A Travellerspoint blog

Working Holiday - Day 159 - To A Land Down Under

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Friday, after a period of brief turbulence we landed in Australia at Brisbane airport at 12.45am (Oz time - two hours ahead of Singapore & UK).
We wearily passed through strict customs, having all organic items bought in South East Asia checked, including my sticky rice basket (we'd had to read through a long list on the plane of items not acceptable & identify any). From here we picked up our baggage & hugged Uncle Kevin & Aunty Sylvia who'd emigrated over twenty years ago from England & had kindly agreed to put us up for a bit. We slept & caught up with them as we were driven to their house in Morayfield, Caboolture (about an hour from Brisbane) & then passed out in the spare room that was to be our own for a few weeks.
At 11am we were refreshed & enjoyed a lazy afternoon with Aunty Sylvia, sunbathing on the patio. It was a perfect day with clear blue skies & the sun burning us at a comfortable 25 degrees. We were joined by Uncle Kevin fresh from his 'Creepy Crawlies 'pool cleaning & after bacon & mushroom sandwiches were driven to Bribie Island. The pleasant drive took around 1 hour, mostly north along the Bruce Highway (a 1700km highway, the A1 that begins at Brisbane & trails all the way to Cairns, in the far northeast) before the eastern Caboolture Bribie Island Road took us through estates & past green fields, not unlike those of England, then over a long, concrete bridge onto the island itself.
Now our impression of Bribie was kind of mixed. On the one hand on the seaward side (Woorim) a few hotels & homes led down to a beautiful, vast sandy beach & blue sea. A peaceful place apart from the powerful surf crashing against the shore. On the other hand the passage side (Bongaree) was more built up & felt a bit like an English resort such as Scarborough. There was more to the island though. Situated in the northern part of Morton Bay, Bribie was a huge national park with only a few developed areas the rest left to nature. At 5pm we saw this firsthand as a school of dolphins swam by the quay we were on playful & friendly. We shared the sunset with Uncle Kevin, Aunty Sylvia & her sister Linda (also a relocated Brit), then drove back to Morayfield & enjoyed Uncle Kev's home-made pizzas & fruit crumble.

Posted by Eemail2004 00:55 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Day 158 - Out Of Asia

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Friday we reached our hotel Fragrance-Crystal at 1am via a $6 taxi from the bus stop & crashed in our small, double room till 10ish.
We had cakes for breakfast, packed & checked out an hour later, hurriedly catching a taxi to the Singapore Changi Airport, reassuringly told by the driver that the long, straight road we were travelling along could convert to an emergency runway in seconds.
We were relieved to find check in as easy as the UK & our rucksacks were still underweight at 13 & 15KG.
Changing the last of our ringgits into Singapore Dollars we wandered round the airport, that was so vast (13km site) it had a monorail system running through the 3 main terminals, an roof top & indoor garden & even a swimming pool, not to mention a cinema, t.v areas, internet areas, gaming areas & a mass of shops & restaurants.
We took the monorail to Terminal 2 & had dinner (noodle & chicken/pork dishes at $4.50 each), followed by the most amazing strawberry delight power smoothie at $5. Feeling the energy buzz from the smoothie we continued exploring, finding an Xbox gaming area to entertain us then worrying about missing our flight we took the monorail back to Terminal 1.
Once through security we waited in Gate C23 till we were called to board at 3.30pm.
The flight was smooth & we occupied our time watching movies (when the console worked) & eating lots of 'delicious' food (for airlines) such as salmon potato salad, salad, mash & lamb, cheesecake & snacks.

