A Travellerspoint blog

You know it's raining when Satellite TV doesn't work

raining hard

overcast 28 °C

Now we are on one of the Perhentian Islands, the smaller one of the two called Kecil.
We are staying on a little beach called Coral Bay which, as the name suggests, is a sea full of coral and therefore lots of sea life. Yesterday we made the short journey through the jungle to Long Beach which is much bigger and is totally sandy so much nicer to swim in. We are probably going to do some scuba diving while we are here as there are some good dive sites and from the sea life we have seen so far we have been very impressed. I will have to do my refresher course first as it’s been 13 years since I did an official dive and over 5 years since I did any diving at all. Gerald is pretty keen to go night diving and do some wreck diving as there are two good wrecks nearby, in water not too deep.

Gerald has hijacked the blog…….The Perhentian Islands are typical for this part of the world: basic and beautiful. The thing that sets these ones apart (for us at least) is the amount of sea life. We went on a snorkelling trip today (our second full day on the island) and saw some rather large turtles (relaxed and not too shy, so you can dive down to them and get very close), an abundance of fish (some of which would eat from your hands), a stingray (hiding under rock) and also some Black Tipped Reef Sharks! These look like miniature (well, at least 1.5 meters long!) stereotypical versions of sharks, with all the normal shark things on them. And all just a few meters away as they swim around. Fantastic. (it was my first close encounter with a shark, hence the gushing).

As the end of the season is nearly upon this part of the world, storms and rain are starting to hit the island a bit regularly. This is our third night here and this is our second storm. The first was an absolute doozy, winds starting all of a sudden followed by torrential rain that did not let up until after we went to sleep. And it all started just as we were about to sit down for dinner on the beach! The whole restaurant (about 20 tables on the beach) were quickly rushed inside where we were all stuck until it subsided a little. Today’s storm hit as we were coming back from snorkelling, meaning our little boat with eleven people in it, had to brave 30 mins in 2 meter swells, at one point the boat almost capsizing! But only Anita’s bum got wet (as she was almost thrown into the sea), luckily.

To get to the island we took a night bus (we’re liking them) from KL and then a ‘Fast Ferry’ to the island. In this part of the world, a ‘Fast Ferry’ is a small boat that holds 10 passengers and has two 225hp Yamaha engines attached to it. 24 km in under 30 mins. So much fun!

Our next stop will be Thailand but we are not due there until Oct 14th (for our pre-booked luxury villa week) so we may just spend the next week or so in the Perhentians….a couple more nights on this beach and then move over to Long Beach and do some diving and then maybe head over to the other island. The islands only have generator power from 6.30pm to 8am and, from what we have heard, internet hardly ever seems to work so it is unlikely that we will be blogging until Thailand now!

So, bye for now!

Posted by bumblebum 06:21 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The Story of the MasterCard

... and the chocolate cake ...

semi-overcast 31 °C

It’s Tuesday night, and we’re about to go to Tioman Island. We’ve checked out of our room, put our bags in storage and are wasting the day away waiting for the departure time of our bus: 11:30pm.

Deciding that it’d be a good idea to have LOTS of money with us in case we want to stay longer on the island (an island with no ATM), we hit up an ATM not far from the bus station, at about 6:30pm. I get out my 1500 Ringgits. Anita has her card eaten. And the machine then promptly displays an ‘Out Of Order’ sign on the screen. This, it appears, is a good time to start panicking.

So, we leave a note for the bank people, and take down the phone number and email address of the persons to contact when these things happen. The only problem is, is that none of our emails, phone calls or helpful little notes work – the bank does not get back to us and we’re left wondering what to do next.

So we only stay on Tioman for one week (yes, I know, only one week!) and head back on the million hour bus journey to Kuala Lumpur. Getting back we stay in a REALLY bad room (like REALLY bad) and then get up nice and early to hit up the bank this time. Once there Anita goes and sees Mr Bank Man who tells her, yes, they found her card, and as per company policy, it is being sent back to the card issuer in the UK. Which (to her credit, this worked fantastically) upset Anita a bit more, which started the Water Works, and Gerald the comforter giving poor Anita a hug in the bank with all the tellers and customers (and a guy with the shotgun) watching and feeling sad!

