Penang Hill

Following a restless night’s sleep, which was probably down to the copious amounts of Tiger beer we drank yesterday, I woke up and couldn’t work out whether it was morning or not due to the complete lack of natural light in the room. Slowly I realised that what I thought was torrential rain all night was actually the noise generated by the antiquated air con system and the final straw for me was lying there watching a steady stream of ants marching up the wall.

We get up and go next door for breakfast; we’re all starving and have porridge, a fry up croissants and coffee.( Hangover fodder) It hits the spot and we plan what to do for the day. First on the list is move hotel and we pack up our stuff and walk the 10 minutes to The Hong Ping Hotel, which is behind The Blue Diamond bar. It’s also a bit of a dive but has loads of character and its like stepping back 50 years here. Everything is so old fashioned and I’m sure nothing has ever been updated or renovated since the place opened.

Our rooms are massive, the kids are delighted to see they have a double bed each and despite the bricks on the floor blocking up the rat holes, the lizards running up the wall, the world’s thinnest towels and cold water only, I am glad we have moved. Alister’s guitarist friend, who is called Uncle Lake, is pleased to see us and chats to Ali about music. The people who hang out here are friendly and there are some “interesting” characters here to say the least! Simon says Uncle Lake looks like one of the characters in the Tarantino movie Dusk till Dawn.

We are staying in Georgetown which is the capital of Penang, just off a road called Love Lane in the heart of backpacker land. The area has a chequered history and was first called Love Lane by British soldiers. It reminds me of Union Street in Plymouth and similarly has a reputation for bars, drinking and prostitution. Although most of the hotels are reasonably respectable these days some are still brothels and there are a number of Lady Boys touting for business across the road once it gets dark.

Eventually we decide to get out and catch a taxi to Penang Hill. It would take around 3-4 hours to climb and there’s no way we are doing that and opt for the funicular railway instead. In the heat it’s a very uncomfortable journey and we are glad to get out half an hour later at the top. The views are good although it’s a little hazy and we have a drink before catching the train back down again.

We head back to our hotel and make some plans for the next few days. There are a few interesting sights but for tomorrow we have chosen to head for the beach. Despite the fact that we generally do very little, most days we’re all knackered and feel in need of a bit of rest and recuperation. Oh this is the life!

Penang

We caught the train to Penang last night at 7.45 as planned. We didn’t book our tickets until yesterday and couldn’t get all our seats together but we’re not far from each other and it isn’t a problem.

The fellas that shared our compartment have been working as security at the Thaipusam festival and we had a good chat with them before eventually settling off to sleep. I slept quite well and woke up around 7am. The train was, by this point an hour late but this is good as we have to catch the ferry across to Penang Island and it doesn’t run overnight.

We catch the ferry which takes about 15 minutes to reach Penang. We have read that the Penang taxi drivers flatly refuse to use their meters and don’t argue when we are told it will cost 10 ringitt to get to our hostel.

Eventually we arrive at 75 Travellers Lodge. What a dump! I just asked Simon what it was called and he said Shithole Central. When the kids lay on the bed they told me one pillow smells of cheese and the other smells of pet shop. The rooms are tiny, the ceiling is bare hardboard and the walls are filthy. Added to this the communal toilets are next door and the whole place stinks of urine. Usually after an overnight train we crash out but I can’t face staying in here for any length of time and we decide to go out for a walk instead.

We don’t get very far before we reach a fairly lively looking bar and decide to stop for a drink. It’s only early but the beer looks good and our one drink stretches into 8 or so. There is live music later and Ali and the guitarist get chatting. Ali plays a few songs and the fella asks him to play with him tonight. The afternoon has flown by and we go back to shithole central for a kip. We set the alarm for 8pm and head back to The Blue Diamond for some Mexican food.

Ali plays a few songs and goes down really well. Everyone wants to talk to him and tell him he’s going to be a rich rockstar one day and one fella asks Simon if his son was born with shades on as he’s so cool! But he’s really tired as its now nearly midnight and we head off back to the hostel. We have decided we are going to move tomorrow as neither of us can face any longer than a night here. The final straw for Simon is when we get back and a group of lads are watching the football. He asks them about the rugby (England are playing Scotland in a 6 nations game) and gets blank looks in return. Definitely got to move on!

Song written by Ali – Video clip

Checkout the video clip of Ali added to the India photo section. Will post a link to it later, but you can find it if you scroll to the bottom of the main photo page. It is the last file loaded.

