting balloons for him and his two mates. It wasn't hard for this guy to stand out. We were surrounded by stupid drunk white men who thought they could boss the flaming skipping rope. It was painful to watch them fail. And if you wanted to get close to the fire you really didn't need to move as one of the fire men (not Dan's beloved) took a liking to spinning firey poi around our heads. Our polyester santa hats got a slight singe. At midnight fireworks were set off and an unexploded part hit us then more crazy fire spinning sent a shower of sparks over us and the chair next to me caught fire. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a bucket of Sang Som and fire in your face. It was a good night and the start of our first Christmas together.

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On Christmas day we snuck into a private resort beach in hope of snorkeling with sharks (none found) Skyped our families and watched a movie. We failed to find turkey but splashed out on a £20 meal and Dan rolled his eyes as the first piece of meat in a month met his tongue. The boy ate half a chicken.

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On Boxing day we were having mixed emotions about the Thai Islands and feeling a little homesick. We're wondering if we've got old and boring because we don't want to go out partying every night with all of the other half naked boozed up Brits. Although we were craving beaches after weeks if temples. Its disappointing that we are experiencing a Thailand that has been created for the white man. It all feels a bit fake. Don't get me wrong I love western comforts of the 7-11 and hot showers but I'm wondering what was here before the bars and buckets. On that note we're reconsidering our Bali plans and thinking about going to see orangutans in Borneo instead.

Posted by vincerb 03:51 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 65-68 Koh Lanta

Koh Lanta was pretty special. We give it two thumbs up each. It had that relaxed island feel we were hoping for. People were chilled. When we got to our hostel the owner was very apologetic as the booking system had gone awol and our room was double booked. He'd arranged accommodation for us in his mates brand new 2 bed apartment sharing with a middle aged swedish couple. Who we only ever saw in swimwear or towels. They were as brown as a nut and the sweetest. Having a kitchen we went a bit crazy and I cooked for the first time in nearly two months. Not wanting to over exert myself I made microwave soup with toast.

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On our first day we visited Lanta Welfare a dog and cat sanctuary to give a donation, cat cuddles and a dog walk. It was all going super cute until Dan was given a dog who is afraid of traffic and sent on a roadside walk without knowing. The dog wriggled off her lead and ran away! Luckily she ran back to the sanctuary but some jobsworth didn't help Dan's guilt when she panicked on hearing the news. Dan was livid. Me and Spot the dog were fine.

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Another day Dan scooted me to the national park where a monkey threw a snake out of a tree and a Thai man saved me from standing on it. We scrambled up to a lighthouse to view the bay before snorkeling the afternoon away - we were lucky enough to see a leopard Moray eel!

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On the third day we used an infinity pool at a hotel overlooking a quiet beach. We both read our kindle's despite Dan's enthusiasm to play bat and ball all the time.

Posted by vincerb 03:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 63-65 Ko Phi Phi

NOTE: I didn't mention the rip tide at Phuket beach which I misjudged and on entering the sea for the first time got taken out ankles over head. Dan found me rolling around in the shallows attempting to stand up. I went under wearing my "Roy Bans" and came up with a lot of sand instead.

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We went snorkeling with sharks.

We have no photos of the sharks because the noise of the camera would have scared them away and I wasn't about to do that. Photos of snorkel masks and our boat driver who came into the sea in his pants to swim underneath us were obtained.

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The current was pretty strong so it was tough work but we did see about 15 black fin reef sharks. (Message from Dan: WE SWAM WITH SHARKS, IT WAS SO GREAT. UNDER THE SEA...WITH SHARKS....IN THEIR HABITAT. BEST THING!)

The rest of the time on the island we spent on the beach, visiting Maya bay (Leonardo Dicaprio The Beach beach) and snorkeling some more.

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Posted by vincerb 03:43 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Day 61-62 Phuket

Unfortunately Karon beach on Phuket is every thing that is wrong about tourism. The town could be any of the package holiday destinations found in a budget Thomas Cook brochure. The area we stayed in has been completely raped by stupid white people's desire to smother themselves in oil and fry until their skin resembles the brown knock off leather handbag they buy at the evening market. The area we are in is faceless and crowded. The only sign that your in Thailand can be found at the back of restaurant menu's where Thai food is hidden behind pages of pizza and schnitzel.

We flew here from Siem Reap as it was cheaper, quicker and easier than getting coaches. We stayed two nights because our next stop is Ko Phi Phi who is destined to cause trouble to our backpacker budget.

The town's redeeming attraction? DINO MINI GOLF.

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Posted by vincerb 03:25 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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