Sunday, 30 December 2012

From Adelaide to Melbourne: Kangaroos, Koalas and Coastline

I never thought I'd say this but I actually am learning to ENJOY flying! Usually I'm the sort of person that screws their eyes shut and holds their breath on take off and landing but the journey from Perth to Adelaide was so stunning I had to look out the window for practically the whole journey. I wish I'd taken more photos of the scenery but I was a bit scared of using my camera (electronic equipment messes up something right..?) so this is the only one I got...

Not bad for a plane window view!

After touching down in Adelaide I got my backpack from the luggage carousel and headed out to the bus station. My first impression of Adelaide was that everyone was so friendly - a woman on the bus helped me find my stop and then another person even walked me to my hostel when I asked directions! I dumped my stuff and went to find something to eat in the main shopping area where my opinion of Adelaiders was evened out as some bloke clutching a bible shouted at me that I was going to hell through a megaphone. I guess you can't generalize!

I was only in Adelaide three days but it's quite small so got a good feel for the city. I think it's a nice place just to walk around, visiting a couple of museums and sitting in the park and beach. The Adelaide Central Market is also really cool and definitely worth a look around. I bought my lunch of fresh bread and hummus there for about $3!

Central Market

Glenelg Beach

As I was only in Adelaide a short amount of time and in a small hostel I didn't meet many other backpackers. However on my second night I ventured out to a local bar with an Irish guy from the hostel where we ended up meeting a group of locals that invited me to their friends' gig. Turns out is was a group of sweaty teenagers in leather trousers playing to a crowd of about ten people who were swinging their hair around. Entertaining but maybe not in the way intended...

The next morning I joined my first organized tour group of my Australian trip to do something properly touristy: driving down the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. The first day was spent doing a lot of driving as the more interesting parts of the route are all towards the Melbourne end. We eventually arrived at our first stop which was the Grampians National Park in Victoria. It is so named because the first European person to discover it thought it reminded him of Scotland. We went for a long walk (more than I imagined to be honest - the tour guide mentioned the word 'hiking shoes' and I almost wanted to cry) and saw a lot of stunning scenery. 


The best part however was after 3 months in Australia seeing my first real-life, in-the-wild, full-size kangaroo... I was so excited! Not only just one but loads of them, and we even saw a couple boxing. They weren't scared at all and we stayed for ages just watching them.

The next morning we went for another walk with our tour guide and saw loads more kangaroos, including one with a joey in her pouch as well as a kookaburra (in a gum tree..of course).


Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree...
The next day we were woken at 6am for a "morning hike" - yes, I didn't really know I had signed up for this! - and headed over to Otway National Park. I have to admit I didn't enjoy this at all. It was FREEZING even though I was wearing a t shirt, a jumper and a massive hoody, and I kept getting attacked by horrible green worm things that I was praying weren't poisonous. To top it off, the famous "tall tree" that we were trekking through the jungle to see turned out to have fallen down a couple of years ago and in it's place was just a hole. I didn't even bother taking a picture. I know I sound like Karl Pilkington moaning, but seriously it was just a hole in the ground?! Definitely not worth the effort of the trek and to make matters worse my flip flop broke on the way back to the coach and I had to walk barefoot through the mud.

I cheered up a lot once I'd changed shoes and when we stopped for lunch we saw emus and a koala! The koala looked almost fake it was just like a fluffy toy.  

The next part of the trip was the best part - finally the Great Ocean Road. There was so much dramatic coastline to see we stopped every few hundred metres to go for walks along the cliffs and take photos of the most famous formations.

Bay of Islands

The main points we stopped off at were the Bay of Islands, London Bridge and the Twelve Apostles. Apparently London Bridge used to be attached to the mainland but part of it collapsed twenty years ago leaving a couple stranded on the new island for hours before they were airlifted to safety. Rather them than me!

