Monthly Archives: August 2015

A day of ups and downs.

Flying on over the islands

Flying on over the islands

This morning started with a low when Bill’s alarm went off at 04.45 a quarter of an hour early!  We hadn’t had a very good night because we both kept dreaming we’d overslept and missed our flight but after showering and getting sorted out we realised today we were going to tick off an item on our bucket list.  Today we were flying to Hong Kong on the second flight of our adventure. It was due to leave at 7.10 our time and left right on time.  After a bit of sleep we landed at 11.05 – again on time.  It was a bit cloudy as we landed but nothing was going to spoil our day – or so we thought.

Landing at Hong Kong airport

Landing at Hong Kong airport

 

We are in Hong Kong!

We are in Hong Kong!

Bill had always wanted to come to Hong Kong and here he is there.  Amazing airport, very efficient.  We made our way through to immigration without any problems and as soon as we reached the luggage carousel Bill’s bag was already there but not mine.  I was thinking Oh no I’ll have nothing to wear but then more bags came through and there it was, that was a relief. As we entered the arrival hall there was  my favourite – Starbucks, coffee time!

 

Bill decided to go and raid the ATM for some money.  Oh dear the first two wouldn’t give him any.  Luckily third time lucky.  All on his own without my assistance, was this wise? We’ll see…..

The next job was get from the airport to the city.  That was made very easy by buying an Airport Express travel pass which allowed us unlimited travel for three days plus a return journey from and to the airport.  On the train into the city all was going very well.

The first stop in the city was the China Travel service where we intended to apply for our Chinese visas.  I have spent the last few months pawing through my Lonely planet China and had memorised  a lot of stuff one of which was the route to the CTS office and we found it first go.  I had everything ready, a form for each of us downloaded and filled in, a passport photo for each of us, a typed out itinerary and finally had printed all the hotel bookings, train tickets, flight tickets etc and had it all sitting in a wallet ready. I handed it all over with our passports which she started to shake.  ‘Where is his entry visa?’ she was shaking Bill’s passport.  She shook mine and out fell a piece of paper but where was Bill’s.  We went through the bag, his pockets, every where, NOTHING. Then she said she couldn’t process our application without it. DISASTER. His passport had been in his pocket with his wallet and we realised that while getting cross with the ATM machines it must have dropped out.  The lady said our option was to go to immigration downtown to try to get another one or take a daytrip to Macau and get one on our way back, which would be too late for our visa for China!!!

We both hit a real low.  At this point we still had all our bags with us so we continued on to our hotel to check in.  It turned out the hotel had a free shuttle bus that could drop us right next to the Immigration tower, someone was watching over us after all.  We dropped our bags in our room and jumped in the bus. I had the bit between my teeth at this point. I hadn’t come this far to fall at the first hurdle.  I marched into the building and, after explaining what had happened and eventually being pointed in the right direction, we found a friendly immigration officer with a pre-printed form (this had obviously happened before) who issued Bill with a reprinted entry visa.  RELIEF. I was so relieved I burst into tears, I could see all my plans floating away.

The start of the escalator system

The start of the escalator system

 

We made our way back to the CTS who processed our visa application.  What a day. That’s why Bill isn’t allowed to wander off on his own!!! By this time it was 5pm and it was too late to do the tour I had planned. So we amused ourselves with travelling on The Escalator.  This is the longest covered outdoor escalator system in the world and is the best way to travel between the central area, up through the mid levels and SoHo. It took two and a half years to build at a cost of HK$205 million roughly about £20 million.

 

 

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All smiles now

All smiles now

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was even an M&S there complete with Percy Pigs!!

There was even an M&S there complete with Percy Pigs!!

A view of a street market

A view of a street market

 

 

This street market had lots of beautiful fruit for sale.  I liked the building next to it.  Can you guess why?

 

A view looking down

A view looking down

 

 

 

 

 

The view looking down from the top was really good.

So our first day in Hong Kong went from wonderful to awful to wonderful again and Bill took me for a delicious Italian meal to make up for all the stress of the day.  Bless him he’d been so upset that he’d spoilt everything but it all worked out in the end.  Tomorrow we can start enjoying Hong Kong.

Cheers

Cheers

 

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A Day in Kuala Lumpur

We arrived back in Terengganu 25th August and spent the next 4 days cleaning Camomile inside and out.  I made 3 trips to the laundry with big bags of washing not having done any for the last month, lucky we mostly live in swimmers.  I wanted to leave everything clean and tidy as we were leaving Camomile for 3 weeks for an adventure to Hong Kong and China.

