A Travellerspoint blog

Lazing in Langkawi

sunny 33 °C

Brian's catamaran

Brian's catamaran

Our last port of call in Malaysia was at Tellaga Harbour on Langkawi Island, where we hijacked the Kilkenny Cat's (Brian Scott's) catamaran. Having met Brian only once before in a drunken haze at his brother Liam's wedding to Dearbhala in Italy, none of us remembered one and other!

Brian picked us up from the local jetty and ferried us out to his Cat in his little inflatable rib which was nearly swamped with all our luggage. On board the cat, which was moored in the bay, we were shown to our individual cabins located in each hull. Not only did we have a bed each but also a hand basin and a toilet. Luxury.

That evening, after watching the sunset with a few glasses of vino we decamped to the nearest island where we met some of the occupants of the neighbouring boats. A lovely bunch of people, including two families; one from South Africa and one from the States, who were both sailing around the world for several years. What a great experience for their children. We had a few nice BBQs on the island and a few good nights on board with the Russian, German and Canadian neighbours. What a great way to live.
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Captain's quarters

Captain's quarters

Silhouette

Silhouette

Brian in dingy

Brian in dingy


The finer things in life

The finer things in life


Alex, Brian and me at barbeque

Alex, Brian and me at barbeque


The days on board rolled into each other. After the first night the weather changed for the better and we slept out on deck, well, on the mesh over the open water. What a joy to go to sleep under the stars and wake up to the sun rising over the jungle-covered mountains. After a wonderful breakfast cooked by Brian we would kayak to the nearest island and loll around on hammocks in the shade of the trees. Bliss. We borrowed Brian's motorbike a few days and toured the island. We also took the cable car to the second highest peak on Langkawi and drank in the amazing views of the islands in both Malaysia and Thailand.
Our bed on deck

Our bed on deck

morning views

morning views

Guess what is happening?

Guess what is happening?

Malaysian flag

Malaysian flag

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Island view

Island view

Cable car at 700 metres

Cable car at 700 metres

Sunset on deck

Sunset on deck


Beach art

Beach art

Little boy blue

Little boy blue

Dinner time with Brian on the right

Dinner time with Brian on the right


Bathing on board involved a bucket and jam jar of precious fresh water. On a couple of days we washed (surreptitiously) at the local waterfall and associated pools, which were refreshingly cold in the tropical heat. One evening on the way back from the falls a car stopped and we were offered a lift by a young Malay couple. The ever modest (!) Seamus, insisted on putting his T shirt on before getting into the car (out of politeness to the girl who was wearing the Muslim headscarf). The young couple laughed their heads off, saying "this is a free country!" They introduced themselves, shook our hands and told us they were on honeymoon from Kuala Lumpur. All they were concerned about was that we were enjoying our time in their country, which we assured them we were.

Having intended to stay for only a few days we ended up staying on board for a week with Brian. I'm sure he was delighted to see the back of us and get his boat back to himself. It was a lovely bit of R&R for us.
Newly weds

Newly weds

Take two

Take two

waterfall

waterfall


Monkey business

Monkey business

Posted by Loodersatlarge 01.11.2013 07:28 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Cameron highlands

Anyone for tea?

all seasons in one day 20 °C

Aah go on go on go on go on go on go on go on........

Mrs Doyle from "Father Ted" would have had multiple orgasms at the sight of the Cameron Highlands. (For those who have never heard of "Father Ted", its a comedy tv series about 3 Irish priests and their housekeeper on channel 4. Definitely worth googling). The Cameron Highlands is tea mecca and really excellent quality tea at that. Nearly all the hillsides here are dedicated to tea plantations. And the rest are taken up with hydroponic tunnels, where flowers, vegetables and fruit are commercially grown year-round. From What little space they have they get maximum return. The Cameron Highlands is the size of Singapore, 712 square kilometers. It consists of 3 districts, one of which is Tanah Rata, where we decided to base ourselves. The town is lovely and cool and it was the first time we needed to put on a fleece since we arrived in Asia. So refreshing.

