*) BTA = Before The Accident
We never got around to writing about our experience in the Perhantian Islands. I think we got so relaxed being there that we were just putting off writing the post. Actually, I had a draft half written up, but was all like “mañana, mañana”… Island time!
It certainly was a very relaxing experience, even though we had a major project to complete while we were there: Getting our Open Water Diving certification. It was a significant step for our trip as that would set us up for diving throughout the remainder of the trip. I have to admit, although we were both really excited about learning this new skill, I was a little nervous about the whole thing, especially since I’m not as good a swimmer as Matt. Turns out that wasn’t a major issue, as you always swim with fins and the pace is really relaxed.
I did struggle a little with the whole concept of breathing under water. My body (or should I say mind? It’s all in the head!) didn’t really take to it too easily, but under the extremely capable and reliable help of our fabulous instructor, Henrik, I learnt to relax and feel comfortable diving faster than I’d ever imagined. Matt took to it very easily, and loved the whole experience. We were both very proud when we had our SSI certificates in hand and felt we’d achieved a really big goal. By the time we had had our first two dives as certified divers on the Saturday after completing the course, we were both completely hooked, and I had a fantastic time on both dives. We even got to dive into a wreck, which is an unusual experience for beginners who are only allowed down to 18 meters (till they’ve gained more experience), and most wrecks are found much deeper than that. The wreck, called Sugar Wreck, is located on exactly 18 meters and it was such an amazing experience to swim along within reach of all the fish living off, around and inside of the ship lying there on its side. I think we can safely say we’ve found a new hobby to last us a lifetime, and empty our pockets… We had an awesome time, and we are really grateful for having such a great experience with the knowledgeable crew at Alu Alu Divers.
Although the diving and snorkeling is the main reason for coming to the Perhentians, there were some beautiful sights and landbased animals to see as well. We were sad we missed the infamous monitor lizard, but we had a great view of some beautiful little creatures just by our second accommodation.
While we were diving, we had lovely accommodation at the Bayu Lodge, thanks to a great online diving package which got us food and ferry transport as well. The chalets were absolutely gorgeous
Unfortunately, as the weekend approached, we had to find new accommodation as we wanted to stay on for two more days. We were a bit above our budget at Bayu, so we stepped down to the right level and found cheaper lodgings down the beach at Everfresh. Although it was fine and had the double bed and private bathroom we hoped for, I wouldn’t say Everfresh is the best name for the place… We had been spoilt with aircon at Bayu, so the fan room was a bit of a challenge – especially when we both got upset tummies on the last night.
We loved our week in the Perhentian – like everyone else we’ve spoken to that’s ever been. All this despite the rough end to our island adventure. Our favourite place in Malaysia – which I know doesn’t say much given our short time there. It was a fantastic place to learn to dive, and now we’re just so keen to get going again and see more underwater wonders.
We made it home! After five flights and a four hour drive thrown in for good measure, we landed at Harstad/Narvik Lufthavn Evenes (that’s the slightly schizophrenic name of the airport closest to my hometown). Since arriving, we’ve been pampered, fed and spoilt rotten by Mamma & Pappa & Soester Steiro. It’s been good for the body and the soul!
So our days have been really quiet and we’ve been resting up. We’ve seen the doctor and all is well in that department. We’ve taken walks and tried to keep ourselves busy. But inevitably, the talk of what to do next had to come up. We’ve left our jobs and had the time set aside for the trip anyway, and didn’t really feel like getting back to reality yet, even though that was taken into serious consideration. After a bit of deliberation, we booked another trip the other day. We needed to get back in the saddle!
