Friday, 27 March 2009

KL Rocks!!

Hello from KL, it's Alan again.

We are doing the blog a little drunk tonight. We've been out at the Reggae Bar drinking for a few hours now. Kelly is making me laugh at the moment as she's still complaining about the room we have at this hostel. She's in the toilet washing her face and our conversation has just gone something like:

Kelly: Mmmm, this drain smells nice.
Alan: What does it smell like?
Kelly: Dog sh*t!!

She's not very happy with this hostel. It's right in the middle of China Town, so when you step out of the front door you're straight into the middle of the stalls selling fake handbags/watches/sunglasses/DVDs etc etc. It's really lively and good fun, which is nice, but the hostel is a bit crap. The whole place smells like glue, the walls are amazingly thin (last night we could hear some man snorting all night!), and for some reason people come here on family holidays and bring there disgusting crying children with them!!

Today has been fun, we've been doing some tourist things all day. Kelly is back so I'm going to get myself ready for bed, I'll let her take over now...........................

I don't know what Alan is talking about, I love this hostel! I am particularly enjoying it's amenities, including the toilet which blocks if you put the smallest piece of paper in it, as myself and Alan both found out this morning. Luckily they are aware of this and provide a plunger free of charge.

Today we saw both the KL twin towers and KL tower. The KL tower was better as we saw a man jump from the top of it. Luckily for him he was wearing a parachute and landed safely. Other fun at the KL tower included the animal farm, where we were both held a snake and got our photo taken. There were also some monkey's and a Guinea Pig lying on top of a rabbit and a parrot that scared me.

We get the bus to Cameron Highlands tomorrow, booked the ticket today from the bus station, which is a scary experience. Very busy with lots of companies competing for your business, in a dark and dingy station. Looking forward to going back there tomorrow, with all of our bags to heave around!

Finished the evening off in style at the Reggae bar with pizza, wedges and a few drinks.... Alan is back now...

Hey all. Kelly's right, we did have pizza and wedges. All afternoon she was telling me she wanted to try some local food from one of the stalls. On the way to the pub we stopped at one she liked the look of. About the only thing that we could understand on the menu was 'Marinated Chicken Feet', which pretty much made our minds up that Pizza was the way forward for the evening. I wonder what chickens feet can be marinated in to make them edible??

Right, it's bed time here and I reckon the folk from NU (soon to be Aviva) reading this are just about due to go out on the lash and spend all their bonus money!! We are off on the bus (via the horrific excuse for a bus depot) to Cameron Highlands tomorrow which should be much more sedate than KL. So we hope to update you from there soon.

Enjoy your weekend folks.

A & K.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

First night in KL.

Hi, Kelly here, giving Alan a rest from blog duties.

So, here we are in Kuala Lumpur. It took a 5 hour bus trip to get here - the bus seats were more like reclining armchairs and very comfy (Alan slept like a baby!). The toilet on the bus, was a little less desirable as it was like a small dirty metal sauna, and your wee went straight out onto the road… Alan managed to attract the attention of another male companion today, who insisted on talking to him when we stopped for a leg stretch and toilet break. Back on the bus, Alan put his i-pod on, so I had to pretend to fall asleep to avoid spending the whole journey talking to our new friend, his wife, sister, cousin and other family members, who were all a little odd. I also got to sample Alan's music tastes and spent a delighfull few minutes listening to 1990's euphoric trance before turning that crap off.

The first look I have had of Malaysia has consisted mainly of trees. It’s seems very lush and green, sunny and nice. We are looking forward to getting out to the beaches now and getting some sun on our pasty white skin.

Our hostel is located in China Town, which was described in the guide book as the “old commercial centre” which actually means where the market is with all the fake designer stuff. It’s really busy and there are loads of handbags, purses, sunglasses etc etc … If I had room in my case (and the money to buy them) I would be out there haggling now!!! There is also a huge array of food on offer from the street stalls. This hostel is more “traditional” than the others we have stayed in so far, as it has the following amenities – small rooms, fluorescent lighting, paper thin walls, noisy people and a strong smell of glue – lesson learnt about booking at the last minute. The reception staff are really helpful though, and we will be getting info from them to help book the rest of the Malaysia section (the next 3 weeks) of our trip tomorrow.

