Bali

My image of bali was lots of colour, spices, markets, beautiful beaches and lots of green areas… I wasn’t far wrong! Bali was one of both our favourites stops. As it was our last big place on our Asia tour we had pushed the boat out and booked into a gorgeous hotel.

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We arrived very late on into the evening on our first day in Bali. We checked in and hunted for food. Finding only a few shops or a sushi bar. Never having sushi we were a bit dubious but we did enjoy it although the meal was very small.

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The weather had predicted rain and thunderstorms for the whole 5 days in Bali but over a delicious breakfast at the hotel we saw that the sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. Taking this opportunity we lay by the pool most of morning into the early afternoon.

We then (stupidly maybe) decided to walk into the town kuta and to visit the beach. In 36degree hear 2.5km is not fun, even if there were lots of stops on the way into the nicely cooled mini super markets hunting down a big bottle of suncream (this was never found only small bottle and all ridiculously priced £9!!!!). Bali is a very spiritual place and they believe that they have to keep a balance between the good and evil Gods so all along the roads we saw these offerings to the Gods.

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One day a year Bali has a day of complete silence, even tourist have to be quiet. Nothing is open, no one leaves their house even the airport is closed. They do this so that the evil spirits will not hear anyone on the island and will pass by. Very different culture but very cool too.

The beach itself was a bit dirty but it’s surroundings and the long stretch of golden sand made the walk worth it and the cool pool and huge run and jump into it when we got back to the hotel was worth the walk back.

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That evening we ventured into kutas night life but with it being low season it was very quiet. We still found a bar with good music and drink though and enjoyed ourselves.

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The second full day we hired a moped…. This was our 5th and I’m terrified of them… Not so much Fergal’s driving but other peoples driving especially those people in Bali… Just crazy!
We drove round the bay of kuta to Jamaran. This was a gorgeous secluded beach that we enjoyed for about an hour before the sky went very dark and the rain pelted down. Fergal loving the freak weather change headed straight out for the huge waves!

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After the rain had died down we jumped back on the very wet scooter and headed to the sea temple Pura Luhur. After being dressed appropriately we followed the crowds destined for the temple. Surrounding and keeping guard of the temple were lots and lots of cheeky monkeys (cheeky as they stole anything they could get there hands on!).

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On our third full day we again lounged around the sunny pool until it got cooler and the clouds came over. We then drove to a temple in the middle of the sea further down the coast called Tanha Lot. The experience here has to be one of the best we’ve had. After wandering around the markets and walking down to see the temple we were lucky enough to be taken through the sea by some spiritual people to the temple. As the tide was coming in the sea was quite high but this added to the excitement and amusement. Once on the temple the spiritual people blessed us with holy water stuck rice on our forehead and a flower behind our ear. We were then allowed on to the temple steps and only to a specific part of the outer temple but it was amazing!

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On our last full day we took the bike to Ubud a very uncomfortable 2 and a half hours away. Ubud is in the centre of Bali and is a very artsy town, lots to see and do. We first went to the sacred monkey forest. The temple there is protected by monkeys, loooots of friendly hungry monkeys that will jump on your head and come in for cuddles. This temple is also deep into the rainforest making it look very cool but making it feel very muggy. We walked down further into the rainforest to the natural springs

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And then through the site to Ubud town. Just as we were walking up the huge hill into the main town Fergal had a panic as he couldn’t find the moped keys…. Retracing our steps through the monkey forest, hoping one hadn’t taken them off the ground, back to the bike where we found the keys still in the ignition!

We then hauled ourselves back through the forest and up the hill, through Ubud town to the ridge walk. The sky at this point was very dark and we were a long way from the bike. The ridge walk is a walk through the rainforest but you’re kind of on top of the rainforest looking down onto it until it turns into the rice paddies. We decided we’d chance the rain. Literally 5 minutes in and the heavens opened and we were soaked through to our underwear! We carried on, barefoot as flip-flops and rain clash, till we saw a glimpse of the rice fields a good 30 minute rain walk on. We then hastily and wettly turned back to do the long trek back to the bike. Luckily the heavy rain stopped but driving back in wet conditions, in the dark, on Bali roads meant we got lost a few times and let’s say that we had many disagreements about the speed of the bike and position on the road. The only time we’ve have disagreements is when driving on those stupid mopeds!

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That evening we went to a gorgeous bakery restaurant and had a feast as a treat as it felt like our last night traveling.

We were sad to leave Bali it had definitely been one of our favourite places!

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Kuala Lumpur

As amazing and beautiful beaches and their small sea side towns are I was craving getting into a big city and wow is Kuala Lumpur a big city! We arrived very late into the humid and sticky night and headed straight to our hotel/hostel (after a 10 min haggle with the taxi man) to have a good sleep.
Once awake and cooled down we headed excitedly (as we love a good buffet breakfast) to find our hotel breakfast… We were sorely disappointed. The “dining room” was 1 big table with plastic chairs around it and breakfast consumed of ceral with warm milk or some stale bread with the cheapest jam the hostel could find. We made the best of it and learnt our lesson bringing bananas and chocolate spread for the following morning.

