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Culture Vulture... I only eat culture that's already dead

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


WOW! Ok, say this to yourself (don't feel silly, just say it) "Putra Jaya". Now, if you sat there and said anything like "Poo-tra-jai-ya" you're half way there. I'm now making fun of the extremely Occa and Aussie way that I mis-pronounced what is actually this really amazing and almost surreal place where Kimboss' Aunt took us this week. It's where the government have their offices and where the national Mosque is. Here are some photos:


So you can see that it is rather a beautiful place to spend some time. It's kinda spooky that you forget about the large amount of poverty and the wage of RM1000 (about 350 AUD) that people earn here as a norm. But still, popping to see this was rather interesting. I've not been a huge fan of mosques until recently, the architechture is so different to anything at home that it's very refreshing to see and stand near. People take their shoes off to go in these (I think not in all places, but some) So that's pretty cooll. The large man made lake around the Putra Jaya area was pretty cool too! We saw some rather large fish in it, although they were not convinced by my promises of a swift and honourable death should they wish for me to eat them, hence they stayed in the water and did not leap into the net that I found in my pocket.

We were lucky enough to be treated to lunch by Kim's aunt, which was lovely of her. Kim, Sarah and I were so full of satay, fried chicken and udon noodles that we simply had to smash some beers.

My favourite photo that I have taken on this pre-trip trip so far occured that evening of beer smashing.


That's it! Yeah, it is low resolution and blah blah, but read the words! PILLS AND POTIONS! Now, that is the kind of place that you would not expect to have gypsy ears... and they didn't. So lucky Borat already has some. But anyways, this place that we were in is called "Sri Hartamas" The brilliant thing about Malay places is that they are all spelled how they sound. So I only mis-spell the words that I should already know. But we had some beers and I had a nice big beef pepperoni pizza, followed up with some more beer smashing! Not really very cultural I know, but I have had many noodles this pre-trip, so I gave in... I know.

This blog is getting a bit long, I know, but this is the last paragraph. This picture is me in a car at the golf course where we had lunch. Do you think I should keep the beard?


permalink written by  haveyouseenmypassport on March 1, 2007 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from the travel blog: pre-trip... Trip
tagged KL, Malaysia, Putra and Jaya

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Melaka Day 1 of 2

Melaka, Malaysia


8am was the meeting time p set up for us to meet at golden mile. 8am on a public holiday! horrendous.. luckily xl and I shared a cab there so we could afford to grab a few extra minutes of snooze time.

But if I thought reaching there at 8am was a feat in itself, well... p and family out-performed us.. they reached at 730am!

The bus left at around 830am. It was slow. Very slow. Factor in the short half hour break at Yong Peng and it was in all a very long 6 hour ride to Melaka. I've heard that it would have taken a bare 2 hours by car so I'm sure the bus driver was reeeeeaally taking his time.

Once at Equatorial hotel, only 1 out of 3 rooms was ready so without further ado, we dumped all our bags in P's parent's room and set out to take in the sights of Melaka.

P insisted on seeing the famous red building before she was satisfied so we ambled along using a rough cannot make it map taken from their tourist counter.

First stop: the Proclamationof Independence Memorial.
not much to mention.

Second stop: A' Famosa & St.Paul's Church
A long series of steps greeted us at A'Famosa. Erm.. and a strange man with an iguana, trying to earn $$, charging 3 ringgit per photo with him and the ig.
Photos taking, P's sis trying to race up the steps.. the steps eventually forked out to either St.Paul's Church and the Dutch Graveyard. No prizes for guessing which route we chose.
St.Paul's church was interesting. The infrastructure of the little church was interesting, there were many tombstones looking engravings lined up at the walls of the church. took some photos and walked around, along with the many tourists there.

Third stop: Christ Church (aka. The Red Building!!!)
We found it! The famous red building of Melaka. (anyway, many of the buildings in melaka were red I realised. Took a few photos. Regretted that I didn't go in to take a look. Could have made a comparison against the other churches (domo) I've seen in europe.

Fourth stop: Cendol! (across the street from the red building)
Small bowls of chendol.. or rather cendol as it was printed on the stall. Nice cold sweet coconutish dessert did much to neutralise the very hot and humid weather.
Following which we crossed the bridge to Lorong Hang Jebat.

Fifth Stop: Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
No, this isn't exactly a venue. It was a street full of chendol, chicken rice balls stalls! In fact, the whole of melaka is full of chendol and chicken rice balls stalls.
We stopped to sample the chicken rice balls. One small pingpong sized ball for each of us since we were pretty full. Wasn't really impressive, but I guess you can't say you've been in melaka without tasting the chicken rice balls.
We saw one orangutan stall, not real orangutan! just a small shop selling unique nicely designed t-shirts. We later saw a few more similar stalls all belonging to the same orangutan.