The clip is Ali playing guitar and singing a song he wrote about his early impressions on India.

Here’s the link, hope it works now.

KL Bird Park

We slept in today until 8.30 and are very slow in getting motivated. We are all tired and the kids both seem grouchy and incapable of doing anything other than lazing around. We have discovered when this is the case that the best thing to do is to take things at their pace otherwise we all end up with an argument!

There is a small kitchen here and toast, tea and coffee is included in the price so we have breakfast and then sit in the lounge area. The kids watch a film and Simon and I read magazines. Eventually we decide to head off out and get in a taxi. We ask the driver to take us to the bird park which claims to be the world’s largest free flight aviary and it certainly takes some walking to get around. On the way we are overtaken by a black car with a 3 car police escort and the driver tells us it is the queen of Malaysia. He also tells us she is very very young (aged 35) I love him!

The park is divided into different areas and we are pleased to see a large monitor lizard at the entrance trying to get in under the net. These lizards are supposedly everywhere in Malaysia but this is the first one we have seen. I wasn’t so keen on it though when Simon said they eat small birds and that is why it was trying to get in. It did manage to squeeze through a small gap in the end and slunk off presumably looking for its dinner.

Some of the birds are fantastic and we see hornbills, peacocks, parrots ducks and different birds of prey. It is very hot wandering around and when we stop at the cafe for a drink we get some good photos of Maisie with some great hornbills in the background.

We checked out of the hostel at 11am this morning but have left our gear there in the storage locker. We decide to get some food early as we have to catch the train tonight at 7.45pm. The culmination of Thaipusam festival is the returning of a silver carriage to KL and as this may cause some of the roads to be closed we plan to leave early for the station. We end up at TGI Fridays – don’t seem to be doing too well eating the local food at the moment but hey I guess we have lots of time still for that.

Thaipusam Festival

When the alarm went off at 5am it felt like a sick joke and took me ages to peel my eyes open .After a shower, coffee and a few digestive biscuits we’re ready to leave and get in a taxi and ask him to take us to the bus station. The taxi drivers last night quoted us 200 ringett to take us to the festival but as the bus is only 2 ringitt each there’s no contest.

The Thaipusam festival is one of the largest and most dramatic Hindu festivals. It is held at Batu Caves which are a well known tourist attraction near KL. The caves are huge and reached by a straight flight of 272 steps. Inside are elaborate sculptures of Hindu gods and Lord Subramaniam, the son of Shiva is the main attraction. It is estimated that 1.5 million pilgrims attend the festival which is always held in late January, early February. They come to honour Lord Subramaniam, sometimes with acts of amazing physical resilience, ask for a favour or repent their sins.

Thaipusam is described as a wild orgy of seemingly hideous body piercings. As we near the caves the numbers of people increase dramatically and it is only around 7am. The entrance to the cave is clear to see and there is a tall Hindu god standing at the foot of the steps as if guarding the entrance to the caves. The noise is overwhelming with massive speakers blasting Hindu music, thousands of voices crying out “vel, vel” and beating drums.

The greatest spectacle here are the kavadi carriers; some devotees subject themselves to masochistic acts as fulfilment for answered prayers .Many people carry offerings of milk to the gods, which is carried in pots attached to the skin by hooks. We make our way nearer to the steps; there is a slow and steady procession of people winding their way from the left up the steps. I thought that we wouldn’t see any of the devotees close up but we seem to be right in the thick of it all and they would be impossible to miss.

Some carry on their heads, great cages of spikes that pierce their skin. They stand around 3 metres tall and are decorated with peacock feathers, flowers, pictures of deities and plastic dolls amongst other things. They must weigh a ton, but the carriers seem to be in a trance and many of them dance around. Each carrier has a group of people with them who appear to be offering encouragement, rubbing their legs, lighting their cigars and giving them drink. We see coconuts been thrown onto the ground before them and bowls of fire and incense are carried.

As we stand open mouthed in amazement at what are witnessing, the kavadi carriers start to make their way past us. This must be the most unbelievable sight I have ever seen. The carriers are young men often with blood streaming down their faces. Their mouths are full of red dye also and mixed with the blood they look terrifying. They are in a religious trance and shriek, pant and scream as they pull themselves forward. Attached to them by numerous hooks embedded in their skin are other men who attempt to pull them back.
They are decorated with fruit, (mainly limes but also apples, oranges and bananas) green leaves and small silver milk pots. These are all attached to their skin by hooks. Many of the devotees have spikes, skewers and hooks through their cheeks and tongues.

