Friday, 27 June 2014

2nd June Malaysia, lankawi Island and Penang Island

Exchange rate £1 equals 
5 Malaysian ringgit or
50 Thai Bart 
Weather..  tropical rain fall, humid and sticky 
We are now in the rainy season. 

We took a bus to the port then a local ferry to from Thailand to Lankawi Island. A quick trip for us, of around 5 hours.
We went through the border controls after leaving the ferry. Once on the Island we jumped in a taxi and half hour later we arrived at Cenang beach where after consulting The Rough Guide we chose the Gecko hostel and booked into a worn but comfortable /clean room with 2x double beds  for 100 ringlet.

 To cool down we went to the beach for the afternoon, But after hearing that a lady had been stung by jelly fish, we were careful when swimming with the kids. .

Gecko hostel came with a bar, which was very comfortable 
 It was lucky we went to the beach that day because for the next two days we experienced full on tropical rain which went on all day and night. So we just sat in the bar watched TV, read books, blogged, and drank beer.
rain rain rain 

 The hostel had up to 10 kittens /cats, much to the kids delight

On the whole we wasn't too impressed with the beach resort we were staying in on Langkawi island. And as we didn't see much of the rest of the island we can't comment on that. The island its self is very green lush and mountainous.  But as there is no transport on the island you needed to hire a car or bike or use taxis which are expensive !( we was going to hire a car but changed our mind when we realized we would not be insured in an accident (..dodgy)
Our local beach was nice but busy and had the risks of jelly fish, The resort its self was mostly in the process of being converted into resorts for Malaysian holidaymakers who love the five star treatment.   Which meant that it was double the cost to eat out in the restaurants than in many in any other resort we have been to, and a bit of a building site in places.  We was going to take a taxi to the cable car that go's up into the mountains but the rain put paid to that, so happily we decided to move on after three days.

On the 5th June we took the ferry to PENANG ISLAND and George Town. Costing 75 ringgits. It took around two hours. We passed some real emerald colored sea, but I wouldn't like to have been on this tour  below ...a bit too packed for me..

                                            Unloading the ferry
Penang from afar 

                                     It has a very English feeling with plenty of modern architecture
History moment 
British control over Penang led to an increase in the size and the diversity of Penang's population. Owing to its long colonial history, many British colonial buildings can still be seen today.

Penang still retains many colonial street names. These include King Street, Queen Street, Beach Street, Union Street, Light Street, Downing Street, Anson Road, Macalister Road, Magazine Road, Love Lane, Rope Walk, Gurney Drive, Weld Quay, Buckingham Street, Codrington Avenue, Gottlieb Road, Vermont Road and Western Avenue.

 In all of these maintenance of colonial heritage, UNESCO awarded George Town, as well as another Straits Historical City of Malacca Town the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site(s).

Many Chinese immigration arrived in a dispatch of 1794. Francis Light said that the Chinese constituted the most valuable and largest group acting as traders, carpenters, masons, smiths, shopkeepers and planters on the island. This can still be seen especially in George  town.

Indian immigration in 1790s, saw shopkeepers and farm labourers, and occupation money-lenders. Their presence in Penang and elsewhere where plantations sprang up aided merchants, miners, and planters. Beginning with Light, Penang boasted a tradition of religious tolerance; all races could practice their respective religious faith and social stability in a multi-racial society was thus achieved.

The Malaysians of George Town certainly have a very British feel about them and are quite sharp.  

                                              A sign outside a local museum




Chinese Buddhist temple in Little China

 There are many old colonial buildings George town. Most are long thin buildings with varying degrees of fa├žade depending on their upgrade over the years. They are surprisingly very basic inside, as if in the transformation from house to shops they have lost a lot of their original characteristics. Many are in need of restoration,Which is way beyond many's pockets, but there is a heritage charity that helps with this restoration.
Penang has fallen in love with street art
you can find many similar works a round the city 


One of the Mosques in  Little  India 

We visited a beautiful Chinese Monastery /Temple high above a village, around 40 mins bus ride from George town. A statue of a massive golden Buddha can be seen sitting behind the temple.
It sat on a hill and was very impressive. To get to top we had to wander first through a winding alley full of sovenir shops. This reminded me of Mont st Michel in France and its winding alleys and  sovenir stalls.  We saw a massive monator lizard about five foot long in the temple.  

The bus journey to the temple was slow with heavy traffic, we passed modern towns with loads of malls, and shops then into to smaller towns full of old high rises with washing hanging out each window, and busy markets in the streets.   

In the end we spent four days in and around George Town, It was worth the visit  ..we hope to revisit more of Penang later on in our trip. Theres a beach area and Penang National park still worth seeing, so we have been told. 

We have come to a decision regarding our travels in Asia. Our plans are now to head from here across Malaysia to the Cameron Highlands then to Tamah Negara national park and Rain Forest.

Then down towards Jobar Bahu the gate way city into Singapore, and onto our last Malaysian town Melaka.

From Melaka we will then take a ferry ride over to Dumi in INDONESIA which will be country number 18 on our journey through Asia.
This is our last country we will visit, before heading back to Kuala Lumpur and flying home on 17th July
A face book message from Us .......
A BIG HELLO from Tracey, Andy, Alisha and Sebastian. After 6 months and having travelled through 17 countries, 31,000+ km of trains, buses and boats, including the transmongolian trains (dream come true ) and no flying and enjoyed ranges of temp from minus 40 degrees ...cold, up to plus 40 degrees temperature. and humid.
We have( as my dad jokes about us moving so fast ) hit the bottom ish of Asia and nearly ran out of land. With just Indonesia to go, which we plan to see in the next month. We feel ready for a new adventure We have had a family discussion and with the kids wanting to see their toys, cousins/ nieces/ family and friends we would like to say with much excitement
we are planning on heading back to little old England on the 17 July 2014
so with luck, we're see you all very soon
whos up for a drink ....
take care and love to all xxx
—  :-) feeling accomplished.


