A Travellerspoint blog

Pulau Mabul

10/10/10 - 14/10/10

all seasons in one day 26 °C

Sunday - flight to Tawau at 7.20, so check in at 6.20, no probs there. Arrived in Tawau at 8.10, got bags then gatecrashed a tour bus heading into Semporna, the port town where all transport to 'The Islands' (Mabul, Kapali and Sipidan) is arranged from. The coach driver charged me 30 ringgit (£6) for an hr journey (it costs this for 6 hrs on the mainland!) but did drop me off outside Uncle Changs at around half 9, who I will be diving with on Mabul Island...

I was chauffeur driven to the bank in an Uncle Chang minibus. I'm still not sure if it was because:
A) they think westerners are too lazy to walk (it's prob a 10 min walk there n back)
B) the driver had nothing better to do
C) i was likely I'd be mugged on route and they'd not see my money in the dive shop or
D) all of the above!

Semporna is not a pretty little seaside port. It's tiny yes, but not pretty. And I only literlly spent 1-2 hrs there, most of which entailed the bank journey and then looking out from the pier next to Uncle Changs. There isn't even a map in my Rough Guide, it's that small a town. I will prob have to stay there for a night before catching my onward travel elsewhere, so will provide more Semporna delights later...

At 10.30 I was put on a speedboat with water n toilet roll supplies heading to Mabul. It really was a big boat so felt like a VIP, despite the bumpy ride (everyone bombs along the water here)...I was offloaded onto a stilted platform that Is Uncle Changs resort. It has stilted bungalows off to one side in lines away from the main communal area, a deck consisting of sun loungers and the main deck area for eating or hiding from the rain. My dorm room has 4 beds and some rats that I haven't seen but know they are there - they nibbled my cheese biscuits. Felt a bit like Wallace (think Wallace n Gromit) when the wererabbirt ate his cheese. I didn't even get to eat one :'(
The bathroom is en suite but is v basic and has no sink (circular small hole in the floor, my aim is quite good now). All food is included in the price (60 ringgit. £12) and is buffet style (so far rice rice rice) with unlimited tea, coffee N water. Not too bad really.Beer is to be found down the planked walkway if you take a right at the end, a 5 ringgit (£1) can will be yours. The planks are rickety and there are gaps so it takes me a good ten mins to do a beer run- I don't wanna fall in the water! The first night here the weather was crap- the high tide sent waves of water through the planks making it a cat n mouse game each time anyone walked across them, wondering If they'd get wet. I was lucky n remained dry.

Monday - The next day was a cool overcast day with spots of rain. Dive day in Mabul n Kapali. I've never done a dive without a gorgeous day
behind me so was bot really feeling the vibe, til I got onthe water an saw all new fish n frog fish, crocodile fish and lion fish! All pretty
cool. 3 dives, 2 at Mabul, 1 at Kapali. That eve I spent playing cards in the cool calm evening with my dive buddy Scott. He's American and
easy to relax with. Preparing for Sipidan tomo so didn't really know what to expect- just heard amazing things about it, that I'd see
sharks, turtles, baracuda schools etc... Well, here we go...
DSC08067.jpgDSC08064.jpgDSC08048.jpgDSC08037.jpgDSC08007.jpg </p><p>[bTuesday[/b] - Sipidan Dive day. Woke up to stunningly amazing sunny weather, it couldn't be more of a perfect day to make me feel optimistic to go diving somewhere new. I did 3 dives, South Point, Baracuda Bay and Coral Gardens. Coral Gardens ended up being a drift dive too and the current was very strong, we were moving in some part at a metre per second?! Well, that was quick for me! So all new experiences and I survived. To be honest it all went by in a bit of an adrenaline blur, so I can't rememer too much but I hired a camera so got piccies to remember things by. I did see lots of White tip reef sharks- they're cool, very relaxed n have the coldest stare you an imagine, as any shark does! Turtles! Lots n lots n lots of turtles :)
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Wednesday - Uncle Chang (the owner) offered me a discount dive at Sipidan for today which I accepted last night, however have woken up to rain this morning. I'm not sure how much of an impact this will have underwater, presumably visibility will be affected?! So not sure whether to do local muck dives in Mabul to see the Macros life?! No new people have come here for the past 2 days. There are only 5 ppl staying last night and 4 of us leave today on the 4.30 boat! I'm heading back to Semporna to spent the night in preparation for catching the bus to Sepilok to see the ourangutans! Then I've provisionally booked to go on the kinabtangan river trip which includes treks too... But since it's rain rain rain I'm not so sure I'm keen to do this. However being British, I should be used to it right?! Sigh... Just different when you've been used to hot hot hot for the past 4 months. As it turns out the rain didn't have any affect n by the time we were at sipidan, it was another beautiful day... Saw lots more sharks but fewer turtles cos of the storm last night. Saw baracuda and jack fish which were cool cos if u swim into their centre, the school end up circling round you- v cool sensation!

