A Travellerspoint blog

A sad farewell to South East Asia.

sunny 30 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

Well our time in Asia has very very sadly come to an end. Its been a strange and awesome 3 months which have flown by all too fast, yet within which we've experienced a lifetimes worth of amazing people, places and things in 6 different countries! From the madness of Bangkok and the other major cities we've visited to the quiet serenity of the different contrasting countrysides, we've seen an amazing world so different to what we are used to at home.

We hope that we can take some of the things we've seen home with us and not just go back to the grind the same way as before. That's one of our biggest fears now really.
It has been the most amazing experience of both of our lives so far and is something that neither of us will ever forget!

So so long Asia......for now.....

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But its not all over yet! Next stop Australia!

Posted by LynMoo 16:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Angkor WHAT!? Cruising the magnificent temples of Cambodia.

sunny 33 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

Our next stop after Malaysia was to be a flying visit to Siem Reap in Cambodia to check out the temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, a world heritage site and one of the mpdern (or not so modern) wonders of the world! We had to first get an early taxi to the airport in Kuala Lumpur which was mental for 5 in the morning. From some intense queue bustlings to a wailing buddhist nun, it was quite the airport experience! We were flying Air Asia (the equivalant of Ryanair) so for our flight they had prioirity boarding which 2 asian businessmen were the only people to have bought. So they were the first people let on the plane, yet they were still competeing with each other to be first in the queue - even though there were only 2 of them! It was like watching a kids game as they continuously skipped each other (basically doing circles) and then RAN to the plane when they were let on.

We arrived at the airport and got through customs no problem without being ripped off. We'd spoken to so many travellers who had spent 5-10 nightmare hours at the Thai/Cambodia border when crossing overland trying to get past the notoriously corrupted customs officers that we were afraid we might encounter the same thing in the airport but we went through no problem at all thankfully.

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Ok for those who aren't in the know as to what the hell Angkor Wat is, here's a little explanation i 'borrowed' from wikipedia!

Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation—first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

Angkor Wat
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Basically it is a huge complex of various ancient temples on an enormous scale that had been effectively lost to the thick Cambodian jungle for hundreds of years until rediscovered by some french explorers last century. Some of the temples have been taken over by the jungle itself. Think Indiana Jones/Tombraider!

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Our taxi driver from the airport offered to be our guide for 2 days for a mere $30.. He agreed to take us to see Angkor Wat to watch the sunset & then take us to see the other temples the following day. At 5pm on the button our driver arrived & away we went to see our first temple. The prestigous Angkor Wat. We were really excited. I think the first thing that struck me on our way to Angkor Wat was how beautiful the area & surrounding area is. I really had no high expectations when i came to Cambodia but i was definitely impressed by the roads & buildings around the city. We had been told pretty dodgey stories from other travellers you see. We arrived at the perfect time & were blown away by the beauty of the ancient temple as the sun set behind it.. it really was lovely. We also had our first encounter with some Cambodian children & they are as cute as everyone says.. I got some lovely pictures of them at the edge of the river.

Sunset outside Angkor Wat
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Some kids outside the temples, Siem Reap
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We foolishly agreed to meet our guide at 5am the next morning to go see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.. I say foolishly because we were wrecked tired & nearly cried when the alarm went off at 4am. It was pitch black as we drove through the streets & suprisingly there were plenty of people roaming around. We arrived at the temple at 5.30am just in time to see the sun rise. Its pretty crazy because there are hundreds of tourists doing exactly the same thing. It was quite a calm atmosphere around the temple as people chose the best spots to get the sunrise. We got some fab pictures beside the lake & we agreed that it was definitely worth the early start.

Sunrise at Angor Wat
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My sweet jebus was it early! And although there were literally thousands of people outside the large temple of Angkor Wat for sunrise everybody apart from us seemed to go back to bed once they got their photos. We however were whisked by our driver to the walled city of Angkor Thom just 5 mins up the road.

We entered the city by the south gate which has a causeway of 54 Gods to the left & 54 demons to the right all carved in stone.. It was really a spectacular entrance to the ancient city.

Inside the walled city our first stop was the Bayon temple, which was the main state temple of the city itself. The main feature of which is dozens of giant faces looking out into the jungle. It is spectacular.

Bayon temple
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We also had the ENTIRE place to ourselves. It was amazing wandering around an ancient temple in the middle of the jungle all by ourselves. No noise, no cars, no people, just us and the dozens of murals staring back at us!