London Bridge

We were meant to go and watch the sunset at the Twelve Apostles - the main tourist attraction along this stretch of the road. However, as is always the case you can never predict the weather and we were really unlucky because it was SO windy and rainy that night. You'll also notice that there's only four visible rocks - that's because the others have fallen into the sea over the years. With this and the tall tree, I think the Australian Tourist Board should probably reconsider their marketing strategy. Anyway, here is a picture of the "four" apostles under a cloudy sky!

Twelve Apostles
Our final day on the road was spent stopping off at various beaches and villages along the way to Melbourne. It was too cold to stay too long on the beach or go swimming in the sea but we did a lot of walking and photo-taking!
Cockatoos - the new seagulls

Our final stop before we got to Melbourne was at Split Point lighthouse which was where the 90s TV series Round the Twist was filmed. I vaguely remember this being on when I was little but couldn't tell you what it was about, I don't even remember it being Australian! Only thing is it has a very annoying theme tune that was stuck in everyone's heads for the remainder of the day.

Split Point Lighthouse - Round The Twist

At Split Point

After that we headed straight on to Melbourne and I got dropped off outside my hostel. Absolutely love it here and I'll write another post in the next couple of days about my Christmas and New Year!

Jem x

Thursday, 6 December 2012

"A Pommie Sheila in Oz"

I've been in Australia now for almost 3 months and after the excitement of backpacking around Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have to say I've had a COMPLETELY different experience. It's like finally reality hit and I wasn't on holiday anymore. Things like getting a job and a house and sorting out tax file numbers and Medicare cards quickly filled up my to-do list and that is nowhere near as fun as lying on a Thai beach! Also, the hostels, here in Perth at least, have such a different atmosphere. Everybody is here on a working holiday rather than just passing through and so you get groups of long-timers who are all friends already and it can be quite intimidating when you first get there alone.

Plus, everything is so expensive here! Even though people warned me when I met other backpackers in Asia I thought that they meant in comparison to there where you can get a bed for a fiver a night. Nope, even London looks reasonable compared to Oz prices, especially in Western Australia so I'm told. I really struggled for the first few weeks not being able to find a job and not being able to afford to do anything interesting. The weather was even bad. I was expecting bright sunshine but I had to go and buy a jumper in the first week and practically lived in my jeans - not what I was expecting at all! Perth is OK but just not exciting enough for me - it's the sort of place you might come to live because of the standard of living, wages etc but in my opinion not somewhere you'd stop off as a tourist. At first it just reminded me of somewhere like Croydon to be perfectly honest!

I have learned to love it though after the weather got better and I spent a few days at the beach (even though my sunbathing was interrupted by five separate shark sirens - they actually make you feel like you're in Jaws!). I spent a bit of time in Fremantle which is just outside Perth and has so much more personality than Perth City it's like you're on another planet. There's lots of old buildings and you can wander around the markets and the harbour, where you can get yummy fish and chips if you can avoid the seagulls.

After a few days I also made a really great group of friends and settled in a lot, the hostel really started to feel like home. Even so, I never really felt like I was in Australia, just stuck in the city. It probably also had something to do with the fact that 90% of the people I knew were Irish, English or Kiwi and I'd only spoken to about 3 Ozzies. So after 4 weeks in Perth I thought I'd do something completely different, packed up my bags again and headed to a little outback town called Meekatharra, 775km north. I was going to work in a pub and save some money for 6 weeks and also catch up with my friend Charlotte who lived there.

The journey took me 13 hours on 2 buses and I couldn't help thinking that if I was on a plane for that amount of time I'd have been well on my way home. Anyway, as the bus went further north the scenery out the window changed completely - every time we stopped there seemed to be less and less greenery and more red dust and flies, let alone the heat increasing by about 15 degrees. There was also less and less people and buildings around until eventually we were just driving on one remote road with nothing to see for miles apart from flat red earth and the odd dead kangaroo. I did think to myself - what am I doing? - especially when we stopped for a break and some of the other passengers started talking to me. One of them warned me that if I upset any of the locals I'd be 'run out of town'...! I also kept thinking back to when I'd told the woman who worked in the medicare centre at Perth city where I was going and she genuinely burst out laughing at me for a full 2 minutes before saying "You poor girl". So you can imagine I was bit apprehensive, but also really looking forward to getting out of Perth and doing something different.

