A Travellerspoint blog

The Kingdom of Malaysia

Palou Tioman Island

overcast 32 °C
View Backpacking on rachelk27's travel map.

To escape the glitz and glam of Singapore we decided to travel on a bus and catch a ferry across to the paradise island of Palou Tioman located on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. We were up early to get the bus and once we cleared Singapore customs we were on our way to Malaysia. The journey to the ferry port town of Tanjung Gemok was really scenic. We passed through so many rubber and palm oil plantations two of Malaysia's main cash crops. After around 2 hrs of crossing the South China sea we finally arrived on the island of Palou Tioman. Its a beautiful island really green and fringed with white sandy beaches. Its very peaceful because there are no roads on the island so not a car in sight! The only way of getting around is to get a boat to take you along the coast to other little villages on the island. The island is very popular for diving and snorkelling. We went snorkelling on one of the days and saw so many tropical fish. It was breathtaking! We went for a bit of a trek on the island too and saw huge butterflies, wild monkeys and these freaky looking creatures called monitor lizards. The lizard we saw was well over a metre. I nearly got a photo of him but he was camera shy and ran off into the jungle. We stayed there for around 5 days which was perfect. It was a lovely holiday from the holiday to prepare us for our holiday at home in Ireland!
There were only a few tourists on the island mainly Chinese and Korean.

On our way back to Singapore custom officials are really strict and its forbidden to bring in cheap booze and smokes from Malaysia by land. Chewing gum even has to be declared and is limited to one pack per person and thats only dental chewing gum! Just like Malaysia the death sentence is mandatory in Singapore if your caught in the possesion of drugs. I was really nervous with that pack of panadol I had in my bag should have dumped it just incase! You can never be too careful!

We spent a few more days in Singapore before getting ready to catch our flight home to Ireland. After the last 6 mths of travelling around and taking an endless number of planes, trains and bus journeys we ll be making our way home for the month of August. I have taken over 4000 photos and read around 20 books!
Hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as we enjoyed all the experiences we had on the travels. The blog was only a brief snap shot of some of the wonderful things we saw and did along the way. So until the next time......................The End (but not for long!).

Posted by rachelk27 07:54 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Singapore- The Lion City

Spic and Span Singapore City

overcast 32 °C
View Backpacking on rachelk27's travel map.

Singapore is a country and a city in one and has a population of over 4 million people even though its only 45km in width! It s also one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Its a bit difficult to describe Singapore. Its a dynamic city with so many different faces which makes it hard to know what country you are in! The 4 main languages are Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English so whenever you look at a public sign it has 4 different translations.
The main part of the city centre is around the shopping area of Orchard Road. Its a few kilometres long and is full of glitzy shopping malls that you could get lost in.
We stayed in Little India in a backpackers hostel. The bar was really cool but the rooms were terrible with no windows. The first night we arrived we were wrecked and needed a good sleep but it felt like the band in the bar were playing in our room it was that bloodly loud. We were going to check out the next day but accomadation in Singapore is really expensive and its hard to find somewhere decent. Apart from the dump that we stayed in Little India was fantastic. We both loved it and it was like being back in India but this was the super sanitised version not a cow or elephant in sight walking down the main street!
There is plenty to see and do in Singapore and each district is very different from the crazy streets of Little India to the markets in Chinatown. On our first day we had an Indian thali for breakfast and a Chinese veg noodle for dinner. We did nt know if we were back in India or China! Looking at the Chinese menu (in English this time around!) we were spoilt for choice and had a good laugh at the menu. Pig organ soup was the speciality dish of the restaurant. It was a tough call to make but we went for the veg noodle dish instead. Its unreal what they eat and it would really make your stomach turn. Its great to see so many different ethnic groups live in harmony under the one roof. We bumped into Ciara and Steve too that we met in Cambodia when we were strolling around Chinatown so that was lovely to catch up with them again. They were flying home the next day so we didnt take them out on a bender like poor Tom who missed his flight home! Just goes to show you how small the world is getting.
Sentosa island is a major tourist draw for visitors to Singapore. Ben and I got the cable car across to the island and we were both terrified!The views were amazing once I had the guts to open my eyes! It was a great way to see the city skyline from a birds eye view. Sentosa is a plastic fantastic kind of place. It has 3 man made beaches, an aquarium and a few flash resorts. We stayed on the island for the day and got the dreaded cable car back to Singapore!
Another really good thing to do in Singapore is a visit to the Botanical gardens. I could nt sell this one to Ben as looking at flowers for the day is not his thing but I was in photo heaven. They even have an air conditioned room for some of the rare orchids that they breed at the gardens.
When we returned from Malaysia we spent our last few days in Singapore before getting ready to fly home.

