A Travellerspoint blog

March 2015

Begining our adventures in Cambodia!


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We enjoyed two great days with Abu and his daughter Farheen in Kuala Lumpur. We were treated to some great hospitality and really enjoyed our stayed at their apartment. The boys loved the pool which we enjoyed on both days we were there – Cameron still talks about going back to take one more swim!
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From here we flew to Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. We’d been considering travelling longer in Malaysia, then heading over to Thailand, but decided against it due to the very hot uncomfortable weather that’s on the way. Looking ahead, weather is going to play a big part in where we go, as we’d like to go to Japan but want to get there in summer and not winter! Plus Ash’s Uncle, Gordon, is going to be in Cambodia for a few weeks now, so it’s a great chance to catch up with him. We landed in Phnom Penh on the 20 March 2015 and instantly warmed to the place. The people are very friendly and take a keen interest in the boys. We’d forgotten what it was like to be harassed about needing a tuk-tuk as soon as we step out the door, there was none of that in Singapore or Malaysia! We visited Wat Ounalom (the headquarters of Cambodian Buddhism), the Royal Palace and also Wat Phnom (a buddist temple on top of the only hill in Phnom Penh). The Royal Palace was fascinating, there is a Pagoda inside which has over 7 tonnes of silver in the tiles on the floor and a Buddha carved out of a solid piece of Emerald.

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We stayed until the 23rd and then travelled south to Sihanoukville, which is a beach side town south of PP. We decided to take the trip in a taxi, rather than on one of the many bus companies, as the bus takes longer and the taxi is only a little bit more expensive. The drive down wasn’t too bad, comparatively, on the hair-raising meter. Everyone is quite happy to pass each other (the lines on the road are just there for decoration!) and the poor motorcycles get pushed off the road – hang on tight everyone!

We’re quite surprised (and maybe a bit disappointed) about how touristy it is here in Sihanoukville. There are a lot of Expats who live over here renting apartments for US$300-500 per month and generally living quite cheaply. There a few islands which get frequent backpacker visits and there are tourist boats that travel to and around the island. It is a big party place with lots of bars (especially down along the beaches) and there are no shortage of restaurants offering a good selection of western and Asian food. Having said that, there’s a great deal of poverty here. There’s such a huge contrast in living standards, obviously between the expats and the locals, but even between the locals themselves. The country still hasn’t recovered from the impacts of the Khmer Rouge, they totally decimated the place during the four years that they had control. We’ve learnt a little bit about it, but decided against taking the boys to the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields for obvious reasons! By all accounts, the country has changed a lot, for the better or worse is up to the individual, over the past five years. Life is still very much a struggle for a lot of the people here.

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We managed to find a really great hotel (Reef Resort) run by a British Expat family. After initially booking for 3 days we extended our stay to 3 weeks (yeah, it’s that good). There is a great pool (which is totally awesome because it’s getting very hot and sticky now) and a pool table (found in every bar around here as well). We’re fully expecting Lachlan to become a pool shark by the end of the stay!

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We're continuing on with the homeschooling with the boys, considering the constant change in location they're actually doing really well with adjusting! We've found a bit of a routine here in Sihanoukville, since we're here for much longer. Breakfast, school in the morning, swim, lunch, swim. Awesome!
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So given we can have a good mix of both we decided to stay a bit longer and then move on to Vietnam. We’ll miss the Northern part of Cambodia, where Siem Reap and Angkor Wat is, but we fully intend to come back and do this part of Cambodia when the weather gets better!
We’ve been travelling for 7 weeks now, but it actually seems longer than that. We’ve done so much already! During our travels, we’ve come to appreciate the smaller things in life, like: toilet paper, a shower separate to the toilet, mozzie spray, a pool, air conditioning and rooms that don’t smell. It’s amazing how your perspective on what’s important can change!

Posted by tollidaytravels 21:24 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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)

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