A Travellerspoint blog

Tioman Island

ABC Resort, Salang, Tekek

sunny 33 °C

Imagine falling asleep to the croaking sounds of frogs, tuneful crickets, the distant whoop of monkeys, the chirping of geckos that scuttle around after the pesky mosquitos and the far sound of reggae music from the beach bar with the odd flash of lightening coming through the humid chalet window........welcome to Tioman.

During the day this place can't get any more chilled out, its got to be the most relaxing place in the world.

We first arrived in ABC given that it was described as the backpackers place we thought that it would all be happening here but we couldn't have been further from the truth. It was like a ghost resort. There was hardly anybody there even though the majority of chalets were fully booked who knows where everybody was. It was coming upto Ramandan which meant alot of places were closed. There was a bar that was open in the evening called Happy Bar and yes everyone was happy there, it was a lovely place to watch the sun set over the sea. One day we took a trek through the jungle path toward Monkey Beach which is a secluded golden beach .....no accommodation....you can only get there by boat or the jungle trek. As we marched through the jungle in our flip flops.....not recommended.....making hiking sticks out of broken branches we got to see monkeys jumping through the trees and even saw a green grass whip snake that was coiled up in the air ready to strike an unexpected gecko. There are 25 different species of snakes here but we only saw one, there is a black cobra and king cobra....so just as well we didn't see them! You could hear the monitor lizards slowly moving through the leaves but they kept away. After a long trek we took a welcomed dip in the sea at Monkey Beach, the shore was awash with broken coral and Chloe managed to cut her foot which isn't a great thing to do when you have to hike back!

We hired bikes one day and cycled to Tekek which is the main town.....but don't be thinking of a town in UK it was very basic but is the only place on the island with an ATM. Again there wasn't much to do even though there is a small marina, we just cycled around and headed back to ABC. I would say the best thing in Tekek is at apx 4pm you can hear loud screams like a baby crying and if you look upto the trees you will see hundreds of Flying Fox Bats that are huge hanging down from the trees, we watched them for ages and could have stayed longer, they are amazing!

All in all I wouldn't recommend ABC I found it very boring and didn't enjoy it at and was glad to leave....and forget about the place.

We headed to Salang on the ferry and as we arrived at the jetty already the mood was lifted where you could see that there was actually life on the island. What a contrast! We easily found accommodation at a good price and saw various different restaurants and shops. It was such a relief!

We stayed in Pusaka Salang Resort and I would thoroughly recommend it, the restaurant there is amazing with a BBQ every night with any fish you can think of, they even cater a BBQ for veggies which was delish.....peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic potatoes, corguettes, egg plant......I could go on and on. The best part of this place is the staff - they were fantastic....we were made to feel so welcome by them and got to be good friends by the end of our trip so Zaid.....you cheeky monkey, thank you for your banter and smiles, Joey ...... thank you for looking after us, Anjay .....thank you for the fun and for changing our tickets ha ha, Raheem.......thank you for all your laughter and fun, Big Banana thank you for making us laugh with your big banana shorts! We were only supposed to stay a few nights but ended up staying a lot longer. We had such a great time with you guys and hope we will see you again!

We went snorkeling one day and were lucky enough to see 2 black tip sharks, yes sharks. They are so called for the black tip on their fin and the rest of them are similar to the colour of the sea so they can be difficult to spot, we went out with a guide so we could get a better chance of seeing one. They are quite big about 5ft to 6ft and have the distinctive shark face so it was a bit scary but they didn't come anywhere near us luckily. The guide told me they were vegetarian....which was rubbish but had I known this before we saw it I probably wouldn't have gone shark hunting! We also got to see turtles, sting ray, needle fish, jelly fish, parrot fish and massive schools of various fish. It was amazing with clear waters and the beautiful corals of purples, lilacs, pinks and electric blue.

We had the benefit of seeing the huge monitor lizards swimming up and down the river, giant black squirrels and Chloe said she saw a bush tailed porcupine!

We only bumped into two English people there...two girls from Brighton.....and to be honest I wished we hadn't....they were awful....very obnoxious and rude toward the local people. They were telling me about their trip and funnily enough how they had encountered problems from local people where ever they went......not suprised.

