Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lazy Langkawi - Part 2

Way back in March

The reason the beach area of Langkawi Island may have been so quiet, even though it was school holidays, is that all the holiday makers were most likely at Panorama Langkawi!

Stray and I and Co. hired some scooters, but they latter stayed behind this day. So, we made the pleasant ride out to the cable car, just the two of us. 
On arriving you'll find a theme park set up and atmosphere. Very well presented, lots of rides for the kids and shops, and ticket box for the journey up to the top of the Machinchang mountain.

No need to mention that the heat is relentless in this part of the world, and queuing in the sun for over an hour for your tickets, takes its toll...especially when you spend that hour staring at signage informing you that the next stage of lining up (for the actual skycab ride) could take up to 2 hours!

We were only about half an hour into the latter, winding our way through a well organised maize of railings, when an official started calling out for 2 people (a couple) travelling alone :) Since most Malaysian families visiting that day consisted of way more than two members...that would be US!!!!

I could have sworn I felt daggers going into my back as we were ushered to the front of the long queue. Nevermind, my fear of heights, especially dangling in a cabin on a single cable for nearly 2 km, overcame any guilt I may have felt.

When the car stopped, we naturally disembarked, however, we weren't at the top yet.

Above - You can see the most upper platforms and sky bridge to the right.

Once all the way to the top, this is what the skybridge (currently closed for maintenance) looks like from above and spectacular 360 degree views!
Verdict, well worth the visit, probably better not on school or public holiday.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lazy Langkawi - part 1

Way back in March...

From Penang to Langkawi may have been the shortest flight we've ever taken...but I'll have to research that a little further. In stark contrast, the island is quiet and sleepy and HOT!

From the airport we taxied to the AB Hotel, which is divided into two sections by the coastal road in the beach area Pantai Cenang (Cenang Beach), not the township. After checking in with the gals in the under cover, but outdoor reception area (protected by barred windows!) we were pointed across the road to our lodgings, roll of toiler paper in one hand (one per room) and the keys, in the other.

The hotel complex consists of duplex villas and your usual hotel style rooms on different levels. We spent our few days in a villa. Clean, basic, ample room, quiet (but no sat TV) with refurbished bathrooms and cute furry locals that liked to hang out on our balcony.
For an island that would seem to rely heavely on tourists, it was not what we expected, nor what we were accustomed to. There was no usual banter of sales people trying to entice you into a store or restaurant, or stopping you for chit chat, instead it was quite the opposite.

And, before anyone nay nay's me, I was not alone in my conclusion...there were 4 of us and the opinion was unanimous. They just don't like us much! We've travelled to over 12 countries and even more regions and islands, and I'm sad to say I won't return to Langkawi.

I reflect on what it must be like to be a tourist in my own country, and where I don't imagine our guests are greeted with rolling red carpets, I hope they don't leave feeling that we're unfriendly.
Near the township
Only about 1 out of 10 business owners showed any interest in welcoming us or attempting to assist us...usually just pointing us away, down the road, from their shop. Some even lowered their heads, ignoring us, pretending we weren't standing in front of their counters.

I really did break out into laughter when I tried to withdraw funds from one of the few ATM's and the machine spat my card out twice. Looking up I saw the 'Bank of Islam' sign...could have something to do with it!?

It's not all negative though. We enjoyed a great meal at a beachside restaurant (STEAK) owned by a foreigner and lovely breakfasts' cooked by a beautiful local lady and her family.

The island was VERY quiet, considering it was school holidays...but that come's back to bite us in the butt, so to speak, in a couple of days.

To be continued...

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wow, while I wasn't looking....

Cooeee has received 50,609 Pageviews since hatching!

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Feeling terribly guilty and anxious!

Feeling terribly guilty, because I've neglected my blogging friends and world. And, for not finishing our last adventure! Anxious, because I, we, are crash coursing our Thai a little, as we prepare to revisit in the new year.

Work for me, study for Stray, catching up with family, deweeding the jungle, termite damage and repairing it, has kept us both very busy over this past year since we returned from LOS.

We wish you all the most merry Christmas and an awesome new year, as we get back into the swing of travelling and blogging.


Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Penang - Part 2. The Hill and Kek Lok Si

7th - 10 Mar 2012

Penang Hill is a short 6 km bus ride out of Georgetown and the top, reachable by funicular. It’s a slow, very steep ride in parts…kind of like my blog writing efforts of late. The track is just under 2 km long and in places the climb is nearly 28 degrees.
The views from just over 820 metres above sea level are quite nice, overlooking the channel between the island and mainland. And it’s COOL up there!
I’d forgot to mention that we’d caught up with our daughter, LJ and her partner, the day before and between the four of us we all guestimated the length of the bridge in the distance. None of came close to the its actual 13.5 km and none of us guessed that the second bridge under construction would be a whopping 24 km when completed, making it the 4th longest bridge in SE Asia.
Apart from the view, there’s not really much to do up there. Look at the Hindu temple and mini Mosque (which was closed), visit the Aviary & Ginger Garden, have a meal at one of the many eateries or go on the nature walk, if that’s your thing.
And there's always being grateful that times have changed and we hadn't made the trip up in one of these.
My ulterior motive for going was to visit the nearby Kek Lok Si temple, whose towering image of bodhisattva Guan Yin, can be seen on the way up to the hill’s base.
My memory might be a bit fuzzy, but I wasn’t alone ‘what the’-ing the bus fare for the quick ride from the hill to the temple, which cost more than it did to journey out from the city. And, no ticket?
Anyway, I did enjoy the architecture and views (perhaps not all of the steps) and again, another short trip in a funicular.
 The bronze image of bodhisattva Guan Yin stands
over 30 metres tall.
Penang regrets, not visiting the spice farm, exploring the island some more, releasing the turtles at Kek Lok Si temple and not sampling ais kacang.
Well, maybe not the latter.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Friday, April 27, 2012

Georgetown, Penang - Part 1

7th - 10 Mar 2012

Penang’s much bigger and more populated than I thought it would be. The airport was, and no doubt still is, undergoing some major renovations…but we eventually found the exit to catch a public bus into Georgetown. 
A 45 minute ride, stopping at various locations, along the way. I was ssooo hungry, as soon as we entered a huge shopping complex I voted to disembark. It so happened that we were at Komtar mall, where for buses, all roads lead…well, most of them. It makes a good landmark, being home to Penang's tallest building.

After sating the stomach demons, we hailed a taxi to our hotel. Turns out we were only a kilometre, or less, away.

The Old Penang Guesthouse (review) is located on Love Lane, which is in the Georgetown Heritage walk area.
Although, not greatly impressed with our temporary lodgings, it is however in an ideal location. Just around the corner from the Goddess of Mercy Temple, which is just around the corner from the famous blue Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. And, a great place for dinner, the Red Garden.  A huge array of individual food outlets surrounding a dining area, with live entertainment which can be a quite good, if not entertaining for all the wrong reasons.
For a photographer, or someone with a half decent camera, there’s plenty of old buildings to snap. The architecture is a melting pot of British, Indian, Islamic, and Chinese. One aspect stood out for me and that was the inclusion of small decorative tiles on many of the old terrace house entrances.
I loved these quirky sculptured signs on some of the walls, explaining where you are. The result of a competition, a series of them have been made and gradually installed since 2009.
Along another path of the walk, it feels more English  (for very good reason), passing the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, Fort Cornwallis and City Hall.
 Wiki says ‘Penang has one of the largest collections of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia. This is for the most part due to the Rent Control Act which froze house rental prices for decades, making redevelopment unprofitable.’ 
This apparently is the reason for many of the buildings being in a state of disrepair, but, Georgetown definitely has a certain charm about it. The Act was repealed in 2000, so fingers crossed many of the buildings will be restored and not bulldozed.

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai

Friday, April 20, 2012

Where to stay (or not) in Phnom Penh - Modern City Hotel

I'm not sure why this hotel is under the heading of a B & B/Inn on's a hotel!

We had been booked in at Sary's Guesthouse for months prior, having made arrangments directly, with Sary by emails. All was going well until they failed to collect us from the bus station, a trade off in lieu of our free airport pick-up. So in a tuk tuk we jumped and found our own way. On arriving...big apologies for renting out our room!!! for the first of our three night stay. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

So what's (new for us) to eat? Cambodia

28th Feb - 7th Mar 2012

Anyone who knows us, or this blog, will know that we love our food. Especially finding new dishes or ingredients, we’ve never seen or tried before and eating them. During the 9 days we spent in Cambodia we were able to discover a few, as well as take part in a cooking class in Phnom Penh.
As in nearly every class we’ve attended in Asia, alas, spring rolls were on the menu, although this was the first time I’d seen shredded taro as the main ingredient. Our teacher informed us sweet white potato is a suitable substitute. Shredded, soaked in water and squeezed dry.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Phnom Penh's S21

5th - 7th March 2012

Driving into Phnom Penh, the term ‘in your face’ comes to (my) mind. It’s part in ruins, part being built/rebuilt and part new. She’s a bit smelly, colourful, struggling to survive, hoping for a better future, and writhing with life. Her scars are very evident,  and some of her wounds are still healing, and it’s no wonder why.
The history of Cambodia is fraught with internal uprisings and invasions from way, way back. More recently, enduring the terror of the Khmer Rouge. If you want to skip my condensed over simplified version of a little prior history...scroll past the purple bit.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Busing it from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh

4th March 2012

If you're planning on travelling from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, by bus, you have several options of companies to choose from. We chose 168, only because the staff at Zana House said that they were new...or perhaps they meant that the buses were new...or looked new. Ours was just fine.

