Langkawi to Koh Lipe

Tl;dr – taxi, seating area tour, ferry, longboat, wet legs, super pretty international border, muddy walk

We woke bright and early, well, early at least. Our 7:30 taxi turned up three minutes early, as if it wasn’t early enough, and we were sharing it with another couple who were going to the same jetty. She was on crutches and he seemed unable to do up his shirt buttons at all. Two terrible problems.

We got to the ferry terminal complex with plenty of time. We followed the signs to the jetty but saw nothing for Koh Lipe. I asked a chap who pointed us back the way we came and up a small flight of stairs to the private charter firm we were sailing with. We checked in at the desk, handed over our passports and filled in our Thai immigration cards. We received our passports back a few minutes later and sat in the waiting room for ages with the same generic music loop playing over the boat firm’s highlight reel, slowly driving us nuts. I had ten minutes of relief when I went to get drinks and muffins but Kate hasn’t been the same since!

After this we were directed downstairs and asked to wait. We then found ourselves in the main ferry terminal concourse next to the massage chairs. We had a few ringgits left so I had a go. It was odd but pleasant.

We were then moved on to our third seating area. The distance between all three areas must have been around 50m and all seemed a little pointless. The last seating area was easily the worst of the three, especially as the seat I picked was broken. I therefore had a quick wander to see the big Langkawi eagle.

We were eventually called through immigration and once through we walked through a fourth seating area but unfortunately were unable to use this one. We had to hand in our passports once more, this time to be collected in Koh Lipe.

After being asked if we had passports and tickets two or three times by three different people, with everyone looking rather bemused after we’d already given in our passports and had our tickets ripped, we set off.

Our journey was alright, the water wasn’t the calmest but the boat was a sturdy sea maiden and transported us to our final destination like a majestic narwhale. No film though.

We looked out of our window expecting to see a beautiful jetty that would allow us to stroll to our next hostel. What we saw was the sea, a lot of it. There was some land way out in the distance  but we were definitely not next to it. A wooden longtail boat turned up on the left side and another on the right. We were directed towards them and pointed in the direction of the violently bobbing wooden hull below. Bags were thrown on first, then babies and then us.

After that drama we were excited to pull up to the jetty. We got closer to the beach before stopping just before. Turns out Koh Lipe has no jetty, just a shipping beach. We were therefore directed towards the sea. So with our sturdy flip flops on and our bags held aloft we climbed down from the boat into the sea, which was up to our waists. Some of the smaller passengers were in much deeper. It was a short stroll to the actual beach from the sea and we found ourselves at a beautiful beach that also doubled up as an international ferry terminal and Thai border.

Koh Lipe international ferry terminal

We found the lady who provided us with our passports and we handed these and our immigration cards to a chap in an air conditioned shack on the beach. We got our second round of Thailand stamps and we were in.

We were offered a taxi (a motorbike with wooden pallet sidecar for passengers and luggage) which we refused as we were a 5-10 minute walk from the beach. We set off in the right compass direction (Google Maps had very little road detail for this island) and found ourselves confronted by multiple mucky puddles that needed walking through. We got pretty filthy.

Thankfully the walking time was as predicted and they had an assortment of hoses outside the hotel for us to wash down our muddy, sandy, seawater ridden feet before we checked in.

The stats

7:29 (GMT +8) taxi from Zackry Guesthouse to Langkawi Point Ferry Jetty: 15 MYR (for our share, £2.69), 28 minutes

9:45 ferry to Koh Lipe: 210 MYR (£37.63), 2 hours 8 minutes

11:12 (GMT +7) longboat to the beach: Included, 9 minutes

11:46 walk to A+ Hotel: 8 minutes

Arrived: 11:54 (GMT +7)

Total time in transit: 2 hours 53 minutes

Total travel time: 4 hours 35 minutes

Total cost: £40.32 (£20.16 each)

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Langkawi – A Less Taxing Way Of Life

Overview (Langkawi Island)

Population: 64,792

Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)

10 MYR = £1.79 £1 = 5.58 MYR

Time Zone: GMT +8

2nd – 5th Dec

Once at our hostel we discovered something magical about it. They had a vending machine that sells beer for 2 Ringgit (about 34p). The island of Langkawi is entirely duty free and it was great.

Before we delved too deep into the crazy cheap beer we first went down the road to get some grub. We were heading out just after 6 and nothing seemed to able to serve us so ridiculously early, except this lovely little Malaysian place that made such nice fried rice we had to order another portion.

