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Life according to noddytravel
china, laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Solomon islands, mauritious, Indonesia, usa
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Published 10:53 am, 18 Aug 2014
2 MOUNTAINS IN 2 DAYS, GUNUNG MAT CHINCHANG (WITH LANGKAWI CABLE CAR) & GUNUNG RAYA.
FOLLOWED BY 2 BUSES & 2 BOATS IN ONE DAY, LANGKAWI TO PENANG
As planned, the next morning we rode to the famous cable car and took it to the summit of Gunung (mountain) Mat Chinchang. We really should have gone the previous day though as once atop the mountain, the heavy, low clouds left us blind to the amazing views I know were there, we could see most of it from the gravity defying cable car on the way up.
To see it from right at the summit, a 360 degree view of the spectacular island of Langkawi, would have been really special I think. The new skybridge is still being built though and will no doubt add even more wonderment to the whole experience. Cable car ride to the summit cost 35 myr ($11.70 au).
A quick stop at Telaga Tujuh Waterfall nearby saw a lot of steps climbed but was only mildly worth visiting, though we did have some good food there at the shops by the car park. We then followed the coast all the way round the west and southern sides of the island, with a few detours along the way, great tight, hilly, winding roads to ride is always fun, even on a scooter! That night we stayed at Pantai Cenang, the beachside tourist town on the west coast boasting endless cafes, restaurants, guesthouses and shopping. They even have an ‘Under Water World’ venue there. We ended up at DeltaMotel & Restaurant, way over budget at 155 myr ($52 au) a night, but it was right on the beach, literally 40 paces from our door and we were stepping on the sand. Not a spectacular beach by any means, but there was plenty of buzz about the place, with parasailers, jet skiers and holidaymakers all providing the entertainment. Throw in a great sunset with a cold cider right on the sand and it was a great way to finish off the day, sometimes you have to spoil yourself! As with the room, I blew budget on dinner also and we had a fairly decent pizza just up the beach later in the evening at Yellow Café. These guys actually have bean bags right on the sand to relax on also. The prices are higher but so is the quality, plus the ambience is worth every cent. Remember, when I talk about expensive, I simply mean a dish that may cost around $10, not exactly breaking the bank for the average holiday maker, but I am far too used to paying only a couple of dollars for a great meal and prefer to save that money for more important things…. Like beer!! The next morning we followed the highway up the center of Langkawi to the towering peak of Gunung Raya, now we finally got our 360 degree views over the island, almost free except for a 10 myr charge to go up the tower of the abandoned looking resort up there. Well worth the time and a nice way to round out our road trip before heading back to Kuah town, where we changed rooms to a 50 myr a night place, Havana Guesthouse. Hmmm, let’s just say there were many reasons this place was cheaper, but the wifi was good! More food from the markets later that night and a long wander around town before getting some rest, ready for the journey to Penang the next morning. A taxi from Havana Guesthouse to Jetty Point was 12 myr ($4), ferry ticket 18 myr. A 5 minute walk to the Kuala Perlis bus terminal had us boarding a bus to Alor Setar for another 15 myr. Despite what I read online about getting a direct bus all the way to Butterworth from KP, the Plusliner Bus Company definitely does NOT have a ticket office there and don’t appear to be operational anymore. I wouldn’t plan on using them if you are visiting and it seems to be a better option to just head for Alor Setar and then change buses for another 10.80 myr down to Butterworth. A total travel time of around 3 – 3 ½ hours or more, plus we barely had to wait at either station. The original plan was to take the train again, but at least this way we got to see more of the country. Once you disembark at Butterworth, if heading for Penang you will want the ferry. Take a quick look around or ask somebody for the ferry terminal, I found a sign (in Malay, but still easily identifiable – ‘fery jeti’ or something like that)) in less than a minute and it took about 4 to walk there. It was quite funny actually, after going through a turnstile and paying the whole 1.20 myr fare to cross to Penang, we were waiting on what I thought was the jetty, that is until it started moving and I realized we were already on the ferry! I’m a boat guy and even I didn’t realize we were standing on the thing until it pulled away from the pier! When you reach The island of Penang, a 3 minute walk following all the exit signs will lead you straight to the taxi stand, once again just a set price, no bargaining possible. I had booked at Hotel New Rope Walk and it was a 15 myr cab fare to get there, being a touristy town the price was a little steeper than it probably should have been. If we knew the way it could have been walked in around 15 – 20 minutes.
Total cost, Langkawi to Penang, hotel to hotel - 117 myr, $39.84 au, $20 each. Take out the cab fares if you're prepared to walk and you would be looking at $15 a person.
