Friday, February 19, 2010

A few thousand words worth

There's a host of new photos uploaded. Just click on the India or Malaysia links on the right-hand side bar.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Leaving Langkawi

I know the blogs have slowed down to a snails pace but then again, so have we. We've been in Langkawi where watches are a sign of weakness and the main activity is reading books and lazing by the beach. Seriously, that's it. OK there's one exception when a few days ago we got up at 8am (I'd forgotten there was such an hour) and went on an island hopping tour complete with feet sucking fish, hungry eagles and pringle-stealing monkeys. With so little to report I might just show you a few photos's.

We're off to Cameron Highlands tomorrow where there is hiking to be done and cool air to be breathed. We'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I could walk five hundred miles....

After an intensive 3 days of hiking and walking across the country-side we're finally in Langkawi for a much deserved rest. That's not to say we've walked all the way from Penang but rather 3 days of hikes to see some of the sights that non-Georgetown Penang has to offer.

Day 1: Kek Lok Si, Penang Hill, Botanic Gardens
Normally temples aren't really our thing but it was the starting point of a walking trip we had planned to do. It turned out to be a fairly impressive, sprawling complex full of vibrant colours and architecture. At the top stands a 36 metre (not a typo) statue that photo's just don't do it justice. From here we walked the 3 km to the base of Penang Hill, the highest point in Penang. We weren't up for climbing the seemingly near-vertical 800m to the top and took the cable car where we met some seasoned (read old) Aussies that used to work and live at the nearby RAAF base in Butterworth.
At the top we were treated to a great view of the entire island and had a spot of lunch to build up strength for the arduous trek down the mountain by foot. It was very steep and half way down, Miriam's knees gave out and took up the suggestion of a number of locals to walk backwards - it seemed to work and we finally made it to the bottom, tired but satisfied. After a short but pleasant amble around the Botanic Gardens we caught the bus back to our hotel for a much needed shower, meal and obligatory ice-cream....

Day 2: Monkey Beach and the Lighthouse
Day 2 & 3 were walks on the North-West corner of Penang Island near Teluk Bahang and we shifted accommodations to suit our intentions. The new place was a bit more basic (shared, squat toilets and aghast - no Internet!) the price was right, being only $6AUD so we couldn't complain - especially when we had free wifi on the bus network. Due to the previous nights lack of sleep - loud, live music until 2:30am and the consequent, endless loop of "Mustang Sally" in my head, I was tired before I started this trek. It turned out to be more of an exercise of mind over matter as we made the 8km return journey (mainly) up, down and through hot steamy rainforest trails. My main concern when we reached Monkey beach (they must have been holidaying elsewhere) was that we were only halfway, and the easy half at that! A cunning boat operator had seen tired, foreign faces before and knew immediately that we were the kind of folk that would part with valuable ringgit to avoid the return journey - after a short discussion we established that 40RM ($13AUD) would get us back to our digs without added expense to our already weary legs. Spurred on by this fact we began the second half of our journey which turned out to be a long, steep ascent to a light-house.
Once up the top we were allowed to climb the objective by some workmen who had left a man behind, sleeping halfway up the hill because it was too hard! The view wasn't bad but I'm not sure the pain to view ratio was balanced.... Our descent down to monkey beach was fast however and when there our inherent pride and, possibly, stinginess prevented us taking the easy boat ride back. It was a tired couple that climbed into bed that night, slightly fearful of tackling what the guide book had quoted "A more difficult trail" tomorrow....

Day 3: Pantai Keracut (Turtle Beach) and the meromictic lake
After a good nights sleep and feeling refreshed we picked up some cream buns for breakfast and headed to the trail that would take us to a beautiful white sand beach and a lake which had two layers of water - one fresh water, one saltwater where never the twain shall meet. The walk was challenging but seemingly easier than the previous day (probably due to sleep). The walk took us past streams, waterfalls, monitor lizards and snakes which made the time pass by and in no time we were at the beach which was great and the lake which unfortunately was not. Due to tidal flows, the sand barrier had been washed away and drained the lake, where the two layers of water, regardless of the brochures, must have co-mingled. After a few hours of leisurely beach-bumming we headed back, racing back to out bed for an early night and early morning.

Day 4: Langkawi
At the crack of dawn, in fact even earlier, we started our journey to Langkawi. after a Bus, Ferry, Bus, Bus, Ferry, Taxi, Taxi, Taxi ride we were proud residents of the Gecko Guest house where a laid back atmosphere instantly infuses your soul and nothing is done in a hurry. After some window shopping we dined at a local restaurant and settled down on the sand at a beach-side reggae bar where live music was well executed until our early morning got the better of us and we had to hit the sack.

The End

Monday, February 1, 2010

Malay sans Malaise

I guess you're wondering what all the delay is in writing updates to our blog. It's just that we've been so busy relaxing and taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of Malaysia that we hadn't got around to informing you, our impatient readers.

Pangkor Island:
Bummed around the beach pretty much the whole time - the only exception was when we hired a scooter for a few hours and drove around the island. we took a short leech-infested walk up to a rope bridge and rubber plantation. There was no opportunity for standing still on this excursion as the moment you did - leeches were on to you in seconds! We had a most memorable last night, watching the sunset, eating dinner on the beach. I had a great time watching Miriam attempt to eat a serving of chilli crab and almost wearing some of it due to her less than delicate eating method.

The main attraction here is the food - voted (by someone important) as one of the worlds best eating places. Today we sampled a local dessert called Ais Kachang which was shaved ice, topped with some black and white jelly things, red beans, syrup and sweetcorn. I don't think I'll be ordering it again but it was worth trying.... Penang is also a great place to walk & sit around to do some serious people watching. We did a night time walk the other night that took us past some great colonial buildings and the esplanade was full of families doing whatever families do on an esplanade. Tomorrow we're heading on a bit of a hike out of the city - we'll let you know how it goes....