A Travellerspoint blog

Bali, Indonesia (9th - 13th December)

Our flight to Bali wasn’t until the afternoon, so we had a relaxed morning to prepare ourselves in Singapore first, which made a nice change. It also meant that our flight landed during sunset, which was beautiful. I don’t generally think of taking photos out of aeroplane windows, but on this occasion I did:

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We were fortunate to be able to stay with Jamie’s friend Anya, especially as funds were running low. We took a taxi to where she lives, though it took the taxi driver a while to find it – it’s slightly out in the sticks. It’s a lovely place though – very rustic – I wish I’d taken some photos of it actually. You get a lot of creatures inside the house, which isn’t great, though kinda adds to the charm. Well, the lizards and frogs do anyway – I wasn’t so sure about the rats! Although I only found out about those on the day I was leaving, so that was fine. I don’t think I’d have slept on the mattress on the floor otherwise!

It was really nice to see Anya and she was a great host. We had a really nice evening of drinking wine and chatting.

I was only in Bali for a few days, though Martta and Jamie stayed a few days longer. It was near the start of rainy season, so unsurprisingly there was a decent amount of rain, though the first day there was gloriously sunny and very hot. We had a lazy morning of sleep, then went to a nearby café for breakfast. We actually went there every morning for breakfast, for which they were greatly appreciative. We made good use of their wi-fi too.

That afternoon, Anya took us to Canggu beacha and then along to Echo Beach to watch the sunset and have some food. Both of which were pretty awesome. I can’t share the food with you, of course, but here’s the sunset:

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The following day was designated as our shopping day. We all needed to get some souvenirs / Christmas presents. Anya recommended Kuta as a good place for that, so we took a taxi there (after breakfast of course). The rain was pretty bad, plus we later found out there’d been a tornado there, not long before we arrived. Still, we split up in order to be as efficient as possible in our shopping, then met back at a bar for drinks and lunch. I thankfully found an awesome little shop full of handicraft type souvenirs for really reasonable prices, so I got most of my Christmas presents sorted. I think it was called ‘Cinderella’s’, if you’re curious. One thing that I personally found quite curious about my shopping experience in Kuta was the abundance of decorated phalluses. My favourite was an enormous glitterball-esque one. I might have been tempted to buy it if it wouldn’t have taken up the vast majority of my backpack! Although I’ve no idea what I’d have done with it, so that was probably for the best.

My last day in Bali was quite a relaxed affair. I just wanted to chill out by the beach with a drink (or two). The weather wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than the day before. We found a nice bar with some comfy seats, so it was all good. After a really nice dinner at Betelnut Café, we headed back to Anya’s so I could shower and pack. We then went for a farewell (to me) drink at our breakfast joint and got them to call me a taxi to the airport. Taxis would sometimes take up to 45 minutes to arrive, so I allowed a lot of time for this. But of course this meant that the taxi turned up in about 5 minutes. Oh well.

I got to the airport about 2 hours before check-in. There’s nowhere to go prior to departures (plus not much afterwards either), so I just found a spot on the floor (like lots of other people) and reflected on things for a while. When I did then get to check in, my heart sunk a bit when I was told that I’d need to collect my bag in Shanghai and check back in again. I’ve never had to do that on a connecting flight before. It was only because Bali Denpasar Airport doesn’t use the proper luggage tag system that most other airports use – the ones with barcodes that determine where your luggage needs to go – they just have hand-written tags. Considering it’s a new terminal, this was somewhat baffling. Still, I had 3 hours for my connection, so it wasn’t too much of a worry. At least not until the flight was then delayed by an hour and a half. Then it was a worry.

On arrival in Shanghai, I made my way through passport control as quickly as possible. I was slightly concerned about my lack of visa, even though I wasn’t going to be staying, but thankfully they issue a 1 day temporary visa stamp. It wasn’t that quick a process to get through passport control, but I still then had to wait about 10 minutes for my bag to come off the plane. If it had been there straight away then I’d probably have just made the check-in for my connecting flight, but as it was, I didn’t. It was so frustrating to miss it by only 10 minutes, as the flight still didn't leave for another 35. There was one other girl, Emily, who was in the same position. She was really upset about it, but at least I wasn't alone.

There was only one flight to London a day, so we got put up in a hotel for the night, plus given some food. Sounds pretty good, but the hotel was freezing and in the middle of nowhere, plus the food wasn’t great. Still, it was ok. The only thing that really bothered me was that it meant missing the Cerys gig that I’d been planning to go to the following night in Maidenhead!