Sixth Stop: Jalan Ong Kim Wee
Strangely, we started to encounter numerous pineapple, belachan and gula melaka stalls as we turned into Jalan Ong Kim Wee. The gals bought pineapple tarts from the very first stall they saw, which unfortunately didn't look as if they baked it themselves. We later encountered many stalls who actually baked the actual tarts themselves.

We were getting pretty hot and sticky by this time.. and we were walking further and further away from our hotel so we decided to turn back via another route.

Seventh Stop: Jonker Street
Many interesting shops here. There was also the famous jonker street dessert stall here, which will be elaborated further on day 2.
Many shops selling peranankan wear, beaded shoes, melaka foodstuffs and of cos the usual pineapple tarts and chendol (again!)
We had some pretty decent ondeh ondeh - with delicious gula melaka oozing out of it's sticky skin covered with coconut shavings. nice :)
Jonker street is famous for its night market, but unfortunately, it was only 5plus when we reached there so the shops were barely up. We decided to come back later at night for dinner. which, to jump the gun a bit, never materialised as it was drizzling and the sky was dark around 7pm.

Eighth Stop: Jalan quayside
We decided to walk a different route back to the hotel in order to cover as much ground as possible. Alongthe quayside was this Maritime Museum. Unfortunately, we need to pay to get in and it didn't really look that interesting, nor were there crowds of tourists waiting to get in so I decided to just admire the ship (where the maritime museum was housed) as we walked passed.

Of course, how can a trip be complete without shopping?

Ninth Stop: the MEGAMALL. (aka Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall)
They had quite a few international brands incl. Mango, Levis, FOS, just to name a few. P's mum bought something from Hush Puppies, the rest of us got stuffs at MANGO and FOS. It wasn't really mega.. probably the mega was by melaka standards. The mall only had one level with limited tenants. Oh, and did i forget to mention they had starbucks, macs, a foodcourt and some hk food place? Not bad at all, tho i heard the foodcourt sux.
by this time, it was drizzling so we decided to go back to the hotel, put down our stuffs and adjourn to the award winning nonya restaurant at level 3 for dinner.

Tenth stop: The Nonya restaurant.
Not fantastic food. Service was slow and mediocre. The manager managed to ignore our many requests for photo taking, delivery of food and water with a mere glance to show that he was paying attention at the most. The food was quite alright but.. they charged us for belachan! 3 ringgit per small bowl. We had 2 bowls cos we thought it was free. those idiots! No wonder they stop winning awards in 2004,5 and 6. I was telling P that no way were they going to win an award in 2007 if that's the kind of service they were providing!

Eleventh stop: the swimming pool
very serene, very quiet place at night. Didn't swim. the pool was closed after 9pm.

Twelth stop: bed and much needed rest.


permalink written by  karyote on April 6, 2007 from Melaka, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Malaysia - Melaka
tagged Malaysia and Melaka

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Day 2 of 2

Melaka, Malaysia


Woke up early for breakfast. It was an international spread of cuisine. They had porridge, cereals, omelettes, local cuisine, breads... etcetc.

Had a light breakfast before splitting up to 2 groups. The swimming group of two and the walking group of 6. We walked around the hotel via Jalan Chan Koon Cheng, which was longer before reaching the same bridge as yesterday's to cross over to Lorong Hang Jebat. Not much interesting things along the way. A pretty boring stretch.

We walked along Jalan Hang Jebat this time, and also a few smaller roads which are not documented in my lousy map. We passed by the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, supposedly the oldest temple in the country. P's parents and I went in for a while. There's just something about places of worship that manage to radiate peace and serenity.

There was also this old shop where this old man was doing this extremely old way of welding aluminum cans. He was probably in his 80s, very scrawny looking. His is really a dying trade. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of it. It was sad the way he carried on his welding, without acknowledgment of the gawking ppl (us) watching his every move.

Went past Jonker street again. This time, we stopped at the famous Jonker dessert stall for very very nice dessert, nonya asam laksa and ondeh ondeh. The shaved ice simply melted in our mouths. The viscous gula melaka drizzled on the shaved ice.. simply heavenly! We took away fruit juices which were the real stuff. No added sugar water like in singapore. 3 apples and a lemon juice means just that. A refreshing change from the fruit stalls who frequently managed to short change us with watered down juices.

Met the gang back at the hotel, showered, packed, checked out before heading to the megamall again. This time, mj, xl and I managed to depart the Levi's store S$100 lesser. I bought my first pair of Levis, supposedly quite a good investment cos it was cheaper than in sg. I guess so. still a little skeptical at spending a 3 figure sum on clothes.

