A Travellerspoint blog

White sands and reggae bands

Langkawi, Malaysia

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After two and a half hours on a small ferry from Georgetown in Penang across the Straits of Melaka, we arrived at the 99 islands that make up Langkawi. The water was emerald green and the sun was shining down as we sat out on the deck holding onto our hats. Approaching the main island we floated past lots of smaller islands, it was truly magical. We recalled what we had read about this being the place that pirates used to hang out, how exciting!

Just arrived on Langkawi

Just arrived on Langkawi


Just arrived on Langkawi

Just arrived on Langkawi

We had really been looking forward to our visit to Langkawi as this was one place we had considered when picking our honeymoon destination (but Sicily won in the end, you can’t beat Italian food!) We already had an image of the long stretches of soft white sandy beaches sketched in our minds. Plus, after the recent travelling and exploring of cities we were more than ready for a good beach break to recharge our batteries. With crazy Bangkok coming next on the itinerary we were keen to make the most of this opportunity to relax.

We arrived at the island’s main town, Kuah, and agreed to share a car to the beach area with Jaap and Esmeralda. We had met this Dutch couple a while back in Kuala Selangor and had been to see the fireflies with them, we were all pleased to meet again on the deck of the ferry. We have got quite used to bumping into people that we met in the last city/country; it can be nice seeing people you recognise sometimes. We do miss Sri Lanka though as there weren’t so many other backpackers around!

Us with Jap and Esmeralda at a late night beach bar listeing to live reggae

Us with Jap and Esmeralda at a late night beach bar listeing to live reggae

We arrived at Cenang beach at around lunch time and it was scorching hot. We checked into our hostel which we had pre-booked. At the time of our visit there was an international air show taking place and we had been warned that it would be very difficult to find somewhere to stay on the island. We felt lucky to have secured a room and even to have our own bathroom after sharing in hostels for quite a while.

Cenang beach, Langkawi

Cenang beach, Langkawi

As soon as physically possible we made our way to the beach, we just couldn’t wait to see where we would be spending the next few days. Plus we were really hungry, having had breakfast at 6.30 that morning. We found the beautiful beach to be almost empty along the entire 2km stretch; everyone was off having a siesta, what a treat! We picked a chilled-out shack on the beach and settled down for a delicious lunch with our feet in the hot white sand, watching the waves crashing in and admiring the other islands of the archipelago dotted across the horizon. Maybe we could stay here for the next few months and just not tell anyone…….

Cenang beach, Langkawi

Cenang beach, Langkawi

Cenang Beach, Langkawi - airshow

Cenang Beach, Langkawi - airshow

Cenang beach, Langkawi

Cenang beach, Langkawi

Cenang beach, Langkawi

Cenang beach, Langkawi


Sunset at Cenang beach, Langkawi

Sunset at Cenang beach, Langkawi


Sunset at Cenang beach, Langkawi - helicopter

Sunset at Cenang beach, Langkawi - helicopter

For the few days that we were on Langkawi we spent almost all of our time on the beach trying not to do too much. We had plenty to keep us occupied – we did lots of reading, plenty of sleeping and filled in the gaps with drinking from coconuts, collecting beautiful seashells and going for a swim. The long beach never got very busy, apart from later in the day when lots of the local families would arrive to splash in the water and watch the sun setting.
One morning we booked onto an ‘island hopping’ trip where we were taken by speedboat to some of the other islands of Langkawi. We visited the island of the pregnant maiden, so named because of the shape of the mountain top, a remote beach on an undeveloped island, and to a small bay where eagles swoop to feed, it was amazing. The highlight of the trip, though, was the boat ride itself. The boat zipped across the water between the islands soooo fast that it was bouncing up and then crashing back down and smacking back into the water. If our adrenaline wasn’t pumping so much it may have actually hurt! Soph had been expecting a slow paced cruise between the islands and even had her camera out ready. We luckily put it away as we set off, just before we got sprayed by the waves and completely soaked through! It was a great trip and it’s a very beautiful part of the world, with the large rocky islands, covered with trees, jutting out of the water, a real tropical paradise.