Inside the bayon temple
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Just through the jungle we made our way to the kings old residence, another massive relic of carved stone. Unfortunately we couldnt get inside due to ongoing restorations. It was here that we saw hundreds of massive numbered slabs of stone that had been undergoing restoration when the Khmer Rouge came to power in the 70's, and for some reason they decided to burn all the documents of where the stones fit - so its like an enormous jigsaw puzzle now for the people putting it back together.

Phimeanakas temple
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I feel i have to mention Angkor Thom.. Im not going to bore you with the details of all the different temples & monuments but they are soooo spectacular & each one is different with a totally different style & meaning. We spent 2 & half enjoyable hours exploring these before going to breakfast which was also an experience in itself. The locals have built what can only be described as a shanti town in the centre of Angkor Thom where they sell food & souvenirs. We sat drinking our tea while also being attacked by reams of children selling bracelets & other kinds of souvenirs. It was pretty funny to see them in action.. Children as young as 5 & 6 talking to you in slightly broken however still very impressive english.

Lorraine at Angkor Wat
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As far as my favourite temple i think it would have to be 'Ta Prohm' which was definitely the most visually beautiful temple we visited. Imagine a building set in the middle of a thick forest where the trees have actually grown through the building & the roots cascaded over the roof. It really has to be seen to understand fully but it just looked truely amazing. The sun sprayed through the gaps between the leaves hitting the crumbling structure in a beautiful way.. Just to help you guys visualise it - it was used as the setting in the tomb raider film.

Ta Prohm temple
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After Ta Prohm we were both wrecked and our guide was blatently feeling sick so we got him to drop us back to the guesthouse and told him to go home to bed! He picked us up again a few hours later looking better, and then tried to get us to go to a floating village half an hour away for $30. We weren't interested so he tried to charge us again for the trip to the temples. So we told him to take us back that he wasnt getting anything out of us! Then the cheeky bastid tried to overcharge us for the day asking for $50 instead of $30 - it was a pity cos we'd been enjoying the day so much and then got into a row with a cheating corrupt taxi driver!

Buddha in Bayon Temple
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As i was saying earlier because we had to fit Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia into our last 2 and a half weeks in South East Asia we only gave ourselves 4 days in Cambodia. We did consider going to Phnom Penh the capital to learn more about the recent history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge & Pol Pot, but considered visiting the killing fields for just a daytrip to see graves and tragedy to be a bit of an insult. Its an incredible country as they have all been through so much with the madness of that regime that happened so recently yet are really friendly and happy people. We both really admired their spirit and i think anyone else who has visited the country will agree. We barely touched the surface of this place in what is the most touristy place there, and are definately hoping to return to see the country properly.

Warrior Mural
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Posted by LynMoo 18:57 Archived in Cambodia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Merdeka in Malaysia! And evading the religious police....

I fought the law and the, law won! I fought the law and the, law won!

semi-overcast 31 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

Malaysia.... Where do i start?? Getting to Malaysia was really so much fun.. We booked a place on a 2nd class sleeper carriage (train) direct from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.. It was absolutely brilliant. For about a 3rd of the journey myself & Rob had the entire carriage to ourselves.. We felt like VIP's! However we acted more like kids running up & down the carriage & jumping around all the beds... Will we ever grow up??? I seriously doubt it ;) We arrived in KL (Kuala Lumpur) at 6am & i think we were both a little too dosey to actually take it all in..

We ended up spending a few hours outside a donut shop inside the main train station cos it was so early when we arrived (about 6am) and we couldnt check in anywhere until noon. Eventually the time passed and we jumped in a cab to our hotel bang in the middle of the city on Bukit Bintang street. The hotel was a bit dingy and the air conditioning wouldnt turn off the 'arctic setting' so we were freezing inside!

Bukit Bintang in central Kuala Lumpur
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KL has some of the largest shopping centers in the world.. On our first day we spent hours in a shopping center called Times Square.. This place was huge & there was a friggan theme park in the center of it. We had great craic going around all the shops & then weaving through the shopping center on the rollercoaster.. We spent hours looking around - i dont think we actually seen daylight that day ha ha!

Thats actually true on our first day in this new country we went to a mall so big we couldnt get out of it for the rest of the day! It was kinda scary.....well for me anyway the hundreds of shops kept Lorraine well entertained!

