A Travellerspoint blog

December 2009

Welcome to the Jungle

semi-overcast 25 °C

Well, now we’ve left the jungle. Here is P’s description of it: hot, humid, green, monkeys, orang-utans, frogs, mosquitos. That kind of sums it up!

On boxing day we succeeded in our mission to see an orang-utan, at the brilliant Sepilok Rainforest Discovery Centre. It’s a great site, with lots of trails, a canopy walkway and some elevated hides. We were hiding from the rain up one of these when Paul noticed some leaves rustling not far away, and our patience watching them was rewarded with our first sight of the ‘old man of the woods’. Leap.jpgHiding_from_rain.jpgThis was a little one though, and he was pretty much doing the same as us – hiding under some leaves, munching on some fruit, literally hanging around. We saw some great rare birds too – rhinosceros hornbills & bristleheads.
Bristleheads.jpg

The following day we joined Uncle Tans jungle trip and travelled on to the Kingabatagen River area and jungle where we safaried through and around the jungle on foot and by boat, not to mention sleeping in it! We’re really looking forward to a proper wash, but our nights in the jungle were great fun, surrounded by frogs, gloworms, monkeys & more. We saw more organutans, probiscus monkeys, long and pig tailed macqaques, huge monitor lizards and more.
Rhinosceros_Hornbill.jpgMangrove_Snake.jpgLong_Tailed_Macaque.jpgLanternfly.jpgHanging_Around.jpg

Posted by scurried 15:32 Comments (4)

Merry christmas!!!

Hello and Merry Christmas!!!
2.jpg1.jpg
We are in Sandakan now, and the 6 hours on the bus to get here weren't too painful this morning! Sandakan is a hip town on the NE coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. http://maps.google.com.my/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=sandakan&sll=5.420404,116.796785&sspn=3.44468,7.064209&gl=my&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Sandakan,+Sabah&t=h&z=9

We're hoping to do a little rainforest exploration tomorrow before our jungle adventure along the Kinabatagan river begins on the 27th.
We really enjoyed the diving in Sipidan/Mabul - despite having terrible luck with visibility - a big storm the night before we went out dropped visibility from 20m+ down to around 5m in places. So sadly the only Rays I have seen have been cut up on for sale in the wet market. The diving in Mabul was absolutely amazing though - so many rare and beautfiul fish - the life underwater is so colourful and spectacular, especially here. Glad to see the orangutan crabs we'd just looked at in a book - they're tiny. Hope we are lucky enough to see the mammal version too.

The people are also tremendously friendly and welcoming, despite living in challenging conditions on islands like Mabul - tightly packed stilt houses and no amenities to speak of.

We have been reflecting on the first half of our trip, missing our family and friends, and generally thinking how lucky we are.

Krismas gembira semua orang - Happy Christmas everyone!

xx

S&P

PS do comment when we post so we know we are being read!! xx

Posted by scurried 07:10 Comments (6)

Thailand Islands and beaches

[sorry this is old now] - **** see previous blog for most up to date info***

We’re back on land! We spent the last three days on a liveaboard dive boat on the Similan islands completing the PADI advanced diver course, a week after finishing the open water one on Phu Quoc island in Southern Vietnam. The Similan islands were absolutely beautiful, and we’re both glad we did it, although it did feel v much like we were ‘out of our depth’ at first. The islands are up near the Myanmar coast, so to get there from Phuket you have an early start, long coach, then over an hour in a bumpy speedboat. About 15minutes later you’re in the sea and going down. The islands are beautiful and we were spoilt underwater too – lots of sea turtles, a leopard shark, nudibranches, coral garden, boulders walls and swim-throughs.

Now we’re trying to plan our route south to Penang in Malaysia, and it looks like we can go all the way by ferries – more white sand beaches, and hopefully progressively less touristy islands. Phuket is like an asian Malaga – full of farangs (foreigners) and prices and food just like home.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been away for three and a half months. We both really miss family and friends now, We’ve met some great people along the way, but it’s not the same. It’s so nice to hear news from back home – please write to us lots!

As I never get time to finish writing a proper account of what we’ve been doing, here’s a speed update to hopefully fill in some blanks.

