Lets go fly a kite

Trip Start Jan 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 21, 2009

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Where I stayed
JB Guest House

Flag of Malaysia  , Johor,
Thursday, February 19, 2009

Arrived in Langkawi after taking a 4 hour combined bus ride from Taman Negara to Jeruntut to KL, then hopped on a flight to the island.  We were picked up at the airport by the guesthouse owners partner, so the journey was not difficult.  We stayed at the Pondok Keladi guest house, set back in the 'jungle' about 10 mins walk from both of the west coast's two main beaches.  It was just what the doctor ordered after all the travelling, 5 days in a relaxing setting with the owner, Di, making sure that we wanted for nothing.  After getting pretty much our entire clothing laundered on day one and scoping out the local beaches and shops, watching the sun set and treating ourselves to a good meal, we then used a hire car for 2 days to explore the island.  Despite the sketchy insurance arrangements ("just don't crash it") we found driving the island a doddle.  We completed a whole island circuit in one day, the main highlight visiting the highest point on the island in the national park area by cable car.  The curved bridge at the top, built between two peaks, was helicoptered into place apparently.  We had also scoped out a quieter beach on the north coast, Tanjung Rhu, and decided that we would spend the next day there.  We set out the next morning in showers of rain, but the clouds parted just at the beach.  He hired a parasol and mats and had the whole beach to ourselves (except for those people that were staying just along the beach in the private area of the Four Seasons resort, of course).  Watched the tide roll in, covering the sandbars to the little islands in the bay... then the wind picked up.  Not a problem for us hardy west coasters, you would think.  By lunchtime however, and about 4 hours of sunbathing beneath the parasol, we realised that the cool wind had masked the fact that we had become horribly sunburned!  Parasol protection obviously wasn't worth a jot! Valiantly we checked out the craft village on the way back to the guesthouse but the evening and next day were a complete blow out - aftersun and aloe vera being used by the gallon.  Perfect Valentines day, not.

After some well earned beach bound relaxation in Langkawi we took a very steady ferry trip (good for the sunburned skin) for the 3 hour journey to Penang.  We arrived to the usual glut of touting taxi drivers and since Emma had read the guides so thoroughly so as to be informed that the drivers MUST use their meters then we were prepared to get a reasonably priced cab to our guesthouse. Emma went on the offensive when told by the first tout that he would not use the meter... "You have to use the meter, its the law"... whereby the tout shouted at her and stropped off into the crowd of other waiting tourist mugs.  Needless to say, we walked!
The guesthouse, Hutton Lodge next to Georgetown's Chinatown area, was the best value we'd had by far in Malaysia considering how we got our own room, breakfast included and how clean the communal bathrooms and areas were kept.  Very impressed.  We investigated and tasted the Georgetown area for the duration of our two day stay in Penang, not having time to venture out around the rest of the island.  Emma's distrust of the Lonely Planet escalated in Penang, the information on the buses around and out of the city were all wrong!  The full day we spent there was mainly taken up by visiting the hill station and the tacky buddhist monument and pagoda "local" to it, about 3 km (LP didn't mention the bus connection that would have helped), so quite a tiring walk in the heat of the day and protecting our already sore and peeling selves.  But at least the slog up the hill was done by the funicular railway and it was much cooler at the top.  Great views over Georgetown looking down, views of massive spiders on massive webs strung between trees and leccy pylons when looking up!

The following day we took the bus from Penang to Melacca, a 'looooong' 6 hour bus journey down the mainland's east coast.  The bus dropped us some way out of the city, we eventually found the right shuttle bus to take us into the centre, and got off in Chinatown area only to discover that all the hostels were full.  However, Emma being Emma, she had scoped out a few other places online and so we headed west along the coast (in a taxi whose driver must have been a tour guide in a previous life - don't think he got out of 2nd gear as he showed us all the sights) and found Shirah's hostel, just past all the new shopping malls that had been constructed along the coast road. 

The next day was spent exploring Melacca, which was a Portuguese colony, then Dutch and finally British.  While our fellow Europeans built churches and fortified walls we decided to blow them up when we arrived so very little still stands.  Melacca has a quaint town city which masks the fact that it is actually quite a large city.  We visited a Nonya house museum, they were very rich people, the men were chinese traders and the women were Malay. The house we visited was beautiful all done up in teak and mother of pearl!!  In the afternoon we took a Trishaw ride, which turned out to be a bit of a disaster.  Our cyclist, Cedric, took us through the streets of Chinatown and on to the traditional Melaccan houses along the river.  Very pretty, however unknown to us Cedric has organised a guided tour of the house with the owner, who had lived there all his life.  He was very proud of the house and felt it made him special and made his family very distinguished - he kept shaking out hands as if to bless us!!!  He was most proud of the fact that Winston Churchills grandson had visited, as if it had been the big man himself!!  So, Cedric got to sit on his ass for 50 minutes while Matt and I fake smiled, we had played him for an hour and definately didn't get our moneys worth!!  The town itself was pretty quiet we went out for a drink at 10pm and the bars were all closing apparently its more of a weekend place!

We left the next day for Johur Bahru which I found out later is the crime capital of Malaysia and a bit of a dump!!  Hey ho! The bus took 3 hours and got a bus from the station straight to our accomodation, which was on the outskirts but ideal and it was very happily placed next to Matts one true love Domino's Pizza!!  Needless to say we had Pizza for dinner that night, there large pizzas are small in Scottish terms but I think it cured Matts craving.

The next day was my Birthday, now closer to 30 than 20!!  We set off for the Kite Festival in Pasir Gudang about 40 minutes on a bus from our hostel.  It took place on a very windy hill - ideal really!!  There were lots of really massive animal shaped kites and Spongebob Square Pants!!  We watched them trying to launch a massive lizzard for about an hour and eventually getting it stuck in the floodlights - very amusing and dangerous according to Matt.  We spent the entire day there, watching the various competitions and hilarity of them trying to get the lizard down!!  At the end of the day they did stunts to music which was very cool and also a little funny when they all got tangled up!!!  That night, Matt the romantic that he is made me noodles and boiled eggs for my Birthday dinner - I'm a lucky girl! 
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