Location: Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand
Darn it!! Having spent a good hour this morning crafting an entry for the site it's been "lost" as a result of some technical shenanigans. It really is quite terrible as it was probably the best thing that I've ever written and possibly would have been the most exciting and gripping thing you'd have ever read. Shame really.
Anyway I really can't be bothered to attempt a rehash of the whole thing as it would probably end up much like Home Alone 2 is to Home Alone, paling miserably in comparison to the original. Instead I'll use this time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and if I don't get on a computer before the 31st a very Happy New Year as well.
Lots of love Matt & Ede x x x
Location: Ko Lanta, Thailand
Well it's the 15th of December and we haven't heard the dulcit tones of Cliff Richards once!
On returning to Kuala Lumpur from Bali we jumped on a bus up to Langkawi and spent a fantastic few days lounging by day and partying by night with some other travellers. On our third day we decided that we should leave the little strip of beach by our lodgings and hired a car with an Irish couple, Paula and Anto to explore the island. As we're now in 'relax' mode rather than 'outdoor enthusiast' mode we decided to take a cable car rather than walk to the highest point on the island. The views over the other 103 islands of Langawi were simply stunning!
The second stop on our island tour was 'Seven Wells' which was rather like a natural version of a water theme park with seven interlocking pools that you can slide between. After our fingers were suitably wrinkled we drove to the north of the island and found possibly the most beautiful beach I've ever seen to watch the sun go down.
The next day we left Malaysia on a boat bound for Thailand and we're now on the gorgeous island of Ko Lanta staying at Long Beach. The beach is golden, the sea is calm and turquiose and I haven't been asked if I want my hair braided once! This is paradise.
Tomorrow we set off a monster trip up to Bangkok to meet my Mum and sister. I think that Bangkok will come as quite a shock after the slow pace of life here and in Langawi.
Okay that's all for now. I feel so lucky being here in the sun but I must admit that I'm rather missing the festive mince pies, mulled wine and of course Cliff Richards!
Lots of love from Ede and Matt xxx
Location: Kuta, Indonesia
Hello one and all.
Wow, day 5 of the advent calendar already! Well since our last entry we departed and returned to Kuta. It turns out this surfing business isn't quite as easy without our friend Palu and we were both feeling a little battered and bruised so we retreated to the sleepy artists town of Ubud for a few days. We were fortunate enough to be the only guests staying in a family compound belonging to a local artist (the fact that he only had one room is beside the point).
It was quite a relief to escape the constant harassment of Kuta with people hounding you offering massages, jewellery, ice creams, hair braiding and manicures. The worst hawkers were probably the guys offering transport because if you said no they promptly offered you magic mushrooms or marijuana which then made you extra glad you turned down their offer of transport.
Ubud is hailed as the aristic and cultural capital of Bali and is filled with dozens of artists workshops and all manner of jewellery and crafts shops. The lifestyle in Ubud is slightly more refined than in Kuta, so rather than spending evenings grooving to the sounds of Usher, R Kelly and the Proclaimers (mmm nice!) and drinking such imaginitively titled "cocktails" as a jam jar and an illusion shaker we were treated to jazz performances and a fantasic evening of Balinese dance. The female dancers managed to keep their eyes wide open for minutes on end. I didn't know that was physically possible.
We have three days left here before flying back to Kuala Lumpur and we're both hoping to improve our surfing skills before then. Upon our return we'll spend a few days on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia before crossing back into Thailand.
Until then, goodbye love Ede and Matt
ps - Not wanting to sound pushy but we're slightly upset that we haven't appeared in the "top 5 most visited sites" yet. Hmmm maybe we're getting a bit to competitive!
Just a little note to say that we've posted some more photos of Malaysia and Thailand. Apologies to those in the UK that are suffering the joys of winter!
Location: Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
I feel a bit like a presenter of Jackanory with these updates but anyway if you're sitting comfortable here we go.
Having partied with the best of them on Koh Phangan we decided that the best thing for our health and our bank balances was to move on so we settled for the more relaxed atmosphere of the island of Koh Tao. Koh Tao is quite literally a divers paradise with loads of coral reefs and clear waters and loads of diver courses running. However as time was short and we're planning on doing one in the New Year in Koh Phi Phi (where they shot The Beach) we decided to take the easy option and sun bathe. Not doing a dive course did make it feel a bit like being in a ski resort and not skiing or boarding.