Most of the residents here are entrepreneurs, service industry employees, farm workers, retirees or government representatives. The languages spoken are Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English. We stayed in a little guest house called the Cameronian Inn, a little haven 200 metres from the town centre, with beautifully manicured gardens.

Cameronian Inn

Cameronian Inn

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Cameron HIghlands Tea Plantations

Cameron HIghlands Tea Plantations

Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation

We rented a moped for 2 days, as it's the best way to get to see all the sights (the Cameron Highlands comprises about 5 villages). We visited the BOH tea plantation together with strawberry, apiary, butterfly farms and sampled what produce we could as we passed by any stall with any strange and alien looking fruits etc. Of course the rain came as we were at the furthest point from our accommodation, but we were prepared as we had brought our rain ponchos. We definitely received some stares from the locals at our comical getup on the wee moped. Always glad to bring a smile to someone's face - that's us: loodersatlarge. Back in town we continued to do what we do best.... Eat! Afternoon tea with scones and jam (a throw back to the British) and the most amazingly cheap Chinese and Indian food. We had the most succulent tandoori chilli chicken in one place, so succulent that we had to back twice more. We kept bumping into some Bavarian girls who we had met on the Taman Negara jungle trek. Lovely girls. I'm sure they thought we were stalking them. (Well maybe Seamus was...). Girls - only kidding if you're reading this!

Evil 'looder' Knievel

Evil 'looder' Knievel

They seek him here, they seek him there......

They seek him here, they seek him there......


Evil's 'evil wife'

Evil's 'evil wife'


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Overall, the Highlands are still around 60 percent forested. Jungle trails lead visitors to scenic spots, waterfalls and aboriginal villages. Most of the tracks begin at Tanah Rata. Apart from its walks, the sanctuary is also known for it aborigines. The aborigines or Orang Asli are basically jungle dwellers. Though while we were there we witnessed one of their villages being bulldozed so that a complex could be built in its stead. The Asli were re housed of course - into brand new apartments a distance away, progress??????? Thankfully while many have "left" to take up residence in the nearby towns, there are still some who prefer to treat the forests and jungle as their home. We did a really beautiful and quiet hike which took us to the highest point of the highlands.

Nothing exciting happens in the Highlands but it's a lovely reprieve from the tropical heat and the perfect place for a grand cup o' tay.

Uphill climb over tree roots

Uphill climb over tree roots

Tree moss and ferns

Tree moss and ferns

Fungi growing on trees

Fungi growing on trees

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Posted by Loodersatlarge 19.09.2013 23:23 Archived in Malaysia Tagged cameron highlands Comments (0)

Second time lucky

A Proper Haircut

all seasons in one day 25 °C

After my "ordeal" in South America was I willing to put myself in the line of fire once again? As we walked from our attractive hotel in Penang, Malaysia Aine spotted a barbers shop and hinted maybe it was a good time to get a fresh look - a head and beard shave. The memories from Juan Garcia's in Arequipa, Peru had me shaking in my boots. Did I really want to go through all that again....... No, I did not, so we walked on. Some thirty yards up the street and as if some unworldly force spun me around and I found myself at the door to the barbers asking how much it would cost for head and face shave. At a whopping cost of 4 euros, and as I blinked to consider it I found that I was already sitting in the chair with a sheet around me, and the barber manipulating my skull with his dark hands. The memories came flooding back and though my mind wanted to run my body was well and truly glued to the chair. What could I do? so I gave myself over to the inevitable.

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As I watched Aine in the mirror I thought I caught a glimpse of a "serves you right" smirk on her face. I could sense that she was revelling in my nervousness as she reclined in the observer's chair. My thoughts to her were not very husbandly at that moment!!!!! Out with the camera and she was busy capturing the "moment". Damn that woman.

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Bon Jovi springs to mind..........living on a prayer. Oh oh

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Things went swimmingly and as my thoughts of a repeat of Arequipa faded I could only glimpse in the mirror intermittently at Aine's wonderment of how the process was in fact going rather well. In fact the barber was really good and this time all the equipment was sharp and performed as fine barber's implements should work.