Bill boarding our bright yellow plane

Bill boarding our bright yellow plane

 

It all started with a taxi at 6.30 on Sunday 30th August to take us to the airport to catch the 8.20 to Kuala Lumpur. Our plane wasn’t the usual Air Asia red but a brightly painted yellow.  The flight left right on time.  Our flight to Hong Kong wasn’t until the next morning but very early so I had booked a night in the Tune hotel at the KLIA2 terminal giving us a day in Kuala Lumpur.

 

Bill and I in Chinatown

Bill and I in Chinatown

We were too early to check in but left our bags in their left luggage room and jumped on the KLIA express train for the half hour ride to KL Sentral then took the underground to Pasar Seni and walked to Chinatown.  The main street is Jalan Petaling and was full of bustling stall selling all sorts of chinese goods.  A bought my self a nice new purse because mine has recently broken.  We also visited the Guan Yin temple which was a bit like one of the clan houses in Penang but not as nice.  Our impressions of Chinatown was that it was very colourful and noisy and not as nice as the Chinatown in Singapore but it was interesting to look around. After lunch in a local food court we headed back to the underground and made our way to KLCC with the magnificent Petronas twin towers as its center piece.

The Petronas twin towers

The Petronas twin towers

 

 

 

We forgot to take a picture of the outside but this a picture we took last year when the sky was much bluer, it was quite hazy today.

 

One of the Petronas racing cars

One of the Petronas racing cars

 

 

 

 

 

In the entrance they have 2 formula 1 racing cars sponsored by Petronas that have been used.  Bill was interested to see the body structure which his company used to make patterns for on similar vehicles. You could see the under body protection plate that had scratches on it from where the body had grounded out.

 

 

Interesting shop

Interesting shop

 

I had booked tickets to visit the viewing towers at 4pm so we had several hours to wander around the huge shopping mail that was contained in 4 floors at the base of the towers.  There are many designer shops including many shoe shops but I resisted.  This shop caught Bills eye and we had to have a look around but guess what …… no hardware or boat shops. Yippee!!!

 

Bill standing by the expansion gap.

Bill standing by the expansion gap.

 

At our allotted time we joined the tour. The Petronas Twin towers were once the tallest building in the world at a height of 452 metres.  It’s largely constructed of reinforced concrete with a steel and glass facade designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic architecture.  The Skybridge is at the 41st and 42nd levels and that’s where we started our tour. The bridge is the highest 2 storey bridge in the world and is attached to the towers with a sliding system that allows the towers and the bridge to move independently up to about 10 inches each side.   It’s built to with stand winds of 180kph, fortunately the strongest they’ve ever had was 80 kph but the expansion gap had moved by 4 inches during the last Japanese earthquake.

 

 

Bill on the skybridge

Bill on the skybridge

The huge supports

The huge supports

 

 

 

 

 

My panoramic view of the two towers

My panoramic view of the two towers

Our selfie

Our selfie

 

 

We continued to the observation deck on level 86.  This was our selfie.

 

 

Looking down on the other tower

Looking down on the other tower

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Sadly it was hazy today so the view wasn’t quite as good as we had hoped but it was still amazing to be so high up.  I didn’t like looking over the edge.  It was interesting to see the other tower next door.

 

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After our tour we made our way back to KL Sentral and took our train back to the airport and the Tune hotel.  Tomorrow we fly to Hong Kong. Weeeeeee!!

 

The Perhentian islands

Long beach taken from Bubu's

Long beach taken from Bubu’s

We arrived at Pulau Perhentian Kechil or ‘small island’ on Sunday 2nd August.  We anchored off of Long beach (anchorage 112 in the Sail Malaysia cruising guide) at

05˚55.1N

102˚43.4E

We were still on our own as Inspiration Lady and the others were still at Tioman.  Long beach, as a holiday destination, is lovely.  There’s Bubu’s at one end and the World café at the other end and lots of small resorts and dive shops in between. I was happy because we discovered that not only did the world café have a proper coffee machine (practically unheard of in the islands) but it was being run by a lovely Italian couple Ranieri and Mathilda who made the most amazing Cappuccinos.  Bill managed to impress them with a bit of Italian just about remembered.

