A Travellerspoint blog

Indonesia Part III (well, it's a big country..)

Bromo, Bali and back to Sumatra with a bit of KL chucked in for good measure....

sunny 30 °C

Hello there intripid followers....

so, where was I? Oh yes, about to climb another volcano, this time for a sunrise so started at 4am walking again down hill... it was pitch black and baltic. Aisling and I headed out with t-shirts, jumpers, socks, trainers, wooley hats, hoods up and of course my trusty lighter torch which actually did ok considering. Anyway we spot a volcano which we think must be Bromo and look for the white stones to lead the way to the base. Lots of white stones going in both directions so we pick the stones on the right and head off through the desert. A wee while later we see a woman standing by the side of the stones and asks us if we know where we're going, not sure now we consult both maps then a man on a horse appears out of the dark and says we're going the wrong way and did we need a guide. No thanks but which way is Bromo..? We'd followed the wrong stones, we should have gone left doh!! anyway, we get to the base just as the sun starts to rise and climb up about a million breath stealing steps, ok 253 but still. I of course took a few photos so had to stop once or twice but it was fab, nothing to do with being totally out of breath or anything.... The view from the top was amazing!! the crater itself a steaming ominious looking thing that could have exploded at any moment I'm sure. You could hear a rushing noise which I like to think is molten lava but might just be water. After sitting for a while Aisling and I start to walk round the edge, it takes an hour if you do the full circle (which we didn't) we stopped, took some daft photos and ate a bar of cadburys creme bruliee chocolate which I'd brought back from singapore and had melted in the heat of Yogja but soon solidified again in the freezing 4 degrees of Bromo. We then headed back to the village we started at half an hour before we had to leave so thought we'd go for a coffee before getting on the bus back to the hotel for a well deserved hot shower and free breakfast. 7:30am and we head for the bus but it had already gone!! The french people we walked a bit of the way back with were on it and never said a thing, bleedin french people, you know, sorry if you're french or sorry if you know some nice french people but they don't half think they're the dogs nads. Walking on pavements and not caring about anyone around them trying to get passed or whatever, just kind of look at you with a faint disgust in their eyes. Anyhoo, got back to the hotel eventually as a nice bloke gave us a lift then went for a shower but it wasn't working and breakfast was waiting for us on a chair outside the room. Breakfast, pah!! a boiled egg and 2 bits of 'toast' and a cup of tepid tea. I tell you, never in my puff have I ever seen so many boiled eggs. They sell them on the streets, they have bowls of them on table resturants, whatever happened to breadsticks? and as for the toast, well, are all toasters set on dog breath heat? we wouldn't want to burn it would we? a bit of colour wouldn't go a miss though, not taht I eat toast. Tired and annoyed at the french folk and the guy for leaving us up the hill we complained about the lack of hot water, which took about 20 mins for the guy to actually work out the gas had run out and we also complained about breakfast so they brought us some fried rice instead. They must have been scared of the tall one and the blonde one. Back onto the mini bus now which had as many people in it as humanly possible. I was last on so got to sit on a wee plank of wood wondering how my cow for milking was going to fit on. Then a wait for about an hour in town before getting on the big bus to Denpesar in Bali. We all got turfed out of the bus about 2 hours later with a shout from the bus drivers helper of EAT!! a lot of people only just got their food when the bus horn went and we were all told to GET BACK ON!! it was another 8 and a half hours before we eventually got to Denpensar after an hour on a ferry and another 3 hours on the bus. When we got off the bus is was like feeding time at the zoo, so many taxi and bemo drivers trying to get business from you. We had an exchange of words with the bemo guy before getting all our stuff out of his vehicle and into a taxi. By this opoint we'd picked up 3 lads to share the fare to Legion/Kuta.
OMG, Kuta is a nightmare. Its like Benalmadena on hybrid acid with louty, shouty, puking men and scantily clad mutton dressed as lamb falling out of scary pubs and clubs. At 11:30pm after being on a bus for near 2 days, I was shocked by the sheer hedonism of it all. I may be getting old by saying that but I felt old. The next morning we headed straight for Ubud where if you want to party you can but it's not in your face 24/7. We frequented a place called the Bali Budda where you can get anything from normal to vegan, raw and gluten free foods hurrah!! I especially enjoyed the butterscotch cake thing and these wee balls made of cashewnuts and sweet stuff, lush!! There are lots of temples in Ubud, one on every corner and loads more that aren't. Everyday people put offerings out to their gods on palm leaves with incense and fruit which help the stray dogs as they eat the rice laid out. The temple guards (made of stone) are covered in silk material, have umbrellas above them and some even have scarves round thier stoney necks, it's truley fabulous.
Aislings boyfriend Philip joined us in Bali, Aisling could hardly contain her excitment bless her. We hired a scooter in the morning and had a drive around. I had Aisling on the back for a while dodging kids in the street and tarpulin covered in drying rice. Who keeps leaving them on the road I don't know. All the kids want to slap the palm of the passenger which was class, I had a peek in the wing mirror once and just caught a wee boy throwing his trainers at us!! little toad. I left Aisling to get ready to head to the airport to collect Philip and went off on the bike myself. Turned the opposite way to the way we'd gone earlier and found a street full of shops. It must have been about 3kms long lined with shops selling sparkly things, wooden carvings, and even christmas trees!! very odd to see santa sat outside a shop full of christmas things with the sun burning down onto my back. I bought myself a gorgeous wooden necklace and wee Lucy and Carla a fairy each which I posted, not sure when they'll get that parcel.
There are a lot of dogs in Ubud. Some are obviously happy and cared for and others are so skinny it would be better to put them out of their misery. The dog Chalky that lives where I was staying hated me on our first night, growling at me out the corner of her eye but the next mroning she was nice as pie. Aisling thought she might have an evil twin... by the time I left she was coming to my room and rolling over. Must be the snowwhite in me at work again. After my trip on the scooter I shopped unsuccessfully for a long floaty skirt, ate a crap offering from a street vendor, read lots of my book 'almost french' by sarah turnbull which I would recommend cos it's very funny, smoked lots of ciggies and watched a cat with a weird tail (like most cats over here, something to do with inter breeding) wander around the garden outside my room meiowing. Obviously having lost something. At about 8pm I contemplated bed, how rock and roll... So I went out.
We all went to a traditional fire and trance dance on the Friday night. It was amazing, I loved it. Three rows of men sitting in a circle chanting while women danced in the centre then a monster came out then an old bloke and tried to drag one of the women away. I have no idea what the story was but it was fab to watch. After all that a man came out on what I can olny discribe as a hobby horse, perhaps it was a chicken I don't really know. They built up a pile of coconut husks and set fire to them, then the man sat on the chicken ran about then kicked all the flaming husks about and ran through them all in his bare feet!! the chanting men then scraped them all back into the centre and he kicked them about again. Some husks went towards spectators narrowly missing feet and bags. It started to rain and I laughed as people ran for cover and others used the now empty chairs as hats haha. I'm melting, I'm melting... (in voice of wicked witch from the wizard of oz)
Had a couple of massages which were ace although I felt sick afterwards, very sore back, think it's from riding the scooter... The massuse I got was a tiny wee woman by my word she was strong. When she was doing my arms the pressure actually made my fingers move!! the second time was good but I had a different woman, not so strong. I could tell Philip got the wee woman this time though from the screams coming from the other room!!
Went for a walk and ended up at a market. They sell lots of wooden willys at the market, all sizes and mostly with a bottle opener on them. I was going to buy one but they were too expensive. I'm glad I didn't cos we went to Maas, the mecca for cheap wooden carvings but could only find expensive shops so while A&P were in a shop trying to bargain with the owner for carved masks I asked a taxi driver where there was a cheaper place so I hopped into the shop and stopped the purchase and we all went to a market where Philip got the same 3 masks for the price of one in Maas. This is where I bought a rather special wooden carving for LeeAnne.
Monkey forrest was a bit mad. Like being in Gib but with a different species, even the monkeys were different boom boom!! They were macacs so had tails, just as mean though and a bit creepy really. Aisling went to take a picture of a baby but got too close and it's mother bared her teeth and half chased her down the road. Saw one monkey with a fag in it's mouth which it ripped apart and tried to eat then another one stole a bottle of water from a tourist, opened it and drank the contents then a little girl gave one a sweetie wrapped in plastic, very irresponsible. Her family thought it was hilarious.