Semporna - After the dives it was straight on the boat to semporna where I checked in at scubajunkies for the eve. I went to an Internet cafe and had my first western dinner in days- which was dissapointing garlic bread (forgot they use sweet bread) and chicken cheese sandwich.. Then to bed for an early start tomo.

Thursday - woke up at 6, walked to bus ticket office n got bus ticket for 8am, walked back to hotel for disappointing breakfast then got bags n returned to bus. It took 5 hrs to sepilok, the penultimate destination before sandakan. I arrived at Uncle Tans at about 1pm in time for Lunch but since we'd had a lunch stop off on the bus I wasn't so bothered. Checked in, dumped stuff in dorm room then I chilled out in a hammock n read. Not many ppl about n not feeling 100%.

Posted by RosiePony 07:21 Archived in Malaysia Tagged diving backpacking mabul Comments (1)

Kota Kinabalu

04-10-10 to 10-10-10

all seasons in one day 28 °C

I arrived very late last night (midnight) at the airport. My hostel is a stones throw away from terminal 2 airport so i walked to it (taxi was like £20 for a 5 min walk!). I had booked ahead although there was really no need. I was put in an 8 bed girls dorm in which there were two girls so despite the late hour, we had a brief chat. I was so looking forward to a long lay in but annoyingly my body has gotten used to waking up early n going to bed early :s when I woke up, the girls had checked out so I got ready and set off into town. This consisted of walking ten mins up the road to the local bus stop, and waiting for the local minibus (clapped out banger) to arrive and take me to one of the main bus terminals for 1 ringgit (20p). No complaints, I quite enjoy community transport vehicles, they're not the worst I've been in! I then got on the city bus to the main town strip (0.50 ringgit -10p) and began my KK exploration...
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Today (Monday) I have had a range of random experiences from being given a business card by a 50+ yr old man (in case he comes to the UK- his words, not mine) to being asked out in the supermarket (after asking where the small toothpaste is- i declined the offer then made a quick getaway! to chatting to several tour agencies, all who are very friendly and one in particular sharing her Spanish question revision sheet with me (for when I got to S America). My head is now spinning with tour options but my main priority now is to book diving or failing that, just turn up in Semporna, fingers crossed. Having walked around KK today, I am left with the impression there is nothing to do here in KK itself, people use it more as a place to sleep when they return from their daily activities. no one is trying to shove tours down my throat despite me craving it. So I will have to make my own adventure!

Tue - I went to a local island (Mamukan) for the day to sunbathe, it's a beautiful island and the weather was great! Topping up my tan ;) After a refreshing shower at the hostel I ate dinner locally with Joe, from the hostel (he is becoming a divemaster) then went a walk on the beach front where a live band was playing in a local bar. I had a beer n relaxed with the sound of the sea behind me - beautiful!
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Wed - It's the first time since leaving the UK I have goosebumps! I went to the beach this morning (nothing to shout about) and it started to rain, so hung around in the hostel til it stopped. Then went for dinner locally at a food court that plays music n is outside so nice breeze etc...

Thurs - I went White water rafting on a grade 3/4 river, Pedas River, which was fantastic! I had lotsa fun but ache now :s the boat fits 9-10 ppl on it, and capsized actually going through a rapid- this is when I drank most of the (brown mud) river water so rafting was easy after that!!