Still, the following day we successfully got on the flight to London. It’s a 13 hour flight, which is quite possibly the longest single flight I’ve ever been on. Not by much, but still, it seemed to last forever. It didn’t help that we encountered really bad turbulence about an hour from London. I’ve never felt such a big plane drop so much. It wasn’t fun. The air staff combated this by putting on a video of tai chi exercises we could do from the comfort of our seats (it was a Chinese airline). Kinda sweet really, though as cynical Brits, Emily and I started wondering if they were trying to prepare us for our deaths! Thankfully we didn’t die (obviously), but the landing was quite scary too – the plane was swaying side to side and then wobbled about quite a bit after touching down. It was a big relief to get off, I have to say. My Mum met me in arrivals and drove me back to hers, where I’m currently staying.

So that’s it – the end of the trip and the end of this blog. It’s been pretty epic and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have to thank Jamie for it – it was very much his brainchild and it’s not something I could or would have done without him. He’s a great person to travel with and his sense of direction (and GPS on his phone!) were essential on so many occasions.

Yes it’s sad that we didn’t end the trip together – both in terms of flying back at the same time and also in the sense of remaining a couple – but it was still an amazing 8 months of travel, plus an incredibly memorable (and mostly wonderful) 4 years and 9 months as a couple. We must have notched up a fair few air miles in that time!

I now face the prospect of looking for a job and somewhere to live, but I guess that’s its own new adventure (albeit one that doesn’t require its own blog!).

Posted by chantalpatton 20/12/2013 06:31 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Singapore (6th - 9th December)

In Singapore we stayed at the wonderfully named Happy Snail Hostel. It’s a really small hostel, with just three rooms, but it was great. It helped that the owner had over-booked the 8 bed dorm we’d booked into, so we got put in the 4 bed dorm instead, which we had to ourselves. But it also had a really nice atmosphere and the owner was really friendly and helpful. Plus a breakfast of toast and spreads was included, which is always a bonus.

After checking in to the hostel, we headed out to meet up with my friend Yumiko. She was my flatmate at uni (along with Anna who we stayed with in Moscow) and I’d not seen her for about 10 years, so it was quite exciting. We’d arranged to meet at a subway station, so we made our way there on the bus. Martta needed to go sort out her return flights to Finland though – she had a return flight booked from Bangkok, but as there were problems going on in Bangkok at the time, she didn’t exactly want to head back there if she could avoid it. So her and Jamie headed over to the offices of the airline she’d booked with, to see if they could alter the date and route of the flights, as Martta was also keen to join us on our onwards travel to Indonesia.

Meeting up with Yumiko proved to be a bit more difficult than it should have been though. There were quite a few entrances and exits from the subway, so we both ended up at separate ones. I sent some texts to her that I don’t think she got – plus she’d sent me a message on Facebook that I hadn’t seen. She then tried phoning me, but we could hardly hear each other and it used up all my phone credit. I then desperately tried to find some wi-fi so that I could message her through Facebook, but that wasn’t very successful. It was starting to feel like we just wouldn’t find each other. But then we both started walking between the various entrances and fortuitously managed to bump into each other. Hooray! Such a relief. We headed to the general area where we’d agreed to have lunch and where Jamie and Martta were going to head to once they were done at the airline. However, I’d said I’d text them with a specific location, which I couldn’t do now I had no credit left. This led to us sitting outside a hostel and using their wi-fi so that I could top up my phone credit. Well, I tried to anyway – my tablet was so slow at loading up the pages that I ended up getting a text from Martta first. Thank goodness for still being able to receive texts when you’re out of credit. Her and Jamie had found a restaurant to go to and it was only about 50 metres from where we were sitting. Perfect. We all met back up and had a nice dinner together. It was really great to get to see Yumiko and to catch up after so long. Plus she recommended some things for us to do, of course.

That evening we went for a walk around the Merlion Park area. It was just how I’d imagined Singapore to be, which is a big compliment – I’d really been looking forward to seeing Singapore. I’m a big fan of cities and it was definitely my kind of city. It’s just a shame it’s so expensive – particularly compared to the other places in Asia we’d just been visiting. I’d love to go back at some point in the future when I have more money. Anyway, I had a great time walking around that area – for some reason I was filled with a general feeling of serenity and optimism – at least until the lack of sleep finally hit me!

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On our first full day in Singapore we went to the zoo, as we’d heard great things about it. It wasn’t quite as big as I was expecting, I have to say, but it was still a really good zoo and a very enjoyable way to spend the day. There aren’t any cages used; the animals are kept separated by ditches and water and such like methods, which gives the zoo a nice natural feel to it. It also means you can get some really good photos.