Had the HK styled baked rice with chicken. Not bad at all! Good choice by mj. By then, it was time to head back to the hotel and await the arrival of the F ive Stars bus.

Bus arrived at 230pm, bigger, newer and muchmuch faster than the previous bus. We took only 2.5 hours to reach Yong Peng and another 1.5 hours to reach SG customs. A total of 4 hours as compared to the 6 hours there.

Glad the trip was so hassle free. Total damage done to wallet - Around S$ 300. Enjoyment Level: 3stars out of 5. It was the company that made the difference :) Other than that, melaka was just that, a small town with a few historical buildings and limited sights and shopping.

permalink written by  karyote on April 7, 2007 from Melaka, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Malaysia - Melaka
tagged Malaysia and Melaka

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Hooray for Malay!

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


So begins backpacking/busing up the Malay Peninsula to the ultimate destination (and where I start my semester abroad on the 23rd) in Bangkok. Malacca for 2 nights then one in Kuala Lumpur.

Malacca is known as "The Historical City" because of its rich heritage involving being taken over by first the Chinese, then the Portuguese, then the Dutch, then the British...if that is something really even to brag about.

I was able to see the entire city in a 2hour run around in the morning and to the best of what I saw, its a pretty drab city. Lots of small museums and some old buildings, but otherwise the city is fairly dilapidated and impoverished with few Western tourists. A good proportion of population in Malaysia is Muslim, as is evidenced by a number of Mosques and a large Islamic heritage Museum, shown to the right.

I love exchange rates! I was able to stay in a hostel (actually Malay family's spare bedroom) with two Canadians from Banff for $5 each per night, great deal. One surprising thing is that although food and rooms are incredibly discounted in Malaysia, beers and hard alcohol are still expensive, and roughly equal to what you'd expect to pay in the US. In fact it is much harder to find liquor in Malaysia; I speculate this is due to government taxes on the sale of liquor because of the high Muslim population.

We found this out during our (the Canadians and I) Friday night out in Chinatown. A pitcher of beer for $12! Chinatown is the one happening part of the town, and receives the largest share of tourists who come mostly from China. It is very dense with shops and people selling things, and highly decorated with these paper red balls ) for the Chinese new year. Friday night was very crowded on the main promenade (walking street) in Chinatown; Sellers on the each side of the street hocking their cheap toys/sunglasses/hats/food/desserts/etc, Malay teenagers were walking with their girlfriends, families dining in the restaurants, tourists ogling at the sights, and crowds watching various street performers, singers and otherwise.
The picture above is of a me and Ms. Canada with the McDonalds Mandarin, get a picture with him and get a McDonalds token of good luck for the new year. (Mandarins are what the Imperial Chinese ruling-class and their silly dress is their traditional high-class clothes). I would wake up the next afternoon and travel 2 hours north through Kuala Lumpur, where I would have to take the plane the next morning to Bangkok. I stayed on the couch of some friendly Finns (pictures below) and luckily made it to Bangkok (and am loving it) despite a scare of waking up and realizing I had absolutely no money to make it to the airport. But that story next post, all this writing has made me tired, and I'm off to get a $10 2hour massage, and maybe a $1 fruit smoothie as well.

The Chinese use these red paper balls as symbols of luck and fortune, typically meant to be used at the beginning of something such as the opening of a new store or a new year. They are used very liberally though, and can be found in many shops, new and old, and many times hang year-round in Chinese shopping areas. (Malacca)

This is a statue in Malacca of Mr. Universe 2008, who came from this area. It is right out front of what is his weight-training center.

When partying in Malaysia, shoes come off at the door. In many countries in Asia (maybe all, I'm not sure), it is customary to take your shoes off upon entering a residence. Thus, you can usually figure out how big a party is by just looking at how many shoes there are!

This is me posing with some Finns and a Malaysian friend on the balcony of the condo I "couchsurfed" at. I guess its the new cool thing to do, people offer their couches for poor travelers to stay at for a night or two all across the world. Although I actually met them randomly on the street, I have been formally initiated into the couchsurfing society. ( Couchsurfing.com )

And here is a picture of me happy I made it to Bangkok! Although I had a little scare of getting my checking card canceled because of a fraud alert, and only 8 Ringat (2 dollars) in my pocket, I managed to make it to Bangkok, story coming up on the next post!


permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on January 18, 2009 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged CouchSurfing, Malaysia, KualaLumpur, Malacca and JackCrestani

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KL

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Had a brilliant idea to down a bottle of Queensland's finest with a friend. Great Idea, but not before an international flight... I groaned all the way to the airport, but my housemate was probably too tired to care (we left home at 4am). He must have felt a tad soft in the head to agree to that task. It was only when I got to Malaysia that I remembered my difficulty with directions... I managed to get to KL Sentral (the main train/bus station) easy enough, then wandered around trying to think why I didn't write directions to the hostel I had booked down.