Fri - today I was supposed to go to Mt Kinabalu to do the bottom trails and then maybe go to some hot springs nearby. However I was so tired from rafting I overslept! So spent the morning catching up on sleep and now I am about to go out and explore the city areas I've missed out (not many!). I got the local bus into town then another a bit further into town n walked to see Atkinson Tower, a clocktower established to represent KK as a city.
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KK used to be all sea and a harbour that had stilt houses, but land reclaimation processes enabled all the harbour front to be built and today looks like a normal strip of land. Also KK used to be called Jessleton Town. After the clocktower I climber the hill to checkout the city viewpoint, which was ... Ok.
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Whilst i was out exploring, it was reminiscent of England- rain, rain and more rain :( but warm rain so it wasn't too bad when I walked to the viewpoint. However, when it was still(!) raining after an hr or two I decided to go for a massage. I found a reflexology one nearby so thought I'd give it a try. Possibly a bad idea since I ached 3 days later! My back was clicked into place, the lady pressed so hard I thought her hand was going to go through me... There is a spot on my foot that stlll aches today :( I thought at the time 'no pain no gain' but i'm not going to have another reflexology massage anytime soon! I hope java/Bali massages are better :s

Sat - slept in, had lunch (peanut butter sandwiches) then went to supermarket, then went down to the beach front for snack, had an afternoon nap (v important!) then packed ready from my flight over to Tawau for diving. All in all a great lazy day.

Posted by RosiePony 06:50 Archived in Malaysia Tagged borneo backpacking Comments (0)

Tioman (still)

30/09/10 - 03/10/10

sunny 31 °C

Fitst things first- sorry to all of you for sparse Internet lately, it's 10RM in the island for an hr which is one nights accommodation on the mainland! So despite my promise, I failed miserably at keeping it. This also means I still haven't booked flights yet. Tioman is just so nice, it's easy to spend longer here than planned!
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Monday night I went for dinner with Andy and his friend Villa (pronounced 'Villae'), over to Tekek, the main strip of civilization here on Tioman (meaning it's a construction site with a small airport). We ate at a Chinese restaurant, had the most amazing butter battered king prawns (melt in your mouth style) along with chili squid and mutton pot. Mmm it was so tasty! Then we went to a bar which was v cool. It had a climbing wall on the outside (but I passed the chance to climb since there was no rope...) and hammocks on the inside with chilled out music playing. A few cocktails later and I'm on the beach watching fire dancing!! Andy, who I should prob also mention is my dive instructor, starts joining in with two other guys from the bar wafting these flaming balls on chains around. I say wafting, actually it was more spinning, doing tricks, very hard moves that left all the crowd in awe. And I didn't take my camera cos it had been raining :( gutted!
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Tuesday was dive day, Andy took Villa n me through a 12m sink hole leading to a swim through (tunnel). This basically means you swim down head first into a vertical tunnel of coral, which then horizontal out into a triangular tunnel which was actually quite tight. I went last and came out alive. It was fun. Once we did that, there was more swimming through coral undercrops and tunnels, so much fun!! And the fish that are here are amazing, you get to see all their hideouts. I saw blue spotted stingrays and at least 3 turtles on that day :D mega!
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Wednesday was spent on the beach tanning and teaching Andy how to play sudoku (it was his day off and the season is winding down so not many new ppl turning up to hang out with), playing cards and having a few beers before a BBQ dinner.
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Then today (Thursday) I cycled across to Tekek, I mentioned earlier it's the main commercial strip, to visit the duty free shop (everything is cheaper there) n the doctors since I have an ear infection - this happened in Thailand too, I think it's a dive thing. Anyway this means no more diving for me :( until it clears- I have 5 days worth of tablets, ear drops, antihistamine tablets and insect bite cream (this was a handy add on, not something for my ear!) Then I pushed the bike uphill and rode it down the otherwise (weee!) to get to this resort with a lovely golden sandy beach. The main gate had security so I went round the back of a restaurant to get onto the beach, spread out my stuff and enjoyed the scenery. No one seemed to mind. After about an hour and a half it suddenly turned to thunderclouds and started spitting so off I went pushing the bike up the hill and cycling down again (weee!) back into Tekek. A visit to the cash point, then back to duty free then home to ABC to have some afternoon lunch and a beer, as well as some more beach time. Now I've got to go home to freshen up, and decide when im leaving and book my flights outta here :s sigh...
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Friday was spent sun tanning on the beach, I am turning a slight golden brown now :) or at least the white bits seem very white compared to the rest of me! It was a hot hot day so went in the sea a fair few times. It's gorgeous turquoise blue getting a deeper shade of blue the further out you go. Sigh... And listening to the surf is just mesmerizing. I am actually beginning to wonder if I need someone to come rescue me from this island since I don't seem to want to leave! Ha ha

