Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ten years have passed …

Thirteen years ago, 2 young 18 year olds fell in love… Aaahhh

25th March 2000 - Ten years ago, 2 little 21year olds got hitched. We had a nice little ceremony in Veale Gardens in Adelaide, a quick fun honeymoon in Hamilton Island and the Barossa, and were excited about starting our new life together.

25th March 2010 – Ten years down the track, we’ve learnt a bit, done a few things, and are still excited about continuing on down the path our life is taking – together…

On our anniversary all the kids wished us a happy anniversary, plied us with flowers, we even got a fancy card. Priscilla spoilt us by baking 3 tiers of anniversary cake (our wedding cake was only two cakes high). We even went on a date for dinner. We caught the bus into a nearby town, went to a nice Indian restaurant, enjoyed our Rogan Josh, Malai Kofta and Naan, whilst sipping our Limca, and popped into the local deli to pick up an icecream before catching the bus back home.

So here’s to the next ten years together – we’re excited as to where they’ll take us…

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Melacca & Tioman


Melacca is a town 2 hours drive south of Kualu Lumpur. Once a busy port town with lots of fighting between colonial countries and the locals it’s now settled down to be one of the premier tourist sites of Malaysia. The large Chinese population influencing the architecture and the canals running through the town give it a old-world charm and you can wander it’s alleys and shops for days. Unfortunately due to the local bus schedule we only had 24 hours. High on our agenda was the local cuisine which is supposed to be quite famous. We threw ourselves into our explorations and by afternoon we had looked in art galleries, antique shops, up a dragon’s kilt, strolled along
the canal, seen the empty tomb of St Francis (we’ll catch up with him later in Goa) and stuffed ourselves silly with the following: poh piah (cold rolls), rojak (imagine fruit salad with bbq sauce), laksa, chendol, satay, pineapple, tart and dim sum. Since we covered the town the day before, the next morning we hit the shops and bought a pile of clothes for Miriam before heading off to Tioman Island.

Tioman Island

Tioman is an island off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia and our last destination before heading back to India. We were looking forward to some relaxing on the beach, snorkeling and a bit of social interaction (Brad especially). We met a lot of interesting people on the island from Kiwi Nick - the bird nest soup guy, American Asha – the novel writing, earthquake relieving, activist (Who has a boyfriend Marco – the activist plumber), Sandrine (aka Frenchy) who likes wine cheese, and dislikes the English, Aussie Greg the oil-well mechanic and his Scottish girlfriend Carol (pronounced Carl), Rene the hard rockin’ computer distributor and his girlfriend, Heidi the museum curator. As you can imagine meeting all these folk and spending hours chatting with them was a fascinating experience.

One day we decided to cross the island and stay a night at a more secluded location. Due to the steepness of the middle part, transport is quite expensive (costing $30 each one way!) so we decided to walk it, taking only a small backpack with us. We went via the jungle track and armed with a big stick (to pat any eager wildlife with) we huffed and puffed our way through a well-maintained path to Juara. On the way, we surprised a large black snake that wasn’t up for attacking us and we later learned this was probably a cobra! The walk was tough but quite pleasant, taking about 2 hours and deposited us on the only Malaysian beach we’ve seen with waves. We booked in to a chalet right
on the beach for the princely sum of $10 and set about body-surfing the day and next dawn away in solitude (we saw only 2 others on the beach the whole time). The next afternoon we returned to the other side of the island, vowing to return to Juara as it had great surf, accommodation, company, peace & quiet. We decided to take the steeper, hotter bitumen track on the way back to avoid snakes and saw 3 on our way back (albeit the biggest one was dead) with Brad nearly stepping on one (harmless yellow snake).

The rest of our Malaysian trip was filled with getting back to KL, buying scissors, digital bathroom scales and topping of our culinary experiences with a big red steak to boost the iron levels for beef-free India. After 35 hours of planes, trains, cars and taxis we made it back to the orphanage where after a short nap and meet & greet, we were thrown into teaching class 10 immediately – No rest for the wicked!

