A Travellerspoint blog

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I love this city!


Hi guys,

So I have spent the last 6 days in the capital of Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur (KL). I’ve been staying in the nicest hostel I have ever been in! Proper 5 star hotel – we have a guard at the door who opens the door for us, a cinema, bar, courtyards the lots! Very posh indeed!! Even though the aircon seems to have given me a cold… it could be a lot worse I suppose!

So I arrived in the early evening of Thursday and met these two lovely girls from Birmingham/Wolverhampton called Laura and Rhiannon. They were kind enough to show me a good place for some food, and then we went to the rooftop bar of our hostel for a few drinks. I had my first glass of wine since I’ve been here, it was lush! The next day we went to Times Square, which is a huge shopping centre with its own theme park in it! There’s a rollercoaster there, how cool is that! We had a potter around and had a pedicure and foot scrub – my feet were in desperate need of some attention! When we went back to the hostel, we met another girl called Angie who used to live on the same street as Rhiannon and Laura! Small World! We went to the Sky Bar in the Trader hotel for a very expensive cocktail (mine was Lychee Rose… very nice!). The bar was gorgeous, with a big pool in the middle and a great view of the Petronas towers! We then tried to find somewhere to eat, but the taxi driver dropped us off in the wrong place. We found a yummy Indian place after a long walk, and then tried to find more bars but each person we asked gave us different directions! We ended up getting very lost and decided to go back to the hostel. We turned a corner and there the bars were! We had a bottle of wine; found directions to the hostel and after what seemed like a very hard night of walking finally made it back exhausted! The next day we didn’t really do much, just chilled at the hostel (it’s so nice it’s easy never to leave!) We went to the Chinese market in the evening where I bought 2 bags – a big Cath Kidston holdall (for all my purchases!) and another smaller one. And then I remembered I had sent another Cath Kidston Bag to Australia, so now I have 3! And a Cath Kidston purse! Maybe going a bit overboard there! Hehe.

After an early night me and Angie went to go meet Monserrat and Constanza, 2 girls I had met in Koh Tao when I did my PADI scuba diving course. We made our way to the Batu Caves. We had to climb 200 steps to them (!!!). The view from the top was awesome and the caves were huge! But there was loads of really cheap and tacky tourist stalls, even in the caves! That ruined it slightly. But there were also small temples inside and statues and LOADS of monkeys! One we saw even had a slice of marble cake! Yummy! After the caves, Angie and I went Merdeka Square, famous for when Malaysia became independent.. Or something like that! It was again quite strange because of the huge differences in styles of buildings there. There were huge skyscrapers, then old colonial buildings, and new build Islamic style and even mock Tudor! Bizarre! We had a walk around, found some lovely fountains, then a mosque that we decided to have a look around in… but we had to dress appropriately, so were given huge capes and scarves to cover ourselves! We were so hot and sweaty after only a couple of minutes, huge respect to the ladies that cover themselves all the time in this heat! We then headed to the Petronas towers, because you have to while you’re here! They were so big and so silver! That’s all I can really say about them, I don’t know how they keep them so clean! We then popped to the park opposite and soaked our feet in a public swimming area, where loads of kids were having a blast! Wish we had things like that back home, but I suppose we don’t have the weather for it! We then marched our way to the KL tower and went to the observation deck to soak in a 360degree view of the city, beautiful! We then got a free pony ride! Well, as it’s free! I was slightly disappointed when they only took us around the car park! One of the funniest and stupidest touristy things I have done on this trip! We then went back to the Petronas towers as there is a shopping centre underneath, but everything was way too expensive! They even had a Topshop and Marks & Spencer! But was more expensive than back home! Bummer :(

After a VERY long day we got back to the hostel and Laura and Rhiannon were there, so up to the hostel bar we go for some drinks. We were the only ones there most the night! Who knows where everyone had gone! But we got to choose the music from a very limited selection (I opted for Auld Lang Syne, but it was funny after the 5th play of it!)