Posted by Eemail2004 00:34 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 155 - 157 - Kuala Lumphur

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Tuesday, passing the time with few hours sleep we had arrived at the Kuala Lumphur bus station at 5am. Despite the time we were hungry so found an ATM outside the nearest 7-11 & sat in McDonalds for a while, eating sausage & egg McMuffins for 5 ringgits (about 4 ringgits - RM - to 1 pound). As daylight approached we caught a taxi with Elodie to the Golden Triangle district, backpacker central. An hour walking round to find a cheap guesthouse proved pointless as most were either closed or cost way too much. In the end we settled on Pondok Lodge, small dorm hostel hidden upstairs to a bar in a 3 storey building. The six bed dorm room cost 25 ringgits each but it was still too early to check in so we crashed on the comfy leather sofas from 7am till 9.30am. By this time the occupants had checked out so we paid the 25 ringgits each & moved into our room with Elodie & 2 Austrian girls - Peta & Tamara, where we slept timm 12.30pm.
When we awoke Elodie had gone exploring so we walked downhill till we reached BB Plaza (a big shopping plaza) & exchanged 2200BT for 230 Ringgits. At the food court I ate tofu/chicken ball (stuffed vegetables) with rice & Vicky had spicy chicken & rice for 11.30RM. A cappacino & banana muffin cost neaqrly as much at 10.85RM. We realised that the next few days were going to be more expensive than any place so far!
The humidity brought rain so we opted for the Sky Train (not unlike that in Bangkok) from Bukit Bintang to K.L Sentral.
From Sentral we walked through the Lake Park area to Deer Park. An hour walking around the deer sanctuary cooing at the cute creatures was enough time. We caught a taxi to Chinatown & spent the evening round the tightly packed stalls examining trinkets & clothes in the small night market, stopping for sweet & spicy noodles (7RM) & noodle soup (6RM). We walked back to the guesthouse & finding Elodie there all went out for drinks in one of the only parts of K.L where alcohol was allowed (the Muslim country banned alcohol in many areas - only allowing a few for tourists), on our street. Unsurprisingly all the sleep we'd had that day had left us with plenty of energy to party the night away on cocktails at Social & Suutra. We had a fun night, blew off some steam & saw firsthand why alcohol wasn't popular by locals unable to handle their drinks, becoming aggressive & two British tarts making the guys worse!

Wednesday were were up at 9.15am & said goodbye to Elodie who was travelling onwards. Going to bed at 3am hadn't been a smart idea as we were all tired & sluggish - not good in a city with such high humidity - so after our free toast, cake & hot drinks (included in the price of the room) we caught the Sky Train again to K.L. Sentral. Crossing to the other side we then caught an LRT Train to Pasar Seni. We planned to visit the mosque but after working out how to get to it from our side of the river using the maze of highways & minor roads it had closed so we walked round the Malaysia Islamic Cultural Arts Museum, a neo-modern glass & stone building housing histories, mosque models & various artifacts pertaining to Islam. It was an interesting & informative place & we found we had a slightly better understanding of the religion & culture when we left at 3.30pm.
With time to kill till the mosque re-opened we walked round the beautiful orchid gardens, a free display of the exotic flowers growing in a large garden, many available to buy.
We got back to the mosque at 5.30pm & spent an hour walking round the outer chambers (only Muslim could enter the heart of the building) & listening to a guy explaining more about Islam to us.
Across the road at the old railway station turned hotel & restaurant we enjoyed a lavish Indian dinner of 4/5 traditional dishes with rice & chapatis (33RM for the four of us) & a pineapple smoothie.
We walked back to the LRT, caught it to Dang Wangi & walked round the Malaysian Tourist Centre till 9ish, having missed a traditional Malay performance. We decided one late night was enough so got a 10RM taxi back to the guesthouse & after booking our hotel for Singapore settled down to enjoy a couple of beers.