The only good thing I can say about New Hotel Rope Walk is the room size and large work desk, other than that it’s is fairly ordinary. The wifi is slow when it actually does work and that nice looking ‘sofa’ you see in the Agoda pictures is an inflatable! The owner was really friendly and helpful though and I talked him down to 70 myr per night, and then 65 myr on my last night..
I have been too slack to move my gear again, so have ended up staying for 4 or 5 days, though have been checking out other accommodation options around town. The price seems about standard, though I saw plenty of worse value rooms on the main street Lebuh Chulia, that most of the old town seems to center around.
If you are a backpacker and just looking for dorm rooms, there are plenty of amazing value places around, especially down Love Lane. Dorm rooms can be had, with free breakfast, for as little as 13 – 16 myr. Sometimes I wonder why I don’t just stay in them sometimes, for a night or 2 maybe I’ll try again in the future.
View from the summit of Gunug Mat Chinchang... cloud
Beach directly out the front of Delta Motel
Cool patterns all over the beach, pretty sure they're from the crabs
Not my handiwork, but photo worthy anyway
Now that is a beer, my neighbour settling in for the afternnoon..
Views from the summit of Gunug Raya
Heading across to Penang
The ferry that I mistook for the jetty!
Published 9:12 am, 17 Aug 2014
LANGKAWI, KUAH TOWN, KUALA TERIANG AND THIEVES
We hired a bike after our 2 nights in Kuah Town, there is a great shop only 50 meters down from Cosy Inn, T Shoppe, that seems to stock nearly everything, grab a map of the island here for $1. Scooter rental is bloody expensive by Thai standards and cost me $10 a day, but as you would know by now it’s my preferred method of travel. So we left most of the gear at Cosy Inn and took off for a 3 day scooter trip around Langkawi. Realistically you could circumnavigate the island in a day, but that would involve not stopping off at all the different places. We started north bound on the bike and followed highway 112 up to Tanjung Rhu, stopping off along the way at various places, including a mangrove creek system and Durian Perangin Waterfall. A quick bite to eat on the nice enough beach at Tanjung Rhu of fried rice and chicken for under $2 and we were off again westward along the northern coast of Langkawi. There is a crocodile farm to look at if you’re interested and plenty of amazing scenery along the way before reaching Temurun Waterfall, a beautiful place for a swim and only a short walk from the car park. But it was here that tragedy struck, I made the silly mistake of leaving one of my bags on the scooter and we were robbed. As I returned to the scooter I could see the bag had basically been torn apart and whatever the thief didn’t want was scattered on the ground next to my bike… For some strange reason they had security footage of the incident and were able to give me pictures of the bandits absolutely red handed with my stuff. Oh well, a lesson learned, you can never be too careful with your stuff anywhere. While I fumed about my lost possessions we headed for Pantai Kok, a beautiful little cove with a couple of small islands only a few hundred meters out, both surrounded by moored yachts. A lot of driving in a big circle later, found me back nearby, still trying to find somewhere to stay for the night, I didn’t want to go too far as we planned on going up the cable car the next morning and checking out another waterfall. Not finding anywhere with wifi to simply check out options online made things so much harder and we were left to do it the old fashioned way! At last we found it, very simple and rustic, but a slice of paradise in local Langkawi, the Idaman Guesthouse in Kuala Teriang. A fantastic little place only meters from the water, ok not any water you would want to swim in, but it gave it that ‘staying on the beach feel’. Awesome value at 75 myr ($25) a night and before I had even checked in, I was chatting to a German fellow that lived across the ‘street’ (a sandy path). He has a motorbike rental business and was a super friendly guy, invited me in for beer and shisha after we had chatted for a few minutes, but for some bizarre reason, the days riding actually had me craving a shower more than a beer and I politely declined, to head for the room. He told me the offer was open as long as somebody was sitting on the front porch, he was a huge help in pointing me in whatever direction I needed and giving me the local lowdown on where to go. Dietmar seemed a great guy, if you are in the area and need to rent a scooter or dirtbike, or simply need an English speaker who knows the area, drop in and see him, and be sure to give Idaman Guesthouse a go. After the much needed shower and some chill time, we were off in search of local culture, sights, food….. well, let’s be honest - beer! Dietmar had given me some good intel and we were off down the narrow path that ran alongside the ocean’s edge, a huge water dragon scurrying off as soon as I pulled my camera out, mere meters from our doorstep. A minute’s walk up the track had us settling down to a table in one of those tiny, island style ‘so relaxed it may just melt’ bar/cafes, the Seaview Guesthouse. The drinks were cold and cheap and the ambience outstanding, sitting 3 meters from the ocean just after sunset, the stars slowly coming out to perform their dazzling duty, in a setting so tranquil I could have seriously hung out here for days. At $1 a beer and $2 a whiskey, we found ourselves having more than a couple, Noi rarely drinks but even she couldn’t resist a cocktail or 2 (which I had to make!) in such a cool atmosphere. As always, you don’t need to stick with major towns to find decent lodgings, food, service and a great time. We also visited Drifters Café later, another great little place by the ocean, all made from recycled timber and oozing that tropical island charm, though the prices were a lot steeper here to match the slightly more up market feel about the place. Take a stroll or ride around ‘town’ later in the evening and as with nearly all of Asia, the place comes alive with lights, little stalls and all kinds of food sizzling and smoking in every direction. Langkawi has yet to disappoint.