We eventually left Tioman having changed our plans, and tickets a few times but would like to thank everyone there that makes the Island what it is......especially Salang residents.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 23:03 Archived in Malaysia Tagged tioman tekek travel journey mother_daughter blog abc world_trip back_packing salang chloe_bailey flash_packing Comments (0)

Perhentian Island

Panorama Chalets, Monkey Bar

sunny 33 °C

We had heard marvellous tales of this Island "it's a must", "so beautiful" etc. It leaves a mental note to ensure you go there at some point and being on the west side of Malaysia it would be foolish not to take the 7 ish hour bus journey and 1/2 hr boat trip there. Ok so if we were at home that would be like saying " we're just popping upto Scotland for a few days." You can't go anywhere here without some lengthy bus ride but it's always worth it.

It sounded easy and to be fair it was pretty straight forward in comparison to other trips. The only snag was waiting to get on the plentiful boats, they wouldn't accept our tour operator ticket but eventually we made it. One overnight bus and a short boat cruise.

Docking upto the beach you swap onto a water taxi for a few ringgit then you're on the shore. A beautiful beach with an abundance of chalets and according to the internet you can't book online so we decided to ditch the bags for one of us to do the accommodation hunt in the blazing heat. I offered to go as I can never turn down a mission plus loaded with the Lonely Planet tips of where to stay I thought it would be simple. Unfortunately one of the tips in the book is to get there early to get accommodation but because we had the last morning boat everywhere that was a reasonable price was booked aside one place called Chempacka so 'beggars can't be choosers' we ended up there for two nights. What a dive! I'm not talking sea diving, I'm talking very run down chalets with a pipe for a shower, stinking toilet, pillows you wouldn't let your dog lie on etc. We had to make do and endeavoured to find a decent place asap. Outside of our door was a huge dead monitor lizard, reckon it was as tall as me! We saw live ones too, but you don't want to get close to the live ones as they have quick response to lashing out with their tails plus if they bite they won't let go. So a dead one gave me the chance to get some photos. Grim eh! They also have the biggest geckos here I've seen any where! Big buggers!

The island itself, you can't complain, it's got what you need but for basic stuff like snacks and drinks with seaside gifts of bangles and sarongs. There are plenty of cafes with exactly the same menu and some good beach bars for when the sun goes down. You can watch the sun set and rise sitting on the beach, even go for a moonlit dip....it's that safe. Also there's something about plastic doors with plastic locks???.....

We were very fortunate that Dan knew Bart the owner of Monkey Bar, with a buzzing atmosphere and fantastic staff making you feel welcome. Here they play live music everynight with Anaz singing and playing the guitar.....a brilliant musician capable of belting out all your favourites. They have an open mic too and we were lucky to hear some very talented tourists make use of the stage. One night we found a couple from our town....turns out the wife was in the same school as me but the year below! Small world and all that.

It's a very friendly place and nearby are better chalets in Panorama where we ended up moving to.

Bart took us out on his boat and showed us the best snorkling sites where we saw massive turtles and all sorts of colourful fish. I saw more here than I did in Koh Tao scuba diving...it was brilliant and all thanks to Bart.

After a few days I caught some sort of bug and suffered for a few days which was a pain feeling miserable, being miserable and not being able to do anything but eventually I shook it off.

In a nut shell the island is so relaxed and chilled out you can't ask for much more if you want to escape the rat race or city life. Initially you might find it too chilled if that's so, you need to be there! Listen out for the firework bangers being let off or you might jump abit.

So people were right and now I'm telling you..... put it on your list.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 23:27 Archived in Malaysia Tagged sea accommodation beach travel island perhentian journey mother_daughter blog world_trip back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing monitor_lizard gekos monkey_bar how_to_get_to_perhentian_island Comments (0)


Mallaca, Melaka......and Mark.

sunny 31 °C


Melaka, Mallaca a few different spellings but the same place. This town has a lot of history to it and in my second hand Lonely Planet guide there were plenty of scribbles where someone else had decided to go there.

We got a bus from Kuala Lumpur which was only a few hours down the road. It was simple and cheap with buses leaving there almost hourly. We had met Dan in KL and planned to go there together. So after a short train ride and a brisk walk to the bus station we were on our way. He had to wait for us a few times juggling the guitar and other bags about so that Chloe and I could manage but think he was relieved we weren't dragging around the additional suit cases we bought months before......now given away.