One of the strangest & funniest experiences we had was when we went to the cinema (also in the mall) to see 'Dont Mess With The Zohan'. Little did we know the film is almost entirely based on the difficulties between Israel & Palestine with Adam Sandler playing an Israeli counter terrorist! So picture this... Myself & Rob sitting in a cinema surrounded by Muslims watching an American film which was basically taking the piss out of their beliefs. I think it was one of the strangest situations i have ever been in. But to be fair they all seemed to really enjoy it & totally seen the funny side of it.

It was actually the first visit by either of us to a country dominated by Islam and we were trying our best not to offend in any way from the way we dressed or from pure ignorance - we genuinely had no idea what this film was about so had no idea what the reaction was gonna be when we did realise! Everyone else in the cinema was laughing alot more then us....despite it being a really really really bad film!! Really really bad film! So it was all good. How ironic eh!

Realising just how ignorant we were of the religion we ended up goin to a book shop and sitting down with, no messing, the 'Idiots Guide to Islam'....very appropriate we think! We really did learn alot though and it managed to change alot of preconceptions we had and answer loads of our questions.

The KL Tower downtown Kuala Lumpur
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On one occasion myself & young Mooney decided to take the monorail to the edge of the city & visit the Titiwangsa Lake to have ourselves a nice little picnic. The lake wasnt overly impressive but the funny thing was that there are actual religious police that patrol the park to make sure that people are not kissing or doing anything they shouldnt be. We thought this was hilarious - Rob broke the law on at least 3 occasions ha ha.

Seeing as i had kinda gotten us a wee bit lost on the way to the lake and drastically underestimated how far away it was we were wrecked tired and got a taxi back in rush hour traffic to our guesthouse (we had since moved from the fridge hotel to a nice place called 'The Haven' guesthouse down the road). It was in the cab that we first caught our proper glimpse of the Petronas towers, the real symbol of Kuala Lumpur. They are the tallest twin buildings in the world and up until recently the tallest altogether i think - dont quote me on that! Oh and Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones climbed across them in 'Entrapment'!

Petronas Towers
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We spent some really amazing days in Kuala Lumpur but our most memorable day for me would have to be the eve of the Merdeka. The Merdeka is Malaysia's Independence Day which is celebrated on the Eve (30/08/2008) with massive street parties & then the actual Independence Day is celebrated on the 31/08 with a large Parade throughout the city. Myself & Rob couldnt believe our luck that we had actually timed it to be there for their 51st year of Independence. What a day.. It started with a proper visit to the famous Petronas Twin Towers which were really impressive i have to say - i got kind of carried away with taking photos but looking back they were worth it.

Crowds and gardens outside the Petronas towers & KLCC complex
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We went to the KLCC Aquarium which was cool and saw all the sharks and manta rays and what not swimming around us. Just another day being complete giddy tourists. Except the place was packed this day with loads of kids who, along with most of the adults in Malaysia, have absolutely no concept of how to form, participate or behave in a queue! Its really annoying. They get mad pushy even if theres nothing to see! Ah well twas half the fun i suppose, and its great being bigger then everyone too for a change!

In the Aquarium, there are fish in there honestly!
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All day there was an intense buzz all about the city in preparation for the nights festivities. It almost felt like New Years Eve. As evening approached myself & Rob wanted to go & see the KL Tower which is renowned for having some of the most breathtaking views of the city. My poor little navigator (Rob) got us incredibley lost (in some dodgey parts of town aswell :) ) but for the most part he did an excellent job because we never would have stumbled upon Independence Square (Merdeka Square) if it had not have been for his lack of navigational skills ha ha.

That damn tower was TAUNTING ME!!! We could see it the whole time and were walking around it in circles but just couldnt find the entrance! My navigation skills are perfect i tells ya, its the system thats wrong.

Merdeka square itself was filled with thousands of people going pretty mental swinging the national flag in the air. The atmosphere was electric.. All the buildings were covered in lights & commentator getting the crowds all wound up for the fireworks & live bands which were due to follow later in the evening. We headed back to our side of town to check out what was going on there.

