Trip Start Apr 26, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, July 9, 2005

The Malaysian Mainland

After all the remoteness of Borneo we decided on a complete change and went to the Malaysian capital - Kuala Lumpur.

We have actually been through KL 3 times already for connecting flights but never had time to see the city.

KL is probably one of the best organised and advanced cities in Asia. The infrastructure means you can whizz around in taxis in a moment. It is also a city you can walk around and cover most of the key areas in in a day or two.

Under the biggest landmark, two twin towers, there is the KLCC shopping centre. This is probably the biggest shopping centre in the world or if not certainly the biggest we've ever been in. We only walked around half of it and ended up with tired legs.

This was really a chance for us to replace some of our clothes that had fallen to bits and get sorted out before moving. Consequently haircuts, a visit to a chiropractor and laundry were the order of the day.

Night time in KL is more like a scene from the movie Blade Runner. The streets between the high rises are lined with neon signs and food stalls of every kind. Speakers blare announcements, adverts in different languages and giant TV screens across the roads.

We spent the evening in a street bar watching the Live Aid concert, although it lost some its effect as the noise from the surrounding bars competed with blaring music.

After a short burst of city life we flew up to the Perhentian Islands on the far North East of the Malay Peninsula which had been recommended by friends. These are a couple of almost underdeveloped jungle covered islands. They are beautiful and to travel around them you have take water taxi's between the bays.

Unfortunately it is high season and accommodation was at a premium. Our only choice was the lowest level at 1 a day. But these were wooden shacks made from the cast offs of buildings sites and the shower and toilet was shared between 30 huts. In the end we had to opt for the most expensive accommodation on the island. Our hut was decorated inside with a range of shinny laquered wood. It gives the effect of being inside a small mausoleum crossed with a caravan. 

These islands are just building up tourism but already some of the hotels like ours are overcrowding their areas and straining the water supplies. We hope they don't overdo it much further.  We do not recommend this place and left two days early.

We thought from here would be a short hop to Thailand. We discovered the hard way that the route to Samui was a 2 hour taxi ride to the border, a half hour walk across the border, a six hour crowded minibus to Hat Yai and then another six hour minibus (this time with no air-conditioning) to Samui. An adventure but a painful one. Next time we will fly even if it means taking the three changes we would have had to make.

However,despite Muslim unrest in Southern Thailand we found the Thais were very welcoming. Policemen gave us handfuls of rambutan (fruit), minibus drivers went out of their way to get all the passengers to the right places, their next minibus, hotel in Hat Yai etc. Everyone seemed pleased that we were travelling in their country & the prices dropped massively from Malaysia.
We also met the politest group of young English male backpackers on this epic journey. 

The ironic moment in these journey through the supposed "dangerous south" was that while on the bus my sister-in-law phoned to tell us about the 7/7 bombs in London and the fact that my brother was safe (he works near Russell Square).  The journey was surreal when we considered where we were.

The next bit of our trip is basically going to be living on a beach in Samui and Koh Tao. It'll be hard but I think we'll cope. And we have another wedding to go to!  Hurrah!
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