Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200603 2 Malaysia

FRIDAY 24 MARCH – We manage to get through Melbourne and out to Geelong quite quickly.  After a brief last minute shopping stop we return to Wallington where it’s action stations.  Billy need to be emptied out and the washing done before Claire can pack her things and we can sort out what is to go back with Claire, what’s staying at Bev & Norm’s and what we are taking for our back packing trip around Malaysia.  Bev cooks us a lovely lunch and we sit out on the terrace to eat it.  Bev & Norm take Claire down to Ocean Grove to do a bit of body surfing whilst we get stuck in to the jobs.  Early evening we visit Beth & John for drinks and a back packer chat then return to enjoy a full roast dinner that Bev has cooked.  Just as we finish eating Margaret arrives to collect Billy.  Her two daughters and grandson are with her and they plan on camping out to night.  We wave a sad farewell as the happy campers set off.  Then it’s back to trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot with out packing. 

WALLINGTON

 

SATURDAY 25TH MARCH - I give up trying to sleep at
3.30pm and make the most of the extra time to get my
photos labelled up on the computer as it is going back
With Claire.  I follow this on with a session on the
Internet so by the time everyone else gets up I just
have the last minute packing to deal with.  We leave
around 11am with Bev & Norm taking us all to the
airport.  Arrive in plenty of time and end up waiting
for the check in to open.  We are pushing it with our
baggage as Claire is taking things back to England for
us so her hold baggage is probably overweight and we
have 2 rucksacks to take on as cabin baggage and
these are laden with everything we need for the next 7
weeks.  As it happens we have no problem and soon
proceed to the departure lounge. Claire is addicted to
Starbucks milk shakes so I join her for one whilst we
are waiting.  Our flight leaves on time and with a
number of empty seats.  Quite a few of the Malaysian
athletes are on board.  Time passes quickly as Claire
and I enjoy the interactive games.  Malaysian airlines
seem to be making a few cut backs as they no longer
give out playing cards and other freebies but do offer
toothbrushes.  Waiting by the toilets I stop a steward
to ask for one only to find out he is an athlete in
uniform!  At Kuala Lumpur we have to board a train to
get to the main part of the airport where Claire will
board her Amsterdam flight.  Steve spots a bar with a
TV showing the Liverpool match so hardly misses us
when we go off to compare the Malaysian Starbucks
drinks.  The currency is Malaysian Ringit and sens
with approx MR 6.20 to one British pound.  Claire's
flight is delayed but we need to get a train in to
Kuala Lumpur so we part ways with us catching the KLIA
train RM35 (GBP 6.00) to Sentral Station.  Mike from
Hospitality Club meets us and we pile into his old
car.  It's a very hot and humid night and seems a long
journey to where he lives near Batu.  His flat is in
an ex timeshare complex that's a bit run down and he
is in the basement so it's really hot inside and very
basic.  We have a separate room with two very thin
foam mattresses on the floor and the bathroom shower
is the system where you fill a bucket then use a
ladle to swill water over yourself but at least it is
cold and refreshing.  Mike is very friendly and sits
with Steve chatting and watching football on TV whilst
I head for bed just after midnight.
KUALA LUMPUR
 
