Making our way down through KL, Melaka and Singapore
04.07.2011 29 °C
We stayed in Koh Phangan another 5 nights after the Full Moon Party, by which time with a touch of cabin fever we were definitely ready to get off the Island and start making our way to Malaysia.
After a one night stay in Surat Thani (and one night is enough, there is nothing there) we hopped on a train to Hat Yai where we would change trains and head straight for Kuala Lumpur (KL). The train to Hat Yai was fairly pleasant, with local people hopping on and off in between stops selling fried chicken for us hungry travellers. The train did take over an hour longer than it should have done and we were starting to worry that we would miss our connection to KL. However our worrying was without cause as when we arrived, with time to spare, the train was fully booked. Doh. What to do?? We were almost marched to the nearest bus tour operator by a group of around 8 local guys who were repeating – “the bus to KL leave now”. After asking the price the cheeky sods wanted 850baht each for the journey. Politely we said we would think about it and left. Around the corner we nipped into another operator who offered us the same journey for 450baht each. That's more like it!
A 9 hour overnight bus journey was all it took to arrive in KL. While the bus had nice comfy seats that reclined all the way, they had the air-con on full for the whole journey (as they do all over Asia) so it was like being in a freezer with only a blanket to keep the warmth! Luckily for us, the bus pulled in just outside Puduraya bus station at 5am which was perfect, as it was just a 5 minute walk to our hostel. We couldn't check in until 12pm, so we crashed on the sofa and chatted to Ali the night manager and watched a couple of episodes of Lie to Me. Haha. After a (cough cough) Mackies breakfast we relaxed a bit and then in the afternoon headed over to the see the huge, twin Petronas Towers and have a look around the Suria KLCC shopping centre; we ended up watching the Green Lantern at the cinema and having yet another Indian meal for tea. When we left it was dark and the Petronas towers were all lit up, and looked quite spectacular.
The next day we took the LRT to the very busy Petalling Street in China Town. We browsed the different stalls selling clothes, jewellery, herbs and fruit etc, before having some lunch. Lunch was good, we tried quite a few things that we weren't quite sure what they were - but decided not to ask. lol. Kayleigh did get fooled into picking what looked like a very juicy piece of chicken that was in fact tofu. Yuck.
It rained for most of the afternoon so we spent our time looking around yet another shopping centre – there are loads, all of them huge (Kayleigh and the girls on a shopping trip would be in heaven). At the night we walked to Menara Tower to take in the impressive night view of KL, it was pretty magical. Before we left we had a laugh on the F1 simulator, (Phil was not impressed that his turn on the simulator was cut short due to the place closing...grrr) ,we then continued on the night at Brussels Beer Cafe for some drinks. Good times!
Our last full day in KL was very relaxed, we window shopped at a variety of shopping centres around the Golden Triangle before finishing the night at the cinema again, this time we watched Super8. That's it for KL, we had such a short amount of time to spend in Malaysia that the next day we moved on, happy enough though that we had taken in the key 'to-dos' while we were visiting.
Our next destination in Malaysia was Melaka, a lovely old-fashioned city by the coast (and a World Heritage city), it only took a quick 2 hour bus to get there. On arriving we headed out to check the various cafes and restaurants by the river, all lit up it was very pretty indeed.
The next day we went out to explore the city further, going to A'Famosa, the ancient Portuguese fort, the maritime museum and the town square. One of the main reasons we chose to stay in Melaka was for the prominent Portuguese influence, particularly as we had wanted to try El Diablo Curry (Devils Curry). Its a mix of Portuguese, Malay and Indian food, we had made some before leaving the UK and it was very tasty.
The Portuguese settlement in Melaka was a good hour trek out of the city centre, so we made our way there and were suprised to find the locals celebrating 500 years of having lived there, a definite bout of good-timing! The locals were outside cooking different foods, competing in 'the best St Peter boat model', playing live music and generally having a great time. Our first port of call was to sit down and have some Devils Curry, and as we had expected, it was absolutely gorgeous. The day was made complete by enjoying the sunset by the sea!
With our time in South East Asia running out, we moved onto Singapore as we fly to Australia today (4th July). Another bus journey was the easiest and cheapest option, with just 5 hours being all it took to cross the border. Luckily for us, the bus happened to terminate about 10 minutes from the hostel we had booked, Betel Box Hostel, where we were staying for 3 nights in a 20-bed mixed dorm.
One of the main reasons we had chosen to stay at this specific hostel was to go on the 'legendary food tour of Singapore' run by the owner, Tony. Fortunately, the tour was due to start half an hour after we checked in, and as we were both pretty hungry it was great timing to head out. We were joined on the tour by 21 other people, some from our hostel and others who had heard of it elsewhere, and we were all treated to a tour of the local area, a visit to a green grocers to try exotic fruits and then being taken to a local restaurant to sit down and enjoy about 20 different dishes.
To be honest, some of the foods weren't to our taste, but we tried everything which included fish curry, beef randang, chilli crab, shrimp noodles and lots more. We were even given a number of different Chinese deserts to try, which we weren't massive fans of as they were pretty bland (and lacked some serious sugar our Western taste-buds were used to!) The tour was really well planned, and we were surprised with how much knowledge of Singapore Tony gave us, for example, he explained how its technically illegal for men to have hair longer than 7 inches and how hanging is still used as punishment!
The next day we got up to enjoy the free breakfast included at the hostel, and went out to explore the city with Pascal, a German we had met on the food tour the previous night. After taking the train to the centre, we went to the Marina Bay to see the city in the sun, as well as checking out the Merlion (half lion, half fish) which guards the river. Once we were getting hungry, a quick walk to China Town was in order to enjoy some lovely stall food.
We decided to take a look at the other ''Singapore to-do's'' the following day, again going out with Pascal to see Little India, which was awash with shops playing bollywood music and the smell of Indian spices everywhere. Pascal had a friend who lived in Singapore, Grace, who met up with us along with her friend's little lad who she was baby-sitting for the day, 4 year old Daniel. She was really nice and gave us her own guided-tour of Singapore which included Hindu and Buddhist temples as well as a walk along the river. At first Daniel was very shy, but ended up coming to life and playing around with all 3 of us, particularly Phil, who he seemed to take a liking to (Phil thinks its cos he found his face funny!)
Again, we were very lucky with timing, as the city was practicing for its up-coming National Day Parade, so there were helicopters flying overhead with the Singapore flag, passing jet planes, sky-divers, bands performing songs, a light show from the Marina and best of all a massive fireworks display which lit up the night sky. It was amazing to get to see it all really!
Our last day in Singapore (and really SE Asia) was very relaxed, although we did enjoy a nice Muslim / Indian meal at ZamZams, a restaurant present in the city since 1908. This was followed by a few beers at a pub by the river, and as the Wimbledon final was on, we just had to watch it all (we were cheering for Djokavic). With the time difference being 7 hours, the match finished at 12pm, and we rushed to make the last train home but missed it by 2 minutes, doh! Not to worry though, a quick taxi ride got us back to the hostel, with fine memories of our last night.
So on to Australia next, we fly to Cairns in the North-East where we have a month to make our way down to Sydney, we can't wait!
Love Phil and Kayleigh