Tonight we followed in the footsteps of many other backpackers before us, and headed for a wander around China Town and ended the night with a few beers and food at the Reggae bar. Tomorrow we head for the twin towers and other sights of KL before hitting the road again and travelling further north into Malaysia.

And finally, there seems to be some controversy over Alan’s views on Singapore. I liked the look of Singapore, it was very green and neon which gave it a rich and vibrant feel. We did do the tourist things, (but we are tourists!) and these things cost money, just a lot of money in some cases. We will be heading back, before flying off to Oz, so will be able to experience the $5 food and beers too. I think starting off in Japan spoiled us as we really enjoyed it there.

That’s all for now. Thanks to those who have left comments, it’s great to hear from you and know that you are reading, keep it up!

Kelly x

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Greetings from Singapore, the most expensive place on the planet!!

Hey all,

I've had quite a few comments from people saying they are enjoying the blog, so thanks for that. Kelly and I are enjoying doing it as it is fun to recount everything we are doing, and it will be something good to look back on. We are not getting many comments though, which would be quite fun, so if you like the blog, or have any suggestions, or just want to say hi, remember at the bottom of the blog you can send a comment to us. :-)

OK, so we arrived in Singapore last night around 8.30pm. We dumped our bags and got on the metro to Clarke Quay, which is a kind of trendy area full of bars etc. We wandered around a bit and then got Tapas, before going for a drink at a bar called 'The Clinic'. This is a seriously expensive place here, we paid $17 (£8) for a vodka and lemonade and $14 (£7) for a bottle of carlsberg! The Clinic was a weird bar, you could buy cocktails which were served in drips and you sucked the drink out of them, and you could also buy big syringes full of cocktails. All the seats were wheelchairs too! Very odd. Not quite as odd as the obvious prostitutes hanging around all the bars at the same time as families with young children eating and playing!! We decided to head home around midnight and (I'm blaming Kelly for this although she'll probably deny it) we got in a rickshaw. I showed the little Chinese man the business card of our Hostel and asked him to take us there, he said $10. We had a nice little ride past the parliament building and a bit of a laugh, however he dropped us right in the middle of some seriously dodgy area. Having never been to Singapore before we were not sure about things and he assured us that our hostel was just round the corner. I gave him $10 and then he said "each"!! Long story short, he got told that was all he was getting and was sent packing. Turns out we were miles from our hostel and had to get a cab home. It was a bit of a laugh and at the end of the day it was only £4.50 anyway, but lesson learnt, don't trust rickshaw drivers in Singapore.

Today we've spent most of the day trying to organise transport from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and accommodation when we get there. Has been a bit of a nightmare, but it's all sorted now. Leaving at midday tomorrow on the bus (we're in Super VIP seats!!) and should arrive in Kuala Lumpur around 7pm. We then went out for dinner at a little place opposite Raffles Hotel. I got some pork dish and Kelly went with a plate of vegetables. Unfortunately for her the vegetables also included lots of prawns and squid type things which weren't to her liking. However they were probably slightly better than what she had been offered about half an hour before. We were walking around looking for a restaurant when Kelly stopped because she saw a tank full of live frogs. The woman asked her if she would like one, and Kelly's response was something like "no, I don't think I do, they're frogs!!". We then went to Raffles and visited the Long Bar for a couple of Singapore Slings (we were obviously more desirable than you Bob, haha). Nice bar, but incredibly expensive, it cost us $55 (£28) for two cocktails. They do have a crazy amount of shelled peanuts that are at the bar and every table. The done thing is to eat the peanuts and drop the shells all over the floor, I certainly ate a lot of them, but not $55 worth, while Kelly managed her drink without throwing up at the smell of peanuts, which was a bonus!