Durian Perangin Waterfall
Hmmm, concrete factory, noisy and smelly
Beautiful looking golf course, Datai Bay, what a backdrop
Marina near Pantai Kok
These little guys were every where
Is it just me, or does the one at the front seem to have a crazy look in his eye..?!
Room for the night and trusty bike
Just follow this path...
To the Seaview guesthouse/cafe/bar... brilliant
Ummmm, Idaman Guesthouse...
Turn right when you see this building and follow the 'road'
And finally, the thieves caught in the act, if anyone has seen these assholes, please contact me. Though I know I shall never see my pistachios, chocolate bars or chips again! The little bastards even took my ciders, but had the decency to leave me my map!
Never leave snacks unattended while hiking!!
Published 8:52 am, 14 Aug 2014
LADYBOY GO GO BARS, FAREWELL FRIENDS AND ON TO MALAYSIA
We farewelled crazy town in suitable style, a few of us ended up in a Ladyboy Go Go Bar at 3am, luckily the clothes stayed on but they were good fun and we had a laugh and a few drinks there before calling it a night. A taxi around lunchtime that day dropped Noi and I at Hualumphong Train Station in Bangkok to take the overnight train toMalaysia. I had already purchased tickets online (more expensive, but due to the visa situation, really did not want to get there and find it booked out) and we simply hopped on board and got settled in for our 2:45pm departure.
A fairly uneventful journey aside from the scenery and the next morning around 9am we went through the formalities of immigration going from Thailand to Malaysia. An extremely easy process, you take all your gear off the train, stamp out of Thailand, next queue, stamp into Malaysia and back on the train to your original seat. Too easy and great for us Aussies, we are issued a free 90 day tourist visa on arrival, oh Thailand when will you follow suit?!! hehe
For those who have yet to experience one of the best ways to travel, the Thailand train is great if there are 2 of you. You both get a huge comfortable seat and later in the evening they convert to a top and bottom bed with plenty of room to relax. The guy who makes up your beds just laughed as I had been through the process already and had ours made up in no time! 1100 - 1200 baht for the entire journey ($35-40 au)
We arrived late into Arau, around 11am, the long distance routes always seem to run behind schedule, and got a taxi into Kuala Perlis, 24 myr (Malaysian Ringgit). The Ringgit runs at about 3 times the Aussie dollar, so that equates to $8. The taxi's all operate on a standard fare here it seems, there is no bargaining, no meter, but the price tends to be fair I think. Actually makes things easier. While sitting in the taxi I suddenly realized I wasn't wearing a seatbelt, a massive no-no in Thailand, simply for the high risk of death every time you enter a vehicle there. Then it dawned on me, sub-consciously I must have noticed that this car seemed completely incapable of reaching a speed high enough to injure anybody! It was a total crapper!
Kuala Perlis is the place to catch the ferry on our way to Langkawi, 18 myr ($6) per person, i couldn’t find any accurate information on ferry schedules online so have taken a picture of the departure times for you. A journey time of an hour or more, the last 10 minutes of which take you through some of the smaller islands and is quite scenic, sees us disembarking at Jetty Point Langkawi.
Once again a throng of taxi drivers are waiting to escort you wherever you need to go, you get a ticket at the booth first though and as before there is a set price for every destination or area. We are booked into Cosy Inn through Agoda, nice enough place though a small room, which I have since learned seems to be the norm around here, especially for the price.
I paid around $22 a night and it did have hot water shower, kettle, coffee, wifi, refrigerator, definitely suitable for the 2 nights we stayed in Kuah Town. The location is great too, a short walk to the main shopping and dining area of town. There are plenty of great places to eat and the duty free shopping will most certainly appeal to some. I picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey for $16!
