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Malaysia

Happy New Year from Langkawi!

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We woke late this morning, recovering from our late night celebrations yesterday. It was near midday by the time we were up and wasked and we just had breakfast in the guesthouse bar. We decided to spend the day researching our next stop and deciding where exactly we want to go.

Up until yesterday our plan was to go to Koh Lipe island but the ferry to get there is so expensive. So now we have settled on going to the Thai mainland. We will catch a ferry to Satun in south Thailand, hopefully it will be plain sailing as we already have our Thai Visa's from Penang. From there we will jump straight on a bus upto Krabi, about four hours up the coast. We are planning to spend three nights in Krabi Town, taking day trips to explore the coves and beaches that surrond it, whilst using the town to resupply and change all of our Malaysian Ringitt into Thai Baht.

From there we have decided to go the an island close to Krabi named Koh Lanta. Larger than our orignal plan of Koh Lipe, but we are hoping it will be relaxed and we can do all the same things we wanted to do on Koh Lipe, in particular snorkelling.

We spent the whole afternoon sat on our veranda looking at where to go and places to stay. We also spoke to a couple that have been next to us for the whole duration of our stay. We have been speaking to them for a few days and they have been telling us about their 2 years on the road. The most amazing part of their trip so far seems to be Myanmar (Burma). We both wanted to visit Myanmar before we left the UK but decided againt it as we thought it would be quite difficult to travel through, however after to speaking to our neighbours, they make it sound really accessible and really amazing. So much so that we are now talking about trying to fit it in to our own plans and go see it ourelves before it develops too much. At the minute the best option would be to fly from Bangkok to Myanmar after we have done Thailand, spend a few weeks in Myanmar before flying back into Bangkok to carry on with our route. We are both very excited about the possibilty of this.

For our last night in Langkawi we went to our favorite Indian place we have visited several times before, had a amazing deep fried spicy chicken curry and rice before going to out favorite bar on the beach and watching the sunset one last time with a couple of beers.
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We spke to some of Liam's family via skype and then tried to pack our bombsite of a room back itno our rucksacks (it didn't look like it was ever going to fit back in).

After a initial disappointment with Langkawi, we have really loved our stay here, the only negative is the lack of budget food options (and the drains), but we have had a great week and are both relaxed and ready for Thailand.

Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia langkawi Comments (2)

New years eve on Langkawi

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This morning we decided to get up early, when Liam could be prized out of bed and use the bike before we had to return it. We drove west down to the Pantai Kok area. Here there is a very upmarket area called Perdana Quay full of shops and restaurants which look over a quayside full of big expensive yachts. It was early so there was no one around apart from a few people washing down there boats. We walked around to the lighthouse at the end of the quay and it is really beautiful down there. We were the only people there and the cove is gorgeous. There is a white sand beach with the green hills in the background and loads of boats moored offshore. The lighthouse is empty except for a few monkeys that have taken it up as there home so it was peaceful and quiet standing on the edge looking accross the bay.

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The rest of the day was quite lazy. We drove back to our guest house and decided to go for lunch. We tried a new place and had some cheap rice and curry and then walked down the main strip to go run some errands. We have really come to enjoy Langkawi but the worst thing about it is the drains. When you walk down the street every few steps there is a large open drain and the smell wafts up in a warm stagnant stench that sometimes knocks you back it's so strong. It was raining all afternoon so the smell was particularly hot in the warm rain. We walked down to the bank and after a palaver with Liam's bank card no longer working we withdrew our money and looked at some of the prices for ferries to move on. We have decided to go to mainland Thailand next.

We lazed on our patio for the rest of the day as it was raining and chatted to our neighbours who are really nice. We went out late as our budget for new years eve drinks was 50 ringitt (£10 a third of our daily budget). For tea we went to a little cafe in a wall with no chairs or tables and had a chicken tortilla wrap and some chips whilst walking to the pub. We walked to our favourite bar on the beach but they were charging 20 ringitt to get in so we walked further on to a different one who was doing the same. We decided to have our own little party on the beach for free and got the towels from the room, a bag full of beer and some ice from the shop. There were only a few people sat on the beach when we first sat down but by midnight the whole place was packed with hundreds of people celebrating. There were fire breathers, music, candles and a great atmosphere. Just before midnight hundreds of lanterns were lit that floated out over the sea and a huge firework display started that ran the entire length of the beach. All the different bars were having there own display so it was amazing to stand on the beach and watch them all go off along the beach at once. it was beautiful and a great way to end the year. We hope that it will be a good omen for 2013. Happy new year to all our friends and family, we were thinking about you.

