A Travellerspoint blog

Sandakan Borneo

Australian war memorial, Sepilok Orangutang Sanctuary,

overcast 26 °C

Sandakan

Another smooth flight which is always rewarding, no one sat behind us dragging on our head rest and no one infront leaning right back onto our laps.

When the stewards do the emergency run through, which we've seen far too many times now, they should give advice on flying etiquette........................

"Please do not grab the persons seat in front of you as they may be holding a hot drink.

Please do not kick the seat in front, it is extremely annoying.

Please do not lie back into the person behind you whilst they are trying to eat, remember their tray is on the back of your seat.

If you need to sneeze/cough/ burp please be seated with your hand over your mouth not stood up leaning over the person infront.
Please also be aware that your arm rest is to the left of you so do not elbow your way to claim space which isn't yours.

Most of all please be aware that as interesting you may feel your conversation is ......not everyone wants to hear it, so be quiet.

Should you wish to play on your games console ie Angry Birds, please turn the volume off or else there will be more angry birds on the plane aside your game.

Please do not play your tasteless music aloud not everyone appreciates 80's songs in fact you might be the only person.

Lastly, please do not stand in the aisle like an idiot when everyone else wants to get off.

Thank you for listening. Anyone that ignores this information will be banned from all future flights and immediately ejected via the emergency exit on the left."

I would enjoy every flight then.

Sandakan is a fair sized city with plenty of shops and restaurants. It seemed a bit dodgy to me as there were people sat randomly outside our hotel and there was permanently a porter at the door unlocking it for guests so no locals could get in. We went to a travel agent to book a trip and it was the same, you had to ring the bell outside before they pressed a buzzer to let you in. It was the first time in Malaysia that we have seen people sleeping rough. There were kids on street corners selling cigarettes, local lads shouting "beautiful....I love you.....hello where are you from?" Obviously to Chloe! One evening I saw a group of seven kids aged from 4-6 just wandering around the streets. Nothing happened to us but I got the feeling that it wasn't a safe place to be.

We took a bus to the war memorial which commemorates the 2200 oz and UK soldiers captured by the Japanese in WW2. They suffered horrendous treatment and only 6 of them survived...because they managed to escape. The locals tried to help as much as they could but if the Japanese found out they executed them. It's another sad truth of history that wasn't that long ago that I didn't even know about. There's more too....21,037 killed in Mandor, Kalimantan in Indonesia by the Japanese during their 3 year occupation...another killing field. Seeing the memorials and reading what the men, women and children went through makes me wonder how anyone can do this to another person....war or no war.

We visited Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary which was a cheap bus ride of 5 ringgit....about a quid....taxi wanted 30 ringgit. It's out in the jungle and we sat on the large decked viewing platform waiting for them to come out. Soon enough we saw them and it was great, have to say Monkey World is better, but these at Sepilok are in their natural environment. After about ten minutes Chloe said "Ouch!!! I've been stung or bitten." I looked at her and her face was pale and beads of sweat appearing all over her face. After a minute she felt sick so we decided to leave, after standing she lost her vision and nearly collapsed but managed to hold onto me as I sat her down and got help. Staff came over and were really helpful, taking us to the air con office and giving water. Still don't know what it was but Chloe said it was painful and it looked it to.

We also managed to blow the electrics in our room after the first night so we got upgraded, the third night the electrics went, not my fault this time, and yes upgraded again. In three nights, three different rooms!

We thought we deserved abit of flash packing but didn't expect having to use our torch to get around the room!

We've been living on veg and rice or egg and rice. Tea tarik which is tea but instead of milk you have carnation milk....don't knock it til you've tried it! It's lovely!!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 10:14 Archived in Malaysia Tagged sandakan flights war journey monkies world_trip back_packing orangutang insect_bite chloe_bailey flash_packing flight_etiquette sandankan_war_memorial mother_daughter_blog sepilok_orangutan_sanctuary teh_tarik Comments (1)

The Full Moon Party Koh Phangnan

Pink Buckets and Neon Paint = no sleep

rain 28 °C

There is so much hype about this party and yes we have been to it before but being on our last leg of our trip Chloe wanted to go one more time to party it out.

