A Travellerspoint blog

Last week in Malaysia (for now!)


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It took about a week, but we all managed to recover from the flu/virus and start to feel like doing anything again! Thanks very much to the lovely staff at the Fenix Inn for letting us stay in the two bedroom apartment for longer, it made managing everyone being sick so much easier! Poor little Cameron, he looked so terrible......

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We got out and about a bit more before we left Melaka, mostly due to our lovely new friend Wayning, who we met at the Starbucks nearby. She showed us a couple of the local eating places in Melaka, places we would never have found (since we don't have a car!) and really made an effort to show us some of the local cuisine which, by the way was delicious. Love that fresh-made naan bread and coconut shakes!

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Thanks to the Fenix Inn staff for the language lessons!
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We also checked out an exhibition at one of the local museums (there are heaps of museums all in the one area in Melaka), which was about the Muslim inventions and developments through what we know as the "Dark Ages", it was brilliant. This is actually a replica of a clock that one of the best Muslim inventors made (I can't remember his name unfortunately!). It all operates on water, fantastic.

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Around the same area as the museums is the local clock tower and Christ Church, built in 1753, and how else can you top off such a cultural experience other than getting a family photo on a Hello Kitty bicycle?

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So unfortunately, after over two weeks in Melaka, it came time to leave. Bummer! We were really impressed by Melaka, but we can't stay there forever, on to the next destination, Kuala Lumpur! This bus trip wasn't so long, about 2 1/2 hours, but it was still a big day once we actually got to our hotel (since we didn't actually know where it was and had to work out how to get there on the Metro system!).

So we stayed in Chow Kit, and explored KL. I've noticed how quickly we adjust to places as we've been moving around, when we first arrive somewhere it takes a bit of time to get our heads around the idea of being somewhere new, but we learn very quickly as we explore and we get used to the neighbourhood where we stay quickly too. Chow Kit is a part of KL that shows how the majority of the KL population live, away from the glitz and glamour of the business centre and shiny shopping centres. There is a makeshift market permanently located on the streets outside of the hotel (which freaks Lachie out a bit with the different smells!), and a mosque somewhere nearby that issues the call to prayer at about 5.30 every morning (sigh). Amazingly though, I started to not hear it after a couple of mornings. I think this photo, taken from our room, shows the contrast between the two areas.....

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We've also checked out the glitzy bits too though, the Petronas Towers have a great park on the area outside with a large shallow community pool, and we discovered a great food court in one of the shiny shopping centres that we've been back to a couple of times (got our fix of veggies with a noodle and veggie soup, awesome).

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We can't forget the Sunway Lagoon Water Park! What a day, we spent 11-6pm going up stairs and down waterslides, and must have gone on one of the rides about 10 times (I can't remember the name but it involved us all sitting in a round raft and going down a slide into a huge cone where we'd slide backwards and forwards, very cool! Photo below!).

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We've now moved to a friends place in a different part of KL, and we're enjoying the hospitality of our lovely friend Abu and his family. We have one more day in KL, then on Friday we're flying to Phnom Pehn, to start our Cambodian chapter of this adventure!

Posted by tollidaytravels 06:49 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Melaka, Malaysia


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We arrived in Melaka after a 5 hour trip, which actually went surprisingly quickly. It helps when there's snacks and various electronic gadgets to occupy your time! The boys were great, they really do travel well!

We caught a taxi to our hotel, the Fenix Inn, and our first impressions of Melaka are very good. The buildings are lovely and there's a great feel to the place. Thankfully, our first imprssions of budget hotels in Malaysia have been proven wrong! The Fenix Inn is very good, it' s located well to see the sights and the standard is much better than previous hotels. We were all in the one room again, but that's fine! We liked it so much we asked to stay longer, and they gave us a two bedroom apartment for the same price as the original room, gotta love that! No sharing rooms with the boys for a little while at least, awesome.

We've been doing our usual thing of looking around and exploring, and our first impressions of Melaka proved correct. It's a city but it has kept a lot of it's heritage, there is a central area, incorporating China Town, that has been declared by UNESCO as a heritage area (a fact that the local government is using to draw in the tourists!). Famous_Jon..t_Chinatown.jpgPlus the food is fantastic. There's such a mix of cultures here, and a culture that this region is famous for is the "Baba Nyonya" culture, created by the intermarriage of the Malay and Chinese hundreds of years ago. The specialised food is a mix of these two cultures, and tastes delicious! The River is also a drawcard for Tourists and we obliged and jumped on a cruise - it was well worth it.
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Since arriving in Malaysia we've been really happy to see how so many different cultures and religions are living very happily together. Melaka in particular is famous for this, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims are all represented very strongly here. It's such a place of contrasts, we've seen some women in full Burkahs and the next minute we see Malay or Chinese girls in very short dresses and high heels! Another thing we love about this place is that we never see any other Westerners, except a few at the local museums. It's great being a novelty, as long as you're OK with being stared at as you walk down the street.