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Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia langkawi Comments (0)

Our motorcycle tour of Langkawi

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Today Liam got up first and sat outside reading on the patio and Chelsea woke up thinking he had been stolen.... The tables had turned. We decided to rent a motorcycle today to see some of the island. Langkawi has no bus services so you either have to rent your own vehicle or grab a taxi. Renting a bike is easy when staying at Pantai Cenang. There are so many different places to chose from but we decided to rent one from our guest house, Rainbow. It was 30 ringett (£6) with no big deposit and we know they are safe because people have been using them all week. We strapped on our helmets and drove about 200m for some breakfast. We had a roti and a coffee, Chelsea had hers with egg in it for a change. Once we were fed and watered we set off in search of a petrol station. This time we knew where the fuel cap was so we thought we wouldn't have to embarrass ourselves but no fuel would come out of the pumps. Someone noticed us looking confused and came over to tell us we needed to pay first.

We decided to drive south out of Pantai Cenang and along the southern coast road. As soon as you leave the resort the landscape becomes rural excluding the huge hotels that we kept coming across around the coast. The roads are lined wih trees or fields and the houses are dotted at the side of the road. They are small one story bungalows and some just look like little shacks. There are restaurants on the side of the road but often houses put out a table at the end of the garden and sell what they have. Some sell drinks, others sell fruit and some sell food, mainly simple rice or noodle dishes. The coastal road has some great views of the sea full of small islands through the trees and we pulled over a few times to admire the view.

We then headed north to Gunung Raya, the tallest hill on the island. The road up here is full of bends and is steep but the views are fantastic. On the way up you head through thick jungle and as you climb the air becomes instantly cooler and more humid. The road surface wasn't great so we took our time as we have seen too many people with injuries and major gravel rash down the full length of their body from where they have fell off the bikes. The hill is full of little grey monkeys that sit in groups on the road and watch you ride past, they don't move out of the way they just stare at you which can be a little unnerving. There are some pull in points on the way up where we stopped and looked at the views. The views from the hill are beautiful. You can see the island, the fields and the hills, right down the the coast. The panoramic views of the coast with all the little green islands is gorgeous.

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At the top of the hill is a fenced off area, we weren't sure if it was an armed forces area or something but there was a radiation warning sign and a sign that said no trespassing with a man shooting another man so we though it best not to linger. We made our way back down the hill and carried on heading north up to Tanjung Rhu beach. We stopped off at the first car park we saw and had a little walk on the beach. The beach was nice and it was quiet but in the distance on the left is a HUGE cement works. The guide book had said that if you do one thing whilst on Langkawi it was to visit this beach as it was the best on the island, especially at sunset. We decided it was nice but can't be the right place so carried on north along the same road.

We came to a barrier with a man guarding, who waved us forward. When we approached he asked us what we were doing and Liam said we were going to the beach. He said we needed to go thought the barrier and turn right and gave us a list of 'rules' that we need to follow to be able to go on the beach. The picturesque part of Tanjung Rhu beach has been bought by a huge luxury hotel so is now a private beach for hotel guests. They have cordoned off the east part off the beach for visitors with a small rope fence but only so many are allowed in and you must follow the rules. The list of rules is long and says things like, if you are asked to leave you will abide, You will stay away from the resort, you must not enter the resort or use sunbeds towels etc, no pets, vehicles, noise, camping, alcohol, parasols and you must not take anything from the beach including shells. Basically no fun. Haha. There is a space on the rules so you can sign to say you agree.

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We bought some sprite from a stall in the car park and walked down to the beach. We sat in a quiet spot not too close to the barrier to admire the view when a guard came over and asked us what we were doing. We said we were just sitting on the beach for half an hour and he told us to move further on. You cannot sit or swim anywhere near the barrier to the hotel, the guard kept moving anyone who went close away. we sat down five steps further away and relaxed with our sprite. The beach is beautiful, it is sweeping sand that curves into a bay and out to sea are small islands, much closer to shore that the ones in Pantai Cenang. We can see why the guides would recommend it for sunset however unfortunately everyone who is not a hotel guest has to leave the beach by 7pm. You can do boat trips from here and they look really good as only your party is on the boat so you are not crammed in.

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We then drove west to see one of the three waterfalls on Langkawi, seven wells waterfall. This is the biggest one on the island and we had read was the most spectacular. The roads in Langkawi are really good mostly, they are all tamacked and there are loads of road signs so it's easy to find your way around. We pulled in at the waterfall carpark and paid our RM1 to park. This car park can also be used to access the cable car and we could see it in the distance. It is terrifyingly high and goes right to the top of a huge hill, towering above the trees. The top is in the clouds it's that high. The waterfall is up some really steep steps so we got an icecream to prepare and set off. It started to rain but it wasn't too bad and was quite nice and cooling. The waterfall area is really nice, the biggest waterfall we have seen. There is one big one which splashes into a pool you can swim in and this cascades down to other pools you can swim and paddle in. Even though it was raining there were lots of people swimming and we explored and paddled in to cool water. Some of the rocks are really slippery but the place is lovely. There are changing rooms if you want to swim and the water is clean and clear with little fish swimming around.