One good thing about Singapore, it's hot!! Here's some pictures from today of us on the rooftop terrace of where we are staying, and also out tonight:

So as I said, it's off to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow for a couple of nights before hitting the beaches of Malaysia. Lets hope it's better than Singapore. I was really looking forward to coming here but it's not really met my expectations at all, it's been extremely disappointing after Japan. Where Japan was busy and full of people who went about their business and were extremely polite and helpful if asked, I just find Singapore to be full of chancers and I'm pretty glad to be leaving tomorrow. So there's my top tip so far, visit Japan because it's a fantastic place, avoid Singapore because it's pretty ordinary.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Singapore Slung

Well isn’t this exciting. I am writing today’s blog at 40,000 feet, from the upper deck of possibly the biggest plane I have ever seen while drinking a Singapore Sling. We decided to get a couple of Singapore Slings on the plane so we knew if we liked them before forking out £12 each for them at the Long Bar in Raffles. I have to say, it’s quite nice, although it does taste like it’s fairly potent. I reckon Kelly will have to carry me to the hotel tonight as it’s only 13:45 and I’ve already had a beer and a cocktail…….

So, as you have probably worked out, we’ve left Japan and are now on our way to Singapore. We had a good last day in Japan, we looked around Kyoto in the morning, and then got the train to Narita airport mid-afternoon. We were staying at a really nice hotel next to the airport, which Kelly got a great deal on because she booked it in advance. We had porters to carry our bags to the room, we were on the top floor (12th) overlooking the airport and city and our room was MASSIVE compared to the hostels we’ve been staying in. I think the walk in wardrobe (which Kelly instantly made her own) was bigger than some of the rooms we’ve been in! See pictures below:

So last night we just relaxed, we went to the pool for a swim and Jacuzzi, and then had a sauna and Japanese bath. I walked into the Japanese bath room (naked!) to find a few Japanese men washing and shaving etc. (also Naked!!), so I had a shower and then got into the bath. There was one other guy in there, a young Vietnamese air host called Ted. Now Ted was possibly the campest guy I’ve ever met in my life (if Simon is reading this, sorry if that steals your thunder!) and our conversation went something like this:

Alan: Do you speak English?
Ted: Yes, I’m from Vietnam.
Alan: What are you doing in Japan?
Ted: I’m an Airhost and flew in tonight. Where are you from?
Alan: Scotland…..
Ted: Ah, where the men wear skirts *Ted now does a sort of flouncing action*
Alan: erm, yeah, that’s right.
Ted: And you do not wear anything under the kilt??
Alan: No, no real Scotsman wears anything under his kilt.
Ted: Ooooo, so, what happens if, you know, your ‘baby’ wakes up? *Cue some inappropriate Japanese bath actions from Ted…….
Alan: **Alan then proceeds to talk at length about being on holiday with his girlfriend!!**

Ted was alright actually, seemed like a good guy, however before I get any comments from the usual suspects, no I will not be seeing him again. ☺

So I left the bath and met Kelly outside. She wasn’t happy with me as she’d been waiting ages outside because she’d decided in her wisdom that getting into a bath with a bunch of old, naked Japanese woman wasn’t her thing. I think she cheered up a bit though when I told her about Ted, seemed to suit her warped sense of humour.

We then got ready and went down to the bar and sat and had a few drinks for the first time in a week. Was nice to sit and relax after all the tourist things we’d been doing. And it also prompted one of the funniest things of the holiday so far. We got back to the room and about 2 minutes after Kelly went into the toilet I heard screaming. I went to investigate, and Kelly in her tipsy condition had decided to press one of the buttons on the side of the toilet that we had been too scared to press when we were sober. Essentially what had happened was she had pressed the button and then stood up, but while she was standing up the toilet was preparing its assault on her. I walked in to find her half dressed with water all over the back of her shirt and hair and all over the toilet door!! Let it be a lesson to those going to Japan, when pressing the buttons, remain seated. To her credit, she did press it again just to make sure that she was thoroughly drenched.