Today (Saturday) I have down as my admin day. This means I WILL book my flight, Internet and book hostels and diving in Sipidan etc...then I will sun tan in the afternoon. Perfect. Then I need to pack and pay bills etc...ugh! And tomo will be a travel day for sure, arriving in my next destination (Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo) at midnight :s

Until then...

Posted by RosiePony 05:23 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Pulau Tioman

24/09/10...27/09/10

sunny 31 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

The journey here consisted of an 11.30pm night bus from KL that arrived in Mersing (coastal town where u get the ferry from) at 4.30am. I hazily bought an open return ticket (70RM £14) then the coach dropped us off at the ferry terminal. Waited til 7am for ferry then arrived to a rainy ABC resort on Tioman island. I am staying in a bungalow for 40RM (£8) a night which has a fan and is really close to the beach. Just to compare that to the mainland where a dorm room was 10RM a night! Its expensive, but it's nice and has a balcony. Its relaxed here and is hot, once the rain stopped. I am next door to B&Js diving so have arranged diving with them. In actual fact the next 2 days are international clean up day, so for a reduced rate, I get to do fun dives and clean up at the same time, so am looking forward to it! Hopefully get to meet some people too, since it is a bit quiet here at the moment, ESP since staying in private room.
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Am actually quite homesick, but know this is down to a new environment and leaving some good friends back in KL. I think this is the hardest
bit about traveling. You make connections, which are amazing if you bump into those ppl again but otherwise just ends up being nice memories, but at the time you feel like you're breaking a link you've made with someone. It's sad so I try to not dwell in this, otherwise I'll be back home to the UK in a flash, and that's a cop out! I just need to weather this storm, and once I meet new ppl this feeling will lessen. So my plans are to stay here (ABC) for 4 days- dive sat, snorkel sun, hike to Salang Mon, then see if Salang is worth staying there, in which case I will take a river taxi to Salang and hope my open return is still valid from there...
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Currently I am having apprehensions about Borneo, and I think it's down to this homesickness and the fact that I love mainland peninsular, BUT I think I just have to bite the bullet and go, I know it's gonna be beautiful scenery and activities, then I meet up with a mate from home, here on out known as Whiteley, around mid Oct. Which by the time I will be in Borneo I think is less than 3 weeks. So am thinking about things in small stages...! One day at a time! Speaking of which I'm off to find some Internet or a bar or something for entertainment, it's 8.30 and I have an early start tomo...