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After we explored for a bit we walked back down to the car park and set off home. The nice men who work at the car park had turned our bike helmets around so they hadn't filled up with water from the rain. The drive home was straightforward and we just followed the signs back. After about five minutes driving the rain got a lot worse until we were driving head first into torrential rain. Since it hadnt rained whilst we had been on Langkawi we didint think to take our rain macs and we got drenched. Liam decided to put his sunglasses on to shield his eyes whilst driving into it but they needed windscreen wipers. A few people overtook us in cars and had a good laugh.

Once it stopped we dried off quite quick, we put a bit more petrol in the bike and arrived home around tea time. We would definitely recommend hiring a bike on Langkawi, it's a cheap and fun way to see sme of the sights.

We showered and went out for some food. We went to a place we had been for lunch earlier in the week and had some rice and mutton and potato curry of the serve yourself section. Liam also had a chicken curry as well as the mutton and he picked up a bowl of spicy pepper chcken he thought looked nice (he said he was really hungry). When we got it to the table there was one peice of chicken which looked normal and the rest of the cuts turned out to be a load of cut up chicken necks. Liam ate it but it was far too weird for Chelsea to stomach. We went to a bar we haven't been in yet that looks like a big wooden shack made of driftwood and had a beer.

We have the bike till 11am tomorrow so we might go out again tomorrow... Or we might just relax on the beach, either way the plan is to save money so we go out and celebrate the new year.

Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia langkawi Comments (3)

Island hopping on Langkawi

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We decided yesterday that we should probably try and see some more of Langkawi than just the beach three minutes from where we are staying. We saw a boat trip advertised in our guesthouse for five pounds each and woke up early this morning to make the nine o'clock minivan that picks you up and takes you to the jetty to catch the boat. We didn't know what to expect, and when we were the only people on the minivan all the way to the jetty we thought we might be in for a lucky personal tour. How wrong we were.

There were hundreds of people getting on dozens of boats, the only way to differentiate each other was the sticker the minivan driver slaps on your chest. We were like branded cattle been sorted out and ploughed onto different boats and it was total chaos. There were about a dozen of us on our boat by the time we were ready to set off, a very diverse group of people, and once we were handed our very reassuring life jackets we were good to go.

Langkawi is part of a huge group of 99 islands in Malaysia, some are really small and just look like a mound of trees poking out of the sea while others like Langkawi are larger. We sped along through the archipelago zooming past some of the islands and admiring the view which was just a vast array of sea and greenery. Most islands are very small green humps, covered in rock and dense jungle and the view of them on the horizon with the sea was amazing.

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Our first stop was a geoforest on the island of Dayang Bunting. It is a small island which is the home of a freshwater lake called lake of the pregnant maiden. The story goes that a women who couldn't get pregnant finally did after drinking from the lake. Anyway we walked from the shore up to the lake in the centre of the island. We were not the only boat, many more had left when we had and come here too so there were hundreds of people around. At the lake a large buoyant jetty allows you to walk part way across, there is a hut selling T-shirts, and pedalows that can be rented. Most people found a place at the edge of the jetty and sat down with their feet in the water, a few others swam about in the lake. We joined the people sat down until Liam decided he was not coming all this way to not go for a swim in the lake, regardless of what lives in there (and there were plenty of signs telling you, plus a myth of a large white croc). He dove in and swam about a bit before making the most undignified exit and heaved himself back onto the jetty like a seal which Chelsea and a few Malay people found hilarious. We sat there for a while but only had an hour before we had to go back to the boat.

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The second stop was incredible. Langkawi's national symbol is the eagle, and there are a lot living on the island. We have seen them fly over while laying on the beach, so much so that Chelsea is on constant look out for them, it is like being on holiday with Bill Oddie. It was amazing to see them flying around in the air whilst laid on the beach but the boat stop was something else. The second stop took us to a bay full of mangroves, overhead dozens of eagles were soaring around. There were so many, even with the vast amount of boats in the way, that we thought the people who organise the boats must feed them to keep them around but we then saw the largest of them dive bomb the water and come away grasping a fish. You could see them so clearly, white heads with a huge wingspan and huge talons. It was an incredible sight, unfortunately we didn't have much luck with the photos, they were too quick. We just have a few blurry shots of them flying in the sky.

