Monday, July 05, 2010
Our trip so far - England to Kota Kinablau
18 June: depart heathrow 12:05
19 June: arrive Singapore Studio M hotel around 9am. Go up to room, sleep till 2pm. Shop around for a backpack for me. Drinks at chijmes. Dinner @ sushi accross from Clarke Quay
20 June: Day in Singapore. Pack up our stuff and go to storage place but oops it's closed. Lunch at Maxwell food place. Dinner @ Clarke Quay mega expensive and puts Pete in a foul mood cause he feels ripped off. (3 beers and a shishe pipe cost S$68 so fair enough for feeling ripped off)
21 June (Monday): Day in Singapore. Take our stuff to storage. Go to buy ferry tickets but forgot passports so had to come back. Dinner in Chinatown.
22 June: Check out and up early for a 7:50 ferry to Sumatra. There's only a 15 minute connection between the boat from Singapore and the ferry to Sumatra and we missed it. It was supposed to be a larger boat with a bit of room to move about and get air. so we are told that there's another ferry we can take thats 4 hours followed by a 5 hour bus ride all on the same ticket. Seems fair enough but we wind up on a much smaller ferry with 100 Indonesians crammed in 80 seats inside the boat for a 6 hours in a stfling hot airless cabin. Ouch. The last few hours on the boat were bearable as lots of people got off at the first stop and it was way less packed. So we had more room and could move outside to ride on top for a while. It was still mainly a boat ride from hell. AND this 6 hour boat was followed by an 8.5 hour bus ride where at the transition point, we are the town curiosity. Don't know if these Indonesians rarely see white people or some other reason why we were so fascinating but they all wanted our picture and crowded around us with camera phones. One cop even came to the bus depot where we waited for the bus to get his picture taken with pete. We asked at the bus depot when the bus was coming, the guy just held up 5 fingers. 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 o'clock? The bus ride wound up to be 9 hours in a minivan and we arrived in Pekanbaru at 1:30am. The hotel i had booked with gave away our room but there was one across the street that took us. Painful! So we were told 4 hour boat + 5 hour bus all included in the ticket but instead got a 6 hour unpleasant boat + 8.5 hour minivan that wasn't included. And the hotel lied to us about keeping a room for us. So far after 1 day in Indonesia, I feel ripped off, lied to and completely put off the country.
23 June: Try to get out of Pekanbaru - there is really nothing there. First we hit a travel agency who tell us that there are no flights to Padang and that all the flights to Jakarta are full. So we go to the bus station to find no buses until 7pm. We dont want to wait in the heat that long. We hire a guy to drive us to Padang but when the car arrives, its a 4x4 with a 3rd bench so we'd be in super cramped seats for hours with no AC in 40 degree heat. No way. So we get out of the car and think wed rather take a proper coach on the overnight trip to Padang than sit in that cramped thing for hours. Then I have a revelation. Let's go to the aiport and roll the dice on a flight to Jakarta since we've got nothing to lose since we can't fly to Padang anyway. So we head to the airport and we can get 2 business class flights on Garuda to Jakarta but no third seat. We tell them that we'll buy the seats if they can get us another seat. I guarantee we bumped someone from their economy seat so they could sell the other 2 more expensive seats. So long Sumatra, you difficult sonofabitch. We are off to Java so we can climb Krakatoa. Arrive in Jakarta and get a taxi. The driver wants to know why we'd go into jakarta just to drive out again. So he offers to drive us straight to Carita where we can get the Krakatoa tour. He also quotes us a price lower than any we'd been quoted to get there. An honest man in indonesia? Amazing! He even helps us find a beach bungalow to stay in when we get there. Beach is nice with white sand. Aso is a super nice guy that helped us out. But we get ripped off again later that night at dinner. Our bill is 210k (£18) for a few nasi and mee gorengs. We were taken for 4 times the price we should have paid. Indonesia is doing my head in.
