Friday, 29 September 2006

almost human

Yep yep yep: I'm in the Malaysian half of Borneo! It's one of those places that I've always wanted to go without realising where it actually was, if you get me (doubtful). Well it's quite nice, apart from the fact that every hotel/guesthouse kindly locates their reception at least one flight of stairs up - I discovered that the more places I tried that were full, through some freak of gravity my bag became much heavier and more useless, especially after one 'it doesn't look far on the map' tramp across a city towards a promising looking establishment that ecktually turned out to be a hospital. Taxi!

Flew into Sandakan and promptly went to Sepilok orang-utan rehab centre, which was sooooo cute as two babies and one big mama came out to play at feeding time as they tried to work out how to hold bananas in both hands and feet without falling over (impossible), watching them learning how to swing on the ropes and how best to wee on a bunch of camera weilding tourists was great! They're 96.4% genetically identical to humans apparently (yep I was paying attention), though I suspect this figure is closer for some than others, i.e. the annoying americans stood next to me, grrrrr. Then I headed off into the deeps of the Borneon rainforest (well an hours boat ride away anyway) for a bit of a jungle adventure which was awesome, saw loads of cool animals like tarantulas, improbably nosed Probiscis monkeys, colourful birdies, thieving Macaque monkeys and even some more orang-utans swinging the trees by the camp. Went on boat safari's (never did learn that my binoculars were useless in the confines of my bag) and some jungle trekking through muddy swamps (squelch!) whilst trying to avoid touching anything - even trees are poisonous out there. Brilliant. Spent the nights playing cards and learning some classy magic tricks, though probably wise to steer clear of the rice whiskey (pure ethanol), yikes!

Was sad to leave the jungle behind (not as sad as the person who had to sit next to me on the bus for 3 hours - there are no showers in the jungle and boy was I ripe!) but had more to explore at Sipadan - one of the world's permier dive sites. It was really really really good, saw loads of cool stuff though got a bit ridiculous as was wafting around on the currents going 'oh look, there's a shark, and another, and oh look there're seven turtles having a nap, and there's a few more sharks over here, and watch out for the shark, oh and say hello to the turtle just swimming past' - brilliant stuff! Am now in Kota Kinabalu supping on ice-coffees and wondering around with unbearable smugness at the fact that I'm not climbing the huge mountain here (I like to think that I've done my time on that front). Laziness reigns. But I have added some photo's to the posting below for your viewing pleasure should you be so inclined. Oh and I want an orang-utan...

Thursday, 21 September 2006

it was like that when I got there,


So don't go blaming me for the trail of civil unrest that seems to be following in my wake.

And to prove my point (somewhat weakly) here's a picture of me celebrating my independence from British rule (those pesky colonialists) in Merdaka Sq, KL. -------------------------------->


Monday, 18 September 2006

Kuala Kuala but no Bear

So, outta Thailand to Malaysia: it's different. Firstly, there was the hugest police/army presence I have ever seen lining a single and otherwise uneventful road, either that or they were on a mass 'wee in the bushes' training manouvere (hard word to spell) or something. Anyways, moving on from that strange image if I may, spent a night in the lovely (hahahaha) town of Kota Bahru where restuarants have not very encouraging looking dead street cats lying outside. It seems that Malaysia is an odd mix of Indian (curry, lecherous men, more curry), Chinese (i.e. writing I can't even begin to understand) and Western (i.e. more KFC's per square mm than anywere else I've ever encountered - heaven to some) culture, only without the alcohol. Then spent a week or so on the Perhentian Islands (where you last saw me, or my feet anyway), which was marvellous, apart from having the darkest cavern of a beach shack - I never did find the bed (but hey it was the cheapest I could find). Though I did see a TURTLE when diving (he may not have been called Leonardo, mutant or ninja, but I swear he mouthed the immortal words 'cowabunga dude' to me), brilliant.

I eventually dragged my sorry bottom off the beach and hopped on a speedboat back to the mainland and the longest most overrated and boring train journey ever, the so called 'Jungle train' down to well, the middle bit of Malaysia. It lasted for 12 hours (12!!!!!) and the view consisted of lots of tree trunks. Wow. I also discovered the culinary delight of poisoned rice (this isn't the ad line the buffet cart went for, but I find it an appropriate description) and lukewarm coffee, brilliant. All this did make me appreciate all the hours of my life that I have spent not being on a train however, so every cloud and all that.