After a pleasant three days it was time to move on and head back to Kuala Lumpur to hop a a cheap flight to Bali. Heading back to Kuala Lumpur involved about 26 hours of travelling taking in a night boat, mini buses, a coach and lots of waiting around. The night boat from Koh Tao back to mainland Thailand definitely registered highly for the fun factor (and also scored quite respectably for the odd factor as well). To create the authentic feeling of being on a cruise ship the night boat had two decks. This translated as someone having divided one normal deck into two so one had to develop a pronounced hunch to move around without concussing oneself. The "lower deck" was reserved for luggage and crew so rather spartan in decoraton. In starck contrast the "upper deck" or first class was positively lavish with the sleeping quarters comprising of two rows of moth eaten mattresses. Despite all this I did manage a rather pleasant nights sleep, made all the more comfortable thanks to the use of a sarong as a protective cover.
Having made this marathon journey we now found ourselves in Kuta in Bali. Bali is very much the playground of young hormone filled Australians. if you're a girl here you have to be "clad" in a very short skirt, flip flops and a very small top. If you're a bloke shirts are most definitely out this season with the favoured look being low slung board shorts coupled with a pair of flip flops for that just stepped off the beach look.
Having spent the last couple of weeks perfecting the art of being a beach bum we decided to break from the norm and have a surf lesson with Palu an Australian expat who makes a living in Bali making surf boards. Having plastered on the sun cream and positioned our board shorts in the correct low slung position it was time to begin the lesson. Starting on dry land learning how to pop up (or stand in English) it was time to hit the surf. By the end of the lesson although not quite pro standard both Ede and myself managed to stand up on the board and repeat the whole thing a few times. Admittedly Ede was better at the whole thing than me! So tomorrow we'll hire boards and see whether it's not just beginners luck.
Anyway time to go and watch England play Australia in the rugby.
Until next time.
Love Matt & Ede x x x
Location: Ko Phangan, Thailand
Thanks for the reminder Robin, although I'm afraid this is one day late!!
Well having moved on from the somewhat seedy island of Ko Samui (the beaches are lovely though!) we are now on our 6th day on the beautiful island of Ko Phangan. I have absoulutely no idea where the time has gone as it feels like only yesterday that we arrived here and walked purposely past all the touts at the jetty offering us rooms. As we have now gone past the stage of 'beginner south east asian traveller' to 'intermediate' (we've been away over 8 weeks now!!), we've worked out that it's best to hunt out our own accomodation!
We're staying in Had Rin, home of the infamous full moon parties, although we will miss the next one by a good couple of weeks (not sure if that's a good or a bad thing). In an attempt to compensate for this we tried to re-enact the party atmosphere with a thai whisky bucket or two and managed to dance through till dawn at one of the beach bars. Photographic evidence to follow.
The days have been spent lying on the beach, swimming and playing frisbee. However, despite my training with the Durham University Ultimate Frisbee team (remember Beccy?), Matt and I still have a looooong way to go before we can match some of the moves of our fellow travellers.
To continue an ongoing trend of our trip we've been dodging the rain as it seems November is the wettest month in this part of Thailand. Oops should have read up about that one! This hasn't been a problem though as loads of the bars and cafes here play DVDs back to back, thus we've caught up on all those films that we never got round to seeing over the last few years.
Today we thought that it might be a good idea to leave the square mile that has been our habitat for the last 5 days and we joined the 'reggaeboat trip' on a a tour of the island which was jolly good fun. Tomorrow it's time to leave the sounds of Jack Johnson (in almost EVERY bar and shop) for the third in our trilogy of islands, Ko Tao.
Lots of love to everyone from Ede and Matt xxx
ps - A belated happy birthday to Pixie xxxxxxxxx
Location: Koh Phangan, Thailand
Thought I'd use the diary entry for something completely untravel related as being my usual unorganised self I've not had a chance to send my big sister Kye a birthday card or greeting.
So anyway Kye happy 30th birthday!! Just to let you know I'm thinking of you and I hope you have a fantastic day have a chance to celebrate in style.
Ede says happy birthday as well.
Lots of love
Matt x x x x
Location: Samui, Thailand
After leaving the tranquil paradise of the Tioman Islands and Cherating we headed up to Taman Negara, Malaysia's main national park, to spend a couple of days trekking and taking in the ambience of the world's oldest primary rainforest (fact).
Definite highlights of Taman Negara include the worlds longest canopy walk (definitely going after a few of these world's first or longest!) which was quite literally lengths of step ladders that had been lashed together with ropes, had planks nailed onto them and then strung from bits of cables between the trees. It certainly gives you a whole new perspective hanging suspended bouncing up and down 40 foot above the forest floor.