Melaka has a river flowing through it which reminded me slightly of Venice purely because of the small cafes running alongside the river. They have colourful painted buildings too of sceneries, not graffiti but reckon Banksy would nod his head in approvement. One in particular was a take from the Portuguese ship invasion in the 1500's.

We visited a re-created Flora de la Mar now a maritime museum and St Pauls Church 1521; it never ceases to amaze me of the history around the world, that gives a good view over the town.

We stayed in a small compact room that may as well come from the IKEA catalogue. It was apx 9 ft x 6.5ft with a ladder to upstairs. There was a sofa and table downstairs and a mattress.:..yeah no bedstead, upstairs but you didn't need anything else. It was clean, tidy and cheap.

We rented bicycles one day and had a look around, it was quiet because of Ramadan which meant a lot of the food places were closed. We went to a pub which sold food called Geographers and we were approached by the manager Mark Roberts who decided we were his new best friends. Already my alarm bells were going off but its difficult to gage, is he being friendly? am I being unfriendly? Maybe he's a nice guy, he's got a responsible job he can't be that mad. All these thoughts racing through my head whilst he's telling Dan what a good looking guy he is and how beautiful his eyes are.....I was safe then, he likes men....I thought.

He rambled on and on about all sorts of stuff, translating into Malay/Indonesian etc as he went, it was like a crash course in the life of Mark. I won't go into all the details but he told us to call all the men....balls. eg..."hey balls....where are the toilets?" "Hey balls you want to eat?" I didn't believe this for one second. The stories came on thick and fast albeit very entertaining! Then the dilemma came....."Balls....(aimed at Dan obviously) wanna come eat at my kampon tonight?" We were invited to and after a few moments of eye contact decided why not. Kampon is like home village, now it is good to be invited and Mark told us about the wild boar running about, huge lizards etc so I had a mental image of a real kampon in the sticks with the community pulling together. Mark said he had killed the boar to save some of the children and killed the lizard for food. Not unusual....so no reason to doubt him. Even when he brought his car round to pick us up which he affectionately called....wait for it....the bat mobile....we knew it was going to be a wierd experience.

We would never had gone had Dan not been there and seeing how much he liked Dan made me feel even more safe.

Arriving at the 'kampon' it was clear we would not see any wild boar or lizards here unless they were plated. We were taken straight to a local cafe which was in amongst many others. Imagine a carpark full of tables and chairs, well this is where we were. Mark ordered our food, said he wasn't eating. Dan ordered sting ray....which as you would know doesn't have a tail....so when plates after plate of food arrived Mark suddenly had a massive appetite.

Dan challenged him on the sting ray as this one had a distinct tail. "Yeah balls, that's sting ray" was the reply to which Dan made a comment about knowing about fish etc and Mark flipped. "Balls, I kill you...you won't leave this kampon alive....I'm gunna kill you! I've paid for all this food balls.....I kill you!" He hadn't paid for any of it ....we did....I tried to placate him but he sat in a strop like a 5 year old sulking. After five minutes he was fine and laughing, very tempermental and the scar across his head should have been a giveaway, turns out he had been in a serious accident once and now has a metal plate in his head. But he was still a jerk!

The next day he text Dan to see if we wanted to go to the cinema.......no chance. Back row I thought!

Tip.....don't go to Discovery Cafe unless you want to be deafened by the ridiculously loud solo singer so much so you can't even have a conversation.

Check out Mark at Geographers bar, worth having a laugh at his pathetic stories.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 06:28 Archived in Malaysia Tagged travel journey mother_daughter blog melaka world_trip back_packing melacca chloe_bailey flash_packing mallacca Comments (0)

Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientienne


overcast 25 °C

I'm going to be completely honest here, there are a multitude of things to do in Luang Prabang such as Temples, the Wats, The Royal Palace! Mount Phou Si which is the holy mountain, boat rides, waterfalls, caves etc the list goes on and on. So the first evening we arrived quickly sorted out of accommodation....nice place. We met up with our boat group comprising a few hilarious Canadian guys, a lovely Irish Couple, a lovely English couple plus a load of other really great people (don't worry I won't name or shame anyone here.....only myself....maybe). Someone had done their research....not on places to visit but about the bars and clubs.....it was said that after 11pm I think all the bars shut so if you take a tuk tuk out of the town you can go to a bowling alley and play PLUS they sell alcohol.....CHEAP! Now I hope I've started painting a picture here because the only temples we saw were on the way or on the way back from the bar.....it's true....we did see the palace but it was at a great height on the hill....no where near the bar or club. We played Jenga, drank beer and generally had a laugh. Then it was time to go bowling....I think there was 13 of us in one tuk tuk and probably the same in the other. On ours one Canadian guy (you know who you are) stood on the foot rest and held tight onto the roof bar for about a 15 minute bumpy trip. It was quite funny to start with until his arm started aching......ha ha.

So a quiet game of bowling? No chance...someone.....Chloe..... decided that if you get a strike you take a shot of whiskey (not a problem as a bottle of whiskey was about £3.50) . There were some really good players there.....those that were also got quite drunk! It was a great evening, one guy from Brazil came over to me and asked me if I had seen his flip flops...You don't have to wear the bowling shoes so you go bare foot. Someone had pinched his flip flops! I think we left about 2 ish. The same tuk tuk journey back. We had a lie in the next day...but some got up and went to the waterfall and some caught the sickness bug that was going around the boat.......course it wasn't a hangover.....definately a sickness bug.... A few people caught it....ummmm! Chloe really wanted to go to the waterfall....but i didn't....so we didn't go!

We were getting the night bus to Vang Vien so had plenty of time to check out the sights.....but no....we ate lunch by the river....bought DVDs and surfed the web for our next digs. So that was Luang Prabang! I was anxious of going to Vang Vieng..it has a terrible reputation for deaths on the river, massive drug problems ...etc. The drugs are not a problem...there's no chance of me or Chloe taking them and the river deaths....well most are drug or alcohol fuelled so again.....not a problem for us,,..but still.....tooo much alcohol around. The bus journey said it all....an overnighter again playing a porno film...seriously! My seat was broken which meant no sleep, however my lovely chloe offered to swap seats- doesn't happen often so I took her up on the offer! (thanks babes) she spent the rest of the journey falling off her broken seat. Finally when we did stop for food the bus got stuck in mud.

We stayed in a huge chalet catering god knows how many it was more like a tree house so I switched my lousy single bed for a plush double. The river experience was one to be remembered the first day tubing in the muddy water, swinging off into the river off the rope swing but Chloe was way braver going down the steep slide. I cut my toe on the rocks but was lucky it wasn't my head......I let go the wrong time. The following days were much the same except I saw an awful thing. A young girl who had collapsed from taking something or was spiked. They openly sell drugs there such as mushrooms and cannabis, she had her tongue hanging out and swollen, concerned with her life I got down to get her in the recovery position so she couldn't choke. Then a drunken army guy grabbed hold of me with his idiot mate and literally dragged me away from her cutting my feet in the process "I'm a trained medic....leave her alone" they didn't have a clue, it was so distressing. Eventually she was taken away in a tuk tuk semi conscious and I never found out what happened to her. That was enough for me and I never want to go there again.

We left there and went to Vientienne which was an interesting coach ride driven by Sterling Moss clipping the side of the hills as we went. We stayed overnight and left.

Tip.....change your Loas money before you leave......no one will change it once you've left.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 04:28 Archived in Laos Tagged travel laos prabang luang tubing journey mother_daughter blog world_trip vang_vieng back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing vientienne Comments (0)

Laos.....slow boat

Chiang Mai, Chiang Kong, Huay Xai, to Luang Prabang

sunny 27 °C

There is no easy way to get from Chiang Mai over to Laos without taking a few different methods of transport. The trips are widely advertised all over Thailand so we waited until we went to got to our guesthouse to buy the tickets. From this we knew we would be collected from Chiang Mai taken to Chiang Kong to stay there overnight and then take over the border into Laos.....simple....yes.....but what a long long journey. Some good tips here if you need to know.