I tortured myself by going for another wax and also a facial, it was an experience for want of a better word. I lay on the bed and was surprised to learn that it was the man who was going to scalp me. He's was as camp as christmas but even so I was a little embarassed. Anyway he plugged in the bowl of wax into the mains and my fear began as the sugar wax began to boil and spit over the side. He tells me this is ok and to just relax while putting a page of the local newspaper under me. He switched the bowl off and began to stir as the volcanic lava hissed and spat up in the air like one of the local volcanos erupting and scaring everyone who lived below. He then started putting the hot sugary lava on me as a woman came in who I can only imagine was there to hold me down. He laddled the wax all over, put the cotton strip on me, looked me worriedly in the eyes and ripped it off with one hand as the other flew up behind him ala Ainsley Harriot seasoning some wonderful dish he's just prepared. He had the flamboyance and drama of a Matador in a Spanish bull fight. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd have shouted 'Olay!!' as he ripped the strip away over and over again. I laughed many times but some of it just plain hurt. The woman holding me down left half way through and her replacement arrived to help, counting satu, dua, tiga... rip!! I was left brusied, battered, stinging and rather sore. Anyway, I then relaxed for my facial which was really good, obviously more his fortay than waxing"

The next couple of days we just spent chilling out and laughing, they're such a nice couple. Then we hired a scooter each and headed to the beach about an hour away. I loved it, I totally miss my bike that I used to have in Gib. Not realising till we stopped for a coffee, Aisling was hating it bless her. We made it to the deserted beach and lay down on the grassy bit and soaked up some sun. Of all the places on the beach, this local guy wearing a pair of jeans and a hooded top sat just below us and stared, then he moved a bit and stared some more. I tell you, if it had just of been myself and Aisling, we would have packed up and gone. Very odd behaviour indeed. When we got home, I parked up my bike, walked across the road and lost the key. I have no idea what happened to it. I'm sure I locked the bike and pulled the key out but maybe I didn't. I don't know, anyway it was gone, we all search high andlow but it was like it had disintigrated in my hand. dreading telling the bloke I hired it off ad hoping he had a spare we went and got him. He was soooo nice about it, and even nicer as he handed me the bill for 300,000 rupia. It's not a hge amount of money in the grand scheme of things but it would have paid for my 3 nights in my room including breakfast. Afterwards I realised that it must be cos I'd upset Budda himself. I refilled my bottle of water in the Bali Budda restuarant and walked off without paying for it. Not by mistake but on purpose cos there was no one at the till. Bad bad GiGi. That night I went back to my room and turned the light on while holding onto the post of my 4 poster bed, sounds plush but I watched the guy clean the room, he didn't change the sheets, the loo had no seat, the toilet door didn't shut even though it was opposite a window with curtains that didn't quite fit and the blanket I was suppose to lie under had dirty black stains on it. Anyway, I held onto the post like I had many times in the 2 days I'd been there and it came away in my hand and fell down my leg scraping skin away from the bone of my ankle. It hurt. I can't remember what the third bit of karma was,you know these things always happen is 3's, it must have been very traumatic though.

I said my goodbyes to Aisling and Philip and got into a mini bus to the airport to go back to Sumatra for a week. Aisling ran after the bus with her arms out shouting Noooooo it was a very touching scene. I didn't think I was going to see them again till next year in Dublin but I ended up in Kuala Lumpur and met up with them again there yay!! Anyway back to Sumatra and lake toba. After 2 planes, a night in a hostle with a surfing primary school teacher from NZ that lives in Mallorca who I met on the plane, a crap breakfast and a becak to the bus station and a 4 hour local bus to Parapet and a half hour on a ferry I arrived back in Bagus Bay - knackered. On the way to the bus station a man on a motorbike came up behind me o the becak shouting 'Dana Toba??' how these people know where you're going is beyond me. The bus was local so didn't cost much but it was really hot. 3 of us shared the 2 seats and I was squashed up agaist the window anyway, they all smoke these garam clove cigarettes on the bus which is horrible and I think the driver must have gotten a new horn for his birthday the amount of times he used it. His driving was pretty scary at times and even some of the locals gasped in fear when he overtook a lorry on a blind corner tooting his horn. I think at one point we may have hit someone on a bike as the bus stopped and the helper bloke went outside to some woman shouting and screaming at him. No one was hurt but the bus was defo too near who ever it was.
Back on Tuk Tuk and it's nice and calm and lovely to have people recognise you. I had a lovely room with a hot shower and went to sit by the lake for a while in the sun. I met a guy called Jan from Holland. After chatting for a bit I mentioned Gibraltar and he says he met 2 people from Gibraltar while travelling through Vietnam. It's a small world, I actually know them!! Steve and Caroline, crazy. Anyway, I spent a week chilling out and eating at the Batak village and generally not doing a great deal so when Jan and an american couple said they were going to Medan on the bus, I booked a flight to Kuala Lumpur and joined them on the bus. We all stayed in the same hotel I stayed in the first time I was in Medan and swapped addresses and stuff before saying cheerio at breakfast time. Did I tell yu about the dog eating in Tuk Tuk? I can't remember... Tony's dog Jackson got eaten by Tony's dad, how mean is that?? Tony didn't even know till he was tucking into what he thought was suckling pig only to be told his was his pet pooch!!
Anyway being back in KL was actually pretty good and the fact that I was going to see Aisling andf Philip again made things even better. 7 days is a bit long to be there but it's been nice to stock up on deoderant, sunblock and other western things not knowing Thailand has boots... ah well. The hostl I stayed in was fab, I didn't like it at first, bit like a hippy commune and I was put in a dorm but when woke up the next day I realised its the best hostel I've stayed in!! Have met some great people including Fernando from Mexico who I'm sharing th dorm with and Dominique then Mark and last of all a very lively lady from Slovenia called Sonya. I didn't do much in KL apart from relax and read a good book then when Aisling and Philip got there we went to the Batu Caves which were quite good, lots of steps, a big golden budda statue and lots of moneys in the caves. I enjoyed it but it lacked the 'wow' factor for me and the monkeys were creepy... I got my book for a shop that also sold a range for hypocondriachs (that can't be how you spell it but you know what I mean) they had titles like 'Non stick pans can cause sickness' 'new but defective cars and tyres' '50 reasons why eating meat is wrong' 'low level radiation - the invisable killer' and 'how toxic is your coffee' which I bought for Aisling. I wnt out one night to a gay bar with fernando called the Blue Boy which was a bit dissapointing really. It was really dark and although the music was good it wasn't all that. I had to queue with the men for the only toilet and after spotting the only other woman in there, on closer inspection I noticed she wasn't a lady at all!!
The market in China town is mental. I bought a small rucksack and haggled the bloke down from 45 to 30, I say haggle, he said 45 I said Hmm so he said 35, I said 30 and he went ok then. I should have gon for 20. I stayed in a wee hotl my first 2 nights as it wqas dark when I arrived and I walked the wrong way down the street my hostel was on. Went out for food and it was raining so hard the street flooded in about 5 mins so I stood at the door of the hotel and watched people falling over ehehe flip flops and rain and slippery pavements don't mix. An indian bloke started chatting to me and asking all the ordinary questions like where you from, where you been etc then after I said I'd been travelling with Aisling he said 'so what have you been doing for sex or are you a lesbian' hello like?? when we were waiting for a bus outside the batu caves a guy came up to us all, again indian, and asked questions then said I looked like diana... princess or someone he knew I wasn't sure then kissed the girls on the cheek and tried to snog the face of an american girl!! they seem to think if you're white you have loads of money and are easy, it's very weird and notvery nice. went out for veggie food that night at an indian resturant which was amazing!! They might not have many manners but they sure know how to cook. Went to the cinema to see District 9 with Aisling, Philip and Fernando which was great, bit odd like and I won't spoil it for yuo by telling you all about it.
Next day I headed off to get my plane to Krabi in Thailand which I will leave for next time.

I wrote that last bit a bit quick as I'm in bangkok now and yu have to put 10 baht coins in the computer to make it work and I've run out now LOL!!

so, until next time......xx

Posted by blondesock 08:39 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Indonesia Part II

Almost all my adventures in Java... more to follow

sunny 30 °C

Hello again and so soon you cry, have you finished the last one? This is going to be a whopper!! I missed out a few bits in the last one so might add them in here and there....

so, The flight to Jakarta from Padang was great, we got a sweetie to suck while taking off then a wee box with a sweetcorn pie, glass of watter and a slice of green cake. Slept on the plane for an hour cos I was so knackered from the bus trip and the motorbike ride to the airport. Got to sweaty, dirty, muggy Jakarta and tried to find somewhere to stay. The hostel we wanted was full so went next door to find it was totally minging and we found out later the guy that ran it was a bit of peeping tom perve so glad we treated ourselves to a hotel down the road for the night after looking at more flea pits then moved into our first choice the next day which was lovely and clean. The beds were like prison issue and I think the matresses were about 50 years old and well passed their prime but good enough for what we paid.

