Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Days 6-8: Berjaya, Langkawi

First thing on Monday morning we caught the four hour ferry ride to Langkai, we got a very friendly taxi driver to take us from the ferry to the other side of the island where Berjaya, the resort we had booked was. I don't know about M, but I was feeling a little nervous about it, worried that it wouldn't live up to our hopes, as we had such high hopes. But we arrived and the initial view is magnificient.

We checked in, with a little struggle, we'd only been able to afford this place as there was a 25% discount if you booked 120 days in advance, but when we checked in although it said we had the discount, nothing had been taken off. After a while we managed to explain the problem, and it was sorted out, the discount applied and we were given our key. We were told that instead of the room we had booked, a rainforest chalet with two single beds, we had been upgraded to a King rainforest chalet. This means two chalets have been combined into one chalet suite, with a simply enormous bed.
The bedroom.
The living room.

Our balcony where we will be eating breakfast on our final day
View from our balcony
 We had decided that as we were paying so much to stay at the hotel we wouldn't be doing much else on our three days in Langkawi than exploring the hotel, drinking cocktails at the swim-up bar, and lazing on the beach. Which we lived up to magnificently. We got a full body massage, which was wonderful. So relaxing we came out feeling like jelly, and that nothing mattered. We went swimming in the sea, which was blissful, and warm, like bathwater. We had dinner at the Pahn Thai restaurant, which is literally over the water, and you have to walk down a long jetty thing to get to it. The service here is excellent, and I wholeheartedly recommend anyone to come here. There is enough culture here that even people who don't like resorts could enjoy it for a couple of days.

Day six: Arrival in KL, and Penang

Wow the first six days have gone really quickly. I can't believe we've already been gone six days. I'll try to give a quick rundown of what has been happening.

Tuesday was the flight and our first introduction to KL. We arrived, took the hour long bus ride to my uncles apartment, where we needed to have cold showers to regain normal human functioning. Once we had both achieved some semblance of normalcy we went out for dinner. Ended up eating in the middle of a market on a street somewhere. We also both tried Durian for the first time - I always thought I'd tried it when I was younger, but turns out I hadn't, you wouldn't forget that taste. I don't think I'll be eating it again any time soon.

Wednesday, we went out for breakfast to the Malaysian version of Starbucks, called Old town White Coffee. It's junky, but actually really tasty. If any of you ever go there, I wholeheartedly recommend their Kaya toast. It is impossible to describe, but very delicious. My uncle had to go to work so he left us their and we arranged a place to meet later. We got completely lost and ended up finding an Indian street market which sold a lot of touristy things.

Later when we were going to meet my uncle, we went the long and convoluted way, which was fine because it meant we got to discover the most amazing fountain - OK so, its in a pretty obvious place, and we probably would have seen it anyway, but it is still pretty, as you can see for yourself.

On Thursday, My uncle had to work again so we decided to take ourselves to the Batu Caves, a Hindu temple, built into one of the caves near KL. It was awesome. Literally. The first thing you see is a giant gold statue of a god, I'm not sure which one, but he is huge. He stands in front of the steps going up to the caves, all 272 of them. But it is well worth the effort, the temple is amazing.

As you go up the stairs you can watch the monkeys frolicking around, and when you come back down don't forget to keep an eye out for the lady-peackock-cow-bird-thing, on the back of the entryway.

The weekend was spent in Penang. We hired scooters to look around the island, I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you have a guide who knows the place and the traffic well. There don't seem to be that many clearly defined road rules. If you are after things to do in Penang, the Blue Mansion is worth a visit, it was once home to Cheong Fatt Tze who was an enterprising trader in the early twentieth century, he built the mansion and did it up in all kinds of splendor according to Chinese Traditions. No photographs are allowed to be taken inside, so you will have to see it for yourself.

Also well worth doing in Penang is going up in the cable car, its a slightly nerve wracking ride but the view from the top is worth it. And don't forget to go to Kapitan's for dinner. The food and service are amazing.

I'm currently sitting in Berjaya resort on Langkawi Island. The resort is amazing and will get a post of its own. I've had a full body massage today, from the spa here, something I would recommend to anyone, but has left me too relaxed to do justice to it now. For that matter I haven't come even close to describing Penang properly. I'll have to write more later.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Day one: on the plane.

