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Tawau to Tarakan to Jakarta

A few days chillin'

semi-overcast 34 °C

Tawau to Tarakan to Jakarta

We were on a mission here in Tawau to get our visa for Indoneisa and going by our LP bible we had to get it here or else face being turned away on arrival.  Unfortunately we arrived on a Friday evening after the office had closed for the weekend which meant only one thing.....a whole three days with jack to do...being Tawau.    We decided to hunt around for our accommodation and treated ourselves to a top hotel which really was fab costing us only £22 a night, which is very expensive over here.  We loved it though especially the movie channel!  It's nice sometimes just to relax especially after long journeys.

Come Monday we had to find a place to get our photos for our visa which proved difficult, no one told us you can get them done next to the visa office!  It was a simple process but took ages because it was full of others, not Westerners, doing the same as us.   We were given a 60 day visa which was good because usually you only get 30 days.  

We flew out to Tarakan which was the shortest flight ever of 45 mins, there is nothing to do there but we had a connecting flight to Jakarta 4.5hrs later so we decided to pop to the town.  It was chaos....scooters in 5 unmarked lanes, buses, cars....horns blowing and the smog....crazy!  It was so difficult to even cross the road because they don't stop for the red lights, you've just got to step out in front of the traffic and hope they slow down.

In our boredom we thought it would be a brilliant idea to get our hair cut, Chloe opted for a colour....really cheap £18 for both of us....it was needed.  I sat in the chair with my wet hair after having the best hair wash in a hairdressers....no neck wrenching sinks but a lovely slanted soft sofa style chair which made it easy.  I watched a guy chopping at a girls short bob haircut with razor scissors leaving chunks of uneven layers sweeping her neck, I just wanted to get the scissors and straighten it out.  I was hoping he wasn't going to cut my hair but guess what.....yep ....I was his next victim!  I told him not to cut my hair with the razor scissors, after a disaster with the ladyboy hairdresser in Thailand, and to only use normal scissors....I went in his bag and showed him.  As he started to cut I noticed he was actually Edward Scissorhands and had taken about 3 inches off so I told him to stop cutting.  He evened it off to what he considered even, even though I doubt it is at all.....god knows what Kelly is going to think when I get home for her to sort my hair out.  He blow dryed it with the hardest brush ever with a style from 1970!  I waited for Chloe and laughed when I saw they had dried her hair into a middle parting......nice colour though....but seriously it didn't look right at all.  Another lesson learnt!

At Tarakan airport we were the highlight of he day for the staff being Westerners and were invited into the staff back office for them to practice their English and ask lots of questions and the same on the flight.  We were told that Prince William and Katie were coming to the airport in the next few days, i wondered if they would go and sit out the back with the staff but I doubt it.   If it was Prince Harry I think I would have stayed behind and waited for him to arrive....he's a legend....after his naked photos....brilliant!

Anyway...arriving in Jakarta it reminded me of an updated India, being that the vehicles were newer but the chaos and smog was definately the same.   We went exploring the next day and were stopped by a guy;....this is a regular thing if you travel they are inquisitive and want to know everything about you....they are just being friendly but you still need to air abit of caution just in case.  So this guy....he told us his name was Fiji and the opening gambit is usually "Hello, where are you going?"  Can you imagine saying that to someone in the street? You would get ignored or told to bugger off!  Fiji was trying to get us to go on his scooter so he could take us back to our hotel....for a fee.  We're used to this now and told him we had friends here etc, etc.   Then he said the oddest thing, which he seriously believed...."You eat too much spaghetti because your nose is thin."  He then noticed Chloe's blue eyes and asked if they were plastic!  We asked if he meant contact lenses but no he had not seen blue eyes before and thought they were plastic!

We took a train to where we thought we needed to go but ended up on the outskirts of Jakarta, it was a great journey though because it was the low class train with the locals and there was a constant stream of people pushing trolleys up and down the aisle selling stuff from toys, cigarettes, fruit, papers and necklaces to a three man band with a cello, drums and guitar!  Brilliant!  Getting off the train there were people sat on the roof, fare dodging!  

There are so many huge shopping malls in Jakarta which are a far cry from the   stalls at the side of the road.    It's such a busy place, I don't think I would like to go there again.  

The only good thing about Jakarta for me was when we saw a very handsome Westerner, tall blonde guy weaving his way through the road, we were in our tuk tuk and I waved frantically at him....dunno what came over me....yes he waved back!

We left Jakarta behind to get a 9 hr bus to Paragandaran, what I didn't leave behind was a bug I picked up which stayed with me for ....so far a week and still going.

Posted by Vicky Bailey 05:19 Archived in Indonesia Tagged accommodation jakarta indonesia haircut scooter mother_daughter back_packing tarakan tawau sickness_bug edward_scissor_hands 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)


View VICKY AND CHLOE ON WORLD TOUR on Vicky Bailey's travel map.

Here we are at breakfast in a beautiful setting right on the beach, sand under our feet listening to the roar of the ocean. Sounds blissful and it is! Who would have thought that there would be crows in the palm trees? Loads of them rawking and squawking from 3am till sun set about 6pm. No sea gulls,just crows.

The beach is absolutely beautiful and the sea is warm too. Temperature here is about 35, I had a harsh lesson yesterday, after a very long sleep without water,obviously, I woke up feeling very poorly. Heart racing, weak and near to passing out......dehydrated! After sipping lots of water all day I felt better by the evening. Dinner was amazing, after feeling ill thinking I would never eat again we ordered a table full of food. Chloe struck the best plates with a noodles soup but the garlic Nann was the best in the world.

Our beach hut is different, a glorified garden shed made pretty. Dont get me wrong it truely is wonderful and there is everything you need including a veranda.

There is a cold shower though which isnt too pleasant but you get used to it.

The roof is made of thatched palms and I found out that the stafff have to dismantlle each hut every year for a few months during the rainy season as the government dictates and then put them up again. Hard work considering these huts all have electricty, water and furnishings!

There are two storey huts as well which we later had the benefit of for some extra £s a night but well worth it with a beautiful view of the beach and hearing the waves crashing down each night - so relaxing.

We stayed at Agonda White Sands and fully recommend it there - the food is amazing and the stafff were just brilliant. It was that good we were supposed to only stay a week but we didn't want to leave so extended another week. It's a must - we will be returning whether it be together or seperately. Not for a while though - I was only given a single entry visa!!

Posted by Vicky Bailey 08:39 Archived in India Tagged sunset accommodation beach travel india goa journey cows mother_daughter blog world_trip back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing Comments (0)

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