We thought it would also be a good opportunity to grab some rays to top the tan up, actually to get a tan as we hadn't been beaching it for some time now.  Unfortunately, it rained the entire time we were there, being rainy season of course it did.  But it's still hot and if you go at the right time you can get an amazing tan on one of the many beautiful beaches. It's not all about the Full Moon there is a lot to see on the island....it really is lovely.

We made our way from Langkawi taking the ferry to Satun apx 23 ringgit, a taxi to the bus station apx 20baht, a bus to Surit Thani (5hrs) 123 baht, another taxi to the ferry 20 baht and finally the night ferry to Koh Phagnan 400 baht.  Far cheaper than going via an organised tour, ours cost about 16 quid each, the tour would have been 40 quid.  On the overnight ferry is a long line of foam mattresses pushed together as beds with your allocated number on, believe me it's very cozy...you could be sleeping next to anyone!  Not really my thing but it had to be done and I knew I wouldn't be getting any sleep so it didn't matter too much.    We spoke to a few people who were literally weeks into their trip which made me feel sooo envious.....because I knew what was ahead of them.....ahead off me.....9 days before we went home.

When we got in it started to pour down with rain and it was 6am, we hadn't booked anywhere and everywhere was shut.   Rushing through the rain we bumbed into two guys from Switzerland making their way back from a party, there's a party every night in this place.  They kindly invited to 'house' us until everything opened  but we decided to get some food instead of sleep so thanked them and ventured into the rain again.  We made our way to Mama Schnitzels....a restaurant open 24 hrs that has a menu like a book....Gordon Ramsey would have a fit if he saw the amount of dishes each restaurant offers in this place....seriously what ever you want they have it.....even during power cuts, they just flick on the generator and kitchen is open.  We struggled finishing our food because of the large portions and made our way to Haad Rin bungalows which have good rooms near to the beach at decent prices, we opted for tv and air con which was abit more but a blessing later in the stay!  1200 baht but you can get a fan room for 400.  To get this place go to the 7/11 on the corner opposite the clinic and pharmacy.....it's very central.

"Open at 10" one local told us and invited us into his bar, we had to go in because of the rain.  Our rucksacks were wet through and later the smell of our clothes.....awful....the joys of back packing!  Inside the bar were left overs from the night before....one guy asleep on a ledge and another sprawled across aload of cushions!

At about 8am we got our room and went to sleep...bliss.  The evening was to go to the beach bar Cactus which is where everyone goes, we bumbed into the Swiss guys again so it was nice to talk to someone.  Infact, I ended up spending a few evenings with them until they left, very good company so thank you guys, especially Patrick.

Now back to the full moon....practically everyone wears neon stuff, tops, shorts, paint, jewellery etc you name it, it can be painted on you in neon colours.  You've got to be careful not to get it on the bedding or else they will fine you!    I painted flowers down Chloe's arm and I was lazy so just puts pink dots on my legs....simple.    The streets are full of venders selling all sorts of food which can be out on their stall for hours.....and hours.  The party is much the same as the other nights except on the full moon .....it is packed!!!  People come over from the other islands especially.  

There is a lot of talk about drugs, fights and even deaths, luckily we didn't see anything like this....considering the amount of people there its controlled well....by the people there....this time I didn't see any police.  A guy staying near us was hit in the face and needed stitches to his cheek....he had a huge black eye!

The thing to buy are buckets....like a bucket you would make a sandcastle from, they are filled with vodka or whiskey and topped us with coke, lychee, sprite etc  all for 150 baht (3quid)  all you see around is people wearing neon and carrying pink buckets.