Reveller in Merdeka Square
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We almost didn't even go out again that night cos we'd been walking around for a solid 5/6 hours vaguely aware of where we were in the city and refusing to be overcharged for a cab back and so were really tired. After motivating ourselves to step outside we immediately got caught up in the atmosphere and the buzz around the town. The main streets had all been closed off and thousands of people young and old were out going crazy! There was a stage setup on the road with all the Asian boybands playing and the fans screaming frantically. Groups of young lads were going around with that joke spray foam drenching each other with the stuff. One lad was looking at Lorraine curiously as she passed by deciding whether or not to shower her too......i made up his mind for him with a subtle nod of permission - it was quality! He got me too just after though, we were pretty much set upon with kids spraying foam on us once they saw we were laughing about it!

The crowd on the street celebrating Merdeka
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We made our way to a bar/restaurant we'd eaten in the night before that happened to be right by the big stage on the main road but the place was packed to the brim. Luckily the owner recognised us from the night before and ushered us through the queue in for some drinks by the bar! It was a great spot to watch the crowds going mad and we got to join in the countdown and the celebrations at midnight too! "HAPPY MERDEKAAAAAAAAA"! It was brilliant.

In the restaurant near midnight
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I have to tell you a little bit about Chinatown as well. You see i was pretty excited to be going there because i have actually never been to a Chinatown before. So when we did reach the lovely oriental gate into Chinatown i actually got pretty excited (i know im quite sad). The place itself was pure bedlam with the streets covered either side in market stalls selling leather, bags, runners, clothes & just general souvenirs - you name it - they sold it. You can barely move for the amount of people but i think what suprised me most was the pure lack of chinese. I actually think i saw one person but i couldnt be sure. The place is quite literally run by the Indian population. We had fun bartering in the market but it was a little bit disappointing. We went for a Jamaican Beer to console ourselves (also in Chinatown) :)

Petronas Towers again
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We ended up staying in Kuala Lumpur for our whole time in Malaysia due to some 'complications'. Lets just say we had to be near a toilet at all times! We had been hoping to go out into the countryside for a few days and see the other sides of Malaysia but unfortunately we just couldnt. So on our last day before we were due to fly to Cambodia we decided to make the most of it by packing in a game of golf and then ending our stay with dinner in the revolving restaurant of the KL tower.

The golf course was a little 9 hole number actually run by the police! We were the only people playing and zipping around in our buggy. The course was fairly crap and we weren't much better but it was good to get a game in after 3 months.

Golfing in Kuala Lumpur
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We finally made it into the KL tower, turns out you had to drive up into it so it wasn't all my fault we couldnt find it before! The lift zoomed us up to the top and the revolving restaurant which was at times a bit disorientating! Because the tables rotate, but the rest of the restaurant stays in place - so you're constantly looking for the bar and buffet in different places! The food was incredible though and the views of Kuala Lumpur at night from that height were spectacular too. A sweet way to end our time in Malaysia!

Dinner in KL Tower with the Petronas towers and KL Skyline in background
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Posted by LynMoo 16:51 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Singapore Fling!

all seasons in one day 32 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

As you might have guessed we were pretty sad to be leaving Thailand but at the same time we were both really excited to be starting a whole new chapter of our trip. We flew from Phuket to Singapore which only took 1 & a half hours. It wasn't until we were in the taxi from the airport that the excitement really kicked in.. The buildings were some of the biggest i have ever seen. The city itself is spotless & you instantly know you are in one of the most modern cities in the world. For our 1st night we booked into the cheapest hotel we could find which cost us about 120 euro so it didn't take us too long to realise how much more expensive it would be to stay in the city.

Our hotel was located in a part of town known as Little India.. It has a great buzz to it & you could be forgiven for thinking you were actually in India in some parts. Straight away myself & Rob felt like tourists again... mainly because we stuck out like sore thumbs.. Everyone just kept looking at us which was a little off-putting at times but mostly we enjoyed being the tourists again.

The weather was really turbulant on our first day in Singapore so as we wandered around Little India looking for the subway and trying not to punch all the leering men in the face (oh they can get on your wick at times i tells ya!!) we got caught in a few heavy heavy tropical rainstorms and had to shelter anywhere we could find. In the end we were both soaked once we finally made it to the subway.

Singapore rainstorm
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The city has the most amazing transport system & it runs like clockwork.. never late.. Us Irish have alot to learn :) On our first evening we got the subway to the main shopping district known as Orchard Road... Its like every girls dream.. thousands of shops everywhere - i was in my element! However myself & Rob looked like we just walked out of a ditch (the state of us) & everyone else was walking around in designer gear that probably cost more than my entire wardrobe at home..