Island hopping, Langkawi

Island hopping, Langkawi


Eagle feeding trip, Langkawi

Eagle feeding trip, Langkawi


On the Langkawi island hopping trip

On the Langkawi island hopping trip


Langkawi island hopping

Langkawi island hopping


Langkawi Malaysa

Langkawi Malaysa

We also went for a long walk in the interior of the island, away from the beaches and explored the small villages where the Langkawi folk live. It was quite peaceful and they seemed to be rather well off compared to other areas we have visited.

Baby chics in Langkawi kampung

Baby chics in Langkawi kampung

In the evenings we tried out the different restaurants, there were lots to choose from in the little town behind the beach. One night we had a fantastic meal of grilled red snapper that had been caught fresh that day. It was delicious, although we had underestimated quite how much the cost per 100g could quickly amount to when we selected the fish from the ice. The bill was quite a surprise for our backpacker budget (oops!) but still a bargain compared to UK prices.

Fish supper! Red snapper in Langkawi

Fish supper! Red snapper in Langkawi


Waiting for our fish supper! Langkawi

Waiting for our fish supper! Langkawi


Fresh fish caught that day - tough choice!

Fresh fish caught that day - tough choice!

We finished every lazy day with a lazier evening at Babylon beach bar sitting on the sand with candle light, listening to the sea in the darkness and chilling to the sound of a live reggae band. The lead singer had dreadlocks down to his ankles, the haze of the sheesha pipes clouded the air and we wished our time on Langkawi would never end…..

Us at Babylon reggae bar

Us at Babylon reggae bar


Fire performer, Cenang Beach, Langkawi

Fire performer, Cenang Beach, Langkawi


Fire performer, Cenang bach, Langkawi

Fire performer, Cenang bach, Langkawi


Babylon reggae bar on the beach

Babylon reggae bar on the beach


Sully with reggae and sheesha

Sully with reggae and sheesha


Check out the dreadlocks on this guy!

Check out the dreadlocks on this guy!

Sully practising capoeira, Langkawi

Sully practising capoeira, Langkawi

Posted by Up.Up.and.Away 02:12 Archived in Malaysia

"Georgetown, Geoooorgetooown. Just an' old sweet song..."

Penang, Malaysia

semi-overcast 30 °C

Fuelled on some fresh Egg roti (‘Roti Chennai’) and armed with drinks in a plastic bag (inc. straw) we left the cool climate of Cameron Highlands behind us and were excited to make our way down to the coast to Butterworth and catch a ferry to the world renowned Penang!

Two orange juices to take away please!

Two orange juices to take away please!

Once in Butterworth the heat was turned up and our smiles broadened again :) We jumped on to a superfast ferry boat to Penang island. Preceded by Arab and India traders, Penang was once a central hub for European traders in their exploitation of the East. This is largely owing to its location; the island sits pretty on the west coast of Malaysia with easy access to Burma and India to the North with Melaka, Singapore and Indonesia to the south.

We hit the streets of Georgetown with our backpacks on in the sweltering heat and made the 2mile trek to our Japanese ‘Flashpacker’ dorm, having travelled through Little India first and scoped out the Chicken Tikka on display. We were staying near ‘Love Lane’ the backpacker hub and what is referred to as ‘Chinatown’ with it’s lovely colonial era houses ranging from Victorian times to Georgian times and with all the subtle changes to reflect this. It reminded Sully of his time in Burslem but here he grew more attached to the houses with the oriental decorative detail and wooden window and door shutters. We desperately wished we had the cash to restore one like many others had done in the area. With Georgetown recently becoming a UNESCO heritage site there was a lot of physical and cultural regeneration taken place as well as on-going support available making it a nice place to be.

Our 'flashpacker' hostel in Penang

Our 'flashpacker' hostel in Penang

Renovated building

Renovated building

Soon we were out on foot patrol and on the hunt for some grub as we had not had food all day and the heat was slowly depleting our fluid levels. A South Indian banana leaf set later we spent the rest of the day Al Fresco catching up with things and imbibing the atmosphere. Later that evening, Sully caught up with the locals at the mosque and hooked up with a local bookseller who dabbled in a few things apart from books. So he hooked us up with a scooter and we now had the means to explore the following day.