I gave up, jumped into a legitimate-looking taxi and hit the road. Old mate the taxi driver took me to the street the place was on. Sweet! Or so I thought. The genius who owns the hostel decided to have two, in close proximity to each other, with the same name, albeit one has "2 after it and one has "1". I eventually gave up looking for hostel 2, which I had booked, and went to hostel 1. They called the other place up, to be informed that because I was late, my room had been sold. Oh well. Got a room at hostel 1, a two person room, so I had to pay double ($20) but it turned out to be great because I really needed the sleep.

I had a little walk after I had rested up and bought a burger from a street-side stall. It was cooked by a little kid who did a pretty good job. I loved how they streched the egg out at this place, wrapping it around the meat patties. The burger had a bucket load of sauce on it as well, which suits me just fine. It cost me a little about $1.50.

I managed to get up in the morning to treat myself to enjoyable "getting lost" walk. I asked the lady at the hostel where KL Sentral was, to which she replied "Down the corner then turn right, then there's some stairs and heaps of people". Using stairs as a reference is a shit idea. I figured out which way KL Sentral was and followed the train tracks there. Made it to the airport without incident and with time to spare!



permalink written by  10bastards on October 9, 2009 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Thailand and Malaysia
tagged KL, Malaysia and Burger

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A New Year Starting in KL

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


After a 12-hour flight we found our hostel hidden in the very centre of the city on Jalan Bukit Bintang, here is a photo [below]; we stayed behind this big advertising board!
Apres un vol de 12 heures, nous sommes arrives a KL et avons file directement a notre hotel en plein centre, sur jalan bukit bintang. voila la photo [a droit], notre chambre etait juste derriere cet enorme panneau publicitaire!!
We spent the first day hanging around the city, taking pictures and trying the local food 'Nasi Lemak, Kopi Obeng and lots of Goreng!' Brilliant! In the morning we visted a craft centre and it gave us much inspiration for any future home! Then in the afternoon, after eating, we walked around the big shopping centres [imagine the first ten floors of just shops!] with rollercoasters and never-ending electronics. An experience that couldn't possibly get any stranger! ...or could it?
Nous avons passe notre premier jour a nous balader dans la ville, a prendre des photos, et a tester la nourriture locale "nasi lemak (p'tit dej), kopi obeng (cafe glace), et beaucoup de goreng (mets frits)" super! Le matin nous avons visite un endroit dedie a l'artisanat qui nous a donne beaucoup d'idee de deco pour une future maison! puis l'apres midi, apres avoir mange, nous avons passe un peu de temps dans les immenses centres commerciaux (jusqu'a 10 etages!!) ou on peut meme trouver des maneges types grand huit! hallucinant.
...It could! In a city so huge and populated a man bumped into me [Brian] and as we turned to each other - it was an old Malay friend from times on Perhentian Island in 2006. Incredible chance! After the introductions [to Lena], we went for a coffee and in the astonishment caught up on the last three to four years! Then we made plans to meet up after New Year, the next day!

Mais encore plus hallucinant, c'est le moment ou dans une ville aussi grande et peuplee que KL, j'ai vu un homme s'approcher de Brian et lui sauter dessus! c'etait un ami malais qu'il avait rencontre lors d'un precedent voyage en 2006! Joe! apres s'etre presente, nous avons bu un cafe ensemble et ils ont rattrape le temps perdu, heureux de se revoir.

We enjoyed New Year 2010 near the Petronas towers, albeit on the wrong side to see 'all' the fireworks! We were just lucky and happy to be there in Kuala Lumpur seeing the New Year in! On New Year's day, as arranged, we met Rini and Adam [Joe's lovely family] and they took us to the Batu Caves, a Hindu temple outside the city. Monkeys, chanting, steps, interesting people, worship and lots of photos followed!


In the evening they took us to 'Genting', simply a very incredible place on top of a mountain [physically questionable] built by a mad chinese man with lots of money! There is everything there, including; one of the world's largest hotels, amusement parks, strange strange 'things' and cloud blowing through the front doors!!!! Quite refreshing too!

Nous avons passe le reveillon du nouvel an autour des tours petronas, mais nous n'etions pas du bon cote pour voir les feux d'artifices! dommage!! mais nous etions contents d'etre la, realisant la chance que nous avions d'etre a KL pour la nouvelle annee! Tel que nous l'avions arrange la veille avec Joe, nous sommes alle avec Rini et Adam ( adorable famille de Joe) voir les grottes de Batu, un celebre lieu hindou dans les alentours de KL. Beaucoup de marches a grimper pour y acceder!!! les singes sur le bord nous donnaient l'occasion de nous arreter pour prendre des photos. ouf! nous avons assiste a des chants religieux et des celebrations dans une atmosphere indescriptible.