Singapore MRT subway
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Orchard road was really impressive with dozens of giant shopping malls everywhere. We genuinely got lost in them on a few occasions. They're manic as well, you have to get the elbows out to get on any escalators or through any doors....never mind any shops with sales on - they just scared the two of us! But the one thing about Singapore (and later to learn malaysia as well) is that everywhere has the aircon on full blast so its like walking into a freezer any time you enter a new building. Myself and Lorraine were freezing! We bought the cheapest fleeces we could find to keep warm. So there we were strolling around a tropical city with big jumpers on while the locals strutted around in shorts and t-shirts!

We knew that we couldnt afford to stay in the hotel for our entire stay so we checked into a hostel across the street called Hostel Tresor (very posh indeed) ahhh im kidding but it did the job & believe it or not it was the first time we have had to check into a hostel since we left Ireland. We shared a room with 3 other people who woke us up at various stages of the night but we slept well for the most part.

Singapore skyscrapers at night
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The street that we were staying on in little India had several "questionable" karaoke bars. Of course once i saw Karaoke i was trying to convince Lorraine to go in for a session but i quickly changed my mind when i caught a glimpse of the staff hanging around outside......Karaoke with a happy ending anybody?? I knew there must've been a reason for all the tinted windows! We could still hear all the asian lads singing away next door when trying to sleep each night, not exactly the type of lullaby you're looking for to get to sleep.

Another thing about Singapore is that the place is really controlled - in that there are signs everywhere forbidding everything. For example its illegal to chew chewing gum cos it dirties the path....of course we didnt know this and were goin around chewing away the whole time - we're such rebels! Its strange because the place is so clean and efficient but by all accounts the government is fairly heavy in making sure it stays that way. Prob a good thing i suppose.

Apart from this one sign we saw, i mean they cant tell us not to do that! We will be free to choose our own fate! Vive la revolucion! Oh we showed them eh?!
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We randomly went into a chinese restaurant for dinner one of the nights without realising that it was a chinese steamboat restaurant - which basically means you get a pot of boiling water and loads of meats and cook it yourself! The menus were in chinese and only one of the staff spoke English. We had to get her to help us cook while the rest of the staff LITERALLy pulled up chairs across from our table and had a good laugh watching us struggle with the chopsticks! The food turned out to be savage....even if we didnt know what the hell we were eating. Good times all round.

Lorraine strutting her stuff through the business district
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We had to visit the infamous Singapore Zoo on our stay & its easy to see why its one of the most famous zoo's in the world... The place is amazing! It was like walking throughthe jungle at times.. most of the animals are allowed to roam free throughout the acres of grounds which is great to see.. So unlike any Zoo we have been in previously! Myself & Rob were like kids running from the African area to the Australian area... back & forth to all the different attractions. We got our pictures taken with the urangutangs which rob had a strange likeness to..go figure!

I was picking nits out of Lorraines hair for the picture, so i did really fit in with the monkeys!

Outside the Zoo
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One of the highlights of our trip was the day we went to Clarke Quay & Sentosa. Clarke Quay is a promenade along side the river with hundreds of colourful & funky bars either side of the river & the business district at the other end of the quay. The buildings are sooooo impressive & we got some great pictures of the skyscrapers reflecting against the river water..

Some of the friendly characters we met along Clarke Quay!
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Singapore CBD
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We sat with our ($7.50) coffees by the harbour & soaked up the atmosphere. After Clarke Quay we made our way to Harbour Side which is on the MRT line (underground) to Sentosa which is a really cool place just on the outskirts of the city. Its basically a manmade island with a theme park & man made beaches.. Its like a tropical Oasis in the middle of the huge bustling city. We took a Cable Cart from the top of a high rise building directly into the heart of the resort. The views of the city were amazing as we made our way there. Once again our childish nature became very evident as we hopped onto all the rides pushing little Asian kids out of our way :) (no harm done) We took a luge down a hill which was great craic - Rob was like a bullet in the wind he went that fast.. I took it nice & handy though! (for the benefit of my mam).

Lorraine luging
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Sentosa is a very popular place for the locals to come & spend a weekend away & you can understand why because myself & Rob loved it!. Its a really nice escape from the city.

On our last night in the city after the ridiculously touristy day in Sentosa and what not we went back to Clarke Quay for dinner and had a gorgeous Indian along the riverside with the CBD glittering behind us.