P.S. We've updated our Malaysia Favourite Photo's

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goodbye Malaysia, Hello again India

As the sunset fades on our Malaysian trip it suddenly dawned on me to let you all know we're still alive and well - in KL awaiting our departure to India tomorrow. I know we've been a bit quiet recently but that's what happens when you are tucked away on some secluded, idyllic island.

We'll update our blog and photos when we get back the orphanage which, all going well, will be very late Tuesday night. There should be plenty of time on the 24 train trip from Kolkata - Bareilly (which we have already done 3 times!)

Talk soon,

B & M

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taman Negara & the Perhentians

Random ramblings

It’s odd how many of my blogs, to the unknowing reader, are titled in a fashion that could be mistaken for some emerging alternative musical ensemble. It’s not though, it’s just where we’ve been for the past 2 weeks. Whilst we had splendid Internet in Taman Negara you can’t very well blog about what you’re currently doing, as you are currently doing it. Now that we’re in the Perhentian Islands (where I’m writing this part of the blog) we don’t have Internet, splendid or otherwise so you will be waiting until we’re back in KL to sort out our visas before you can read about what we did nearly 2 weeks ago – very confusing isn’t it?

Taman Negara

Taman Negara for all you non-Malaysian speakers means National Park – whilst it isn’t the only National Park in Malaysia it’s the only one bearing this name which speaks for itself. Imagine jungly rainforest punctuated by winding, fish-filled rivers and animals such as monkeys, tigers, elephants, deer and reptiles of all descriptions and you’ve thought of the right place. We were here to stretch our legs a bit more after our warm-ups of the Cameron Highlands. Using the trusty Lonely Planet we planned out some little “familiarity walks” leading up to a whopping (for us) 25km day-hike. Taking a relaxing and nap-inducing 2 hour boat ride we arrived at the picturesque town of Tanah Rata, nestled alongside the confluence of 3 rivers. Arriving at the heat of the day and burdened with more luggage than Alexander the Great (and he had elephants), we were a little dismayed at the steep sand embankment we had to climb and greatly dismayed to discover at the top there was a steeper bitumen road to walk up. Starting to warm up and slightly out of breath we made our way to the first of the accommodation options where we were shown some nice bungalows with Air-con and attached bathrooms for $17. “Sold“ I said, and was puzzled by Miriam’s frown, who thought we should look for a better or cheaper option. After a bit of intense discussion that travelling sometime brings out, I put my foot down and decided that we should look for a better or cheaper option. After about an hour of traipsing around the countryside, up and down staircases, all the while carrying our lead-laden packs we arrived back at the first place, fully satisfied that this was the option for us.

The next day we woke up and moved to a cheaper accommodation option ($8) and for the next 3 days did a number of walks which, whilst walking, were very interesting and whilst reading about them, would send you to sleep. We were very impressed by the wildlife encountered with highlights being gliding lizards, wild pigs, deer, monitor lizards and fresh elephant poo. I’m keen to go back there one day armed with a fishing rod as we also saw plenty of nice fish being landed by the locals. After our 4 days we were a bit tired and sore, looking forward to our next bit of beach-going where we could rest our weary legs.


We were waiting for some money to clear into our main bank account before arriving at the Perhentian Islands so we decided to make a couple of 1-2 night stops up the east coast at Kuantan, Cherating and Kuala Terranganu, the best of these being Cherating where in typical Crouch Potato fashion we did nothing but read books by the beach, so lazy in fact that we didn’t even dip our toe in the water as the tide took the water 200m out. We met a pretty interesting Malaysian guy called Edward who has worked all over the world for an oil company and our discussions covered Immigration policies, surfing, religion, Oz/Malaysian cultural differences and fishing – he even invited us to go fishing at his riverside home but we were leaving the next day. We also met a guy at the hamburger stand where we were getting a cheap tea that had started his own company and has now handed it to his sons to manage while he travels around the world, we chatted for quite a while and we were very embarrassed when he insisted he pay for our dinner!

