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Published 5:49 am, 21 Sep 2014
PANGKOR ISLAND PICTURES
Our funky little bungalow at Budget Beach Hotel. We really enjoyed chilling on the balcony, they have scooters for rent also and were willing to do a discount rate on everything as we stayed longer. Highly recommended.
Be careful of this stuff, it really is super strong!!
Fu Ling Kong Chinese Temple
One of my fishing spots
Noi getting 'artsy'
Published 4:56 am, 19 Sep 2014
BEAUTIFUL PANGKOR ISLAND
An endless sea of taxi’s and a bunch of touts, trying to get you to stay at their guesthouse or rent a scooter, await you on your ferry exit, though aren’t pushy and are quickly left behind. Considering our relaxed experience on the Island later, it seems a strange first encounter. But I have a place organized already, the Budget Beach Hotel which is located on the other side of the island, a taxi will take us there for 15 myr. I tell the driver that I have other ‘friends’ still coming and run back to talk to the other western couple from the ferry and see if they want to go halves in the taxi, all good and we are on our way! It probably takes around 15 – 20 minutes to Nipah Bay, where the bulk of the budget accommodation is located, and we are soon checked in to our funky little wooden bungalows at 75 myr per night. We are really just ready to collapse and call it a night, but after a shower we decide to go out for a quick look around and dinner. A great little stretch of beach, with lots of tiny stalls, open air restaurants and simple accommodation set back from the ocean, I like the feel of this place already.
It turns out to be one of the best islands I have visited, large enough to have all the basic amenities and not get boring, but small enough to give it that ‘miles from real civilization’ feel, and we end up staying around 8 nights.
A really beautiful island with nice beaches, a few small towns and some really great riding, I take the bike around the island almost twice a day it is such a nice ride. Our stay coincides with Malaysian Independence Day and my birthday on the same weekend. The island comes alive with festivities and fireworks and makes for an even more special time here.
(as with last year in Jakarta, my football team lose again on my birthday... am i bad luck?!)
There are other tiny islands dotted around the coastline, a lush jungle interior, monkeys everywhere, interesting Chinese temples, great fresh cheap seafood and I even get some fishing in. We both fall in love with Pangkor Island, a place not to be missed if you’re in Malaysia.
View from our favourite eating spot
Go for a walk out past the Chinese Temple just north of Nipah Bay to find this place, beautiful spot to sit on sunset and we were always the only ones there
Published 2:49 am, 19 Sep 2014
THE 'JUNGLE LINE' - KUALA KRAI, GUA MASANG, KL, LUMUT & PANGKOR ISLAND
Once again, plans go awry as the Jungle Line is under maintenance and there are basically no day journeys for another 2 years. The whole point of wanting to do this trip was to take in the supposedly spectacular scenery along the way during daylight hours… oh well, these things happen! Lucky it doesn’t get dark here at the minute until nearly 8pm. We had a few hours to kill in Kuala Krai at the hotel before our train departed at 4:30pm further south to Gua Masang, a 3 hour journey costing a whole 4.70 myr! When when we arrive, it’s possibly one of the most amazing stops I have ever seen, the station itself is nothing special, but there are 2 huge limestone karsts right across the tracks that make for an imposing yet impressive sight, absolutely stunning.
Once here though, it was another 3 hour wait for our onward train south to Gemas and back up and west to Kuala Lumpur, there are toilets, snacks, noodles etc available if you are stuck there. Tickets were 50 & 44 myr, different prices for top/bottom berth, it was now 11pm and we just went sleep for the night, our train scheduled to arrive at KL Sentral Station at around 10am the next morning.