Chaing Mai finished massage school, did a day hilltribe tour – better than anticipated... Many ‘new’ hilltribes refugee from Burma. Overnight bus back to Bangkok – worse than I anticipated. Feeling older and not so good at overnight buses any more. Sleeper train up was more fun!
Did some Wat hopping then took early bus to Siem Reap. Up early to make the most of highly anticipated Angkor Wat, cycled around the ruins for ten hours. Sore bum cycling back in the dark (with our headtorches on to keep stray motorbikes away!).

Bussed on Phnom Penh & found the most cheap (& horrid) accommodation yet – followed LP advice to stay in backpacker area/ghetto at lakeside before it’s razed. At $3 with internet access and a lake view we did well! Spent a great morning lounging with sister-in-law Gayle’s best friend Georgie, who is packing up now to move back to the UK after 5 yrs away. Really nice to stop, relax, and enjoy a home made cheese sandwich!
Bussed on to Kep on the South coast near the border with Vietnam. Beautiful unspoilt little place with great restaurants by the crab market, a little beach and a very relaxed vibe. Enjoyed cycling around to see the local sights, admiring some incredible villas abandoned during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, swinging in the hammock & also exploring nearby Kampot old colonial town, and limestone caves. Arranged onward travel to Vietnam through a local agent and set off in trepidation for our journey to Phu Quoc.
After a dusty bumpy journey to the border and on to the port town of Ha Tien we were delivered to a ferry office and told that the ferry was at 8am not 1pm, then we were told that the ferry was broken. We were taken to another office, where they had a ferry at 1pm, but there was no reservation made for us and the ferry was full.

Everyone but us thought it would be a great idea to stay in Ha Tien overnight and take the ferry the next day. We thought that it would be a great idea to travel as we planned so we could start our dive course the next day. After some fraught conversations and calls back to our travel agent we were no closer to a solution. They’d said we’d be able to take a taxi to the next port town along, then they tried to leave us on a bus which we knew would arrive after that ferry’s departure time. Eventually they deposited us and our bags at the ferry office we’d first arrived at, with the fare and no definite outcome. The staff spoke no English. and, no French. After hanging around and looking very upset for more than an hour some sympathy was roused and they allocated us some ‘seats’ on the ‘full’ ferry. Both of us in seat 00 – actually a tiny plastic stool. Then they found some more sympathy and allocated us real seats. Hooray! Not so great a journey in the end, although the hydrofoil was definitely more modern and safe than the slow ferry, which we’d heard was barely seaworthy, it was what you could call a bijou boat. Our allocated seats were of SE Asian not Western proportions, and unfortunately the lady sat next to us was not of Asian proportions either. And she elbowed and shouted a lot. I glowered at her with all my might after she poured water down my leg and laughed. Paul then laughed inwardly as I fell as sleep with my head practically on her shoulder.
Finally the ferry arrived at the island, and we transferred to the main town - Duong Dong. It’s a beautiful island, which sadly they intend to turn into the next Phuket. We travelled the hard way though!

Posted by scurried 07:45 Comments (0)

Beautiful Ko Lanta

land of the Swedes.

sunny 37 °C

We are making our way southward along Thailand’s beautiful Andaman coast islands, and finding it a mix of strange and wonderful. Much of what we have seen has been geared towards those on a two week winter sun break, be it from the UK (Phuket & Ko Phi Phi) or Sweden (here)!
After deliberation we chose to explore over-ground not under water, and underground (modern-day womble wannabes that we are). And we think we made the right choice. Since finishing our open water PADI course it has felt like we should be ploughing our budget and bodies underseas. So glad today that we did not. Thankfully got advice from a dive shop yesterday to hold out for the Sipidans in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Happy to chill out, relax, and enjoy beautiful beaches. V unspoilt, low count of Scandinavian or other bodies!!!

Posted by scurried 07:30 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

We love diving

sunny 32 °C

And now we have completed our advanced divers certification at an amazing dive site - the Similan Islands. The 3 days and 2 nights on a liveaboard trip was a full-on dive experience. The daily routine was sleep, dive, eat, dive, swim to the beach, dive, sunbathe, night dive, eat, sleep, dive, eat, dive etc etc. You get the idea.

Posted by scurried 18:53 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Woo Haa we're certified...

divers

semi-overcast 32 °C
View small jaunt on scurried's travel map.

P and I just finished our Open Water PADI here on Phu Quoc, Vietnam, nr Cambodia. Most chuffed!

Posted by scurried 08:05 Archived in Vietnam Comments (3)

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