Being as busy as it was I lost Chloe and so I stayed in one spot .....as discussed....but she never came back for me (ummmmm) ....as unbeknown to me she was at the medical centre helping the guy get his cheek stitched up.  So I ended up chatting to a stall vender who made jewellery, very interesting but I did wonder if he was mistaking my 'chat' for 'interest' so when he asked if I wanted to go to the party with him....I lied.....yes....I told him I was tired.  My plan was to go back to my room, wait abit, then go out, but he insisted on walking me back to my room, so I was quite relieved to see Patrick knocking on our door when I got there.

So I did the best thing and went off to the party with Patrick and found Chloe.  It was a crazy evening as we decided to go sit on our porch instead of going to the after party, which starts at about 6 am.  In the end everyone left and it was me....wide awake and Chloe sound asleep.  Later I was woken to moaning.....Chloe....in pain...unfortunately she had a slice of pizza from one of the stalls and now she was paying for it, she was so sick and had stomach cramps for the following two days/nights which meant I was stuck in the room being nurse, which is where the TV came into play.  Not what either of us had in mind.

We had to stay an extra day because she was ill, I went to the chemist and they told me many had been in for the same meds....clearly the street food at 3/4/5/6 am....which is put out at 7pm.  So a revisit to Koh Tao was cancelled and now we were making our way to Bangkok for the grand finalle which is going to be grand ....as we are going to stay in a 5 star hotel by the river just for some plush.  But first we have to do an overnight train and a ferry.......I'm thinking we will look like riff raff going into the lovely hotel....it's times like this I wish I had my heels, perfume, hair dryer, clothes.......my stuff, but there's going to be plenty of time for that in a few days time......yikes.....where has the time gone?

Tips for the full moon:  don't wear anything you really like...it'll get ruined by the paint.

Watch your money.... 1000 baht looks like 100 baht in the dark

Careful with the buckets, they are quite strong

Look upto the sky, when we were there there was a perfect ring around the moon....never seen anything like it.

Don't swim in the sea at the party....it's more wee than sea!

Have fun!

Heres a link to the ferry times to help with transfers to Koh Tao, Surit Thani and Koh Samui

http://www.koh-phangan.tv/ferry/kohphanganferrytimetables.html

Posted by Vicky Bailey 17:46 Archived in Thailand Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beach travel ferry langkawi journey mother_daughter blog buckets world_trip full_moon_party surit_thani chloe_bailey Comments (0)

Perfect Pai

Pai

It took days to get here from Labuan Bajo which included a boat trip, 2 flights, 3 days on a train and an afternoon in a minibus. After all this I was seriously hoping Pai would live up to the hype.

The minibus ride from Chiang Mai is something else, sat bolt upright for 3.5hrs cause the chairs don't reclined you are shoved left to right as the 'grand prix' wannabee driver spins the bus around hundreds of bends. But for £3 ....who's complaining!

We arrived and there's an unspoken relaxed atmosphere here, you feel it immediately! We started the room search and there was accommodation opposite the bus station for 100 bht, that's £2 per room....seriously! Unfortunately looking at the padded bed it was clear if I slept on that I would be disabled the following day, so the hunt continued. We ended up in the centre with hot water ensuite and twin beds with excellent wifi....£6pn.

The awesome thing about Pai, for us, is the food. You would not believe the culinary delights on offer here not only in the cafe/ restaurants but also on the streets. In the streets after sunset the stall holders set up, some have microwaves, blenders, waffle makers, bbqs...all sorts of stuff and its all cheap! My favourite are the lassee and smoothie stall....banana and mango lassee for £1. Then there's the burritos stall....vegetarian too.....£1.20 not yet tried the grilled banana and omelette stall.....oh and there's s baked potato and grilled mushroom stall. Ummmmmm! The food here is to die for....having spent 5 weeks starving in Indonesia....this is a vegetarians heaven!