 Our next blog comes from the Cameron Highlnds and Tamah Negara Rain Forest
see you there xx

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

18th May Krabi, James Bond island and so much more.

The crabs of Krabi

18th May   Journey to Krabi.

LEAVING KOH TAO ISLAND After three weeks in Koh Tao island we eventually managed to get
the strength to  leave.  It was a lovely island and we had a nice bungalow right on Sairee beach. When we had first arrived in April, the sea were so calm not a ripple could be felt in the water and it was far warmer than we had expected. with very hot and humid days. The beach was flat and wide with a golden colour  and slow high/low tides that still allowed you to walk on the sand in the evening.  But by the end of the three weeks all that had changed we were having more tropical rainy days with high winds. It was interesting to see the beach change to a more steep bank with debris being washed up ( with some Rubbish)  even the waters cooled a touch. Now there was less space to walk and eat on the beach at night.the days had cooled a little and nights were les humid. It was a wilder beach we left than when we arrived.  

Taking a night ferry we travelled to Krabi where we took a wander and found a nice big room with A/C (nice to have) for 600 bart £12.  
Our room with its Lego corner and the cafe down stairs
Krabi is surrounded by wonderful pinnacles.
Krabi's main road,  the rest of the town spreads out from this. They have a large white  temple overlooking the town and it was lovely to walk along the river.  The town offered a wide range of shops, a mall and markets.
Some towns seem to collect certain styles of shops , Da lat Vietnam.boasts the most hair dressers ever,  But  Krabi has the best/most pharmacies I've seen in Thialand! phew.   

This is one of the Krabi markets, where we ate most evening, you could eat for around 100 bart £2  each.
Fresh food was cooked from the stalls, most had rice/noddles as it stable component.

We found a great sweet stall and enjoyed a favourite of Seb's, banana and chocolate pancakes
and Alisha and I loved sticky rice with coconut and mango yum.
 The other two markets were a vegetable market and weekend clothes/food market.

Of the 10 days we spend there, we took some day trips. One was a James Bond island tour. Another was to a local beautiful beach called Railey Beach around 20 mins boat ride where we then visited Au Nang town for the evening.  We also took a tuktuk to the Tiger Cave Temple where we saw monkeys and walked up 1260 steps to see yet another big Buddha, the views were great.... see below

As a local excursion we took a taxi boat ride from Krabi pier and visited a few local sights.
We first went to a fish farm come floating fish restaurant for lunch. Fish were kept in large netted areas under the huts.
local life.....A giant cricket 

A Horse Shoe Crab 

There were many types of fish and animals to see, they even had a a 3 year old pet turtle. 

Our tasty lunch from the river,  Fish in plum sauce

We then visited one of two pinnacles cross the water from Krabi, where a few caves were. We saw and heard bats,and we got to go inside a cave where there were a good many stalactites and stalagmites on show.

In the end we spent around 10 days in krabi.  There was a large white temple to visit looking out over the town, and we took a tuktuk out to see the Tiger Cave temple where it was said a tiger (a holy animal know for its spiritual strength) lived, untill monks moved into its cave.  

There was lots of Monkeys living around the cave,  some where really cheeky, they would wait for you at the bottom of the 1260 steps up to the big Buddha at the top of the mountain. which we climbed phew!

That's a lot of steps to climb, the kids did really well it was my legs that took days to walk straight again

The view from the top 

On the way home we took a taxi sitting in the back for fun.

from      James Bond island  ... with love 
We booked onto a tour of the south islands of Thailand in Ao Phang Nga National Park
 Of course James Bond  Koh Tapu / Nail Island. had to be visited.  cost 1100 bart adult
A bit of skinny dipping to cool down                                                                                                            
It was a beautiful little island with a cave the kids loved, a couple of viewpoints and of course the pinnacle its most famous for. But really far to small to cope with the mass of tourists on it and this was in the low season!
There was even a souvenir stalls in the middle taking up more room.
Amazing what happens when a place has a few moments of fame.
The landing area could only dock one boat at a time
so you had to be quick getting on and off the boats.

 We took a canoe trip around the islands near James Bond island and into a cave.
While on the tour we also visited a fishing farm and a Muslim floating village where we had a buffet lunch,
I also got to have a wander around the village itself, and i nearly got lost its was surprising how like a maze it was.


As part of the tour, we also visited another holy cave and a leaning golden Buddha.

More monkeys lived by the caves we visited ..

To finish off we visited a national park and waterfall to cool down.
All in all it was nice tour we got to see a quite a lot  and enjoyed spending the day boating around the islands.
 On another day we jumped on a local taxi boat and  visited a local beautiful beach called Railey Beach around 20 mins ride.After a day on the beach we then visited Au Nang town for the evening.

The walk way to Railey beach 

caves of  Railey beach 
The high climb with ropes the top of view point for the best view of the island. the kids did really well
Railey beach 

 Railey beach religious holy cave adorned with interesting phallic symbols

There was wonderful pattens in the sand made by tiny little crabs 

Taking the boat to Oa Nang 

It  was nice getting to Ou Nang town we had to walk to the next beach then catch a boat. The place was ok, but not really to our liking, especially after a quiet town like Krabi. It was full of bright neon lights, souvenir shops,bars, restaurants and loads of traffic and lots of people trying to get you to buy something....