We love scooters!

We love scooters!

Next morning we headed out like bats out of hell, Meat Loaf style. We scooted along the coast with a view to hitting a good stretch of beach…we were not disappointed. We discovered Batu Ferringhi beach and had the far end practically to ourselves and spent some time watching the sailing boats bobbing up and down on the water with the sun beating down on us. There was also a mosque on the top end of that beach which was called the 'floating mosque', it was the first mosque that we had seen with such a beautiful natural beach view just outside of it!

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We bumped into a fisherman and a young lad out trying to catch some fish on a rocky part of the beach. He had a cone hat on and was casting a net out wide. We talked to him a little while and when he pulled the net in there was plenty of fruits de la mer. He said that he lets most of them go but keeps the big ones to grill!

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Having guiltily indulged in the beach for longer than we had planned, we hit the coastal road again to see what we could discover. Quite enjoyable was the ride itself with all the hairpin bends on the edge of cliffs and hills, with the Malaysian formula 1 squad out that day Sully loved the adrenaline whilst Soph held on tight and gave him a punch every now and then to slow him down!

After zipping through some jaw dropping scenery and leaning over some equally facial feature contorting cliffs, we breathed a sigh of relief when we saw a little shack on the side of the road and a friendly local couple cooking up some tasty dishes. A little ‘Laksa’ later we were back on the road, away from the coast and now heading through some interesting little villages to the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. On way to the temple, we passed a Malaysian version of crocodile dundee who caught a semi-crocodile, semi-lizard type creature. Chinese Buddhists capture animals to then sell back to people for a price. Temple goers then release them for bonus blessings. We first encountered this in Georgetown when we saw a monk with at least a hundred tiny birds in a cage the size of a shoe box. We felt like paying him to release them but then decided not to as it would encourage further animal catching.

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We were surprised at the magnificence of the Kek Lok Si Temple high up on a hill side,, deep in the middle of Penang island. We spent a couple of hours exploring the colourful temple with its giant Buddha’s and magnificent seven tiered pagoda.

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Whilst in Penang, we spent most of our time exploring the alleys away from the backpacker ghetto and taking in the breadth of sensory delights that Penang has to offer; from the scents of arguably the best cuisine this side of Malaysia to the wafts of Chinese offerings burning inside surreal temples.

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After indulging in almost a week in Penang, we spent the last of our time relaxing to the sound of reggae at the very chilled Reggae Penang hostel. Just as well as the nights turned from chilled to full-on party central, which made sleeping in our dorms just above the beat bumpin’ floor boards a little bit difficult! Looking forward to the serenity of Langkawi and some isolation from Falang; we were extremely disappointed as locals whispered about the annual air show taking place for the very wealthy and VIPs in Langkawi. Apparently, this is where the best military aircraft is show cased for buyers and the whole island’s accommodation is fully booked.

We considered the option of moving on straight to Bangkok in Thailand and coming back for a trip to Langkawi in future but in the end we just couldn’t opt to miss out on a beach break and so stayed in Penang a little longer until we could get a hotel booked for Langkawi.
We didn’t mind as Georgetown is full of surprises at every street turn and we spent hours exploring the alley ways with ancient temples, hidden art galleries and lots of friendly faces.

Posted by Up.Up.and.Away 02:06 Archived in Malaysia Tagged malaysia penang georgetown

The Cameron Highlands

Tanah Rata, Malaysia

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Leaving KL at 9.30 in the morning and feeling tired from our night out, we took a 6 hour bus journey into the Cameron Highlands. Luckily we could recline the seats on the ‘VIP’ bus to almost flat and so we still had the chance to catch up on some sleep. Sully had brought along some pizza flavoured crisps too, so the journey was more than comfortable!

We arrived at Tanah Rata just after lunch time and it was relatively warm and dry. We checked into our hostel, which was made of metal with thin partitioning as walls, basically a giant shed and slightly grotty at that. On the plus side, it had a really nice garden with lots of space to sit and chill out.

We ventured into the small town for lunch and found a restaurant with no English on the menu and no dish names that we recognised. We ended up with rice and chicken cooked with ginger and mushrooms – it was quite nice and we were grateful we didn’t end up with something too strange!