Enfin le soir, Joe nous a emmene dans un endroit tres special, Genting, tout en haut d'une montagne, ou on peut trouver des grands hotels, un parc d'attraction etc... un endroit constuit par un riche chinois qui avait de la suite dans les idees! Si haut que les nuages entraient par les portes...

On the final day we walked around Chinatown, the Central Market, the National Mosque and more importantly KL Park. In the park we enjoyed the greenery, the deer park and fortunately the butterfly park too - which was marvellous! Imagine walking into a fantasy world of butterflies! In a rainy spell, we sat and played cards under a pagoda for an hour, the rest was quite welcome and the next day we were leaving the city, heading to a new place and a new country!

Le dernier jour nous sommes alle a chinatown et au marche central, puis a la mosquee nationale. mais ce que nous avons le plus prefere etait le parc de KL ou nous avons vu des animaux et pu nous balader au bord du lac. Le meilleur moment etait lorsque nous avons penetre dans la serre aux papillons. magique!!! un peu plus tard la pluie nous a stoppe dans notre elan alors nous avons joue aux cartes sous une pagode dans le parc. ce repos force etait bienvenue car on avait marche toute la journee. le jour suivant nous partions fin prets pour de nouvelles aventures vers un nouveau pays!


permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 3, 2010 from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Malaysia, KualaLumpur, 2010 and NewYear

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Snorkel Junkies of Sibuan!

Semporna, Malaysia



First of all, many apologies for the numerous pictures of tranquil blue waters, desert islands and joyful children playing with toy wooden boats!

Cette fois-ci pas beaucoup de texte mais beaucoup de photos (sachez qu'il y a plein d'autres photos que celles visibles sur le blog dans la partie photo, dont voici le lien).

http://www.blogabond.com/Photos/PhotoBrowse.aspx?UserID=10616&pageIndex=2

So where are we? Well, take a look at the map and you will see that we are in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. We arrived in Tawau and made our way towards the famous coastline where islands and sand-banks such as Sipadan, Mabul, Mataking and Kepalai can be found. However at over 70euro just to go snorkeling on Sipadan and 300euros [per person per night] to stay on Kepalai, we found ourselves on a cheaper alternative.

A day-trip to Sibuan, a tiny island [as you can see] inhabited by some gypsy travellers from the Philippines and a handful of soldiers. We spent a fantastic day doing nothing except; snorkel, swim, relax, hide in the shade, walk around the island and of course get to know the locals! The children were a sight to behold! It must also be said that so far we have been astounded by the calm friendliness of the people that we have met here. Well this is a short entry just to let you know what we are doing so, bye for now and back to our cheap insect-infested hostel [what a contrast!]...

Nous sommes sur l'ile de Borneo, dans la region de Sabah en Malaisie. De Tawau nous avons rejoins Semporna, endroit bien connu des plongeurs car cette ville permet d'atteindre un des spots les connus au monde, Simpadan (mais aussi Mabul, Kepalai, Mataking). Il faut un permis pour entrer sur ces iles, et il se paye assez cher! Malgre cela, il y a une liste d'attente pouvant aller jusqu'a 2 mois et demi pour plonger la-bas. Nous on voulait simplement faire une sortie de snorkelling qui convenait a notre budget. Nous nous sommes retrouves sur la petite ile de Sibuan habitee illegalement par quelques gitans des mers (qui sont toleres par les autorites...enfin jusqu'a ce qu'un luxueux resort soit construit sur cette ile, ce qui ne devrait pas tarder!), et aussi un poste de douaniers pour controler ces fameux permis.

Journee exceptionnelle a faire du snorkelling, marcher sur la plage et rencontrer les enfants de l'ile. On etait vraiment dans un paysage de carte postale. C'etait tellement bien qu'on n'a pas regrette les sites plus connus qui du coup sont aussi plus frequentes. Bon... ce qu'on ne dit pas c'est qu'apres on a du rentrer dans notre chambre ultra basique pleine de cafards geants et moustiques a Semporna une ville plutot sale. Dur le contraste!



Like we said, sorry!

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on February 6, 2010 from Semporna, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Malaysia, Paradise, Borneo, Snorkeling and Sabah

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It's a Jungle Out There!

