A Travellerspoint blog

Its raining

lots

semi-overcast 30 °C

Hiya!

We've made it into Malaysia now, a quick 6 hour ferry ride from Medan to Penang. The ferry people in all their wisdom had the air-con in the ferry running full whack, and no one had warned us, so we froze! They did play a movie (a DVD Rip of Defience, a Daniel Craig one, over and over with english subtitles which meant we could listen to our ipods all the way. And thus block out the sounds of the 5 or so people throwing up. Nice.

We disembarked on the island of Penang in Geogetown a few days ago and stayed a night there, happy to be in a city for a bit, and one that actually had everything you needed, including a good transport structure and easy to use tourist systems. Sumatra and even Java were more difficult. There are also lots more western tourists here, so more people to talk to, and one doesn't feel so on display.

After one night in Georgetown we headed up to the north of the island to a place called Buta Ferringhi, where we have been ever since, staying in a guest house. It's nice and relaxed, the beach is OK, the people friendly, and we've been just chilling out and catching our breath. But it has rained every day, for like an hour or so. It's now about 8:30am and we've been awake for a while due to rain and thunder! Stopping now, so hopefully the day will get better and our washing will dry! Plans are to move onto somewhere else tomorrow.

So not much excitement from this entry!
Thats all for now!

Gx

Posted by Big.G 17:12 Archived in Malaysia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Blood, sweat and orang utans :-)

Welcome to the jungle

storm 36 °C

So we arrived in Bukit Lawang on our bargain journey, the last hour provided us with roads that had to be seen to be believed! Potholes all over the roads for miles and so deep you wouldn’t even chance a 4x4 going over them. The guide book had mentioned the atrocious roads but it still surprised us at how bad they were.
We were hoping to stay in the eco lodge and to get there had to cross a rickety swing bridge in the dark and then they were full! Eventually we ended up in a hotel which was clean and within budget.

On our first morning we decided to explore the Bat Caves – after our 2 waterfall experiences you would think we would always be prepared for anything but once again we were taken by surprise….we started to climb into the cave up little wooden ladders that had been placed there (me wearing a little denim skirt!) expecting to see a big dark cave full of bats at the top. Instead it was a little clearing of rocks and plants leading to a caved area as we approached the dark entrance a young boy appeared and gestured for us to follow – well thank goodness he was there! The cave system was huge and it was incredibly dark at times, as well as getting very low in places and slippery underfoot. The guide led us through parts I would never have dared to go through but it was worth it. We saw loads of bats all hanging from the cave roof and when the torch shone on them they would just let go, free fall and then fly off. Most of the bats were tiny but when we got towards the end there were huge ones flying in and out of a hole at the top. We arrived back at the hotel very hot and sweaty a couple of hours after we had set off! There was a great electrical storm in the evening with the sky lighting up constantly, it was pretty cool to watch from our veranda.

The next morning we set off for our 2 day adventure in the National Park in search of orang utans. The land area covered is huge (1,000,000 hectares) and is supposed to house around 5000 orang utans, 100 Sumatran tigers, as well as Sumatran rhinos and elephants amongst other creatures. Within an hour of walking we came across our first orang utan, high up in a tree all alone, we watched until he swung away across the tree tops. It was another 2 hours of trekking in the humidity (neither of us have ever sweated like we did on this trek – it literally ran off our noses!) up and down narrow trails before we came across an amazing sight. A mother orang utan with her baby and another juvenile male not far away. We stood and watched them for ages and they came down to have a closer look (many of the orangs in the park will have been raised initially in the rehabilitation centre in Bukit that closed down some years ago, therefore they don’t have the same fear levels of humans.) They put on a great ‘show’ doing all their acrobatics in the trees, hanging from their feet, climbing and swinging through the trees so effortlessly. There was a heart-stopping moment when the baby and young male were playing together and the baby reached out to a branch which promptly snapped off and we watched him tumbling down the steep incline out of our view. Within seconds he was climbing up and swinging to reach the other two. It was such a cool experience.

As well as orang utans we also saw snakes, lizards, 2 types of monkey (we heard but never saw the gibbons), a huge peacock, many types of beautiful butterflies and other weird minibeasts and a HUGE hornbill flying overhead. Lunch was prepared in a spot by a stream, food has never tasted so good – we were ravenous!

We arrived at camp around 4pm, obviously we couldn’t camp in the park so we had to be transported to the other side of the river by inflatable tube! Camp was literally a shelter made from bamboo and black polythene – no door, totally open to any wildlife that happened our way! Dinner was prepared for us and by the end I was struggling to keep my eyes open despite the fact it was only 7.30pm! I climbed into my sleeping bag liner and let the boys play poker while I went to sleep listening to the rain patter on the roof. It wasn’t the best night’s sleep either of us had ever had but it was part of the experience. As we ate breakfast the next morning a large troupe of monkeys arrived to see what they could get their hands on, they stayed around for ages, playing in the trees and biding their time and on the other side of the river we watched an enormous monitor lizard (around a meter long) basking in the sun.

Once camp was packed up everything including ourselves was put into the raft made of inflatable tubes and we rafted down the river back to Bukit Lawang which took about an hour as the river was flowing quite quickly due to the rain. Most of the journey was gentle but there were a few parts where it got a little rougher and even the guide held on at one point! We arrived back safely and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Next stop Malaysia!

Posted by bumblebum 06:31 Archived in Indonesia Tagged round_the_world Comments (3)

Sumatra!

it's lovely

overcast 37 °C

[applogies: this was written a few days aago...]

Hiya!