Looking at Camomile through the beach umbrellas

Looking at Camomile through the beach umbrellas

Long beach is a beautiful sandy beach but the bad thing is that the tourist boats and water taxis are allowed to go where they like at any speed they like making swimming off the boat very dangerous.  Added to that as the sun went down about 3 different techno machines started up sending out a cacophony of noise which continued until 3am! That wasn’t so bad, we couldn’t hear it downstairs so well but around midnight fireworks starting going off ……

 

 

Camomile on her own

Camomile on her own

The next morning we left to anchor at the other island Pulau Perhentian Besar ‘big island’ at anchorage 109

05˚54.1N

102˚44.1E

We had the private Perhentian Island resort (PIR) (would be my recommendation if anyone wanted to holiday here) in front of us that has a protected sandy beach and Coral View Island resort next to it.  This photo was taken from Coral View as we ate a delicious lunch there.

One of the things we wanted to achieve here was a PADI dive course for Bill.  We have recently bought a good second hand diving set and I wanted Bill to take a proper course.  Beyond the Coral view was a row of eateries and dive shops, although not as many as Long beach.  All the dive shops were the same price but in the end we decided the Turtle Bay divers back on the small island seemed to be a bit more switched on. So we took Camomile back to anchorage 112 and Bill signed up for the 4 day open water course at MYR980 (about £170).  Fortunately the fireworks had been a one off and we got used to the music.

Bill off to school

Bill off to school

Wednesday 5th Bill went back to school. Note his little homework bag with his reference book in it, I also gave him an apple for break time!

The first day was mostly theory but in the afternoon they started on the skills required to pass the course.  None of the resorts have pools here but there’s an area alongside the rocks on the edge of the bay that gently shelves allowing you to gradually get deeper, ideal for learning to dive, and it’s cordoned off.

 

Bill in his dive kit

Bill in his dive kit

Bill and John

Going…..

 

 

Bill had been teamed with a guy called John plus there were 2 Korean girls in his class and the four of them gradually submerged with Aswan their excellent diving instructor.

 

 

...going..

…going..

...gone but you can still see which one is Bill!

…gone but you can still see which one is Bill!

I watched from the dinghy on the other side of the line.  Bill seemed to be doing very well.

 

I was glad I hadn’t joined him because the course is much more advanced now than when we last attempted it in the Red sea many years ago. Not only did he have to work up gradually to taking his mask off (a complete no no as far as I’m concerned) and put it back on underwater, he had to swim without it, swop regulators, share his spare regulator with John and vice versa as well as other skills.

Lots of kittens

Lots of kittens

 

Meanwhile I went and played with the pussy cats, literally. The dive school has adopted a mummy cat and her kittens, 5 of them.  This one is my favourite they have named her Seabelle and she was mine for the taking.  I enjoyed playing with her every day and would have loved to keep her but all things considered we decided it would be best if we didn’t.

 

This is Seabelle

This is Seabelle

Bill off diving

Bill off diving

 

 

The next day after spending the morning doing more theory, there are 5 sections to work through, and skills in the cordoned off area we had lunch together.  In the afternoon Bill was going on his first proper dive, he looks quite happy going off…..

 

 

 

back again

back again

….. and even happier coming back after a successful dive where he learnt how to regulate his buoyancy, practised rescuing a tired diver, clamp removal and more mask removal.  They had seen large parrot fish, angel fish and barracudas.

On the third morning he took the ‘quiz’ and passed so that was the theory over.  In the afternoon they went diving at shark point and I was going to go with them for a snorkel but the weather closed in and the sea became a bit rough so I stayed behind.  Bill said they didn’t see any sharks but saw a green sea turtle among other things, and got down to 16m but the visibility wasn’t very good with the bad weather. John’s wife Angela, who already had her PADI, went with them.

Bill with John and Angela

Bill with John and Angela

Their 4th and final dive was the 18m dive and included working with dive computers which went well.  Back at the dive centre Aswan congratulated them all on passing and signed off their log books.  Bill enjoyed the course and feels more confident to use the kit to clean the bottom of the boat but also he will be able to join our fellow cruisers on a dive now; I’ll stick to snorkelling or better still when he goes for a dive I’ll book into the local spa!

 

 

They all passed

They all passed

Storm clouds gathering

Storm clouds gathering

 

 

We had lunch with John and Angela but later that afternoon the storm clouds gathered and we had a big storm.  Luckily they aren’t too bad in this area.  Our friends further south and on the west coast have been having some awful ones.

 

 

Stunning coral bay

Stunning coral bay

Sunday 9th we went ashore for Sunday breakfast, a treat we often spoil ourselves with, followed by a delicious cappuccino at the World café; it was getting difficult to leave.  There’s a short walk over the hill to Coral bay so decided to do that to walk our breakfast off.  The bay was stunning and the water looked inviting but no good for anchoring as it’s on the west side and the evening storms would put us on a lee shore over that coral.