We are leaving Oslo for Bangkok on the 4 October with a return on 7 December, which gives us about nine week’s worth of travel. It’s a shame that we’ve been forced to cut about a month and a half of travel from our original plan, but we’ve come to accept that as part of the whole experience we’ve been through. We’ve had to prioritise and have chosen to focus on Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos this time. Unfortunately we’ll have to give Indonesia a miss (as well as our Euro adventure in Amsterdam/Brussels and revisiting Malaysia and Singapore), which is such a bummer, but one day we’ll take the time out to experience the places we missed out on this time. Looking at the amount of time left in combination with the geographical/financial constraints, it seemed like the sensible thing to do. We can’t wait to explore the Thai beaches and culture, the Angkor temples in Cambodia, the coastline and more in Vietnam and the jungle and elephants in Laos – and so much more.
Unfortunately there won’t be any good length European stopover this time (just enough to catch the next flight) , but we’ll catch up with you guys some time next year (you know who you are).
The departure date gives us a generous amount of time to get well and for my collarbone to heal completely. It also means we have about a month and a bit to spend in the tender loving care of the Steiro side of the family, which will be lovely. We want to make sure it’s time well spent, catching up with family, friends and the regional sights. It’ll be a great chance for Matt to get to know the place and pick up more of the language – something he is already doing to great success! We have had a nice weekend visiting a market outside of town and today Matt & Pappa are at a motor cross race… We’ve already planned a few activities and trips over the next few weeks – watch this space and our photo gallery for updates. Some great adventures are up ahead!
Tonight was our last night in South East Asia, and it came a lot faster than planned. A lot has happened since the terrible last post that Matt had to write on Monday almost a week ago, and at the same time we feel like time’s been moving terribly slowly. Everything is at a snail’s pace at the moment, but at least we are doing fine and are moving forward.
I’m sure everyone’s hear enough about the accident itself, so I won’t bore you with the details. I was discharged from the hospital in the late afternoon on Tuesday, and was taken to a comfortable hotel by my fantastic husband who had been taking such good care of everything while I was indisposed. We stayed put in Kuala Terengganu for a few nights while sorting out our travels home and trying to get some rest. It was a bit of a puzzle (I guess that’s what you get for organising all your own flights through different channels), and a few of the challenges were enough to make me want to tear my hair out, but at least now we are on our way. We made it to Singapore on Friday afternoon after two Air Asia flights and a few hours in KL airport. A bit sad that that’s all we’ve seen of Malaysia’s west coast… Singapore has been lovely, and even with being sore and hurt we’ve managed to enjoy it. A bit of luxury at the hotel as well as being very close to Chinatown have given us a bit of extra energy for the long haul tomorrow.
We are flying from Singapore around 1 pm and will be landing in Frankfurt in the evening. SAS were unable to get us tickets from Frankfurt instead of Brussels , so we’re going to get in a car and make our way across the border and into the open arms of our amazing friends J&J. Two more flights, and we’ll be within reach of home cooked meals and the care only family can give.
Thank you so much for all the messages and concern, we really, truly feel the love. Rest assured that we are feeling better, not a small part due to all the warmth sent our way from friends and family all over.
We’ll be back!
Tina and I got hit by a speed boat while taking a smaller boat to the jetty on Perhentian Kechil. Tina broke her collar bone and was knocked out and nearly drowned, she had a lung full of sea water when she came to the surface. I was hit directly by the boat, this bruised my back and pelvis and caused some internal bruising.
We are very lucky to be able to walk away from this, it could have been much worse.
We are ending this trip and going directly to Norway as soon as we can. We will rest our broken and battered bodies for a month or so then decide what to do next.
Tina and I are fine, just a bit sore.
Just a warning: This post is a bit long…
We left Singapore early on Thursday morning and headed into the second country on our itinerary: Malaysia. There was a noticeable difference rightaway as we went into rural areas and jungle. How fantastic! We had been looking forward to the Jungle Track for ages, and were so pleased. Matt made a (very talkative) friend from one of the towns along the track, who told us that most of the palm trees were palm oil plantations, which kind of made it a little less cool.