The kavadi carriers are flanked by pilgrims with shaven heads, many of them are wearing yellow but I haven’t been able to find out the significance of this. Babies are carried in cradles made from sugarcane stalks.

We decide to brave the thousands and join the procession. I am very nervous about this due to the sheer number of people streaming up the steps towards the cave but everyone is moving quite slowly as the cage wearers can only take a few steps at a time before they have to sit and rest. I clutch tightly onto the kids hands and we inch our way along.

I think me and the kids actually found some of it very scary to witness and it has left me feeling a bit strange. Not uncomfortable and quite privileged in many ways but definitely weird. Seeing the extent of this religious fervour is a thought provoking thing and I guess that we probably won’t experience anything quite like it anywhere else. I also find it interesting that this festival is actually banned in India and yet celebrated with such enthusiasm here, in a mainly Muslim country.

Eventually we reach the top of the steps, the relatively small entrance to the cave opens out into a huge space and the procession of people continues far inside. Some of the devotees look at the point of collapse and are being urged on by their attendants. We decide that we have seen enough and after taking some more photos join the queue to make our way down again.

The festival is the culmination of a month of preparation including prayers, a strict vegetarian diet, sleeping on a hard floor, abstinence from sex and as a taxi driver told me “no dirty words!” Witnessing it has been an amazing opportunity for us and the kids and today has been very special.

We return to KL by bus and head to China town to get some lunch, none of us have much have an appetite and we spend a quiet afternoon back at the hostel. Simon does some maths with the kids and as we have a wireless connection I surf the net and check some emails.

We are planning to leave KL tomorrow for Penang and need to sort out our tickets and accommodation. I’ve been looking at the photographs from this morning, they are quite compelling, beautiful and horrible also and I feel quite stunned by it.

Just got in, we have been to book our tickets to Penang and then went to Nando’s for dinner. It only cost us 12 quid and was a familiar and comforting treat after the strange excitement of today.

Travel to KL

Just drifting off to sleep last night and Simon decided to get up to use the toilet. I was lying in bed and could hear him chatting to someone, obviously having a discussion about something and eventually my nosy nature got the better of me and I got up too. At the end of our hut sat on the floor was the most enormous bug I have ever seen. Its body was around 2 inches wide and 4 inches long. The noise from the thing was incredible as it flew around trying to get out. It was undoubtedly the creepiest insect I have ever seen alive or dead.

The alarm woke us this morning at 8.30. We quickly showered and started to pack up our stuff. We still seem to be unable to stay anywhere without unpacking almost everything but on the other hand are quicker at repacking now. We have had to ditch Ali’s converse as they are so wet and muddy and are getting too small for him anyway.

After a quiet morning spent having a leisurely breakfast and doing some literacy with the kids, we make our way to the bus station at 1.30. The bus leaves on time and is very luxurious with huge bucket seats. We arrive back in KL at around 5.15pm as planned. We check out The Trekker Lodge and I’m relieved to see it’s clean and the owner seems friendly and knowledgeable. We are staying in a dorm room which has 2 bunk beds in it and will share a toilet and shower with other people. The kids said they feel like real travellers now we are staying in hostels but actually there are lots of facilities here that we haven’t had in some other places we stayed such as a TV lounge, tea and coffee making facilities and free internet.

We walk to the KLCC shopping mall and buy a few things including a new pair of trainers for Ali and some underwear from Marks and Spencer for Maisie. After dinner we return to the hostel and get ourselves into bed we have to get a very early start tomorrow if we are to see anything at the festival and plan to get up around 5am.

Tea Plantation and Mossy Forest

Simon wakes me up around 7am and I head for the shower before I can chicken out and decide to give it a miss as it’s so cold. We have organised a trip this morning called The Mossy Forest and will be picked up at 8.45, so rush to get some breakfast.

The guides name is Kumar and there are another 5 people on the tour with us. We all pile into the back of a Land Rover and head off for our first stop which is at the tea plantation around 20 minutes away. The tea plantations are really amazing and we see tea pickers collecting the top leaves. The plantations are very sloped and pretty and Kumar is an interesting and informative guide who talks us through the history of the plantation and the tea producing process.

From the plantation we drive up to Gunung Brinchang, this is the highest point in the highlands and at around 2000 metres it is really quite cold. There is a viewing platform but the clouds are swirling around and there are only brief photo opportunities when the clouds break.