SUNDAY 26TH MARCH - Steve comes to bed just after me
but Mike stays up until after 5am - I know because I
hardly sleep a wink despite putting my inflatable
airbed under the mattress.  I was going to suggest to
Steve that we move in to the city to find a room as we
are a long way out and I haven't had much sleep but
when we wake up and see a very friendly and
informative note from Mike we haven't the heart to
leave.  We head down the road and find a lady waiting
for the bus.  She is extremely helpful in getting us
on the right bus and explaining the system.  On the KL
Express buses there are 3 sectors, all day use tickets
cost RM 1 (6p) for the outer sector and RM 2 (13p) for
each of the inner sectors.  Amazingly it's even
cheaper if you buy the RM 4 (26p) all sector all day
version, what a bargain considering they are modern
clean air-conditioned buses.  We have to change buses
twice in the pouring rain so are glad to reach the
twin Petronas Towers and get inside.  They do free
tours up to the sky bridge but only release a limited
number of tickets per day on a first come first served
basis.  We are offered the 12.00 visit but prefer to
take 3pm. Steve spots the local newspaper "New Sunday
Times" at RM 1.20 (20p) and is delighted to find a
full report on the Liverpool match but annoyed to read
that I dragged him away from the TV before the last
goal! There's a big modern shopping centre under the
towers where it's strange to see a "Bill & Ben"
children’s ride next to a Marks & Spencer’s store.  They
are holding a make up expo today and it's really busy
so we leave and take another bus to Chinatown.  Alight
at Medan Pasar, the central market, to start the
Lonely Planet walking tour.  Opposite the market
building we see lots of locals in a cafe having
breakfast and we are getting peckish.  End up having 1
black tea, 2 glasses of limejuice and two platters of
roti with sauces for just RM 5.80 (less than GBP1), I
can see we are going to enjoy eating out here
especially at these sort of prices.  I buy a SIM card
for my mobile using their Digi network RM 8.50 (GBP
1.40) for the card with RM 5 (80p) credit on
immediately and a further RM 20 (GBP 3.20) credit to
be added in a month.  We have a few problems getting
the card to
work but eventually get a response to one of our
messages.  After China town we cross to the area
surrounding Merdeka Square where there are some
fantastic buildings and unusual fountains.  With the
ease of a local we catch a bus back to the twin towers
for our tour.  There's a good view from the bridge and
an informative display and video to fill us in on all
the technical info.  On the top floor of the shopping
centre we visit the museum based on Formula 1 RM
5(80p) and have a laugh on the interactive games. 
Returning to Mikes we stop at one of the bus
terminuses for anther snack.  When we get back Mike is
out but has left word for us to use the computer and
TV so Steve takes over the remote control and has
trouble deciding whether to watch last nights
Liverpool match in full or the commonwealth games
closing ceremony whilst I start on my diary.  Mike
returns and tells us a Lithuanian couple from
Hospitality Club are arriving tonight, they have
stayed with him a few times before. He then tells us
that there is a swimming pool in the complex and we
are free to use it and boy do we appreciate it as it
is still very hot and humid.  The Lithuanians Arvy and
Jolita are interesting to talk to and pick our brains
on Australia as they intend going there next year.  
 
MONDAY 27 MARCH - Mike is heading into the city early
and offers us a lift to the station.  Despite leaving
at 7.15am we are soon snarled up in a traffic jam. 
Every attempt by Mike to take a different road is
thwarted by another hold up.  We make it to KL Sentral
station by 8.30am  We are booked on an Air Asia flight
to Langkawi and learnt yesterday that they have just
transferred operations to a brand new LCC (low cost
carrier) air terminal and offer a bus from Sentral to
the airport for RM 9 (GBP 1.40).  We catch the 8.45am
bus and travel out past the Grand Prix circuit on our
1 1/4 hour journey.  The airport only opened last
Thursday so everything is brand new and clean and
tidy. We booked our flights last year and including
taxes paid just RM 160 (GBP 24.00) for the two seats. 
It's a simple check in procedure where we are issued a
till type receipt in place of boarding pass.  We
breakfast on muffins at MacDonalds before moving into
the departure lounge. As a low cost airline food is
not included but there are many shops selling meals
suitable to be taken on to the plane and set out on
trays with cutlery etc.  It's free seating on the
plane and we are lucky to get the front row with leg
room for Steve.  1 hour later we land on Langkawi
Island.  There is no public transport on the island
but taxis have fixed fares and we buy a ticket for RM
10 (GBP 1.60) to get us to our hotel.  It turns out
the Langkasuka Beach Resort is only a couple of
kilometres from the airport. We booked it on the
internet last week and got the 4* hotel package of bed
and breakfast for RM 99 (GBP 16.00) a night as a late
deal special offer.  The hotel is a little old and
tired but our room is huge and very comfortable and
comes with TV including movie channel.  There's a huge
free form swimming pool behind a beautiful sandy beach
within the lagoon.  Around the complex are numerous
restaurants and it's all much better than we expected.
 We return to the room to relax and Steve is delighted
to find English football on TV - I have a feeling that
the Malaysians enjoy this sport almost as much as the
English.  There's nothing else near our hotel so we do
our tour booking in reception and negotiate a deal for
the island boat tour tomorrow RM40 (GBP 6) each and
car hire for Wednesday RM 70 (GBP 11).  Our late
afternoon stroll coincides with one of the many happy
hours so we settle down at the bar and also order a
meal from the snack menu.  Return to the room to catch
the 9pm movie but both fall asleep.
LANGKAWI 1, LANGKASUKA BEACH RESORT      
 