So the next day we were all feeling pretty delicate, so again we didn’t do much! We ended up watching The Voice on You Tube, I’m obsessed! I have a slight soft spot of Will.i.am, Tom Jones is a legend, Danny doesn’t have a clue and Jessie J is slightly irritating, so you all know my opinion on the matter! We then felt like we had to leave the hostel once during the day, so we headed out to buy me a new iPod (mine got dropped in the sea!) and I bought a very cheap one! Score! We had a little something to eat then back to the hostel we went for an early night. This is the point when I realised my new cheap MP3 player was crap and didn’t work properly!

So first thing I did in the morning was return back to the same shop I bought my MP£ player to get it changes. No such luck. I tried looking for others everywhere and no such luck. I was also feeling pretty ill because the aircon seems to have given me a cold!  Bad morning! Then went to Times Square again to do some shopping (not as much as I was hoping but got myself a jumper! I am heading into winter after all!) And now my iPod seems to be working… apart from the fact it keeps muting itself… so hopefully in a few more days it’ll be perfect! Fingers crossed everyone!

I’m heading to Melaka in the morning and the girls have decided to join me which is awesome. I’ve really enjoyed my time in KL. There is a lot more I wish I had got the chance to do, but it’s also been really nice to chill out, and not be busy all the time! I now only have a couple more days in Asia until I head of to Australia and I’m starting to feel a bit sad! In a week or so I’m going have to find a job! BOOHOO! But Il be in New Zealand, so that will be awesome!!!

Until the next time,

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 07:47 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Perhentians Islands, Malaysia




To get to the paradise of the Perhentian Islands, Me, Ryan and Will got up at 5am (!!!) and had a 5 hour drive to get to the port. Then it was a half hour speed boat trip to the Islands, I was a little bit scared as I have never been on a speedboat, but it wasnt too bad!

We arrived on the small island (Kecil) and quickly got a room for the next couple of days. Then time to hit the beach! We chilled for the afternoon on Long Beach, and I couldnt wipe the smile off my face as the sea was so clear! This is what I call a beach! I also consumed my first Mars Bar Roti (The first of many!) Its the most amazing thing ever! A Roti ancake with a mars bar squished and melted in the middle. GOOOORRRRGEOUS!!!

The next morning I had signed up for a scubadive! The team at the dive place were really friendly and chatty, made me feel right at home! We went to a siite called Temple, unfortunatly the visability wasnt great and there was a current! I do not like currents... it was hard to swim right and you just keep getting dragged away! I survived though! After my dive i met up with the guys and we had some lunch, then got a water taxi to Turtle Beach on the big island. It was a deserted beach, just us! The sand was soft and white. The sea was turquiose and crystal clear!! It was like being in a swimming pool! Happy days! We all got a lttle sunburnt after spending about 2 hours in the sea! DOH! That evening we had some food and then some sisha on the beach. Then when it was midnight we toasted to my birthday! (and the guys' beards!)

The morning of my birthday arrived and I had another scuba dive! This time we went to a different site and i had one of my best dives! I really enjoyed it, the visibilty was better than the day before, i got my bouyancy perfectad was just swimming away (no current!) enjoying the nemo fish that seemed to be everywhere! My dive master Kim signed happy birthday to me underwater :) After my dive, I met the boys again for a birthday brunch! Mars bar roti it is!! We then went to another beach to do some snorkelling! I saw more nemo fish, a stingray and a turtle! Good times! In the evening we had somefood (and more mars bar roti!!) and then went for a few drinks on the beach. Dive master Kim was a star, and brought out the whole dive crew! I drank lots of Monkey Juice (a vanilla kind on rum i think...) got very merry and we had a good dance to some awful tunes! We were just all taking the mickey! then it started to rain so we were dancing on the beach in the rain! Loved it! A good night!

The next day was hangover day and we spent it on turtle beach again (speedboats + hangover = no good!) but unfortunatly it seemed liked everyone wanted to go to turtle beach on that day! it was still gorgeous and not a bad way to spend a day hungover!!

I had anamzing time for my birthday,thanks to Will and Ryan who are amazingly funny guys. They made it very special! Plus the setting helped :)

After an emotional farewell to the guys, I mad my way to the Cameron Highlands, which i hates! maybe because I had come from a goreous setting, but the hills were covered in rubbish and it wasnt very nice! So i left the next day and am now in Kuala Lumper! Shopping time!!