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This photo of his work corner would not fill you with the greatest confidence. I hope he did not use the kittle to make tea for his customers for if he did I most definitely would have declined. Though I might have made sure Aine had a cuppa......
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This is no holiday...........
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Even his next customer seemed to nod approvingly of the very fine job been performed in front of him.IMG_4531

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All told, after almost 40 minutes of highly skilled labour I walked out of the shop with the smoothest head and face shave I have ever had.

Are you Zidane?      Shhh, tell nobody.

Are you Zidane? Shhh, tell nobody.

Posted by Loodersatlarge 19.09.2013 22:56 Archived in Malaysia Tagged penang Comments (1)

Penang

Georgetown

all seasons in one day 28 °C

We got a luxury coach from Cameron Highlands to Penang, also known as Georgetown. Penang is Just off the mainland linked by a 13.5 km three-lane, dual carriageway. Penang is often known as "The Pearl of the Orient" mainly so because of its mix of ethnicity and international businesses but we think Penang got this name due to it being the food capital of Malaysia. It is renowned for its great and varied food. (Penang was recognised as having the Best Street Food in Asia by Time magazine in 2004).

Penang's cuisine reflects the Chinese, Nyonya, Malay and Indian ethnic mix of Malaysia, but also shows some influence of Thailand. Its especially famous "hawker food", many served al fresco, strongly features noodles, spices, and fresh seafood. Most streets in the old quarters of Georgetown (main city) have numerous street stalls and though their equipment is limited and archaic they produce the tastiest food you could imagine. Penang is also famed for its traditional biscuits such as the tau sar pneah (bean paste biscuit). Though its not really to our taste buds we didn't refuse any either. Nowhere else can such great tasting food be so cheap. We had lunch for two a few days for the pricely sum of 1 euro 30 cents. We usually splashed out at night time and tried a number of dishes and nearly broke ourselves to the tune of 8 euros. We even met an english man who has been travelling the world for the past 13 years and he has landed in Penang and states that he has been here for 2 years and entends to stay for another 2 and can live for the pricely sum of 3 euros for dood and 3 euros for accommodation per day.

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We took to the streets to explore what Penang had to offer and such diversity was evident as we turned every corner. The influence of Chinese and Indian culture was definitely to the fore. The influence of the Chinese is everywhere, particularly in the architecture where you can see buildings well over 100 years old. Our hotel 'Kimberley House' on Kimberley St was a lovely oasis in the city. So clean and newly renovated. A good option on a tight budget.

The jettys by the waterfront are a collection of wooden houses built on stilts. This is where the Chinese clans set up when they arrived and each clan had its own jetty and does to this day. Their method of creating concrete stilts was a bit worrying, if not ingenious; filling plastic buckets with concrete and placing one on top of the other. Health and safety how are ya! Here we also saw what is probably the worlds smallest police station which was locked, but if you look closely at the photo you will see they left the key in the door. Very Irish!

The Indian culture is also very evident and little India is so colourful. The accents of the original cultures are still there even though people may be fifth generation Chinese or Indian.

On Armenian street we stopped into Armenian House coffee shop to avoid the torrential rain and to have a breakfast of penang eggs (very soft boiled eggs served mixed in a bowl with a drop of soya sauce), toast and tea. Here we met Chimino, the cousin of the owner. Chimino introduced himself and sat down with us and proceeded to give us generously of his time as he explained where to go and what to see in Penang. He was such a gentle young man and it was a pleasure for us to meet someone who loves his city so much that he wanted to go out of his way to share with us. Thank you Chimino.

The city is full of wall art, which has all be painted or erected in the last few years. You walk around a corner and there on the gable of a disused building you will see 2 kids riding a bike or a cat climbing the wall. The art is so attractive that people are thronging to see the various pieces and hawkers have set up alongside. It is such a simple idea and so effective. It has brought life back to once run down areas of the city. We loved it. Penang is a really funky city.

Chinese Temple

Chinese Temple


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Shoe flower pots

Shoe flower pots

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Does my ass look big in this?

Does my ass look big in this?


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come back here.....

come back here.....


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This could be my new business!

This could be my new business!