The last stop was the least impressive of the three but we had had our money's worth by this point so it was not much of a big deal. It was a secluded island, Beras Basah and another beach for us to spend the final hour on before we head back. The problem was the sheer amount of people, the other places had been able to cope with the volume, this place couldn't. Hundreds of people lined the small picturesque beach, there were loads of litter and we felt sorry for a tiny complex of beach bungalows where people were spending ther holiday. Must be terrible to have hoards of people descend on your paradise twice a day. We walked along the beach which could have been stunning, the sand on the beach was the finest and whitest we have ever seem and the sea was turquoise and warm with loads of fish swimming around. We had a paddle and a drink and sat in the shade of a tree until it was time to go back.

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We were back at the guesthouse for half past one. We didn't have any other plans for the day so we sat on our veranda until the midday day sun had eased off a bit and went for a swim in the sea. We are now paranoid about jellyfish so it was not as relaxing as you may think but it was fun.

We came back spent another hour or so on our veranda before getting changed and going out for something to eat. We called at the Indian we had visited earlier in the week, it is the best place we have found and it is also within our budget unlike most other restaurants here . Chelsea had a mix of vegetarian curries and Liam had Tandoori chicken and we shared a naan bread. We strolled along the front for a while, Liam has been hunting for a cheap T-shirt to replace the one that was shrunk in the dryer in Melaka. Whilst looking he came across a turtle t-shirt that he knew Chelsea would love so bought her it.

After that we came back to the veranda with a couple of beers, the trip took up most of today's budget so we have had to watch our money. Also Chelsea has been well and truly attacked by sand flies so we wanted to avoid the beach tonight. She has over 60 bites mostly on her feet and legs so as a warning to anyone visiting Langkawi, wear insect repellent when going to the beach! On the other hand it seems we have not lost the £100 from our ATM mishap a few days ago. We have decided once we have done on Langkawi to head to Koh Lipe. A tiny Thai island an hour north west of here that you would struggle to find on a map. Another few days relaxing before we head onto mainland Thailand.

Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia langkawi Comments (1)

Langkawi... Beach, beach and more beach... And some sea.

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Chelsea woke up early today, got ready and sat on our veranda reading until Liam woke up because he looked peaceful. Sandflies had attacked her yesterday and she has loads of bites on her legs from the beach. When Liam woke up he was confused and thought she had been stolen or gone missing. We then got ready and decided to go for a breakfast Roti which as always was delicious. We finished sipping our sweet coffee with condensed milk in that we secretly love and decided to walk along the beach in the opposite direction as yesterday, north.

The beach is long and lots of up-market resorts back into it. At the end of the beach there is a super luxurious resort. We walked right till the end where the beach curves and goes onto a road. We then decided to find a shaded spot and have the morning on the beach. We found a palm tree with our name on it and sat and relaxed under it, Chelsea spent a bit of time in the sun and Liam read in the shade. The beach in the morning is lovely. There is hardly anyone on it, it is quiet and the sea is so calm and crystal clear blue. Out to sea you can see people parasailing on the island opposite and the sand has layers of super fine grains of white sand and broken shells. After we became too hot we had a play in the sea for half an hour and had a swim. We were still a little scared of the jellyfish and after half an hour Chelsea got stung by a one on her bum. It was only tiny, about 2 inches and was quite cute with tiny fish swimming around it. (and no Liam did not wee on her bum Auntie Shell and Uncle Chris) haha.

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The morning flew by and before we new it was 2pm and we were boiling, even sat in the shade under our lovely palm tree. We decided to go for a drink and went to a bar right on the sand and had a drink. Liam had a beer and Chelsea had a fresh mango juice. We decided to spend a little more for dinner and have something on the beach and we both had vegetable rice with eggs, it was yummy. We got a huge bottle of water and walked back to our room.

We sat on our veranda for the rest of the late afternoon trying to figure out where to go next in Thailand, we can't decide yet but will keep you updated. We definitely want to visit some islands before we go up to Bangkok.

We decided to spend our evenings sat on the beach watching the sunset again. We went to a restaurant and had some cheap rice Chelsea with chicken Liam with beef and then called at the local shop to buy some beers. We bought six beers for 13 RM (£2.60) and a bag of ice for 1 RM (20p) and walked onto the beach. We found a quiet patch and sat on our towel to avoid the sand flies. The sunset was the best we have seen so far as there were less clouds. It was beautiful red and orange on our own away from the people, it was quiet and romantic. The perfect way to end a great day.

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Tomorrow we are planning to go on an island hopping tour (if we get up early enough) and see some of the sights by boat.

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Posted by Chelsandliam 16:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia langkawi Comments (3)

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