This post was written on the plane, but it has taken me six days to get access to the internet to post anything. So belated post below:

Date: 19/06/12
Location: In a plane somewhere above Australia.
Time: NZ (home): 1700,
Sydney (departure town) 1500
Kuala Lumpur (destination:  1300

 It finally happened. After nearly eleven months of counting down, the day of our adventure finally arrived. For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling increasingly surreal. It seems very strange that it is really happening, up until this last week it still felt hypothetical… “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” rather than “won’t it be cool when…”

But now the point of no return has been and gone. Our families, and some of our closest friends, came to see us off at the airport – particularly sweet as our flight was boarding at ten past six so we had to be there at 04:30. Because we had to be up so early I had decided not to sleep the night before, in order to encourage me to sleep on the plane.  Tiredness added to already heightened emotions, which resulted in rather a lot of tears being shed.  

It really was hard to say goodbye. I’ve only ever really lived in Wellington, it’s hard to say goodbye to all that is familiar as well as to the people that I love so much. But for this sort of adventure you have to leave everything you know behind. Besides it’s not like its forever.  I will be seeing you all again, you can count on it. 

After tearful farewells and the mothers taking the requisite photos, we headed off through the “Passengers only past this point” sign and into the unknown. International flights in Wellington are no more intimidating than domestic ones, and domestic flights are barely worse than catching a train. So apart from a little juggling to put everything through the scanners the boarding and first flight went off without a hitch. 

We arrived in Sydney tired and very hungry, but not at all stressed as we had been told on the plane and by the check in staff back in Wellington the transit in Sydney would be simple; just get off the plane, get our bags, and take them to the bag dump for Air Asia, we didn’t have to worry about customs, or filling in the forms or anything like that. Or so we were told by three different people. Not so, as it turned out. We did need to go through customs to be able to get to the check in counter to drop our bags, and to get through customs we needed to fill out the declaration form that we had been told we didn’t need to fill out. To make things slightly more complicated they had run out of these forms and no one was sure where to get some more. Eventually we got some, beginning to be very thankful that our flight had arrived early, we’d been cutting it quite fine between flights, and I don’t think we would have made it if the flight had been on time. By the time we got through customs, checked in, arrived at customs again, got told to fill in another form, queued in the mother of all queues, got through customs again, loaded and unloaded everything for the scanner, it was roughly ten to twelve NZ time, and we had both been up for well over twenty-four hours and not eaten anything since the night before. The need for food was distracting us from just about everything else. We had ten minutes before the flight was supposed to start boarding, so instead of looking around in duty free we went and found the nearest food location, McDonalds.  Due to some annoying circumstances beyond our control the first meal on our big OE is McDonalds.

I’m sorry; I promise it won’t happen again. From now on the food we eat will be a mix of old and new flavours, regional dishes and experimentation with new things. But you will excuse us this one little slip, particularly given that it was only in Australia and we all know that doesn’t really count anyway.  

After our meal we got to the gate just as the plane started boarding.  The plane is the biggest I’ve been on in a very long time, but the seats are cramped and packed in together in a similar style to Jetstar, or any other really cheap airline. But our seats are right near the back and for some weird reason there are only two seats per section per row down this end, instead of the three at the other end. They don’t have any extra leg room, but they do certainly seems like we have an easier place to sit. 

There is not really anything much else to say. The food is alright, but they charge for water, albeit only the nominal amount of 3 MYR, but it still strikes me as a bit cheeky. If you fly Air Asia, I do suggest getting a comfort pack, it’s a neck pillow, eye mask and blanket that come in a nice little drawstring bag for you to keep. We booked it with our flights and it wasn’t very much from memory, about 25 MYR from memory, but more if you buy it once you are on the plane. 

If there was a little more leg room it would be good, but it’s not too bad as it is. Otherwise bring your own entertainment because this is flying old school. No screens in the chairs, absolutely no unnecessary luxuries, and for this flight at least not a hell of a lot to look at out the window.  Although now that we have left the Australian desert and are instead flying over the sea, it has become a little more interesting.
I’m beginning to feel that it might be time for another nap, I’ve still got rather a lot of missed sleep to catch up on so, I might just go and do that.