Where I lived and worked for 6 weeks
We eventually arrived and I got off the bus and was met by Bob, one of the managers at the pub. He took me in to meet everybody and showed me my room - an actual room to myself after sharing for so long = amazing! Meekatharra was just what I expected I guess - it's the most isolated place I've ever been to. On one of my first days I decided to go and explore and I was done in ten minutes. There is two pubs/hotels (the one I worked at and one other) plus a post office, chemist, supermarket, bank, service staion and caravan park. That's pretty much it! I've got to admit my heart sank when I heard the nearest clothes shops were a 5 hour drive away. I saw a cinema but was told that it had been shut for years because the guy who ran it used to get robbed every time he put a film on because people would know he wasn't at home. Lovely... ! I got the impression that Meekatharra used to be a lot busier but a lot of the shops had shut and were empty, and people told me the population had decreased a lot over the last few decades because mines nearby had closed down. Now most people that come to town are just passing through (the town is a mid way point between the north and south on the main Great Northern highway), or working on sites out of town temporarily on contract work. You also get a lot of people coming for prospecting trips, hunting for gold and a few people that stayed in the pub showed me what they found. Too bad I didn't find anything! So as you can imagine there was not a lot to do when you weren't working, and especially without a car, but I did get taken to a few local places while I was there. Five Mile is an old mine site filled with water and really impressive actually, and the Granites are some rock formations where we went out and had some drinks and a BBQ one night. I saw my first shooting star there which was amazing. I've never seen so many stars, you could even pick out some shapes because the sky is so clear from city pollution.

Five Mile

The Granites
I met some real outback characters anyway, with people coming in actually wearing cowboy hats, with various missing teeth and without any hint of irony calling me a "pommie sheila". My first day at the bar I was pointed at by a bloke from the other side of the room who announced "I don't like you!" and the proceeded to ask me who I was every time I tried to serve him for the rest of the night. I later learned that he was basically the town crazy who annoyed everyone by telling them he was their boyfriend... most other people were lovely to me. One of them even bought me a present when I left! It's the sort of place that everyone knows everyone and by the end of my first couple of days working in the bar people would come in and say hello and know my name even though I was sure I'd never met them before. You have to get used to the fact that everybody has crazy nicknames too (Splinter, Funky..?!) and try to remember not only what people are called but what they drink and how they like it served before they even ask for it. For example, there was one woman who'd come in every day and get served in a special glass just for her, with ice all the way to the top and half a shot of vodka with Diet Coke. If you got any of these components wrong you'd be in trouble! And I thought city types were meant to be fussy...It seems the outback lot don't like change and definitely don't like waiting for a beer.

Talking of which, I've never seen so many types of beer in a pub. At home you'd have maybe 4 or 5 and either a pint or a bottle right? Well, here you have to know not only all the different types of beer, but if they're light, mid-strength, full strength or if they want a stubby (bottle), can, middy glass, pint glass, schooner glass.. it's enough to make your head explode. Don't even get me started on the fact that people don't even call them by their proper names - a Red Can is an Emu Export or a TEDS is a Toohey's Extra Dry etc. There was a lot to learn...! I also got a few comments from people at my attempts to pull a pint ("What's that? I didn't ask for an ice cream") but I have to say I think I got a lot better after a bit of practice - that's a life skill learned! 

