Saturday, August 29, 2009

Malaysia & Singapore

Well Malaysia began very well indeed with being asked on a date by a security guard at the border...excellent stuff! The second thing i thourally enjoyed was when i asked a guy where can i change some money, into his walkie-talkie he did the 'Scatman' song!! in the first few seconds of this.... Malaysian is a very different language!love it! A noticeable difference also mainly that all the women are wearing headscarves and most of them also the long cloak dress thing. I settled in the town of Kota Baru for a few days, found myself a cheap room and headed off to find some even cheaper food.

Which is dirtier? Feet or cieling/walls?....the joys of a shoestring budget!

Absolutely loved it here, my kind of thats walkable, friendly and loads of cheap and tasty street food. Also i was a celebrity here once more, girls asking could they take my picture all the time, boys not asking, just catching them pointing their mobile phone at you while hiding behing something!... and while i was trying to buy new underwear i had a group of school girls following me around asking me questions like how old? married? How many countries ive been to...etc etc....friendly banter but distracting when trying to accomplish such a boring but (after one year of the same stuff) very necessary task! I had to laugh though it was mostly just massive 'granny pants' for sale and the brand name was 'alluring'!!

Other funny things i noticed when shopping were the hilariously bad english translations on t-shirts...for example 'how many flapper on your heart move silently' ????

Anyway the funniest thing by far that i came across was this!!!!No need to explain i hope! In such a strict muslim town i was not expecting the likes of this! Malaysia is full of surprises!

A meal and a cup of coffee at the market was so cheap..3.5 ringgit...about E0.70 and the food was delicious, kind of curries with a touch of indian style spices. Everytime i walked past a place with some men drinking coffee they would wave for me to come join them even though they didn't speak a word of english! It was all very genuinely friendly here a big change from being escorted out of a shop in Ko Tao for attempting to bargain!

Eating at the market

Its very easy here to satisfy any sugar craving you may have as the supermarkets and food stalls sell mostly junk food! For example you have to dig through butterscotch, chocolate and sugar bread before you can find a loaf of plain old slicepan! It is no wonder most of the adults in this town were on the very hefty side, well i suppose if i was wandering around in a big floaty gown all the time a few extra pounds wouldnt really show...also there are seperate queues in the supermarket for familys, women only and men even though the family isle was empty i had to join the queue for women only! And probably not the most healthy are drinks sold on the street in big containers full of ice and in all the colours of the rainbow...i tried one the colour of this tasted like the delicious antibiotics that i had to take when i was know the yellow or pink liquid thats kind of delicious?! No?...ok never mind!

One other excellent thing about Malaysia is that for the first time since May i'm in a country that uses the same alphabet and not just squiggles, so if i see a word written..for example Nasi Ayam, at a food stall i know they serve chicken and rice. Malay is also quite easy to pick up, it is not a tonal language like Thai and Laos....where each word has 6 different tones, so by using the wrong tone they dont know what your talking about. Its more or less pronounced as its read. I also found out for plural in Malay you just say the word twice! And for things like Nasi (rice) and Air(water) NasiAir means rice soup easy enough to guess if you see it written at a food stall!

Really enjoyed my first taste of Malaysia and even a little overwhelmed by the genuine friendliness of the folks here....just have to get used to their style of throwing a tea bag in with the coffee!! After a day or two in Kota Baru trying to adjust to EVEN more humid and hot weather than thailand i decided that yes...i deserved some relaxing on a beach again! I teamed up with a really lovely English couple and a friendly Australian guy and we headed to the Perinthian islands off the east coast of Malaysia. I had heard these islands were the best in Malaysia for snorkelling and that the water was as clear as a swimming pool i'm getting very addicted to snorkelling now at every opportunity!

We headed off ridiculously early to get the 1st boat to the island as it is high season in Malaysia right now and we heard there is a bit of accomodation crisis on this island!

Sunrise at the pier

On the boat to Pulau Kecil the smaller of the 2 islands

LOOK AT THE COLOUR OF THE WATER!! Amazing! It was so clear you could see the sea floor from the boat even quite far out into the sea!

Also above water there were many huge motinor lizards...i saw ones at least a metre's a little baby i couldnt get the camera out fast enough!

And here is a massive gecko in a friends room

One day i went on a snorkelling trip, where a guy takes you out on a boat to a few different locations and you jump into the sea and have a look!

