Malaysia – The Perhentians

The Perhentians…

We then made our way to Penang airport, a nice 0430 start to the day! We boarded the tiny little propellor plane ✈️ …both slightly nervous! But got to Kota Baru in no time. It then took us an hour drive in a Grab taxi to the Kuala besut ferry terminal. This cost 65 MYR. The ferry ticket to the perhentian kecil island is 70 MYR return, there are also some extra costs; island entrance fee: 30 MYR and another little taxi from the speed boat to the beach: 2 MYR. From the boat we trudged along the beach, now in the swealtering sun, and found a little shady area to dump our bags whilst we wondered around looking for accommodation and dive schools. We eventually ended up going to ‘Oh lala’ dive centre and chalet. After a boiling swim in the 30deg water and our classic vegetable fried rice lunch, we passed out for the rest of the day after having only a couple hours sleep the night before. 😴

The next day we started out PADI open water course. We were really lucky as it was only Dani and I in the group, our instructor was a lovely girl called Lucy who was from Buckinghamshire. She was really great and calmed us (me) down a lot….Danielle will probably remember my sobbing the night before about getting a PE or having to go into a decompression chamber. But I’m still here to tell the tale! and have definitely caught the diving bug. We did all our skills tests not far from kecil island and then we got to do a few bigger dives; lots of reef, and an artificial wreck (three sunken police boats).

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On our last day we got to explore the island a bit more which we hadnt had time to do yet so busy with the course. We walked across to the other side of the island…after getting lost and passing through what seemed to be the islands dumping ground! One big lesson we have learnt this trip is things are not always how you imagine,, and when your looking at peoples instagram getting jealous the photo will not always represent whats going on.

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Anyway we eventually did manage to cross the island and reach the beach and much more expensive resorts and found a lovely little cove to have a swimbo.

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The day then came when we had to leave the lovely perhentians, say goodbye to Lucy and everyone at ‘oh lala’, the tasty ‘no name’ we had had everyday for lunch and elly a lady who worked at one of the front restaurants who was always looking after us!

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Someone obviously didn’t want us to leave as the heavens suddenly opened, the storm was so rough the boats were about to be cancelled…but in true asian style they thought they’d give it a go. So we all crammed onto one of the speed boats, buckled up a life jacket and clung onto each other making man over board plans, but credit to our driver, who had been on the phone most of the journey he got us there in one piece! That night we stayed in a lovely little guest house run by a malaysian couple who gave us lunch and took us to a local restaurant for dinner. In the morning we got a flight from Kota Baru to Kinabalu, Borneo. Now this part of our trip was a bit if a surprise addition so we hadn’t planned it quite yet!

Next to Borneo…

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Indonesia – Gili Trawangan (Gili T)

Our hostel was close to the harbour (about 10min walk) and we stayed there for 3 nights. The hostel was basic…but it was cheap so we didn’t expect much! We are not really sure how we feel about Gili T, some bits were nice, some bits not so much. The west side of the island is much better, but a bit more pricey as it’s where most of the more expensive resorts seemed to be. If you definitely want to go to Gili T, we would say two/three nights is plenty. We did do a really good day boat trip which was 80,000 IDR pp and went to a couple of snorkeling spots and then to Gili air. Seeing Gili air we think we should have stayed there, seemed much better!

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On our last day we met our friend Katie from Oz and cycled around the island and went to take the obligatory Gili T swing pics, bike ride around the island and swing pics are a must! Such a fun day :).

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As the weather had calmed down we took the fast boat back to Bali, to a small place called Amed. This boat cost 200,000 IDR pp. We went straight from Amed to Permuteran as we were starting to run out of days, this was our most expensive journey at 550,000 for both of us. That night we stayed in a cute little homestay, the owners were lovely.

In the morning we headed to the main road and got a local mini bus to Gilimanuk, this cost us 45,000 IDR which was a massive rip off, make sure you try and barter more! We just jumped in the first one and after we had paid then saw the locals paying 2,000 IDR each!

At Gilimanuk we got the public ferry across to Banyuangi/ Ketapang which took about an hour and cost 9,000 each. Luckily this was a fixed price so as tourists we didn’t get ripped off again.

