Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. All in a few days work.
19.03.2012 - 25.03.2012 32 °C
We have a 60 day Indonesian Visa- gold dust for a country that takes so much time to travel around. We got it from London with much form filling. The only problem is that we must be in the country by March 25th or it expires. We need to get to Indonesia.
Our epic journey started modestly at little HeHo airport. Gateway to Inle lake. We waited with the Burmese and tourists as double prop planes from various random companies you have never heard of, fly in and out at regular intervals only stopping long enough to shut one engine down, bustle everyone in with their bags and swing out again. There was quite a commotion at the airport this morning as some dignitary was arriving. There were many groups in traditional dress being marshalled around the runway with traditional dancers doing their thing. We never worked out who the dignitary was as we only saw a head bob by and no one was quite sure who he was. We boarded our plane (I like walking across a runway to board a plane, makes it feels a bit more real) and then headed into the sky with the ground crew all waving at our plane (seriously!).
Traditional dress at HeHo airport.
Arriving safely back in Rangon we headed back to Mother Land 2 and collapsed. We did try and find a local restaurant for dinner but none really looked sanitary enough and we ran away back to the hostel for our final night in Burma.
The next morning we were up early again to get the 06:30am fun bus to the airport and the salvation of an Air Asia flight to Bangkok. An uneventful flight deposited us back at Bangkok airport and we were soon making our way to Hualaphong train station again to get the afternoon train to Butterworth, Malaysia. A simple 24hour hop! But before we boarded we got some long missed yummy food. Lynne almost cried at the flavours of her chicken noodles and I am sure she actually did cry when she ate her chocolate donut!
Mother Land 2.
Mother Land fun bus.
Happy with Dunkin!
The train journey down through southern Thailand was beautiful. A comfy seat watching the ever present SE Asia limestone karsts rising up through bright green paddy fields. It was lovely to see the tropical lushness of southern Thailand after the more barren northern SE Asia of Burma and Laos in the dry season. We continued our feeding with a delicious set meal on the train.
View from train of Southern Thailand.
Train set meal.
After a reasonable nights sleep on the train we arrived at the Malaysian border mid morning. We were a bit disappointed to find the train stopped there due to railway works and we were ushered on to a bus to Butterworth. The bus took a lot longer than expected and by the time we got to Butterworth, then the ferry to Panang and another bus into Georgetown we had been travelling for nearly 30 hours. However we found a nice clean pad in Chinatown which was willing to do our Burmese laundry (very brave).
Georgetown. UNESCO number 6! And what a great little place it is! Sitting where it does it was an important base for the Birtish Empire and preceeded Malakka and Singapore. Rows of trading houses from centuries of commerce line the narrow roads of Georgetown. Smattered around these are some well laid out Colonial gems. But the absolute best thing is of course the world famous Penang food. Chinese, Indian, Malay and every fusion possible from those three all sold from clean, cheap food vendors. On our first night we ate an amazing bowl of chinese noodles with pork and vegetables for a dollar. Then had dinner number two an hour later of chicken Biryinai and mango lassi. Truly some happy Woolleys!
We spent the next morning exploring the town some more before getting the bus out of there along the coast to the beach resort on the north coast of Panang. We got a good deal at the Holiday Inn beach resort and settled in for some serious nothing, and eating. First night was Lebanese BBQ meats, salads, flat breads and lemon, mint juice. The next night was the Panang style food court where I tried to eat my body weight in garlic and chilli prawns. I almost succeeded. The beach resorts were very popular with Arabs and there were some surreal sights, for me at least, of men in swimming shorts walking beside their wives in full hijab and sunglasses. At dusk it seemed very popular for these dichotomies of clothing to go paragliding and I saw many being whisked up into the sky by the speedboats. The world is truly a diverse place.
Giant prawns. Yum.
After 2 days off and not quite enough rest we were travelling again. A bus back to George town and then a bus to central Kuala Lumpar. KL is a mirror of the mainland peninsular Malaysia we have seen on our short travel through. Modern, organised, generally clean with great food. The melting pot of Malaysian ethnic groups is a joy to travel though.
Bus to KL- massive seats.
We found another pad in another Chinatown and explored a few sights of KL including KL town and the Petronas towers. We escaped the midday heat (which combined with its mega humidity is pretty uncomfortable) and went to see a lunch time showing of the Hunger Games. I admit to being a little disappointed. I love that genre of film:, distopian battle for your life Sci-Fi, but it falls well short of both Battle Royale and even the Running Man. Still a decent way to get out of the midday sun and see some of Malaysia consumer monstrosities. The modern day cathedrals that are shopping malls.
Dim Sum in China town- yummy!
KL Tower its big!
Lynne was impressed.
Night market in Little India.
F1 was in town for the GP.
The next morning and we are up at 04:30 to get the bus to KL low cost airport and get an Air Asia flight to Balikpapan in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Over 4000km in less than week. Let the Organ Utan search begin.