It was good to actually see some 'real' Australia after my experience in Perth and speak to some actual Australians. I didn't realise just how different the British and Aussie accents/phrases are and sometimes I literally couldn't understand what people were saying to me; at least I really felt I was in a different country. Some of the things I can remember that got lost in translation are duvet (translation: dooner), skiving (translation: bludging) and a lot more that I just can't remember. I should have started an Ozzie phrase book and written them all down! I also was really looking forward to seeing some Australian animals but apparently you don't see a lot in the town and would have to drive out into the bush to see anything. Luckily though, a woman who rescues animals had a little joey kangaroo she was looking after and brought it into the pub for me to see. So cute! I saw an eagle on the drive back to Perth too which was really impressive - too fast to get a picture though.

After my 6 weeks were up I was quite glad to leave to be perfectly honest. What with the flies and the 40 degree heat (I got severely dehydrated several times - I just can't handle it!) and the lack of shops I couldn't live here permanently. But I did meet some great people and was made to feel at home, and I'm really pleased I went and saw a bit of a different side to Australia before I go back to the cities again. I'm in Perth now, just passing through and catching up on some shopping and sunbathing before I fly to Adelaide on Tuesday. This is when I can start being a proper tourist. I've booked a tour from Adelaide to Melbourne which travels down the great ocean road and visits some national parks etc so I'm looking forward to seeing some interesting things and meeting some more backpackers. After that it'll be Christmas and New Year in Melbourne (so weird to have a sunny one away from home!) and then we shall see... the best things happen when you don't have too many plans!

Miss you all at home! Jem xxx


Monday, 1 October 2012

Stop Off in Singapore

Ok, yes I know I've been really rubbish with updating this but it's hard to find the time now I'm in Australia. It's been a bit hectic with sorting stuff out and trying to find a job but I think I'm getting sorted now. Anyway back to two weeks ago (seems like much longer now)....

The journey from Malaysia to Singapore started well but ended up being a nightmare. I managed to get on a really nice coach heading south and was enjoying the journey when we had almost got to the Singapore border and everyone else got off the coach. I was waiting for the bus to start up again when another coach reversed straight into the side of the one I was on shaking the entire thing and leaving a massive dent in the side. So the drivers of both of the buses started shouting and waving bits of paper around and trying to take photos of each other. I poked my head round the side of the door to see what was going on and one of the men from my bus told me I'd have to wait for a replacement which would take another 2 hours to get there! By this time it was already late and getting dark so I didn't want to wait that long. Luckily he was really nice and bought me a ticket for a local bus that was apparently going into Singapore (I had no Malaysian money left). Going through Singapore/Malaysia immigration was really confusing too, I had to get off the bus twice with all my luggage and fill out a form. The second time I couldn't find the bus again so I was hanging around lost for about twenty minutes. I had met an English guy, Sid, who was another backpacker so at least I wasn't on my own and we just waited for a while before realising it had probably gone without us! EVENTUALLY after catching a different bus (my third of the journey) we got to Singapore city, a full three hours behind schedule. By this time it was about 11pm and I was starving so we went in search of food and found a food hall place taht was still open serving Chinese/Korean etc. I know I had promised to try to be adventurous but all these stalls were selling things like chicken intestines, feet, livers... any part of a chicken you can think of they were serving it up on rice! It's enough to turn you vegetarian... After another trek looking for a taxi we eventually got to the hostel and went straight to sleep.

The next day was a lot better after my eventful journey of the day before. I was raelly glad to have met Sid on the bus because the hostel I was in wasn't exactly very friendly - nobody spoke English and everyone ignored me. It was really different to everywhere I had stayed before. Anyway we headed over to Clarke Quay and walked around to the Marina Bay Sands hotel. This is one of the highest points in Singapore and the hotel is built like three towers with a platform connecting the tops of all of them, it's really cool and futuristic. It was really nice just to do some sightseeing and look at all the crazy architecture and to take lots of photos. Even the benches were bits of modern art! This part of Singapore is so modern I can't imagine what it would have looked like even 20 years ago. We had to pay $20 to go up to the top of the hotel (which I thought was ridiculous but figured I was 'on holiday' so I'd push the boat out) and even then we were kept in a really small area at the front with the rest of the commoners, away from the hotel guests who got to use the rooftop pool and the rest of the space! Another thing - everything is so commericalised. When we got to the top of the lift the staff took photos of us in front of a CGI image of the hotel, then tried to sell it to us for about $40! And people were actually buying it!