Most people who visit the Cameron Highlands do so for the opportunities to go trekking in the jungle. Although we weren’t up for a full day of trekking or camping in the jungle, we decided to do a short hike into the unknown just outside of town to visit Robinson Falls. The walk wasn’t too strenuous although it was a good challenge. We made our way along a track that led through the trees and were conscious of a steep drop on one side, the lush trees overhead which made it a little dark and humid and lots of unusual ‘wildlife’ sounds from all directions. We were sure that it was only a matter of time until a giant spider landed on our heads but thankfully that didn’t happen! The waterfall was interesting to see although we had been spoilt by more impressive falls in Sri Lanka.
We felt like it was our landmark point to have a rest before turning back and retracing our steps before the sunset as we were not keen on tackling the jungle and its inhabitants in the dark!

Jungle Trek

Jungle Trek


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On way to Robinson Falls

On way to Robinson Falls


The Jungle bit was a bit scary on our own with all the weird animal noises

The Jungle bit was a bit scary on our own with all the weird animal noises


Robinson Falls

Robinson Falls

Back in town we wrapped up warm as it was turning cold. The first time so far on our travels that we felt chilly and it wasn’t even dark yet! After a skype session with family we went out and found an Indian restaurant where we treated ourselves to a hot curry to warm us up!

That night, we didn’t sleep well. We were absolutely freezing even though we were wrapped in layers of clothes and in our sleeping sacks under the blankets provided. We were shivering in the highlands and felt like we were at home in England!

The next morning we awoke early and avoided the shared shower rooms that were built in the same shed-like materials and might as well have been outdoors. Now that we had completed our mini jungle trek, it seemed that the only other thing to do in the highlands was to book onto a tour starting from the town. We checked out the tours and realised that we weren’t too keen on what they had to offer and also didn’t like the prices. We decided the best thing to do would be to hire a scooter, grab a map and explore on our own. So after a roti for breakfast, we headed off on our day trip with Sully driving and Soph giving directions.

Us on our little gold scooter!

Us on our little gold scooter!

First we visited BOH tea estate and we really enjoyed the drive there up winding steep dirt tracks, climbing higher and higher with great views. At the tea estate we climbed a tall hill for even better views of the surrounding landscape and then had a factory tour to see how the tea is processed once it is picked. We had already met the tea pluckers in Sri Lanka and were interested to find out what happens next. The most memorable thing about the factory was the gorgeous smell of fresh tea as the leaves passed out of the drying stage. Mmmh!

Tea estate and accommodation

Tea estate and accommodation

Soph enjoying views over BOH tea estate, Cameron Highlands

Soph enjoying views over BOH tea estate, Cameron Highlands


Tea factory tour, BOH Tea Estate, Cameron Highlands

Tea factory tour, BOH Tea Estate, Cameron Highlands


Tea manufacture process, BOH Tea Estate

Tea manufacture process, BOH Tea Estate

Next we drove to a town called Ringet where there was not so much to see apart from the gorgeous views all the way there. We came across a man and wife selling live crabs at the side of the road outside a busy food centre. We stopped to speak to them for a while and watch them as they prepared the crabs for sale. Sully was interested in how they are cooked locally and asked for a recipe so as we had a quick lunch at the food centre, they wrote down a recipe for us and explained what each of the spices were. They were so happy that we had shown an interest in their food that they offered to meet us later and give us a taster of their dinner. We exchanged mobile numbers and headed off on our scooter, back through Tanah Rata and into Brinjang.

Crab and Fish Del Boy

Crab and Fish Del Boy


Crabs for sale

Crabs for sale

Apart from tourism, the locally economy is funded through the sale of local produce that are unique to the area due to the cool climate (similar to the UK). As we passed between towns and the countryside we saw lots of strawberry farms, local honey farms, vegetable markets etc. Many Malaysians come to the area to escape the heat of the lowlands and to go strawberry picking or to buy some carrots and cauliflowers. It was obviously not such a novelty to us Brits but we did sample some strawberries and visited a tiny museum that explained the production of honey by the bees that are kept in the area. We also visited a cactus farm where cacti are grown for wholesale; it was cool to see all of the different varieties.