Lots of love,

Sophie xx

Posted by sophie.lee 22:55 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Penang, Malaysia

Food, jungle, earthquake and a water festival!


Hey guys,

Its new country time, and this time I’m in Malaysia! The journey down here took a massive 21 hours, and was one of the worst journeys ever! Well, I’m sure it could have been worse, but the night boat was awful!! It was literally this room filled with a long thin mattress on either side, and it fitted 50 people on each side! And I would have to sleep next to a freaky old Thai man who decided to sleep in just his underwear, so his big man boobs and belly was out… and then he kept creeping over into my space! I ended up getting quite violent and punching, smacking and kicking him each time to move him away! Ew I shudder just thinking about it! The aircon was on full blast and there were no covers, so I was freezing the whole night, had to wrap my pjs around my arms!

After the horrendous boat journey which I will never repeat again, we had a cramped mini bus take us to Hat Yai. There I waited a couple of hours for the next minivan to take me and the group over the border, but the reason for everything taking so long is because last week there was a car bomb in the city and they were having to check and double check the minivan to make sure there were no bombs on board! I told them to take all the time in the world because I defiantly did not want a bomb on board! We then embarked our bomb-free minivan and had a hassle free crossing over to Malaysia! The journey was so long, I was glad to get to Penang!

That evening I bumped into a girl that was on the same bus as me, so we went out to sample the delights of the cuisine in Penang! We walked through Little India which is full of shops selling saris and blingtastic jewellery. Loud Bollywood music plays out of some shops and there were loads of street stalls selling food! Yummy Indian food! Love it! We then went to a bar for a couple of drinks and met some nice locals who told us where to go and what to see!

The next day, I Vanessa (the girl from the bus) and a girl in my dorm called Deirdre had a walk around the old town of Georgetown. It’s a really nice area, near the sea with loads of old colonial style buildings and random art in places. You know how I love the random pieces of art! We decided to take the bus to Penang hill to see the amazing views! It’s either a train ride up there or a 3 hour trek… we took the train!! The views were beautiful and we had a walk around but there wasn’t much else to do there so we headed back down the hill (on the train!). When we got to the bus back, a guy was telling us about an earthquake that had just happened and it must have been while we were on the train down so we were very lucky the train didn’t crash or fall! WHAT!!!??? I thought h may have been winding us up, us being tourists and all!! Anyway, on our way back into the city, sure enough loads of people had come out onto the streets but there didn’t seem to be too much panic! Once I was back at the hostel, the ground started swaying like I was on a boat! It was so bizarre!! Sure enough, we were feeling the effects of an 8.6 earthquake that had occurred in Indonesia!! Tsunami alert came! Should have stayed on top of the hill!! But everyone seemed very calm, so we just went about our evening, back to meet the locals we had met the day before for some dinner. A few of my friend around Thailand had to be evacuated, but we didn’t and no tsunami came so it was all okay in the end! Hurrah! I survived my first earthquake. Good times!!

The next day, I and Dierdre went to the national park in Penang. We took a boat to see and turtle conservation (that consisted of two tubs with some baby turtles in them!) and some special type of lake, but the lake had nearly all but dried up… Slightly disappointing! The highlight was the 2 hour trek through the jungle back to the entrance of the park. I have NEVER been so sweaty in my entire life!!!! Sweat was dripping off my chin! I was drenched!! Didn’t really see much in the jungle apart from loads of ants… which I have seem to have developed a phobia of! But the area was pretty awesome to trek around in. It took us a while to get back on the bus (the bus had Wi-Fi! How cool is that?!) So I started watching The Voice UK online… I know how sad that it but you all know that if I was at home I would be obsessed!!! Ha-ha, love it! That evening we went to a food court with loads of food stands with very yummy food there was loads of people there, and there was karaoke as entertainment! On the way back, I bumped into Ryan and Will, two American guys who I had last saw in Hoi An in Vietnam! What a small world!