Posted by rachelk27 07:23 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Australia- The Land Down Under

Queensland- The Sunshine State Brisbane City

sunny 21 °C
View Backpacking on rachelk27's travel map.

The flight from Bangkok was fine and we arrived on time in Brisbane. Our welcome commitee was there at the airport to meet & greet us into the country. It was lovely to see John, Michelle and John Jr at the arrivals hall. We stayed with John & Michelle during our stay in Brisbane. It was so good to have a place to live and a place to put all our things. It took us a few days to settle in and get used the place. After around 3 days we were ready to pack our bags again and go out to the main road and flag down a tuk-tuk!
Brisbane just seemed so clean, organised and normal compared to the last few months of backpacking around Asia. After a rest we went to the local supermarket to buy a few bits. It was weird seeing price tags on all the food and no haggling for anything as it was all fixed price only! It was such a treat to buy cold milk, cereal and brown bread. After eating off menus for the last few months we were delighted to be cooking our own food just the way we liked it. It was such a novelty to be able to flick on the kettle when ever I fancied a cuppa!
Too be honest I dont have a whole lot of news to report back from Brisbane. We were both shattered after the last few months so we just took it easy for the few weeks that we were in Brissie.
Ben practically had a job in the bag before we landed and he just had to formalise a few things with his new boss.
I went for a few interviews with recruitment agencies in the city dressed to kill in my new power suit that I got especially tailored off an Indian tailor in Bangkok. Putting on make up and trying to walk in high heels was a different story after looking like a right crusty in Asia for the last few months! The interviews were fine and one of them offered me an immediate start which I could'nt take but hopefully I ll have something lined up for September. Funds are going low after living it up for the last few months and with the visa that we have we re not allowed go on the dole for the first 2 years of living in Oz!
Brisbane is a lovely city and is the capital city of Queensland which is known as the sunshine state! When we arrived it was supposedly "winter time". Imagine this you can still get sunburnt in winter time in Brisbane! The weather was really good not really beach weather but still unreal for winter. The only disappointment was that it got dark at around 5.00pm. It gets dark early in summer time too because they do not observe daylight savings.
The city itself is really relaxed and chilled out. It seemed a lot bigger and the skyscrapers have gotten higher since I was here last with Gina back in 1999. There s a lovely clean river that goes through the city (not a plastic bag or shopping trolley in sight!) called Brisbane River, makes it easy to remember just incase you forget where you are! Its really handy because you can travel on the ferry cats around the city or use the train to get around.
Apart from sleeping and eating and watching our pirate DVDs that we bought in Vietnam and Thailand we took up a new found love for Aussie rules and played a few games at the local Oval.
It was great to get ourselves sorted and get set up for when we return in September. All I have to do now is get a car loan buy a ute and put Ben in the back with a slab of VB.

Posted by rachelk27 06:45 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Kingdom of Thailand

The Land of Smiles :D)

semi-overcast 29 °C
View Backpacking on rachelk27's travel map.