So, another volcano, the fullest train I've been on, the unfortunate trip to Bandung, rollercoasters, photo taking and much more... let the tale begin (even if I sort of started it above already...)

We were all set and excited to be going to the fun fair in Kota, kinda like a rip off of disney we were led to beleive. Got to the train station and went upto a counter and asked for 2 return tickets to Kota. Ok she said, that'll be 100,000 rp Hmm we thought, seems like a lot but it is there and back for 2.... Got the ticket and headed to the platform asking people if the ticket was indeed for Kota. They all said yes even the train attendant and a man sat across the aisle from us. 3 and a half hours later on 1st class might I add, we arrived in Bandung which has now been dubbed Bad dung cos it was horrible and not right at all. Kota we discover is a meer 15 minute train ride in the opposite direction and the woman at the station just had no idea what we had asked for and just gave us what she thought was best. Anyway Bad dung was really dirty, the rivers all chocked with plastic and other rubbish, millions of cars and bikes and buses all trying to find space to get to where they were going, minging. We'd heard about a a famous dutch bakery so decided to find it, have some lunch somehwere and get the 3.5 hour train back to Jakarta day wasted. It wasn't totally wasted though as it was in Bandung that I drank my first ever cup of coffee. Yes, 29 (ahem) years old and never had a cup of coffee. We had lunch in this wee indian place and afterwards Aisling ordered 1 coffee, no sugar. He repeated back, one coffee no sugar while putting 2 fingers in the air so when 2 coffees with sugar arrived I decided to try it, after all my friend Niall did say the coffee in Sumatra/Java was supposed to be good. When I get the before and after pics off Aisling I shall post them, there I am looking cool and relaxed with my coffee and ciggie then 5 mins later I'm as high as a kite laughing and grinning into the camera!! I can safely say I'm a coffee drinker now and starbucks is like a sweetie shop, I've tried most of the menu now.
We got back to the station after a dissapointing bun from the bakery and hopped back on the train in cattle class this time. Oh I forgot to say, when we got off the train earlier we had to cross the track and walk through another train to get to the station, crazy. Anyway the lesson learned is don't accept anything you are offered on the train, they're not being nice they're making money. On the way there we were offered mango juice and tea amd coffee only to get billed at the end. On the way back we were offered a cushion and again charged at the end of the ride the gits. Back at Jakarta we went to customer services and complained about the missold trip and got all our money back thanks to Aisling. Next day off to Kota!! We got the right train which was cheap as chips and only 15 mins down the road then a bus and landed at the fantasy world park. We had so much fun. I went on my first ever upside down corkscrew rollercoaster ride which was ace even if I couldn't really open my eyes... Got proper soaked on the rapids ride and log flume ride and birled about on the windmill ride which after watching it I didn't even want to go on. Felt sick sat on it wanting to get off before it started and Aisling there going you'll be fine, come on. Well, it was mint!! I loved it and at the end the guy comes over the tanoid in his typical fairground 'scream if you wanna go faster' voice and says lucky lucky and it heads off into the sky again round and round and up and up and down, I loved it. Poor Aisling who'd forced me onto it was green when we finally got off hahaha We alos went on a simulation ride. I know know what its like to be a log going down river, bizarre but great fun and a ride that you had a gun and shot at aliens, it wasn't great.... By 3:30pm after candy floss and a rubbish roti bakar and some chicken and rice and icecream we were knackered and sat down to rest and watch all the people in there matching couples t-shirts. They do a roaring trade, things like I love him, I love her, Soul and Mate, Bonnie and Clyde, barbie and Ken, Burt and Ernie, the list goes on very funny. Back at the train station at 6pm we got our ticket. Got onto the train and stood there while the rest of Jakarta forced their way on. It was so hot I thought I might faint. More and more people got on and we were packed in like sardines. Mostly men might I add a little too close for my liking, that better be your rolled up newspaper thats digging into me... anyway it headed off eventually and a bloke heard us taking about the station we were getting off at and how it's only 2 stops away and we'd be off soon. It didn't stop at our station, I mean why would it? why would we be told the right platform... at each stop more and more people got on. the doors were left open and people were practically hanging out avoiding oncoming trains. We flew passed our intended station and got off at the next one. The train was so full and more and more people were trying to get on that Aisling had to actually man handle me off the train pushing me through the crowds, it was madness. Spat out onto the platform, turned round and was amazed to see the roof of the train was packed with hundreds more people!! again Aisling has the photos of this madness. I thought that sort of thing only happened in India...
Next day we went to Tamen Mini Indonesia. Its a park with little bits of the whole of indonesia. You can visit Bali, Komodo island which had shocking looking horse sculptures. Lets just say the boy one was anetomically correct and painted bright red... we also saw Batak houses in sumatra and all sorts of things. When we got there there was a load of school kids there who imidiately crowded round us asking loads of questions. Where are you from the asked, I said scotland Oooo scotland was the reply. My friend is from Ireland to which they all looked confused at each other having no idea where that was which happened quite a lot. In one of the exibits they had a glass case with tradtional clothing and pots and stuff. We went in with a local family following us and started to look around when they asked if we wouldn't mind being in a photo. Well, sat on the chairs with the entire family they took photo after photo, the person behind the camera swapping so they could get in it's crazy. I imagine they go home and show their mates saying look at the white people we saw. We also has pictures taken with a couple of guys in another exibit and so it went on. It's really funny and hasn't happened in any other country. I son't mind though, it's kinda fun. To get home we made it to the bus station, found the right bus and got on and waited for the driver while people got on and off selling sweat clothsm drinks, nuts, toenail clippers, super glue and all manner of what have you then the entertainment started. 2 men got on with guitars in hand and sang then a woman with her baby then a young guy who couldn't clap amd sing in time bless him. It was like audtions for Jakarta's Got Talent. We also watched a woman across from us peeling little valls of friut and dropping the shell on the floor the eating the fruit and spiting the stone on the floor. She then devoured a big bag of crisps and threw the empty bag on the floor then finished a bottle of juice and threw that on the floor. It's no wonder Indonesia has such a major rubbish problem. The streets and rivers and overflowing with plastics and papers, it's a disgrace. The further south you go towards Bali, the cleaner it gets though.
Spent the next day travelling not knowing anything about the bombings in the Jakarta hotels at all. The bus journey to Pangandaran on the coast was meant to arrive at 7pm but what he actually meant was 7 hours. It was fun though, we ended up singing irish songs and laughing so hard people started to take the piss out of my loud laugh which I inherited from my Dad and has brought a lot of joy to the world over the years. I'm sure Julie Davies would agree as many a day in the english tea room eating 'fush and chups' I scared small children and was flung dirty looks from local over made up ladies with my howls of laughter. Anyhoo Pangandaran is a beach town that you have to pay to enter. They had a public holiday on, a kite feastival and a super up lambretta thing going on so it was packed and was hard to find a room but we ot one, including free breakfast and free tea and coffee all day. Our first experience on the volcanic beach was an eye opener. We froliked in the indian ocean which rocks!! but we noticed quite quickly, wear a bikini, get stared at, go in the sea in a bikini, get stared at more so the moral was to get dressed to go to the beach into the sea in shorts and t-shirts then the locals didn't care. I got the cold again and lay in bed for a day after taking 2 sudafed and 2 anti histamines which put me into a dozy dream world. Aisling went out and brought me some cold and flu remedies, fruit, vit c tablets and chocolate bisquits and a Beng Beng - the best chocolate bar in the world. my eye swelled up like I was related to John Merrick and Aisling suggested I keep my sunglasses on while out for dinner for fear I might scare small children. Feeling better we were on a tour the next day with 2 miserable french girls and a dutch couple who were loads of fun. The trip was ace apart from the green canyon but we'll get to that later. Perhaps now is a good time to put the kettle on... got loads more to go hehe
We went to a local village to watch brown sugar being made, it was lush!! it's made from the nectar of palm tree flowers. I bought some and have sent it home. Then it was the puppet master, he was so funny making up a story while moving the beautifully carved puppet about. He could have been saying anything but it was really funny. Bit punch and judy. We had lunch at the beach then off to the Green Canyon after a short stop at a bamboo bridge which didn't look very safe but we crossed it anyway and were surprised to see motorbikes using it aswell. Apparently some fall in sometimes but not very often... Before we got on the wee skinny boats on the river we stopped to marvel at the giant pythons by the entertance. The handler put one of them round my shoulders and it squeezed me qute hard, more cos I was stood on it's tale I think than anything else poor thing. Anyway got gingerly into the wee boat and headed off down the river which was lovely and green as I hummed 'she sailed away on a sunny summers day on the back of a crocodile... you see says she he's as tame as tame could be a floating down the nile... etc, one of my Grandpa's fav songs anyway we then got to the beautiful pool you're supposed to swim in. It has a lovely waterfal and the sun shine down in beams of light, it's lovely but being the last days of the holidays eeryone was there and we had to walk over other boats to get to the slippery rock face to climb up and see the pool. By the time I got there I was petrified. So many people so many ways to fall and drown and Arghhhh!!! it was horrible, I was shaking like a leaf, big blouse that I am. 20ft python - fine, flimsy boat and deep water - eek!! anyway got back on the boat and back to dry land. A group photo by a giant cement sharks head and a poke at some turtles and we were home again. Off to Yogyakarta tmrw. Yogya (pronounced Jogja) was great, much nicer than Jakarta. I spent a night there then flew to Singapore for a night to re new my visa. Got to the airport on the back of a bike and sat down for a coffee as it was about 6am After I ordered the coffee I noticed it was 23000 rp, I'm used to paying 4000 so when he went into the kitchen I hot footed it out of there and hid behind a pillar till my flight was ready. You have to pay airport tax when flying domestic or international from indonesia. The other people on the flight were practically fighting to get their hands through the plastic hole to pay the man, I coudn't beleive it. Indonesians have to be first. Whether it's getting on or off a train, plane or bus or paying for airport tax, queuing for immigration or going to the loo, they're up and out elbows flying, bags all over the place. As soon as the plane lands mobiles are on and they're up getting nags down before the planes even parked up!! It was great to see Angela and David again even for just a short while. Back to Yogya on another plane and motorbike and off to a shadow puppet show after devouring the cheese I brought back for Aisling, she went out for a french stick and we munched the lot. When I got off the plane I was sprayed for swine flu from above, the side and below which made my skirt do a Marilyn Monroe. The puppet show was pants, we left after an hour and that was generous. Got up at 4:30am the next day and went to see some temples which was really good. I esp liked Borobudur with all it's buddas and atmospheric morning mist. Then onto Prambanan which was pretty cool. We got a free guided tour by a couple of students from nearby Solo. Then home for a wee nap before going out for dinner down the main street. Does anyone know where I can get a becak from? I need to find some batik clothes...? all down the street there are a million horse and carts, motorbike and becaks all wanting you to use them. We must have walked passed about a trillion shops selling batik clothes too, crazy mental. On our last day in Yogya we went to Kota Gede which is a mecca of silver, we walked the 5kms there and I bought a present for my Granny then got a becak home but felt bad after we got in cos the guy must have been in his 90's, we could have walked faster but coulnd't exactly get out and say he was rubbish so we carried on feeling guilty till I spotted a roti bakat stand, our 1st proper one since sumatra!! hurrah, we stopped, got out and left the poor bloke to have a heart attack in peace while we ordered and ate our own.