We’re now [or were] in Medan, in Northern Sumatra. Well, as far north as they recommend as the north north is not that nice due to a little trouble with it trying to gain independence for the last few years. The guide books say to keep away. Also there is nothing to see there.

Unlike Medan! It’s a vibrant, colourful, clean and friendly city. Not. It is friendly, with lots of people saying “Hello Mister!” as you walk past. They use the word ‘sir’ a lot too: “Good Morning Sir” “How are you Sir?” “Goodbye Sir” etc. We think the whole city is taught the basic English greeting and conversation at school as everyone seems to know how to ask your name, how you are and where you are from. Very much like what you learn in school in the first term of a new language. After they have exhausted these phrases, they then say “Thank you Sir, Goodbye Sir, Have a nice day Sir” and they are off, giggling girlfriend on their arm, looking proud to have conversed with a couple of funny looking white people! Even the army/police seem to want to get into that action, although some of that might be due to Anita wearing a vest top all the time. Local women are a LOT more conservative (it’s Muslim here remember).

But... Medan is dirty. And very busy. And loud (they think noise scares away bad spirits). Our taxi driver from the airport even told us to stay no more than one night as “there is nothing to do or see here”. So that is all we are doing. There seems to be no easy way to get to Bukit Lawang, our next stop, though. No tourist stuff setup for it. A taxi there will cost 400,000Rp (40USD). Or we take the local bus service for about 30,000Rp each plus the taxi to the bus station on the other side of town. In comparison to Bali, Java had bad tourist transport links, but Sumatra makes Java seem very accessible! To get anywhere we will need to go in and out of Medan. That’ll be time consuming. So we may not be spending too much more time here…

In the meantime tho, we’re off to Bukit Lawang. We did manage to find someone who knew someone from Bukit, who (luckily) is dropping off some tourists in Medan, and is going to take us back to Bukit for 100,000Rp. Bargain. What’s in Bukit Lawang you ask? Orang-utans!

Oh, and it rained here yesterday. The first rain we’ve seen since leaving Blighty. Bucketed down.

That’s all for now! Hope you’re all well!
G

Posted by Big.G 06:25 Archived in Indonesia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

The End Of Java

Moving on to Sumatra

sunny 37 °C

Hiya!

We've paid for the flights, booked the Taxi to the airport, and so tomorrow we're on our way to Sumatra! Woo!

Today we've done a tour around a couple of temples - Borobudur (the biggest Buddhist temple in the world), built in the 8th Century I think, and Prambanan (a Hindu site), built in the 14th century. The Buddhist one was spectacular, but unfortunately the Hindu one suffered at the hands of an earthquake a few years ago, and they are still fixing/rebuilding it. Still, a good morning out seeing stuff (sunrise at Borobudur), home in time for lunch!

The afternoon was spent booking flights and being organised, as well as making sure there was time to sit by the pool and relax! It will be good to get up to Sumatra (flying from here - Yogyakarta - to Medan on Lion Air!) but it means we are missing a big chunk of the country. From what we can tell we're not missing that much tho, trekking and beaches and big cities being the main things. Stuff that we can do and see elsewhere! But in Sumatra? Orang-utans!

Oh, and it has been my turn to have travellers tummy, fun fun fun. It seems that all is well now though, and we are still taking our anti-malarials, so all is good. Thanks for asking.

Thats all for now, next update from the north of the country!

Gerald (written under Anita's account as I was doing the photo uploads..)

Oh, one more thing, dont forget to email us and let us know how things are with you all! We dont get to hear too much! :o(

Posted by bumblebum 05:06 Archived in Indonesia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Dont complain about British rail

they rock by comparison

sunny 36 °C

If we thought that our experience on the Lombok ferry was bad, try being the only non-local people waiting (for 90 mins) in a train station, in a small town, in the middle of nowhere, in Java. Now we know what it is like to be a celebratory, as long as people only want to stand and stare and not ask for autographs.

It did seem like no-one there had ever seen a person with blue eyes or white skin, at first they just stared and did a lot of nudging and whispering, then one of the old men that worked there came over and started chatting to us and slowly one by one more people came over, some of the children were just staring at every inch of us and then a group of boys in their early 20s came and sat behind us, one of them took a huge shine to Gerald and started massaging him on his arms, hands and shoulders which caused much hilarity amongst everybody.

By the end we had a huge crowd around us some of them chatting to us, some just staring! The old man was a bit like our guardian angel, making sure no-one hassled us too much, ensuring we had bought the correct ticket etc.

The train arrived just before 12.30pm and we managed to find a seat eventually that would fit not just us but also our backpacks as we didnt want them to be out of sight. It was most definitely the worst part of the trip for me so far! It was an economy train which means it stops at every station sometimes for up to 30 minutes (no idea why!!!), the windows opened slightly which gave very little air flow on yet another lovely, sunny day so it was very hot, vendors were on the train for the whole journey constantly shouting out what they had on sale - and I do mean constantly, there wasn't a second gone by when we didn't hear somebody yelling! I think the hardest part was the amount of people with disabilities on there using the journey as a way to beg, it was quite upsetting as there was a constant stream of people - shuffling on their bottom along the carriages, feeling their way as they were blind, people with burns all over their bodies etc.

The train eventually arrived at our next destination Yogjakarta at 10.20pm - yes a full 10 hours on that train! we got a taxi to a popular tourist spot and booked in the first hotel that had a room! This morning we moved to a much nicer one for just a tiny bit more money and are now trying to decide how to spend our next few days.....

(and we have just had some New Zealand steak for dinner. the best we've had for a very very long time, and for the princely sum of 2 quid each. i may not come home. Gerald)

Posted by bumblebum 07:19 Archived in Indonesia Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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