We hired a scooter to look around and visit a few of the many waterfalls. Pai is surrounded by huge rolling green mountainous terrain which against the bluest of skies, with a touch of white fluffy cloud here and there, it all looks so idealic and postcardy.....its breathtaking.

The night life is pretty good too, not crazy techno blab everywhere but a more relaxed vibe where you can sit around an open fire and talk or put the world to right. It's all about relaxing here!

We met the most tempermental or maybe mental girl, who was actually a boy. Her name is Sarah and apparently she runs a guesthouse. She can be really nice and then turn into an aggressive monster in a nano second, you really have to be careful around her. I witnessed her flirting around a guy playing pool and the suddenly she threw the cue down and was shouting " we're supposed to be a team" I think he took her shot. Later we were waiting to play pool and she went mad again telling me she was going to punch the girl playing...."no you're not....that's my daughter" I told her. "Ok..I hit you then!" Needless to say she didn't hit anyone, she likes to throw a tantrum.

Another lovely thing about Pai are the dogs that roam around from big shaggy benjies to a dalmation. They are soo cute and are always checking out what you've bought from the stalls hoping for abit.

We walked upto Darling guesthouse to watch the sunset and were followed by ten dogs, turned out one was female and must have been in season cause the rest were males and wouldn't leave her alone. Later she was rescued by a guy on a bike, she just jumped onto the scooter.

So Pai thank you for a great time and please don't open any chains like MacDOnald's, Starbucks, pizza hut etc.it will ruin your beautiful town.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 04:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged waterfalls mountains food travel green scenery scooters community pai journey mother_daughter blog world_trip chaing_mai chloe_bailey dalmation_dog Comments (0)

Gilli Trawangan

Gilli T the party island

overcast 31 °C

Gilli T

We left Lombok by taking the fast boat which appeared much safer than the over loaded slow boat, the bonus for us was being able to get a room before the others.

It was boiling hot carrying our bags so the breeze and splashing of the waves were welcome. We were looking forward to Gilli Islands as we were quite bored in 'quiet Lombok'.

As soon as we stepped into the main street we were approached by young lads "looking for room? I have....good price." We were dragged around the place being shown room after room. We told them we wanted aircon, but still they showed us fan rooms one after the other. I was getting annoyed, I get fed up of getting pestered, I know what we are looking for and yet despite the promises of "yes we have aircon" we get there and suprise suprise there is none! In the end I politely tell them we will find our own room. Which we did and it was perfect ....big bathroom albeit with crazy magic eye tiles, large flatscreen tv and a dvd player plus aircon all for about £12 pn.

Now Gilli T is the party island so at night it comes into its own. There isn't much to do aside swim, scuba and party. Soo many people....mostly drunk but again.....no fights or problems like there is in the UK. Could be the type of people that travel? I'm not sure but it makes you think.

As females, not sure if the guys had this, but you can't walk ANYWHERE without the local lads shouting at you "Hey beautiful hair" "I love you" "Hey sexy" I could go on and on....all directed at Chloe of course....I got "mama hello" It got really tiresome after a day plus the rest of Indonesia. Having spent time in Thailand and Malaysia we've found the Indonesian lads to be very forward, suggestive and too pervy....they've definitely got some front, far too much!

The guy running our room was a character, he was about 5'2 and as skinny as a rake constantly telling us how many hours sleep he had "I sleep 1 hr last night, I work too much, I have no money." I found this hard to believe as he had a shop which was UK prices plus he always had enough for beer and fags!

We went to a bar one night and we spotted a local old guy who was a miniature version of Morgan Freeman, he followed us around like a body guard getting rid of any overkeen local lads. Unfortunately and shockingly he ended up going up to Chloe and licking her face followed by exposing himself. I went nuts (so to speak) and sent him packing.....seriously what is wrong with these guys!

We were in the street food market and two guys from Peru came and asked where we were from...UK we told them, "where in the UK?"