24 June: in the morning i work out that we're not properly in Carita but in the beachy bit called Anyer. About 1/2 hour away. We want to get closer to Carita so move to Sunset View hotel (which you can't see the sunset from!) for Krakatoa tour. Beach in Carita is busy and filthy. The tour company try to rip us off but the tour price goes from 4M to 2.5M for three of us. (£292 to £183) Pete has to get a moped pillion ride to Lubuan to go to ATM as the tour is cash only. The funny thing is that it's torrential rain. He says it was a dodgy ride but I know he thought it was good fun. Found some cheap dinner and the hotel brought beer in for us.
25 June: Krakatau tour. Boat to island only takes 1.5 hours. Volcano is amazing. Steaming and hot and we get to climb all over it. Pete wanted to go to the top and the tour guys wouldn't have stopped him. Then we go to a
black sandy beach but it's filthy with garbage. Snorkling ok but garbage in the water. Indonesians just don't care about the garbage situation. It's everywhere and they just chuck plastic wrappers and bottles out of cars, boats and in their backyards. I just don't get it. We have another dinner in Carita at our new favourite hawker. We are paying 24k for dinner now. (£2)
26 June: Get woken up at 6am by Aso to take us back to Jakarta so we can fly to Kota Kinabalu. In hindsight, we could have stayed in Indonesia longer if we stayed near the beach in Anyer and used the little silver buses we could have enjoyed cheap food and beaches. i think we were really traumatised by our first 2 days of travel in Indonesia. Oh well! Off to Kota Kinabalu. It's immediately better! KK is a bit of a tourist town and much easier to manage. At around 11pm we go out for dinner. We SMS a dive company to see if we can dive in the morning from the Texas restaurant as they have internet and computers at the tables. Staying at Summer House backpackers.
27 June: The dive place phones us back at 6;45 and we can go diving! Great day, good lunch, met some good people. We're doing it again tomorrow.
28 June: More diving in KK. Another good day. After, we head out to book our next moves and go to the seafood market on the waterfront in KK. Fantastic dinner with a whole grilled squid, a whole grilled fish and a couple of plates of noodles. A total feast that comes to the equivalent of £11. Met a cool retired couple at our backpackers that are from Sydney and travelling the world for 5 years. They've highly recommended we check out Kuching and Bako Park as well as Sri Lanka for a future trip. They also recommended a floating hostel called Singamata that we're putting on the list.
June 29 - July 4: I booked www.Manana-Borneo.com for 5 days. A bit of a leap of faith, their website looked good and it got some great write ups on the Lonely Planet website. It's cheap, on a private beach and we get our own bungalows. Perfect. Yam picks us up at 10:30 for the ride there, we stop at a market to get some fruit and we're at the 'resort' by 12:30 or so. It couldn't be more chilled. No phone, no tv, no Internet. 5 days of quiet and beach. We've had perfect beach weather coupled with stormy days where it's still 30+ degrees with amazing electrical storms and insane rain. At least we could watch with a beer in hand from our hammocks. The mornings are so calm and the sea is so flat you can't tell where the ocean ends and sky starts. The butterflys are huge and beautiful plus there are so many of them! A leaf fell on our table at breakfast and it turned out to be a giant moth. Amazing! In the 5 days we've been here weve seen kingfishers at the beach, loads of huge butterflys that make monarchs look small and ordinary and macaque monkeys in the trees right behind our bungalow. The snorkling is good too where we saw butterfly fish, anemone fish, nudibranches, gobies, brittlestars and an octopus among others. Bit of a worry when pete and i both spotted a box jellyfish at the beach. (How long has it been there?! We've been in and out of the water. Scary. ) It's been a bit of a struggle with Joseph and hygeine. He's just not grasping keeping things from getting swampy in the tropics. But we are all getting along well on our deserted island with cards, pool table, beach and snorkling. Food has been good considering its basically cooked in a camp kitchen - but the Bbq dinner was terrible with blackened meat and oily sides. We were a little worried theyd run out of beer but they never did. It's been a super chill 5 days at our own private beach.
July 4: Back in KK by 2pm. Pick up some deet and cold medication as I've picked up a stupid cold. Found a place to get a 45RM pedicure. Booked a few things at Texas then went for sushi. I'm going to bed early! We have to wake up early and I'm feeling a bit ugh.