WOW!! I jumped in and was surrounded by hundreds of striped black and white fish swimming all around me, some even seemed to stare into my goggles to say 'who are you!' when i looked down there was just an amazing view of hundreds of colourful fish and corals...i couldnt stop saying wow!!

My ole camera isnt the best at underwater pics but here's one that came out cant explain the beautiful stuff i saw though! Just imagine hundreds of these black and white fish swimming all around you with bigger fish and baby sharks swimming below you and barracuda(maybe?) swimming above you. At another place, looking into the water from the boat about 10 metres down we could see a big turtle so we jumped in and swam down to it. Now and then it came up for air and one time i was swimming right beside it the whole way to the surface and was just a few inches away from its face when it came up for was soooo not bothered with us...infact it seemed almost bored at tourists coming to look at it daily! Big turtle though over a metre long.

An othertime we jumped into what seemed like just a boring patch of sea but below was amazing coral with loads of fish and manta rays hidden! The english couple taught me how to swim down deep and it was a whole new world for me when i could do this, just see a bit of hole in some coral and swimming down to have a look in!

What an excellent day!

I saw 2 shooting stars one night here and you know there is just something really different about the sky here compared to at home! Maybe its being so close to the southern hemisphere?

On the boat leaving the island

I didnt really have a plan where to go next so i caught a local bus to a town not far called Kuala Terranganu, the 'main' cheapy dorm room place here was full so i went into a slightly dodgy looking place next door and was instantly captured by this cute little thai lady, she looked up at me with these big sad eyes so i could not, not stay there! It was kind of like a guest house in progress but it was fine. Of course being Thai she referred to me as 'Falang' to her daughter....ahhh thought i had escaped that although im sure they'll have another word for me in Malaysia!

She INSISTED on cooking all my meals, washing my clothes and taking care of my injuries! It was quite nice to have someone insist in taking care of you when you are so far away from your mammy!..Although nobody can come close to my own mammy! xxx
Anyway it was actually a little bit hard to leave the guesthouse! She was very lonely, her husbund died a few years ago so she just spent her days sitting in the guesthouse waiting for guests and when she got one she didnt want to let it go!

One day i made my getaway and walked for miles and miles in this town, found some strange mosques...i would think this would suit a swimming pool better!

A seriously friendly, happy, easy-going kind of town, i found people were either extremly good at english and wanted to show it off to me or they didnt speak a word so i would start jumping around doing my charades. The only english one fellow could say was 'Hello Darlin!' in a cockney English accent...funny!

I wasnt sure here if, because the women are all covered up that the men would be very frustrated and feel the need to touch a foreigner like in just out of interest i decided i'd spend a little time checking it out! I deliberately stood close to men in shops and walked past men closely on the streets and they all behaved very well keeping their hands to themselves....go Malaysia again!! Later i sat down to cool off in the shade under a tree while guys going passed on motorbikes shouted 'helloooo how are you!!!' and cars stopped, blocking the road so the occupants could find out about me! How could you not love this place!

Ladies in their headscarves watching the sunset

Terangganu mosque at dusk

My last night here I had quite a 'Yes man' know where you really couldnt be arsed (bothered!) doing something so usually you would say no but you make yourself say yes...who knows what will happen!

Anyway the dear old Thai lady invited me out 'for song' one night, i presumed it was karoke and i was not really in the mood but went with her anyway as i thought i was doing this lonely lady a favour by being some company! Well how wrong could i be! Sure she had a great bunch of pals, most were Thai that were living here now and some crazy chinese people! First we watched a very funny (for me anyway!!) chinese concert...oh it was so tacky!! A man and woman jumping up and down in yellow costumes kind of singing to each other to music which sounded like an fairground ride! It was in the heart of china-town so drinks were flowing freely and although more people seemed to be looking at me than the stage they settled down a bit when i joined in the drinking games! My god people say the irish can drink but the chinese were just wolfing the stuff down...inhaling it as someone i know would say... like there was no tomorrow!

Me and the sweet Thai lady...yup she's had a beer or two bless!

The chinese people at the table were just so funny, it was like a rehersed comedy show, they all had cheeky answers for each others remarks and they insisted i stay at their houses when i come back! Everyone had a glass in front of them full of beer and how it went was that you just get on with your night having a chat but whenever someone raises their glass to give a toast to you, you must clink glasses and finish it in one go! And before i had a chance to finish it they were already filling my glass up again! Poor Thai lady was driving back so after a few she certainly was on the giggles so we headed home! It was a great night i was glad i said YES!