TUESDAY 28 MARCH - After a brief rainy spell in the
night we wake to a fine morning, think we are very
lucky as they have just had a week of rain.  Breakfast
is from 7am - 10am and comprises cereal, full English
style cooked food including eggs cooked the way you
like, toast, bread rolls, croissants and fruit. 
Needless to say a couple of bread rolls fall into our
lunch bag!  The mini bus leaves around 8am to take us
to the jetty in Teluk Baru Bay.  It's a beautiful bay
with lots of rocky limestone out crops.  Another
passenger on our trip is the Bangladesh chairman of
the commonwealth and minors youth sports that has been
in Melbourne with their team.  I may have put my foot
in it when I ask him if the Bangladesh runner who did
a runner every surfaced but he soon takes us on as his
English friends.  We board an old but fast speedboat
to take us first to Dayang Bunting Island where we
walk up and over a hill to drop down to the freshwater
"Lake of the pregnant maiden". We are surrounded by
monkeys and the ones with babies clinging on look
really cute.  In the corner of the lake there are lots
of catfish and you can put your feet in the water so
that they tickle you and give you a kind of massage. 
Steve enjoys it but I am not brave enough and opt to
have a dip in the main body of the lake.  Back on the
boat we speed around to another bay where the other
boats are clustered for the eagle feeding.  Food has
been thrown into the sea and huge eagles and kites
dive down to pick it up - magnificent.  Final stop of
the day is Beras Basah Island where we have an hour to
enjoy the beach and to swim in the warm sea.  Heading
back we spot a Star Cruise line anchored up in the
bay.  We get back to the jetty at 12.00 but are left
hanging around so all go in to the nearby cafe for
drinks and would you believe it, there's English
soccer on the TV!  Back at the hotel we sit by the
pool until mid afternoon then take a siesta.  At the
beach bar I enjoy a mocktail and Steve a beer whilst
we watch the lovely sunset. Australians Andrew and Sam
join us and we chat until 10pm and manage to fit in a
few more drinks and some food.
LANGKAWI 2, LANGKASUKA BEACH RESORT
 
WEDNESDAY 29 MARCH - After a good breakfast we pick up
our rented car at 9am and are very glad of the air-
conditioning.  Return to the airport to pick up new
tickets for our amended flight back to Manchester.
Touring clockwise around the island we first go to the
cable car but find that Wednesday is maintenance
morning and it won't be open until 12.00.  Nearby is
Telaga Tujuh, (Seven Wells) where we climb over 600
steps to get to a lovely area where water trickles
over shallow falls into seven wells.  You can slide
down some of the rocks between the wells and it's
really fun and refreshing.  On the way back down we
detour in to another waterfall before heading back to
the cable car.  RM 15 (GBP 22.00) get us up to the top
of the mountain from where there are magnificent
views.  The second part of the journey is a
continuation of the cable car across a valley to a
higher point from where you can see Thailand.  On the
way down we detour to a hanging bridge for even more
stunning views.  Back at the car our next stop is
Tanjung Rhu beach, very quiet but again with superb
limestone outcrops in the bay.  At Barn Thai
restaurant we walk 400 metres on a boardwalk through
Mangroves to where the restaurant is perched on the
edge of a river.  Most unusual but rather pricey. 
Kuah is the main town on the island and a humongous
Eagle statue greets you at the port.  Heading back
along the south coast we reach the back packers resort
of Pantai Cenang where I am now sat in a small Indian
run Internet cafe paying the costly sum of RM 3 (45p)
hour to type this up.  We are running up a bit of a
bill as Steve has had the RM 1 (15p) foot massage and
we've bought cans of pop for RM 1.20 (18p)!    
LANGKAWI 3 - LANGKASUKA RESORT
 