We head off for the mossy forest. Before we enter the forest Kumar tells us a little about his job as a NGO conservationist and goes on to show us many different types of plants and bushes along the way including citronella, wild ginger and bergamot. He explains the medicinal properties of many plants and shows us some amazing flowers called Monkey Pitchers. We then enter the forest and are taken on a muddy and difficult hour long trek. Despite getting filthy we all loved it and had a great time tramping along. I was a little worried when he explained that bird eating spiders live in this forest and their bodies can be 4 inches across with 3 -4 inch long legs.

Next we stop off at the tea factory, I am surprised that the despite the highlands being a huge producer of tea, some of which is exported internationally, the majority of the work is still done by hand. This includes the sorting and grading of the leaves.
By now it is 2pm and Kumar drops us of at an insect farm, this is very good and there are lots of butterflies, giant stick insects, grasshoppers and many other creepy crawlies to look at.

From here we walk to a nearby strawberry farm. As well as the tea plantations the highlands also produce strawberries and the town of Tanah Rata is really a strawberry town. Everywhere we go sells strawberry t shirts, handbags, fridge magnets, paper weights, balloons etc! As well as strawberry jam, tea, tarts, cheesecake, milkshakes and so on!

We catch the bus back and walk the short distance back “home”. I insist that the kids have a shower and we then settle down to do some science. One of the girls on our trip this morning is a Canadian who has been working as a science teacher in London for the past 4 years and she gives me some tips on specific areas of work to concentrate on which is useful.
We join the other guests in the communal lounge and manage to bag a settee. There is a nightly film showing and the 7pm offering is The Queen. We enjoy laughing at the translation of the subtitles more than the film but have a lovely evening chatting to other travellers.

We will be leaving in the morning and I’m so sad, it is one of the nicest places we have stayed and I would recommend it to anyone who is considering a holiday to Malaysia. The people who run the place have been very friendly and try their utmost to create a homely atmosphere.

We are going back to KL on the 1.45pm VIP bus. The journey should take 3 and a half hours and we have arranged to stay in another hostel. Originally we had booked The Pudu Hostel but spent some time reading recent traveller reviews on Malaysia and Thailand and discovered 6 terrible reviews about the place including one couple who had all their money stolen at festival time. As we are only returning to KL for the Thaipusam festival I’m relieved we have had the opportunity to change where we are staying and hopefully will be ok.

Cameron Highlands

We had an early start to the day and by 7.45 were on the bus on the way to the Cameron Highlands. This is slightly further north and we expect our journey there by bus to take around 5 hours. The Highlands is Malaysia’s most extensive hill station and is inside the state of Pehang. Apparently the name is taken from the surveyor who mapped the area in 1885 and he was followed by tea planters and vegetable farmers. The weather is fairly damp and the temperature remains quite even, rarely getting any hotter than 21 degrees or colder than 10 degrees.

The first leg of the journey takes an hour to a place called Jerantut. After stopping for an hour for breakfast we get back on the bus and are joined by a couple from London and a lad from Ireland. We now have a 2 and a half hour ride and we all chat about our previous/future travel destinations. The time flies and its great to chat to another girl for more than 2 minutes. We have all planned to stay at the same place when we arrive in the highlands.

Eventually we have a quick lunch break; Maisie isn’t feeling very well and looks very dark under her eyes. I’m not sure if this is mainly due to tiredness or she is coming down with something. I hope not.

We transfer to a mini bus for the last 2 hours and the landscape starts to change dramatically. We had heard from a girl in Taman Negara that it is very beautiful and we pass some of the most gorgeous scenery. Malaysia is definitely one of the most picturesque places I have ever been to and I listen to my MP3 player and watch the world go by.

It’s so relaxing and I can’t help thinking how great this is and how lucky we are to be travelling and seeing all these different places. At last we arrive at Fathers Guest House in the town of Tanah Rata. We have booked this by telephone yesterday and will be staying in a Nissen hut left over from the British Occupation. These look like bomb shelters and are made from corrugated iron but seem quite comfortable and are spotlessly clean. Despite having to share toilets and showers we decide to stay as everything else about this place is completely fab.

It is a bit like a huge campsite, up a hill and with lots of lovely flowers and trees. There is a reception area with facilities for making hot drinks and we’re thrilled to see they have around 50 different types of teas, all kinds of coffee and homemade cakes. There is a large communal area with 3 computers, TV and DVD and a generally welcoming atmosphere. The fella who shows us round is really nice and it will cost us 50 ringitt for 2 rooms per night. (7 quid). I ring home to let mum know we survived the jungle and a 15 minute call costs about 2 quid.