There was an island off the coast not far from Terranganu so i thought ah why not take a boat out to the island see whats there! Well it was a great decision. Malaysia keeps getting better!

At the crack of dawn (which was actually too early by about 3 hours!) i headed down the road to a village called Marang where i caught a passanger boat out to these islands...the kapas islands.

Very nice mosque on the way to the harbour!

As i was waiting for the boat i noticed a cat clawing at some glass trying to get into a shop and its little kitten must have been trapped in there all night trying to get out...but as i looked closer i noticed something was not quite right with the cat!!

The cats here have many strange defects due to interbreeding!

Well forget all the 'paradise' islands i went to before this one was heaven...well nearly!! An almost deserted island with just a few guesthouses, crystal clear water, jungle all around, and a really friendly chilled out vibe. I stayed at an excellent guesthouse ...if anyone ever makes it there..Captains longhouse run by a really cool retired Malay guy. It felt like i had my own private beach as there was nobody else around and this is high season in Malaysia!

I got bored of sunbathing after about 5 minutes so after a bit of snorkelling and reading on the beach i decided to head into the jungle as there was supposedly a bit of a path running through where you could eventually reach a beach on the other side.

I followed the path and there was a choice to go left or right...mmm so i took the left and the path soon disappeared! Well i carried on anyway following a river to make sure i didnt get (too) lost! I was really enjoying myself all alone in the jungle just me and nature!

Big trees

My guideline river! The water was red and it was bubbling with mosquitos.

There were HUGE lizzards in the jungle..MASSIVE! Sometimes it sounded like a person was running away very fast from the noise they made.

It had occured to me that i wasnt going in the right direction of the beach on the otherside when i had climbed to the top of a hill and could see nothing around but jungle. I guessed by the sun roughly what direction was east (the side i was trying to get to) and headed off in that direction!

When i found myself a bit lost this guy was laughing at me!

Just as i was thinking about giving up as i was starting to get quite tired, i saw the sea! All i had to do was climb down a small waterfall!
This beach was completly deserted, just mostly rocks, odd shoes...

...and more smiley faces! i spending too much time on my own?!

The water here was crystal clear, i wanted to jump in have a look around as i brought my snorkelling mask but it was just a bit risky as it would have been quite hard to climb back onto the rocks to get out, so i just had a rest and a look in from the rocks.

On my way back i found this tree with some markings on it. When i asked the owner of my guesthouse what it was, he said he was the one that had marked it as the roots of the tree are an aphrodisiac! Yet another advantage of the jungle on your doorstep!

I found this little fellow one morning at the guesthouse


And this guy clinging onto my mosquito net with its two little hands!

The nights on this island were really beautiful...starting with gorgeous sunsets......

..and if you went up to the line where the water meets the sand at night you could see spots of green and blue glowing very brightly. This was the algae and if you danced around on the spot you got a big bright area of glowing! WOW WOW!! I remember my friend Gerry told me when he was diving at night and had turned off his light, when he swept his hand through the water the algae would light up! Wow! you really do learn something new everyday.

Next, i caught a night bus to Singapore. A very funny random guy at the station on showing me where to wait for the bus brought me over to a group of well-groomed group of men saying 'make friend he he!!' funny!...I also kept finding money this day..excellent!

The bus was FREEZING!!! Why do they turn on the air-con so high?Everyone on the bus was suffering, curling up really tight, trying to keep warm, luckily i had all my belongings so i added enough layers to keep warm....even wore socks for the first time in a long time!

Arriving at sunrise

Singapore was how i imagined, superclean, superorgansied and signs everywhere for what not to do. As a funny Malaysian guy said to me the other day, Singapore is a 'fine' get fined for everything! Luckily i escaped being fined but i did get told off for eating in the subway and jay-walking!

I stayed in the 'Little India' area and absolutely LOVED it!! It was soo indian...without the ass-grabbing and occasional rotten urine smell! The shops sold all the indian stuff i used to buy, the restaurants food tasted exactly like when i was in india, the women wore saris and traditional indian clothes and funniest thing for me was that the men all had EXACTLY the same stupid style as in india...tight, flared trousers with a tight,often shiney shirt...its amazing how they havent adapted to the more modern Singapore style! The men also walk around holding hands as they do in india...its really lovely that this area is really indian brought back memories of good times in india!