Close to our train stop we spoke to a couple in our carriage, who we had noticed already on departing Singapore, and it turned out that they were going the same way as us. Alma and Dave from Holland were on a three week trip around Malaysia and Singapore, and were just as keen to get into the rain forest as we were. Getting off the train in Jerantut we could get to Taman Negara, the world’s oldest rain forest. The train arrived at the station around 1 pm, a little later than scheduled, and we were discussing how to get to Tembeling Jetty for an interesting, intrepid boat journey up river to the Kualan Tahan, the main village – which we preferred over taking the bus. There was no need to worry – a taxi driver was waiting at the station offering to take us for RM20. All four of us jumped in, introducing ourselves to our travel companions and only just made it to the jetty. Turned out we weren’t the only ones with the same idea – the place was swarming with tourists. We were told initially that it was fully booked, but by some form of Malaysian magic, one of the tour operators managed to get us on board. What followed was a beautifully scenic ride up river, where we saw otters, monkeys and a few different kinds of birds.
However, a while into the trip though we started seeing a lot of rubbish and waste floating on the river, and were a little disappointed. Seems like the term eco travel is used more loosely here. On reaching the village, we soon realised we were on the “wrong” side of the river – the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort on the side of the National Park looked lovely, but the village side was a bit dirty and messy. Oh well, we thought, we’ll have a look around and hope for the best. Unfortunately, all those tourists we saw in Tembeling had to go somewhere, and most of the places were fully booked. We managed to get two dorm beds cheaply, and it was fine, but after Singapore I think we got a little shell shocked. Alma and Dave opted for a bit more luxury, but by the sound of it they paid a lot extra for a little more privacy and that was all.
Now, this sounds really negative, but I really think our disappointment was related to it being different from what we expected. Also, we weren’t really ready for the “wild”. Hopefully, we’ll harden up a little in time for Indonesia in a few weeks.
And of course, exploring the rain forest was awesome! We went across with Alma and Dave after a yummy breakfast in one of the floating restaurants, and hiked up to the canopy walkway. Such a cool experience and the only problem was (as with everything cool!) that it ended too soon.
After the canopy walkway, we decided to climb higher for a better view. In the heat, we weren’t really up for anything too strenuous and only did the small touristy climb up Bukit Teresek. We were absolutely soaked in sweat in the end and in need of food and drink so straight to the floating restaurant for lunch!
Matt and I had decided to pike and head back to Jerantut to regroup and plan our next move, so we relaxed on the hot deck of Rippi’s Hostel, where we’d stayed, for the rest of the afternoon. The bus arranged by NKS (a local tour company organising a variety of trips in the area) left at 7.30 pm, and we got to Jerantut around 9 am. We are very pleased we decided against the local bus – aircon was very welcome after the heat on Rippi’s porch. And Hotel Sri Emas (linked with NKS) provided us with a lovely room with aircon quite cheaply.
After a powow in the morning today, we decided to have a quiet day here and enjoy the lovely, friendly people and plan a bit ahead. Seems like the busy season here means fully booked most places, and lots of Europeans, especially Dutch people, are spending their summer holidays here. So we’ll need to make sure we have accommodation when we arrive somewhere. Back in Jerantut, we’ve been enjoying the generosity of our hosts NKS. We have now become permanent fixtures in the reception of Sri Emas and have made excellent use of their fast internet connection; made Skype calls to Norway and New Zealand, uploaded lots and lots of photos, booked future accommodation (Perhentian Islands here we come!) and researched the weeks to come. During these hours we have made friends with the receptionist as well as other staff members – and are leaving smiling and with a bag of gifted mangosteens.
From here we are taking the night train which leaves Jerantut at 2 am, hoping to reach Kota Bharu around 10 am tomorrow. We’ll slowly make our way down to Kuala Besut and spend the night, and Monday will take us across to our little splurge: four days in the Perhentian Islands taking our PADI licences. Hooray!
Another two days have flown by and we’re in love with Singapore. There is so much to do and see, and three days is nowhere near long enough. Luckily we’ll be back in December when we’re flying to Europe, so we have something to look forward to.
