Going South for the monsoon season
Trip Start Jan 19, 2008
12Trip End Jul 18, 2008
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When we signed off last time, we were in beautiful Phi Phi islands. The place is beautiful, but so much has changed since I was last there. Big resorts seems to have taken over the backpacking mecca that it used to be, but it's still definitely somewhere we'd recommend going. Two nights before we left, we had a few buckets in our treehouse and then headed towards Sunset bar, one of the numerous beach haunts. Chris convinced me to participate in a musical chairs competition which left me with bruises and scrapes as a very competitive guy dragged me across the floor with me clutching the chair! Anyway, I went out the next round anyway, so it wasn't even worth it! At least Chris had a laugh...We ended up at the Irish bar when it started thunder raining and met Jonathan and a few other Canadians. It was a good night after which we both vowed never to drink buckets again
Songkran was every bit as wet as we imagined it. We got booked our ferry to Ko Lanta for Sunday, thinking that the Songkran started Sunday, but alas we were mistaken. This meant we had to get up very early on Sunday to try and make it from the one side of the island with our back packs on our backs (which is not waterproof) without getting completely soaked. This involved sneaking round back alleys, walking through shops and generally trying to avoid people. Just as we thought we were in the clear, a mob of Thais saw us coming and poured a whole bucket of water over Chris! I got off lightly - a Thai shopowner pulled me into his shop and showed me a back way. Anyway, we finally arrived at the ferry landing and because we got up super early, we could participate in the fun and frolics for a while. We bought big water bottle, poked holes in the lids which with a fair amount of squeezing could squirt almost as far as the Thai's pump water guns. It was great fun. We also got covered in wet talc. Chris got badly done (after he poured almost a bottle of water over someone) with the talc and decided to take a dip in the ocean to wash off the talc mixture, only to be splashed and attacked by a group of kids no older than 5 years old. They were climbing on his back, pulling him over by grabbing his arms - it was so funny!
We finally got on the ferry, soaked to the bone and baked on deck to get dry. We meet two prison guards from Nottingham which made for interesting conversation, especially since Chris had just finished Ross Kemp's book 'Gangs' based on the Sky1 programme. We arrived at Ko Lanta and was meet by a bunch of very very very wet fallangs (foreigners) telling us that there is no way we'll get to our destination dry. Our lift to our resort, the gorgeous Blue Andaman Resort, was a Hilux truck one which we obviously has to sit on the back. It was a 10 km drive back to the resort. The driver kindly drove about 2km/hour to ensure that we got drenched by every single Songkran water ambush station set up next to the road. And there were many! We were so wet, our bags were wet and being that wet was fine, but they get clever and use freezing ice cold water at some stations and when that hits you, it takes your breath away. It was so much fun. We were going to go back and take revenge, but we realised that everything in our bags were wet, our radio etc too and we had to get the stuff out to dry.
Anyway, after all that adventure, Ko Lanta was pretty uneventful. It is much cheaper than Phi Phi, the resort was amazing and we just relaxed to the max. I finally got Chris into reading Wilbur Smith novels, so most of our days were just relaxing by the beach
Our 30 day visa in Thailand was almost finished, so we had to make our way out of the Land of Smiles. We headed to Hat Yai to catch our overnight train. We stayed there one night and honestly, if you can avoid staying over, do. It's not the nicest place, but the last place in Thailand where you can get the train to Malaysia from. Our overnight journey was great - I love sleeping on those trains and we arrived in Kuala Lumpur at about 8 in the morning. In rush hour. It was such a strange sensation being around people who hurry to get somewhere, hooters, car and busses everywhere. But there was light at the end of the tunnel...Starbucks! It was so good to have a decent cup of coffee after all the crappy ones we had in Thailand
We explored the city, starting off by going to the Royal Palace and posed with the coppers and their horses...it's very Buckingham Palace apart from the architecture. Then we went to the KL Radio Tower that stands 470-ish meter (I forget the exact height, but you catch my drift) above the ground and has the best view of the Petronas Towers. Although it was a little bit overcast when we got up there, it was well worth it. You had views of the whole city - KL has so many skyscrapers in so many different shapes and architecture - it is really quite incredible. Anyway, we headed to India Town and had a proper-ster Indian curry - so good. We've been eating noodles and rice this last month and there is just so many options in KL for other types of food...it was heaven!
All the guidebooks told us that the shopping centres where amazing, so we started off at Times Square. This place has got 10 floors. 10 floors of shops! It even has a theme park inside with a massive rollercoaster. We were very tempted to buy a pass for the day, but it was just too expensive on our measily travel budget. We ended up going to see a movie, the I-Max 3d T-Rex Show and just lazed around the mall - very cheap
Next on our trip was Singapore. We took another overnight train, again very comfortable in the 2nd class sleeper and arrived in singapore. It is so clean and so easy to get around. But it's not easy finding cheap accommodation. We were on the internet for a total of 4 hours trying to find somewhere - I kid you not! We found a place in Geyland (which we later found out was the prostitute area - they line up in front of the hotels at night apparently), got there and suddenly the price that we got on the internet was not valid - by about $100! Then we found 7th Storey Hotel in Bugis (which is a very nice area, close to shops etc), which is basically a hostel and dumped our bags. They only had space for us for one night. We explored that whole area, going from hotel to hostel to guesthouse, not finding anything. We took the MRT to Little India and went to all the backpackers and hostels and hotels there, either they were full or they were so disgusting or they were completely overpriced. We headed to Chinatown without any luck either! We walked about 10kms, so we really explored those parts of the city quite well.
But it all worked out in the end. We had a chat with the guy at 7th Storey Hotel and told him of our predicament. We went out for a nice Vietnamese meal that night and then fell into our bunk beds respectively, exhausted! This morning, they pulled through and found us a place a Cozy Backpackers, still in Bugis
That't the hard part though. Everything else is so easy. It is such an awesome city and we've only started exploring it! We went to the Harbour this morning, but decided to go back tomorrow and to a trip to Sentosa Island. We're spending 4 nights here before heading into Indo, so ja, I guess that's it for this round!
Hope everyone is well! Charlie said it's getting cold in Cape Town and Bell said it's warming up in London. What goes up eh!
In other news our house has been further delayed until Sep/Oct now, so we've cut our trip short for nothing. We've decided to still come back as planned as we have to start working at some point, even though the thought makes me mock charge a little. Chris has got so many plans - I still have my eye on being a house wife, but I guess I'll have to pump out a baby for that luxury and no way in hell am I ready for that yet! Haha.
How are all the mommy's and daddy's doing? There are so many of you (Sally and Brian, Di and Sean, Nicky and Connor)...and so many expectant mommy's too - hope the pregnancies are going well - Sally C, Stacey and Terri (these are the ones we know of)
And what's happening in the Super 12? Is the Stormers still crap as ever?
Anyway, miss you guys loads. We're having a great time and I'm getting used to signing my name as Sandra Haworth. Very weird indeed. I've also started calling Chris the 'Cat Whisperer' as he is unable to walk passed a cat (any cat, street cat, resort cat, manky cat...) which speaking (yes speaking) to it or worse, taking a photo of it. I've made him clear some of them off as our memory card is getting full and we don't really need photos of cats...!
Anyway, that's all folks!
As Jerry Springer would say - take care of yourself and each other. Until next time, goodbye!