The next day Ryan, Will, Vanessa and I went in search of a Buddhist Burmese temple where they were celebrating the Thai and Burmese New Year! Songkran! It is basically this big water fight, symbolising cleansing and healing for the new year. After a long walk and getting the sun getting hotter by the minute we suddenly were in the midst of loads of people and traffic. As soon as we turned the corner, people with water bottle started throwing cold water on us, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” The hoses were out and sprayed all over us, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Some yellow paste was smeared on our face and talcum powder thrown on us, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” some spray that smelled very sweet was sprayed on us, “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” By the time we got into the temple we were drenched and we suddenly became superstars, everyone asking us for pictures! We were dancing away, getting even more water poured over us! Then we were held up for 15mins whilst people queued up to get their picture taken with us! I didn’t see and other western people there, so it was obviously quite a novelty for them! They were so friendly! There were kids with water guns, everyone was chucking water over each other and dancing! We decided to leave, but forgot that on the street outside there were more people ready to drench us! It was so much fun! I think we need to do that in England, have one big water fight!! So much fun!

So tomorrow I’m off to the Perhiantian Islands for a few days with Ryan and Will, looking forward to some paradise!

Loves yas!

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 08:18 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Koh Tao

Scuba Diving Meccah of the World!


Hello there folks,

So for the past week, I’ve kept myself busy on the island of koh tao. I decided I needed a “holiday” from all the exhausting travelling of Vietnam and Cambodia, plus I wanted to get started on scuba diving!

The journey from Bangkok to Koh Tao is long! 7 hours on a bus… then another 2 on a boat, which was going up and down like a yoyo so much to the point where nearly everyone was being sick! Every up and down of the boat got my stomach flipping! I put my iPod on and closed my eyes and wasn’t sick! Very proud of myself I was!
So I got to my diving resort and had to watch the dullest video to introduce us to the world of PADI! Met my course buddies too and then the next day I started the Open Water course. Our instructor, Jesper was very nice and very funny… and a ginger too!! Haha! We spent the morning in the class room, then the afternoon in the pool, getting used to all the gear and spending a lot of the time underwater doing exercises like taking the regulator our (the bit you breathe from!) and taking your mask off and putting it back on again all underwater!
The next morning was another classroom session then we headed out to see! This is where I got a little freaked out about going into the open water!! AHHHHH!!! Made a right fool out of myself, had a sob and everything! And then we reached our dive site and I saw how shallow it was! I jumped straight in; we descended onto the bottom to do some more exercises. All was fine! And then we went for a little fun dive, where u just swim around and see lots of fish! The first thing I do is bash my knee into some coral (fire coral as I later found out) and my knee starts stinging and burning! This I also where I found out you can cry underwater! After a while of feeling sorry for myself, I pulled myself together and carried on with the dive! When we got out, my knee was scrapped with loads of blisters! Boohoo! The pain only lasted the night and the next day I was fine! From the one I was proudly showing off my diving injury! Haha
The next two days consisted of more dives, each time going deeper, up to 18m! I was finally getting used to it all and really enjoying it! We ended up seeing so much stuff, including two turtles! They were huge!! I also went snorkelling on Shark Bay on one of the afternoons with a couple of girls from my course. We started to go quite far out to sea were I had another freak out and started crying! I had to then laugh at myself as there wasn’t much I could do about it! We then decided to swim nearer the shore, and that’s when we saw sharks! There were loads of them! Pretty cool, but terrifying at the same time! On the dive of our course, we had a camera man follow us around and film our dives. The end result is awesome, and I’m sending it home ASAP so mum and dad will have it!
I loved scuba diving so much; I enrolled on the advanced course. I had to do dives on navigation (learning to use a compass underwater and finding your way round). We were told to do a square then a triangle back to our instructor using the degrees on the compass… but I still ended up a way from the instructor! DOH! Then I and my diving buddy got to go off on our own… and we got lost! Haha we on a brave face and just started to follow some other divers around! We also had to do a deep dive of 30m! It felt just like the other dives we did, apart from you have to stay at 5m for a couple of minutes on your way up to avoid decompression sickness!! We ended up messing around on these stops, trying to blow bubble rings and somersaulting! I also got to do a night dive which was cool, but I do prefer diving in the day! You have a torch and have to stay quite close together! The best bit (for me) was we masked the light from the torch and waved our hands in the water a bit, and all the plankton and really tiny bits in the sea glowed! It was amazing! Made me feel like a proper kid! Brought a tear to my eye too – I never knew this happened! Amazing it really was!!
The two last dives that made up my advanced course was a wreck dive, so we got to dive around this wreck they had sunk especially for us divers to explore! There was loads of fish living in the nooks and crannies of the ship! The last one I did was about buoyancy control – so keeping yourself level in the water and going up and down just using your lungs… I thought I has mastered it… until the next day I did two fun dives and couldn’t descended into the water and couldn’t get my balance in the water! Embarrassing! Oh well... looks like IL have to do a bit more practise!! I was also gutted that on my two fun dives which I had picked because of the afternoon slot… I missed out on seeing a whale shark! In the morning dives there was a whale shark and they are amazing! The videoed it for another open water course and we all watched it in the bar that night, with everyone cheering and clapping after! It’s a big thing in the diving world to see a whale shark! Gutted I didn’t get to see it!!
So my last day in koh tao has consisted of me lying on the beach, reading my book, eating good food and having a massage! Lovely jubely! SO out of my weeks “holiday” I’ve only had one lazy day! Ready for the 20hour journey ahead of me to Malaysia? No! But I’m really looking forward to getting back on the backpacker map and seeing loads of cool new things!!