We have to sort our laundry out quickly as our clothes are still wet and muddy and we will probably need the extra stuff due to the cold. We think it is probably about 12 degrees here and it definitely feels quite chilly. We walk into town and drop off our washing which will be back tomorrow afternoon.

By this time it is around 6pm and as the restaurant at Fathers Guesthouse is closed on Sundays we stop for dinner at a Chinese place. There seems to be a wide variety of food here which is great and we go for the local speciality which is called a Steamboat.
This is basically a fondue with 2 different types of soup, kept boiling by a gas burner and we are given 2 plates of raw food to cook in the soup ourselves. There is beef, chicken, prawns, fishballs, tofu, cuttlefish, jellyfish, mussels and crab. This is accompanied by 2 different types of noodles, eggs, green vegetables and shitake mushrooms. Not only is a real feast but good fun to cook and cheap. (6 quid with a few beers).

Our first impressions of this place are excellent and I think we will have a great time here. We walk back to the guesthouse, stopping off to buy a few supplies on the way and are all in bed by 9.30. There are loads of travellers staying here and we’re hardly up there with the hardcore ones but I don’t care. So happy to be here in a dry place and we will have clean clothes tomorrow what more could a girl want.

Canopy Walkway and Orang Asli

I couldn’t sleep last night and as I finally turned the light out at 3am it takes me a while to get my arse out of bed this morning. We try breakfast in one of the floating restaurants and after stuffing ourselves feel ready for the day. We have hired a guide called Suvala (Ali played guitar with him last night) and he is going to spend a few hours showing us some of the sights around the river.

We get into the boat and as he has to bail it out first I’m pleased to see life jackets and immediately consider putting mine on. We motor up the river, against the flow and after 10 minutes or so stop at the side. We are going to the canopy walkway and although I was feeling slightly anxious about this, my nerves are quickly forgotten as we realise that we have forgotten our park pass. There is a big sign explaining the penalty is 500 ringitt and up to 2 years in prison for such an infringement. (This scares me more) We tell Suvala but he assures us that the rangers are his friends and it will be ok.

The canopy walkway is reached by a long steep flight of steps and we have to register and pay 16 ringitt before we can start to make our way across. We listen carefully to the instructions. We must stay at least 5 metres apart, no more than 4 people on the walkway and go slowly. We are about 150 feet above the ground and there is no way I’ll be ignoring any of their advice.

Ali goes first, Maisie next and then it’s me. I step onto the walkway and start to plod along ignoring the fact that it is wobbling madly and focusing on the tree tops around me. The views are outstanding and despite my legs feeling a bit jellyfish, I make it across without losing it and feel pleased that I have achieved this.

We get back to the boat and I use the toilet near the river. Suvala tells me afterwards that the last time he used that toilet he found a viper in there.

Next we stop off at The Orang Asli Village. This is a small village of 6 families and they live very simply on the riverside in huts. The Orang Asli people are indigenous aboriginal people. Suvala explains that several years ago the Malaysian government provided them with bungalows with televisions and other mod cons but they only stayed there for one night and then chose to return to the village where they have continued to live.

They make a living by harvesting sandalwood and sell it to the village where we are staying. The chief of the village spoke a very little English and with Suvala they showed us the blow pipes they use to kills birds and how they make fire from sticks. (Suvala explained in the rainy season they just use a lighter!)

We took the opportunity to take some photographs which was perfectly acceptable and all felt privileged to spend a bit of time there observing the families, particularly the children playing. Although we had read that visiting the village can feel quite intrusive we didn’t experience that, maybe because there was only us 4 there and we just sat quietly watching what went on.

We get back to the boat and after bailing it out once more set off back down the river. Suvala tells us we must prepare to get wet as we have some small rapids to go through. Actually we get completely soaked but we all enjoyed the bit of excitement.

We arrive back at the jetty and arrange to leave Taman Negara tomorrow. We will be travelling by road which is actually a longer route than by the river but as we wish to move onto the Cameron Highlands it is the most direct way for us to travel.
This will cost us 55 ringitt each (around 8 pounds) and we need to arrange some cheap accommodation also.

We also pay Suvala for the day and he charges us approx 24 pounds which is much cheaper than an organised tour and we agree well worth it. He’s an interesting character and I have learnt a little about Malay culture today. He tells us he left home aged 13 and that his brother has 2 wives. Like all the people we have met here he loves music and tells us the names of his favourite films.