"oh a small town very south" we replied
"Nr Southampton?" They asked."Weymouth?"

Can you believe that....they were part of the Olympic Sailing Team and knew all about our Town! They invited us to go to an open night in a new bar so we tagged along.

Funny night it was because I then spotted Chloe chatting to a guy, I went over and after explaining I was her mother, always an interesting response, the guy...Mark... had an odd look on his face. "Do you write a blog?" He asked me. Turns out he read one of our blogs after trying to find a route in Malaysia. That was a first for us, so we aptly named him Bloggers! We met his friend James too, both legends. We had a great evening, mainly watching Mark who fell asleep at the bar....then fell asleep at the restaurant ha ha ha.

I had a heated debate with a guy called Teddy, who repeatedly told us he had been in Gilli for 4 months. In the end he refused to speak to me! Completely blanking me. So what was the debate ....compressed air being used as fuel.....his view was that it would be free, my view was it could never be free as there would be compression stations etc where you would have to buy the 'free air' bla bla bla....... Anyways....the night turned to day so quick! Cheers for a great night guys....including you Teddy....jerk....if you can't take the heat don't debate!

We took cycles out to tour the island which is a half possibility as the other half of the island path is sand. Ever cycled in sand? It's impossible!

We rented masks and snorkles but were disappointed in the marine life....scarce....in comparison to Perhentians, Tioman and Borneo.

I went on a protest in Gilli as the entire street is full of bars/restaurants.....90% of which will charge an additional between 10 to 21% of the bill in Government tax. The other 10% not including the street market don't charge a penny. I asked about it and no one could give me an explanation. How can one place charge 10% and another charge 21%? It makes a difference to the bill! We went to eat at Scallywags, which is highly recommended with a 21% tax charge and one of the most expensive places to eat. We wanted an egg roll...simple yeah? They had sausage, chicken and egg but would not make us an egg roll. What? I said just leave out the meat and bring the egg....."Sorry can not the chef say no." So we left after trying to get them to understand for 15 minutes....classic case of computer says no!

We had a great time on Gilli T the time flew and we met some great people. Also a hello to Bonny who despite telling us they had work early the nxt day.....stayed out till gone 5am.....ha ha ha!

Our next route was to be a huge mistake.....Labuan Bajo.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 03:19 Archived in Indonesia Tagged travel restaurants ferry lombok journey mother_daughter blog world_trip slow_boat gilli labuan_bajo chloe_bailey gilli_t government_tax snorkles island_trip Comments (0)

Gilli Trawangan to Labuan Bajo

Don't take the boat....fly instead!

semi-overcast 32 °C

Gilli T to Labuan Bajo......For the brave!

I decided to dedicate a blog specifically to this trip as it has to be the worst trip we have taken in all of our travelling and people should know which way to get there. Boat or fly? If you are hard core and want to take the boat then read on.

We had 3 weeks left in Indonesia and were torn where to go so after flicking through the Lonely Planet and trawling the Internet I decided to take one of the advertised trips on Gilli T to Labuan Bajo in Flores.  It looked great from the Internet photos and ideal for snorkelling and diving.  The trip was for 400,000 each apx £ 24 each.  This is the one we went for and here is how it went.....

Day 1
0815 told to be at the pier for the boat, which we were, however what they meant was the beach further down away from the pier, luckily at 0813 someone came and told us!  We got checked in at the ticket office, this made me wonder if it's cheaper to buy your tickets there....check it, it's on the beach.

The boat is the same  slow boat to Bangsal Lombok but is crammed full of people, luckily the waves weren't too bad but still the boat was tipping quite far to the left (our side).  This took about an hour and we got off to shouts of "TICKETS"  I was relieved we didn't have to go through the bartering process again.....WRONG.....I showed our ticket "Yes, yes come with me"  I looked around for our bus....but it wasn't there.  