we went to Bromo the next day but I think I'm going to start another episode for that and leave you be for now.... I really should update this more often in future...

to be continued....

Posted by blondesock 22:32 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Indonesia Part I

Sumatra

sunny 30 °C

OMG!!! Sumatra is amazing, I think everyone should go there once in their lives!!

How rude of me, hello everyone, hope you're all well. I didn't get bombed in Jakarta... when I went to the Ritz Carlton but the room they showed me was rubbish, it had a proper toilet and everything, I much prefer a squat these days... so went to a hostel down the road....

Back to Sumatra. I've been trekking through the jungle (Christmas will never be the same again... will explain later), feeding and holding hands with Oragutans, walking up volcanos and sort of swimming in a volcanic lake as well as numerous amusing and down right minging bus rides and I'm featured in more locals holiday snaps than I can remember... The people here are amazing!! they're not sure on whether they should shout 'hello mister' or 'hello miss' but thats fine, I don't mind, it's great fun.

I've met some great fellow travellers in Indonesia including a french tram driver called Sam and an Irish couple but one in particular person who's going to get a paragraph's mention purely cos she's totally worth the keyboard bashing is Aisling...
Aisling is brilliant. I met her in Bukit Lawang while doing the jungle trek and after spooning in the jungle, we've been together ever since. I was going to leave Sumatra and head to Thailand after lake Toba but she convinced me that the best plan would be to see some more of the place with her and it was sooo the right choice. I've never laughed so much in a long time. I laughed so much one night I was asked if I was on magic mushrooms. They sell magic mushrooms all over Toba by the way, you can even order tea or an omlette in the resturant of where we were staying. Signs all over the place say 'laundry, internet, crisps, burgers... magic mushrooms..' crazy, I didn't try them cos with Aisling about I didn't have too!! "Stop, collaberate and listen.... ice ice baby to go..." Crying with laughter I was. Anyway she's a 6ft religion teacher from Dublin and mad as a door as the dutch would say. She's full of energy and totally daft with it which has made the whole trip even more enjoyable. I'm sure she'll be mentioned again during this waffle...