 

 

Amazing views

Amazing views

 

The next day we came ashore prepared for a longer walk and after walking through to Coral bay again continued on the 1½ hour walk around the south west of the island. The views were amazing peeping through the trees tantalisingly as we headed south. The islands in the distance are Pulau Rawa, Pulau Susudara and Pulau Serenggeh we have been considering visiting them.

 

 

Watching the monitor lizard

Watching the monitor lizard

 

 

As we walked up some steps this monitor lizard was having a good hunt around, not sure what he was looking for but once he saw us he scuttled off.  Must have been a good metre long.

 

 

A village road

A village road

 

Eventually we arrived at the village on the southern side of the island.  This is a ‘main’ road.  The houses are built on stilts to allow the air to circulate under them to keep it cool.  They also store things under them and, if they are high enough, washing is hung out to dry.  The houses are very simply built out of wood.  This lady was cutting up the catch of the day. There were lots of hibiscus flowers growing around the village.

 

A village woman cleaning the days catch

A village woman cleaning the days catch

 

Unbelievable!

Unbelievable!

 

We sat at one of the little eateries on the sea front and watched these guys building a new construction next door.  No hard hats, safety boats, high vis jackets or safety harnesses but they were getting the job done although everything was being done by hand.  It was going to take them some time to build this structure especially at the speed they were working but it was very hot too.

 

 

A very ornate mosque

A very ornate mosque

 

It isn’t possible to walk any further so after lunch we hired a water taxi to take us back to the anchorage passing their beautiful mosque on the way.  Once back we decided we had ‘done’ the small island and moved Camomile to the other island to anchorage 109 by the Coral View resort.  It was a relief to get away from the steady stream of water taxis by day and the music by night.

 

 

Turtle hunters

Turtle hunters

The problem with anchorage 109 is its name – Turtle bay.  There are many turtles here and consequently it’s on all 3 ‘tours’; big island, small island and Rawa island. So many times during the day we had this, dozens of boats looking for the ubiquitous turtles.  Once the ‘spotter’ has seen one their customers are disgorged into the water, many with buoyancy jackets on, in hot pursuit of the poor thing.  They don’t hurt them but the turtles must get a bit ticked off at being followed every day. At one point we had the occupants of 14 boats in the water around us all trying to glimpse a turtle.

 

'It's this way'

‘It’s this way’

 

Wednesday 12th was another walking day.  Behind the PIR is another jungle trek (ask one of the staff where it starts) which we set off on.  Our instructions were just keep walking south but the path divided so out came Bill’s compass that his sister Kate had given him and we found the right track.

 

 

Another stunning bay

Another stunning bay

It was a steep climb

It was a steep climb

After about an hour of walking the path came out onto another beautiful beach lined with small resorts.  We had been told it was good for snorkeling but the visibility wasn’t very good so we walked west along the beach and re-joined the path to take us back over the hill. It’s difficult to see the gradient but it was quite steep and reminded us of the Cameron highlands but luckily not as far.

 

Half way up

Half way up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fish cove

Fish cove

 

 

 

The path brought us out to this beach, it was called fish cove.  The boulders that surrounded the beach on the southern side were huge.  The water was a lot clearer so we went in for our snorkel.

 

Bill free diving around the rocks

Bill free diving around the rocks

 

 

The area around the rocks was astounding.  There were also a lot of rocks under the water creating amazing shapes and surfaces for coral to grow on as well as a wall that went down out of sight – would have made a good dive.

 

Beautiful coral

Beautiful coral

 

 

 

Coral on the wall

Coral on the wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch with a view

Lunch with a view

 

 

 

 

 

The beach continued north back towards the boat.  We sat and had lunch with this view.

 

 

 

 

 

Rawa just coming into view

Rawa just coming into view

 

Tuesday 18th we finally left the anchorage having been there a week and took Camomile 5 miles out to anchorage 113 off of Rawa island at

05˚57.65N

102˚40.84E this was as far north as we intended to go on this coast.

 

 

Magnificent coral under the water around the headland in front of us

Magnificent coral under the water around the headland in front of us

 

Camomile nestled in the rocks

Camomile nestled in the rocks

 

Simply extraordinary snorkelling off the northern headland, probably the best in this area with lots of fish. Lovely spot but no shelter from the overnight breeze so took Camomile back to small island for one night then left the next morning to start heading south.

 

 

Rawa island

Rawa island

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