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Indonesia – Lombok

At Lombok airport we went through the usual stress with the taxi drivers and managed to get one for 150,000 IDR. We then headed for Mataram, the capital city where we were staying for one night. The hotel was really nice (favhotel) but I’m aftraid to say that’s all that was. There isn’t anything to do in Mataram, if there is please let us know! So late morning we got in a cab to our next destination- Senggigi. We just used a local cab and asked them to put it on the meter, it ended up costing 60,000 IDR. Which is reasonable.

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Senggigi is much nicer and had a bit more to do. We wondered down to the beach and had a little walk and Danielle finally purchased some elephant trousers she had been wanting since we arrived in Bali! She paid 50,000IDR which seemed to be the lowest any stall would go.

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We also treated ourselves to a massage from what seemed to be a chain spa as they were everywhere, called ‘Orchid’. We both had back and shoulders, 30 mins, which was 45,000 IDR pp.

That evening we walked to a local bar which was pretty much empty but had live music and a pool table so we were happy!

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In the morning we had an early start as we were commencing the journey to Gili Trawangan. We paid 65,000 IDR pp which included the shuttle from our Hostel and the local boat over to the island. They picked us up from the hostel at 0830 (Lombok time meant this was really 0900) and our ferry was at 1030. We arrived on Gili T (feeling pretty queasy from the boat journey) about 1115.

 Hong Kong 

We arrived early am into HK airport and got the express train ticket into central station, this was super easy; only  24min journey and cost us $170 for two people (I think single tickets are $100 so you get a bit of a discount on a group ticket). From there my Dad met us and we got a taxi to Wan Chai where we were staying. This was $40 and took 10 mins.

Travelling around HK is really easy. Get an Octopus card ($50, with $41 plus any leftover travel credit is refunded when returned) and top up whatever you like. Octopus is accepted on buses, trams, ferries, trains and even lots of shops in HK! We put on around $150 for the 5 days and we went everywhere including on the fast ferries.  A tram costs about $2.5-$3.5,a bus $3.5-$17 and ferry $17-$22. The journeys are split into zones so the further you go the more expensive it is. Also you pay a much higher cost to go to the touristy areas.  The city is so easy to navigate as a tourist. Most journeys co-ordinate around central station and the central piers.

Day 1

On our first day dad took us exploring the city on the trams, sit upstairs and it’s great for sightseeing! We then met uncle Johnny in the eve who was arriving from India after a 3 week ashram stay. Needless to say we had an interesting dinner catch up with all our different travel stories and 13 years since we had last seen each other! Eating is an interesting experience. There are very few, if any, traditional western Chinese or HK dishes.  A standard dish is chicken feet, tongue n cheek (haha), pigs trotters… the list is endless. We stuck to the basics of steamed rice, BBQ ribs,  sticky rice… they also give you copious amounts of Chinese tea for free which is great.

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Day 2

We can call this skyscraper day. Firstly we  went up the tourism centre which is free and has a bit of an exhibition about HK whilst you look out from the 50th floor.

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Next we caught the tourist ferry ($100, you can get the local one) which has a tour of the harbour and stops around HK.

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We got off in Kowloon where you can go into the Ritz-Carlton hotel and get the lift to the 1ooth floor where there is a (very expensive) restaurant and a fantastic looking tea room. At 3pm you can go up to the 118th floor where there is a beautiful open air bar as it is the very top of the hotel.  There is a closed lounge too as it can get a bit chilly.  The bar is fine just to walk into but the restaurant will need a reservation. It’s a stunning hotel with amazing views of the skyline, and you will pay for this through your food/drink consumption. So we took a few photos and left!

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That evening we went for dinner at ‘Kams roast goose’. Every night there was a huge line for this place and we waiting about an hour for a table (luckily they give you a ticket so you can go off and come back—danielle and I went for a cocktail).

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Surprisingly we had roast goose! We also got noodles, rice and some roast pork. I thought it was amazing, best food we’ve had all trip. Danielle and Johnny quite liked it too but dad hated it and went for McDonald’s afterwards, each to their own! It was quite pricey so make sure everyone in your group is prepared to try something new before you go.

