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In Summary

So that's it. Our advensha is over. I'm writing this while sat in my mum's living-room back in my hometown of Liverpool. We have been back for exactly one week now and it still doesn't feel entirely real. Every time I pick up my phone to message or call someone I do a little calculation in my head to figure out the time difference and whenever I look at the price of anything I halve it (thanks Australia).
It is taking some time to get a 'normal' sleep pattern back - I'm averaging about 5-6 hours of sleep at the moment but it is increasing every night.
It actually feels like we've only been away for a long weekend - mainly because nothing has changed back in Manchester and Liverpool. Actually that's probably a bit unfair; 3 of our friends have had babies, but aside from that, everything else is just as we left it.

I think it's going to take a little bit of time for us to really appreciate what we've done and where we've been. It's all a bit of a blur at the moment.
I've just re-read my 'The night before' blog post and it feels like I wrote it a lifetime ago. I said I was feeling numb, and to be honest, that's kind of how we feel right now too. We're in limbo - tired, confused, apprehensive and lost. We've been going through boxes of our stuff with a fresh and ruthless eye. After all we've been living out of a bag for 6 months so our definition of NEED has narrowed greatly.

I'm afraid I don't feel able to write a comprehensible 'conclusion' to our advensha, so instead I've done what I do best, formulated a list...

Best and Worst

Favourite country:
Aisha - India
Lauren - India

Favourite place:
Aisha - Bagan, Myanmar or Penang, Malaysia
Lauren - Udaipur, India or Penang, Malaysia

Favourite street food:
Aisha - Poh piah (Malaysian)
Lauren - Gobi manchurian and bread pakora (both Indian)

Favourite restaurant/café food:
Aisha - Annen Hoi in Hội An, Vietnam did the most amazing tomato tofu. Hui Yuan vegetarian buffet in Melaka, Malaysia was by far the tastiest buffet I have ever had. Also Capitol Satay, again in Melaka was both delicious and fascinating.
Lauren - The first place we had Thali in Jaipur, India. Also Millets of Mewar café in Udaipur, India.

Favourite people:
Aisha - Myanmarese
Lauren - Myanmarese

Favourite activity:
Aisha - Being sat in the sand dunes of Pushkar, Rajistan while watching a dance show, magician and the setting sun.
Lauren - Trekking through the rainforest of the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

Favourite swimming:
Aisha - In the crystal clear waters of the Andaman sea off Koh Ngai island in South Thailand.
Lauren - In the Arabian sea off Patnem, Goa, India.

Favourite accommodation:
Aisha - Jungle House in Vientiane, Laos followed closely by Tordi palace in Rajistan, India.
Lauren - Luna Villa Homestay in Hội An, Vietnam closely followed by Old Town Guesthouse in Melaka, Malaysia.

Favourite religious/spiritual site:
Aisha - Swedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar or Ta Prohm in Angkor Cambodia.
Lauren - Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia where one of Buddha's eyebrow hairs lives (ahem).

Favourite journey:
Aisha - I loved the Indian sleeper train from Ahmedabad to Mumbai in India. It was cramped, dirty and public but it was a great experience.
Lauren - The private transfer from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong (Thailand to Laos) in an air-conditioned, swish people carrier.

Favourite beach:
Aisha - Otres in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
Lauren - Patnem in Goa, India

Worst experience:
Aisha - The scary stray dogs in Ayutthaya and my camera breaking for a second time in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (it's still not fixed).
Lauren - Our experience in Mali Mali Guesthouse, Langkawi, Malaysia (pervy man).

Worst accommodation:
Aisha - Our hotel in Mumbai, India that had no windows, a toilet that didn't flush, a strong smell of petrol and there were ants everywhere. BTB Battambang hostel was pretty awful too - no security, really dirty and rude incompetent staff.
Lauren - Mali Mali Guesthouse in Langkawi - dirty (fungus growing in between tiles in bathroom) and unsafe (bedrooms were accessible from the main strip).

Worst food:
Aisha - Jaljeera juice in India - which was basically curry flavoured juice and the 'pork satay stick' on Vietnamese train which was covered in wiry hairs and was probably a week old.
Lauren - The poh piah in Kuala Lumpur mall food court that was drenched in sticky tamarind sauce.

Worst journey:
Aisha - The double-decker bus we took from Bangkok to Surathani with the crazy drunk lady and her boyfriend who ended up getting thrown off.
Lauren - The journey from Sihanoukville to Battambang on which poor Lauren was vomiting throughout.

What We've Learned

About ourselves:
One of the main things we've discovered is that we both love animals much more than we thought we did. Wherever we were in the world we always seemed to find a cat, dog or bird to cuddle and coo at.

That we love each other - a lot! We have spent 24/7 with each other for 6 whole months. We've not had to text/call one another for 6 months because we've always been beside each other. We've been together 2 years now so for a quarter of our relationship we've been travelling. And, aside from a handful of very insignificant arguments (usually due to hunger, exhaustion or being lost) we've loved every second with each other. And of course we've grown stronger as a couple as a result of all the experiences we've shared.

That although we do really enjoy architecture, history and art, we mostly love people - talking to them, learning about them and seeing things through their eyes if only for a short time. We definitely enjoy a good balance of high and low culture and there's also no denying that we appreciate our creature comforts and time to ourselves.

About each other:
Aisha - Lauren is far braver than she lets on and although she can be softly spoken and avoid confrontation, when she feels it's right she will stick up for herself and for me.
I already knew that a hungry Lauren was an angry Lauren but this has been cemented during the trip. Excessive heat also doesn't make for a happy Lauren; but to be fair sometimes the temperature was pretty unbearable even for the locals. Thanks a lot El Niño!

Lauren - Aisha was not as fussy or meticulous as I thought she would be. She was quite happy for me to make decisions about what we were doing or where we were going.
Aisha's also the best person in the world (besides my lovely mum Joan) at looking after me - my physical, emotional and mental well being.

About travelling:
We always managed to form some semblance of a base or 'home' for ourselves. I reckon this is part of our human survival instinct - to feel safe and secure. I (Aisha) was a little concerned that on days when I might be feeling down that I would struggle because I couldn't go 'home' to lock myself away, but thankfully this was never an issue. Our hostel/guesthouse/homestay always became our temporary 'home' wherever we were and, as such, we always felt snug.


