Friday, 26 May 2017

Melaka- You're just too noisy!

I left Kuala Lumpur on an air conditioned bus and made my way to Melaka in the south. I was told by a friend that it was worth a visit so decided I would give it a couple of days. I arrived in the bus terminal only to wonder around for 45 minutes looking for the bus to town as the information desk was "out too lunch". Eventually a local woman took pity on me and showed me the way. I sat beside her on the bus and she told me she was a cleaner for the holiday homes at the beaches and her daughters are all in Australia and Germany. She helped me get of the bus and find my hotel. I liked my hotel room as it was quite big but it was next to a car park which was so noisy and there were monkeys in a cage which was a shame.

I only really had a day and a half by this point so I dumped my stuff and went exploring. I discovered Melaka is not a big place. I wondered down the streets which looked quite European, stopping off for something to eat, to the river which Melaka is famous for.

There was also a little square with a church, art gallery and a windmill. It all looked very dutch as the dutch invaded Melaka a few hundred years ago. The town was full of Chinese tourists as it was their public holiday and these bikes to transport people places, which had loads of characters like pikachou, mickey mouse etc on them and played extremely loud cheesy music. 

On top of that every bar, shop and restaurant played their really loud music too. Therefore the whole place was very noisy. There were also no backpackers.

The place was pretty so I decided to take a boat tour down the river. Off course this tour played the Malaysian radio really loudly for the duration so I couldn't win. However, I did see some amazing street art and some really lovely looking cafes by the water front.

After my tour I headed to the A'Famossa fort

and saint Johns cathedral. These were old ruins from the Dutch period.

I then found a lovely quiet restaurant at the waterfront. It was most likely quiet due to the expense (western prices) but the food was good and it was very posh. I then walked back to my hotel through Jonker street which is the main street for the street market.

This was massive and very busy. It sold mostly tat and street food. After browsing the stalls I went back to my hotel room to try and sleep amongst the noise.

Day two, and I realised I had done the main things the day before so this was more walking around and eating in nice cafes. Which I suppose I needed after being so busy for the last three weeks.

I had a look at the Stradthuys

The oldest church in Malaysia.

I also came across some temples.

I then ate in some more air-conditioned cafes as it was so hot and came across a Malaysian couple on their honeymoon who chatted to me for a while and again seemed fascinated with me, a woman, travelling by themselves. I then passed through Jonker street again before returning to my hotel, where a car alarm had gone off and no one could find the owner so I had to listen too it until 1am.

Therefore I think Melaka is too noisy for a peaceful town. I had high expectations of relaxing peacefully by the river, but I was wrong. I did like it as it was pretty but if you are used to Europe then its not really that different and you could see the whole town and still have time to spare in a day. However, I am glad I visited it.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Kuala Lumpur I 💖 You!

I landed in Kuala Lumpur, but i think Nepal hadn't finished with me yet. As we were about to get off the plane an announcement was made " Ladies and gentleman due to a Nepal weight flight restriction we have left all your bags in Kathmandu!!!" WHAT!!!! I spent three hours sorting out my luggage situation and they promised they would give me my luggage on the next flight the next day ( didn't get it for two says). I had nothing and spent the next two days in Kuala Lumpur wearing the same clothes and basically being called a dirty Scot by my hostel. I then had to find my hostel at 12.30am in the morning and was scammed by a taxi driver saying the 5 minute journey would cost 35 ringgits when in fact it was 5! I complained to Malaysia Airlines and I heard nothing in return. Not a great start.

After arriving in KL I noticed how modern Malaysia was compared to Nepal although it was a lot hotter. Its also full of malls.

I had found a new friend on solo traveller App who was also in KL by herself taking some time out of her life, so I agreed to meet up with her at the bird park. Her name was Aishah and she was from Sydney which means I now have a new friend in Sydney 😀.

The bird park was really good and had loads of variety of birds and Aishah pointed out all the birds I would see in Australia. It was so hot that day though!! We then went to the orchard garden, botanical gardens and had a walk around a park and the lake.

After which we decided to get something to eat and head to the Patronas Towers. First we had to walk through loads of malls. They were massive and had everything in them. There's apparently hundreds of malls in KL. Eventually we found the towers and watched a light show to music in front of them in the pond.

As we were watching the light show Aishah noticed a 5 star hotel and decided she was going to spend the night there. So we went to negotiate a room for her. This hotel was amazing and had views of the Patronas Towers and was really central. We stayed in her room chatting for a few hours enjoying the most of her room. I then went back to find out what had happened to my bag. At the hostel I stayed up with some of the guests and the owner on the roof top bar until 2.30am chatting and trying to sort my luggage out with Malaysia airlines. I received different information about the location of my bag so I gave up and went to bed.

The next day my bag finally arrived at 12.30pm! YEAH!!! I could go out and enjoy the rest of my day. I started off by  going to china town.