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The only negative thing about visiting the zoo is the process of leaving it – especially if you’re there when it closes (which we were). The queue for taxis was ridiculous. We stood in it for at least half an hour and were still quite a way from the front, so then decided to go get a bus instead. But of course we got there to find there was a queue for that as well. Thankfully a much shorter one though, so we got on a bus fairly quickly really. Albeit one that was unpleasantly packed full of people.

Our second and final full day in Singapore wasn’t quite as successful as our first, though largely because it was raining most of the time. We headed to Little India in the morning, just to have a walk around the general area. That was made less fun by the rain though, of course. Still, we had a nice cheap lunch in a food court there. Then we went in search of somewhere to have coffee and keep out of the rain for a while. This took longer than expected, though we did come across a free exhibition of Japanese Characters (as in cartoon characters – not Japanese text), which was pretty cool and kept us dry for a while.

After we did eventually find somewhere for coffee, we headed to the Fountain of Wealth. We’d read that if you touch the water and then walk clockwise around the fountain three times, it’s meant to bring you wealth. We were all feeling in need of some wealth, so this seemed like a good idea. However, we’d not realized that it had opening hours! Opening hours that we’d just missed. No wealth for us.

We then headed to Chinatown as we’d read there was a temple there that offered free vegetarian food. However, we were again victims to opening hours – it was more of a lunch affair and we’d been hoping to go for dinner. So we had to find somewhere else for dinner in Chinatown instead. That wasn’t a problem, though obviously much more expensive than free.

Still, despite not managing to do much on our last day, I did really enjoy our time in Singapore. Plus there were plenty of things we didn’t get to do, either because of time constraints, money constraints or weather constraints! So definitely a place to go back to at some point.

Posted by chantalpatton 20/12/2013 03:22 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (3rd - 6th December)

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur quite early, so stopped off for breakfast on our way to the hotel. I’m pleased we did, as the check-in experience was strange enough as it was – if we’d also had empty stomachs and no caffeine, it’d have been even stranger I’m sure. I can’t remember the name of the hotel, but could find out if anyone’s desperate to know. We booked online through hotels.com (or similar) and it’d almost sounded too good to be true. Our own room in a hotel with a pool for only £20-something a night between the three of us. This was all accurate, but it wasn’t like any other hotel I’ve ever stayed at. It was basically run by some people who either owned or rented a number of apartments within a condo. A security guy had to take us up to the apartment that acted as the reception. There was then a bit of kerfuffle as the ‘hotel’ staff checked our booking and decided on what to do with us. They initially said we’d have to come back later for check-in, which is what we’d been expecting with arriving so early – we just wanted to leave our bags somewhere. But then they said we could check-in straight away and took us to our room, which was cool. It wasn’t the one we booked, but it was either the same or better. It was inside an apartment, with its own little kitchen area, which was nice. There were a couple of other rooms in there too, but they were empty as far as we could tell. The room itself was really nice, plus it had a separate lounge type area too. And yes, we also had use of the condo’s pool and other facilities. It was pretty great really – just somewhat surreal.

After a bit of a nap, as we’d hardly slept on the train, we went and checked out the pool. It looked very nice but it was rather on the cold side. Martta wasn’t bothered by that (Finns are used to the cold!) but Jamie and I didn’t stay in for very long.

We had three nights in Kuala Lumpur. On the first couple of days I was really tired, plus I had a lot on my mind and just wasn’t really happy. I was even worse company than I’d been in Langkawi, so I kept myself away from Jamie and Martta for quite a bit of the time – as much for their benefit as for mine. It did mean that I missed out on the free walking tour that they did, which sounded really great, but I just didn’t feel up to it. On the third day, however, Jamie and I got the opportunity to talk for a while, which we really needed to do. The outcome was that we decided to split up – not a happy thing of course and not an easy decision, but we both agreed it was for the best. I did initially contemplate flying home from Singapore, where we were headed to next, as thought it might be weird to keep travelling together, but it really wasn’t. Things were actually a lot better after that – mostly because I wasn’t all moody from being bogged down in contemplating whether we should split up or not.

Anyway, because of all that, my memories of Kuala Lumpur are generally not that great. Although our last day there was pretty good – the break-up aside, of course. We went to the Batu Caves during the day, which were stunning. Then in the evening we went and watched the fountain display thing in front of the Petronas Towers, then met up with some friends of Martta’s and went for food and drinks. It was a fun night, though did mean we got back fairly late. That wouldn’t have mattered so much if we hadn’t had to get up so early the next morning to go and catch our flight to Singapore. I think we had about 3 hours sleep – if that. Not that our flight was ridiculously early, but it takes quite a long time to travel to the airport in KL, so yeah, operating on minimal sleep had become a bit of a theme of the trip.