Things we would have been lost without:

  • Keen sandals - Even though they gave us the most ridiculous Croc-style tan lines, these comfortable, waterproof and durable sandals were amazing and I must say, after a while we even grew to quite like their appearance too,
  • Stolen shampoo - If we were ever in a hostel that had shampoos in a dispenser in the bathroom we were straight in there with one of our empty tubs filling them up. I count it as a small victory that we didn't buy shampoo once in 6 months.
  • Pens - I found two mini biros before we left and put them in our passport wallets and they were invaluable.
  • Oats - Most of the breakfasts we had while we were away consisted of porridge oats with some local fruit and/or seeds and nuts that we made ourselves. Of course when free toast / pastries / yogurt was available we made the most of that too but we always made sure we had some oats and soya milk with us (neither of which were hard to find).
  • CEX laundry bag - The large drawstring plastic bag I got when I bought my mini laptop from CEX in India served as our dirty washing bag throughout the 6 months and, whenever we handed it over to launderers we always made sure we got it back.
  • Bench dress - Lauren brought a light cotton dress by Bench with her and it served as a brilliant nightie for when we were in private rooms without an en suite and needed to go to the toilet in the middle of the night. As it was so hot whenever we had the opportunity we slept naked which posed a bit of a problem when we were sharing a bathroom. This dress was the perfect throw-on item.
  • Tiger Balm - This wonderful potion (which was invented in Singapore) was an amazing for a whole host of skin ailments - insect bites, rashes, itchy bits, spots, blisters and even worked as a decongestant when we were bunged up.
  • Google Maps - As much as I hate to admit it, the internet, specifically Google Maps, saved us many times. Every traveller will tell you that getting lost is an inevitable and accepted eventuality and, without the help of Google Maps I'm positive we would have ended up stranded on more than one occasion.

Things we didn't end up using/needing:

  • The majority of the first aid kit - To be honest, this isn't exactly a bad thing, it just means we didn't have any major health issues. It's now going to live in my car.
  • Cable ties - I do think we used one or two of these along the way but, for the most part, they weren't that useful for us.
  • Pliable camera tripod - We should have realised that we weren't going to be attaching one of our expensive cameras to a random wall or pole away from us - we would have been asking for it to get stolen.
  • Travel notes - In the run up to the trip Lauren had handwritten some notes on places of interest and transit information for various countries we were visiting. Unfortunately these notes ended up packed deeply away in Lauren's backpack only to be found after we'd already visited the countries that the notes were on.

Things we wish we would have brought:

  • Sudocrem - The wonder-cream. Luckily we had Tiger Balm as a backup but I would have loved some Sudocrem too.
  • Dental floss - I did actually bring some of this but it ran out quite quickly. A lot of the foods we were eating had lots of 'bitty bits' in them - herbs, spices, veggies, fruit, meat etc so dental floss was a bit of a necessity to avoid tooth decay. I ended up buying a packet of toothpicks as dental floss was ridiculously expensive in Asia.
  • A proper hairbrush - We'd bought a small travel hairbrush that unfortunately broke after a few months leaving us with crap plastic combs we'd gotten free in a hotel. Thank god I'd had my hair cut short.

What We'd Do Differently
We wouldn't beat ourselves up as much about feeling fed up and bored sometimes. Losing momentum periodically is inevitable and not the end of the world. We've learned that it didn't make us ungrateful or dull - just human.
I (Aisha) do wish I'd have bothered to do some diving. We were in some of the most well-known diving spots and with hindsight I should have splurged on doing my PADI. The upside is that I'd now realised I'm interested in it and so can pursue it back at home and when I next go away.
There are also quite a few things I wish we could have done in Australia. We weren't really tourists in the country as we were mostly visiting people not places. If we'd have had more money (our budget only allowed $80 per day which is approx. £40) we'd have definitely visited the North of the country and seen the Great Barrier Reef. But this has at least given me a thirst to return and this time, in their summer!
Lauren wanted to add that if she could have, she would have gone around Southeast Asia when it was slightly cooler - but I do think it was a fluke that we were there while El Niño was throwing its weight around.


Have a look at our travel stats here: https://www.travellerspoint.com/stats/advensha/

Final Thoughts

As a final thought I want to express my thanks for everyone that had joined us on this journey by reading this blog and/or watching our videos on YouTube and looking at our photos on Facebook. I'm really proud of myself for starting and finishing this blog project. It has helped to build my confidence in pursuing a creative/media career in the near future.

I also hope that we have inspired one or more people to at least think about taking the leap to quit the job you hate and go see some of the world. We haven't regretted our decision for a second and as much as being unemployed for the first time in my adult life is fucking terrifying (especially for an overly sensible gal like me), I know in my gut that I've done the right thing - whatever happens.

For now we're going to give Bristol a try and see how it suits us. Thank you so much for reading and I hope you go on to have your own advensha!

Posted by advensha 03:06 Tagged adventure best travellers scary backpacking backpackers worst favourites final_thoughts list summary unemployed its_over Comments (0)

Australia: Uluṟu and Kata Tjuta

semi-overcast 18 °C
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From Sydney airport we flew off on our Virgin Australia flight to another new state - Northern Territory. Our destination; Uluṟu, also known as Ayers Rock. Most of the 3.5 hour flight (yes Australia is THAT big) was wholly uneventful until we started our descent. Uluṟu and its surrounding area was unusually cloudy thus we hadn't seen much out of the aeroplane window. All of a sudden we could see a vast wash of red ground only a 100 metres below us; a crazy sight for usually grey eyes - landing was imminent we thought. Then, all of a sudden we accelerated back up and the aircrew came over the PA to say "please remain seated, we are not yet landing" followed by the pilot "we are just heading to our waiting place where we will receive instructions from air traffic control as to what to do next. Please know that we do have enough fuel to divert to another airport if necessary". By this point Lauren isn't quite freaking out but her anxiety has certainly spiked. After about half an hour the pilot attempted the landing again and this time, we made it. It was only after we arrived that my friend Loz (another one) that we were staying with told us she'd heard the airport staff talking about a possible diversion to Adelaide and that the pilot had been too brazen with the first landing and so had to abort. Anyway no harm done and we'd made it to Uluṟu only an hour or so late.