Perhentian Islands

I’m pretty sure all the photo’s you ever see on travel brochures are taken here – blue, crystal clear water on palm-fringed white sand beaches and easy access coral made this place one of our favorite destinations in Malaysia. We were in a nice chalet with sea views and spent almost every day trying another spot to snorkel from, or just relaxing on the beach or balcony. The variety of fish around the coral reefs was excellent and we didn’t tire of it although I had to cut back on my diving down as I started having a few ear issues (they’re fine now). One day we went on a snorkeling tour and were able to swim with giant sea turtles over 1 metre long and also some small reef sharks. I’ve always been pretty disappointed with other places I’ve been to when snorkeling and this is the first place since the Great Barrier Reef (honeymoon, 2000) that really floated my boat.


We were in KL for 2 nights to confirm our Indian visa and have finally received it with our arrival back in India in about 2 weeks. Before heading off we are going to Melaka for 2 days and then spending a week on Tioman Island – supposedly another great beach/snorkeling location.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Our Highland Fling.... (16th-20th Feb)

Sorry about the delay in posts folks - we've not had Internet access and loving it! Stay tuned over the the next couple of days and you should get caught up with our crazy shenanigans. Here's a start:

After 10 hot, lazy days in Langkowi, we headed for a cooler destination inland, the Cameron Highlands. Set in the hills surrounded by tea and strawberry plantations, it was a shock to the system to have to whip out the thermal vest and cardi in the evenings – plus we experienced rain for the first time since leaving KL.

With flocks of people being turned away from our previous digs (Gheko Guesthouse) due to Chinese New Year, we decided to book ahead. A brilliant move, as after travelling for 14.5 hours (being stuck in New Years traffic jams) – arriving at 9.30pm, it was nice to rock up and have a room sorted at Fathers Guesthouse - which we ended up sharing with a couple of Argentinians’ we’d met on the way who hadn’t booked ahead.

We went on the obligatory half day tour, which included a tea plantation, rose garden, strawberry farm, butterfly and reptile farm, bee farm, markets, another Buddhist temple. It was a good day out mixing with a bunch of fellow travellers. Highlights: Being served tea made with a bag, when we’d just been told on tour that you shouldn’t use tea bags, eating fresh strawberries and waffles, Brad holding a live scorpion (I didn’t even get a good photo as someone decided to pat it, then things got a bit scary).

Then we got stuck into the trails. Trail 4, rubbish strewn waterfall – a little underwhelming. Trail 13, on trying to find the start we were advised it had been blocked off due to deforesting. Trail 9A, on the way there, passed a really nice waterfall, then met a couple of Aussie girls coming up Trail 9, who warned us against doing 9A, they’d started up the track from the bottom, but turned back when it appeared they’d end up plunging down the hillside where the track seemed to have given way – words such as Hells death track were thrown about. Deciding to chance it, we headed down the beautific 9A, a lovely meandering track through the jungle. Half way down we met another Aussie couple who had come up against a massive tree across the track and had turned back. Having made it thus far, we decided to chance it again and kept going. On coming across the tree, we climbed over it, a bit unsure about why all these Aussies were turning back.

We continued on and made it to the end without too much problem. Then meandered through some picturesque farmland nestled between the hills. After waiting an hour for a bus to take us back to town, we hitched a ride with a young Malaysian couple off to enjoy their New Years break in the Highlands. That night due to Brad’s longings, and some encouragement from a friend via Skype, we splurged on our first schnitzels since leaving Oz. It was our most expensive meal for the last 7 months, with our schnitzels costing a whopping $10 each. The following day we walked another trail. It was nice 3 hour walk through beautiful jungle, steep on the way up to the top of the hill, sometimes climbing upwards by clinging to tree roots, then a gradual decent back to town – a really pleasant walk all in all.

We extended our stay for a day when Brad experienced some tummy problems, which gave us time to get some laundry done, watch a couple of movies, and generally relax after our couple of days of walking. We’ve been laying off the Indian cuisine (apart from egg and banana roti) since being in Malaysia, but we did discover a great place here with the best chicken rice so far on the trip (Brad’s staple diet), and yummy marsala dosa.. MmmmMmmm