Sid went off to meet his friends then so I went for some lunch and to look around the shopping centre attached to the hotel. There are so many designer shops, including a Louis Vuitton that actually floats in the middle of the lake, and even boats just sailing down the middle of the shops on an inside river - it's crazy. After lunch I visited the Art Science museum next door and went to an Andy Warhol exhibition which was really intersting. The staff in there tried to get me to stick on a blonde wig and take a photo of me to sell me for another $25 - I politlely declined...

In the evening I went for a drink at Raffles, the oldest hotel in Singapore and where a lot of celebrities like Michael Jackson have stayed. It's where the original Singapore Sling was created so of course it'd be rude not to try one! Also traditionally people eat peanuts in the Long Bar and throw the shells on the floor so it was fun to do that. It tasted great and was good to say I've been there but would probably have been better with company, it's not that fun drinking on your own even if it is at Raffles Long Bar.

I had a really nice day and I'd imagine Singapore would be a great place to have fun if you were loaded but I felt like it's way too modern and commerical for me. I didn't really get to see any 'culture' or history like I did in Malaysia and Thailand. Everything seemed a bit synthetic in my opinion. Not sure if that's the right word but I hope you understand the sentiment.

Top of Marina Bay Sands hotel

Clarke Quay

Boat in the middle of a shopping centre... as you do

Pointless bench..

My second day in Singapore I decided to go to Sentosa Island. I wasn't really sure what to expect from this but it turned out to be basically a massive theme park. I got a cable car over there (Angry Birds themed - $30 for the picture they take of you getting in...) and had a wander around. In the cable car picture below you can just make out the Merlion statue which is massive and is half lion, half fish. It's a symbol of Singapore but I couldn't tell youa  lot more as you ahd to pay to get in and read about it. Basically Sentosa is not the best place to be if you're on a budget! I spent the afternoon on one of the (man-made) beaches and sat next to a group of Philippino ladies who kept asking me to pose for photos with them all individually because, quote, "I look so different"! I kind of understand how famous people get annoyed with people taking pictures of them, I kind of wanted to point out that I wasn't a tourist attraction. So I took a photo of them back.. They were really friendly actually, just so weird that people think I'm such a photo opportunity.

My new BFFs
On the third day I had a morning before having to get to the airport so I went to China Town. Finally some culture! I really enjoyed having a wander. I bought some bits from the market and then visited  a couple of temples. There is one Chinese Buddhist temple/museum that I visited where they claim to have a tooth of the actual Buddha which is thousands of years old. I was quite excited to this but when you get to the actual room it's not on display but inside all this gold and behind loads of glass. Plus, you can't take pictures, so it's hard to say if it's actually there or not. The rest of the temple was really interetsing though, it's so elaborate and so much gold everywhere. The picture below is of my protective spirit, having been born in the year of the horse. He is meant to guide me when it comes to leadership and career goals!

I had some lunch at one of the street side restaurants which was really yummy (no chicken body parts) and did some people watching. There was loads of old Chinese men just hanging around the main square playing chequers who looked like they'd all been there for the last 20 years not having moved.

So that was my time in Singapore. The best bit for me was definitely China Town and the temples. You can get a bit lost and lonely in all the glamorous parts if you're a solo traveller I think. Would come back one day to explore more but maybe with somebody else!

I'm now in Perth and have been for the last 2 weeks, which for me is even less like Asia and less "cultural" again. I feel a bit like I'm in Croydon, just with slightly better weather. Then again maybe I'm being too harsh as I haven't had a chance to do the touristy thing yet. It's so different when you are planning to live somewhere rather than travelling through. I'll keep you updated!