Fruit and veg like back home

Fruit and veg like back home


Bee farm, Brinchang

Bee farm, Brinchang


Man working in field, Cameron Highlands

Man working in field, Cameron Highlands

On the scooter we also visited a mosque up in the hills and a Hindu temple which seemed deserted. By the time we arrived back in Tanah Rata that evening we were quite exhausted!

Small mosque on the hill in Tanah Rata

Small mosque on the hill in Tanah Rata


Statue at hindu temple, Tanah Rata

Statue at hindu temple, Tanah Rata

We then had a call from the crab guy from earlier in the day. He arrived shortly after with his family and we all went out for some food and drink together, including some Chinese style crabs that he had prepared late that afternoon – they were delicious! We spent a good few hours with them, including their son who would like to be a pilot one day, before heading back to our hotel to pack and shiver through the night again!

Posted by Up.Up.and.Away 07:28 Archived in Malaysia

“This a natural Xmas tree right?”

Kuala Selangor

semi-overcast 30 °C

To Kuala Selangor or not to Kuala Selangor, with KS being a 2hour plus trip away from KL and difficult to move onwards to the Cameron Highlands, we debated much on as Piers would say “the effort vs reward’ of seeing the endangered and enigmatic fireflies of KS. The river that runs through KS is home to a strange insect that resembles a small wasp but comes out only during the night. Instead of a painful sting at the tail end, this bug emits a yellow light from the abdomen which it uses in courtship behaviour. The phenomenon created by large numbers of these fireflies, flashing randomly along the river mangroves is a rare sight as usually only one or two can be seen in other tropical areas.

So, we boarded a hair raising local bus heading east to the coast. A precursor to this was the inevitable contradictory (or sometimes just plain wrong!) information from officials; the chap at the bus information counter advised us that the bus would be leaving in an hour; so we headed to a nearby Art materials shop. Sophia had a hunch that we should return early just in case and sure enough our bus was waiting to depart just 15mins after our conversation with our well informed friend!

After a few games of Rummy (to Sully’s amended rules), Soph 5 – Sully 3, and a good laugh at the slippery PVC seats that Soph kept flying off; we finally reach K Selangor town centre. A brisk 20min walk later, we reached our guesthouse and made plans with a Dutch couple (Jaap and Emaralda) to see the famed fireflies.

After a dry, sunny day the rain decided to come down cat and dog style as we jumped into the car. The owner of the hotel gave us a lift to the river where we would embark on a traditional Malay boat in complete darkness – creepy! The spooky boat ride was the least of our worries as we straddled both sides of a dark narrow road in the rain. Little did we know that our Lady driver practiced rally driving on this road and in these particular weather conditions. Some respite was achieved as she pulled into McDonalds drive through to get herself a Burger (she promised it was for her friends, but we know her secret), whilst we plotted with our new European allies to stage a coup should the driving get any worse. After some rain bashing through a pitch black lane, we arrived at a serene river. There was a line of local fishermen waiting in their traditional boats, miraculously it stopped raining and so we quickly jumped onto the boat. There was an eerie silence around the river which was exacerbated by how dark it was. The fisherman pushed us along Venetian style and singing a song to himself in Malay. As we got further along the river we saw a series of bushes on the banks flashing as if they had been decorated with lots of little fairy lights (in modern UV blue colour!). This was immediately followed by gasps of breath as we realised that we were witnessing another miracle of God and the tiny little fireflies were flashing their lights in a synchronised manner.

Boat for fireflies trip at night - it was very dark without the flash

Boat for fireflies trip at night - it was very dark without the flash

Firefly Sanctuary

Firefly Sanctuary

Fireflies

Fireflies

On our way back the fisherman crashed the boat into one of the bushes (and although he should not have one this) it created a magical moment where we were surrounded by little lights flying around us. A little like flashes from a bonfire. These fireflies are endangered and human development is a big threat to them. This type of action is not good but there is a paradox that the reason why these fireflies are being preserved is due to the tourist demand for them. We were a little sad to leave the little fellas behind but as soon as we stepped off the boat it started to rain heavily again.

