I am so happy to arrive in Thailand! The flights were a pain in the arse as usual but generally grand. I can’t conceal my pure joy at going to Thailand again. It really is one of my happy places. I land in Phuket with a content familiarity at being here before. I can’t take the smile off my face. I know my way around, I know where to take the local bus & I have a handwritten map with nice hostels marked out. This is quite organised for me & I’m very pleased with myself!
I sit on the bus & take my book out. It’s mainly a prop as I spend the majority of my time taking in the views, talking to people & thinking how lucky I am. By the time I reach Phuket town I have 2 other people in my entourage also looking for somewhere to stay. We call into a hostel & think it’s a bit expensive for what it’s offering. The next place is much nicer & cheaper so we quickly agree to stay. It feels so nice to set my backpack down & have a big spacious area in a room. Even having a non bunk bed feels like a luxury! These beds have their own shelf, light, power socket & a segregating wall around the top part of your bed. They almost feel private!
I am so hot & sweaty after the day of travel & wandering around Phuket so I immediately shower, then get changed, leave a pile of washing at reception & go out for a wander. I’m not hungry yet, my body is confused with crossing timezones & travelling for so long.
I’m going to a fitness retreat here in Thailand, although I don’t have any clothes & my trainers disintegrated a country ago. After months of neglect it’s now necessary to go shopping so I go to take the bus to the shopping centre. A tuk tuk driver calls me over offering me an extortionate rate. I politely decline telling him I’m taking the local bus then he negotiates to take me for the same price as the bus but we’ll stop at a shop for me to have a look in & I don’t have to buy anything (as he gets commission for footfall through the store). This feels like a reasonable deal & the guy seems sound so I happily pop into the tuk tuk. The shop he takes me to is an overpriced western style shop aimed at rich tourists. I do my bit pretending to browse then I actually see a piece of jewellery I like. FML. It costs £7. This is a lot of money to me in Thailand. I think of the cost of jewellery I buy at home & £7 seems like a very good deal. Either way I’m torn. I buy it. I laugh at how I was totally willingly duped – but I love my new necklace so I don’t care! The tuk tuk driver is delighted & has even agreed to collect me from the shopping centre & bring me home in a couple of hours!
The shopping centre is full of western shops & it is exactly what I’m after – h&m to get some basics, boots for the amazing Urban Happiness aromatherapy products stocked in their Thai branches (you have to try these, they are incredible & I can’t find them anywhere else!), & a sports shop to buy trainers. I spend way too much money on my much needed 2 bags of shopping & go to take my free tuk tuk back. At the hostel my washing is ready & waiting for me at the front desk. It smells heavenly & this makes me a bit emotional after months of damp smelling, washed in dirty water, clothes. I throw out my holey, worn out, clothes & lie down for a couple of hours excited at my evening plans to visit the night market with my new french friends. I reflect again how lucky I am before the hot humid air leads me to sleep.
Melaka city is a busy little town apparently big on night markets. On the night I arrived there were two happening! One on Jonker St & the other on the street my hostel was on. Firstly I took a walk along the famed Jonker St, apparently renown amongst antique collectors.
Jonker St is lined with restaurants, antique & souvenir stores. In the evening, on weekends, the road is lined with stalls selling everything from Durian puffs to fortunes. It comes alive at night with music playing, the hustle & bustle of people & aromas of delicious food.
I found a busy self service restaurant & finally got the chicken Laksa I’ve been waiting for! It was really spicy & I managed about half before I humbly admitted defeat.
As I wandered on I got an ice cream made from scratch on a cold metal plate. I will try to put the link in so you can see how it was made. It was lovely & creamy. I recommend it, even just for the show of it being made.
*Sorry, I’m having issues uploading. I’ll try to resolve this as soon as.
Tired from all my travelling I made my way to the smaller night market near my hostel with a coconut shake as my night cap. This market had some food stalls & the same replica clothes, bags, make up & sunglasses that you see at most markets. I am totally disenchanted & uninterested in these stands. All souvenir shops have been generally avoided on this trip as I have been very strict & steered clear from picking up anything. This is mainly due to the bursting seams on my backpack & my broken back as opposed to my self restraint with shopping. I merrily went to bed early with a full belly happy to be horizontal again.
Keen not to limit my time in Malaysia to solely Kuala Lumpur I am on the road again bound for Melaka aka Malacca. It’s a 2 hour bus journey from KL in the same style of small spacious bus I got from Singapore to KL & cost 11RM (approx £1.60). It is a shame to move on from KL just after making fun new friends, but I feel it’s not the city for me – bad day or not. It isn’t really in my nature to hang around one place anyway when there is so much more to see. It’s a big wide world out there folks!
Melaka is a UNESCO World heritage site. It has an interesting history and was once the biggest trading port of Southeast Asia. It has been captured by & endured rule from the Portuguese, Dutch & British.
When I arrived I took a local bus from the station to the town centre. The bus driver & his assistant were incredibly rude when I asked for confirmation of which stop I should get off. They were being rude to everyone so I felt less isolated. I was determined not to be put off by somewhere by its rude inhabitants after being burped at upon entering Malaysia & letting that set the tone for my day.
The streets of Melaka are saturated with heavily decorated bicycle rickshaws. The craftsmanship & effort that goes into making them as flash & desirable as possible is impressive! I kindly declined many offers but I can see how small children would be tempted with all the vibrant character themes. To my amusement, at night, most were covered in garish flashing lights. You really cannot miss these if you visit, even if you want to!
My hostel is The Lavender hostel. The guy in reception was friendly & welcoming but my room & the bathroom were grubby. The walls were so thin I could hear everyone & feel like I got what I paid for: 27RM (£4) for a single room. I didn’t even shower as I imagined I would feel dirtier afterwards. I was glad I was only there for one night – although it wasn’t so bad that I wanted to find somewhere else to stay. It was in a good location as well, but I won’t be tempted to return if I ever end up back in Melaka!
Everyone seemed friendly although, in hindsight, no one really struck up conversation with me or gave me a big welcoming smile. I was alone & I felt safe enough.
So it took 24 hours & now I get Kuala Lumpur. I guess I’m like Guinness, I don’t travel well. Plus it takes me time to decompress & acclimatise. I think this is linked to the ageing process. Yuk, ageing.
I met some lovely people at my hostel & went for lunch with them. I love learning about people & getting a fascinating insight into their lives, views & dreams. Backpackers can be so open to complete strangers. Afterwards I went back to the Petronas Towers for the retail therapy I so badly craved yesterday. It was all essentials obviously. Sephora is all essential!
Tonight I’m meeting a friend of a friend & their friends & we’re going out for drinks. It’s nice to meet a person recommended by my friends. Being one of them, I know her friends are fab people!
Here’s to a better days!!!
Off I went on my merry way with a heart full of excitement for street food & a nose smelling what was not quite that…..
I headed to Jalan Alor ready for street food! In a bid to relive my Thai experience I stopped off at the first respectable looking massage shop I seen. My thriving enthusiasm dulled when I heard the guy before me debating about which girl he wanted to book & getting frustrated the one he wanted had disappeared. Not one to enjoy a massage on a jizzed table I promptly vacated.
I arrived in Jalan Alor & I’m not sure if it was my terrible sleeping pattern, that I have been so out of touch with street food, arrived a bit too early, or that I had vision of Chiang Mai on my mind – but I was ever so slightly disenchanted. I had specific dishes I really fancied & settled for something else. I didn’t have my 4 thai condiments. I didn’t have the sweet desserts I had been wishing for…. I came to the wrong country.
After my average meal I walked around for hours & didn’t note anything of great splendour. Ok, so the Malaysian GP takes place an hour away in Sepang so that warmed my cockles. As did seeing the Petronas Towers as they feature heavily in the F1 coverage over that weekend. The shopping complex in the towers has a Sephora which made me happy. That sums up my shallow day.
The evening included a SHIT massage, seeing a ginormous rat on the street & with defeat chowing down on an average Thai meal in the heart of Chinatown. This may all be absolutely linked to my feeling upon entering Malaysia. The belch was a sign!!! This is just my mood at the time so bear with me, tomorrow could be entirely different!
Not one to stay still for too long, I left Singapore tonight bound for Kuala Lumpur. I’m excited to visit Malaysia & without time to research the best place to go I panicked & opted for the capital. Big mistake? Likely, buy hey ho.
My bus was S$20 & I travelled with KKKL from the Tampines MRT in Singapore. It was all very handy (apart from no real information on the pick up point & 2 different answers when I asked the information desk. FYI it departs from where the taxi’s line up on the right side at the B exit. If you stand near the toilets you won’t miss it). There were only 3 other people on the bus & the driver was friendly & drove well, always reassuring. The air conditioning was on full blast & I was glad I brought something warm to wear. I needed it!
I took the 11.30pm bus & clearing passport control was very quick with no queues & no forms to fill in. Upon entering Malaysia & receiving the stamp on my passport the clerk simultaneously burped in my face. Unapologetically. I obviously took this as a terrible sign for my time in Malaysia.
This feeling soon dissipated as I was able to stream the final of the Great British Bake Off via the bus wifi. It’s the simple things that make me happy.
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur before 5am. I thought it would be closer to 6am & having not slept I was keen to get a bed to kip in. I took an eerie walk through Chinatown to my hostel, The Explorers Guesthouse, & had to wake the poor receptionist to get in. I asked if there was a spare bed for me to get straight into & as the wee old lady was checking she fell asleep! In front of my very eyes. God love her. I half wanted to take her picture & half wanted to gently carry her back to the sofa she was sleeping on.
There were no spare beds & she let me snooze on another sofa. My arch nemesis the Mosquito came back into my life & I got about 3 bites in that 1 hour I tried to sleep. The lady kindly let me shower & have breakfast foc. I was so glad that the shower took the edge off my ravaged appearance. I looked like the love child or a meth addicted zombie & that chick from the ring. I pitied the poor backpackers who happened to glance upon me pre shower & cup of tea!
I was allowed into my room early as it was ready & slept like a baby for 5 hours. I feel guilty that I’m not fully appreciating & seeing Kuala Lumpur. I’m not even sure of what sights I should see as: 1> I’m not really a ‘sight seer’ & 2> I’ve had no time to research anything. Sure why break a habit of a lifetime? I’ll just go for a wee wander & see what I stumble upon.