Our first night was a rather expensive ($10 a dish) meal at Rootian Restaurant, superb food but way more than I like to pay for dinner! For the average holiday maker though, stop in and try the food there. I can't comment on the other places in town at the same price range, we finally found the street food and markets later and made good use of the delicious cheap eats on offer there for the remainder of our stay.
There is a great Indian place just on the corner of the same block of shops and motels where Cosy Inn is located, the food there was amazing, 2 dishes of beef curry and yellow rice, ice coffee and juice... $5.30! The choice and quantity of places to eat here seemed endless, make sure you check out the street, market and inexpensive little shops to eat at, you will also get to mingle with the locals. In fact, we found many people here were from Thailand or spoke Thai so have had no trouble communicating, plus Malay is very similar to Indonesian and I have been able to use my, albeit limited, Indo here also.
Make sure to check out the food stalls near Azio duty free, and the little river inlet that has a couple of small bridges crossing it. Even better is the fact that you can go to the duty free stores nearby and buy cheap cold beer or cider and take a couple with you, as being a Muslim country, alcohol is not readily available everywhere.
There are a ton of other places nearby also, plus there is a bigger market that sets up all over Langkawi on different nights of the week. Wednesday and Saturday is in Kuah town and are the biggest, we got to check them out and once again the food was amazing, unsure what they were called but we ate what seemed to be a 'green chicken curry omelette'?! Whatever it was it was bloody tasty, look for a square omelette looking thing!
The Cappucino House is a good one for cold beer and Aussie football (hey, Saturday was the Swans game, i couldn't miss that!) but they have a vast array of sports also if, like me, you have to see your team play even on beautiful Langkawi! $3 for a pint was pretty good value. The Bali Cafe was boring and unfriendly, hard to recommend it, though the beer was cheap at $1 for a mug.
Delicious cheap curry, not spicy either as I could handle it
Check out the prices!
Look for this place near the Cosy Inn
Fishing tackle shop also nearby
Awesome night market street food
Som tam, stir fried veges and lightly battered squid, altogether $8. and delicious
Ferry schedule from Kuala Perlis to Langkawi
On the train you start with great seats like this...
That transform into this...
Published 2:45 am, 14 Aug 2014
PATTAYA, SURIN, BURIRAM, SARABURI
So the teeth were fixed, new and looking great, time to get out of this crazy town... oh wait, Danca is back again after going home for his 26 day work roster! Once again we hired a car and headed out into Isaan to explore some more. Our first long day in the car took us through outback Thailand and back to Timeout Fishing Park for a quick hello, the place looked quite rundown and Ludo, the owner, was back in Norway working.
Late in the afternoon the call was made to spend the night in Surin at the Maneerote Hotel, a decent place and great value at 450 bt ($15), plus they have a good coffee shop in the lobby. After check in and a well needed shower we hit the town, I should probably add that there were 4 of us, with Danca and I finding ourselves no longer single! He has been seeing his girlfriend for a while and I happened to meet a nice girl, Noi, who is sitting with me now on a bus in Malaysia as I type, but more on that later!
We happened across a Surin 'Go Go Bar' and went inside for curiosity's sake, not much to report except a bored looking girl in a bikini, half heartedly swaying back and forth on the 'stage'! Oh well, the drinks were super cheap and we can add it to the list of things we have now seen in Thailand! We didn't stay long though and soon found a reggae joint, JahBar, with great live music, friendly staff, ridiculously cheap drinks and a general feel good vibe to the whole place. Well worth stopping in if you happen to be in town.
The next day we drove out Phanom Rung Historical Park to check out the 700-1000 year old site. I have to say, I was impressed by this one, definitely worth a visit, I love the history and architecture in places like this, coming from a country that really has no ancient buildings, ruins, temples etc, I find it amazing to be standing on something that was built up to a thousand years ago, it's incredible.
It was now early afternoon and we were off to Buriram for the night, passing a specialist Cowboy Hat manufacturer of all things along the way?! Weird, but very little surprises me in Thailand anymore! Having found a great room again, Lake View Place, for another whopping $15 and getting scrubbed up we hit the streets.
There was a great little local market, surprisingly very little food on sale here, which is odd for a Thai street market, more clothes and knick knacks. There seemed to be a fair amount of nightlife here and we checked out a few places, before heading back to the room for a slightly early night.
That was until we decided to stop in for '1 last drink' at the little place right next to the hotel. Well, we should have just gone there earlier, finally we had found a place with a pool table plus it just seemed like a really chilled place to sit and chat while enjoying a small bottle of whiskey. All in with mixers, bottle and ice, for 4 people to relax for an hour the bill came to around $12!