The next morning we woke up early to trek up a nearby hill to see some local historical sights called Bukit Malawati. At the top of the hill we found that the most interesting discovery was the Silver Leaf Monkeys! We met an Indian vendor who had worked around the monkeys for 12 years and knew most of the gangs as wells as certain individuals. He gave us some sweet bread and beans to feed the monkeys and told us lots about them. The monkeys took the food with their little black hands and were very confident around humans. They were also very friendly and did not look threatening at all, although he warned us about the macaques. Apparently, thy can get a bit vicious with humans when food is on the cards.

Monkeys jump between the trees all the time!

Monkeys jump between the trees all the time!

Monkey drinking chocolate milk

Monkey drinking chocolate milk

Monkey with same beard as Sully

Monkey with same beard as Sully

Silverleaf monkey eating

Silverleaf monkey eating

We had lots of fun playing with the Monkeys and it was then a quick march down the hill in time for Friday prayers. Sully loved the traditional Islamic dress of the Malay men here, still a very similar cut to other Kurtas, Jubbas, Kafnis etc but a lot more vibrant in colour. This was whilst Soph made friends with two girls running a dessert shop and had a good chinwag about life in England and their lives in Malaysia. We felt very fortunate; being from the west and the ability to easily access other lands, for people from other countries it’s not so easy regardless of the cost.

Sophia's hands are almost as small at the monkey's!

Sophia's hands are almost as small at the monkey's!

Sully and yet another new friend

Sully and yet another new friend

Monkey on my back

Monkey on my back

chilliiiin

chilliiiin

We jumped on a bus back to KL for our final night there before we headed off North to the cold Cameron Highlands the following day…Sully managed to level the card game score to 5-5 but he did enlist the help of a local lad to shuffle and deal the cards (suspect there’s some dodgy dealing going on). Soph showed some college girls pics from our travels who were interested in what we have been up to.

In KL we caught up with our laundry, carrying bags each through 1km through the rain whilst dodging through touts and ladyboys. We spent our last night at the lovely Sky Bar in KL taking in views of the twinkling skyline (see KL blog).

Posted by Up.Up.and.Away 04:00 Archived in Malaysia

Singapore Slingin'

Singapore City

semi-overcast 32 °C

Our flight approached Singapore in the evening and the night sky was pitch black. In the distance the lights of Singapore started to sparkle. As we approached the airport, we felt very lucky to start our SE Asia adventure with a view of the Singapore harbour with the lights of it’s towers shining in the night – definitely a sight to behold.

Once in Singapore and passed the customs officer who couldn’t understand why we were related (?!), we immediately felt the modern, clean and organised presence of Singapore straightaway. After a quick MRT ride into Chinatown, a Chinese lady helped us find our hostel and walked at least 1km with us to make sure we found it okay which we thought was very nice of her.

We were very happy at our choice of hostel, with an all you can eat peanut butter and toast breakfast and tea on tap. We have definitely now come to appreciate the finer things in life. Our dorm consisted of a Japanese guy, eccentric Indonesian guy, an Australian couple and a Spanish musician! And so a few interesting conversations later we did what we know best and hunted down Singapore’s version of Little India for some cheap and tasty grub. With it approaching midnight we were struggling to find places we liked the look of until we came across a behemoth of a shop…’Mustafas’ this place stretched across two buildings and around 8 floors selling everything you could possibly think of under one roof. This guy makes 'Latifs' of Digbeth look like a mini-mart. Along with the King size multipacks of Tiger Balm, IT hardware (and software), Bata shoes and Religious books; Mustafas have also ventured into the restaurant trade and so we headed to the rooftop to check it out. We were pleasantly surprised with a very modern and funky looking restaurant with a great menu. One rice and spinach paneer later, our first night ended in this fascinating country.