anyway, back to Sumatra. I landed in Medan and stayed in a fairly expensive hostel for the night then took a bus to Bukit Lawang. It was supposed to be 4.5 hours but ended up at just 2.5 which was great as the roads are a nightmare!! just like marfield road where I grew up, imagine 96km of that!! The bus was small and stuff but when it was on the move it was fine with all the windows open. At last count my 10 seater mini bus had 17 people in it, 2 hanging onto the back a couple of the roof and a chicken in a box behind me!! we had to stop at one point and get some air in the tyres, someone smelled of cheese and I hoped no one would fart. I met Alex the guide on the bus and booked a jungle trek with him which included a days trekking, a night in the jungle and inner tubes back to the village along the river. It was amazing!! The trek was pretty hard up and down rock face, I of course fell over a few times and had to helped along by the guides. We stopped about every half hour or so and ate loads of bananas, passion fruit, pineapple and oranges while I rang out my sweat soaked ponytail to the amazment of my fellow trekkers, sweaty sock indeed.... When we stopped for lunch we were given a banana leaf with fried rice on it, the obligatory 2 slices of cucumber and a slice of tomato then just as you thought that was it one of the guides produced a clear see through bag of fried eggs!! (has anyone seen my bag of fried aggs anywhere...?) Hilarious!! We saw a male oragutan swinging through the jungle till he fell out of the trees and onto the floor bless him, showing off. There were a couple of blokes we ran into doing a 10 day trek, one of them walked passed us, notices a massive ant, picked it up and put it in his pocket and carried on passed us... weird. We then met Jackie the oragutan, she had a baby with her and was so friendly. She must be used to us lot going through the jungle everyday cos you could sit right next to her, put your arm around and give her bits of pineapple, it was amazing!! I even held her hand when she followed us, or maybe she was holding mine incase I went arse over tit again hehe. we also saw 3 other kinds of monkey, a scorpion and a monitor lizard. Anyway we got to the place where we were staying and played in the river for a bit while dinner was being cooked which was so good. Curry, rice, tempe which is tofu and tapioca with veg, a chicken dish made with palm sugar sauce then cups of tea and packets of biscuits. I've never seen so many matchstick games in my life, I'll have to dazzle you with them when I get back, we also played cards till it started to rain. Rain?? OMG it chucked it down for hours, thunder, lightening you name it. The roof and the back of the shelter flew off and we had a small flood of course at my end... then an ant invasion but at the other end. Finally it all calmed down and we tried to sleep all spooning in the shelter. The next day was fine weather again, and the guides tied 4 inner tubes together and we hopped on and went floating down the river back to the village, it was a fab experience I totally loved it!! We also learned a song.... to the tune of 'jingle bells' come on everyone sing up... 'jungle trek, jungle trek, in bukit lawang, see the monkeys, see the birds, see orangutan, hey...' Jungle trek, jungle trek.... and so on, it's very catchy and as I said before, christmas will never be the same again.....
I also went to a cave in Bukit Lawang. Jumping Jehosifats Batman, it's the Bat Cave!! it was class, loads of bats and darkness, I took my rubbish torch which is a blue light on the end of my lighter, pretty useless and a guide called Ali G, also pretty useless to be honest, didn't catch me when I fell on my arse and kept calling me 'Me Julie'. I fell over and smacked my head off the rocks but then again I did have flip flops on... health and safety is non existent over here really, if it was the uk it would have probably had bannisters and such like... After the cave he took me to see some honey bee trees and had a swim in the river, I stayed at the side while he stripped off down to his y-fronts and got in then laughed as he whipped them off and swung them over his head!! I did my best from the shore to be interested in the nearest tree... Not shy these local boys. I supposed they're used to washing in the river and being naked from a young age infront of anyone. After he got out and dried off a bit he took his y-fronts off again and put his jeans on then wrapped his pants in a banana leaf and asked me to carry them back to the village for him in my handbag and I have to pay for this guide? I shake my head in his general direction and head back to the village.
After the jungle trek I stayed with Aisling and we went to the next place with Sam the french man who was nursing a hangover from the night before bless him. Everyone kept telling him how lucky he was to be travelling with 2 women. His answer to this was to put his fingers next to his temple and pretend to shoot himself...
We arrived in Berastagi after 2 bus trips, one to Medan and another to Beristagi. It's weird, we travellers must all go to the same places cos when you get off one bus someone will come up to you and say exactly where your going and where you can get the bus from... kinda freaky but very helpful, saves a lot of searching. Before we left Bukit Lawang, Aisling and I went to the childrens home where some of the kids whos family died in the flooding live. It's been built by a local guy and his dutch girlfriend all out of their own money, it's truley a tremendous place. You give them a donation to use the internet so we did that. On the way back I slipped sideways in some mud and did a comedy fall, near wet myself laughing, mud all down one side of me, great for travelling all day. At one point we had 20 people on the bus which was made for 12. No chicken this time just a really old woman who kept staring at us freaking us out and sucking on her one jaggy tooth. It pretty cold there at night so I was glad of my jeans and jumper. We all got a room together with our own private mandi. A mandi is basically a wet room with a squat toilet and a bucket at the side with a tap above it, you then slosh the squat with a smaller bucket from the big bucket you've filled from the tap, this is also how you wash yourself in the freezing cold water. Many a time on this trip I have chased myself around the 'bathroom' with a small bucket of cold water. Some rooms come with an additional showerhead but it's still cold water. Berastagi is a wicked town, the people again are very friendly and say hello to you, I even got my photo taken while walking along the road. Photo taking happens a lot.
We went up the small volcano which with my love of hill walking (not) was big enough. We started up with a bag full of fruit from the market and a packet of biscuits. It was weird going down hill to get up the volcano, still not entirly sure why that was but still, we were following the map. got to the bottom of the actual volcano and stopped in the cafe for a tea and to write our names down on a bit of paper and buy a ticket. Then the climb began, we had a map of sorts that someone had drawn, not to scale might I add. The road up was a normal road for cars as some lazy people get a lift up but we walked. We then got to the bit where you have to start scrabbling up rocks and through bits of jungle to the crater. The crater was huuuuuge. Not full of lava or anything but still really cool and the view was brilliant. We saw puffs of yellow sulfar smoke and sat down among the eggy whiffs and ate our fruit and finshed off the biscuits while watching in disbelief at the groups of kids up there in flip flops, bare feet and carrying guitars!! madness. We asked them how to get down to the hotsprings and thought they must be joking when they pointed down the side of the volcano. It was a sheer drop, all slippery rocks and I thought no way, NO WAY!! but it was the way, the kids skipped and jumped like death wasn't a serious injury to have and off they went. I went down gingerly carrying my bag which although is very nice, has tried to bump me off many times now swinging it's weight from from to back and side to side putting me off balance. I have now invested in a small rucksack for safety purposes and will only use my fatface bag at night or in safer conditions. Anyway, finally got off the rocks and headed down through the jungle. It's supposed to be steps but whoever laid them must have been blind or stupid cos instead of them being flat they were all turned on their sides so you have to step over the steps!! got to the bottom with wobbly legs and headed into the nearest cafe shack for a drink. Sam was thrashed by a wee boy on the chessboard twice and we left. We didn't go into the hotsprings cos they were basically just baths, I was looking for holes in the ground you know, all smoky and stuff. Anyway, the bus back to town wasn't leaving for 20mins so we thought we'd walk, it's not that far according to the map... yes, the 'not to scale' map. We walked for hours and hours. started our trip at 10:30am and got home in the dark at 8pm!! I would gladly have gotten into any one of the passing bemo vans but peer pressure made me stay on foot hahaha we got to the town and gave off a big cheer only to read a sign saying Beristagi + or - 5kms Aaaargghh!!! we couldnt not do the last 5kms. when we got in we were all knackered, my big tow nail on my left foot is now a weird colour from accidentaly kicking stones, my bag was so heavy I thought I might cry so stopping off at the side of the road in amoungst some banana trees for a wee, Aisling took my bag from me and I carried hers. God send. I paid for a hot shower that night which went cold on me but was still so worth it. The next day was a stiff, sore, non event although we did discover a new and delicious thing called a Roti Bakar. Roti meaning bread and Bakar meaning roasted. It was like a foot long brick of sweet bread which was layered in butter, blueberry jam and thick chocolate sauce and choclate sprinkles. It's then cooked on all sides and wrapped in brown paper. It's one the the best things I've ever tasted. It was amazing, all googey and sweet, total heart attack material Mmmmmm.
Next was Lake Toba which was amazing, I loved it so much I went twice. We got there on 2 buses then a short ferry crossing from Parapet to Tuk Tuk which is a sort of island, part of the bigger island of Samosir. It's quite a touristy place but we loved it. We met a guy called Ben on the ferry who happened to work for the place we wanted to stay at. All moved into Bagus Bay in single rooms for about 1.30 a night we went for a wee look around. We chose the place by the way cos of the mini golf but didn't play... Lake Toba is where Batak people live, they speak a different language to your ordinary Indonesian and they also eat dogs on Sundays. Yes, puppies, about 15 months old and chubby. On my second trip there I was told by a guy called Tony that his dog Jackson (who I'd petted and played with the first time) was no longer with us. He took him for a bath in the lake on Friday, took him all round Tuk Tuk on saturday eating and such like and had even been trying to teach him how to give a paw and shake hands which he finally did on saturday night. Tony and Jackson then went home happy. Tony woke up hungry on sunday morning and went to the kitchen where there was some piglet meat in the oven. He took some out, chopped it up, added some spicy sambal and munched a bit then noticed the dog wasn't about so called his name a few times. While he was calling, his dad came in so he asked him "where's Jackson" to which his dad replied, oh I killed him, you're eating him!! OMG can you beleive that?? his pet pooch?? it's a different world. I hasten to add any sunday that came around, I didn't try it, no way and any dog I saw on a sunday I told them it was a blessing and to enjoy their day... Anyway, apart from that Tuk Tuk and Lake Toba is beautiful. The lake is calm, the sky is clear and when the moon is full you can see for miles, it's gorgeous. We arrived on a wed and in Bagus Bay they do traditional Batak dancing and singing. Aisling and I were dragged up with a few others to do one of the dances. It's not hard and you definately won't break out in a sweat doing it. Basically you put your hands in prayer mode with your thumb sticking out then twist your wrists up and down and kinda keep time with your feet. Not much else to it really... The singing is amazing, I loved it. Many a night I went to a bar called Bamboo for a sing song, loved it!! We all went out one night to the local disco place called Tumba. It was very odd indeed. It was like follow the western girls round the dance floor... quite amusing to begin with but after a while got a bit uncomfortable so we left and ther music, well, those of you from Gibraltar... imagine the underground 5 years ago, add a song with chicken noises and you might be there. Everyone drives a motorbike here and everyone smokes. Even 8 year olds drive motorbikes with passangers and bags of rice, it's mental. When it comes to food, apart from dog, it's all pretty normal, rice, noodles, chicken, amazing fruit salads and gold fish. I tried goldfish one day, it was quite nice, bit boney though. Going to the fair and winning one just doesn't seem right now, I'll want to grow it and eat it. Any of you with goldfish had better keep me away... Aisling and I went to many places to eat and sometimes you'd order something and about 5 mins later you'd see someone getting on a bike and zooming off only to come back a wee while later with a bag of food so they could make whatever it was you asked for!! Once we went to a place and hungry for bacon asked for the american breakfast. Bacon, hash browns, egg, toast, tomatoes and tea or coffee. Yes she said and off she went to the kitchen. After a while we get a plate of eggs, toast and tomatoes and get told the rest will be along in a minute... shortly after a fruit salad arrives along with our drinks. no bacon. We met a scottish guy called Paul in there who had been travelling for about 15 years. Took a year off work and never went back. Some of his stories are hilarious, really nice bloke.
You can hire motorbikes in Tuk Tuk, no licence required or helmet just balls of steal and an itchy finger over the horn so people know you're coming, this is the case for all modes of transport in Indonesia. Dare devil driving is not the word for it, you're better to look out the side on at your feet and not out the front window. It wasn't uncommon to hear loud intakes of air followed by relief as the bus or betcak you were in passed a lorry on the wrong side of the road on a corner by the edge of a cliff. We didn't get a bike, esp after seeing 2 girls with a distint lack of skin in places where there should have been plenty. Got one in Bali but I'll tell you about that disaster another day. Aisling left to go to Bukit Tinnggi to climb another volcano, my original plan was to go straight to Thailand but she asked me join her for the rest of her trip so I did. I couldn't get on her bus so had to wait another 5 days to meet up with her. During that time I met up with an Irish couple who were really nice. On one of the Batak dancing nights they ordered a magic mushroom omlette, it was brillaint, they were totally off their faces laughing at the MC who spoke like he was the guy off the Resivour Dogs sound track, Billy's super sounds of the 70's. I found out later he's actually had a stroke and thats why but nevermind... Anyway the irish couple headed off to their room after getting a bit paranoid only to come out later belly's aching with the laughing - class. Ben took me to the hot springs and to the old Batak village for food which I had to eat with my hands, not too experienced in this I made a right mess. The food was great though. You can only really use your right hand as the other is for more personal use if you catch my drift. A lot of Indonesian men have a really long left thumb nail, often painted purple. This, I can only imagine is for using to get right in there for a good scrap out Ewwww!! My day to leave finally came and off I went to catch my bus. You know, hindsight is a wonderful thing. I should have got a 4 hour bus to medan and flown straight to Jakarta and met her there but instead I got an 18 hour bus ride from hell to Padang and met her in that airport and flew to Jakarta from there... never again. The bus journey down the trans sumatran highway was horrendous. Not only did I not get a seat to myself, I fell over in the aisle coming out of the toilet as the road is a mess. It's like Marfield road where I grew up in it's hay day only far worse. I had to hold onto a metal bar to stop myself from falling onto the people on either side of me and spent the rest of the trip fighting off cockroaches and bus staff. I was the only western person on the bus. They all stared at me when I got on then 2 of the busdrivers helpers took it upon themselves to touch me at any given oppertunity. One of them gave me a pillow to rest my weary head on so I beat him with it not that it helped. Having no where else to go I didn't sleep a wink. Half way through the journey we stopped at a greasy spoon without the cutlery. You get a bowl to wash your eating hand with, a small plate of rice, a big plate of rice and a selection of food. You only pay for what you eat so I stuck to the veggie options. I could have eaten the prawns and chicken but decided not to and wondered if they got flung or put back in the glass case for the next person. Question answered, seeing I wasn't going to eat them the waitress came over, picked up both plates and plonked them on the table in front of me. The last 2 hours I got a seat away from everyone and relaxed. I got off the bus and hopped on a motorbike to the airport. We stopped about 10 mins along the road to pick up helmets which fitted like a large bucket and had to be held on with my hands. We then stopped again to screw on the side mirror incase the police saw us. The guy was class, very happy and cheerful chatting away to me and anyone that rang his mobile while doing 80kmph along the motorway. Windswept and knackered I reached the airport and gave Aisling a big cuddle. The airport itself was quite small and over the tanoid you didn't hear anything about planes landing or calling missing passengers, you hear the mosques call to prayer. We checked in and went through to departures thinking we culd get something to eat on the otherside but no, not even a vebding machine so Aisling asked ig she could go back through and go to the shop, yeah no problem they guy said and on her way back they didn't even want her to go through the xray machine again, there could have been anything in that bag, not just crisps and donuts... the flight was great and it's on to Java!!