Thursday we were up at 9ish had our free breakfast again & said goodbye to Peta & Tamara who were going into north Malaysia. We wished we could join them but didn't have the luxury of time!
We got a taxi to Petronas Towers (7RM) & were gutted to find all the tickets had gone to see the world famous Sky Bridge. Using a similar technique to Elodie two days ago we pretended we were on honeymoon & had come especially to Malaysia to see the Bridge. Our little ruse worked as a kind security guard arranged our access, leaving us to look round the museum at the history & statistics of the towers.
At the time of being completed in 1998 it was the worlds' tallest building, 88 floors of reinforced concrete, steel & glass but was overtaken by Taipei 101 in 2004. Still, it was the highest twin tower building with the highest skybridge.
The guard arrived thirty minutes later & led us up in a lift (at about mach 2 speed) for a twenty minute gawk at the bridge. It wasn't quite as amazing as when Sean Connery had climbed across it in Entrapment but we were dizzyingly high & had a great view of a lot of the city, set out like a minature model.
Once at ground level we went beneath the towers & entered the Suri Centre, part shopping mall, part office block, part entertainment centre. At 12.30pm we had lunch at Cafe Milano,sharing lasagne & giant waffle & Sprite for 17RM then settled down to enjoy Harry Potter in the cinema till 4.20pm.
We walked through the perfectly manicured garden/park area that most of K.L seemed to be lazing in that day & got a taxi back to BB Plaza for 8RM. Another fruitless search for sandals & we picked up our rucksacks 6ish, then got another taxi to Purduryia bus station (not the same as the bus station we'd arrived at) for 10RM & caught the bus to Singapore for 39RM each.
A quick dash round to buy food & we were off at 7.15pm, sleeping through till the next day.

Posted by Eemail2004 00:05 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Day 154 - Over The Border

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Monday we arrived in Hat Yai, a busy city right in the south of Thailand at 6.20am. We had barely slept since we got on the train early that morning so were in no state to find a guesthouse. We crossed numerous streets full of shops until we found Ladda Guesthouse by chance. We felt the 250-300BT was too much especially as we were messed around so back along the street we stumbled till we reached Cathay Guesthouse. Accepting the room for 150BT we passed out.
11am we awoke & ate brunch at the cafe - tea, toast, fruit, sausage, ham & egg for 85BT. As we ate we got talking to a strange, but fun girl traveller called Elodie. She told us about the guesthouse, how a flood a few years ago had consumed the town trapping those inside for days so the staff went out for food & kept up spirits, going beyond the limits expected & rescuing others in the waterlogged streets.
As we talked to Elodie we realised that we didn't want to stay here in Hat Yai but wanted to move on with her to Malaysia. Talking to the guesthouse owner the lady agreed to give us 100BT back for the room & we paid 400BT each for tickets to Kuala Lumpur. After sending 8kg of clothes, books & souvenirs via sea mail back to the UK (it worked out as around 40 pounds) we explored the city a little, noticing that the place had little of in interest to us other than the markets where we bought salad coconut & rice & chicken, thai sweets, prawn crackers all to keep us going on our 9 hour bus journey. A quick shower & pack & we were ready to checkout at 4pm.
We ate some of the food & were picked up 7ish. The bus was big & roomy with sofa-style seats.
Thanks to Elodie the time flew as she entertained us with her experiences & exploits thus far. We reached the border at 9pm & then after a 27 minute stop off to process our visas it was plain sailing.

Posted by Eemail2004 23:04 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Day 153 - Down South

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Sunday we got up at 7.50am, the earliest we'd been up on the island, brought down our stuff to the restaurant & had mixed fruit porridge. At 9.30am we caught a longtail to Haad Rin & then a sangthew to the ferry port at Tong Sala (200BT). The ferry to the mainland was late so we didn't set off till nearly 12pm (320BT each) & we slept most of the way.
The bus from Dansak left at 3pm & we arrived an hour later at Suri Thani. A taxi took us to the train station at 4.30pm & then we had plenty of time to kill till our 12.10am train (380BT). We had some rice soup, spring rolls & banana pancake & bumped into Saaj, another friend from Koh Phi Phi who'd been with Fran. She had less fun at the Full Moon Party - her camera stolen & Fran ignoring her, plus she was ill & hadn't received her train ticket from the agent despite paying. On top of all this her train was late to Bangkok - not arriving till 8.20pm. We killed some time in an internet cafe & waited for our train which had been delayed an hour.

Posted by Eemail2004 22:38 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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