That wasn't very impressive, just some shops and people harassing you so I moved on to the central market. That was more shops but selling interesting things and some tourist tat. It started pouring in rain so I sat and had a coffee. The rain did not go off, so the Scot in me said go out in it I did! It was actually quite pleasant in the rain. It was cooler and less crowded. I walked to the Majid Jenek mosque which looked like it was floating on a lake.

Then stumbled upon the textile museum mainly cause I needed the toilet. There was no one there but it was air conditioned with clean toilets so I was sold! Its also inside a lovely building.

The clock tower was next to the museum in a square that looked like an English cricket ground.

Then obviously I ventured into the different malls and did some window shopping and ended up back at the patronas towers again. Where I found my way back to my hostel.

Day three in KL and I met up with my friend Aishah again. Today was Batu cave day so we went to the Big Hindu statue. It was a massive Hindu god and lots of stairs but it was worth it.

The cave formation was magnificent even though we were so hot by the end of it.

There were also loads of monkeys...

We walked to a lovely looking mosque and the space museum which was full of children but it was interesting to see Malaysia's contribution to the space race which was actually quite a lot.

Aishah and i decided to go to the cinema in the evening in one of the big malls. We went to the Times Square mall and saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for like £3 plus popcorn for £1. Bargain! The film was really good and we had a lovely evening. I then had to say goodbye as I was going to Melaka the next day.

I really like Kuala Lumpur. Maybe because it was a bit of modern after Nepal and it is just another city, but i made a friend and had a great time!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Chitwan- I really didn't like you 😞

The bus from Pokhara to Chitwan was only 2 hours late-so a success! I found Mat and Jesper were also on the same bus much to my surprise but they were going to a different hotel. I was brought to my hotel by a jeep, which I thought this was going to be a great hotel- how wrong was I!

Firstly, they said I hadn't booked a room with air-conditioning, I had to argue with them for 30 minutes and show them my booking before they "gave in" and gave me air con. Then there was no wi-fi, TV, wardrobe or in fact any of the amenities listed on in the room. To make matters worse I was told I could pay by credit card when in fact it was cash only. The manager was some sort of del boy and really annoyed me. The place just wasn't as advertised!

I then had to find a tour to go on to take me to the national park. This proved tougher than I thought because it was really expensive for one person and I needed to find a group to go with. Lucky for me I found a group of Russians who invited me to be part of their group for the day. After agreeing to meet the next day for the tour I went off to explore Chitwan, which was basically two streets of dusty roads, with the occasional elephant wandering around and some tourist shops and restaurants.

I found a lovely hotel to stay in for a couple of hours which had pretty good wi-fi!

Image may contain: tree, plant, sky, outdoor and nature

Afterwords I went back to my hotel when I discovered I had a roommate. A gecko I named Caroline that made the most horrendous noises all night.

The next day I met up with my Russion friends and started our jungle adventure in a longboat sailing down the river. We had the most annoying tour guide on board, (he insisted on adding to the bird noises in the jungle with bird noises on his phone, constently talking when we were enjoying our peaceful nature boat tour and farting at every moment) and the Russions being Russion kept telling him to shut up. I did manage to see a chrocodile and loads of exotic birds.

We then left the annoying tour guide to meet up with our tour guide who marched us through the jungle for 4 hours on foot. It was sooo hot! But we did manage to see rhinos (one charged us and we had to run away). I got stung by a nettle and asked our tour guide where I could find a dochan leaf. His reply was "its better not to get stung". This was Chitwan all over!

We then went back and watch Anna (one of my new Russion friends) take a bath with an elephant. I could not believe how the elephants were being treated. One boy was hitting the elephant with a stick! These pour elephants were being made to carry humans around on their backs all day. Have them on their backs while being washed and forced to squirt humans with water and then back to being rides again. I felt so sorry for these elephants. I refused to have an elephant bath or ride them.

After lunch we were taken on a jeep safari with some more people. I made friends with a polish group on the tour, they were lovely and invited me out after.

On the safari I saw rhinos, anacondas, wild boar, deer, monkeys, wild pigs, tropical birds, crocodiles- but no tiger!

Although I did see an Indian elephant that is apparently very rare as they migrate from India to Nepal. Although this one was well known in the area. The locals call him Ranaldo as he likes to come to see the female elephants in the elephant house once a week and well you can imagine the rest...

After a very satisfying nature day I went for dinner with the Russians. Turns out Anna lives in Brisbane so I am going to go visit her on my way to Sydney. They then decided they were going to bed early as they had to go back to Kathmandu tomorrow and I joined my Polish friends in a Bar for the rest of the evening. The evening proved to be quite eventful as not only did we get to listen to some really good live music but a rhino escaped from the nature reserve and roamed the streets. We had to wait in the bar until the rhino passed.

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Eventually I made my way back to my hotel only to find they had shut the gates and I had to climb over a fence. When asked about the curfew the next day the reply was " its 10pm and we only tell people about it if they ask". Unbelievable!!!

The Saturday was uneventful as I just wondered around Chitwan looking for an ATM to pay them with cash, none worked but eventually after the power cut was over I found one that worked. I then spent some more time at the hotel with the good wi fi and came back to my room to discover Caroline had brought some more visitors and spend the rest of the night listening to them squawk at each other.