Love you lots, miss you more!

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 07:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


Bamboo Trains and Bats!



My last stop in Cambodia was the city of Battambang, supposedly the 2nd largest city in Cambodia... but im sure Siem Reap was way bigger! But who am I to argue? hehe. On the bus there I met a lovely women called Liz who was 60 and from Liverpool and has been travelling on her own for 6 months! How amazing is that?! We struck up a friendship and shared a room for the 2 nights we were there. The afternoon we arrived, we met a lovely tuktuk driver called Yada who took us to the bamboo train! It is the most hilarious thing ever! It is a carriage made out of bamboo that you sit on, and has some sort of engine on the back and takes you 13km to a villiage! It goes quite fast too!! There is only one track, so when carriages meet, the one with the lighter load is disembled to let the other one pass! brilliant! We got to the villiage and met loads of cheeky children who made us grass jewellry! Cute! The only bad thing was everyone was telling us to tip the driver... we were going to! It just annoying when they tell u to!

The next day I got up extra early and rented a bicycle to find the disused Pepsi bottle factory 1km away. Easy peasy! Well i must of been cycling for 45mins through numerous villages and was sure that 1km did not take that long to cycle! I was following the river and whilst going through the villiages little kids came running out nd waving at me. The scenery was gorgeous! Lucius green trees! Beautiful! Just what I wanted it to be! I finally found a bridge to get me to the other side of the river and headed back to Battambang. Passed some amazing temples, loads of weddings were going on and finally found the Pepsi bottle factory! Unfortunatly I couldnt go in and explre, so was a slght disappointment! But the cycling around more than made up for it! After getting slightly lost on the way back to the city (fret not! those cambodians are the nicest people i have ever met, and pointed me in the right direction!) I made it, had a cycle around until i realised it was nearly 12 - the hottest part of the day and I was starving! Went to a gorgeous, but overpriced cafe which helps disadvantaged youngsters in the city, so i didnt mind paying that little extra! I then headed back to the hotel for a shower and shade in the heat of the day!

Later in the afternoon I had arranged to meet Yada (the tuktuk driver) and he was going to take me around to see temples, and caves on his motorbike! He was such a sweetheart, asking me questions about my life and me too about his. He took me through a Muslim village, the "golden gate bridge" of Cambodia - a tiny blue suspension bridge which barely fits two motorbikes passing each other! We then headed out into the country, driving on the bumpiest roads, and then dirt tracks! Proper off the beaten track and I loved it! All you could see was plains of rice fields with a few mountains in the distance! We reached one of these mountains and I was told by Yada to make my way up the 358 step to the top!!! OH GOD!!! (or OOOHH BUDDHA!!! as they say in asia!) I made it anyway, as painful as it was and the view was lush! The temple was nice, but I was still reeling over the clim to proper appreciate it! My legs quivering, i made my way back down the steps, being careful not to trip!