After arriving in KL Sentral, a taxi for 10myr gets us to the Pudu Sentral (Puduraya Bus Station) where there is no rest for us and we are soon on a bus heading back north along the west coast to Lumut, jumping of point to Pangkor Island. Bus ticket is 28 myr and even though I asked a few times whether it was a direct bus, not going through Ipoh (apparently the long way round) we still ended up going there. I was continually reassured that it would take only 4 hours, which it should, but it ended up being 6… Bloody hell that is a pain in the ass, when you have been on the move for so long already, we really didn’t need any more time sitting on a bus but the scenery was really good so not a total loss. We went with Ekspress Kesatuan and I would avoid that company if you do the same journey. I don’t get too upset if they try to have a lend of you, but out right lying is not cool. Our journey is not complete yet though and we still have a ferry to catch across to Pangkor, the jetty is a 3 minute walk from the bus stop and we finally catch a break, just managing to jump on the ferry as it is leaving, saving a 45 minute wait! Tickets are 10 myr and we are disembarking at the Pangkor Island terminal in around 40 minutes.
Some snaps coming into Pangkor on the ferry
Published 2:39 am, 15 Sep 2014
BATU FERRINGHI, BUTTERWORTH, KOTA BHARU & KUALA KRAI...
Not much to report from the afternoon at Batu Ferringhi, a great game of football with a couple of cold drinks and back into town to return the bike. The next morning we were on the ferry across to Butterworth to catch a bus over to Kota Bharu, north east Malaysia, but unfortunately arrived about 30 minutes too late as there is only 2 buses a day to get there… We could have gone at 10 pm that night, but I didn’t see any point in that so we booked a room nearby at Marina Oriental, a bit costly at 120 myr ($40 au) but very nice. I did check out the few other options in the area, all within a hundred meters of each other, and although cheap, they were pretty crappy. Plenty of good eating nearby as usual, seems to be no shortage of great food in Malaysia, we had delicious Indian curry again, turn right as you step out the front door and look for a fairly big place about 2-300 meters up the road.
The buses to Kota Bharu go at 10am and 10pm, we made sure to be there for the morning schedule and paid 40 myr for a ticket, the journey taking around 6-7 hours.
I had made a reservation at Harmoni Hotel, right in the town center near the clock tower and it is walkable form the bus station, taking around 7 minutes to get there. The room was 65 myr a night and was pretty good, a little small but nice.
I had big plans to explore the surrounding area as there seemed to be a lot of natural attractions to keep yourself occupied for a few days. But alas, no bloody scooters for rent anywhere, I hate it when that happens.
There was so much to see outside of town and in the nearby provinces but I sure as hell don't like to hire a taxi for the day and the bus system, although quite good here, just won’t take you to all the good places. Bugger..
So we stayed 2 nights, wandered around town checking it all out, quite an interesting little riverside place with plenty of good eating, though unfortunately, without transport to go and see the places we wanted to, it was time to head south by train to Kuala Krai.
The train runs on what is known as ‘the jungle line’ which was my main reason for going to Kota Bahru, so I could take the apparently amazingly scenic journey south wards over a few days. First it was a bus to Pasir Mas which takes around 20 minutes and cost around 2 myr, then a 5 minute walk will see you at the train station, the ticket to Kuala Krai is 2.30 myr and takes around 90 minutes. Plenty of great scenery along the way, with a few stops at tiny towns, though the train started out really crowded until we got further along the line. Once in Kuala Krai, from the train station you can see the sign for Rest Inn and it is about a 1 minute walk. I can’t remember exactly what we paid here, between 60 – 80 myr, a very nice place that looks newly built, with friendly staff although they speak basically no English! Kuala Krai is a very tiny town and takes around 20 minutes to walk around the whole place, once again a multitude of places to eat, though being heavily Muslim populated, barely any have beer!! The plan was to take the Dabong River Cruise the next day, but in an all too familiar story of north east Malaysia, things did not pan out, no boat today, or tomorrow… bah! I think I will return to this part of Malaysia again with a bike, but for now, I’ve had enough and it’s time to get out of here if I can’t explore anywhere.
No pics from around Kota Bharu, but these 2 places had good food, and the top one had beer!
Published 3:19 am, 7 Sep 2014
A few more pics around Penang
This place had shockingly rude service and expensive drinks
Cheapest scooter rental I found in town, also did my Thai Visa here. Very friendly and helpful staff
Good fishing tackle store
Street Parade for ....?
Thai visa options
View from my room window
And just in case you forgot, the best food in town, don't miss Kafe Yeap Noodles!
This place also had amazing food at super cheap prices, also in Lebuh Chulia, give it a go for lunch.