Love Jem xxx

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

My Ten Day Tour of Malaysia

I've been bad at updating the blog so now left myself with loads to write - going to have to break it up into different posts. I'm now in Perth, Australia but more about that another time!  I'll just update you on Malaysia for the time being. I really loved it there and it was a bit of a whistle stop tour compared to my long stay in Thailand but I feel like I've packed so many completely different things in it was like visiting more than one country in a way.

So I left Thailand on the 5th Septemeber and flew from Phuket to Penang. I thought that goign by plane would eman less hassle, but no... It was raining badly and I had decided to walk to the bus stop to save money but got lost ont he way. Then I lost my footing and ended up face down in a muddy puddle with my HEAVY backpack pinning me down to the floor and wriggling around trying to get up while people actually stepped over me! I thought Thais were menat to be friendly? So yeah, I guess I must have looked quite funny... I'm surprised they didn't stop me entering the airport when I finally arrived covered in mud and blood before I could get changed. I did get asked for my phone number by the Thai immigration official though so I can't have looked too bad (didn't give it to him in case you were wondering!!). Flight itself was pretty good though, we even got a free orange juice, not bad for a super cheap 20 quid flight.

The hostel in Penang - Reggae Mansion - was amazing. I'd heard about it from other backpackers and it was really cool, the beds were so comfortable and private and we had hot power showers. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven after some oft he places I've stayed so far. Met some other travellersa nd we all went out for drinks with some of the hostel bar staff then the next day I decided to go see the sights of Georgetown. Unfortunately I forgot my camera and so can't post any photos but I did take some on my phone which I uploaded to facebook so if you really want to see them I'm sure you will be able to find them. Georgetown is really nice to walk around, it's full of interesting buildings and colonial architecture and lots of history which I won't bore you with here. I started at the Penang museum and encountered my second over-friendly official of the past 2 days. His name was Ahmed and he worked at the museum and insisted on following me around everywhere and giving me a priovate tour which I'm sure was well intentioned but became quite annoying. He also wrote his number down for me and wanted to drive me around the island in his car but I made some excuse and ran away! The other thing Penang is famous for is its food so I went to a street food centre and pointed to something on the menu (Ice Kachang) and hoped for the best. It turned out to be a mound of perfume tasting ice and the return of the congealed frogspawn from my stay in the moastery. Also went to Little India for dinner and was a bit disappointed with taht as well. I feel a bit bad becuase it's got such a reputation for good food, I wish I'd liked it but at least I tried. Maybe I ordered the wrong things or maybe I just don't have adventurous tastes.

The next day I had to wake up at 4am for my onward travel which was difficult. Can't believe I actually did it for 10 days at the monastery. I went with a guy called James I'd met at the hostel to Kuala Besut on the East coast where we got a speed boat (very bumpy ride - everyone had to wear life jackets) to the Perhentian Islands. I was really looking forward to this part of my trip as I'd heard so much about them from people and it really was like paradise - I felt like I was inside a holiday brochure. The water is so clear that you can literally walk into the sea until you are neck deep and still look down and see your feet. The accommadation wasn't great though. I'd got used to the luxury of Reggae Mansion and now I was back sharing my room with frogs and mosquitos. We also only had electricty from 7pm - 7am as the islands aren't that developed. And there are loads of monitor lizards everywhere! I saw the first one of these at the monastery and was petrified  - the biggest ones look like crocodiles. But apprently they are harmless and really scraed of humans so that's OK. I guess I have to get used to all this wildlife stuff especially as I am now in Oz -spider/snake/creepy crawly central. I had a really good time there though, just chilling out for a bit. On the second day two of my friends from the hostel in Penang - Kelly and Ryan - came to meet me and in the evenings everyone sits on the beach and listens to music and smokes shisha pipes, it was really cool. There was a band on the first night as well, singing Wonderwall by Oasis. It's funny, everyone seems to love that song here I've heard it everywhere.