We have found that the Malaysians, although not as outwardly chatty and friendly as the Indian people we met previously have a sly and cheeky sense of humour. We have watched today as they tease their kids and they laugh at each other a lot. I had heard reports that as Malaysia is such a conservative Muslim country, Westerners may encounter some minor hostility here but that certainly hasn’t been the case for us so far and we haven’t witnessed it for anyone else either.

Simon goes to update our website in the afternoon and I read my book. It is so humid here that lying around isn’t really a pleasant experience and everywhere and everything smells damp. It has been an amazing few days that I wouldn’t have missed for the world and Taman Negara is probably the most beautiful place I have ever been but I don’t qualify as Jungle Jane quite yet and once again I am looking forward to moving on.

Bukit Teresek

We have had a great day today. We did set our alarms but for a bit later as we all wanted to have a lie in today. We decide to go for the set breakfast which consists of toast, eggs, juice and coffee. We haven’t really had any good coffee since arriving in Malaysia and despite asking for Nescafe the coffee that we get here is really vile!

It is starting to rain and we decide that rather than getting our trousers soaked we will wear as little as possible with our raincoats over the top. The main fault with this plan is that our legs will be exposed to leeches and we cover them with repellent cream and then spray our socks.

We catch the river taxi across to the entrance to the park. As we have discovered we can hire jungle boots for 4 ringitt a day, we then make our way to the reserve office and get kitted out. I am feeling the part now and looking forward to a few hours trekking. We are going to climb Bukit Teresik a small hill that is described as being a fairly steep climb and slippery in parts, with good views across the forest once you reach the top.

We reach the entrance of the rain forest. As it has been dry for the past 5 days the path was ok last night but it is much more slippery today and we make our way along carefully. It is extremely hot although very shady and raining lightly. Before long we are all sweating and I decide to take off my raincoat and brave the insects. Suddenly we hear a little shriek from Maisie who has been marching along a great pace. There stuck to the back of her leg is a leech waving its head around and trying to clamp on. It is quite funny but Simon brushes it off quickly and it doesn’t leave any mark. From then on we all watch each others legs and all have to dislodge leeches from our boots at some point.

We have found out the canopy walkway is closed on Friday afternoons so decide to do that tomorrow morning and concentrate on climbing today. It turns out to be quite a difficult climb and we need to pull ourselves up on ropes for some parts of it. We were trying to compare it to when we climbed Savitri in Pushkar in India and decide that although that was much hotter in the burning sun, this is harder by far. I must be getting a lot fitter as although it’s very tiring I’m not as completely knackered as I was then and we all quite enjoy the challenge of it.

We sing “We are the Champions” by Queen when we finally get to the top and wow what a beautiful view. This is one of the most picturesque places I have ever been and in the rain it looks absolutely lush. The huge green leaves are dripping with water and the tops of the trees are covered in mist. It makes quite an amazing sight and we get some good photos for the website.

This area of virgin rainforest is around 130 million years old and we have been told it has never been felled or artificially planted. There are hundreds of different trees, plants and bushes ranging from huge trees to small scrubby bushes. There are so many different shades of green and we recognise trees such as bamboo which are simple to identify.
We begin our descent down and this takes around an hour. At the bottom is an exclusive holiday resort which is good news, as we have begun to realise 5 star means beer will be available. As we are staying across the river in a strict Muslim village there isn’t any alcohol available and after our strenuous efforts a cold Tiger beer goes down great. The kids have some chocolate cake and we head back to our motel for a shower and a rest.

We decide to have dinner at the same restaurant as last night. The kids have burgers and fries but Simon and I have some tasty sweet and sour beef and ginger prawns with rice. It is reasonably cheap and costs around 7 quid including drinks and puddings.

On the way back up to the motel we stop off at a bar where 4 fellas are playing their guitars. Ali hasn’t played too much recently but before long he is playing with them and Simon goes and fetches his own guitar. There are a couple of Greek lads there too and one of them also joins in. Its quite surreal, sat in the jungle listening to them all jammin along to a mixture of Malaysian songs, Greek tragedy and Greenday!

A bonus is that they also have internet access and this keeps Maisie quiet for an hour and a small library with books available for exchange and sale. We buy a 2005 edition copy of Lonely Planet’s China for 4 quid.

Its 11pm now and I’m off to bed, need to conserve some energy for tomorrow.