So my friend Loz (who is also known as Ren and that is what I will refer to her as to minimise confusion) is an environmental scientist and works as a ranger at the Uluṟu national park. We felt very lucky to be getting such an amazing insight that other tourists wouldn't enjoy. We first drove in Ren's big old ute to Yalara (the resort at the park) to do some shopping. There was a blanket of cloud covering a lot of the desert but the landscape was still spectacular - so uniquely Australian. On our way back from the shop we spotted a man pulling some sort of animal to the side of the road. Ren jumped out to help and discovered that a euro wallaby (like a small kangaroo) had been hit (most likely by a tourist driving too fast) and seemed to have broken its legs and/or back as it couldn't move, but was still very much alive. Being a ranger (and a good person), Ren thanked the man for helping, sent him on his way and called the office for assistance. Ren told us that there wasn't very much wildlife at Uluṟu so it's always very sad when something gets injured or killed in an accident. After a short while one of Ren's colleagues turned up and was able to put the poor little thing out of its misery. Ren told us that the carcass would be given to the indigenous community (Mutitjulu) and that the Pitjantjatjara people would make a load of meals out of it. So at least its death wasn't totally in vain.
Lauren and I couldn't believe just how Australian our first hour in Uluṟu had been - against the backdrop of both 'the bush' and one of the oldest and most recognisable natural monoliths in the world, we had witnessed (from a ute) a wild, Australia-specific marsupial dying on the side of the road. All we needed next was a crocodile to crawl out of the spinifex and gobble the little wallaroo up. But apparently crocodiles don't hang out in the desert - shame.

We eventually got to Ren's house - Uluṟu Lodge - which is situated within Mutitjulu (the indigenous community), outside of the resort. As expected the house is ace; it sits on a large bit of land which Ren, her boyfriend Matt and her housemate Rachel have cultivated into a veggie patch, small pool and lovely garden with cacti, trees and many plants - all frequented by birds we've never seen or heard before. Two dogs are also residents; Millie - a gorgeous and playful little jack-russell dog and, a new addition, Ninti the semi-domesticated dingo who Ren is looking after for some friends. Ninti was run over a few years ago so her hips and back legs just aren't quite right. This makes her very wonky - she has a funny walk and when you give her a good scratch she just can't take it and falls over. She's naturally a little timid and lives outside but she will come up for a sniff and stroke and is as sweet as anything.
That night Ren cooked us an amazing Laksa soup and for pudding we bombarded her with questions about the big rock and the community. How lucky we are to get an insight that most tourists would never experience.

The next day we drove in Ren's ute (a fun experience in itself) to the cultural centre. It being national reconciliation week - a time "dedicated to growing respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians" - there was a cultural talk led by the Anangu (indigenous Mutitjulu people). We sat with a load of other (mainly white Australian) tourists and learned about some traditional homemade tools, food and hunting and cooking methods. The presenter spoke in Pitjantjatjara and another guy translated into English. Two of the elders were also sat watching; one of whom is called Mr. Uluṟu - the rock allegedly named after his ancestors. As clichéd as it sounds, it was fascinating and reminded us (Lauren and I) just how disconnected we are from the earth we inhabit. At the end of the presentation I ate a freshly barbecued wichetty grub, which tasted a bit eggy and was quite tasty.

Well and truly captivated, after the talk we spent an hour in the visitor centre reading more about the history and culture of the Anangu and their relationship with Uluṟu and Kata Tjuta. We then did a short walk to one of the watering holes which was breath-taking, and along the way we even saw a small snake slither along the path in front of us.
For dinner we went to Gecko's café which is next to the brilliantly named Ayers Wok and then toddled off to the mini stadium where we sat under the astonishing night's sky and watched the film Mabo (which I'd highly recommend).
Ren told us that in Uluṟu, you're closer to the stars than you are to the nearest McDonald's.
Back at the house Ren started a fire and we sat with cups of tea looking up. The night's sky is so clear you can see the milky way. In all honesty it blew my mind.

The next day Ren had a day off so the three of us went on the Mala walk led by James. The Mala is a small hare-like marsupial that is an integral part of the history, stories, learning and rituals of the Anangu. We walked around the rock looking at specific caves and gorges that are or were used for men's and women's business.
For lunch Ren made us an amazing salad with veggies from the garden and homemade dressings and condiments. We sat outside and the weather was perfect; sunny but not too hot or humid. We then drove 1hr out to the other rock (or more accurately rocks) - Kata Tjuta, aka the Olgas.
As we were getting close to sunset we only hiked halfway to the 2nd lookout but along the way we absorbed the awe-inspiring sights of the ancient, colossal rocks, against the piercing blue sky with only the sounds of birds to be heard. It's enough to make you feel incredibly insignificant; a mere (very temporary) dot on the landscape. Ren told us all about the plants and flowers that are blossoming at the moment due to last week's rain. We found a dead micro-bat in a small crook and had a look at his little wings. It's the closest to Steve Irwin I'll ever get.

We climbed back to the ute and parked up to watch the sunset over Kara Tjuta. We sat in the back of the pick-up and observed the sky turning all the colours of the rainbow. With the silvery thin clouds, glowing sunset and tree silhouettes it looked just like an oil painting.
As darkness consumed we all quickly got changed on the side of the road as we were booked into the posh Anali restaurant for our last dinner (generously paid for by Ren's mum Cheryl). There we indulged in some cocktails and yummy gourmet food while conversing about or lives. The beautiful sunset must have made us go all philosophical. I chose kangaroo steak (rare), which was very nice - when in Rome and all that.

The next morning we discovered our early afternoon flight had been delayed so Ren took the extra time as an opportunity to show us around her old place of employment - the camel farm. Naturally we met lots of the camels as well as jumping in the most Australian animal playpen you'll ever see. In it was an emu, a few kangaroos (one of which was pregnant), a huge buffalo (called Buffy) and some ducks. We had some cuddles and strokes and watched some Chinese tourists squirming and screaming with laughter while trying to feed the pecky emu.

The flight kept getting delayed so we then fit in a lunch and some window-shopping at the resort before finally making it to the airport. In the end we were only 3hrs delayed. We soon discovered that everyone's flights has been delayed meaning the tiny airport was chock-a-block.
Eventually we got up in the air and we watched out of the window as we flew over Uluṟu. We said goodbye to what I felt was 'real' Australia and we will always be grateful to Ren for giving us a view that very few would have the privilege of encountering.