Sepilok, Malaysia


Borneo is a land of exotic contrast and having spent a day on Sibuan we soon found ourselves knee deep in rainforest mud, how? Well, a three-day stay in a nature lodge by the Kinabatangan River helped! We were welcomed to the lodge by Ibrahim, he gave us a somewhat unique and funny introduction to the electric fence [to keep big animals out], the animals to look out for during our stay and the agenda for the many walks and river-cruises that we had planned. We were soon heading down river on a small boat, accompanied by an Australian couple, a young Scottish couple and a Swiss girl with a passion for nature!

By the end of the afternoon we had seen orang-utans, eagles, monkies and most amazingly, wild pygmy elephants. The elephants do not appear that often and we had exceptional luck to see them at this time of the year, seeing so many of them from 10m as they had lunch by the river was incredible. In the evening we discovered the jungle by night as we did a 45 minute nightwalk with our 'gentle' guide Elson - who really was a star! We didn't see that much but just equipping yourself physically and mentally to do it is something! [The beasts come out at night!]

Borneo est une terre de contrastes, si bien que nous sommes passes de l'ile paradisiaque Sibuan a .... la boue de la Rainforest! 3 jours dans la Nature Lodge pres de la riviere Kinabatangan a decouvrir la faune et la flore. La boue, c'est parce qu'il y a eu des inondations la semaine passe et que la riviere etait en crue. Ibrahim le responsable qui nous a accueilli, nous a directement mis dans le bain en nous mettant en garde avec la cloture electrique qui entoure le Nature Lodge. Nous avons rapidement commence la premiere sortie en bateau-moteur sur la riviere, seule facon de pouvoir observer la nature environnante et toutes ses richesses sans la perturber. Nous etions dans un petit groupe (un couple d'ecossais de notre age, une suisse et un couple d'australiens) avec qui nous sommes restes les 3 jours.

Des le premier jour nous avons vu la chance de voir des orang-outans (ils vivent seuls et construisent chaque soir un nouveau nid!), des aigles, des singes et surtout... des elephants!! A cette saison, c'est apparemment tres rare. Cela faisait 5 mois qu'ils ne les avaient pas observes! Il etaient pres de la riviere, a casser et a manger des branches. Incroyable de voir ces animaux sauvages dans leur milieu naturel! La suite du programme etait de marcher 45 minutes dans la jungle... de nuit! Preparation maximale : bottes+ 2 paires de chaussettes pour ne pas que les sangsues s'incrustent. Heureusement, Elson notre super guide a su nous rassurer! C'etait une experience inoubliable, meme si nous n'avons pas vu grand chose a part quelques araignees et mille-pattes.

Every morning we woke up at 5.30am for the early morning cruise to see the many birds such as; purple herons, egrets, oriental darters, storm storks, hornbills, more eagles and several small but colourful birds with quite specific names. Breakfast after the cruise and Ibrahim oncemore changed guise to ensure we were ready for our 3 hour rainforest trek to the oxbow lake, a lake in the shape of an Ox's horns. We spent the trek fighting against either the branches or the profound mud levels due to the recent floods that had also altered the riverbanks considerably too. As you can see from the picture Lenaic nearly lost more than her boots!

Chaque matin, nous nous levions a 5h30 pour observer de bonne heure les animaux depuis la riviere. Cette fois-ci beaucoup d'oiseaux : herons pourpres, aigrettes, oiseaux-serpents, calaos a casque rouge, d'autres aigles et petits oiseaux colores avec un nom bien specifique. Ensuite, petit dejeuner tres attendu de tous! Requinques, nous sommes partis pour une marche dans la Rainforest jusqu'au lac Oxbow (lac nomme oxbow car il a la forme d'une corne de zebu), marche qui ne s'est pas faite sans difficulte surtout pour moi. Je m'enfoncais dans la boue, et avec l'air emprisonne il m'etait parfois impossible de decoller le pied! Il fallait s'aider des branches et troncs des alentours, epuisant!

In the early evening we had another cruise and this time we saw crocodiles, monitor lizards, buzzards, otters, probiscus monkies [specific to Borneo] and a large owl on the riverbank eating fish supper. After the evening cruise we had another fantastic meal with Ibrahim in his restauranteur guise and a nightwalk where we managed to break our torch. We had to walk back a short-distance without our guide! We left the Nature Lodge at Kinabatangan with good memories and new friends!

En fin d'apres-midi, rebelotte, observation depuis le bateau. Cette fois-ci nous avons vu des crocodiles! Impressionnant. On gardait les doigts bien a l'interieur du bateau! Mais aussi des petits varans, des buses, des loutres, des singes nasiques (qu ne trouve qu'a borneo) et une chouette. Derniere marche de nuit dans la jungle : pas de chance, nous avons perdu la manivelle de notre torche dynamo peu de temps apres le debut de la marche. Trop dangereux, nous avons du rentrer seuls au Nature lodge en essayant de ne pas se perdre. Un peu flippant du coup sans le guide!! Cette etape n'aura ete que des bons souvenirs, partages avec nos nouveaux compagnons de route!