Fortunately there was a point to all this travelling as I got to the Taman Negara National Park. It has a lot of trees in it. Seeing as the rainy season is fast approaching and it is in fact a rainforest, I doubt you will be surprised to hear that it rained. Lots. Mainly as I was walking between sheltered areas. Hello mud. Hello slippery trail. I think we all know where this story is headed. Splat! Having cleaned myself up a little I made it to the Canopy Walkway, which was brilliant if you like walking on wibbly bridges suspended 45m in the air (which I did actually - despite a minor onset of vertigo, which is only common sense all things considered). The views were excellent progress, I was able to see tree trunks and tree leaves, and if I looked really hard I could also make out the ground far f a r below. On the way back I spotted some monkeys and got very excited when I heard a bush rustling only for a pig to pop out (boring, we have them at home). I arrived back alive only to have the tables turned on me after Cambodia and was absolutely feasted upon by a variety of insect species (30 bites and that's just my left hand). Brilliaaaaaaannt.

Leaving behind my tarzan/jane/monkey aspirations I'm in the big city of Kuala Lumpur now. Considering the first I had heard of it was when learning about photochemical smogs in geography classes at school, it's made a good impression on me. This clearly has nothing to do with the fact that when I don't know where I'm going and decide to follow my instinct (always a risky decision) I actually ENDED UP WHERE I INTENDED without having, quite literally, gone round the houses. Brilliant. I went up the much prided 4th highest tower in the world (have found out that the 9th highest tower is in Uzbekistan, you know me, I've cultivated an irrational desire to go there) where there was a pretty good (not too smoggy) view of the city. The excursion was much improved by the presence of a (free) audio and video (!) guide complete with a Malaysian/cockney fella informing me of a variety of pointless yet amusing facts about big buildings. Brilliant. By this time I was getting high off tall towers (get it) so off I went to another tall tower, the Petronas Towers, the 2nd tallest building ---> (it makes a big difference in tall thing classification apparently) in the world. It was, erm, tall. Then I went to a rather posh shopping centre (i.e. I am too poor to be even allowed in the shops) where I got a little confused between doors, mirrors and windows - they were all so clean! - much to the amusement of an entire eating establishment. Cue red face and hasty exit (the doors are the ones with exit signs incidently). Fed myself on a bit of sushi and plodded around a lovely little park wondering if I could really get away with playing in the huge kiddie play area, turns out all the other adults in there had a child with them as a cover story so sadly I didn't qualify and moved on to Chinatown where they have decided to celebrate the Year of the Dog with some quite atrocious lanterns adorned with pictures of pooches (<-----), brilliant, and a veeeeerry genuine market (check out these guys "we sell no fake rolex's" innocent as pie look as the police came round)! ------>

Oh and I quite like the word brilliant today... BRILLIAAAAAAANNT!

Monday, 11 September 2006

can't think of a title

as my brain has rotted.

Am on a beach. In Malaysia. Sand: check! Sea: check! Lots of fishies: check! Nice 'ere innit?

These are my feet (in case you're anatomically challenged and didn't realise) ----------------------->

Ciao (on that continental note - why do all europeans lose their sense of style when they come within a 10 mile radius of a beach? Surely there is some EU treaty-type-thing against flouro swimgear and dodgy tie-dye t-shirts)...

Friday, 1 September 2006

in an octopuses garden

I'm on beach! I'm in Thailand! The sun is shining! Woo wooo! After another stopover in Bangkok (I went to the Grand Palace, again, to fill in time, and certainly did no shopping...) I'm on the lovely island of Ko Tao. Have been here for don't quite know how many days and have been learning to scuba-doo (or self-contained underwater breathing apparatus dive as the tekkies have it) which is absolutely brilliant, love it! I have my Open Water cert, which involved watching lots of very dull videos on decompression whatnots and doing a few dives which were pretty good. Though yesterday things got even better when went down down down to 30m (sadly didn't get nitrogen narcosis) where I played with egg yolks (?) and saw lots of sharks (aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggghh!!!!!), they were pretty friendly though and apparently well fed as my arms are still intact. Sadly diving has been put on hold for a few days as have delightful infection in my left ear so am just going to laze about on the beach for a while (yayayayayayay - beats sitting on the sofa watching Postman Pat - the video that always came out when I was ill as a child) while gunk pours out my ear and try to remove these slightly dodgy wetsuit tan lines that I have developed and then I'll get back to the important matter of finding wee Nemo, just keep swimming and swimmming...

If any of you are reading this in an office, look away about now:

mwah ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

And oh my word, let us take a moment to comprehend the sad news of legend Steve Irwin (not to be confused with Crocodile Dundee, whoops), it's the end of an era of "crikey!" and "streuth!" and his demise is like a sting in the heart to me... Oh and thanks to Mr 'it's a great city' Canberra (you know who you are!) for the on the pulse news bulletin.