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Entries about back packing

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)

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)

Missing home comforts.

Sandakan and Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, Sepilok Memorial

overcast

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 infront of you as they may be holding a hot drink.

Please do not kick the seat infront, 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 infact 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 ....six quid.....cheeky buggers! It was a public bus with four staff on it for some reason. Music blarred out with a thumping bass all the way. There was a union jack flag at the front and the bus had the Jack Daniel stickers all over the front! We travelled about an hour out to the jungle. It cost 30 ringitt to get in, 6 quid, and we made our way to where the orangutans were expected and 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 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 were missing our home comforts and 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 10:18 Archived in Malaysia Tagged travel memorial sandakan orangutan journey mother_daughter blog sepilok world_trip back_packing chloe_bailey flash_packing Comments (0)

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)

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