After our interesting breakfast we headed out into the huge city. We were staying in the popular part of china town and as soon as you left the hostel you were greeted by people trying to sell you something from their market stall. We kept our heads down and directed ourselves to the free bus stop to head to the Pertronas towers, these are Kuala Lumpur’s twin towers and are the tallest buildings in the city.

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After navigating ourselves from the bus, through at least 1 huge and nicely cooled shopping mall,

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masses of over road tunnels we made it to the towers to be told it was quite hazy from the top and they only had tickets left for late that evening. Knowing that we had a few days there we decided to leave the towers till when the weather was hopefully better. Instead we ventured around the Pertronas park….

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Found an amazing sweet shop….

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And worked out how to work the monorail system.

We thought it best that evening as we were staying in china town to try some of the street food. It was sooo good! Expensive enough (in compassion to Thailand street food) for street food but worth it! After we again broke the traveller code and did the very western thing of going to the cinema… We thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as we had a pick a mix 🍭

The next day we were up early to get tickets to the towers and it was a much better day with clear blue skies! We joined the short queue about 11am and managed to get 2 of the last tickets for that day… However we had to wait till 6pm for our visit so we decided to venture out to the botanical gardens. This was a huge expanse of green land filled with exciting things to do such as a free flying bird park and there was a butterfly one, a water park, massive play park, orchid gardens, museums and a planetarium to name just the few things I can remember seeing. It was the best park I’d even seen although walking around it on a very hot and humid day was difficult… A Starbucks stop was definitely needed after!

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That evening we got suited and booted (in traveler terms showered and put clean clothes on!) and headed up the towers. The security was very tight and it was a very structured tour but the views were amazing! The first stop was from the bridge 34 floors up ….

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The second stop was on the 85th floor a mere 472metres above the ground!!!!

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We ate in the popular street food area Jalan Alore before heading further down the Main Street to the bars and clubs… 44RM (£6) for 3 beers and girls drink free, pretty good deal!

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The following day we checked out of the hostel and as we had to wait until the evening for our train to Singapore we ventured around the huge shopping malls eating yummy bits of food and window wishing.

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Overall we both really enjoyed Kuala Lumpur and have both said we would love to come back with lots more money and staying in one of the glorious hotels!

Krabi

We had heard so much about Krabi and it’s surrounding islands but as we were short on time we didn’t think we would make it. However we made a last minute decision to go to Krabi rather than Phuket and boy are we glad! We stayed round the bay from Krabi town in a place called An Nag. It was a really cute seaside town with so many yummy restaurants to try out. We stayed in a lovely little bungalow (I know we said no more but this was one grand) and the owners made us feel like we were at home. The bungalows were set a few kilometres from the beach amongst the limestone mountains but whenever we wanted to head into the town Rit or his wife On would give us a lift into the town.

We arrived into An Nog late afternoon so after checking in we chilled in the late afternoon sun before trying out some of the local restaurants!

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On our second day we were up early to head over to the famous Phi Phi islands. Before leaving we ventured over to a local bakery for breakfast… It was like nothing we’d tasted yet on our travels, absolutely amazing! Phi Phi looked like paradise and exactly like the famous pictures you see everywhere advertising Thailand and it’s islands. We wandered around the tiny cobbled streets, chilled on the beach (although it was far too hot!!) and snorkelled in the clear blue sea.

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That night we ate an another delicious restaurant and decided we would stay another night on An Nag as it was so beautiful.

On our last full day we had another gorgeous breakfast from the bakery, chilled out in the mountain gardens at our bungalow before heading down to the beach. Fergal’s not had much luck with the pavements in Thailand and more than once has nearly found himself face down on the uneven pavement. Today was another one of these infuriating (for Fergal) funny (secretly for me) trips but this time in ended up with a lot of toe blood and a trip back to the bakery for home made chocolate brownies and coffee as a cheer up!

Again that evening we ventured down to the sea front for some yummy food from the sea! We had a few drinks afterwards watching an amazing live band!

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The following day was a long day waiting around for buses and aeroplanes to take us to the next part of our adventure… Malaysia!

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Koh Phangan

A short boat trip away was the party island of Koh Phangan. Some serious sleep and preparation had gone into this 4 night stay but we found as of the evening Thong Sala (a seaside town renown for people staying in for the moon parties) was so quiet! However we did find an amazing food market with lots of local tasty food so instead of drinking we pigged out… Sometimes on not quite cooked chicken urghh.

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On our second day in Koh Phangan we hired a moped and drove through the mountainous jungle to Mea Head beach. This was a secluded beautiful beach known for it’s brilliant and vibrant under water life. It was amazing! With only 2 restaurants on the beach and a handful of huts it was quiet and luxurious. The snorkelling was the best yet with so much to see.

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The following day was the day of the half moon party! In the day we tried to drive to the most southern part of the island where the full moon parties take place, however our bike couldn’t take two of us up the steep hills so we stopped at a restaurant in the mountain side over looking the west coast of the island. With good views and fantastic food it was a well worth while stop.