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Then it was on to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. We had ourselves booked onto the sleeper train that night and after a false sighting on my behalf of Jet Li (it was just a small chinese guy!) we got on our very own carraige - thats right, 30 beds and we were the only ones on it! For a couple of hours anyway.....

Posted by LynMoo 20:25 Archived in Singapore Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The 'Get Jealous' chapter!

Sun, sea, sand, palm trees, hammocks, cocktails, sex on the beach....

sunny 32 °C
View World Trip 08 on LynMoo's travel map.

  • ****************************************************************************************

WARNING WARNING WARNING

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The authors will accept no responsibility for any bouts of jealous rage brought on by reading the following blog.
You are hereby warned that the below content includes photos of exceptional paradise and stories of an exotic nature. You have been warned!

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After the torture of our 27 hour bus trip to Saigon our travelling wasnt finished yet, we still had to fly to Bangkok early in the morning and get ourselves and Ste and Gemma a place to stay. An uneventful flight and taxi later we were at the "Shanti Lodge" in Bangkok about 15 mins away from the madness of Khao San road. As recomended by our American buddys this place is awesome. Its a kinda hippyish place tucked away down an alley with a sweet restaurant downstairs, its hard to explain so just check out their website www.shantilodge.com to see some pictures of the place. Anybody coming to Bangkok - stay here! The other strange thing about being back in Bangkok was we kinda felt at home here. It was the first time in 2 months we'd arrived somewhere familiar, we knew the airport, the taxi costs, the directions even.

Anyways we got a room no problem and booked another one for the next day for Ste and Gemma, who arrived EARLY in the morning we were up and at them by 5am....then they took hours to get through immigration cos Ste looked like a tinker! Lorraine genuinely was close to being sick with the excitement in the airport....honestly...i was gonna get a bucket!

So very very early.
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I know we have spent a lot of time explaining how much drink we have been consuming since we left. However with Ste & Gemma arriving we had every intention of making it a memorable night in Bangkok & that we did with copious amounts of alcohol im afraid to sayI know .. We started off the evenings events with drinks on Khao San to allow the newcomers to soak up the crazy & sometimes strange sights. We were kept entertained by a live street dancing competition. We then moved to a bar at the Sawadee Guesthouse where we drank blue Kamikazes until we were most definitely very well inebriated :) All i can say is from what i can vaguely remember is that Simon & Fon arrived & we went to some dodgey nightclub (Where Ste was constantly getting groped!). By this stage myself & Rob could barely string a sentence together. We had a fantastic night chatting about our travels & hearing all the gossip from home. Myself & Rob actually left Ste & Gemma on the first night to make their own way home (we are good friends :) ). We somehow made it back to the Shanti Lodge & found a note on our door from our fine american friends Toni & Breezy who had just arrived in Bangkok that evening. In our drunken 3am state myself & Rob ran to their room & woke them up.. It had been two weeks since we had seen them last - you would swear it had been a year! Definitely one of our best nights out. Ste, Gemma, Simon, Fon, Toni & Breezy...... CLASS!!!!

Thats Lorrraines foot in the corner....
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It was a heavy heavy day after the night before in Bangkok (just ask Gemma!) and we had still to organise getting to the islands, so being the big spenders we are we took a taxi to the airport and i got to ask for "the next flight outta here"! I'd always wanted to say that!

The four of us arrived in Ko Samui just as the sun was setting in a class airport that seemed more like a hotel then anything else! We got a taxi to one of the quieter beaches on the northern coast 'Maenam' beach and myself and Lorraine sat in a hammock on the beach with a beer each minding the bags while the other 2 went wandering through the dark to find a place for us to stay - typically we ended up staying exactly where we'd been left by the taxi! Shady shack bungalows, not all that shady though! We got a couple of bungalows beside each other right on the beach. Toni and Breezy arrived the day after us and the 6 of us ended up having a great time for the next 2 weeks.

Maenam beach
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We spent a few days on this beach doing absolutely nothing! Chilling in hammocks and swimming by day, chilling in hammocks and drinking at night. We like hammocks! We built a little fire one night on the beach (well we lit some candles) and the 6 of us sat around it with some tunes relaxing and watching fireworks going off around the island. A quick skinny dip session was called for later in the night too!

Releasing a lantern for good luck.
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The weather was really hot and sunny the whole time too so surprisingly enough the lot of us got burnt instead of tanned! After 3/4 days we decided for a change of scene and made our move to Ko Pha-ngan.

