Monday, 8 April 2013

That time when 'Arry was 'ere!!

Wow! So we haven't written a blog in a long time. 4 weeks to be precise! In that time, we have been lucky enough to frequent KL, Langkawi, Phuket, Bangkok, Chaing Mai, Huay Xai, and now we are on a 2 day slow boat down the Mekong River into the heart of Laos!!

For the first two weeks, between KL and Bangkok we had a guest appearance from Emma's brother Harry, here on a pitstop tour of Malaysia and Thailand in his Easter break!

Kuala Lumpur:

First stop, the great Kuala Lumpur. Emma and I had been saving the main sights for when Harry arrived, so we were all eager to visit the Petronas Twin Towers, along with the Menara Tower which afforded a great view of the city 276 metres below. There were giant telescopes, which were scarily good! I could see a guy having tea with 2 others, on an iPad, on Facebook!! (How anti social). The highlight of the evening was in part a result of amazing market food, and in part a result of Harrys response to us discussing the Tofu in our soup. Harry: "Isn't Tofu a place??". Emma and Alec: "bahaha...Corfu maybe?"

The next day, we travelled 13km north out of the city to the Batu Caves. This was a very photogenic system of three caves, at the top of a quad burning flight of stairs. There were monkeys aplenty, and a giant 43m Murga statue. The highest in the world!

The highlight of these vibrant South East Asian cities is surely the amazing street food, and the absolutely no nonsense taxi/scooter driving. They really do have an imaginary third lane!

But, if you can't beat them join them as we were about to find out in our next stop Langkawi!


Langkawi is a duty free island 30km off of the west coast of peninsula Malaysia. At over 450 sq. km it is the largest island in an archipelago of 99 islands. Getting here meant a long bus from KL to Kuala Perlis and then a casual 1 hour boat.

Setting the standard early, we hired three 125cc scooters for our time there for optimum exploration!! After a rudimentary pep talk from the shop owner which involved a lot of flailing arms and thumbs up we were away!

It turns out there is much more to Langkawi than just duty-free alcohol. We basically did a 3 day scooter tour taking in the main waterfalls, beaches and tracks. The enjoyment of just riding around exploring with no real aim is not to be underestimated and we spent hours doing just this!

The beaches here were all but deserted, which was really relaxing! The water was warm like having a bath, and the sand white!

In the evenings we did, of course, make the most of the duty free status of the island, especially after beers had been pretty expensive in the rest of Malaysia, and Singapore!


After an extended stay in Langkawi, our last Malaysian stop over, we swapped our Ringgit for Baht, Malay for Thai, and headed for the Thai border via the sea. Our next stop was Phuket, the largest Thai island. If we could have gone straight there by boat we would have! Sadly, you can only get these silly visa things from certain places!!

Hours, and hours, and hours, later, squashed up to the window by a sweaty, 'seasonally' plump, pungent Ozzie, we arrived!

Our accommodation in Phuket was in the heart of the 'entertainment' area of town, Patong Beach. Lady boys, ping pong shows and preying middle age westerners were the order of the day here! Not exactly the Thai cultural experience we were expecting, but an eye opener nonetheless...

Our hostel manager had an uncanny resemblance to Mr Chow! (From 'The Hangover'). The way he walked, the way he talked had "we had a sick night bit**es" all over it. Hilarious! At the time, we assumed he was aware of who he reminded everyone of, but in hindsight, maybe he wondered why everyone laughed at everything he said!

Despite its overwhelming seedy side, we had a lot of fun in Phuket.

Harry and Emma had given me a good account of what to expect of the Tuc Tucs from their previous experiences. So, we were all surprised to see the modernised ones here. Don't worry, they still take you wherever THEY want, and charge too much though!

In between beaching, and touring all of the happy hours along the coast, we (Emma) thought it prudent to have a pedicure! Why not...

With all of our feet sorted, and a free Aloe Vera rub down for Harry and I, we decided to get our hair done as well!

Emma had her hair braided, Harry and I had a short back and sides. Well, Harry got a bit more than he bargained for... Not my place to say :D hahahaha.

Phuket was a good initiation for Bangkok to come...


Having been spoilt with beach after beach in last couple of weeks, we shot off to the buzzing metropolis of Bangkok.

Bangkok punches an equal weight as London, in terms of both population and square metre-age! That is about where the similarities end though...

As we experienced...

Bangkok has so many methods of transport. Some worth trying, some not! Hopping on the back of a taxi-motorbike is a personal favourite. This is definitely the fastest mode, weaving in an out of traffic at speed, paying complete disregard to all traffic rules and lights! Loved it! And somehow all three of us managed to turn up at our destination at the same time..

Next, tuk tuk. Once you have bartered and bartered and bartered, these can be affordable and certainly exciting as well! However, almost always the drivers are borderline blind and have no clue where they are going. Pros and cons...

Metered taxi, cheapest, air con, but boring and nightmares in traffic!

Bus, absolute no go if you want to get somewhere, ever!

Finally the metro. Fixed prices are a bonus, but like KL, the stops never really seem to be near anywhere!

Our first main excursion was to the stomach churning Forensic Science Museum! If you want to see photos, see Emma, as Harry and I have erased all photos from any hardware and long term memory! Highlights, if you can call them that, were preserved Siamese Twins and two headed babies etc. I would explain more but I'm eating!

China town was awesome. We ate here several times. Some of the seating was literally in the road, and cars were swerving around us!

Koh San Road was party sentral! We didn't take part in the western unpleasantries and opted for a Thai Massage instead.

On maybe the second day, we partook in the Silom Thai ookery class. This was such a great day, not only because we widened our culinary expertise, but we also ate everything that we made!! First we went to the local market and purchased all of the necessary ingredients, then we created Pad Thai (Yes!!), green curry, Tom yam soup, spicy salad and a banana coconut desert!

On maybe our third day, we visited the largest market in Bangkok. After a dehydrated yomp around 37 square acres, we weren't disputing that... Everything was available here from books, to dogs, to clothes, to antiques, to plants!

As a last hoorah before Harry left we treated ourselves to a cocktail or two on the Blue Sky Roof Bar. Getting there was an ordeal and a half, involving a tuk tuk through an underground car park. Don't ask! Once there, the views of Bangkok below we're awesome. A great way for Harry to leave for England, and us to leave for Chaing Mai!