Posted by advensha 22:54 Archived in Australia Tagged uluru fauna australia adventure kata_tjuta ayers_rock rock ancient flora rights dingo indigenous aboriginal olga mala monolith spinifex mabo anangu terra_nullius anali the_bush watering_hole Comments (0)

Malaysia: Cameron Highlands

sunny 28 °C
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We kissed goodbye to our futuristic prison pods and got on a coach heading to Cameron Highlands. For the first time we had to jam our own bags into the luggage hold which, incidentally, we were crap at. We spotted two free seats near the back of the bus and quickly realised why they were unoccupied; the couple in front had fully-reclined meaning you had to limbo slide yourself into place. Our overheated, extra-stretchy muscles served us well and we managed to get seated. It didn't take Lauren long to start loudly huffing and puffing and aggressively kicking the chair in front. This woke the young Italian fellow quite abruptly but did cause him to adjust his recline by approximately 2°.

We stopped for a break after 2 hours and, starving, I stupidly picked a cup of buttery sweetcorn as a belated breakfast thinking it was healthier than a croissant. As we approached Cameron Highlands the roads got steeper and windier and the hot, salty butter in my largely empty stomach began to churn. Somehow I managed to refrain from vomiting but I've not been able to look at sweetcorn since.

We got to Brinchang town and managed to find our homestay using the vague directions we'd been given. We found a sign stating "Everything English Homestay", took and deep breath and knocked. Our hosts Fabian (from Harrogate) and his fiancée Lillian (from Malaysia) were incredibly welcoming and offered us cups of tea immediately (naturally). We were shown to our 'dorm room' but thanks to the cartoon stickers, plaid curtains and McDonalds height-measuring poster it felt more like a cosy children's bedroom, which made us feel warm and safe.
The apartment is littered with a plethora of Anglophilic ornaments; there are even pretty china teacups in the kitchen. Twee is an underestimation.

Soon enough, the other guest Julie, from Denmark, came back from her tour and we all chatted for a while while drinking Malaysian tea. She works as a social worker and was on holiday for a few weeks - a really nice girl.
I had a nap while Lauren watched the film Everest with her new best friend Fabian and, tummies rumbling, we followed the concrete stairway shortcut to Brinchang town in the search for sustenance. There are plenty of Chinese 'steamboat' (aka hot pot) restaurants in Cameron Highlands which are supposedly delicious but unfortunately they're not very cost-effective when there's only two of you eating. So instead we settled for a very average rice meal at a basic and overpriced Chinese restaurant.

Walking back to the homestay we eyed up the bashed up Landrovers everywhere along with rusted 'retro' cars like a 70s Fiat 131 or 80s Mercedes-Benz 230E taxis (or teksis as their known in Malay).
Taking full advantage of the box of copied DVDs, Lauren, Julie and I spent the evening watching Star Wars episode VII (Lauren's choice obv) which was actually quite entertaining; well done Disney.

For the first time in a while we both slept beautifully. Thanks to the perfect combination of no air-conditioning (the Brits originally came to Cameron Highlands to escape the heat - it's much cooler) and complete, natural darkness, we hibernated like baby chipmunks. Expectedly, we didn't want to get up, but we had booked a half day tour up Brinchang mountain to the cloud/mossy forest and so were quite happy to. Our guide was a chap called Navin and he was wise-cracking and knowledgeable like a good guide should be.

We were driven two thirds of the way up the mountain in a fairly modern Landrover and shown the BOH tea plantations; laid out in neat lines across hundreds of hectares of undulating hills. The tea 'trees' (kerala) are pruned every few months to keep them short; otherwise they can grow to be one hundred feet tall. As well, the younger leaves are the tasty ones and so only they get harvested anyway. The plantation is actually owned by a Scottish family and who started the BOH tea company in 1929.
The view was pretty spectacular; green for miles, and because of the well-formed lines, there was a scientific quality too. As if we could be looking through a microscope at an amazing geometric pattern created by nature.

We drove up to the summit of the mountain - 2032 metres high - and climbed the rusty watchtower along with many other tourists, some of whom were a little grumpy at the fact they had to wait to climb back down the narrow 1-person wide stairwell (Germans).
We then explored the estimated 230 million year old mossy/cloud forest which we learned serves an incredibly important purpose in keeping the entire ecological balance of Cameron Highlands in check. In the forest we watched a young Chinese girl (in flip flops I might add) drop her huge, sparkly smartphone into the spongey moist ground below the wooden walkway. We also got chatting to a lovely Canadian woman in her late forties who was travelling around SE Asia looking for good hikes and shopping destinations.

The last stop on the tour was a visit to the ridiculously busy BOH tea factory, shop and café. Luckily we squeezed in before the queue got too big to drink a pretty good cuppa, but the rest of our group weren't so lucky. In the café were lots of very adorable (and some obnoxious) children to pull faces at. There was one young male tourist with long curly blonde hair wearing only short shorts, wandering around pigeon-chested like he owned the place. The mere sight of this near-naked gentleman turned Lauren and I into middle-aged, conservative Texan women; of course we can acknowledge that it was quite hot but to be getting your little pink nipples out in the company of modest Muslim families is at best misguided and at worst fucking disrespectful. Oh well, a bit of shockery is always entertaining I guess. I've not been inspired to get my nipples out yet though - but there's still time.
That evening we found a grubby little Indian buffet where we both ate like queens, reminding ourselves as we do every so often, how much we love India and its food.

We got up early the next day to get a taxi to the biggest town in Cameron Highlands; Tanah Rata, the starting point of our guided 6 hour hike. As always were way too early but we used the extra time to get to know the resident dog known as 'Mum' (who ended up joining us on the hike) and have a proverbial cup of cha. We met Jason Chin, our AMAZING guide who in a previous life had been a conservationist and botanist. A Chinese-Malay, born and raised in Cameron Highlands, there was nothing he didn't know about the flora and fauna of Malaysia. Bizarrely, Jason has what we would describe as a 'posh' English accent, almost aristocratic, which he says he picked up while studying and working in London.
Our hike-buddies were a Dutch couple, an English girl (called Lauren) and a French girl. We secretly hoped they were as unfit as we are.

We started fairly gently with Jason stopping regularly to tell us about the native plants and trees we would be seeing a lot of. The warm up didn't last long though and we were soon well-away on trail number 10, scrambling up Gunang Jasar. After around 90 minutes we reached the top of the mountain; 1696 metres above sea level. Here both us humans and Mum the dog rested for a while. Jason pulled out some bread and Nutella and watched our Western faces light up with glee.
At this point we felt pretty good; we'd hiked up a pretty steep mountain within thick, lush jungle and over bare sandstone rocks and we hadn't passed out yet. Little did we know the next 4 or so hours were going to be much more intense.
The trail that used to be the one back down the mountain (trail 6) was permanently closed a few years ago because it became overgrown and too dangerous. The official way to go back down is to go exactly the same way you came up; along trail 10. Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it), Jason doesn't give two shits about 'official' trails and as we approached the DANGER! THIS IS NOT TRAIL 6. DO NOT PROCEED THIS WAY. TURN BACK AROUND sign, we gulped and prayed.