Suddenly! Mr Bank Man (we LOVE him), not able to cope with crying non-customers in his bank, says he will contact head office and see if the card is still there and not in the safe (?) hands of the Malaysian Postal System. The hope that it was there brightened up the mood incredibly! Tears ALMOST STOPPED! And indeed they did stop, and smiley faces were all around when Mr Bank Man said card was still in the head office, and to come back at 3pm when the card will be in his trusty and oh so kind hands!

So, lunch, wander about, do some shopping, and then back to the bank we race (as fast as 35 degrees lets you) to find Mr Bank Man holding the missing Bank Card! Not only are there happinesses all over the place, but while Mr Bank Man (we love him more now) is taking a copy of Anita’s passport, the nice teller ladies offer Anita a slice of (extreeeemely yummy I am told) chocolate cake, because (and I quote) “this morning you looked so sad!”

So, card is back, it still works, cake was divine, Anita is happy, Mr Bank Man did a good deed and Gerald gets to write a story!

(oh, it was Mr Bank Man’s birthday, hence the chocolate cake. Happy B’day Mr Bank Man)
(we love him still)


Posted by Big.G 03:43 Archived in Malaysia Tagged events Comments (3)

Sun, Sand and Sea

for a whole week :-)

sunny 33 °C

As I write this I am sitting on our veranda looking out to sea, we are staying in a chalet called Bamboo Hill on Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island) in the South China Sea. It is a very cute place set up high and one whole side of our room opens up to look over the hills and mountains.

Yesterday as we were getting ready for dinner we could hear lots of rustling and all of a sudden the trees around us were completely filled with monkeys, they were climbing on the roof of one of the chalets and swinging through the tress but as quickly as they arrived they were gone again! The wildlife here does like to take you by surprise….we have disturbed a couple of monitor lizards hiding in undergrowth near the path and as you walk by the get scared and suddenly leap out and run, the first time it happened we almost leapt in the air ourselves!
We have seen quite a few monitor lizards over the weeks but none a HUGE as the ones on Tioman, the other day it sounded as though someone was walking next to our room through the bushes as it was such a crashing noise but it turned out to be 2 monitor lizards chasing each other and one of them was almost 2 metres long!

It is very relaxing here so we have decided to stay a week although initially we were planning on staying longer. We knew there was no ATM on the island so we were planning to get the maximum amount of money out each so we could stay for 2 weeks, but my card got eaten by the machine, and the bank was closed, and we were booked on the bus out of KL just a few hours later, so a week will have to do! I’m hoping my card will be in the bank when we head back to KL next week, I have tried to contact them but as yet have had no reply :-(

The journey here was not as straight forward as we thought it would be….the bus was supposed to go from across the road from our guesthouse but as the bus station in Pudu Raya is being done up we were shuttled to another bus station some distance away. We decided to get a night bus to save on a night’s accommodation and to ensure we could get a ferry across to the island the same day we arrived. The only downside to the plan was that the bus driver told us to get off a stop earlier which was a ferry jetty to the island but it was only 4am in the morning and the first ferry wasn’t until 8am! We figured out if we had stayed on the bus to the next stop, that ferry left earlier and although it takes longer would have arrived about the same time and we could have carried on sleeping on the bus!!

It has been nice to be in the same place for more than a couple of nights and properly relax. We had good intentions of exploring the island, apparently there is a really good trek to the other side that takes about 3 hours but so far we haven’t summoned up the energy to do it! We will probably do an island tour boat trip towards the end of our stay and get a bit of snorkelling in and see some other beaches…..maybe.

Anyway that’s it for now

PS This was written a few days ago now but we had no internet access and had to wait until we were back in KL!