The next morning we decided to explore more of Singapore’s vibrant Little India, we soon arrived at the Sri Sriniviasa Perumal Temple. To the jazzy sound of a Nadaswaram horn and the beat of a Tavil drum, we entered the colourful building with the common South Indian style tower with religious figures from various scenes interacting with each other. Once inside the building we quickly understood that a very atmospheric wedding was in process between and Indian male groom and a Chinese bride. This is representative of Singapore’s diverse and cosmopolitan culture and make up. With Indian (Tamil), Chinese (Mandarin) and English being recognised languages. Singapore makes a point to celebrate this diversity and this is evident in the investment into the ethnic areas. This was followed by another temple visit where we were fortunate to witness the elaborate Pujah taking place which was accompanied by the same instruments as the last temple. Here worshippers rotated from one idol to another and we saw some enter the building and throw themselves face down on to the floor in front of a small idol of Ganesh.

Sri Sriniviasa Perumal Temple

Sri Sriniviasa Perumal Temple

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

Nimble Goddess

Nimble Goddess

Little Inda - Colour burst

Little Inda - Colour burst


Thali in Little India

Thali in Little India

Prostrating in Prayer

Prostrating in Prayer

Once we had finished exploring Little India, we put our Geek hats on and headed to the relatively new and pretty cool National Library of Singapore. We were tempted to pay the entrance fee for the Singapore Art Museum that we passed but had to be strict with our budget and so we moved on. Although, the people in charge of Singapore have set-up specific times and days of the week where you can visit various cultural insitutions for free. Once inside the Library, and after a scenic ride to the top floor, we thumbed through some books in the Art section and being travel geeks we inevitably ended up in the Travel section. Whilst doing some research for our travels to the, naturally, very disciplined Singaporean Library rules of SILENCE! Suddenly “What are you doing here? HA HA HA HA!” Little did we know that this delicate serenity would be violently disturbed by the crazy voice of our new found, eccentric Indonesian roommate. Next we visited some of Singapore’s book market and stores where you can find everything from new copies of Jordan’s autobiography to second hand travel writing books. Next stop, the famous Raffles Hotel!

After visitng some of the modern and trendy malls, Singapore seems to be full of them and it probably explains why all the S’poreans we saw out and about were donning the latest brands and designer wear! Here, human interaction is definitely minimised by the widely available cloud of Wifi that spans the city. Most S’poreans, whether old or young are busily interacting with the latest handheld Apple gadget, no doubt socially networking online in an unsociable offline manner.

The following day we headed to Marina Bay, Singapore’s architecturally modern face to the world and the same beautiful scene we saw lit up at night as we landed into the country. Today the heat was on full power accompanied by an intense sun (well into the mid 30’s), we didn’t mind though as it had been a little grey the day before. The jewel of this fantastic marina is the Sand hotel, we entered the building into the mall which included a variety of designer shops not usually seen on the British High Street and were particularly reserved for the especially well off. Accompanying the stores were various restaurants we thought Laura and Rob would like some of these places. The Xmas decorations inside and around the mall felt unusual due to the natural association of darkness and cold weather we have with the holiday season in the UK.

Sands Hotel at the Quay

Sands Hotel at the Quay

Singapore Quay

Singapore Quay

Dazzling

Dazzling

Singapore Schawing!

Singapore Schawing!

Xmas time in Singapore

Xmas time in Singapore

Youth Olympic Games

Youth Olympic Games

Xmas time in Singapore

Xmas time in Singapore

Street Concert

Street Concert

Orchard Road

Orchard Road

We woke up very excited on Friday in anticipation of seeing our Singaporen friends Urvi and Sat. We last saw Urvi and Sat around 3 years ago whilst they were on Honeymoon in England and we shared a lovely night over some mean Nandos chicken. Before that we had a fantastic time with them and their family celebrating their wedding Singaporean style. With the arrival of their lovely baby ‘Jasraj’ 14months ago, we were set for a nice evening.

After a lovely food fuelled evening with Sat, Urvi, little Jasraj and the rest of the welcoming family….we said bye to Singapore for a log bus ride to KL, knowing it wouldn’t be too long before we return to this intriguing island and see Urvi and Sat again to celebrate Sully’s 30th birthday. They promised to take us on a delightful culinary tour and possibly explore some unchartered Singaporean territory!

Syonara Singapore...

Posted by Up.Up.and.Away 02:52 Archived in Singapore

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