The proceeding hike was a physical test; it turns out the descent was MUCH harder than the ascent. We were deep in the jungle with a floor of wet moss, spongy tree roots and wet leaves. Needless to say all of us fell over on average every 15 minutes. My main issue was stepping/jumping down off steep muddy and/or mossy ledges with nothing to hold onto except poisonous and/or horned branches. We battled on though, stopping periodically to take in the scenery and rehydrate. A saving grace was how cool the air was - we wouldn't have coped had it have been as hot as Penang. Along the way we saw a few different millipedes including a giant one and heard a variety of birds high up in the tree canopy.

After 3 hours or so we made it out of the jungle and into the Cameron Valley tea plantation where we walked along the sandbag paths and tried to avoid falling in the man-made stream. We walked through the plantation worker's village where Mum single-handedly saved us from a territorial pack of dogs. Jason told us that the workers are brought over from Bangladesh and Nepal as Malay people are rightfully reluctant to do the back-breaking work for very little pay.

Our legs felt like strings of spaghetti and we found ourselves walking in a rather unique fashion;

By the time we made it to Cameron Valley's tea shop and café our bodies were screaming for energy so we got some tea and ruined it with spoons and spoons of sugar. It turns out that tea was a mistake; hot caffeinated liquid sloshing around our empty bellies made us feel very nauseas very quickly. God we're hardcore.

Hike finished, we hopped in one of the vintage Merc taxis to Tanah Rata for some much-needed food. Jason's French wife Val joined us and the two solo girls from the hike for an amazing Indian buffet. We chatted for a couple of hours about Malaysia, Europe, government and culture. Jason even paid entire bill.

We returned to our homestay and were greeted by Fabian and Lillian long with a newly-arrived group of Singaporian women and a lovely young chap from Tajikistan who was sharing the room with us. We had made the mistake of thinking we would be back before anyone else and so had neglected to tidy up the mess of clothes on the floor in our room meaning Lillian and Fabian had had to do it. We were pretty embarrassed but chalked it up to not being given a proper time to follow. That and the fact we're lazy bastards.
A young Indian couple with a gorgeous little 2 year old girl turned up later on in the evening and we spent a few hours chatting about their homeland. I'm sure the last thing they wanted to do while on holiday was lament over India with some Brits but they very kindly humoured me.

Our brains very much awake but our bodies shutting down by the minute we retired early to bed, as did our roomie Yassin. We hoped our legs would wake up the next day for our onward journey to Kuala Lumpur.

Posted by advensha 02:28 Archived in Malaysia Tagged rainforest nature hiking trekking tea malaysia adventure backpacker tourists backpackers strawberries colony cameron_highlands tea_plantation mossy_forest cloud_forest Comments (0)

Malaysia: Penang

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On our last morning we discovered that the sky-walk that had been closed while we were in Langkawi for maintenance had actually been open for a few days as they'd finished their work a little early but just decided not to tell anyone. So we could have spent our last day absorbing panoramic views of the island and beyond from a cable-car and cloud-touching 2300ft high bridge. Instead we spent the day walking looking for better beaches that apparently don't exist. Oh well, it obviously wasn't meant to be.

We had a touching morning chatting with and saying goodbye to Elleaty who we'd really connected with before we head over to Kuah pier to catch our ferry to Penang. The ferry terminal was actually very modern and well-organised, despite lots of construction work. The ferry itself was pretty good and it was showing Bollywood movies that kept us entertained for the 3hr journey.
On arrival at Sweetenham pier in Penang we got in the first cab that touted in which the driver fancied himself as a bit of a tour guide and gave us a mini-history of all the sights and streets that we passed. We were dropped at Time Capsule Hotel and we were giddy at being handed a bag each with slippers, headphones and a towel in them - it felt like Christmas. We were shown to our 'pods' and I took the top and Lauren the bottom. The capsules were quite roomy with different mood lighting, a funky circular beauty mirror (with lights), an inbuilt LED smart-TV (that we couldn't get working), a safe and of course a mattress. It even had two pillows; one hard and one soft.
Now a normal person may not get excited by the idea of sleeping in a hi-tech cocoon but I have always been well into it. Since watching 2001: A Space Odyssey as a child I've wanted to be encased in my very own sleep-bubble. Perhaps I have some sort of subconscious longing to go back into the womb. Or maybe I was a vampire in a past life. But, it being my birthday I thought it was a good excuse to give it a go - and thankfully I have a laid back girlfriend.
I regularly flouted the no nudity rule by walking from the bathroom to my pod in my towel 'cos I'm a fuckin' anarchist.

For dinner we found a little place called Yeap noodles that was well-priced and had lots of tasty options. We were really impressed with the choice of noodles; plain, turmeric, spinach, oat, charcoal, carrot and even peppermint. I also tried a cup of barley 'juice' (because it was the cheapest on the menu) which came as a cloudy, icy liquid that was very sweet but rather refreshing.

I should really give you an image of Penang for your mind's eye. George Town is the capital and 'main bit' of the island and was under British rule for 75 years (until 1957). So as you'd expect, it is laden with English relics and architecture like clock towers, red post-boxes, Anglican and Catholic churches and century-old townhouses.
As well, Penang, like Hồ Chí Minh and and others before it, doesn't have any pavements or pedestrian walkways at all. This means you're constantly stepping up and down, on and off curbs and shop fronts and over gulleys and breeze blocks and parked motorcycles. It makes for quite a decent cardiovascular workout.
George Town just vibrates diversity; there's Little India, Chinatown, legions of unique independent coffee shops and cafés as well as galleries, art spaces, music, boutiques and surprising gardens. And then there's the street art; fun, interactive, introspective and all over the town.
It is diversity personified; in it's history, multiculturalism, multi-faith and blending of the contemporary and the antiquated.

On our first night in Penang we stepped out onto Lebuh Chulia; the street we were staying on and the place where most backpackers and cool-folks hang out. We naughtily chowed down on a hot dog (me) and some crinkle fries from a fast food stall called 'Old Trafford Burgers'. We then bought ourselves two cans to sip on; a beer and a cheapo Guinness. Sometimes it's nice to be in a city.