Sunset on Maenam beach Ko Samui
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It really is soooo easy to get settled in one place just like Maenam Beach.... but we wanted Gemma & Ste to see as much as possible so we decided that our next island to visit would have to be Ko Pha-Ngan. The six of us piled into a pick up truck (myself & gemma in the boot) to the ferry port. Ko Pha-Ngan is approx 1 hour away from Samui by boat and we would of course have to pick the worst day to travel. I dont think the sea could've been much choppier. The boat swayed from side to side the whole way while myself & Rob did everything in our power not to throw up. I still can't believe we made it :)It was definitely worth the journey.

It really was breathtaking as the boat made its way around the island. All the bungalows nestled in the hillsides around the white sandy beaches. I dont even think our pictures do it justice. We actually stopped at Hat Rin which for those of you who dont know is the location for the infamous full moon party - drawing 15000 plus to the one beach. We could not believe how small the beach actually was. However we had our hearts set on another little beach called 'Ao Thang Nai Pan Yoi' (quite the mouthfull) where we found the most amazing bungalow accomodation.

Bungalow in Dolphin
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Nestled in the undergrowth on the edge of a coved beach we followed the sandy pathways through the treeline to the main bar area. The bar is surrounded by wooden pagodas covered with Asian style axe cushions & decorated with ornate artwork & tapestries. Each pagoda was so finely furnished you felt like you were staying in a 5 star resort & yet we were only paying 14euro per couple.

We sat drinking cocktails while peering through the canopy of leaves out to the sea.. I think we were all taken back by the beauty of the dolphin resort.. Our little jungle paradise by the sea :) We spent 3 days in the dolphin resort basically lounging in the sea playing volleyball & hacky sack for the first time. Myself & Rob also got completely hooked on bat & ball.... 1056 was our record (Rob made me write that - i know its sad!)

View from Dolphin Pagoda
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The six of us organised a day trip on a long tail boat to some of other areas of the island & were joined by a Canadian couple who were on their honeymoon. First stop was snorkelling over some coral reefs where the poor Canadian guy actually lost his wedding ring. Good thing we had plenty of beer on board!

"We come in peace! We only want to be your friends earthlings!"
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After some serious snorkelling we were ready for our next stop which was Bottle Beach. A faboulous stretch of beach again with lovely bugalows hidden up in the hillsides. We played volleyball & had a couple of beers while Toni (bless her) went investigating about accomodation & booked us all in to a lovely resort on the beach for the next day. Smile Resort :)

Myself, Lorraine, Toni and Breezy on the day trip around Ko Pha Ngan
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We went to another beach where there is supposed to be a lovely waterfall (sorry we cant remember the name of the beach). But it actually turned out to be pretty lame - more like a stream than a waterfall. We took one group photo & were out of there.

We were all chilling out on this beach after the crap waterfall where myself and ste saw loads of kids jumping off the rocks out a bit to sea - "That looks like fun" says i, "lets do it then" says Ste, so we swim out to the rocks and start climbing. It was about this time that we realised the rocks were covered with sharp shells...very very sharp shells. We couldnt quit though, sure all the kids were doing it and we're grown men! I finally managed to pull myself up and tried to give ste a hand, but the chunky fool just pulled me back in slicing the bottom of my foot open. In the end we couldnt even get to the dive point so just swam back sheepishly (and fast cause there was a trail of blood off both of us!).

Ok so our day trip had come to an end however we were all still full of energy so we decided to hire out a couple of Kayaks & paddled our way to the beach in the next cove while singing 'Row row row your boat'... ahhhhh it had to be done ;) It was a nice way to end our day of activities & we got some great photo's on the open water.

We got a longtail boat to our new resort at bottle beach the next day where we spent our remaining time in Ko Pha Ngan. Highlights of which included seeing the locals burn a HUGE hornets nest out of the trees behind our bungalow, it fell down on top of them in a fiery blaze and i dont know how they didnt kill themselves?? They thought it was hilarious anyway! We were on bottle beach for the half moon party but didnt bother going down to Hat Rin and staged our own get together in the bar. Note to all: drinking bucketfuls of whiskey and/or vodka will affect your behaviour! Good times had by all anyway.

