Monday, 22 November 2010

RECOVERY- Perhentian Kecil and Bali

There were mixed feelings about leaving India. Richard had a really hard time there health-wise, and of course, after six months there, we were weary and looking forward to going to a place that was clean and easy. So Kuala Lumpur was just the ticket! We basically spent the first week of our time back there stuffing our faces, and rapidly putting back on some of the weight we had lost! Malaysia is the best place for food in Asia, in my opinion. We love the variety of the Indian restaurants roti chennai, flaky bread with curry sauce), the Chinese joint's roast pork/chicken/duck with rice and soup, and the Malay style nasi campur - a fantastic choice of rice with dozens of different meat, curry and vegetable dishes.

Roti Chennai

Pork and rice
A cacophony of tastes!!

We reveled in all the "luxuries" we'd been missing- clean bathrooms, no-one staring at us, no blaring vehicle horns, huge/comfortable buses, quiet rooms, fast food, fellow travellers, shopping centers, milk, easy public transport, no spy holes in the doors of rooms, toilet paper, WIFI........But we also felt a great sadness at the missing humour and character that we found so often in India, and that is sometimes lacking in South-east Asia. It took us a few emotional days to recover from the mini "culture shock"!!

We spent a couple of weeks in KL and up the east coast of Malaysia, stopping at Cherating, a pleasant little beach town, where we tried to avoid sunburn on our pasty skin (unsuccessful),  and Kuala Terrangganu, a great town with an amazing food night market. As Ramadan was under way, much of the town was shut down during the day, but came alive at night. It was especially interesting around dusk, when families all came to the waterfront market with picnic baskets, bought their food an hour before eating time, sat chatting and looking longingly at the food, until there was a huge booming signal from the mosque- the sign they could all eat.

We nearly didn't make it to the Perhentian Islands- our main destination on arriving back in Malaysia. After being in cheap India for so long, Malaysia seems expensive to us, and the ferry fare of 140 RM (AU$ 50) return for the two of us ,was almost enough to make us skip it. But we'd been hearing such good things about the islands for so many years, we bit the bullet, and took the speed boat over to the small island (Perhentian Kecil).

The island is certainly not the picture perfect, tropical island paradise we were expecting. There are a few too many concrete buildings, bars blaring out music, beach umbrellas and construction work for our liking. But we found a cheap hut on the beach, and met up with some long time friends, and enjoyed our time snorkeling, lazing around on the beach with a book, playing cards and, or course, eating! The saving grace of the island is it's soft white sand, and stunning blue, clear water filled with a variety of fish and other marine life.

Our hut, Perhentian Kecil

Long Beach , Perhentian Kecil

View from hut, Perhentian Kecil

Getting Creative!

Perhentian Kecil

Sunset, Coral Bay, Perhentian Kecil

A month of island life was enough, and as strange as it sounds, we were kind of happy to leave and find ourselves back in the big towns of Kota Baru, Kuala Terrangganu, and Kuala Lumpur (which has become a real central hub for us now that Air Asia has so many cheap flights in and out of there), in the couple of weeks we spent travelling back down south. It was nice to have all the modern, town facilities again, and also to be in places where our money would go further than on expensive Perhentian Kecil. Of course, it helped knowing we still have another three months of beach bumming time ahead of us, starting with another cheap airfare to Bali for the month of November.

It was a VERY lazy, touristy time for us on Bali, just going with the flow, first in mad Kuta, then serene Ubud, laid-back Padangbai and lastly, Sanur.
We actually enjoyed the crazy fast- paced Kuta for a short while. There's a great variety of accommodation and food, extremely cheap clothes and DVDs (which we stocked up on), and the people watching at Kuta beach kept us amused for hours.
Ubud was a change of pace, and it was a good chance to get away from the traffic, and enjoy the gorgeous country side with lots of walk amidst the rice paddy fields.
Padangbai was probably our favorite place on our last visit to Bali, and as often happens when visiting the same place years later, we found ourselves disappointed with the changes. Our deserted little Blue Lagoon Bay was full of rubbish, and the sand had shifted.... right off the beach, so all that was left was rocks. But we still enjoyed the town, and actually discovered a new beach, so it was not all bad!
The last few days we had a change of plan, and stopped by Sanur Beach, as some friends from Australia were visiting.

Lunch time


Bias Tugel Beach, Padangbai

Hard work!

Bias Tugel Beach