I couldn't wait to leave Chitwan and was actually looking forward to getting back to my hotel in Kathmandu. However a 6 hour bus journey turned into an 11 hour bus journey from hell. They closed a road for 4 hours and then there was so much traffic. The air con didn't work very well, there were no toilets and I wasn't feeling well. Worst bus ride ever!!! The only thing that made up for it was a group of Chinese boys looked after me for the journey.

I really didn't like Chitwan, the tour was really disorganised, there was rubbish everywhere, the hotel was a disgrace, the people didn't seem to know what was going on and everything closes at 10pm. The only consolation was I did see some cool wildlife and met some lovely people. I'm not the biggest fan of Nepal but I'm glad I went although I don't think I'l go back in a hurry.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Pretty Pokhara

I really liked Pokhara mainly because it was a little bit more sophisticated than Kathmandu, had better infrastructure ie pavements, and it was quite pretty. It was also far more touristy but then that came with better shops and restaurants.

After having the worst bus ride off my life (at the time) which consisted of Tina and I having 6 hours of extreme bumpy conversation, no wi-fi, rubbish air conditioning and a toilet that didn't flush but had a large window where everyone could see you pee! We had arrived in Pokhara.

We went to my hotel first which had a balcony and views of the Himalayas.

We then went to Tinas hostel which well, wasn't the best but we did end up having dal Bhat there and made 3 new friends. Simon from Italy, Jespar from Sweden and Mat from Canada. We spent the rest of the night with Jesper and Matt and ended up chatting by the lake til 2.30am in the morning!!

The next day, Tina decided very last minute she was going to clime the Annapurna range of the Himalayas (no joke). Now this this a large mountain range where most people spend months training for and have organised this well in advance, but Tina being typical Tina decided why not give it a go. So I decided to spend the day helping her.

Firstly we decided to have breakfast in a french cafe where they cooked really spicy Chile and I spent the whole time choking to death while the locals laughed on. Tina then persuaded me to rent a bike to go get her permit for the Himalayas and to renew her passport. So we rented these old bikes and cycled for 2 hours in 35 degree heat, stopping along the way so she could rent some hiking gear. Apparently you can rent everything including shoes and sleeping bags. As we ended up having to wait for Simon to finish his lunch when he knew were in a hurry, we didn't arrive at the passport office until 3.30pm but it had closed at 3pm. Nightmare! We were fed up at this point, we then couldn't find the permit office. Eventually we found it and she managed to get her permit. Apparently, it was cheaper going to the office instead of getting it elsewhere. It later turned out there was a reason for that....

After a coffee break I left her to it and went to find Mat and Jesper for dinner. Mat introduced me to an English couple Sam and Lizzie (from Sheffield and Framlingham- yep she knew Ed Sheeran), he met on his Himalayan hike and we hit it off really well. We all had dinner together in a Jamaican restaurant and went to the busy bee for a drink til closing-everything closes at 11pm apart from the busy bee which is 12am.

On Tuesday I decided to spend some time by the lake.

 I then had some coffee by the lake where I chatted to a girl called Flame (yep she had pink hair and everything and had amazing stories to tell) for a few hours until it was time to meet Tina for dinner and to look at the wee shops.

The shops in Pokhara are really nice and I bought a handmade bag from the woman's skills charity shop.

She took me to a local place for dinner, where everyone was sitting round a small table and you had to take your shoes off. There we chatted to people for hours (waiting for our food cause it took so long). We then made friends with a really lovely group of people- Deisi, Josh, Pablo and Giorgio. We made plans to meet the next day to go to a waterfall, as Tina was going on her solo mountain adventure! I then walked Tina back to her hostel where we discovered that the office to get her permit was right next to her hostel!!!!!! I couldn't believe it. She then claimed she knew it was there but it was more expensive. Then we parted ways, it was very sad 😢

The next day I was really tired but decided I was going to go meet them anyway. It was a 20min walk and on the way I heard Tina call me. She was eating breakfast at 10.30am when she was due to have left at 7am. Turns out the reason her next door permit office and all the other packages were so expensive is because it included the actual ticket to go to the Annapurna range park, so she had to wait while they made her ticket up. I couldn't believe it and had to laugh for ages.

I then met up with my new friends and we hanged out with yet another group of travellers and had breakfast and lunch together in the same place as the night before (it was really cheap though).

They then decided they were going to a Tibetan refugee camp really late in the afternoon because it was raining, but I wasn't that interested so i went shopping and packed for my trip to Chitwan the next day (yes I know how very superficial of me)  after agreeing to meet up for dinner later.

Thursday came and I had to get up at 5am for my bus to Chitwan. I saw the sunrise over the Himalayas from my balcony and as it had been snowing I also saw the Himalayas as usually its too cloudy to see them.

I really liked Pokhara compared to the rest of Nepal. Yes it was touristy, which I think is why I liked it. It was just very pretty compared to Kathmandu and a little more calm and I met some amazing people there too.