We left Cambodia at 8.00am and 11 hrs later we were dropped off on Khao San Road in Bangkok. The bus journey was crazy! From Siam Riep to the Thai border the road was shocking. It was a red dirt road for most of the journey with hugh potholes that you could do the backstoke in! We passed through some really poor villages along the way and plenty of buses broken down at the side of the road. When we arrived at the Thai border the place looked much more wealthy and it was a lot cleaner than Cambodia. The roads were also excellent. We changed buses at the border and the Thai bus driver was a lunantic. He hadnt a clue how to drive. We had so many near misses I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best! We had stayed on Khao San Road 5 years ago when we were in Bangkok and it was still pretty much the same place. Full of cheap hostels, bars and Thai people trying hard to sell any kind of crap to tourists and travellers. We checked out the old hostel we stayed in but it was absolutely filthy and looked like the place wasnt cleaned since we checked out the last time. Carrying our heavy backpacks we found a much cleaner place in a nice quite location of the main drag.
The following day just pure coincidence we bumped into Tom who we met on the Halong Bay trip in Vietnam. He had checked into the same place as us right next door! So we hit the town and relived some of our travels. We were out until 3am and Tom had to get up at 5.30 to catch his flight home to Ireland. Of course he missed the plane! But luckily enough the airline put him on the next flight for a 1000BHT fine (only 20euro!). Im sure he cursed us few times for keeping him out so late but at least he made it home in one piece!
The following night in the same hostel Tom was gone but another Irish guy called Matthew had checked in next door to us. We were woken up in the middle of the night by the deepest Barry White voice you could imagine! Basically, to cut a long story short after a feed of drink it took Matthew a long time to realise that he had been chatting up a ladyboy for the night. So he found out fast enough after bringing her back to his room! It was a bit of a Crying Game moment! When he kicked her out of the room she kept on banging on the door shouting "Matthew give me my shoes back"! They must have been a good pair of "Jimmy Choos" because she was pretty adamant on getting them back! After a good hour of banging on the door security gaurds came up to the room to move her a long!
I love Bangkok in a crazy kinda way. Its not a very nice city to look at and the traffic is awful but the people, the buzz and the food are fantastic.
We had been to some of the city sites before but one visit wasnt enough to do them any justice so we went back again for another look around. The Grand Palace is set in a lovely area with nice gardens and amazing looking temples (wats). The temples are all gold plated and very ornate. The king was in town so parts off the palace were closed to the public. We visited Wat Phra Kaew and saw the Emerald Buddha. Managed to get some good pictures! A short walk away is Wat Po which is home to the biggest reclining Buddha in Thailand.
After spending a few days in Bangkok we travelled further south to the island of Kho Phangan. Because of the time of year and the start of the wet season we were advised by a travel agent to head to the islands on the east coast instead ot the west coast. We were really unlucky with the weather only got 2 sunny days out of 6! We still had a nice time and because it was low season we got to stay in a fab place for peanuts! Kho Phangan is a lovely island apart from the tacky town of Hat Rin where all the full moon parties are held. We stayed on a quite beach so it was really chilled out and had the place to ourselves most days!
When we returned to Bangkok we had our last look around the city and stocked up on some clean clothes for Oz. You can shop til you drop in Bangkok!
After spending 5mths around Asia we were really sad to be leaving but time to move on to some bit of normality again! We jumped on a plane to Brisbane via Sydney to start another leg of the trip...............

Posted by rachelk27 06:42 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Kingdom of Cambodia

Temples of Angkor

sunny 35 °C
View Backpacking on rachelk27's travel map.