On our second day we embarked on a self-guided street art walking tour. Amazingly the tour was quite easy to follow and we didn't get lost. Along the way we stopped in an intriguing looking coffee shop called Easy Brew that appeared to be semi-burnt down. A lovely young girl called Rene gave us a free demo of how different coffee beans are roasted and then showed us around the deceptively palatial grounds of the shop which beyond the café/restaurant itself stretched into a large and beautiful garden with old artefacts and twee wrought-iron tables and chairs. A gorgeous place for a party or wedding I thought. They'd even converted the old outhouse toilet into a cute little fountain and plant display. We were told that the building had suffered a lot of fire damage only a few months before but that the owner had decided to keep everything as it was; black charring and all.

After our coffee experience we walked to Chew jetty; one of the six clan jetties in George Town. They are wonderful floating communities with loads of character. We even interrupted a wedding photo-shoot overlooking the straits of Malacca.

For lunch we stopped at a vegan Japanese restaurant called Sushi Kitchen. We actually didn't get sushi but massive noodle soup bowls with delicious light flavours and tofu.
In keeping with our nutritious afternoon we then found a pharmacy/health-food shop where we found some much sought-after chia seeds. Sourcing these little bastards made me feel very accomplished - which give you a good idea of how pitiful my life is.
After an enjoyable wander around Little India, salivating at the various fried yummies on offer we retired to our pods to watch the John Waters' classic Female Trouble.

On our third day we ticked off some menial chores including printing our by-proxy voting forms at an internet cafe and putting our laundry into the shop opposite. These are the essential but unexciting little tasks along with booking and keeping track of hostels, flights, buses and tours etc. that sometimes take up hours and hours of time and often make us want to rip our own, or each other's', hair out.

Trusting some information we'd found online we walked to a nearby bus stop that was supposed to be on the 'Hop-on-hop-off' tour route. After 20 minutes standing in the blazing sun I suggested we walk around the corner where it looked busier to see if there was another bus stop. Of course as we walked away, a bus drove past us. Lauren's internal thermometer/angermeter rose a few degrees but she managed to stay calm-ish as we walked back to our original stop. After another 15 minutes of waiting a suave looking gentleman in a pink polo-shirt and aviators came over. He asked us how long we'd been waiting and told us he knew of another bus stop around the corner that was frequented more regularly by buses. We somewhat reluctantly followed him back to the place we'd just been clinging onto the hope that he knew what he was talking about. Once again, we couldn't find a bus stop and guess what, we watched in horror as ANOTHER bus drove by, completely ignoring our frantic arm flailing. By now Lauren's face had turned a nice shade of crimson and smoke was bellowing out of her ears. She stomped back round to our original point AGAIN and I sheepishly followed, waving off the man's embarrassed apologies. Never trust an American.
Eventually we jumped on a free shuttle bus in order to get to the city's main bus terminal where we were more confident the Hop-on-hop-off would stop. After some fumbling around asking uninterested people for help we finally got on the tour bus.

We rode a long way listening to the crap computer-generated commentary and got off at Penang's Botanical Gardens. By now it was pretty damn hot so we were glad to get under the shade of some trees. The gardens are HUGE with loads of different sections. Surrounded by massive limestone rocks and mountains and impossibly tall jungle trees it really is a sight to behold. Apparently a lot of locals come to the gardens for their daily jogs and what a beautiful motivation it must be.
We walked around for an hour taking as much as we could in. We were lucky enough to see plenty of wildlife too including long-tailed macaques, cranes and a large monitor lizard.

We waited at the garden's bus stop for a good half an hour directly under the afternoon sun, watching the monkeys begging at cars for food and listening to the loud scary gun shots that sounded too close for comfort. Back on the bus we sat for a long while peering out at the city and all within it. We got off at Penang Hill and jumped aboard the famous colonial leftover that is the funicular railway. Apparently the steepest one in the world at an incline of 29°.
Even though it was low season and Malaysia's Labour Day wasn't for 2 days, there were plenty of tourists about, although we were the only white ones. The ascension was quite fun and when you looked back down at the tracks it really was quite scary.
At the top we enjoyed the panoramic views of Penang while munching on a some delicious Chana Masala from an Indian stall. On the way back down we met some adorable Indian children who politely jumped up to let me sit down.

Back on the tour bus and coming to the end of the day we got off at a stop near 'home' - Chowrasta market and picked some street food for tea where we also enjoyed a PINT of sweet sweet masala chai. After a quick freshen up we walked to Prangin mall where we foolishly bought some promotional Frappuccinos from Starbucks (at my request) which were pretty horrid. Lauren's 'summer berries panna cotta' one was like drinking a cheap trifle through a straw. We then finished our evening by visiting the manky cinema and watching the new Jungle Book which was actually very good.

The day after (a Saturday) was my 28th birthday. Woe is me. As a treat to myself I woke up early and did a high intensity cardio workout in the communal area. I'm fucking weird I know. As we had a few hours left on our Hop-on-hop-off tickets we thought it would be resourceful to use them up and so we sat on the bus for 2 hours as it did a loop of both the city and the beach-heavy outskirts of the island. Penang really does have it all; interesting and accessible urban and rural spaces. We unfortunately didn't have enough time to have a look round the National Park which is apparently wonderful. Here's some of our windy experience;

We eventually got off at Komtar to go to Hin Bus Depot art space where there was a great exhibition showing the artwork of learning-disabled people in the community. The space was great and included a large open garden covered in contemporary art. There were also free tea and biscuits.
We found our way to the main bus station and managed to get on a bus heading to the celebrated Gurney hawker centre; home to all the street food you could ever wish for.
Loz found a veggie Chinese stall and had a bowl of some nondescript soup and I had some Po Piah that I'd been desperate to try since I set foot in Langkawi. It's basically a very thin skinned spring roll but full of fresh vegetables and a delicious chilli sauce. We then found an amazing milkshake stall which made me a birthday-special peanut butter and Toblerone shake. I was knock knock knockin' on Heaven's doors.

Our post-binge high didn't last long however as we could not for the life of us find the bus stop heading back to George Town. It's not as simple as crossing over to the opposite side of the road that you got off at. No, what you have to do is walk for 45 minutes in the dark around the back of a huge mall and down some dodgy streets to join a small group of people and hope they too are waiting for a bus and not just congregating with the intention of mugging you.
Thankfully, we did get on a bus in the end and only had to endure a few drug-addled weirdos (ahhh nostalgic). As we approached our hotel we remembered that we were an hour late for collecting our laundry. I've never seen Lauren run so fast and amazingly she made it to the shop just as she was locking the doors. The next day was a bank holiday and the day after that we were leaving early in the morning so we would've had no chance at getting our clothes back.