Yada then took me to another hill/mountain where there was the killing cave. I met another driver Nakim, who drive me up the mountain and told me all about wht happened to the Cambodian people under the Khmer Rouge rule. There was an old temple that they had used as a prison. And then whilst walking down to the cave, there was banners of different coloured materials, which I later found out where remains of the clothes found in the cave. The cave was small, but you could clearly see the hole up above where people were thrown to their deaths, and the skulls and bones had been left there. Chilling. I shed a few tears... It was less explained than the killing fields in Phnom Penh but just as powerful.

Nakim then took me up to the top of the mountain to a gorgeus view pint and all you could see for miles was rice paddies and fields! As it was the dry season, most of them were yellow but a few were green where they had a water irrigation system in place. We stayed up there for about an hour, with Nakim telling me the stories behind the different mountains (Crocodile mountain and Sailing boat Mountain) and then the Khmer Rouge and finally about himself. He told me he was born just after the Khmer Rouge fell, but wasnt able to go to school till he was 11 as they had killed all the teachers so it took a long time to set up the school system again. He said all of his friends did not go to school, as they were embarrased about starting school at 11 with 5 year old kids. He finished high school at 23. He wants to go to university but cant afford to. He hopes he one day will be able to. We headed back down to Yada, who told me of his plight. He is at university studing marketing, but can only afford to go on Satrdays and Sundays because he has to work monday to friday to fund not only university, but his family and himself. There is no support like loans or grants. Yada told me that he had gone to work in Thailand and saves $5000 but on his return to Cambodia had to give most of that to his parents so they could feed his 9 siblings. Through everything though both men had a smile on their face. They are happy to tell their story and dont want any pity. They are hopeful about the future for themselves and their country. They told me that all the good jobs in the cities are taken by Chinese because a whole generation of educated people were slaughtered under the Khmer Rouge and now they have no one able to do those jobs, but hopefully in a few years this will start to change and I really hope it does.

After these insightful talks, we headed down the road to a cave and waited for 15mins until suddenly millions and millions of bats started flying out! There were so many and they were so fast! They kept flying out for half and hour! We moved to a further away round and saw the bats following each other to Tonsle Lake, making it looks like a massive snake in the sky! Ive never seen anything like it! Amazing! But you had to make sure they wernt flying right above you, or it felt like it was raining on you! Raining bat poo!! haha

That evening I met up with Emma, Charlotte and Veronica who had arrived that day and we went out for a goodbye meals, and put the world to rights with our talk of politics and history! Oh i do love it when that happens! The next day I had to get up very early for the bus to Bangkok. My time in Cambodia had come to and end, and I was actually quite sad about it! It has been my favorite country so far, the people are just awe-inspring, especially after their tragic history. Everyone needs to visit Cambodia, it will change your life!!

The journey to Bangkok was uneventful. In no mans land inbetween Thailand and Cambodai there were loads of casinos which I thought was very strange! The bus from the border to Bangko could not be any more uncomfortable if we had tried, 12 of us squished together in a tiny van which no where to put our bags but on our laps, and no aircon. The only saving grace was the driver was driving like a complete maniac, so we got to Bangkok in 3 and half hours, instead of 5.

That evening I met up with Livia (who i met in Chiang mai, Pai and Siem Reap) and Flin (who I had travelling with for 2 weeks in Thailand) Flin was leaving that night soI only saw her for about an hour, but it is amazing how you keep meeting the same people wherever u may go! I then met a few people I had met in Vietnam and Cmbodia and we went to the cinema. A very posh cinema aswell! Before every film they play the national anthem with videos of the king and you have to stand up whilst this is playing! We found this all very funny but tried out very upmost to be respectful! Can you imagine that happening in England? Thought not!

So now Im in Koh Tao, and IM starting my Scuba Diving course tomorrow. Had the most horrendous boat journey here, every second the boat went up and down and my stomach was flipping like I was on a rollarcoaster! Nearly everyone was being sick! I wasnt though, I hadnt eaten anything all day so i was fine! Haha! But I arrived in Koh Tao to realise that I left my passport in Bangkok! DOH! Nevermind, a guy who is staying at the same hostel is coming to Koh Tao tomorrow so hes bringing it for me! Backpackers hey, we are a nice little crew!

Wish me luck with my PADI course, wish those sharks away!

Lots of love,

Soph xx

Posted by sophie.lee 07:54 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

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