A Travellerspoint blog

Happy (Chinese) New Year

sunny 32 °C

Melaka - The Venice of Asia but without the prices and not a single pavarotti wannabe gondolier in sight. A relaxing three days and a chance to soak up the atmosphere at the local night market and soak up the grease of the local street food.... I'm ready for a salad! The town has an interesting past having been occupied by the Portuguese, Dutch (plenty of windmills to make it feel like home) and of course the British. I managed to learn all this on an action packed visit to the local history museum.... A chance to get out of the sun and look at some manakins attempting to represent the various nationalities of the traders that visited the port town but ultimately ended up looking like the rejects at a madam tussuads audition. The town itself had plenty of character and also plenty of characters including the local rickshaw men, who had decorated them to be what can only be described as Disney themed techno tricycles! For some reason the Japanese and Chinese tourists were going mad for it...atleast they made for some bizarre photos.

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I spent much of my three days with my international room mates from France, Holland and Australia. But to bring it back to the Venice line of thought in the hostel I noticed a guy watching the England v Italy 6 nations game....surely an England fan watching the highlights of the inevitable win you would have thought, and not a former italian rugby professional from near Venice, and now professional traveller/beard grower! Decision made, the beard stays and after a few beers with my new Italian friend, next to the canal an agreement made to send a beard photo when I catch up to his Jesus like appearance....

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On the bus trip to Singapore it was good to see mans destructive nature at its best, mile after mile of palm plantation much like a repeating background on a cheap cartoon. That being said the trip was good and a chance to be on the road rather than flying over the countryside....also the Malaysians have cracked what bus travel should be by basically swapping out the nasty plastic seats we're used to and putting in the kind of armchairs your grandparents fall asleep in in front of the TV. Time for some shut eye before the next urban metropolis....

So Singapore and first up some huge praise for a German chap I met in Melaka, who despite suffering with some kind of food poisoning still managed to provide me with a golden nugget of German logic for my visit to Singapore. In Singapore there is a newish building which basically looks like a giant surfboard on top of three towers, said German chap advised me that the views from here were unreal and also that you could go to the observation deck for $18 or for the same price and the slight inconvience of having to wear shoes you could go to a bar one level higher and get a beer...."why would you go to the observation deck, zis makes kein sense" and my word he was right! Me and my hostel room posse, an Iranian, an aussie and a older Japanese chap, timed our assent perfectly as with beer in hand and view in front the practice chinese new years fireworks were set off...amazing!

Singapore was incredibly clean, they jet wash the pavements.... and raised the food bar yet again. I'm still not quite ready for some of the local tastes yet, I'll wait a while for my first try of frog soup/pigs brain/insert other animal part that would normally find its way into a bin or budget sausage. The marina area was stunning and gave great views over the city, I also managed to track down the local cricket club but struggled to convince them I was a member wearing shorts and flip flops....good to see crickets elitist nature lives on in the empire.

Time for the real fireworks and time for guy fawlkes to take note, this is how you really make things go with a bang. Me and my international entourage arrived with plenty of time to spare at the marina bay for the main show, only to find there not to be much to do and the best killer of all spare time beer, greatly overpriced. Either way the wait was worth it and the Singapore government blew up enough fireworks to send a Chinese satellite into space!

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Happy new year and I'll wish my self a happy birthday... One year older and still non the wiser, hopefully the year of the goat will be a good one!

Posted by stuhutchuk 02:17 Archived in Singapore Tagged singapore travel fireworks chinese newyear melaka Comments (2)

Thirsty Monkey

sunny 31 °C

Onto the next stop, a new country -Malaysia, a new city - Kuala Lumpur, a new host and a home straight out of grand designs.....and not the kind of one that is still a pile of breeze blocks, architect drawings and broken bank balances two years down the line! What a house and what a great host, my friends uncle Paul from Stockton near Newcastle. Another person for me to thank, not only for the place to stay but also for advice on where else to visit in Malaysia and Borneo....who better to ask than Paul as a published author on the history of the Malaysian peninsula. The days are counting down until I'm in a hostel and out of friends houses with their laundry services!

So onto the thirsty monkey theme. This has come about for two reasons....one the cheeky monkey that tried to steal my unopened bottle of drink right from my hands on a trip to Batu Caves on the outskirts of KL city - an interesting Hindu place of worship, with a massive golden statue outside (the worlds largest murugan one apparently), two large caves complete with Hindu temples and priests and plenty of monkeys which as ever for the western tourists stole the show rather than the surroundings (me too I have to add, I can watch these animals for hours, even if they aren't fully clothed enjoying a cup of pg tips).