to be continued.....

Posted by blondesock 03:45 Archived in Indonesia Comments (3)

Malaysia

Cities and beaches...

sunny 35 °C

Good day to you all!! long time no see.

first of all a question... Are there any Swedish people actually living in Sweden? I've never met so many of them in my life!! I was even asked if I was Swedish in Batu Ferringhi...

well, Malaysia was amazing!! most of it anyway It seems a long way away now thinking of it while I write today but with my trusty journal, I'm sure to get my memory working again... I'll try and keep it brief but you know me...

Got to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore on a train that took forever. Lucky for us though we had a TV at the front of the carriage which showed amazing facts on lighthouses, sylvester and tweetie pie cartoons and a chick flick called the perfect man with hillary duff in it, it was pants. Anyway all this was on a loop so I put on my ipod and tried to nap. About an hour in we all had to get off and go through immigration, get passports stamped etc then wait around for about an hour before we could go back on. I queued for the toilets for ages then discovered I might as well have done my stuff on the floor, it was minging, proper yuck and ewwww. Since then I've seen some lavatory sights I can tell you, I will be scared for life. One just recently in Sumatra in fact, I'll tell you now while I'm thinking about it. I was led to a door and told go in. When I went in there were 2 troughs full of water and a small bucket on the floor for flushing. Flush what? there was no toilet, no sit down one, no squat, no hole in the floor. I actually had to wee on the floor itself, so glad all I wanted was a number one, god knows what I would have had to do with a number two.. pick it up and fling it out the window?. anyway the loo in the station was nothing like the tuneful warmth of a japanese loo or indeed the sheer luxury of sitting down at all. I have thighs of steel, watch out walnuts I'm coming for you!! Got to Kuala Lumpur on the Kings birthday so the streets were filled with drunken people all celebrating and of course having a massive brawl in the street right outside my hostel. Wicked I thought.. bit scary but it only happened the once, after that night all was quiet on the eastern front apart from the squeaky bunk beds I was sleeping on.
I met up with Angela who I stayed with in Singapore at the wedding dress shop and marveled at all the gorgeous dresses, the urge to try them on was mighty but I wasn't allowed and they wouldn't have fitted anyway, skinny wee women that they are here. Angela tried on a couple of dresses then the one she'd had sent over from hong kong, it was beautiful, she looks amazing in it. I was so happy to be there to help her, never done that before. We then met up later for drinks in her hotel with her fiance David and their mates Steven, Ian and John. It was Steven's birthday and they were staying in the traders hotel which had the best view of the petronas towers ever and a wicked sky bar with pool in the middle, from there to an Argentinian restaurant then to a club called Blanc- Le Club which was wicked. I ended up staying in the hotel too as it was easier than getting a drunken taxi back to my scabby (in comparison) hostel. The driver we got back from the club was hilarious, he had no idea where he was going and kept forgetting when we reminded him, he said he'd had too much beer already, very funny. His grasp of the english language was great, f*cking hell was what he called the queens english...

Shopping, Fish Spas, Swedish people and a night bus...

