So Phil, you have been on the road for just over a month now and are enjoying a few days rest at a beach resort. How is that going ?
Its great ! I am really enjoying not doing much at all apart from read and swim, oh and eating monster breakfasts which are just awesome. When I decided to come and chill out for a few days I pretty much committed to not doing any sightseeing so there was no pressure to be active at all. I really needed a re-charge, I was tired and probably pretty dehydrated, so just eating, drinking gallons of water and resting has been a real lift.
Overall, how has the trip been?
It’s going OK, I am not going to say it’s fabulous as that would be complete bullshit, it definitely has had it’s ups and downs. I have really enjoyed some of the places I have visited and have seen some pretty cool things, especially the animals I have come across in the wild, monkeys and turtles etc. Of course seeing the orang-utans was a real highlight for me. I also really like the architecture, especially the mosques and shop houses, all the things we do not see so much in NZ.
On the downside, having my money taken was a real lowlight, Malaysia has been such a safe place to visit that I had got a bit lax with my possessions at times, though having it stolen from my secure locker was very frustrating.
I am mostly cool with the travelling alone thing and have been really lucky to meet some pretty good people on the way, but yeah, sometimes I struggle with it. Anyway I am enjoying myself for the most part, Malaysia and Brunei have both been interesting and friendly places to visit and I am looking forward to hitting the Phillies for a week or so in Feb.
On the subject of meeting people, how have the fellow travellers been ? From what we have been reading, no single women yet !
Ha ha, yep, no single women travellers yet, well not that I have seen anyway. I have met some great people, Jay was good to travel with for a few days and Lizzie and Dave in Miri were awesome, Miri was the best place I have been for meeting people, maybe due to the good vibe in the hostel, it was a small hostel and they seem to be a bit more personal than the bigger ones.
There are a few anti-social people out there, when jay and I stayed in the awful Lucy’s in Kota Kinabalu I said hello to a northern European couple and they didn’t even bother replying, so obviously not all travellers are friendly !
What are some of things you are missing ?
Mainly my family and friend of course. I have had a couple of conversations with my sons and plan on keeping that as regular as possible, I have sporadic Facebook messages with my daughter in England, but that was the norm before I left ! Would like to do some Skyping with them at some stage. Of course if anyone fancies a wee holiday to SE Asia I am happy to meet them somewhere !
I am missing NZ music, I have a bit on my laptop, but not enough, plenty of non_NZ music and really, I have only just started listening to music, first few weeks I was happy not too for a while.
And lastly, cool weather !
Back when you started your travelling you put a post on the awesome wheresphil blog about some of your fears about the trip, have you had to face any of those fears yet ?
Hmm, yep I think I have pretty much experienced most of the things I am a wee bit scared of, dislike or feel uncomfortable dealing with ! I know that though I have experienced bugs and beggars and touts in Malaysia they are nothing compared to what I will have to contend with in other places, so some big culture shocks yet to come.
But I have seen my first few snakes, the first one gave me a fright, but at least it slithered away from me faster than I could have run from it. I have had tolerated the crowds and the noise and the bloody awful music ! I know I am far more tolerant of these than I was at home, so none of that sort of stuff has really bothered me yet. However, I will see how the crowds at the Thaipusam festival will be !
I guess my key disappointment was not making the Pinnacles due to a wee bit of vertigo, but I went into the walk knowing that may be the case.
Sleeping has been a minor issue , but I am doing surprisingly well at times, and fan rooms in hostels have been fine, so i don’t always need aircon. I have used the silk liner most nights and have been reasonably bite free, I have a couple on my chest which are clearing slowly, and apart from one really bad snorer the noises have not been a major. I must admit the nice sheets and fluffy pillows in the resort is most awesome !
How has the stomach been? And health in general ?
Stomach has been great, only once did I have to make a really fast walk to the loo after a meal and that was in Miri, apart from that it has been all good and I have mainly eaten local foods at the cafes and hawker stands, had some great meals, especially with Alex showing me around the various types of Malay food in Kuching.
Health has been good, losing a bit of weight, if I didn’t drink beer I am sure I would have lost more !
I think hydration is probably my main concern, I drink as much water as I can but I sweat so much, like the guy said at the Pinnacles walk, drinking is like pouring water into a sieve – it just leaks out everywhere.
How is the planning going and how are you going about it ?
I must admit I am finding planning a struggle! I guess I set out with this ridiculous ambition to not be a typical “lonely planet” traveller, and to try and get off the beaten track and do or see some things that not everyone else does. But I am just not confident enough to do that yet, so my travelling has been very guide book orientated and I am spending more money that I could by not doing the local buses or other cheap methods of travelling around the towns I have visited. I am slowly getting into it and hopefully my confidence will build, that is one of the great things about travelling with others, I am way more confident!
I am slowly learning that the guide book is just a guide ! The information is often out of date, in fact getting useful info seems quite hard, I use the web a lot, read blogs and a number of traveller forums, often with vastly contradictory outcomes! Meeting people and talking to them seems to be the best resource for good info. So planning has been hard ! however I am getting better at it and have started booking things ahead. Hopefully by the time I leave Langkawi I will have booked through to the Philippines !
Highlights / lowlights ?
Lowlights, definitely not making the Pinnacles climb, I was disappointed with myself with that. Obviously having money stolen was a major lowlight and I would like to be more confident in myself than I currently am, but hopefully once I am back on the road after this break things will perk up.
Loads more highlights though ! Orangutans definitely a highlight, the diving was awesome and I really enjoyed my day at Niah Caves with Dave and Lizzie. I surprised myself by really enjoying the two big mosques in Bander Seri Begawan, especially when they were lit up at night.
And spending time with people on the way, Alex showing me around Kuching and catching up with Trefor in KL – and being invited to stay when I return in a few days.
So what is next?
Hmm, good question !
The current plan is, and I aim to verify travel times and look for accommodation tonight, so it is not cast in stone yet….
Boat to Penang and couple of nights there, bus to Ipoh and a night there, bus to Tanah Rata and a couple of nights there and then back to KL on the 6th and 7th for the Thaipusam festival.
In a bout of planning enthusiasm I have booked 3 nights accommodation in Melaka from the 8th so I don’t get stuck staying comfortably with Trefor in KL !
From there I am either going to go down to Singapore or back to KL, depending on where flights to the Philippines are cheapest. Then fly to Puerto Princesca on the Philippine island of Palawan and spend 8 -10 days on the island. From there i will probably fly to Bangkok, dunno about that bit yet, too far ahead !
This is what happens when I have too much downtime!