Slightly scary statues in a Hindu temple!...just ripping out somebodys intestines and eating them....

It was all too easy to get lost in shopping centres....i mean Plazas! I would walk in just to have a quick look and hours later still be looking for an exit! The library was about the size of an airport! I walked around this city most of the time just looking up!

Its not all skyscrapers and plazas though, there were many pretty old colonial style buildings around....just with skyscrapers and plazas around them!

Singapore at night

Yes us Cavanaghs don't just make manhole covers in Ireland!

Having had enough of the city i went out of town a bit to a place called East-coast park and spent a lovely day chilling out in the peacefull area, renting skates (and not getting yet another injury on my legs can you believe it!) and buying myself a pair of glow-in-the-dark poi.

I found Singapore a place where you could walk all day totally enjoying the sights but still never making it to the one thing you planned to see! I didnt get around to visiting any of the attractions, maybe next time! Apart from way to cold air-con, Singapore is a nice break from Asia!

So it was back onto the arctic experience bus to Melaka in Malaysia to spend a few days before heading off to Indonesia...the 21st country of my trip!!Melaka is a really gorgeous place with architecture from the portugese, dutch and the brits as well as modern stuff and a dolled-up for the tourists china town. The city makes a huge effort to put together museums to tell every detail of the history of the town...i have to say a full exibition on kites was a bit boring, as was the one on spinning tops....but the aircon was very nice...Just maaaaybe this is for tourists!!

I found the most excellent guesthouse here it felt so much like a home i stayed there much longer than intended. I really did need a good break from any kind of movement! I met some lovely folks there, here we are all out for a meal and the owner doing the typical 'indians dont smile in photos'! It was so great here, Steve the owner was a member of a gym in a fancy hotel across the road so almost everyday i went to the gym and relaxed in the steam room and jacuzzi after and you know i didnt even find the sauna too hot...i really must be getting very used to the hot weather!

I ate many strange things here also. This one is called century egg...the yolk is green like mould but its very tasty!

I also had Black chicken...didnt really like this one, it had a lot of black skin with the remains of feathers in it and the meat was like tuna. I also ate a fish eye!! Well i just swallowed it whole to be on the safe time maybe ill be more adventurous!

Picturesque Chinatown

Well Chinatown at night was another matter altogether!! Hilarious stuff just as in Terranganu lots of drinking, some very dodgy lion dancing clubs and even dodgier karoke! I have some great videos but cant seem to upload them to this. Anyway this is the lion dancing club...

This guy pierced through a coconut with his finger that looks like a big thick, bent witches finger...very interesting to watch and a very handy talent...never be stuck for a can-opener...or wine bottle opener!!

I was just getting all my stuff packed to catch a boat the next morning to Indonesia when i was very lucky to get chatting to a lovely Swiss girl who had just come from Indonesia and she mentioned it was a pity the visa is only 30 days now...ahhh nooooo when i checked this before i left ireland....ok so that was a year ago! was 60 days..and since Im flying out of Bali in October i decided to kill a few days in a forest not too far from Melaka where i stayed in a little wooden hut.

Well everything happens for a reason and im very glad i ended up going here. I was the only person staying in the park and certainly the only foreigner who had come there in a long time! The park ranger guys were very kind and awful concerned that i would be frightened staying alone here without my 'husbund'. I really loved having my little wooden house in the middle of the forest waking up to monkeys and the almost deafining sound from the insects, there really is nothing like a refreshing walk in the forest after you wake up!

I was confused by you can touch flowers but...something not allowed with a flower on its own, i think the next one is put rubbish in the bins and arm around your girlfriend in the forest!

As it was in no way a tourist area there was no accomodation for people who were not fasting during the month of Ramadan just one guy outside the park with a stall selling meatballs on sticks for passing non-muslims. Thank god i brought a bit of food as im not a huge fan or meatballs on sticks for brekkie! The nearest village was 20km away and im sure the options would not have been much better until after about 6pm when everyone can eat again. It was not a huge problem anyway.

Nature is amazing

He was a big fellow...

I really loved this forest!

Ok now to idea what to expect!