Shopping is a national past time in Malaysia, certainly in KL anyway. There are malls the size of luxembourg all over the place, one even had it's own rollercoaster in it. I was sat eating ramen one afternoon listening to the screams of people rushing passed the window on the rollercoaster, quite special... I met up with 2 ozzy chicks in the hostel, we all shared a room together so went shopping with them, or rather they shopped and I watched, even then it was more try everything on in every shop, ask for a smaller size and not buy anything saying they would be back tmrw. I felt a bit like their mum showing me what they'd got before and asking if I liked things if it fitted etc. After that it was haagen das (I had a sorbet like a good girl) and street food. We decided we would try the popular Durian fruit which is said to smell like hell but taste like heaven. Well, if thats what heaven tastes like, I have no intention of going there. OMG it was minging, I've never tasted fruit like it. It was a weird soggy, slimey sort of texture and a bit stringy. For me it was like onion and garlic that had been fried up in lard and left on the window sill for a week before being warmed up by the sun again, wrapped up in a hedgehog and sold as a local delicacy. I'm glad I tried it but I shant be doing so ever again..
Said cheerio to my new ozzy mates and went to china town with our other room mate clara the swede the next day as she was moving to another hostel where her mate lived (also swedish) we had such a laugh, really nice girls. We found a fish spa in China Town. It's class, I laughed so much I had tears running down my cheeks. The fish crowd round your stinky hard skinned feet and suck at them till all the hard skin is gone and your feet look like you've had them polished, wicked I totally loved it. Infact I loved it so much I went again for half an hour in penang. Only thing there was I've been lying on a beach for a week on the perhentian islands and after 30 mins of fish nibbling at my skin they ate my tan off so it looked like I had been wearing socks... We then went for sushi and met up with yet another swede called Kristina who left to find her mate who was flying in that day. I bought a dress I'd seen the day before and we laughed at the t-shirts with things written on them like 'Girls Wild Gone' and 'You Come Believe See Want' obviously lost in translation... said bye to them and went for street food where I bumped into Kristina again and her mate yet another swede who invited me to go with them to the perhentian islands so I thought why not and we left the day after. The night bus to Kuala Besut was 8 hours long with no toilet on board and one stop 4 hours in. I was champing at the bit to get out and use the facilities which were utterly disgusting, never have you seen a squat look so bogging in your entire life and they had the cheek to make you pay to get in!! hello like?? anyway I was desperado and glad I had on shorts and not long trousers or I would have been able to smell the place all the way to the islands... Got back on the bus and arrived at Kuala Besut at 6am, only 2 hours to wait till the boat to the islands heads off and what a ride it was, speed boat to paradise!! I had to close my eyes for the trip as my fringe was slicing my eyeballs apart with the wind, felt like flyign though which was great, sometime I was flying then landing with a crash on the seat again, arse ache Ooooo
The Perhentian Islands are amazing, I ended up staying there for a week sharing a room and indeed a bed with Karolina the Swedish student. We had a big bed, mozzy net and ceiling fan, a loo and a cold water shower which was actually great as it was so hot you needed a cold shower before dinner. The electricity came on between 7pm and 7am everyday and we all spent our time on the beach. I did nothing apart from people watch, float in the crystal clear waters of the sea, sunbathe and eat BBQ'd squid. The first day we went to the other side of the island through a wee jungle we went to 'Mama's BBQ' after about 2 hours of waiting for my BBQ'd baracuda and watching everyone else eat their kitchen ordered meals I started to pace the beach for fear of passing out. Near delirium I asked when it was coming and was told soon... again. When it finally arrived I was almost ready to eat my own arm, I couldn't wait. Unfortunately my fish wasn't cooked. Now I like sushi as you know but a half cooked bit of mangled fish served on a plastic plate which was also missing my complimentary slice of banana cake and bit of pineapple wasn't what I had expected. I ate what I could by torchlight as it was so dark by now even the candle on the table was struggling to cast a shadow and complained when the waiter bloke came back to get my plate. I told him it was rubbish, not even cooked to which he replied, well thats your own fault isn't it... you should have spoken to the BBQ man and told him how you wanted it! Told him I wanted it I ask you?? cooked would have been nice. Anyway, I felt into a fit of laughter and never darkened their bit of beach again. The BBQ place next door was fabulous. I got 2 BBQ'd squid, rice, baked spud, water melon, banana cake, pineapple, a veg kebab and some coconut sauce all for about 3 quid including a welcome drink of diluting orange. Whats more, I got it quick and it was cooked!! fabulous!! Island life was brilliant but something scary happened on the second day. I awoke to find my face had broken out into the worst array of plooks I've ever seen. Horrified I was. All over my chin and half way up my cheeks were a colony of white and gooey volcanos that just wouldn't go, I didn't even have spots like that when I was a teenager! I think it must have been cos I put deet on my face the night before to keep the mozzies at bay, minging!! I had them the whole week. There wasn't a mirror on the island so luckily for me I had my little hello kitty mirror so I could squeeze a few everynow and then and make sure they weren't going to scare any passing children. Thankfully they've all gone now and my face is back to normal... phew!!
You know how butterflies are lovely little creatures that flutter passed you without a care in the world? well, I had one in my room one night when playing cards with Karolina, Chris and Kirsty. Being the good soul that I am, I tried to encourage it out by putting the light off and guiding it to the door with my trusty torch. It wouldn't follow, it just wanted to kill itself on the ceiling fan. Try as I might it wouldn't go then it landed on my face. It was no ordinary butterfly, this thing was the size of a seagull!! Still dark I yelled out 'It's on my face!!' as I tried to keep calm. Poor thing was found dead at the bottom of my rucksack the next day, death my mosquito coil....

We all left the islands on the same day. I headed for Georgetown in Penang and was totally disappointed when I finally got there. Going from paradise island to a stinky, dirty rat filled city with pervy men at every corner wasn't pleasant at all. I got to my hotel which was called the Mingood and supposed to be a treat for me at 14 quid a night... again dissapointment... It didn't Mingood but it wasn't Mingbad either just a bit unloved and the towels looked like they'd been there a lot longer than I've been alive... Went out for a wander and thought I have to get out of here, it's horrible!! went to a big mall place and watched a film called Drag Me To Hell, quite appropriate really and a rather good film, bit scary, bit funny. The guy next to me was hilarious, he jumped out of his seat on many an occasion screaming, I thought he was brilliant!! You know they sell cups of sweetcorn in the cinema? How weird is that? Got a takeaway from the hawker down the road and watched some films on the TV. The next day was better, I ran into a couple of swedish guys from the islands and wandered about with them through little india where I got a curry on a banana leaf. If I can get the photos up you'll see it, was cool. My stomach didn't like penang, Penang poo poos for the whole week. I stuck to the sushi bars to keep from being ill mostly but didn't have much choice in the next place. Off to Batu Ferringhi the next day on a scary ricketty old bus through streets of terrible drivers, it's no wonder there aren't many new cars on the island!! I got chucked off the bus conveniently at a taxi rank even though the bus went right through the town. I decided to walk all the way through the town to find my hostel called the ET Guest House which was a great place. My room which had a big bed and a table in it smelled of digestive biscuits but the shower was hot and the guy that owned it was brilliant. Batu Ferringhi is a nice costal town bit like duquesa with old english folk dressed for golf even though there isn't a course anywhere near... had a drink in the bar and joined some bald english blokes for a while. The next day I was on the hunt for breakfast and ended up in a wee chinese hawkers place. I asked the bloke for fried rice with just veg and a glass of iced water. No egg, no meat. He sent over his granny who was barley taller than a 2 year old who asked me again what I wanted. I told her fried rice with veg, no egg, no meat and she says 'you want prawns and egg and chicken?' I said no, just veg and off she went. After I'd eaten I asked her for the bill, keep in mind that it's only about 30 mins later. She says what did you have? an iced water yes? I told her yes and she says thats 2 ringgets, did you have anything to eat? trying not to laugh I reminded her that I'd had fried rice with veg which she told me was 5 ringetts so my bill was 7 ringetts 50 cen... I gave her 10 and she came back with 1 ringett change!! inflation eh? class. 6 ringetts is a quid so I wasn't complaining.
The sea is soooooo scary. They got hit pretty bad with the tsunami which took away the nice white sand as well as a few lives and left shards of glass in it's place, very rough like thick sandpaper. The sea itself is a weird dirty colour and is shallow for about a foot then dips down to waist height. I ventured in and wished I hadn't OMG it tried to suck me under and drag me away. My legs sank into the sand as the surf whipped round my ankles and I grabbed at the shore for fear of being taken away to a water grave. Thats how I remember it, it may have been a little less dramatic for anyone watching... A Kiwi bloke called Lee that reminded me of Colin Mark except a ginger version and not as tall came along, obviously he didn't see the panic in my face as I lay at the shore edge thanking my lucky stars I was still alive as he casually asked me how the water was. He took me to the pool where he was staying with his family which I thought was safe enough till he went to get changed for dinner and I was asked by the security guard to leave cos 12 people were in hospital and they were spraying for dengy fever and malaria!! funnily enough I didn't go back there and I didn't go to the beach again...
Lee and I did some sight seeing together to temples and a tropical fruit farm which was amazing, hurry up with the tour, I want some fruit!! The temples were fab, a lying down budda, gold everywhere and dragons looking down at you. We did 3 which was soooo enough. Templed out we went to Georgetown and I made him come to a sushi bar with me being that my tummy was still in Penang turmoil... when will it end?!?? the answer to that is when I leave Penang which I did the very next day on a snap decision to go to Sumatra for a week or so. I've now been here for nearly 2 weeks and am staying till the middle of august, it's a fabulous place, I love it!!! Horas!!! I really liked Malaysia and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone.

Until next time!!! Gxx

Posted by blondesock 16:42 Archived in Malaysia Comments (3)

Singapore

Hot, Hot, Hot!!

sunny 32 °C

Oi Oi!! Me again...