Next stop, Paganakan Dii, a relaxing retreat set at tree canopy-level and near the Rainforest Discovery Centre, Sepilok. While walking around the rainforest grounds at the centre we were able to see Rhinoceros Hornbills [quite something], a chameleon, a flying squirrel, a 'giant' squirrel, a pig-tailed macaque, an unidentifiable 2.5m yellow and grey snake and many more birds! Are there more animals to be seen out there in the jungle? I'm sure there are but we will leave it at that! The rest of the time was spent at the guesthouse, relaxing on the terrace and getting to know Paul, Ayumi and Sandra a bit more, all of us continuing from the same Kinabatangan trip.

Nous avons poursuivi notre route en direction du nord, jusqu'a Paganakan Dii vers Sepilok (connu pour son centre de rehabilitation des orang-outangs). Nous avons dormi dans un endroit qui surplombe la Rainforest durant 2 nuits, au calme dans la nature a regarder les oiseaux et ecureuils de nos lits. Nous avons passe nos journees au centre de decouverte de la Rainforest. C'est en fait une partie de la foret amenagee par des sentiers et une passerelle qui surplombe les arbres. La, nous avions des jumelles. Ce qui change tout! Quel privilege de pouvoir admirer chaque detail de ces animaux sauvages. Les calaos rhinoceros etaient fabuleux!

Nous avons egalement observe un ecureuil volant, un ecureuil geant, des macaques a queue de cochon et surtout le plus impressionnant un serpent jaune et gris que personne n'a su nommer dans le parc. Nous etions fascines de le voir de si pres (de la passerelle, un ecureuil a attire notre attention car il faisait des bruits bizarres. Il etait comme attire par ce serpent et en meme temps il ne pouvait pas s'approcher de trop pres. Les gens du parc nous ont dit que le serpent avait certainement du manger un des petits de cet ecureuil! Snif). Ces 5 jours dans cette partie de Sabah auront ete riches en decouvertes et apprentissages : nous avons appris la patience et a etre attentif! Nous sommes contents d'avoir pu observer autant d'animaux sur Borneo, tant qu'il en reste...



permalink written by  Lenameets50 on February 10, 2010 from Sepilok, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Malaysia, Animals, Jungle, Borneo, Kinabatangan, Sepilok and Rainforest

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Held up in Kota Kinabulu

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia




After the jungle, back to urban life in Kota Kinabulu which is the principle city in Malaysian Borneo. En route, we drove past the famous Mount Kinabulu without actually stopping to make the popular [and slightly expensive] ascent to the summit. Instead, we had a good look as it sat above the clouds, thinking how beautiful it must be up there! We arrived in the city and spent a few days trying to avoid the intense heat that filled the streets and food markets, fortunately the lodge has air conditioning! Eventually we made it both to some small islands off the coast and the impressive philipino fish market. We relaxed on the islands and on our return filled ourselves with wonderful cheap food in the market! Delicious! [...and cheap!]

Apres la jungle, nous voici a Kota Kinabalu la capitale de Sabah. En chemin, nous avons apercu le fameux mont Kinabalu dont le sommet est au dessus des nuages. Son ascension est une des choses a faire ici, mais a cause de son prix (il faut un guide, une assurance etc...) et d'une legere flemme nous nous sommes contentes d'imaginer a quel point cela devait etre magnifique de la haut! A part la visite de quelques iles sur la cote, nous avons decide de rester quelques jours a KK (KK tout le monde dit ca ici). Pas grand chose a faire a par profiter du marche de nuit et ses fantastique barbecues philippins! Des crevettes fraiches enormes, poisssons, calamars et tant d'autres... delicieux!

We thought that the Chinese New Year might bring some events or festivities to enjoy but it was actually really quiet. Unlike in the west, the Chinese spend the occasion at home with the family having a traditional dinner. Apart from seeing lots of promotional tigers and the familiar lion dance around town you really wouldn't know it was New Year. On the same note, there is not actually that much to do in Kota Kinabulu itself, however due to Borneo being a little more expensive than we imagined [or were told] we have decided to stay a few extra days and limit the day-to-day damage. We have good food, a good place to stay and things to catch up on before heading south to our next stop, Brunei.