Batu Caves:

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Petronas Towers:

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Posted by chantalpatton 19/12/2013 04:36 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia (1st - 2nd December)

Georgetown was really just a stopover between Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur. We were only there for about 24 hours, as it's not that exciting, but we had a decent time.

We stayed at Red Inn Court, which was walkable from the ferry port. It was a decent little hostel. We stayed in a 4 bed dorm, along with a guy from Evesham. He seemed quite excited that I used to live in Worcester and therefore knew where Evesham was.

On the night we arrived we went out looking for somewhere to eat. We decided on a really busy place as figured that meant it must be good. It also meant we had to wait for a while before we could get a table, but it was totally worth it, the food was great. I had the sweet and sour pork, as someone in the queue (though I use the word ‘queue’ quite loosely) had recommended it to me. I’ll generally go for chicken over pork, but in this case it was a perfect choice – definitely the best sweet and sour pork I’ve ever had.

During our one almost-full day in Georgetown, we went and checked out Fort Cornwallis. It was a decent place to walk around for a while, plus entry was cheap. Although Martta bought us some odd-flavoured ice lollies to try out. We chose at random. Jamie lucked out with the non-weird flavour of coconut; Martta got the slightly-strange but not bad flavour of Jackfruit; but I got the bizarre taste sensation that was the Durian flavoured lolly. I could hardly eat any of it. Fruit shouldn’t have an onion-esque element to it. And the aftertaste!! Eugh.

After that we tried to go to the Komtar Tower for the scenic view, but got there to discover it was closed. So instead we had a scenic walk back to the hostel and also nipped into a small art gallery for a while. That was really good – I’ve annoyingly forgotten the name of the artist being showcased, but I really liked his work. Plus the curator spoke to us about him for ages, it was really nice.

One of the temples we saw on our walk (I liked the giant incense):
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In the evening we then made our way to the train station, which involved taking a short ferry ride first. We’d been planning to book beds on the train, as it was overnight, but as we’d only booked earlier that day, the beds were all sold out and we had to make do with seats. This made for a pretty sleepless night as we made our way to Kuala Lumpur.

Posted by chantalpatton 17/12/2013 07:43 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Langkawi, Malaysia (27th November - 1st December)

We arrived on the island of Langkawi and took a taxi to our hotel - the delightfully Twin Peaks evokingly titled White Lodge. We had a room to ourselves, so with a double bed and a single bed. It was a nice place - no complaints about it. No breakfast included, but that was fine.

After being away in the UK, it was strange being back on the trip. Especially as it had continued in my absence. Naturally Jamie and Martta had struck up their own rapport and way of doing things in my absence, so it was now like I was joining their trip - my previous trip with Jamie had gone, which made me somewhat sad. This wasn't anyone's fault, it was just an unfortunate side-effect of my being away at the time that I was. Still, it was difficult to adapt to. I know that this made me quite bad company a lot of the time, for which I apologise, particularly to Martta.

Anyway, Langkawi. The beaches are one of the biggest draws, so we spent a decent amount of time there. Not so much in the sea though as it's full of jellyfish. It was far preferable to hang out at a nearby bar and order some jugs of beer!

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Another major thing to do is to ride up the cable car and enjoy the view. We tried to do that, but the cable car wasn't running due to high winds. Thankfully though, the area around the cable car was quite fun to walk around anyway. There's an area with a load of rabbits you can feed, plus a cafe that's attached to a tiger enclosure. We then also went to a sealife centre, back near where we were staying. It wasn’t up there with the amazing one we went to in Lisbon, but it was still really enjoyable. My only complaint was that they promised otters and didn’t deliver. Tsk tsk.

We did also get up early one morning to go and see the sunrise. Yes, you did read that right. That's the extent to which I didn't want to feel left out of things. Although I did kind of regret it as we needed to get up extra early, in order to get to a decent lookout spot, but then it was so cloudy we couldn't actually see the sunrise happen. It confirmed my previously held belief that sunsets are far superior. Although, on the plus side, we did then go for a really nice breakfast at a French café.

We left Langkawi on a ferry to Penang. Martta and Jamie had stayed out quite late the previous night and Martta was a bit worse for wear. We'd read that the ferry crossing was pretty rough and unpleasant, which didn't bode well, but thankfully it was fine. We all even managed a bit of sleep on it.

Posted by chantalpatton 17/12/2013 01:52 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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