Scam....there're horse and carts that want to take you to the bus, which is in a car park about an easy 10 minute walk up the road.  This guy was not from the tour company but was a cart taxi wanting 50,000.  Chloe was feeling the weight of her bag and didn't want to walk so I told him I only had 20,000 take it or leave it....he took it and after 3 minutes at the most we got there, then had to wait.

1030am    The mini bus came to get us after was had waited about 40 minutes.  It was a comfy ride through Lombok to Sengiggi dropping others off and were then taken to Mataram arriving at about 1130 by the side of a road and shops.  We were told we were to wait for another bus which would take us to the bus station by a guy who said he was the owner of the company.  He asked us for our tickets....which were taken by the first driver....luckily he gave us more and told us not to give them to anyone else and not to give anyone else any money for the journey even if they insist....bloody scammers. He also told us there was no other way back but through his company....rubbish again.

1150  Mini bus took us to the bus station which was 10 minutes away.  We were told we had to wait til 1500 til we left and how unusual it was to have tourists in the bus station.  This soon became apparent as we were surrounded by men and young teenage lads.....3 hours of this!  They got the guitar out and had a sing song. I asked why so many men just sat around a the bus station, were they waiting for a bus? Yes and no....they are not going anywhere they wait for the bus so they can get on to sell stuff and to sing for money.....that's their daily income. We told them we wanted to go to the market and guess what....they came too insisting we buy all sorts of things, which we didn't.

1500hrs bus came and we got on.....again bombarded by guys asking for money and food, names, where were we going etc.  one guy who must have been about 60 took an uneasy liking to Chloe and when I eventually told him to leave her alone he told me I was ugly....ha ha....he continued for the entire journey, he was a right pain in the arse.

We were told the bus was air con with a toilet, but within half an hour they had made god knows how many stops picking up sacks of rice, boxes with live birds in etc all stacked neatly against the toilet door.  This stuff didn't move the entire journey....so no toilet.....on this VIP bus...

1800hrs we took the ferry from Labuhan to Poto Tano Subawa.   This was about a 2 hour trip.  We were told we would stop at 2200 for food which we did, however, I wish we hadn't!

2200hrs  food stop....rice and veg in a watery soup......remember this.

2230hrs Back on the road with the pain in the arse old guy still going on and on....he did this til 0300 so we didn't sleep, he kept shinning his torch in our eyes...."awake Misses?" even the French guy sat next to him told him where to go!

Day 2
0300 to 0500hrs sat waiting in a car park in a small and very uncomfortable bus......with lots of local lads....they asked us for money for the trip and we had to insist again we were not paying as the ticket was included and eventually they said ok.

0500 to 0700hrs same small crammed full local bus to dock at Sape.  Sape fields were amazing!  We got off the bus and were waved over to walk toward the ferry.  The ferry left at 0800 so we decided to get on early....this was a good idea.

0800hrs rented a mat to lie on, another a good idea, for 20,000  .......the ferry was a nightmare!  This is when the cafe meal from the night before came into force.....major stomach cramps....both of us for the entire trip.  We tried to sleep but it's difficult to explain this ferry.   Imagine 20 mats next to each other side by side and head to head...people picking up your drink and helping themselves, people sitting on your feet whilst you try and sleep, cockrals crowing, people coughing over you etc.

1830hrs Finally arrived!

So there you have it...thats travelling for you, don't go with Surabaya Indah!

Option two is to fly for £50 apx.....all done within a few hours.

Unfortunately, due to the sickness we were stuck in our accommodation for two weeks and the sickness lasted three weeks. We were too scared to go to the local hospital so kept hydrated with electrolites and the NHS website.

 

Posted by Vicky Bailey 05:47 Archived in Indonesia Tagged travel ferry mother_daughter blog gilli_trawangan world_trip sickness chloe_bailey labua_bajo electorlites surabaya_indahl how_to_get_to_labuan_bajo Comments (0)

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