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Entries about backpacking

Indonesia - Jakarta

19/10/10 - 24/10/10

sunny 30 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Tuesday - Arrived in to Jakarta airport at 11.00pm Jak time (1 hr in front of Malaysia) but had managed to sleep on the flight out here, which I kinda got upgraded on - it was a pretty empty flight so i got to sit at the emergent exit, a new level of responsibility for someone who was feeling like crap from a stomach bug :s
Going through the airport rigmarole was smooth, got my visa, went through customs, got my baggage (saw bag as it was about to go back out into the world of conveyor belts but couldn't run for it in time), then exited to crowds of people waiting to collect their respective relative or business colleague. Searched for whiteley... Nothing! Turns out she is stuck in the hugest passport control queue that I must have missed. An hrs wait later n she emerges from the hubub bags in tow. In the meantime I'd arranged a taxi (although we found out later it was a rip off taxi) to the hostel. News to me, Indonesia doesn't really do hostels, since hotel rooms are so cheap. But I found one anyway n it's turned out to be amazing - it's an apartment with a pool, jackoozie and shops outside. The owner is an interior decorator so it's beautiful inside! The girls who manage things are v helpful n friendly.

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Wednesday - After a good nights sleep - the dorm room houses 8 guests in bunkbeds, and the duvets are amazing, like being back home in uk and their is aircon too!! I got up n had some porridge drink, took my meds then asked the girls what they recommend doing in Jak. The plan for today is to do nothing but rest n sleep, enjoy the pool etc. So we had lunch at a nearby restaurant then sat by the pool, read magazines (catching up on uk gossip) and napped :-)
For dinner we ventured out to a shopping mall where I got some new shorts (thank you M n S!) then we had dinner- a REAL salad for me,
with an egg n everything!! Been craving fresh greens for a while now...so satisfied :) And my stomach was behaving itself. So well see how tomo goes as we are exploring the city by foot, and heading onto our next destination by train. Or that's the plan.

Thursday - I let Whiteley sleep in to recover from jet lag, then we got read n headed out to the mayhem that is Jakarta. Now as cities go, I thought it was pretty same same the main difference between it and say, KL is that Jak is way dirtier! Like, way way dirtier. But not as bad as Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia), still my worst polluted city. So we got a cab (they're metreds and cost less than a pound anywhere, so why not?!) to he national monument, took photos then walked (in the heat humidity hot hotness) to the national history museum which told us alot about Indonesian history re old artefacts. Now, this excited Whiteley as an archaeologist, and me as a geographer, who like old things and maps! So we spent til way past lunch there. My tummy noticed this n protested loudly but then we were escorted round the fourth n final floor which held gold and ceramics by what looked suspiciously like school children since they all shared the same light blue school top uniform, who read the english card translations outloud for us whilst pointig at said object. Felt rude to fob them off so endure a further 20mins before practically running round the rest of the floor to finish. Then we walked to the backpacker area, Jalan Jaksa to see what we were missing. Turns out nothing and that our hostel rocks! It's such a shammy run down looking street with hardly any westeners or backpackers (sometimes a good thing but not in this case) so we had lunch in a bar there cos we needed food but it was forced on my part. Then back to the hotel for naps before exploring our apartment block for dinner. Bit disappointing, as ended up with noodles from the corner shop... :( can't wait to be able to eat normal food again!
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Friday - We woke up early, checked out n got taxi to Gambir train station. We bought our tickets to Bogor (10,000rp £0.70p) which is 1 hr by train. However, this depends when the train actually gets into the station. We had another train waiting at the platform we were due to board the train to bogor, and so the train from bogor (whih turns into the jakarta - bogor train that we needed) was held at another out of town station. This meant that despite turning up at the train station at 9.30, we left on the correct train at 12.30. And it was longer than an hr due to passenger numbers and stop offs.
A new phenomena I experienced was a female only carriage (guarded by 4 male armed guards) which we didn't actually ride in because we had met Aljan, a dutch guy who started chatting to us during our train wait. He is travelling indo for 2 months and so far has joined us in our adventures from Jak to Yogjakarta (not that this isn't a current blog...ahem!)...Upon arrival in Bogor we came across the tourist info centre who told us the hostel of our first choice (can u see this coming?!) was fully booked so our second choice would be better. Hot n tired we couldnt b bothered to argue so we went to our second choice nearby.
It turned out to be ok, Helen and I shared a double room costing less that our last hostel beds put together. The room was sufficient if a bit damp. We were right above the river, which I can imagine u all thinking is lovely, but in reality, imagine this: a brown river (it's slash n burn time of yr so the rivers have high silt contents) wih rocks that stop the rubbish from freeflowing downriver. Rubbish pile ups can be seen generated by the ppl living in houses on the opposite bank simply casting away their rubbish as far as they can into the river wihout a second thought or backward glance. Next time you curse the bin men for forgetting your bins or not doing an efficient job, remember at least you have bin men!
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After an afternoon nap, we explored town (a dirty small town not v salubrious and bit dodge) trying to find somewhere for dinner. Not caving into the KFC monopoly out here (I considered it, but would set me back ill wise) meant eating back at the hotel, so we took our bearings, noted the Internet cafe and headed back for dinner. Despite ordering Nasi goreng (fried rice) it was too oily so I resorted to peanut butter sandwiches whilst Hel did a 'dad' and became the human dustbin (she remains stick thin despite her intense love relationship wih chips!) :)
Internet after dinner - can't upload photos yet so will have to wait :( home then bed...