Our last day in Penang was boringly spent planning for what was to come next. We of course intermittently broke the boredom by eating.
Penang has been my favourite city overall so far and the perfect place to spend my birthday. It's actually the first place we've been that I could realistically see myself living in. But we'll give Bristol a go first eh...

Posted by advensha 21:09 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia adventure penang backpacking ferry langkawi travelling colonial southeast_asia time_capsule_hotel yeap_noodles Comments (1)

Thailand: Ko Lanta and Trang

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On the morning of Friday 15th April we left Khao Lak heading to Ko Lanta. Our first leg of the journey was a cramped minibus where we got talking to a lovely retired British couple from London who had done a hell of a lot of travelling over their lives, especially around Thailand. We swapped stories and shared Britishisms (as you do) and they told us all about their very eccentric gay son and his husband.
Thankfully the cramped bus only lasted for 3 hours and we got off at Krabi to then change to a different (less cramped) minibus driven by an awfully cool Thai fella who's driving was as untamed as his long hair. On this second leg of the journey we had to get on two big, industrial, open-air car ferries to get to Ko Lanta island; which was an experience.

After another 2 hours we arrived at Ko Lanta where we were dropped right outside of our hostel; Lemonade Boutique. The hostel was really nice; our dorm room was quite unusual as it had 4 single beds along with hospital-style privacy curtains - we'd gotten used to bunks. Everything was in order and we plopped our bags down and hungrily threw ourselves in the next door to 'Salad House' restaurant, which proclaimed to be an organic health food establishment. We quickly found out that it was like every other Thai restaurant; massive menu, most things deep-fried and not many veggie options and overpriced. We ordered some basic rice and tofu dishes and quietly noted to each other that we wouldn't return.

Our tummies full, we went to check out our beach; Khlong Dao, which was only 100m behind our hostel. The beach looked amazing set against a pink sunset. It was quiet, with only a few murmurs of children playing and a slight breeze whistling through the tall trees. There were a a sprinkling of bars and restaurants set back from the white sand with some brightly coloured lanterns hanging from their decks.

Back at our hostel we heard a cat crying outside our door and naturally, being lesbians, we couldn't help but let it in for a cuddle. We named this cat Gryger as he looked like a grey tiger and he became a regular feature of our Ko Lanta trip. We cuddled with Gryger for a few hours until our dorm-mates turned up; a young guy from Amsterdam and a British girl. To Lauren's disdain these two liked to listen to crap pop music and talk loudly about clothes and diets and selfies and other young people things. It always amuses me to see Lauren angrily gurning in a corner like a bitter old woman who's confused, scared and annoyed by the modern world.
At 11pm they shut up, just in time to save Lauren from an aneurysm.

The next day we rented bicycles and rode to Ko Lanta Animal Welfare centre approx. 3km away. The centre has been going for about 5 years and is a non-for-profit organisation that treats and houses ill and/or stray cats and dogs in Ko Lanta, as well as doing mass sterilisation programmes and re-homing animals that aren't safe on the streets. The centre runs entirely on volunteers so we thought we'd get involved and take one of their dogs for a walk. We were given Lady, who had been adopted by a Dutch family and was just waiting for a flight-buddy. She was young and placid and looked a bit like a collie. We were given 45 minutes to wander around the nearby rubber-tree fields.
For the first 5 minutes everything was good, we wandered amongst the woods and kept an eye out for other dogs or anything more sinister like hungry dog-eating snakes. Soon though, Lady decided she'd had enough and just stopped still; refusing to walk any further. We had to coax and tug her for the remainder of the walk. At first we thought she might have seen or smelled something that scared her but it quickly became apparent that she just wasn't in the mood to move. To be fair to her it was incredibly hot outside, but we weren't very well equipped to deal with a pretty big dog playing dead. We managed to drag her to the road leading back to the centre and we were only 200m away when she lay down in the dirt. Luckily for us a Geordie guy who works at the centre was driving past and saw us struggling, after he had a go at energising Lady he picked her up and carried her to his van to take her 30 seconds up the road. After speaking to the girls at the centre they laughed and apologised and said that Lady could be, at times, a lazy so and so.

We got a tour of the facility and met some of the cute dogs and cats with often pretty horrific back stories. The centre really is an amazing place and if we'd have known about it sooner we would have signed up to volunteer for a month.

By now we were peckish and so biked up to a veggie restaurant called Kunda, run by a lovely Polish couple. We had an amazing smoothie and some zapiekanka (an open sandwich with cheese and other delicious toppings). While enjoying the outdoor hippie-haven garden we got talking to a British-Morocco girl called Issan who has been travelling for a number of years and had just adopted a gorgeous little dog called Teddy from the Animal Welfare centre we'd just been to. She was really lovely and praised us for the big step we'd taken to come away. She also told us about her experience working on elite yachts for the super-rich for years and how it had opened her eyes to how wasteful, cruel and vapid the industry is and how it had 'broken' her and a lot of her colleagues over the years.

We cycled back to our dorm and got a little burned by the afternoon sun and met one of our new roomies; Brad from Canada. He had long greasy hair and was wearing an Iron maiden T shirt. We chatted about music and Thailand and our respective travel experiences and plans; it was refreshing to meet a backpacker who wasn't conventionally 'sceney' or 'hip'.

That evening we cycled to Sala Dan market approx. 3km up the road from where we were staying. Lauren ingeniously put her torch on flashing mode and hung it from her front basket in order to reduce our chances of being run down (especially considering we had no helmets or high visibility items).
The market was pretty sprawling with loads of snide clothes on offer along with the usual souvenirs. On our way out of the market Lauren spotted a funky little vintage shop in the corner called Neems where we both bought some retro shorts from the bargain bin.

On the ride home we stopped at a street food market for dinner. While there we saw a big ginger cat roaming around getting strokes. Beckoning it over we soon noticed that it had a massive gaping wound on it's neck. We took a snap and later emailed it to the Animal Welfare centre we'd just visited who replied the following day to say they'd found the cat and were treating it. We like to think of ourselves as modest heroes.