Our 3 bungalows at Smile resort on bottle beach.
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Ok i knew the day would eventually come when we would have to say our goodbyes to everyone & i was not looking forward to it in the slightest. We all got up early enough & enjoyed our last breakfast together as a group of 6. Toni & Breezy decided to stay on Bottle Beach for their remaining time in Thailand while myself & Rob decided to drop Gem & Ste back to Ko Samui for their flight home. We all said our goodbyes on the beach & took our last group photo.. I just remember watching our american friends strolling back up the beach as myself, Rob, Gem & Ste took the long boat to get the ferry back to Samui. It most definitely brought a tear to my eye. We spent an entire month of our trip with Toni & Breezy & we were sad to say goodbye.

The 'Goodbye' photo.
"memories...like the corners of my mind..."
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We got the ferry to Ko Samui where myself & Rob checked ourselves into a nice hotel right beside the sea & the airport. We took Ste to play Football Golf (which he had not shut up about it since he arrived :) It was great craic & it was a nice way to spend our final hours with the guys before they had to fly home to Ireland. We had our last supper as the sun set behind us & then the tears came.. thick & strong.. The realisation that i was stuck with Rob on my own again had sunk in.. ha ha im just kidding.. But it was definitely the most emotionally draining day of our trip so far (apart from the accident obviously).

The second farewell photo of the day.
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We were wrecked so decided to stay an extra night and relax and catch up on the blog (we've done a poor job seeing as we're writing this a month late!) so we started to make tracks for Krabi on the other side of the country the following day.

Another Ko Samui sunset
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Lorraine reading on our balcony in Ko Samui
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We had to get a ferry to the mainland then a bus to Surat Thani, where we wandered around for awhile back to our usual lost selves and somehow stumbled onto a bus to Krabi. It was a local bus so for a time lorraine shared her seat with an elderly Thai lady sitting on her lap! A 5 hr bus trip later and we were in Krabi town getting our taxi filled up by the most glamourous petrol attendant you'll ever see - a ladyboy obviously! Very very funny. We settled in the town of Ao nang for 2 days which is a really touristy place on the seafront but nice all the same. Our intended destination were the beaches of Railay which is only accessible by boat as the beaches are surrounded on all sides by huge limestone cliffs, so we decided to take in a longtail boat tour of the surronding small islands on the way....

The King and Queen of bat and ball on Ao Nang beach
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Our day trip took in 5 of the islands around Ao Nang on the way to Railay and it was just spectacular. Postcard perfect paradise all round. We stopped at the first island and snorkelled in the waters with huge shoals of tiger fish playing around us. It was amazing.

The 1st island with our boat behind
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Our driver/captain/pilot/boatsman?? then anchored us over some coral where there were even more intense shoals of fish all around us. The boat man threw a heap of bread on top of us in the water so we bacame an all you can eat buffet for the fish nibbling away at us! I liked it! They touched me in my special place.

We were dropped off for lunch on Chicken island and lounged around waiting for the tide to go out a bit so we could walk out over a sand bar to a connecting island....the whole thing really was amazing and the sun was blazing the whole time as well!

Boats lined up along chicken island.
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No comment required!
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To be honest we were fairly tired after our busy day island hopping so we were looking forward to being dropped off on Railay Beach. That was until we realised that the tide was out so the boat had to drop us off about 1km away from the land.. We carried our rucksacks across the slimey, rocky beach without a hitch but we were exhausted by the time we reached dry land..We stayed in lovely bungalow accomodation by the beach. Railay is absolutely stunning when the tide is in... The sea comes right up to the buildings & surrounds the trees & anything else that happens to be in its path (you'll get the idea when you see the pictures). Railay is famous for its rock climbing & its easy to see why... The whole beach is surrounded by massive limestone karsts which take over the skyline.

Sunset Railay
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We also made our way to Railay West Beach - which is undoubtabley the nicest beach i have been on. We followed the pathway underneath the cliffs with the gibbon monkeys jumping above our heads to the emerald green water & pure white sandy beach of Railay west. Wow it was soooo impressive.. We set up our Hammock & drank our beer as the waves lapped up around our feet. We were the only people on the beach with a hammock & we definitely got a couple of envious looks from passers by.

Our Hammock
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We dont need to write anymore....just look at the photos! You were warned remember!

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Lorraine in our hammock
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So our time in Thailand was coming to an end, we only had 3 weeks left so decided to cram in 3 more countries! 1st stop Singapore with a flight from Phuket......so stay tuned!

Posted by LynMoo 21:11 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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