Laters x x

Well, Tioman has improved. I'm sat in Johan restaurant trying to ignore the flys that land on me every few seconds. I've just had an amazin lunch, a claypot filled with lovely spicy noodles...As u know, fri I was feeling a bit down, but sat was dive day. I joined a cleanup group, part of project aware, to try and remove as many star fish (crown of thornes) from the reef as possible. I did three dives all varying in depth and I spotted a turtle!! My first ever one :D I was so happy. I saw loadsa different fish too some of which I can't remember or name... But they were cool. I can't wait to go again- I knew this would happen, I'd get the bug again and spend all my money on diving! After an included lunch on board, we finished the day with a BBQ on nearby Salang beach. It is a beautiful place but more in a small bay compared to ABC where I'm staying which is a longer stretch of coastline. It is pretty there and busier but I kinda like ABC now... There are reefs off ABC beach so I am going to go snorkeling today! Then diving again tomo...!
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Yesterday I went on a hike across the island to Juara, which I did with 2 other ppl, an American guy called Daniel and a Dutch girl called Linda, both 28 but by no means like me :( I met them diving and do get on with them but conversation seems forced, I think they are quite content being alone whereas I am a people person and thrive in company. Anyway the hike was more like concrete steps (am I ever going to get away from steps???!!! I blame China!) with jungle either side. I found it hard due to the fast pace set by Linda, her motto- the faster we get there the better, compared to my motto- enjoy your surroundings whilst getting there...I hadn't slept well the night before, prob knowing I had to get up early! So was feeling v tired.
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It took us 2.5 hrs to get from Tekek (next town down, 20/30 min walk) to Juara. On the way we found a small waterfall so went for a swim to cool down in the water. There were some small fishes in there too! So glad to have done it, probably something I wouldn't normally do...it was lovely to be surrounded by nature with sunlight glinting through the trees to the water and listening to the fall of water behind you as you swam in the cold water. Then warming up on the rocks whilst orange butterfly flutter around you- one landed on my foot to warm up in the sun.
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I survived the trek over to the other side, despite arriving covered in sweat (I was dripping) with red faces...approahing the main road we arrived to an Open house in Juara where the whole town had turned out to eat together in celebration of the Turtle sanctury that is there- I wanted to visit the but the 15 min walk was actually 45 mins once I'd checked with the locals... So after an amazing free community lunch of coconut rice, beef curry, sticky rice, spicy beef, soup, orange, Ribena, water an watermelon plus other deserts, I went swimming in the sea.
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Daniel, Linda and I shared a taxi back to the top of the hill on the way home, where the jungle walk back restarted and this time it took 5mins to get back to Tekek!! We were powering it home so we didn't get caught by the dark. I was so tired after dinner (chicken burger and chips! You may scoff at home but seriously made me feel good) that I went straight to sleep, after a few chores. So now I need to find somewhere to do my laundry and hire some snorkels for the afternoon...tata for now (about 1.30pm)

Now it's early eve (5.44pm) and I've been snorkeling. Surprise surprise there is still some sea left, despite my attempt at swallowing it! I tell you, diving is so much easier. But I have to say I SAW A TURTLE!!!!!! I was looking out for sharks (reef sharks are present here but prob not so likely along the shore front) and saw parrot fish, damsel fish, pink anemone fish (finding nemo style) as well as sgt mjr fish etc with a few cleaner wrasse when I was trying to find my entry point to the sea (the shore is covered with stones and old reef at the section I'm staying on) - and I wasn't far off- when I spotted a turtle! Just hovering about 1.5 meters in front of me!! I had my underwater camera with me and was like 'OMG!!!' snap snap snap snap snap etc... I swam with it for a few mins watching it surface (this is when I got a mouthful of water and choked) then saw it swim down and get nibbled at by small fishes. It had algae growing on it which surprised me, but I guess is normal in the sea?! It had the most beautiful big black eyes and it watched me for a while before swimming away. I didn't want to loose my bearings so headed home happy! So that's a turtle a day since diving! Hopefully more tomo...

Posted by RosiePony 04:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

"KL"

(Kuala Lumpor, Malaysia) 20-23/09/10...