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The second reason.....it's hot here and with my friend James who I am staying with and another old university friend from London we are planning to cycle through Vietnam. Time for some training and with it a new appreciation for the amount of liquid you need to take on when cycling for mile after mile through dense jungle - so the monkey in this case is me, with my slightly hairy appearance and my equal need for a nice cup of pg tips at the end of the day (having wished my mum a happy birthday by skype today the hairy chin may not last too long). We have so far done two rides, one cut short by a puncture, the other 48km in 30 degree plus heat, with a total of 900m in elevation for any cycling enthusiasts out there ( I'm surrounded at the moment, as a group of them are due to set off from Pauls family and friends to go across Borneo in the next week - including his 82 year old mum who is part of the support crew, in a car I should add...good effort!)

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Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city, with a distinct Indian feel. The choice of food is incredible and also unbelievably cheap, a perfect excuse opportunity to build up my fat reserves! I've taken in the major sights including the petronas towers, kl tower and have learnt more about bikes in the last few days than I thought possible... There was me thinking my cycling proficiency knowledge would get me across Vietnam!

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Tomorrow I'll set off for the southern part of the peninsula for a few days and then on to Chinese new year in Singapore, before rejoining the barmy Borneo cyclists somewhere in the wilderness...

Posted by stuhutchuk 17:05 Archived in Malaysia Tagged monkeys travel kuala caves malaysia backpacking lumpur batu Comments (0)

Hong Kong Baby!

overcast 15 °C

Three planes, two trains, two buses and plenty of airport terminal walking and I'm there.....Hong Kong. Now going by the title of the blog you might have expected a different first location...two points 1. You would be right, this was the plan....lesson learned, speak to your friend that lives in Hong Kong before you book a flight 2. Technically my first Asian stop was Bangkok, even if it was just a one hour bus trip across town and four hours wait at an airport.

Anyway a little bit on the last few days, starting with a huge thanks to Michael Moss and his German housemates for putting me up or putting up with me...you can ask them for their take on it. I managed to get the first injury of the trip, a finger wound obtained in a Berlin night club, nothing that a bit of toilet roll and some beer to numb the pain couldnt sort out...I blame one of the aforementioned housemates for buying a round of shots that were kept in a makeshift graveyard complete with headstone next to the bar, a Berlin tradition apparently, or just for gullible tourists. We also managed to not watch a game of football. Having headed to the outskirts of east Berlin to the Union Berlin Stadion we were greeted by an empty carpark, a locked gate and a stark realisation that this 'home' match was actually taking place over 2 hours away at a neutral ground...and to think we were worried that the game would be called off due to snow :)

I always look forward to a trip to Berlin, a very livable city and a chance to show off what's left of my GCSE Deutsch.... unsurprisingly the ability to describe the contents of my pencil case has yet to come in handy! Come on national curriculum, at least teach us how to order a schnitzel and the odd chat up line....I'll definitely be back later in the year though, hopefully when the sun is shining.

So onto Hong Kong, or the only way I can think to describe it London on speed.... you think London is manic then give this place a go, in fact the only thing that isn't 1 million miles an hour is the peoples walking pace, if the Olympics had a dordling event this lot would clean up! What a great city though, and I must thank my second host of the trip Sara for letting me stay. If its late night horse racing, sky scraper laser and music light shows and incredible food your after then this is the place. I've spent the last few days partaking in the above, as well as wondering around the city aimlessly in a slightly jetlagged state.

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I'm writing this blog on a bus having spent the day at an island outside of HK, famous for its cable cars, great views, fishing villages and now in my case being racially stereotyped by a small Chinese boy! Unless someone can translate what he said to something different, I'll assume his family were laughing for this reason. Didn't stop them wanting some photos though!

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One day left to go in HK then its on to Malaysia and Borneo....to be continued

Posted by stuhutchuk 02:48 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged travel berlin hong kong Comments (2)

The Bags Are Packed

snow -1 °C

The bags are packed.....and I've left the uk via my favourite airport Luton...aka the airport that had the cheapest fare to my first port of call Berlin!

A quick note on my pre trip preparations - having made a previous extended trip to Australia I was keen to learn from the prior mistakes of taking far too much stuff, so packing light was the order of the day. The only issue with this being the sub zero temparatures and snow that welcomed me to Berlin, far from ideal for someone carrying a bag full of swimming shorts and t-shirts!

Handbaggage All The Way

Handbaggage All The Way

Onto the first destination Berlin. Home of bratwust, good beer and my old mate Michael Moss who I travelled darkest Ukraine with back in 2012 and who has leant me half his wardrobe to survive these icy few days. Having had a few catch up beers and also meeting up with two other friends who were here on holiday (see picture further down) I've spent the day roaming the streets and taking in the sights including the Brandenburg gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag and the local kebab joint! The next few days promise a trip to watch Union Berlin fc and sampling a few more German beers and doubtlessly those kebabs that they do so well.

Catch Up Berlin Style

Catch Up Berlin Style

A wintery Brandenburg Gate

A wintery Brandenburg Gate

So its nearly time to bid farewall to Europe for the foreseeable future, bag on my back and a rough idea for the first few weeks and then after that see how it goes....until the next exciting installment!

Posted by stuhutchuk 18:26 Archived in Germany Tagged berlin Comments (0)

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