I miss Japan but have gained a set of eyebrows!! Went for threading on my second last day in Singers and the woman tinted them for me, I said I'd never do it again but I have and after about 4 days I'm now used to them. I also had a wax in an award winning Brazilian salon but you don't need to know about that. All I'll say is the need for a ciggie after was mighty.... eeek!!

Said goodbye to Annie, Hiro and Christina. Hiro at the flat where he must have closed the door and gave a sigh of relief when I left bless him then Annie and Christina at the T-CAT station. I waved them off with my new Hello Kitty brow mopper (which has come in very handy) and set off for the airport. When you get to the airport a bloke comes onto the bus and checks your passports and thats before actually getting near to the building, very security conscious. I then had a look on the board inside and when I'd finally figured out that the 1 was indeed an I, I headed off to check in. The airport is massive, I found row I and joined the big queue. After a few minutes of the queue not moving I realised that it was because no one else in the queue was actually going to Singapore...
All checked in now, the woman said to me she was sorry but all the aisle seats had been taken and could only have a window seat.. bonus, thats the seat I love anyway.... with that I headed for departures, I've decided that I'm going to go back to Japan next year and do some souvineer and rice cooker shopping :) saw a wicked one for 9000 yen that even had a porriage button but didn't fancy carrying it on board the plane and I doubt it plays tunes and I'm certainly glad I didn't buy it and post it from Singapore now after being skinned alive in the post office sending 2 small packages home. I said give me the cheapest and she gave me airmail instead of shippign which takes 3 months, time I really do have to spare. Anyway I asked if I could change it and she said no, stickers already on.. cow

When I landed in Singapore at 1am it was 28 degrees, it was like walking into a hairdryer!! I got some water and asked the shuttle bus woman when the next bus would be. It was about 2am by this point as my bag took forever to get round the conveyor thing. 45 mins she said so I hopped in a taxi. Got to my hotel and was greeted outside by a scantily clad woman and a drunken man winking at me, no not the staff at my hotel, it was situated in the Geylong red light area... not quite the 5* Pan Pacific I stayed in last time I was here but hey ho, it was clean enough and I only needed somewhere to sleep. My room was fine, I used all 3 locks on the door and shut out the weird noises from outside. Got up and fought with the shower, it was like a serpant hell bent on twisting everywhere and soaking everything around it except me. Called Angela and got a taxi to her apartment, which I might add is very nice indeed.

Singapore is a funny place, there's not really much in the way of touristy things to do unless your idea of being on holiday is to shop day and night. The grand summer sale started the day I arrived, I've been trying hard to ignore the shops and thankfully some of the stuff, like in Japan, just doesn't fit my body phew!! Bought an Asian cook book though and a jar of chicken flavoured stuff for putting with rice, they're getting posted home. I also bought a wicked wee dress and a lovely grey top which I wore one day and might not wear again as it is a sweat magnet which is never very nice is it...

I spent a couple of days by the pool, went on the MRT system, ate lots of curries (and a bit of sushi) had my face read by an indian fortune teller, went on a cruise, learned things in Sentosa about the four winds, and managed not to get lost.

Angelas pool was being refurbed so we used her mate Lorna's which was great. I went by myself one day as they both work and was quizzed by the doorman of the building, he kept coming up to the pool and wandering about then finally after about 4 hours he asked me who I was there to visit as it was clear I was with my invisable friend... He was fine though I just said her apartment number and got back into the pool.

The cruise was hilarious, only 3 of us on this wee boat for half an hour. Our guide was so camp he could have been a tent. He must do that tour about 10 times a day. He kept making things up and then saying nah, not really. I thought he was brilliant!! The tour itself was pretty interesting, I didn't do it last time. I learned that you get fined if you dive or swim in the river, they're building a massive casino that the locals have to pay to get into but the tourist don't so they can keep obsessive gambling down and wives can also sign a form to ban their husbands from going there at all!! I also learned that the viewing wheel thing like the London eye... probably called the Singapore eye come to think of it is bigger than the one in London, I didn't go on it though as Angela and David took me to the New Asia Bar on my last night in the Swiss Hotel which is even higher. It was amazing up there, the bar itself is fabulous and the view is breath taking. We bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of whiskey which they keep for you if you don't drink it all. The waitresses come over and kneel on the floor at your table and pour the drinks for you everytime they see your glass is nearly empty, great service.
The MRT underground system is great too, so much easier to use than the Tokyo one, for a start there isn't as many trains so as long as you have the right station you can find the right way to go, I suppose that's the same but they're aren't so many stations... I am happy to report that I didn't get lost once, how I managed that I don't know but I did. I went to Harbour point one day for shopping and also to Chinatown. I wasn't there long and meant to go back but didn't. They had fish head soup, some kind of turtle curry and a dish made with chicken feet, the chicken feet were still whole and just kind of sat there or stood there rather, apparently it's really tasty...

Angela took me to Sentosa Island the day after ladies night which is on a wednesday. A lot o the bars do free enrty for women and free drink all night long, how good is that. Smirnof and cranberry free flowing woohooo!! Sentosa is like a mini theme park, we went on this tour thing called Images of Singapore. It was really good, I wasn't expecting much but we had a wee show first about the four winds and how singapore started out as the central port of the world shipping industry/port then we went through the museum which was ace!! they had loads of stuff you could press and pull. I pulled a monkey tail and it shrieked, it was so funny. I expect though if I had a tail and someone pulled it I would also scream... No animals were hurt in the making of this blog by the way, it wasn't a real one. We then headed to the beach for lunch then I went off to Raffles Place for my treading and the aforementioned waxing while angela went to the airport to meet David. I tell you, threading is the way forward, it's great, she even did one of my knuckes to show me how she does it. Not that I have very hairy knuckles or anything but you know... The wax that I wasn't going to talk about however was undiscribeable, if I hadn't of had it done before I would have thought I'd been assaulted. She came into the room with a face mask and rubber gloves on, I thought I was going to get an internal, I was almost right!! She asked me to take off everything from the waste down and cover myself with the towel then when she came back she whipped away the towel and any dignity I may have had left... I'm not going to say anymore incase I scar you all more than I have done already. More facts will be given on request.

So, Oh yeah, the wee indian man. I was sat on a bench by the river munching on takeaway sushi and fruit when this wee turbin topped man came over and said I had a very lucky face and a good heart. He gave me a bit of paper and told me to hold onto it in my fist then told me that I couldn't keep secrets, which I protested too as I do keep secrets!! anyway he also said that tuesday was a lucky day for me but not to get my hair cut on a tuesday... fair enough. Then he told me that 2 boys like me but I only like 1 and asked me what my favorite colour was, I said Blue and he wrote it down on a bit of paper then my favourite number which is number 2 so he wrote that down on the same bit of paper. Now, if I had thought about it at the time instead of being all OMG that was amazing, how did you do that?? blonde type person his game would have been up but I didn't think I just marvelled at his magical powers like a right numpty. He took the bit of paper out of my hand and told me while showing me to put it to my forehead, the back of my head and then blow it before opening it. He gave me it back and I did it, when I opened it up, low and behold it had Blue and 2 written on it. Amazing. I suspect slight of hand was a foot when he was showing me what to do... doh anyway he gave me a black and orange stone for luck and asked me for money. Said poor people gave $50, rich gave $100 and well rich gave $125. I offered him $10, said I was a skint jobless traveller that would have to live on the streets and out of bins if I gave him anymore. He said he'd tell me something else if I gave him $50 and I said I could tell you something as well, take the $10 and bugger off!! so he did. I've since been hot upon by a fake monk but knew his game so gave him the old talk to the hand cos the face ain't listening and walked on. Take that fake monk.

Food is great in Singapore, met up with Ben from Gibraltar for lunch which was great, his girlfriend is trying to talk him into meeting up with my in Sydney for Hogmany... come on ben, you know you want to hehe

I caught a train at 8am on the saturday mornign to Kuala Lumpar which took 7 long hours. After about an hour we all had to get off and go through immigration then stand for ages to get back on. They had a TV at the front of the carriage with intertesting facts about light houses on it, sylvester and tweetie pie then a pants teenagers film with hillary duff in it called 'the perfect man' this sequence was on a loop, thank the lord for my ipod... The view out of the window was cool at times, all tropical and jungly but the train smelled which was unfortunate and I didn't try the loos although I have to say, 2 men cleaned them about every half hour so they can't of been that bad.

Well, I'm in Kuala Lumpur now and it's great, oh, got to check out in 15 mins and haven't packed!! better shoot the craw. I'll tell you all about my Malaysian travels in the next couple of weeks.

Take care now Gxx

Posted by blondesock 18:50 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

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