sunny 30 °C

Arrived at kl bus st and got shuttle bus to china town for 2RM (50p). Found my hostel (and had to swallow down my inner feelings of disgust
at the filthy mattresses and pillows as well as the rickety beds, which ironically are sprayed with lubricant to stop them squeaking despite them still shaking like leafs each time someone breaths near them). Before I've even sat on my bed a guy in my mixed dorm is introducing himself (Neil, 22 from Midlands) and chattering on about this and that (he was obviously bored and hadn't spoken to ppl in a while) whilst I tried to collect my thoughts together from my spinning head (spinning in part to him talking, the bus ride, and my hangover from the previous night). Anyway, Neil turned out to be a gem. We met another of our fellow dorm sharer, a girl called Mariam (Spanish) who like me had just arrived.
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So we both decided to have a guided tour from Neil since he was leaving the next day and had nothing else to do! We went to the Central Market (saw a bag I liked but didn't buy it- I'm getting better at this), saw the old railway station (currently under renovation), went past a mosque, onto Merdeka square (housing the tallest flag pole in the world according to Mariams lonely planet guide), beautiful dutch buildings remnant from their earlier occupation here. Oh yes, and we visited china town and little India.
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Then we ate, did a supply run at the supermarket where I ran into Jarad who (small world cliche) I'd made whilst at the Cameron Highlands! We arranged to meet up later in the week so he could give me a KL tour, since he lives here currently studying language and culture.
That eve we had some drinks then off to bed ready for our early rise to go to the sky bridge of the petronus towers, something I was really
looking forward too. The next morning (6am) our alarms went off, Neil left to catch his flight, and so Miriam and I got out stuff together and set off for the towers. We arrived there at 7.20 am and joined the queue waiting to get free tickets for a morning viewing. Tickets were issued to us at around 9 and we got a 9.30 viewing... Which consisted of watching a movie (no food or drinks allowed!) about how amazing petronus were etc snore, snore...
Zzzz...eh?! Oh right. The viewing. Well. Not as fab as I'd have hoped but it was good. Just not so high so couldn't really see skylines too well. But I did get some pics so maybe u can decide if you like the view?!
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After that, I went into the Petronus art gallery, then walked around the park grounds for a bit but to be honest it was a baking day and I was tired from getting up early. So I went back to the hostel to relax, but instead ended up walking round china town looking for lunch with JT, a 33 yr old Korean guy who has cycled (oh yes, really) for 1.5 yrs (so far) from Korea through china down to malaysia, stopping when he wants (I should point out that he is in my dorm and sleeps opposite me, so not a random meeting)...after noodle soup he left to get on with his chores and I went to the bus stop to go to the Batu Caves.
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Whilst on the bus, I met (the only other tourist) an American guy, Justin, 23 and we started chatting. He is living in Japan teaching English and loving it. Since we were both going got the caves we spent the afternoon just getting there walking round and exchanging travel stories (as u do). He was leaving that night so we went to the bus station together where I got my onward travel ticket to Mersing for thurs eve. It's a night bus that leaves at 11.30 and arrives around 4.30 am in Mersing before you catch the first ferry 6am ish to Tioman Island. One night accommodation saved!

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Wednesday was my guided tour from Jarad. He picked me up and drove me to Punjaba something, the political city of Malaysia where all the government buildings are etc. There is a beautiful mosque, with a pink dome roof, a sliver 'air' mosque that glints in the sun and a massive suspension bridge that spans the wide river. We drive over it twice and the views were beautiful. It is a very pretty city, taking care of it's layout and design, but it was a v hot day so we didn't spend too long there (we had time for ice cream though!).
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Jarad drove us back to KL and took me to Times Square, a massive shopping mall (they're all massive in Malaysia) which we walked round before having a Krispy Kreme doughnut (oh yes!) and Early Grey tea ...Heaven! Whilst this is random, the views from the car park were great! Also something culturally different from the UK, not only do they number and letter each floor, they give them an animal too! We were in floor 7 B, dolphin!! It's quite a good way of remembering your floor level :D
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We took a walk from there to Bukit Bintang and, according to Jarad walked to the 'street of yellow tables' (Chinese restaurants abound) of which we found none! Then he realized they're only yellow in the eve due to the table cloths. So we arranged to go for dinner there to capture this elusive yellow table! Miriam joined us and we had a fantastic meal, peppered chicken, rice and kind prawns in a light batter of egg and milk fried- amazing! After dinner we headed to the Sky bar- which has a swimming pool in it's center (no u can't swim in it after 7pm in case of drink-swim offenses, and no, rather surprisingly, I didn't fall in, despite my expectations too). It had an open air roof and windows that were electronically controlled. I got pics of both the Petronus towers at night and one of the KL tower (which itself offers a 360• view for 40RM £8)... then we ordered some wine (daily budget blasted out of the window and over the hill) before heading home at a reasonable 3am! Followed by a McDonalds mcflurry icecream :) ha ha
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The next day naturally consisted of a lay in, then Miriam and I headed to the lake gardens where we chatted, ate an ice cream and arranged to maybe meet up in our future travels...Then I sadly collected my bags and left my little mixed dorm of lovely friendly people to head over to the other side of the Malaysian peninsular to Tioman Island...

Posted by RosiePony 03:58 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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