We've fallen into a bit of a routine since we got here, since this is the longest we've stayed in one place so far! Days consist of breakfast, school work, lunch, then some sight seeing or other fun stuff. That "fun stuff" has been either the play centre at one of the many local shopping centres, a swim at the local pool, or visiting the very cool aquarium.
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Sadly, Cameron came down ill a couple of days ago, and a trip to the local medical centre confirmed he has the flu, poor little mite! So now we're in quarantine for a bit, probably a bit longer now that Lachlan has come down with it. We've just extended our stay for another 3 days, which means we would have been here for over two weeks, but it's actually nice to stay in the one place for a while, and we need to make sure everyone is better before we head off anyway. As we review this draft, both Ash and I have come down with it too. Lucky we extended, but we are all on the mend now.

Posted by tollidaytravels 01:32 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Arriving in Malaysia


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We’re sitting on a bus travelling from Mersing to Melaka, from the East coast to the West, through thousands of acres of palm trees (used for palm oil). It’s going to take about 4 hours so I thought I’d use the time to catch up on the blog!

We arrived in Johor Bharu after a 20 minute bus trip over a causeway from Singapore. It amazes me how close Singapore is to both Indonesia and Malaysia, you could literally row a boat between them. Of course, it was Chinese New Years Eve, so we found ourselves at a hotel on the outskirts of JB with practically everything closed for at least the next four days. Luckily some of the many restaurants that were around stayed open, and we found a great little restaurant that we ate breakfast at every day. Ash and I are now addicted to the “Kopi Panas” which is hot coffee and condensed milk (if you think that sounds like it would be really sweet, you’re right!) and “Roti Telur” which is roti bread with an egg inside. Cameron’s been eating rice and iced water for breakfast, which he seems perfectly happy with, and Lachie has been having rice with a curry sauce and hot milo!

Since there wasn’t much to do we took the opportunity to catch up on the school work. We hadn’t done too badly with getting some work done in Singapore but we were falling behind a bit. The boys have been really good with doing it, considering we have to do it wherever we can! In this case it was in the hotel lobby, the room and outside, which worked pretty well.
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It hasn’t all been work though! We all had a great time at Legoland Malaysia, on the outskirts of JB. It cost a bit to get in but it was very, very good. We were there from 11am to 7pm (closing time) and went on almost every ride at least twice. What they’ve done with the Lego is fantastic, and of course all of the rides relate to Lego somehow (one of the roller coasters had Lego cars to sit in).
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We ended up staying in JB for 5 days, and took a bus over to Mersing. I have to say that the bus driver we have right now is pretty good, but the driver on the way to Mersing was crazy! Cameron ended up throwing up after we got off, poor thing, we were going so fast around the bends. And I really don’t like it when the driver is chatting on his mobile and driving with one hand as he hoons around! Taxi drivers don’t seem to stick to traffic signals or speed limits either. Aaaaaanyhooooo, we got to Mersing safely and checked into our hotel. We’ve noticed since arriving in Malaysia that 1. booking over the internet is not the best way to make arrangements and 2. Malaysians don’t necessarily believe in maintenance! Both the hotels have had leaking showers, which is a problem when the shower is a small hot water system on the wall with a hand-held rose and the toilet is right next to it (nothing like getting a wet bum whenever you go!). Everywhere we look the buildings have been built and then left, with the exception of new shops on the ground floor sometimes (they’re all double storey with the top sometimes being living quarters). Even on the web reviews of accommodation, which we’ve been looking at for deciding where to go next, time and time again complaints come up about the standard of cleanliness and maintenance issues. There certainly is a difference between what you get for your money here and what you get in somewhere like Vietnam, it’s more expensive than what we thought (but not like Singapore though!). It's amazing how quickly you adjust to circumstances though, we found ourselves getting used to being there after a few days. Bathroom and room photos of JB hotel, courtesy of Cameron!
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The river at Mersing is nice, and the boys have been fascinated by the cats that run freely everywhere. People eat lunch in the restaurants with a cat sitting next to them, of course Lachie wanted to take a kitten that we saw home and we had to explain why that wasn’t going to work out!
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We came over to Mersing with the intention of catching a ferry over to Tioman Island, which is apparently a little tropical island with places to stay, snorkelling to do etc. After studying various reviews of the accommodation we weren’t too sure (and we don’t really trust the pretty pictures that people show us). We then spoke to a French couple and asked them about where they stayed. It sounded good so we tried to make a booking but it didn’t work out (long story). So we’ve booked a few nights at a hotel in Melaka (let’s see how this one turns out!) and we’d like to stay there for a while if we like it. By all accounts it sounds very good, and it would be nice to plonk in one place for a bit! We’re almost there, next post again soon!

