Tuesday, May 24, 2011

KC going from KL to KB and back again

Kuala Lumpur, Cameron Highlands, Perhentian Islands, Kota Bharu, MALAYSIA: 11 - 23 May 2011

After three months of "easy travelling" in New Zealand and Australia, I flew from Perth to Kuala Lumpur to start nearly three months of travelling in countries I classify as "countries where you always need to carry your own supply of toilet paper".

I spent three sweaty days in bustling KL, which included going up the Petronas Towers (formally the world's tallest) and walking around the world's largest bird cage or, as those at the KL Bird Park say, the "World's Largest Free-flight Walk-in Aviary".
After the humidity of KL, my three day stay in the cool Cameron Highlands was very welcome. There I visited tea plantations and did some day treks. On one of those walks, after walking for about three hours on my own without seeing another soul, I came across a group of monkeys leaping from one tree to another up in the canopy. Standing in a Malaysian forest by myself watching monkeys, I felt a million miles from home. At that moment I heard the school bells ringing from the nearest village. The bells had the exact same tone as the bells in my old secondary school. Listening to my old school bells while looking at Malaysian monkeys was a surreal juxtaposition.

From the highlands I hit for the coast. My five days on the Perhentian Islands were filled with reading and snorkelling, a perfect combination, especially when the snorkelling involved swimming with reef sharks and turtles.
Then I had two days in Kota Bharu where, after being in the relatively quite expensive Australia the week before, I appreciated the great street food where lovely meals cost a euro. Then it was back down to Kuala Lumpur for my flight to the other part of Malaysia: Borneo.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Go West

Perth, Freemantle, Margaret River, Augusta, Pemberton, Albany, Dunsborough, AUSTRALIA: 29 April - 10 May 2011.

Lonely Planet rated the south-western corner of Western Australia as one of the top ten regions in the world to visit in 2010. Given that in the same year they voted Cork as one of the top ten cities, I had faith in such lists. So I headed west.

Going west is something, I discovered, that a lot of Irish people in Australia do. During my three days in Perth and Freemantle (a 25 minute train trip apart from each other and both quite nice) I met a huge amount of Irish people. Many are working at mining sites, which generally are in very isolated areas but pay very well. After several conversations about the mines, I was very grateful that I was holidaying rather than mining.

Those at the Lonely Planet were right (as they were about Cork!). The area south of Perth is perfect for a relaxed week-long road trip. It is filled with parks with trees to climb and mountains to walk up, pristine beaches for relaxing, and a stunning coastline for watching surfers and enjoying sunsets. It was a great end (for the moment) to my time in Australia before flying from Perth to Kuala Lumpur to start three months in South-East Asia.