THURSDAY 30 MARCH - We take a taxi to the airport
where our flight to Kuala Lumpur is delayed by 1 hour.
 Our ongoing flight from KL to Kuching is delayed by
45 minutes so this seems to be the norm for Air Asia,
however when the flight is only costing us RM 45 (GBP
7.00) each we can't complain.  Air Asia is the
official sponsor of Manchester United FC and they
offer merchandise for sale during the flight but just
laugh when Steve asks if they have anything for
Liverpool FC.  Arriving in Kuching SARAWAK it soon
becomes apparent that the area around the airport has
changed.  We walk out of the terminal and 100 metres
to the right to the bus stop but find nothing but
construction work.  However once on the main road we
flag down a taxi to take us into the city RM (GBP
2.50).  The first couple of hotels we check out are
much more expensive than advertised but the driver is
happy to take us to more and we end up on Green Hill
at the Borneo B&B where RM 38 (GBP 5.80) gets us a
room with double and single bed, shower and air-con
plus breakfast.  It's quite basic and a bit tidy but
we're tired and don't want to look any further.  We've
just enough energy to take a brief walk around the
area before crashing out.
KUCHING - BORNEO B&B 
 
FRIDAY 31 MARCH - We get our breakfast of toast and
coffee at 6.30-am before the B&B lady drops us off at
the bus stop to connect with the 7am bus stop to
Semenggoh RM 2.70 (42p).  It's a real boneshaker of
a bus and noisy with it but get us to our destination
in 40 minutes.  We get dropped off at the entry to the
sanctuary where we pay RM 3 (45p) admission then walk
into the park.  The orang utan feeding has been put
back until 9am so we needn't have set out so early but
have time to explore the few cages with crocodiles and
turtles.  At feeding time we follow a guide for 200
metres into the jungle and he goes out to a platform
in the trees whilst we continue to a viewing area. 
The feeder makes some animal noises and puts out the
bananas and other fruit before backing out. We soon
hear a crashing noise in the trees and a mid size
orang utan swings down.  It's amazing to watch. The
animals here have all been rescued and will stay until
able to be released into the wild again.  Once the
orang utan has grabbed some food it retracts up into
the trees.  The next crashing we hear is much louder
and the huge mail known as "Ritchie" appears.  He's is
enormous and makes lots of noise making his way down
to the platform where he sits like the king of the
jungle.  With him on the platform no one else will
intrude but back down the path we see another orang
utan lower in the trees and near the visitor centre 3
more much close and one has a baby. They are fantastic
to watch and it's a really moving experience.  We walk
out to catch the 10am bus along with a couple of
Aussie girls.  The bus shows no signs of coming and
when we see a mini bus, with two of the tourist from
the sanctuary, we flat it down and hitch a lift back
to Kuching.  They are an English lady and her Spanish
husband and very interesting to talk to.  We stop at a
pottery factory on the way back and give the driver
some money for picking us up.  The waterfront at
Kuching is quite pleasant to walk along as we make our
way to the information centre housed in the old court
house.  We soon have accommodation booked for our trip
tomorrow to Bako National Park.  With little time to
spare we walk back through the streets to the Harbour
View Hotel to book their RM 60 (GBP9) shuttle bus to
the Cultural Village, this price includes the RM45
admission.  The 12.15pm shuttle gets us to the park at
lunch time so we have a meal ourselves before things
get going again at 2pm. A number of houses from the
different tribes are situated around the lake and when
you enter each one you find people in rational
costume going about what would be the daily business
or doing traditional craft work.  It's touristy but
the houses are all different and interesting and it
gives us a quick look at the culture.  At 4pm they
present a show in the theatre but that part is really
cheesy.  After returning on the mini bus we eat at the
hawker stalls before returning to the B&B.
KUCHING, BORNEO B&B

 

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