We woke up very early the next day having not slept very well due to the direct hit of the AC unit. We toddled to the beach where there were no sunbeds so we used some towels we'd borrowed from the hostel. Neither of us cope very well with the proliferation of sand and so after a bit of swimming in the warm Andaman sea we pulled ourselves away to the shade of another hippie restaurant called Irie. It being low season, wherever we went felt almost empty which was both nice and sometimes a little isolating. It was interesting to see the local people packing away to head to their other off-season jobs. In keeping with the sleepy atmosphere we didn't do much else for the rest of the day besides eating our new found favourite things; chocolate bon-bon sweets from the 7/11.

The following morning we were chucked in the back of a pick-up and driven to Lanta old town pier for our '4 islands' boat trip. Our boat was a long tail and our group was 20 strong Europeans including two very cute, very well-behaved German children. The tour guides were rough round the edges and very funny but certainly not polished (we did pick the cheapest trip). We had an exhilarating 1 hour ride on the sea to get to the first 'islands' - Ko Chuek and Ko Ma where we snorkelled with the many cute and colourful fish. Here's some of what we saw;

The next mooring point was at Marakot cave (aka emerald cave) which we we swam underneath for 80m in pitch black with hundreds of other tourists. It's certainly something we've both never experienced before; it was a unique combination of unbridled terror coupled with childlike exhilaration. The sight upon exiting the cave was worth the panic as we gazed upon what could have been the Garden of Eden. There were a little too many tourists for our liking but we consoled ourselves in the fact that in high season we would have felt like caged chickens. One guy floated in wearing a trilby... now that's commitment to fashion.
After admiring the natural beauty of the bay we swam back to the boat and head to our last stop; Ko Ngai island. The island is incredibly beautiful and very secluded with only a few signs of ramshackled civilisation. We ate a delicious Thai lunch with Coca Cola included to Lauren's delight and spent the rest of our 1 hour slot snorkelling in the translucent turquoise water. We got particularly fixated on a little dotted white fish who appeared to be digging around and guarding a den most probably full of babies. I'm sure our two white arses bobbing up and down in shallow water served as interesting amusement for the Muslim natives of the island.

The breezy ride back to Ko Lanta in the back of the pick-up truck was wondrous after a day of skin-cooking. After a short recuperation we head out for a street food tea and then onto the Irish Embassy; an Irish pub up by the popular Long beach. If you know me at all you'll know that I wouldn't just spontaneously go to a pub unless there's a motive, and in this instance, the motivation was a quiz. We settled down to our table and eyed around for any other couples or loners that we may want to join our duo. Unfortunately after some careful judging we decided that everyone else looked too thick to be worthy of joining our team and so continued as a twosome.

We titled ourselves Fannypackers as homage to Lauren's love of a bum bag (and owing to us both possessing fannies) and got stuck in to the questions. In all fairness, the quiz was written and mastered by a British guy so anyone from Blightly had an unfair advantage. Like good ex-colonists we of course embraced this advantage and, despite our diminutive team size we managed to come 3rd! The teams in 2nd and 1st had 4 and 5 people in them and we definitely saw some unauthorised usage of phones too... I can only assume they were cheating Southern bastards. We even won an extra point for having a funny name. The only issue was that our prize was a 750 baht token for the nearby paint-balling centre. Neither of us fancied putting on heavy protective gear in the 40° heat nevermind shooting people so instead we were given two Sambuca shots - perhaps not a fair trade but they were free nonetheless and they washed down my earlier Guinness and black nicely.

The next day was our last and we decided to laze about, cuddle our best friend Gryger and do some planning. We unfortunately weren't sleeping very well because of the air-conditioning, so on our last night after our dorm-mates checked out we swapped beds to be further away from the unit. This helped a lot and we wish we'd done it sooner.
Ko Lanta turned out to be a heavenly home-from-home with plenty of opportunity for animal-loving; a place that fed our weary travelling souls.

Our last little detour before heading to Malaysia was the province of Trang in Southern Thailand. The journey was only 4hrs on a minibus and involved getting on 2 car ferries to first pass the Lat Bo Nae river and then the Andaman sea to mainland Thailand. We suspected that the minibus driver thought he was playing GTA as he seemed to speed up when approaching sharp bends and also enjoyed overtaking vehicles that were already overtaking someone else.
We were dropped at Trang bus station and for the first time during this whole trip we weren't mobbed by taxi and/or tuk tuk drivers touting for our custom. In fact we couldn't see any other tourists, any English information or any taxis or tuk tuks. We stood around for a while and eventually a tuk tuk or more accurately a songthaew arrived. We got on along with a few other Thai passengers and hoped the driver knew where our guesthouse was. Thankfully, he did.

One thing that immediately struck us about Trang was the tuk tuks; they weren't like any we'd seen before. They are essentially little 3-wheeler cars with a partially open 'truck' in the back.

We made it to Yamawa guesthouse and were greeted by a very sweet smiley lady who runs the place with her husband and children. After freshening up we got in an actual and headed to the retail park with plans to see a film at the cinema. We arrived early for the film and so had a peep in the supermarket where we marvelled at the unusual wares like mushroom juice and green tea yogurt as well as buying plenty of calorific snacks. At the cinema's box office we were told that all of the films are dubbed in Thai with no English subtitles. We felt rather hard done by considering in every other cinema English was kept at the speaking language. Where's my Western privilege I felt like shouting! We hung our heads and got a ride to the one of the local night markets for yet more food. The market was a hive of activity and we were the only whiteys around. Families were there buying their tea and sweet treats for their kids. Young girls were shimmying around looking at ridiculously tiny polyester dresses with lemons printed on them.
We got plenty of double-takes but even more smiles and waves which filled us both with glee. We walked back to Yamawa rather glad our film-expedition had failed and spent the evening eating our munchies in bed. Poor us.

The next day we walked around the town a little checking out the local businesses and layout of the streets. At one point an elderly lady stopped me to stroke my arm and give me a big smile. Who doesn't find bingo wings comforting!? We didn't do much else except go to the other night market where I managed to find a freshly put-together pot fruit and berries; what a revelation, I haven't had berries for a lifetime.

Trang was a welcome reprieve from the 'touristy' hotspots we'd been frequenting for a while and the perfect little precursor to our country-hop over to Malaysia.

Posted by advensha 06:22 Archived in Thailand Tagged beaches landscape beach thailand adventure beautiful cats ko_lanta sunny backpacking ferry travelling minibus trang andaman_sea Comments (0)

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