So after 3 days on the isalnds I was starting to get a bit bored of just chilling out and decided to head over to the Cameron Highlands. It's so different here it's unreal. The temperature never gets above 20 degrees and it rains every afternoon, I was FREEZING! Was really nice and refreshing though after the heat and felt a lot like I was in the English countryside. There's lots of beautiful scenery and nature and lots of farms and stalls selling local produce. The main attraction here is hiking which I'm sure you will not be surprised to learn that I didn't do any of. I signed up for the 'lazy' tour and visited strawberry farms, butterfly gardens, markets and my favourite - a tea plantation. It was SO nice to have a proper cup of tea and the scenery was amazing. I also tried a 'Cameron apple' which is a weird purple fruit that the locals nickname lovers fruit because apparently it is 'sometimes sweet sometimes bitter' (!) Mine tasted like a potato...

After 2 days of the rain of the Cameron Highlands I decided it was time to head back to the heat and visit Kuala Lumpur. I really loved KL, there was so much to see and do and its so interesting to have a wonder around. I stayed in another Reggae Mansion hostel which was great again and even better as this one has a rooftop bar where you can see the Petronas Towers and KL Tower lit up, so we went there both nights. The first afternoon I arrived I had a look around the central market which was raelly cool. There were lots of signs saying no photography, which is a shame but there was so many weird things for sale. My fav was the foot massaging sandals which looked really uncomfortable! I also had a look around a couple of museums and Merdeka square ("Freedom square") which was the focal point of the lowering of the Union Jack flag and raising of the first Malaysian flag after independence from Britain was declared. That evening we went for food and drinks in China Town which was really good for people watching!
The second day was a hectic one as I only had one day before I left for Singapore. Went for a walk to see the Petronas Towers and the KL Tower which took me right through the main central business district and I saw a lot of other interesting buildings too, like one headquarters of a bank with a camel somehow engraved into the side of the glass. After taking a few photos I continued walking around, getting lost in an industrial estate on the way but eventually finding Bukit Bintang. I imagine this is like the KL version of Oxford Street/Picadilly Circus with lots of restaurants, bars, hotels and shops. I'd found a voucher on my city map for 20 miuntes fish pedicure at a spa on this road so decided to give it a try. If you don't know this was really big a few years ago and started off in Asia. It involves putting your feet in water and fish nibbling on them - which sounds disgusting but apparently is good and pretty much everywhere now. I lasted 2 minutes though before I left, I just kept pulling my feet away, the fish looked so scary and big! And it tickles! Glad I didn't pay for it, I can't believe some people would fork out 30 pounds for that. Weird.

That afternoon I got a train (with female only carriages!) out of the city to visit the Batu caves. These are caves that have been turned into Hindu temple and shrines to Hindu gods and were really interesting to look at. There are 227 (I read that in my Lonely Planet book, didn't count them!)  There are also hundreds of monkeys just running around inside - I tried to steer well clear as they are so unfazed by humans I spotted them stealing food from the people's bags in front of me. After a visit to another museum and walk around the lake gardens by KL Sentral train station I then went out again to Bukit Bintang for dinner and drinks with a big group from the hostel.
Merdeka Square

Rooftop bar

Fish pedicure!

Petronas Twin Towers

KL Tower

Half way up the steps at Batu caves

Batu caves from the bottom of the steps

Monkey in Batu caves

One of the trains had this carriage.. haha!

Such an exhausting two days but I really loved KL I would definately love to come back at some point anyway to explore a bit more. It's so interesting to see the mix between the ultra modern skyscraper buildings of the financial district and all the historical buildings and the mixture of cultures too (even though that does sound like a travel cliche). All in all I loved Malaysia and even though I only spent 10 days there I feel like I got to see and do a lot!
Will let you know about Singapore soon....
Love Jemma x