The 7 hour bus journey from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh was surprisingly comfortable! It only took us 2 hrs to get to the border where we got our Cambodian visas no problem. Once we crossed the border from Vietnam to Cambodia the place looked noticably poorer. The countryside was really scenic with big paddy fields, palm trees and lots of water buffalo.
We were wrecked when we arrived in Phnom Penh and after a lot of looking around we found a relatively safe and clean place to stay by the lakeside. We were assured when we checked in that there were no rats in the guesthouse even though I didnt believe her it was too late to go anywhere else!
Phnom Penh is really nice in the city centre by the riverfront where the Royal Palace is located but as you probably know the city has a very chilling past. We met up with a lovely tuk tuk driver called Wayne ( I dont think that was his real name doesnt sound very Cambodian!) and he took around Phnom Penh for the day. We visited the killing fields, Tuol Seng, the Royal Palace and the local market.
I had read a few books on Pol Pol and the Khmer Rouge to psych myself up for the killing fields and Tuol Seng museum (a former secondary school which Pol Pol converted into a major torture centre for victims of the Khmer Rouge. They called them the Khmer Rouge because they wore red scarves around their necks). It was horrible to imagine how all those poor innocent Cambodians suffered under Pol Pots leadership. Around 2 million Cambodians died between 1975-1979. It was interesting to learn all about the Khmer rouge but horrified by what they had done to so many innocent people.
Enough depressing stuff, even though Cambodia has a very turbulent past it still is a fascinating country to visit just be careful not to wander off the beaten path because there are still hundreds of thousands of landmines left around the countryside since the civil war.
After a few days in Phnom Penh we got another bus to Siam Riep. The bus took around 6 hrs and the road was after an upgrade so not too many bumps along the way. We met a lovely Irish couple from Dublin on the bus and shared a tuk tuk into Siam Riep. When we got off the bus there were so many tuk tuk drivers scouting for business. It only costs a dollar for a spin into the city centre but they were hounding the place like a spin was worth $50. To be honest I got a fright when I saw them so hungry for business. One of them grabbed on to me but I just ran after Ben, Ciara and Steve as fast as I could and jumped into their tuk tuk!
Siam Riep is all geared towards the most magnificent Temples of Angkor! The following day we got up at 4.15 to catch sunrise over Angkor Wat. I know it was crazy getting up so early but it really was well worth it! We booked Mr. Tino for the day, the tuk tuk driver that collected us at the bus stop. Thats why the bus stop was so crazy because it the tuk tuk driver collects you at the bus stop chances are you ll book him the next day to drive you around the temples! The poor fellow went to sleep in his tuk tuk outside our guesthouse incase we would be stolen by another driver. We woke him up and he took us around for the day. He was only 22 so wasnt born when Pol Pot was in power but he told us about his parents and how they worked from sunrise to sunset in the fields as slave labours with very little food.
Even if you travel all the way to Cambodia and only see one thing make sure its Angkor! Angkor was the capital of Cambodia's ancient Khmer empire. The place is full of beautiful temples and little kids who try hard and sell things to tourists. Ben had one little girl hanging off him to buy a bracelet! She was only around 5 "buy one for $1 and 2 for $2" not a very good sales technique but it worked. They would try so hard to sell anything. A Cambodian kid was trying to flog me cold drinks and I didnt want to be encouraging him. He asked me where I was from and I said Ireland. "Oh I know Ireland I know Dublin"! He put a bamboo bracelet on my wrist and said it was my free Cambodian souvenir. I felt so guilty then I went back to his shop and bought a can of coke for our tuk tuk driver Mr. Tino. I gave $1 for the coke and he was so proud and gave it straight to his mother. Then his mother was running after me to flog me a few t-shirts! Your heart would be broke from saying no thanks!
My favourite temple was Ta Prohm where Tomb Raider was filmed. It was really cool to see all the huge tree roots growing through the temple and it was still standing! We started at 4.15 and were wrecked by12.00 so finished up for the day. We had seen all the big ones at that stage so it was time to get out of the hot sun. It was so hot in Cambodia similiar to the dead heat in Laos with no sea breeze to cool us down! After all those temples we cooled down with a few Angkor beers with Ciara and Steve!
We spent less than a week in Cambodia. It was too hot and we were eager to push on to Thailand so from Siam Riep we got another dreaded bus to Bangkok!

Posted by rachelk27 05:12 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 17) Page [1] 2 3 4 »