Day 3

Today we took the bus from Wan Chai to Repulse bay which takes about 30mins. Here there’s nice little harbour to walk around and a beach. It was a bit cold for sunbathing but we had a lovely walk.

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We spent most of the evening in the electronics shop which is right next to Wan Chai station. It’s two floors of madness and you can get lots in there for hours, which we did! And for the next couple of days. I’m not really sure how many bargains there are but if you know about technology and how to barter this will be the place for you. If your happy to have a second hand or refurbished phone/laptop then these are much cheaper than market price. Anything brand new seemed to be the same price as home.

Before going home we had to try the famous egg waffles. Although they look completely different to your average sweet waffle they taste pretty similar, due to the little bubbles they are a bit crunchier and taste slightly like coconut.

Day 4

Lantau island. Unfortunately the cable car wasn’t running so we took the ferry from central pier and then a bus on the other side. Took about two hours altogether. Definitely worth it if you have the time. There’s a little village for souvenirs, a Buddhist monestry and a massive statue of the laughing Buddha which was built it 1993.

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It’s worth buying a carved charm on a tassel. They were cheapish and came in beautiful boxes with the meaning of the carving on. We looked everywhere for some others but never found any 😞.

Day 5

A day of walking!

Today it was time to do some exercise and walk to the top of the biggest hill in HK called mount Victoria.  We typed “the peak” into google and off we went. After hiking along some really beautiful pathways we were nearly at the peak… and then we passed it. We were so 🤷‍♀️ confused and looked at google again and only then realised that there were two peaks, one called the peak which seemed impossible to get to and the other the actual Victoria peak which is not called the peak, doh.

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We found our way out of the jungle and got on a bus 🚌 which took 15 minutes to get there, we were so glad to have made the effort as it was an amazing place.  There was a plaza which we explored, we found another McDonald’s, it had an outdoor eating area with the most amazing view (you also paid for this as it was 2x the city price).  We then trundled up to the top floor to a viewing dec where the view was just magnificent, higher than any of the buildings we had been in due to it being on the mountain (big hill).

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There was another viewing platform with a 360 degree view however you had to pay for that. In this building there was a really funky 3D walk through gallery where you could take photos for free. We then plucked up the energy to talk the last 15 minutes to the very top, obviously going the wrong way so it actually took 45 mins.  After all this we got back on the bus to the city.

Before we went to the hotel we ended up at the computer shop again 😍. After leaving with nothing but joy we headed to McDonald’s (staple food of the week).  This time it’s because we wanted to try the purple ice cream, it was sweet potato flavour.  We decided to go for 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 sweet potato 🥔 just incase it was overpowering. It was surprisingly good for about $27 or 27p, McDonald’s was v.cheap.

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Day 6

Chinese Las Vegas : Macau!

We caught a ferry to Macau which cost $… for a single, it’s cheaper to book both together but we didn’t know what time we wanted to come back.  Don’t forget your passport as this is China 🇨🇳… super exciting!!!!

The first thing you see off the ferry is a huge bridge which joins the island to the mainland, it looks like a big white squiggle in the foggy air.  Then you get on any of the free transfers, just pick a hotel and off you go! The hotels were amazing, just like being back in Las Vegas, they filled the sky and had vast grounds full of fountains and gardens.

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We went to the Venetian which was a bonus as we missed this one in Vegas.  Just like the other it has the canal through the centre where you could take a gondola ride.  The great thing in here is that they were fantastic opera singers which performed for everyone lining the banks.  This place was so big it was hard to explain, floors of slot machines, video poker and video roulette, then a huge shopping mall which was double the high street price.  Then finally a food court which was great… finally found some sweet and sour, yum! On the way out (if you could actually find it) there were small stages for entertainment like singing, violin players and magic shows. They were really good 😊.

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We left here and went to the Wynn to see the fountain show just like at the Bellaggio in Vegas. It was really beautiful, another huge hotel and casino where Jonny couldn’t resist the allure of the poker table. Whilst he was playing the big boys game we went for a drink in a really nice bar before heading back on the 45 minute ferry to HK.

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Day 7

Walked to the train to go home.  Again this way a super easy trip. We even had time to get a refund on our octopus 🐙 cards before leving the station.

Bye bye Dad, Johnny and HK. On to Vietnam.