Ici, c'est la periode du nouvel an chinois et vu qu'il y a beaucoup de chinois a KK, nous pensions profiter des festivites. Et bien pas vraiment, c'etait plutot calme car les chinois celebrent le nouvel an a la maison en famille. Donc a part quelques feux d'artifices et danses du lion, RAS! Les magasins sont fermes durant plusieurs jours. Mais cela tombe plutot bien car nous avons decide de rester quelques jours sur place pour rattraper les ecarts sur notre budget avant d'aller a Brunei!


permalink written by  Lenameets50 on February 16, 2010 from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Food, Malaysia, Borneo and KotaKinabulu

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Labuan: A distinctly black pearl!

Beaufort, Malaysia


As we had a few extra days to use, we decided not just to pass through Labuan on the way to Brunei but instead stay for two nights on what the local tourist board like to call 'the pearl of Malaysia'. So did we find anything interesting or as beautiful? Yes and No. Labuan suffers from its coastal position, we spent one afternoon walking along its relatively untouched west coast but were unable to make anything of it as the silt, winds and driftwood make swimming or relaxing very difficult. There are very few places to eat and seemingly even less people, however there are a number of large houses presumably owned by rich Chinese, Malay or other expatriates making the most of Labuan's duty-free status! Big houses!

En route pour Brunei, nous avons decide de faire un arret sur l'ile de Labuan, un centre financier offshore appelle "La perle" de la Malaisie. Il n'y a pas vraiment d'interet touristique, seulement economique sur cette ile qui est duty-free. Il y a donc surtout des expatries et des riches chinois menant a bien leur business dans le secteur du petrole ou des finances.


We stayed with a local family who employed a Philippine lady to look after guests, we quite enjoyed our stay but were confused as to whether we were staying in a guesthouse or someone's home! Another little detail was the motorbike that we tried to hire; first we were taken to the hotel porter of the most expensive hotel in town and then as we tried to check with the police a number of them offered to help us out too. Basically there i no official moto hire on the island but if you ask then someone always has a friend, even the police! On our first night after a superb Indian meal we also met another local of some sorts; Paul, his partner Janet and his daughter Emma. Paul [originally from London] works in the oil rig service industry and has been living on Labuan for some time now. We had a few drinks and arranged to meet up the next evening.

Nous sommes restes dans le seul hostel de la ville, une experience plutot...familiale! Dans le dortoir de 12, il y avait donc nous deux, une belle jeune femme qui rentrait tard le soir, l'employee provenant des Philippines...et sa petite fille de 4 ans (qui adorait jouer... dans sa chambre, normal mais un peu bruyant du coup pour nous)! Sinon nous voulions decouvrir l'ile a moto: mission du jour, en louer une. Nous avons appris qu'il n'y a pas de magasin pour cela. On nous a envoye vers l'hotel le plus luxueux, voir un employe qui nous propose de louer la moto de son ami... Preferant la voie plus legale avec les assurances et tout (on sait jamais en Malaisie...), nous poursuivons nos recherches en vain. Nous nous arretons devant un poste de police et nous demandons conseil. Tout le monde veut nous aider et le chef aussi. Et il appelle un de ses amis pour nous louer une moto au black! On a hallucine! Bon finalement on a pris le bus... Le soir, nous avons fait la connaissance de Paul, un expat tres sympa travaillant dans le petrole vivant sur l'ile depuis quelques annees, mais aussi Janet sa compagne et Emma sa fille avec qui nous avons prevu de sortir le lendemain soir.


The next day we went to a bird park but it wasn't that great and seeing some of the birds made us a little sad, remember that recently we saw many of them in the wild along the Kinabatangan river. We also spotted this notice in a local hotel window! It was a sign of things to come as Paul explained to us about how duty-free life on Labuan often means foreign nationals from other parts of Malaysia and around Asia coming to drink hard and enjoy the local influx of illegal Philippine women working as prostitutes. We went on to see for ourselves as we enjoyed a night out with Paul and Janet - it was a good night though! As was the whole experience really, seeing the reality of a strange island where different nationalities cross paths in the shadows of big money oil rigs and financial 'agreements' but 'a pearl' - well not quite.

Le lendemain apres-midi nous sommes alles visiter un parc a oiseaux ou une mega sono installee par les macons diffusait du hard-rock a fond (un peu paradoxal avec le calme des oiseaux!). Cette visite etait une des seules choses a faire sur l'ile mais finalement c'etait plus triste qu'autre chose car les animaux sauvages faisaient peine a voir dans leurs petites cages. Il etait temps d'aller s'amuser un peu et de penser a autre chose, nous avons fait la fete avec Paul et Janet ce soir la. Ce que nous retiendrons de Labuan, c'est surtout ce qu'on a pu observer et comprendre du fonctionnement de vie locale sur le business, l'alcool et la prostitution. "La perle"? Pas vraiment...


permalink written by  Lenameets50 on February 18, 2010 from Beaufort, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Malaysia, Labuan and Oil

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