We took the late bus as it was a mini bus with only 5 of us in there. The journey advertised loses an hour compared to all the others and I initially thought this would be because the roads would be quieter, however, it was because the driver thinks he is Sterling Moss and the best thing to do is buckle up and not look out of the windows otherwise you will be gripping the edge of your seat thinking that this will be your last trip ever. There are some serious close shaves and it doesn't help when you have a toilet stop the driver is swigging on some kind of cough medicine which is a common thing to give you a buzz .....like red bull. I would never touch the stuff but the driver told me that it would keep him awake, so bearing this in mind, we all climbed back into the bus....lives in his hands....with us gripping the seats. It's funny because if I was at home you wouldn't get me in this bus!

So we arrived an hour before....even went past our stop, he was buzzing that much, and our ticket included an nights accommodation with breakfast. The room was basic but nice with ensuite.....not Ritz...but who cares at 130am. Getting up at 7 was a killer though and the breakfast wasn't that enticing. We habit drummed into us that we would be leaving at 8 but we didn't leave til 9 and also they went on and on that there was no where to get food after leaving the guesthouse so we bought rolls and cushions for the boat ....they said the seats were like benches.....everyone bought cushions. We were taken from the guesthouse into the town and dumped off at a travel agency....that was step one. They took our passports....needed for the boat tickets and we had to wait to be collected about by tuk tuk and taken down the road and dropped at at the river where you take a small boat across the river into Huay Xai, Laos. You then queue with your boat group to get your visas....two forms to fill out, bish bash bosh and you're in. You will need passport photos and you can not get them done here. This takes forever....you then have to walk up a steep hill and get another tuk tuk which takes you to a cafe ......where incidently you can buy rolls.....get them here because the guesthouse ones were bloody awful! There are shops for drinks etc and more food so don't panic before.....you can walk down to the boat from here. The boat leaves at 1130.

When we got onto the boat we were told that we couldn't leave yet as more people were arriving, they literally pack you inline sardines....TIP.....GET THERE EARLY AND GET A SEAT.....we didn't see any hard benches just old car seats, which were comfy, so we purched ourselves down. Another tip.....we met Jo and Ashley in Goa who gave us the heads up on the boat, bearing in mind it's a two day trip....the scenery can become second nature.....bring beer, vodka...whatever.....so I bought a bottle of vodka and a bottle of coke with a few cans of beer to share around. We had a brilliant time on that boat....it was like a party! Got to know many people and the people we met on the boat were doing the same trip as us through Laos so we just kept meeting up.....it was lovely. It rained a lot of the way but we were verging on Monsoon season....plus if it was hot there I think the journey would be quite uncomfortable.

We arrived in Pakbeng about 6 or 7 pm and we all stayed in a guesthouse by the river but you have to walk up a very steep hill in the dark, now I'm not blaming the vodka but lack of sleep from the previous nights but there was no chance of me joining the group for dinner as I was absolutely shattered....I went to bed at 7ish and was out for the count. Chloe joined the group and had an amazing time....I missed out apparently! The guesthouse was part of the trip, you can opt to find your own place for less money but to be honest it's just not worth the hassle running around in the dark. there are plenty of guest houses and loads of free roomsobering much of a much so we went with our group. We got up for breakfast ordered rolls for the boat for day two which they forgot to do which made us late for the boat....remember what I said.....get there early....well because we weren't early we didn't have a seat...seriously....no seat for an all day journey. We had to sit on a step....I was not a happy bunny I can tell you especially as there was a Chinese lady...and I say that in the loosest term, with her bare feet up on a spare seat refusing to move them. This is considered very disrespectful in Asia as she should have known. Then her husband kept rubbing his arm against Chloe's leg and putting his stuff by my feet so I couldn't move.....I was getting agitated! I just about kept my cool!

This is when the cushions came in handy and chatting to people again takes your mind off the trip. I would definately recommend is journey over a bus ride any day.....think of it as a cruise down the Mekong River. We arrived in Luang Prabang just after 5pm from memory and were bombarded with tuk tuk drivers telling us all sorts of rubbish like you couldn't walk to the town because it's too far or that there are massive hills to walk up.....all rubbish....it's like a five minute walk to the town with ample accommodation. The next leg....... Is on its way....I've got some catching up to do!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 06:26 Archived in Laos Tagged travel river luang_prabang trip chiang_mai ferry journey mother_daughter blog world_trip slow_boat huay_xai back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing chiang_kong Comments (0)

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