Posted by bumblebum 07:53 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Kuala Lumpur

City Living At Its Best

semi-overcast 34 °C

The Cameron Highlands are now behind us. We spent 4 nights there, and it was lovely, nice and cool. But it did rain a lot, probably because most of the country was being rained on! We looked up the Malaysia Met Office web site and the forecast for most places was rain. So it wasn’t the fault of the Highlands, and thus our opinion of them is even better than before. We did get a bit bored up there though, as we saw most of the highlights the first day, and there isn’t much more to do other than take hikes through the various forest types. But not much wildlife to see, so once you’ve been down one track, there is nothing new to see in the other ones. We did go see the Butterfly Farm one day. After breakfast one morning we decided on the spur of the moment to walk out to the farm, as we had read it wasn’t too far away. Ha! We got maybe 3km out of town before it started raining (Anita has a raincoat but I was carrying nothing!) and so we then started hitching (which didn’t work) and ended up getting a taxi the rest of the way – which was about 10 more km, past the next village even! The farm was nice though, lots of big butterflies and also some lizards, snakes, beetles, spiders, scorpions and other things. We then had to wait ages for a taxi to turn up to take us back. But since we had nothing else to do, that was no bother!

The place in the Highlands that we were staying at played DVD’s every night at 5 and 7pm (and sometimes during the day) so there was plenty to keep us occupied while we were there. But 4 nights was enough and we booked our bus ticket out to Kuala Lumpur, arriving on the 20th.

Which is where we are now. KL is a city, so not too much to say about it. But it is still nice and friendly as most Asian cities seem to be and we have had a good walk around the centre.

But we’re not here for much longer as we get an overnight bus tonight to Mersing on the east coast where we will catch a ferry out to Pulau Tioman (Tioman Island). In the 1970’s Time magazine voted the island as one of the top 10 in the world! We’re staying at a place called Bamboo Hill Chalets (http://www.geocities.com/bamboosu/) which sound lovely! Should be nice to get back to a beach where one can recover from the heat of the day in the water!

That’s all from me for now.
xxx (these are only for the girls)

Posted by Big.G 01:06 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Giant flowers, blowpipes and tea

A day in the Cameron Highlands

rain 21 °C

We have now arrived in the Cameron Highlands, it is much cooler and as it is mountainous it rains – A LOT! They are in their rainy season here so it seems that every afternoon around 2pm it will rain for about an hour and then in the evening it starts again for the long haul and it buckets down with thunder and lightning. It hasn’t stopped us from exploring though….

Today we did a full day tour beginning with a search for a giant Rafflesia flower, the Cameron Highlands has the 3rd biggest species of this flower and they are huge! They take 2 years to germinate and then a further 9 months to grow to giant buds, then once it is time to open it takes each petal 3 – 5 hours to open so usually over 20 hours for it to bloom fully and it lasts just 5 to 7 days before dying! Anyway to find these flowers we had to drive for about 45 minutes mostly up a VERY steep hillside which was made up of clay and as it had rained most of the night before it was full of deep water, our land rovers were sliding all over the place, I have certainly never experienced a journey like it before! We then had over an hours walk to find the flowers and as usual it involved crossing rivers and lots of climbing ( we are going to be fit by the end of this!). We found them and they were pretty impressive.

Our next stop was to a village of Orang Aslis (original people) we were shown how they still use a blow pipe and poisoned darts to hunt for their food. Gerald had a go at the pipe and managed to hit the target - a piece of polystyrene on a tree!

Then it was off to the tea plantations, we only visited one but as far as you could see in every direction it was full of tea trees, all of which are around 80 years old. It was quite a beautiful sight but as the rain clouds were closing in our photos just didn’t do them justice.
We got to see the tea being picked and inside the factory we learnt about how the tea was processed.

We attempted to view the highlands from the highest point and after another steep drive up to the top (6666ft) discovered that it was full of low cloud and we couldn’t see anything but cloud!!!

So it was onto the final stop – a walk through a mossy forest. We all got pretty muddy on this trek as the moss holds so much water everything in the forest is wet and soggy. It was really pretty to walk through though and our guide taught us lots about the plants growing there, we should now be able to survive if we got lost in the forest!!!!

Anyway by the time we got back to the guesthouse after about 10 hours of adventures it was POURING down once again – guess we can’t have sunshine the whole time we are away!

Hope everyone is well, stay in touch

Posted by bumblebum 06:27 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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