Posted by tollidaytravels 04:42 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Singapore

So we arrived in Singapore after a great flight. It took about 8 hours to get here but the boys were great (thanks Qantas on-flight entertainment!).

If we thought we were going to have a rest once we got over here we were sorely mistaken! We've been flat out seeing the sights, but that's because we know we're only here for a short time (it's too expensive to stay for too long, especially on a budget that needs to be stretched!), and there's a lot to see!. We found a great hostel, The Pines Hostel, which is in a great location and near the metro subway system. And what a great subway system it is, we travelled all over the place on it. Cheap, reliable and frequent, awesome!

So, for the 6 days we've been in Singa we've:
made some lolly friends at Sentosa Island,

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and some butterfly friends too.
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We've looked at some beautiful gardens at "Gardens By the Bay", all under cover in a huge glass dome of course!

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and checked out Little India, and China town, which was super busy because the Chinese New Year's Eve was in 2 nights! The atmosphere was fantastic, and there were red and gold decorations everywhere, and mandarines (they represent gold and therefore prosperity for the new year. There were slabs and slabs of mandarines being sold in every supermarket we saw, at about SG$25 per slab).

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Lachie and I checked out the Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo, especially designed for people to see the nocturnal animals. It was very cool to walk around in the dark and see the night animals going about their business! Lachie loves zoos, so this was a highlight for him.

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We also visited the fantastic National Museum. We came out with a new appreciation for where Singapore is at now, after seeing what it has gone through as a country over the past 100 years. We really didn't understand what had happened to them during World War 2, and we only got a glimpse, but it made us understand Singapore a lot more.

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and the boys had a go at cooking some of the more famous local cuisines.......

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So we only spent 6 days in Singa, but we got to see a lot and we really liked what we saw. It's really easy and cheap to get around, it's clean, and there's a great range of food because of the different cultures living there. Recommend it to anyone!

Next destination - Johor Baru, Malaysia. We crossed the single causeway that links the two countries on a bus, and began our exploration of Peninsula Malaysia. That's some photos for the next blog!

Posted by tollidaytravels 05:38 Archived in Singapore Comments (0)

Packing up our lives - bye bye Timboon!

To our friends and family the decision to do this might have seemed to happen all of a sudden, but in fact this idea has been brewing (in one form or another) for a while now. Ash and I have always loved travelling, and love the idea of staying in an area long enough to actually learn about the culture of the country, rather than just getting a fleeting glimpse. We're especially keen for our kids to have this exposure. Doing this trip has been extremely opportunistic, there were lots of reasons to go ahead, it just seemed to be the right time! So the Tolliday Travels began (or arrangements for them at least!)
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Once we actually made the decision everything started to roll along fairly quickly:

We had to sift through all of our belongings and work out what to bring with us, what to give away and what to store. WP_20150127_006_1_.jpg

With the help of the boys of course!
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We had to pack everything left into a storage container (and it only just fitted!). It's amazing how much "stuff" gets accumulated over the years, it was great to actually do a thorough clean out!

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In amongst getting the house sorted out we needed to remember to plan for the trip (it was so easy to get side-tracked with packing the house!), including testing out the backpacks that the boys were going to use.
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And so, after a crazy amount of thinking, planning, organising, packing, and trying to think of every possible eventuality that we might need to make arrangements for, we began our big adventure on the 12th February, taking off to Singapore! We could never have done this without the help of all our family and friends, thank you so much!

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The funny thing is, with all of this thinking, planning and organising that we've been doing, not very much has gone into what we're actually going to do or where we're going to go on this trip. We have a rough itinerary of starting in Singapore, then heading north through Malaysia, then Bangkok, Cambodia and Vietnam. After that, we're thinking of a visit to Japan and China will be really good, but we'll see where our travels take us!

Posted by tollidaytravels 01:13 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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