We were punctually collected right outside the guesthouse entrance and appeared to be the last on a 'hotel pick up route', before stopping up the road, at their office, to allow the final passengers to board.

The ride is a comfy 3.5 to 4 hours long, making two stops along the way. One, possibly because someone wanted to buy fruit and veggies.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Flying to Sihanoukville for a couple of days

2nd - 3th March

Unable to book a ticket via the Cambodia Angkor Air website (for the last 6 months, after numerous attempts and reassuring emails from their office) we found their headquarters in Siem Reap and paid for our seats. Angkor Air is currently the only airline offering this route, unless perhaps if you have the dosh to hire your own plane.

The flight from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville is very short, it's only around 170 km as the crow flies. At US$117, it's expensive in comparison to the other local flights, but worth it when the alternative is a  9 - 10 hours in a bus. It was a nice flight, but the (burning off of crops) smoke in the air, as we left Siem Reap, was very evident.
Sihanoukville Airport

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mekong Boutique Hotel, Siem Reap - Review

Whenever we travel, I always submit a review of hotels we stay at on (because I rely on it myself)...that is of course if they can locate the darn hotel. Some remain undiscovered by the website, regardless of providing them with detailed details. Ho hum!

While in Siem Reap we stayed at the Mekong Boutique Hotel, booking directly via their website for US$20 per night, per room, which included breakfast and arrival transfer from the airport, by tuk tuk.
I'm so relieved I left my hand grenades outside!
Here's the review.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Before we leave Siem Reap

28th Feb - 2nd Mar 2012

Some holiday photos and experiences don't warrant a full post to themselves, but it'd be a shame to not include them, somewhere. So, before we leave Siem Reap...

Flying in.
Where the river meets Tonle Sap lake
Looking a bit dry or perhaps the havest's over, as we near Siem Reap
The language. A native Bangkokian recently said to me that Khmer reminded him of 'rock n roll'. Until then I thought I was the only one that visualised languages. Khmer to me was like someone plucking a banjo, Deliverance style...and from time to time, I could have sworn I'd recognised some (Thai) notes. Possibly, but more than likely, not. Malaysian conjures up a pot of something really thick bubbling away on the stove, but that's another post.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Onward to the Bayon and Thom - Cambodia

1st March 2012

A good hour and a half later after wandering around Angkor Wat, we cooled down in a nearby café. It was SO hot, other tourists where asking the gardener to hose them off, instead of the plants. We located our tuk tuk driver, Sojetta, in the parking area opposite Angkor Wat and after Stray had abruptly interrupted his nap, he convinced him to swap places.
Poor guy still looks half asleep.
Changing back, shortly before we arrived at The Bayon, notorious for it’s huge faces…just in case the cops were about.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Angkor Wat's off the bucket list

 1st March 2012

Angkor Wat has now been struck off our bucket list. This, the largest pre-industrial urban development,  once connected by a hydraulic network of canals and dams, is for some people, their only reason for visiting Siem Reap. Opting to fly in and fly out in one we were told. It's a pity, because Siem Reap itself is a well worth a few days stay.

Our one day pass to Angkor Wat...OK, we look a trifle dishevelled, but hey, it was stifling hot, already!

Standing at the front entrance of Angkor Wat, I'm starting to appreciate why the women behind me are dressed the way they are. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Arriving in Siem Reap

27th - 29th Feb 2012

After our usual overnight transit through Kuala Lumpur at the Tune prison Hotel, we took off to Siem Reap (the Flat Defeat of Siam) early the next morning. The airport is small, quiet and quaint and there was no need for me to download visa forms from the internet, pre-complete them in duplicate and whack two photos on the front.

The only necessary form is on hand at immigration, fill it out and hand over a passport size photo plus US$20 and a painless few minutes later you're on your way to a passport check and fingerprint scan...something I was surprised to see in such a small city, country.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Precious Cargo - Siem Reap, Cambodia

Stray and I have spent the last 3 weeks visiting Cambodia and parts of Malaysia. Before I get blogging (blah blahing) I love this photo and wanted to share it, even though it does make me shudder!

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai