A Travellerspoint blog

Malaysia

Pangor Laut - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore - London - Bristol

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.


View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After a disturbed Lariam sleep, and it being ‘that date’, I sit on the balcony this morning determining the various countries I have celebrated my birthday in: Norway, England, Sweden, Bolivia, Fiji, Thailand, Nepal, Seychelles, India, Myanmar and now Malaysia. Where next?

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Today is our departure day and our bungalow being so far away from the reception, we take our hand luggage to breakfast for convenience. The porters can collect the main luggage. I do hate waiting around, and this morning is no exception. We watch a Japanese family fishing on the jetty before the boat arrives and takes us on a choppy journey back to the mainland. The waves crashing over the side of the boat totally drenches one of the passengers. The quality of the buses waiting at the jetty has not improved since our arrival. Voicing my opinion that the transfer from the airport could be more in keeping with the style and class of the Pangkor Laut Hotel, my comments do not fall on deaf ears as their marketing manager happen to be travelling with us.

Only 12 passengers are on the flight again and we have the opportunity to sit on the best side to see our resort from the air just before it disappears into a cloud cover. Having left Pangkor 20 minutes early, we arrive in Kuala Lumpur Subang before the representative. In fact he is wandering around the shops and turns up five minutes later. In the mini bus to KLIA he plays some wonderful golden oldies on his CD player.

We manage to check the luggage through to London, but are unable to book our seats at this stage. On the flight to Singapore we are lucky enough to get three seats for the two of us and sleep soundly. Today is going to be a long day, so it’s important to seize any opportunity to slumber.

Changi Airport is just as enormous and as well equipped as I remember; and we ramble through many shops, bars and restaurants before settling down in a quiet area for relaxing. The bar is providing a band playing Christmas music (!), but they also do a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for me.

The homeward journey is the worse part of any holiday, and this trip is no exception. Having spent five weeks travelling around the world, experiencing so many wonderful things, anything from now on is bound to be an anticlimax. How could you possibly beat this holiday: The polar bears in Churchill, the flight over the Nazca Lines in Peru, the giant moai on Easter Island, climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, trekking amongst the Huli Wigmen of Papua New Guinea and staying in the water bungalows in Pangkor Laut – these are all ambitions fulfilled! What a holiday!!!!!

On return to the UK, I wrote a limerick in praise of our travel agent, which was also published in part in the local paper.

For our silver wedding we had a plan
And took our ideas down to Trips
A five week period the journey would span
They had plenty of excellent tips

This was to be no average tour
We both wanted plenty to see
Canada, Chile and so much more
The trip of a life-time for me

Just as we thought it was all arranged
And everything going to plan
Several flights then suddenly changed
Back to John at Trips we ran

Lots of e-mails and phone calls John had to make
To rearrange tours and hotels
An extra day’s holiday we had to take
Under Bali’s magical spells

Then Bali was bombed, it was not to be
More tours and hotels to be moved
John worked so hard it was plain to see
His worth he certainly proved

I wanted to see a polar bear
In Churchill on Hudson Bay
Although it was proving to be rather dear
They included a husky sleigh

In Peru the plan was the Nazca Lines
I’d read all about them before
On to Chile, well known for its excellent wines
- Let’s just try a little bit more

On Easter Island, the giant heads
Was another strange idea
Stone sculptures painted in browns and reds
They really are rather queer

In Sydney the bridge we thought we would climb
An experience totally awesome
Some friends we met, but so little time
Dining out in a friendly foursome

Papua New Guinea we had to include
The jungle was steamy and wet
Bright feathers, but otherwise almost nude
The Huli Wigmen posed no threat

From Ambua Lodge we wanted to trek
But day walks were taken instead
At the end of the hikes I felt quite a wreck
My blisters were sore and bled

A short stop in Cairns to wash all our stuff
It really wasn’t too soon
A bit of free time, the decision was tough
We chose to go up in a balloon

Still plenty to see, no need to feel blue
To Darwin, the top end, we’d go
To see ancient drawings in Kakadu
Aboriginal pride would glow

A plane was hired to take us aloft
We really do like to fly
Over the escarpment gently we waft
So spectacular from the sky

Borobodur cancelled, so what do we do
We can’t just lie on the beach
To Kuala Lumpur and Singapore too
These places are not out of reach

It’s all very well to live life to the max
It’s an adventure, that’s for sure
But we needed to have some time to relax
At the end of such a big tour

In Pangkor we spent the last few nights
Bright skies and golden sand
To chill out after twenty-five flights
And walk by the sea hand in hand

I’m ready and packed, no more room in my case
It’s the end of our holiday
Enjoyable memories from each little place
I really would much rather stay

A once-in-a-life-time, a marvellous treat
A very well organised tour
Trips’ customer service you couldn’t beat
We’re both left feeling in awe

Another last thank you I wanted to add
For all the time John spent on this
Now it’s over I’m sure he feels rather glad
That our holiday was pure bliss

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A quick résumé of our trip

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Canada

Polar bears from the tundra buggy in Churchill Manitoba.

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Helicopter flight over the tundra

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Dog sledding

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Eskimo Museum

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Night safari with northern lights

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Toronto: Hippo Tours amphibious vehicle

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Mamma Mia at the theatre

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Peru

Lima

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Flight over the Nazca Lines

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Sand boarding at Ica

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Dune Buggy

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Boat trip around the Ballestas Islands Wildlife Reserve

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Chile

Santiago: vineyard visit with wine tasting

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Easter Island: former cave dwellings

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Giant Moai statues

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Pito te Kuno, considered to be the Navel of the World by the early settlers

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Orongo Ceremonial Village

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Ancient petroglyphs

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Lava tubes

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Kari Kari Cultural Performance

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Australia

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb

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Meeting friends Jenny and David for dinner

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Papua New Guinea

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Tari: Hiking

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Meeting the locals

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Light aircraft flight to Mount Hagen

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Port Moresby: PNG Arts

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Botanical Gardens (tree kangaroo)

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Port Moresby slums

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Australia

Cairns: Hot air ballooning

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Kakadu National Park: boat trip

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Nourlangie Aborigine Rock Art

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Scenic flight over Arnhem Escarpment

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Ubirr: ancient rock paintings

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Yellow Waters cruise

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Termite Mounds

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Singapore

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Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

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Pangkor Laut

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Statistics

Those of you who know me well, will be familiar with my penchant for writing lists and keeping statistics. This trip was no different. Here is a small breakdown of exactly what we did on this trip:

We spent:

244 hours asleep
28 hours travelling to / from airports
64.5 hours waiting at airports
91.5 hours flying

We travelled:

36,632 miles by air
1,679 miles by road
83 miles on foot

We drank:

132 beers
94 glasses of wine
13 ciders
5 cocktails
3 glasses of champagne
5 liqueurs
5 litres of duty free Bacardi

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Posted by Grete Howard 06:22 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Pangkor Laut Day Three: finally chilling

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

overcast 31 °C
View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I wake at 03.30 and just snooze after that, before finally getting up – with a bad back from too much bed – at 07.30. A large breakfast of omelette with cheese, onion, pepper and chilli, followed by fruit and toast with pastrami and cheese sets me up for the day. I consider breakfast the most important meal of the day and load up accordingly.

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After checking our e-mail account, we spend a couple of hours in the shade by the pool, reading and drinking their rather excellent smoothies. The quiet ambience of the hotel is one of the things I do like about it – there is no shouting, splashing, screaming, loud music, and people even talk in muted tones as befits the surroundings.

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As we enter the lunch restaurant, Din, the waiter, says: ‘Two Tiger Beers Mrs Howard?’ We obviously have a reputation already. The burgers are mediocre, but the fries are first-rate. Particularly crispy, they appear to be coated in a kind of batter. I must try that at home. The meal is complimented with an exceptionally tasty pineapple relish.

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An afternoon siesta by the pool becomes pretty sweltering, whilst the Jacuzzi cools us down to shivering point. We can’t win. The rain holds off this afternoon, so we sit on the balcony with a duty free drink, enjoying the last sunset in this idyllic place.

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Fisherman’s Cove is reputed to be the island’s best restaurant; consequently we have saved it until the final evening. The young British couple we met earlier in the day are dining in this restaurant too; she is suffering badly from the effects of dehydration. Drinking red wine will not improve her condition, and I run back to the room for some Dioralyte for her.

Having been billed as superior to the other restaurants, the meal, although tasty and tender, is slightly disappointing. As the name would suggest, fish is the speciality in this place. For a starter I choose prawn and mango in filo pastry with a chilli dip, whilst David enjoys his lobster bisque. We both agree on stir fried beef with a black pepper sauce for our main course.

Tomorrow being my birthday, David ordered a birthday cake earlier in the day, and is astonished when one is brought out but taken to the next table. When they very kindly share a piece with us, I am glad I did not receive mine. It is far too dry for my liking and the mango and pineapple strudel I order is much more satisfying. An apple tarts completes David’s meal, and with a bottle of Pinotage, the bill comes to an agreeable £68.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:03 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Pangkor Laut Day Two: Pool, Jacuzzi and Kayaking

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

overcast 30 °C
View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

I’m finally beginning to get that ‘chill-out’ feeling. It’s raining again, and we debate whether or not to take the arranged jungle walk this morning. Having decided against it, the weather of course clears up. We send e-mails instead, although the PC crashes four times during our time on there.

By the pool we get to know a very pleasant couple from London, Sian and Rob, who we spend a lot of time with discussing various hotels and destinations. As a travel agent, Sian is obviously quite informed about the world’s luxury resorts, but we all agree that this is by far the most exclusive hotel we have stayed at. They have stayed at another of my ‘dream’ hotels, the Dusit Rayavadee in Thailand, and consider that to be almost as good as Pangkor Laut. I must stay there one day!

You realise quite how wild this place is when you wander over to the pool shower and find a snake in there! Its location, coupled with the extremely attentive service and their eye for detail, are what makes this such an exclusive place to stay.

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After a lunch of the best steak sandwich I have ever tasted (this is a real 1.5cm thick slab of meat – I am even asked how I want it cooked!) and Fish & Chips for David, we spend more time by the pool and even try the Jacuzzi. What a strange sensation – the water is cool! The sun even comes out for us – briefly.

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By the time we go out in a kayak, it’s overcast again, but that is probably just as well. Being in a small kayak on the open water is a recipe for sunburn. We head for the water bungalows, but the kayak is rather difficult to steer – where’s that rudder?

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The rain starts again while we listen to some music and write post cards in the room.

Fortunately the rain has stopped by the time we go for Dinner on the Rocks. Tonight’s dining is a different affair, more like a dinner party: everyone eats the same food at the same time. We travel over to Emerald Bay in a Land Cruiser, where lights have been strung out through the trees on the beach and the palm trees are imaginatively lit from below. The lighting effects, the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks and the many small geckos scuttling around our feet, make it a very unusual event, and very romantic.

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There are only seven of us there, on three tables.

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A three piece band provides pleasant background music for the complete dining experience, and a very excellent one too.

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The five course meal is as follows:

1. Stuffed rice wrapped in banana leaf with a delicious crab and bean sprout salad.

2. Chicken and vegetable consommé.

3. A refreshing lime sorbet served in impressive goblets made from ice with flowers and leaves frozen inside.

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4. White snapper in cream sauce with bok choy, split peas and sliced potatoes with cheese. With its slightly crispy coating and beautifully moist flesh, this really is the best fish I have ever tasted (as I’m not a great fish lover, that is quite saying something).

5. Heart shaped cheesecake with a hard chocolate edge, chocolate straws and a coulis of strawberry and passion fruit, decorated with fresh strawberries and lychees.

An absolutely fabulous banquet, but costly at £80.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:02 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Pangkor Laut Day One: Emerald Bay

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

overcast 30 °C
View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

We must be getting better at this relaxation lark – we sleep for ten hours and don’t actually wake up until 08.30. After a rather pleasant sunrise, the weather becomes boringly overcast. There is lots of choice for breakfast: cooked ‘English Breakfast’, various fruits and yoghurts, 10 different pastries and 8 varieties of jam. As usual David opts for the full fried breakfast (with the rather inferior beef bacon) while I select French toast with syrup. In the trees and on the balconies of the overlooking rooms, there are monkeys frolicking. The breakfast restaurant overlooks the other pool and the hillside chalets.

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Voted as one of the ten best beaches in the world, Emerald Bay is a short bus journey away from the main part of the hotel, and when we arrive there is only one Japanese family there already.

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Sun beds are set out on the beach with towels; and waiters bring chilled, wet towels and bottles of cold water around at regular intervals to help you keep cool.

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We take advantage of the fact that the bar service extends to the sun beds on the beach, and order some of their delicious smoothies and fruit punches.

Lunch at the small beach café could better be described as light nibbles rather than a midday meal. The peppered beef, spring rolls and samosas we ordered, actually all fitted on a small side plate.

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The Norwegian ‘who dunnit’ book I borrowed is very gripping and before I know it, we have spent in excess of 2½ hours on the beach. The weather is mostly overcast, but we stay under the tree in the shade just in case the sun decides to make an appearance.

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The waves are uncomfortably large, making swimming in the sea too perilous for enjoyment. Before returning to the hotel side of the island, we visit the very high-class beach showers: black marble with containers of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion, tissues and an unlimited supply of towels.

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Still hungry after the very inadequate meal at Emerald Bay, we have a ‘proper’ lunch at Royal Bay Beach Club, consisting of a very good pizza.

Back in the room we feed the colourful fish from the balcony and write post cards.

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During yet more rain we take an afternoon siesta and later a sumptuous bath together, with the windows wide open to the elements outside. Pure luxury! Following on with the theme of a luxury vacation, we order Diet Cokes on room service and enjoy some duty free in the bungalow.

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On the way to the Samudra Restaurant for dinner, we check out the e-mails and find we have received several since last time (mum and dad, Sharon, Angela, Helen and work). We reply to most of them. I go for the set Malaysian dinner comprising of chicken satay, fish in coconut, prawn sambal, chicken in coconut, beef rendang, green beans in sauce and steamed rice followed by green tea crème bruleé, while David has his normal steak. With the rendang being my favourite, I consider the meal to be much better than last night, but it is also considerably more expensive at £52. I’m not sure it is worth the price, however, but of course this is a very upmarket (and pricey) hotel!

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At the Royal Bay Beach Club there are musicians playing popular tunes at an acceptable volume, and we stop and listen for a while. They are good.

Posted by Grete Howard 05:44 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur - Pangkor - Pangkor Laut

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

rain 30 °C
View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

American breakfast this morning is included in the price of the room, and very good it is too. There is a choice of freshly cooked omelette and fried eggs, yoghurts and fruits, pastries and bread, cereals and pancakes as well as Oriental hot dishes. In order to replace the good bacteria in my gut I eat some live yoghurt – after the cheese and ham omelette.

Subang was once a great airport when it was the international terminal; now that it simply handles a few domestic flights it is sadly evocative with faded glory. We change some more money before assembling with the other eleven passengers in the small gate area. We are flying on 48-seater Dash 7, sitting right at the front of the plane. From the air we spot the island of Pangkor Laut. The plane lands on the main Pangkor Island, at a very friendly and welcoming little airport lounge.

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I am disappointed at the inferior transport used to take us across the island to the ferry jetty. The mini-bus is cramped and some of the seats are broken. When we pass many vulgar and run-down resorts on the way, I am glad we are continuing to the more exclusive Pangkor Laut Island. I am no snob, but some of these hotels would make Weston-Super-Mare look like upmarket resort.

The jetty is busy and confusing. We are on a private boat, but there is no-one there to guide us to the waiting area or inform us of what is happening. We all just mill around, looking lost. There are nine of us in total travelling to Pangkor Laut Resort, two Italians, us and the rest are Oriental.

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Pangkor Laut is advertised as “One Island – One Resort”. Only 20% of the island is developed, the rest is pure rainforest. On arrival at Pangkor Laut we make our way to the reception area, which is open-sided, bright and airy, and we are given cool welcoming towels. You can tell this is up-market, you are invited to sit down and the receptionist brings the check-in papers to you, rather than you queuing up at the desk. I like that.

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After a welcome drink, one member of staff takes each couple to their room personally. Our over-water bungalow is at the far end of the walkway, and according to our ‘escort’, has the best view of all of them.

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The room is amazing. Outside on the porch there is a seat, an imaginative light and a large urn with umbrellas (of course!).

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The interesting 'door bell'

The room itself is very large with a huge bed and a chase lounge at the foot of it.

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The balcony is almost as large as the room, with a couple of sun loungers looking lost, a coffee table as well as a bench down one end with lights of course.

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The extra large bathroom contains the mini bar, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, hair drier, a toilet that cleverly converts to a bidet, enough towels to dry off an entire family (14 to be exact) and the largest marble bath I’ve even seen.

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My initial disappointment at not having a shower in the bathroom turns to delight when I discover it is set into the ceiling above the bath. Wow! The bath is built as an ‘extension’ to the bathroom itself and has a vast ‘shelf’ alongside it and windows on three sides that open up to the China Sea. The whole effect is very pleasing indeed.

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We unpack and change before wandering down to the pool for lunch. Even the pool snack bar has starched tablecloths and napkins. From the somewhat limited menu we choose crab cakes and bruchettas plus a couple of Tiger Beers.

Then it’s time to explore the surroundings and take some photos. The setting is very natural, with lots of rainforest, meandering paths, peacocks on the lawns, hornbills in the trees and water monitors on the rocks.

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From the library we borrow a book and a couple of CDs (to play in the CD player by the bed) and we buy some post cards from the small, but well-stocked shop. We play about in the pool and rest on a lounger for a while. The sun beds each have two towels on them: one for drying yourself with and one for lying on. I would expect nothing less. There are not many people around – we later learn that the hotel is only running at 30% capacity. This place is created for relaxation, but after four weeks of travelling, it’s proving to be rather difficult to wind down. After enjoying a Pina Colada in the bar, we try out the free internet access before returning to the room for some duty free while listening to the rain outside.

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Fortunately the rain has stopped by the time we walk up the stairs to Uncle Lim’s Restaurant for dinner. We’re not far away should it start to rain again by the time we want to return to the room, the stairs are almost next door. We actually have the nearest bungalow to the bar – they must have heard about us!

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The restaurant is run on a completely different concept to anything I’ve ever come across before. There are no menus. You choose your main ingredient (chicken, beef, fish or seafood – this is a Muslim country so there is no pork) and what vegetables you’d like with it. Then you decide the cooking method and any sauces to include. In other words, the food is totally made to order, anything and anyhow you like. We pick a few dishes: spicy Chezhuan chicken with cashew nuts, beef with chilli and garlic, plain tiger prawns, steamed rice and watercress soup. The food is served with Chinese tea, but we still order some Tiger Beer. Apart from the prawns, everything else is delicious.

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With no menus we are very concerned how much the bill will come to, indeed, how do they calculate the bill? Having anticipated in the region of £60 to £80, we are pleasantly surprised to find it only comes to £38. Heavy rain has really set in now, and we break the journey to the room in the bar, where we are the only people. Boring. The lights on the walkway have gone out and we get very wet on the way back to the room. This is the only hotel I’ve ever stayed in where you can choose the time you want the turn-back service.

Posted by Grete Howard 04:49 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Singapore - Kuala Lumpur

This is an old journal, from our trip around the world in 2002, taken from the diary I wrote at the time. Apologies for the poor quality photographs, they are scans of prints taken with a compact camera and images from the scrap book I made afterwards.

rain 35 °C
View Around the World for our Silver Wedding 2002 on Grete Howard's travel map.

After the fiasco of the expensive breakfast in the hotel in Darwin, we nip next door to MacDonald’s for our early morning feast of a sausage and egg butty. The portion is not large enough for David, but I am still feeling pretty fragile after last night, so it’s all I want this morning. We return to the room where I resume my sleep. After a fretful night’s kip where I woke three times to visit the loo, twice because of a bad cough, twice because I was too hot and once when I was feeling cold, I feel I need it. I sleep well for a couple of hours before being picked up at 10:30 for the transfer to the airport. The security check is different to any we have experienced so far. To check for chemicals they squeeze the air out of the bags while running a machine above it.

Changi Airport is absolutely amazing. It can be best described as a colossal shopping mall with a few planes attached. Unfortunately there are no Miles look-alikes. Maybe when we return to Terminal One on the homeward journey. There is even an e-café in the terminal and we just have to check it out. Betsy Bebbington has sent a very sentimental note headed Re: Miles RIP. It’s a lovely little note, very moving but not apportioning any blame. She suggests we buy another travelling companion, although not another Miles. ‘There will only ever be one Miles’. I feel emotional and quickly move on to the other notes from Nigel, Rachel and my parents.

Apart from the fact that I spill a whole glass of orange juice over David’s lap, the flight is uneventful. Once we manage to get through the long queue for immigration in Malaysia, the cases arrive quickly. The traffic in Kuala Lumpur is just as bad as it was in Singapore. When I comment to the driver that I cannot remember the airport being so far out of town, he explains that this airport is new, and we would have arrived at the other terminal last time. That clarifies the situation.

The hotel is very impressive, with all black marble and cascading water. The room is also extraordinary; a king sized bed, three seater settee, chair, coffee table, writing desk and chair with ample space around. The TV pulls out of a cupboard on a table and the bathroom is a very generous size.

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The hotel is very centrally located, with a couple of shopping malls within easy walking distance. The malls are far too upmarket for our liking; they are full of designer clothes shops. We can find no shops selling knick-knacks, arts and crafts, souvenirs or post cards. Tucked away in a dark and dingy corner we find a currency exchange booth. I expect the rate is far better here than we will get at Pangkor Laut.

On the main street we enjoy a beer in an outdoor café. There is a special offer on during Happy Hour, two for the price of one. We still find it expensive at £2.30 for two small beers. Muslims are celebrating Ramadan at this time, but there is no obvious sign of fasting. People still appear to be drinking, smoking and eating during daylight, just as they would at any other time.

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While we are in the internet café, it starts to rain. We make a run for it to a restaurant a couple of doors away, one that was recommended by the driver. This is fast food, Penang style, but the food is tasty and very reasonably priced. We order two portions of spring rolls with a chilli dip and end up with nearly twenty of them in total; chicken with mango, chicken with black bean sauce, mixed vegetable with sauce, fried rice and four beers. Compared with the Thai meal in Singapore last night, this is much better value at £18, and I consider the food to be superior too. It is still raining when we leave, and we become completely drenched while running back to the hotel.

Posted by Grete Howard 07:51 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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