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That evening we painted ourselves up, put on our vibrant tshirts and drank buckets of rum all in the name of the half moon. The party took place deep in the jungle. It was amazing! Everything was vibrant and luminous, the crowd was chilled out and everyone was having an amazing time… Except maybe the wee blonde boy that had collapsed due to too much drink, he did come round and was taken home by some very understanding friends. We made friends with a Canadian couple and spent the night dancing, drinking, talking and the finally eating. Our only issue with the half moon party is you have to enjoy house music as this was all they played… I don’t think we knew any of it.

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The following day was a right off with not much communicating and eating very Western food… Heinz beans on toast.

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Koh Samui

After doing lots of touring about and moving from place to place quickly we were so excited and relieved to be staying somewhere for a few days and it was going to be near a BEACH!! However, we had to get there first. We left Siem Reap at 730am on a bright Thursday morning heading for the dreadful Thai border crossing. We read and heard that this border crossing could take hours and be costly due to the bribes paid to the authorities and police. We must have caught them on a good day as we were through quite quickly (hour and a half approx) with all our money still. It was waiting for a Thai mini bus to take us to the capital that took hours (or so it felt). We were being presumptuous hoping to make the last train or bus out of Bangkok to Koh Samui at 730pm. We only arrived into Bangkok at 730pm. Tired, sweaty and a bit fed up we dragged our bags through the throngs of people near Koh San road to hopefully find some accomodation. On the off chance we stopped at a travel shop and asked about buses to Koh Samui…
There was one leaving in an hour woo! We had a quick naughty tea of McDonald’s then headed to the bus. We had now been traveling for 14 hours. The bus journey was uneventful and we arrived at the ferry port just before 6am on the Friday morning (23 hours traveling). From the port Koh Samui was the last stop and by the time we dragged ourselves and bags onto the last taxi we were shattered. We arrived at the hotel about 1230pm a whole 29hours after we started our journey. It was hot! After being checked in by a very grumpy lady we made the walk down to the beach very hungry but eager to see the beach. It was gorgeous …

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Very busy but gorgeous. We ate on the beach front and made our way slowly back to the hotel pool to chill out.
At night the town of Chewang was alive and busy with many restaurants, bars and clubs. Though we have to admit that first night we were in and out of the town very quickly and into bed before 9.30pm (remember the 29hours of traveling and not much sleep).

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The following day we spent the day at the beach snorkelling and sun bathing. The sea was crystal clear and having the snorkel made it so much fun seeing what was underneath.

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When it got too hot we went and found a Starbucks and looked through the many shops.

That night we planned to have some food and a few drinks. We made it to a huge arena turned club but the music was terrible so after recommendations we headed to green mango which was a brilliant upbeat club.

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Feeling tired and a bit fragile the next day we headed to the beach to snorkel and catch some rays…. The rays turned out to be too hot and we quickly ventured indoors for food and drink.

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That evening we had a banquet of yummy BBQ food and milkshakes!

We decided that we wanted to see more of the island and so on our 4th day on koh Samui we ventured to a quieter beach called Mea Nam. It certainly was A LOT quieter but it a good way. The hotel we were staying at was amazing with a roof top pool and an extensive DVD list we were happy. On our second morning we hired a bike and found a lovely bakery for breakfast. We spent some time on the beach before touring round the island, we spotted the big Buddha, fisherman village, some gorgeous secluded beaches and some huge hotels. That evening we took a freshly made picnic from the bakery to the beach and ate under the stars… Very cliché but a highlight of the trip.

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Siem Reap

For such a small place the energy and good vibes that pub street gave off made us instantly like Siem Reap. After another long(ish in comparison) bus journey we arrived tired and hungry to our lovely guest house. We didn’t venture far but just to get some food and nosey about. Tuktuk’s drivers prey on quiet travellers and holiday makers here and they pounce on punters consistently! We watched a couple leave a restaurant and be harassed by at least 8 tuktuk drives we thought someone had been hurt or something!
The following morning, after a good long rest, we had a tiny but small complimentary breakfast before going off to find the temple ruins of Angkor Wat (one of the wonders of the world… In the extended list). We hired a tuktuk for the day ($15) and the guy took us to all the main temples. It was pretty amazing, these temples were built in the 13th century… That means there… 800 years old! Angkor Wat itself was very busy but venturing through the quieter temples you could really get lost.

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One of the temples is nicknamed the tomb raider temple as this was where tomb raider was filmed!! This temple had been left to it’s own devices and trees have actually grown through the ruins, absolutely amazing!

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After visiting 7 temples in the scorching heat we were templed out and the tuktuk man took us back to the hotel… We were black with dirt as the temples were very dusty and it was so hot. After showering we ventured down to pub street to get some food and have a few drinks… I actually had 1 alcoholic drink wooo. The first since the terrible hangover in Hanoi.

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The following morning we were up early to catch our first of many buses to travel 725(ish) miles to Koh Samui urghh this turned out to be a 30 hour journey!

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