Yesterday was spent at the Singapore Zoo, and it was awesome! The animals seemed really happy and well looked after, and we thoroughly enjoyed two of the three shows offered there. The outing ended with a visit to the fish spa, which especially Matt loved – and the fish loved him too…
We also managed to squeeze in some edumacation today – hours well spent in the Asian Civilisation Museum in the capable hands of their volunteer guide. We learnt about some of the reasons why South East Asia is so multicultural, and how the region has been influenced by the seasons, trade, religions etc. A really good taster which prepared us for the countries we’ll be visiting over the next four months. Our second museum, the Peranakan Museum, was visually stunning, but contentwise not as interesting as ACM. Or maybe we were just over all the information…
We are leaving Singapore in the early hours tomorrow morning, taking a train across the causeway to Malaysia. We’re heading for the Taman Negara National Park for a bit of jungle action.
Edit to add: due to lack of planning on my part, I had no more power on the laptop and thus is posting this just before leaving the hostel. Photos to come later.
See you later Singapore!
Singapore! You beautie! Not only for being such a cool place, but on a more personal level it means the start of our journey and all our exciting plans.
This is our second morning in Singapore, and we spent our first day here well. We had so much fun exploring the city and finding nice food to eat, after we got over the initial unreal feeling and started taking in the fact that we are travelling. We wandered the streets, took the bus, saw a park, did some electronics shopping and tried out our bartering skills (mainly Matt actually) – and on the way took heaps of photos. Photos of our first day in Singapore are here (apologies for delays).
Our hostel is great. We’re currently browsing on fast, wireless FREE internet after a simple but lovely breakfast. We have our own room with a DVD/TV plus (and I cannot stress how important this is for us rookies) AIR CONDITIONING. The building we’re in is really quiet and we slept so well, the staff is friendly and helpful, and not at all pushy to make us book this and that. I’d recommend The Inn Crowd to anyone!
So what does lovely Singapore offer today? We are heading to the Zoo! I’m sure there’ll be just as many if not more photos in the gallery after this outing…
We’ve been spreading the word of joy (i.e. “read our blog!”) during our last few weeks in NZ, but haven’t been that good at updating it. The reason is simple: no time! There was so much to do and so many little things to take care of, but most of all, we wanted to make the most of the time left and ensure we managed to meet as many of our friends and family as often as possible. And that goal was just partly achieved. Sorry to the ones we missed and the ones we were rushed when seeing – we would have loved to see you and spend more time with you. But isn’t that always the case?
So even though we really wanted to document our last frantic preparations for posterity, we failed miserably and we’re sorry. Rest assured that we aim to change that over the next few months and keep you informed about our ventures through unknown lands.
Take care and love to you all.
We are writing this from the dining room table at Matt’s parents’, after a lovely dinner and some much needed down time. Another point ticked of the list since the last post: Departure from Huntly Ave, Grafton. A bit sad really, but necessary – obviously. Friday became quite the stressful day, with trademe sales/pickups, car being sold and paid for (a major plus), shipments for Norway with our most important earthly belongings and the final move from our humble abode for the last two and a half years. We are still a bit shellshocked. Add to that a bit of work on the side at the weekend and you have one set of tired Keirostellys. Needless to say we are very much looking forward to our week in Rarotonga starting this Friday.
Turns out we don’t need to! The InnCrowd Hostel to the rescue! We randomly came across their site while searching for the location of a different hostel on Google Maps, and it looks just spot on.
We even have a private room and get some time to ourselves to have some time to digest the craziness of Asia which everyone’s been telling us about. The facilities seem great, as well as the surrounding area. The website has been a great help while planning how to spend our time in the city too. Just read this and get jealous!!!
You can tell we’re excited about our departure since we’re even posting about this minor piece of news! Does anyone have any must-see Singapore hints to share?