On our second day in the park we trekked 4 and a half hours through the forest before spending the night in a hide over looking a
salt lick in the depths of the park. The hide was basically a shed, with bunk beds with wooden slats for matresses, on poles about 20 foot above the salt lick. Having spent the last couple of years living on the Clapham/Brixton divide, and being used to all kinds of nocturnal noises, nothing had really prepared me for the sheer amount of noise the jungle makes at night, it was almost deafening. Unfortunately for us our animal spotting was limited to a few fire flies, a bat that flew into the hide by accident and a couple of rats on the hunt for food. In the past people have spotted everything from wild pigs and porcupines to elephants. Despite the lack of animals the sense of solitude and isolation at the hide was amazing and to see dawn rise over the forest is something I won't be in a hurry to forget.
The low point of Taman Negara would have to be the leeches which are hardy little buggers and would probably survive a nuclear holocaust and resemble the baby aliens from Alien. If you were lucky you could flick them off your shoes with the aid of a pen knife. If you weren't quick enough you then had to reach for the salt to get them off. A lighter works as well but you do end up singeing a large amount of leg hair in the process! There is photographic evidence of the before and after effects of a leech attack - it wasn't so much fun waiting for Ede to get the camera out but the amount of blood does look pretty cool! Thankfully the leeches were restricted just to the legs (and ede's stomach and neck) unlike Stand By Me.
Having battled the leeches we then set off for Georgetown in Penang in Northern Malaysia which involved a night bus and a whole lot of wainting around in a place called Temilok (I think that's how its spelt) which is a semi industrial town resembling somewhere like Swindon. Thankfully we were travelling with an Australian couple called Scott and Erica, who we'd met at the hide, so we passed the time waiting for the bus playing cards and drinking beer outside the supermarket in the bus station, much to the amusement of the locals.
Georgetown is a jumping off point from Malaysia into Thailand so filled with travellers renewing visas and generally waiting around. The town has a long colonial history, was an important trading island and is a typical Malaysian mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian making it bustling and filled with great food. After a couple of days recovering from the leeches of Taman Negara and sampling the fantastic cuisine including the superb Laksa Penang, a noodle fish soup which is a popular lunch time dish, the decision was made to head up into Thailand.
So we're now kicking back in Samui in Thailand after a rather gruelling 15 hour boat and bus journey from Georgetown in Malaysia. Thailand is certainly an eye opener compared to conservative Malaysia with beer being a lot cheaper and there being a whole lot more tourists (especially fat balding European men of a certain age in vests and shorts riding mopeds with minute Thai girls clinging on behind!) and backpackers.
Anyway until next time.
Love Matt & Ede x
ps - I certainly was NOT bouncing up and down on that scary rope bridge. I gripped firmly onto both sides with visions of Indiana Jones rope bridges snapping as Matt calmly bounced along admiring the trees and monkeys!!
Location: Kuanatan, Malaysia
well we're stuck waiting for a bus in Kuantan so thought I'd update the website to bore everyone with our antics.
After living the urban high life in the sprawling metropolis of Singapore we headed back into Malaysia and up the East Coast to a town called Mersing to catch a "ferry" over to the Tioman Islands. I use the word ferry in the loosest terms as it was in fact a speed boat that had seen better days and now that we are well and truly into the monsoon season dry land could not have come soon enough for us after the two hour ferry trip.
We stayed at a place called Air Batang (abbreviated to ABC). I hesitate to call it anything other than a place as it really is nothing more than a road consisting of a concrete strip about 4 feet wide, a few chalets, a couple of shops, a couple of restaurants, a jetty and a bar. Despite it being both Ramadan and monsoon, making it as quiet as Eastbourne during the Archers, and nearly everything closed up we were fortunate enough to get a chalet that was about 10 feet from the beach.
I'd like to fill you with lots of stories of our exploits but really our time in Tioman could be summed up as chilling out, swimming, snorkelling with the fish, sitting out the monsoon rain on our deck, trekking to the other side of the island to another beach, watching the sun set, eating, drinking cold beer, getting eaten alive by mosquitos and trying to avoid conversations with the really boring man next door and his wfe Sheila.
Tioman is so relaxed and has the ability to suck time, a bit like the twilight zone, and very quickly the time had come to move on or risk getting stuck there in an island version of Hotel California. Having made our way back over to the mainland we carried on up the east coast to Cherating which is kind of like the mainland version of Tioman but with the added ingredients of a few surfers and an even bigger beach and expensive beer. After a couple of days there it began to feel all a bit like Groundhog Day except with CNN and BBC News 24 showing the US Presidential elections (we may be sitting on a beach but we can still follow current affairs!).
So next stop is Taman Negara, which literally translates as the National Park, 4343 km2 of 130 million year old primary jungle.
Till next time.
Love Matt & Ede