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Interior of our hotel

Interior of our hotel


Writing the blog in our hotel

Writing the blog in our hotel

Slow day at the office

Slow day at the office


Temple

Temple


Painted wooden entrance doors to temple

Painted wooden entrance doors to temple


It's OK guys I got it from here...

It's OK guys I got it from here...


some culinary delights

some culinary delights


Water house on home made stilts

Water house on home made stilts


close up of the stilts

close up of the stilts


My new posting!!!!!

My new posting!!!!!


Fishing Pots

Fishing Pots


Could you really relax!!!!!!

Could you really relax!!!!!!


On the catwalk....

On the catwalk....


Eggsactly what did you expect?

Eggsactly what did you expect?


Herbal Tea

Herbal Tea

Posted by Loodersatlarge 19.09.2013 20:27 Archived in Malaysia Tagged penang Comments (0)

Rumble in the Jungle

Taman Negara National Park

sunny 35 °C

Just like Tarzan and Jane we were, swinging from vines on our 2 day, one night trek in the jungle. NOT! Well, it was more like we were clinging to vines to keep us upright.
Me Jane

Me Jane

After 5 days in blingy Kuala Lumpur we headed north east to Taman Negara Natonal Park, home to rain forests 140 Million years old. Older than the Amazon forests. Seamus did the canny thing and organised for us to go using the public bus service which cost us about €7 as opposed to €30 if we went with a tour operator. Tip for other travellers: get the 10am bus from Titiwangsa metro station in KL to Jerantut (16.80 ringgit) where you can pick up the local bus direct to Kuala Tahan for 7 ringgit. The bus was v comfortable and the roads a dream after the nightmare of Indonesian roads. On arrival we (by we this means Aine) opted for a holiday lodge which had a pool (yippee) which in the jungle heat is a thing of luxury. Next day we headed into the park on our own and walked for about 6 hours. The highlight of our day was when we turned a corner on the jungle path and saw a local Orang Asli man (from the local aboriginal tribe) hunting with a long blow pipe and poison arrows. It was just like stepping into the past. It was a real privilege to cross his path. We walked along the longest suspended rope bridge canopy walk in the world and it was humbling to see the rainforest floor some 50 meters below us. Some clinching of buttocks and clinging to the ropes we managed to get through the ordeal and even spotted an orange squirrel and a deadly viper (to whom we gave a wide berth).
Bag and baggage...

Bag and baggage...

Taman Negara

Taman Negara

Oops

Oops

Me and Orang Asli hunter

Me and Orang Asli hunter

Orang Asli hunter

Orang Asli hunter

Overlooking the National Park

Overlooking the National Park

Bukit Terisek

Bukit Terisek


That evening after dinner in one of the floating restaurants on the river we booked a 2 day 1 night trek into the jungle with an overnight stay in a cave. This is a must do for anyone visiting the National Park. Next morning we met our fellow trekkers: Maria a 31 yr old banker from Vienna; Maddie a 23 yr old graduate from Toronto and; Wouter, a 22 yr old graduate from Holland. We crossed the river to the park HQ where we had to declare how many plastic bottles, batteries, clothes etc we had so they could check on our way back in order to discourage littering. Back down to the river with us and into a long boat, slightly bigger than a canoe, and off up the river for 2 hours. On our way we had to negotiate several rapids and as we were heading upstream it took a lot of skill by the boat man to negotiate. Eventually after 2 beautiful hours on the river surrounded by jungle we arrived at our starting point where we had lunch. Some locals were feasting on fruit which they shared with us. The juicy mangosteens and lychees, as well as the smelly durian fruit. Durians are so smelly (a bit like rotten raw chicken) that you see 'No Durian' signs in hotels. The locals call them the cheese of the jungle and when fresh they taste both sweet and savoury - a bit like caramelised onions crossed with cheese. Unusual to say the least.
No Durians

No Durians

Titanic

Titanic


Orang Asli Village

Orang Asli Village

You know the expression a lather of sweat? Well nothing prepares you for how much you sweat as you hike up hill in the jungle carrying 2days supply of water, food, clothes and bedding. Every single piece of clothing is drenched in sweat and there is no reprieve from a cooling breeze. Of course the chance that we might cross a tiger's path gave us plenty to sweat about too! Thankfully we didn't meet one but we did see some elephant poo on our path but it was a few days old. Our main gripe, other than the heat, was the leeches. Although we were all quite proud of our first leech. After a while you got used to them but you can't even feel the little buggers as they have an anaesthetic in their bite. Once you remove one, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. By evening our little group had bonded and we were now hardened jungle hikers (!) so that by evening time we felt like a little family. Guess who were ma and pa?.....
Our happy family

Our happy family


Aine and our Guide

Aine and our Guide


Orang Asli Village

Orang Asli Village


View to river

View to river


Fungi

Fungi


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Just as dusk was falling we reached our cave Gua Kepayang Besar, which lay at the top of a steep gully which we had to climb. The cave was a stunning sight - about 40 meters high and about 80 metres deep. Our guides set up a fire while we went to the river for a bath and to collect water for boiling and cooking. More leech alerts but the cooling water was delicious. Us two girls sneaked down to the river first so we could wash in comfort only to be joined by Seamus who had no reverence for modesty and jumped in naked as the day he was born....

Back in the cave our guide placed a tarpaulin on the cave floor on which we placed our sleeping mats and well worn smelly sleeping bags provided by the trekking organisers. Of course Seamus had packed a sneaky dram of Tullamore whiskey which went down a treat as an aperitif.
Laying out our beds for the night in the Cave

Laying out our beds for the night in the Cave

We were joined by another larger group so we were about 20 people in total. Our guides cooked up the most fabulous rice and curry made from tinned mutton, with a few fresh veggies and lots of spice. But after a day's hiking, it tasted SO good. After dinner we were treated to some Irish tunes on the bamboo whistle which sounded so hauntingly beautiful in the cavernous stone cathedral where the acoustics were outstanding. As Seamus had sneaked off around the corner we couldn't see who was playing so the other group were taking bets as to who the musician was. We settled in for the night alongside the fire with some candles placed here and there. Very church-like and contemplative. We all lay there in silence lost in our own thoughts, feeling so lucky to be in such a wonderful place.
Caveman!!!!

Caveman!!!!


Sunlight streaming into our cave

Sunlight streaming into our cave

Next morning we toasted our bread on bamboo sticks placed over the fire. After tidying up we headed back out into the jungle for another 5 hours hiking. We crossed several streams, fallen trees, muddy puddles and suffered the odd leech or two again, until we reached our lunch stop at a larger river. Here we tore off our sweaty, smelly clothes and jumped into the cool reviving waters. After our lunch of delicious spicy noodles we noticed the guides looking upwards and gesticulating. They told us to pack up and move away from the large trees; kind of hard when you're in the jungle! Next thing a strong wind appeared from nowhere and leaves started falling all around us. Then a large thunder clap and the rains began. This was torrential tropical rain. Visibility was poor in the forest due to the dark clouds and rain. We donned whatever rain gear we had and plodded as fast as we could trying to keep up with our guide. The 2 umbrellas we bought in KL came in handy. Another tip: umbrellas may look stupid while hiking but they are one of the most useful pieces of equipment you can bring. Of course after a short while I (Aine) realised that an umbrella in a thunder storm may not be such a good thing and after several flashes of lightening I rolled up It up. Then I only had my metal walking pole to worry about! But thankfully we survived and after an hour we reached our pickup point by the river. Needless to say our boat was almost an hour late and we watched in envy as the other group left in a covered boat. Ours, when it eventually turned up, was uncovered which left us at the mercy of the rain and rapids but we were so wet and sweaty that we didn't mind the soaking on the way home.
The Annunciation

The Annunciation


Up she flew.....

Up she flew.....


Me and my waterbabes!!!

Me and my waterbabes!!!


My left foot

My left foot

We arrived back at our hotel and made the most of the hot shower. We joined our co-trekkers for dinner and said our goodbyes to them and the jungle. We really enjoyed our time in Taman Negara National Park.
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Posted by Loodersatlarge 07.09.2013 05:09 Archived in Malaysia Tagged taman negara Comments (0)

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