Saturday
We got up very early (met for breakfast at 7.30) and checked out of our accommodation. We took our bags and got a local minibus partly
towards the botanic gardens. I say partly because when u agree a price for 'three' per person, you think it means 3,000rp (locals pay 2,000rp) but the greedy drivers hink it means 30,000rp. Now, this is pittance, I know that and they know that but the principle is, pay what the locals pay relative in the scheme of things otherwise ppl get greedy, and u waste travel money. So we paid 3,000rp and got out halfway there, meaning we sweated our butts off (nicest way I could phrase that, sorry!) walking with my 16kg (????? Plasters?!) backpack on my back and mini bag on my front to the botanical gardens getting lost on the way (Whiteley was map reading!).
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So were the gardens worth it. No! Not at all. Silly Lonely Planet saying u could spend half a day there! I'm glad I've gone for the challenge, experience blah blah but it was like walking round the lost world and coming across the occasional sign in Latin for the plant species. The only redeaming feature was the restaurant which served us fish n chips for breakfast at about 11am! Not to mention the school kids who were out in force. One teacher spotted me and called me over, kids swarming to engulf me. The teacher made the kids practicetheir English by pointing at a child n makinthem ask me a question ('how old are you?') etc. I answered them all the the Yeager leapt into singing! The next thing I know all
the kids start singing 'kae sera sera...(what ever will be will be...)'! So of course me Helen and Aljan join in at the top of our lungs ;) classic!
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After the gardens we got a bus for 4 hrs to Bandung (40,000rp £2.50), got off the bus, realised it was much the same as Bogor but perhaps
slightly bigger, so we got a local bus to the train station (after waiting for 45 mins for it to fill up, watching the hawkers sweep throughthe bus selling mangoes, cigarettes, busking songs etc) then booked a train to Yogjakarta (110,000rp £6) which is where I am writing this from (the train). The train ride to yogja (as its called) is 8 hrs so we get into the city at about 1am. Not ideal but necessary I think given our travel time scales. It's now quarter to Ten in the eve, I woke up at about 4am this morn then again at 7.30 when the alarm actually went off, so I am cream crackered! Need a lie in, laundry, and a nice hot shower :-) Then beddy byes... Zzzzz

Posted by RosiePony 04:46 Archived in Indonesia Tagged jakarta indonesia backpacking Comments (0)

Back at 'KK'

16/10/10 - 19/10/10

sunny 28 °C
View RTW Part 2 (Aus/New Z/Cook Islands ... home time) on RosiePony's travel map.

Back home at the beachouse :-)

Sunday - spent day doing nothing and it was great! Last day of taking medication. Went to supermarket briefly and had food, watched tv, relaxed. Slept.

Monday - Liz's birthday (happy birthday Lizzeeee). I slept in, ate, went on Internet, read, ate, called Liz, ate then went out for dinner. Went for a walk along the beach and then went to bed.

Tuesday - had stomach cramps again last night so this morning went to see the kk docs. Got a 11.30 appointment, was seen at 12. Now waiting for medication. Had an injection to stall my stomach (it's in overdrive at the mo aparantly). Gonna get some immodium, charcoal
tablets and was told to eat porridge (yuk!) and soup... Then when feelin better I'm allowed my favoite drink that I discovered out here (after iced Milo) 100plus (electrolyte drink) :D silver lining and all...

Now I have meds, and have been to the supermarket n got porridge drink (quite nice actually, thanks nestle) so have had dinner (peanut butter sandwich followed by porridge drink) and am now sat at airport waiting to see what gate I am boarding at - although there are only 4 to choose from so it seems a tad irrelevant really...I'm sleeepy tired. Plane is meant to land at 11.10 Jakarta time then have to get baggage
etc and meet Whiteley! So I will no longer be a solo traveller :-) for 3 weeks at least ;) it'll be a nice change. I just need to sleep n get over this bug then I'll be on my way to traveldom again... I'm looking forward to it.

Posted by RosiePony 04:39 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia borneo backpacking Comments (0)

Uncle Tans - Sepilok

14/10/10 - 16/10/10

all seasons in one day 26 °C

Thursday - Had dinner, watched tv, read and prepared bag for trip into the jungle the following afternoon.

Friday - However, the next morning I awoke with stomach cramps, another ear infection and diarrhoea :( I was taken into sandakan to the docs where I got a zillion pills after registering and waiting. Back at the base camp in sepilok, I got medicated up and went to see the ourangutans in the afternoon. I got a refund for the jungle trip since it was looking very unlikely I'd be well enough to go and the jungle camps facilities would be very basic (no showers) so I took the sensible option, despite the dissappointment.

At the ourangutan sanctuary you go down a walkway to the feeding platform. On the way we (I was with an English couple from Uncle Tans) saw a male juvenile playing in the trees. Then on the feeding platform there were two mums with infants feeding on the fruit left there. After ten mins some males came to eat, their presence being made clear by the tussling bushes and treetop movements causing one of the mums left via a rope. I took photos and videos to try n capture the moment I am so inadequatley trying to describe!
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It started to rain (downpour) so I got a taxi back to the camp with a Japanese lady staying there too. I felt pants so went back to bed. I spent the evening chatting to a British couple I met at the ourangutan sanctuary, who were wry nice.

Saturday - I got up and booked my bus ticket back to kk, then spent the morning packing my bag ready for the afternoon. The bus came at 2pm and cost 30 ringgit, taking about 6 hrs. As the bus rounded yet another corner (trying to go to the toilet was near impossible so quickly gave that idea up) we stopped off for a break in a small town on the way to Mt Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in SE Asia. The sun was setting as we drove past the mountain, beautiful! Joe from the hostel met me in a pickup van since the bus stop was 8k away from kk city. Priorities back at the hostel after dinner: put my washing on, had a shower n went to bed!

Posted by RosiePony 05:37 Archived in Malaysia Tagged backpacking sepilok Comments (1)

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)

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