Back on the road the next day took us to Saraburi, Noi's hometown, where we stopped in to see her sister and newborn boy. The family house is a fair way out of town, hidden in a labyrinth of tiny back roads and right on the Saohai River, the water’s edge a mere 3 minute walk from her place and apparently home to plenty of Pla Suwai (striped catfish). May test that theory next trip!
Before actually arriving in Saraburi, we stopped in at Nam Tok Chet Sao Noi(Waterfall of seven small girls), it had looked nicer in the pictures, but i think the water level was low and is still worth a visit. Take some food and set up on the banks of the stream, have a swim and relax, a great way to spend a couple of hours or more and best of all, free! We briefly explored the surrounding areas before making our way to Saraburi, not far away.
We were supposed to stay for the night, but made a late call to head back to Pattaya to get our gear organized, with Danca and I heading off on the same day, him flying back to Australia, Noi and I jumping an overnight train to Arau, Malaysia. it was only a short trip but we both agreed it had felt like a week and how nice it was to get out of the madness of Pattaya, yes it's good fun briefly, but if it wasn't for good mates living there i probably wouldn't stop in.
Phanom Rung Historical Park
Cute pups at temple
Ummm.. silly farang and monks?
Folks in Buriram are CRAZY about their soccer team, this stadium is huge
Nam Tok Chet Sao Noi, near Saraburi
Published 1:48 am, 14 Aug 2014
SUVA, BEACH HOUSE, AUSTRALIA, THAILAND, DENTIST
After my shenanigans in Suva with very little sightseeing achieved, though there are some great tours available, but far too expensive as all these extra flights etc had pushed the budget a bit thin. I always talk about not wanting to be one of those traveller’s that go everywhere but can't afford to do and see what is on offer in those places, not normally an issue for me, but Fiji is definitely for the short term holiday maker to really get the most out of it.
Though there were a few guys basically 'living' at Beach House just for the surf every day, but the living arrangements were minimalist and they were definitely doing it on a shoestring budget, but it can be done if that's your passion. Speaking of Beach House, I decided to break up the bus ride back across Viti Levu with another couple of nights there, it really was such a great place.
I was expecting to see Ben, but my 2 Scottish buddies were back also, they had been on a 9 day tour around Vit Levu and the smaller islands, i was going to join them but rolled my ankle pretty badly a few days before we were going to leave! Another country, another injury!!
So it was 2 more nights here of the usual fun and late night story telling amongst travellers, then the Scottish lads and myself split a cab to the airport. They were flying to Sydney to continue their Tour of Australia (great travellers, they had really been some places, way out bush too!) and I was stopping in Melbourne on my flight back to Perth.
As luck would have it, my Dad was in the city and picked me up from the airport sometime around midnight, a few hours sleep and we were in the car the next morning heading north for home. A fishing trip pre planned that coincided nicely with my return home!
A few weeks back home with the folks and seeing friends again was great, though after the fishing was done I was actually put to work! My mum and her cousin had been renovating a house together, so I jumped in everyday to help out, it was nice to be doing something constructive again, though a bit of a shock to the system!!
Another fishing trip was organized but I had already bought my cheap flight online and my departure date was set, I would get a last couple of days fishing in with the old boy and his mates from down south, then I was off. Back to my other 'home', Thailand, where i was going to finally get some major dental work done, it had been a long time coming, but a huge chip out of my front tooth after biting into an olive on the yacht finally sealed the deal!
Danca was hitting Thailand the same day as me, so we headed for Pattaya and caught up with all our mates for a week or 2, then it was 3 weeks of dental work for me. 2 crowns, a root canal, a 3 tooth bridge, 1 cap, clean and xray all came to the grand total of..... around $1740 Au! Ridiculously cheap, a fraction of the cost back home and the work was outstanding, absolutely painless.
Anybody considering major dental work should look into Thailand, even with flights etc you will still save money and get a holiday! I used Hollywood Dentalin Pattaya after being referred there by friends and can't recommend them highly enough.
In between all the visits to the dentist, i had to make my first ever 'Visa Run' which involves sitting in a mini van all day and going to the Cambodian border for a whole 10 minutes to 'exit Thailand and come back in again' thus extending the time you are allowed to stay in country. I had planned on being gone before that became necessary, but the way things panned out with getting my teeth fixed, plus I was a little slow in booking an appointment, it had to be done.
Oh well, another one of those things that I have now done, the Thai government is really cracking down on those foreigners that are living here and continually doing visa runs or working illegally. I see it as a good thing, but unfortunately it will make it harder for guys like me and those doing the right thing, to stay longer.
Ok a few recent fishing photos to at least keep some pictures coming
But I let them all go and paid a whole $3.30 for this huge plate of fish and chips later!