So the first leg of our journey is over, Japan is finished. It feels like we’ve been away for more than a week now. We both agree that Japan is a lovely place, it’s very clean and tidy, the people are quite but extremely friendly also. The don’t speak much English, however they try their best when we try and talk to them – think how you would talk to a cat or child, very slowly but still saying the same English words that they didn’t recognise the first time we said them. Haha. I would definitely go back and spend more time there as despite being incredibly busy and rushed, there is a sort of serenity about it too. Just as busy but totally different from a lot of other big cities I’ve visited.

So here is my roundup of our week in Japan in pictures:

There’s the food:

The castles and temples:

The immaculate gardens:

And finally, cities and the people that make them the way they are:

I hope you have enjoyed reading about our time in Japan. We are now going to spend two days in Singapore and then we’re going to Malaysia for a couple of weeks.

I’ve had lunch now and a glass of wine with that, so it’s not even 3pm and I’ve finished off a beer, a cocktail and a glass of wine. If you don’t get any updates from Singapore you’ll know why!!

Until next time, take care.

Alan & Kelly.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Ninja's, Rain and Crowded Buses

It's Alan again, I hope you enjoyed the guest blogger yesterday. I'm sure you all found it hilarious that I got wet jeans when taking a photograph, or that I felt sick on the Bullet Train after eating shrimp heads. I will wait until I've had some more mishaps and then I'll let Kelly update you on them again..... :-)

Last night we got to our hostel and it was too late to do much so we went for a wander around Kyoto. We walked for about two hours without finding a single bar we could go into. It's weird, they don't really have much of a nightlife for tourists. I'm sure there are loads of bars around, just none that we could find! We did turn off the busy high street with all the family's and street performers into one of the most dodgy roads I think I've been on for a while. It was all strip bars and the first half mile of it was quite funny, and felt pretty safe. However as we got further down it suddenly became huge groups of guys and some fairly big groups of police. We thought it was probably best to turn back at this point and go searching for a bar elsewhere. In the end though we ended up getting a couple of drinks from the 7/11 and heading back to the hostel.

So, it was our first full day in Kyoto today and we woke up to some pretty heavy rain, so we had a bit of a lie in this morning. We both needed it as it's tiring being on the go all day every day.

We set off around lunch time for Nijo-jo Castle, which isn't really a castle, but it's still cool. It was the residence of the first Tokugawa Shogun and as well as all the usual artwork etc. on the walls, it is kitted out with some anti-ninja devices! They have the usual huge walls and moats to keep people out, however on the off chance that someone gets past that, they have 'nightingale' floors throughout. These are specially designed floors which squeak when you walk on them. Kelly and I tried our best to sneak around on them, but neither of us are budding Ninja's it has to be said. Still quite a good way to keep out Ninja's, although it did make me wonder what possessed my mother to Ninja-proof her house!! ;-)

After the Castle we got on a bus to Kinkaku-Ji to see the famous Golden Temple. It is a pretty amazing sight and as all of these things are, it is set in pristine gardens where not a branch or leave is out of place. The only downside to this was that the heavens opened and we got soaked to the skin as we went round. I was then literally force fed a traditional Japanese sweet at the end of the tour. If I had to sum up what this sweet tasted like, I would say something akin to a Jellyfish covered in Talcum Powder! Absolutely disgusting. Honestly, why the Japanese are famed for their food is beyond me.

After being rained on (see picture below for a bedraggled and , soaked Kelly) we headed back to Kyoto station on possibly the busiest bus on the planet, had some food and an early night. We're off to Narita tomorrow for our last night in Japan. We have a really nice hotel booked which will be a welcome break from hostel living.

OK, so it's a busy day tomorrow of moving again which means I need my beauty sleep. Hope you've all enjoyed your weekend and I'll update you tomorrow night on what will be our last night in Japan.