That evening we got as much change as we could muster and set to work on seeing what 2 ringgit beer tastes like. It was difficult to tell so we had to keep trying.

We got chatting to an American couple and a British/Polish couple who we played a lot of cards with and had a great time. For a few hundred pennies.

The next day we had some 2 ringgit noodles for breakfast and got ourselves a scooter for the day. It was 25 ringgits (just over £4) until 7pm. I was starting to really like this island.

Our scooter was glorious. She had some bite and a little black bubble on the back for our helmets or bag. Our first errand was to get cash to pay the hostel for a couple of things we wanted to book which gave us a nice little run around. I had ridden a scooter once before, 6 years prior so it was reassuring how quickly I got back into it.

We rode up the coast to an area called Oriental Village. The main attraction here is the cable car up the Mt Machincang but our bellies told us we needed to go somewhere else first.

After lunch we got to the ticket office to discover we had a two hour wait until our next available slot. Silly bellies. We therefore took our little scooter off for another spin.

Not far from the Oriental Village is a three tiered waterfall called Temurun. We didn’t know much about it before we got there but we liked what we saw.

The top tier is the highest by far. The pools at the bottom of each tier were lovely for a dip, albeit a bit cold. The area surrounding these falls was also home to dozens of monkeys.

After our brief stopoff at the waterfalls it was time to head back to the base of the cable-car. On the way back to Oriental Village there was a brief but vicious downpour. Riding a scooter in the rain is sore! The rain hits you as fast as you travel so it was a compromise between time in the rain and pain from the rain. Thankfully I acted as a rainshield for Kate who stayed relatively dry. The front of my t-shirt however was sodden. When we eventually pulled up back at Oriental Village, the rain had stopped.

We joined the rather expansive queue and waited. We got put into a waiting area, then another waiting area, then a 360° domed cinema for a rather long video of a rollercoaster. The idea is you feel like you’re on it because of the views around the dome but it was pretty irrelevant and I would’ve happily skipped it.

Another big queue later and we got to the bottom station.

We got put in a car with three other cable-car goers and were whisked up to 650m above sea level up the world’s steepest cable-car section. The journey itself was something to behold, scaling a cliff face suspended from a cable but the views from the top were even better.

Once we had enjoyed our view we had the top station to get to. The last stretch is less than a quarter of the total length and is only on a slight incline so neither the ride across nor the view were as good as the middle station. But you have the opportunity to ride a small furnicular train down to the SkyBridge.

A 125m pedestrian bridge across a valley the SkyBridge is the world’s longest free span and curved bridge (whatever that means). It’s a beaut. We walked along it in the dying light, turned around to walk back and it had almost vanished in the fog.

We had a bit of a wait to get back down and riding down the steep bit in the dark and in silence was mildly menacing. We arrived on solid, low altitude ground and rode the scooter back to the hostel in the dark, via stop at the petrol station to fill up the tank with 5 ringgits of fuel.

That evening we went to grab some Indian food. We found a restaurant that pretty much covered all the bases of available food.

The next day we had decided to upgrade our method of transportation to jet ski. We had booked onto a guided jet ski tour of the islands around the south of the main island. We were originally going to be picked up at 10am but had been informed the previous evening it was full so we were going on the afternoon slot.

We had a lie in and walked to our nearby beach where we found a Chinese restaurant (to complete the Malaysian trio) for lunch. We then went back to the hostel where we were picked up (early of course) to get to a different beach.

The jeep dropped us off on the beach, having driven along it, past the many sunbathing tourists. We were deposited at a table and told nothing. There was a guy on a seperate table that seemed vaguely involved in the whole operation but when we asked what was happening he just asked us to wait. Then another bloke turned up and said the same but said his mate was coming from another island to meet us.

40 minutes later the morning tour arrive and after some refuelling and tinkering we were waved at, the guy pointed at two lifejackets and some watershoes that we assumed we were to put on and were then pointed towards a jet ski.

I had never driven a jet ski before and so was prepared for my lesson. I was taught how to turn the engine on and told to follow our jet ski guide. So I did. That was it. In fairness it was fairly straightforward and there were some tips to read on the jet ski but I could only read them after we’d stopped. And the engine light remained on. And the fuel gauge didn’t work. But it was super fun!

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We stopped at our first island, Pulau Beras Basah (Island of Wet Rice) for a bit of snorkeling and monkey spotting before hopping back on the jet ski for another spin.

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We then stopped at a bay of Pulau Singa Besar (Big Lion Island) where three different species of eagles hang out. The many boat tours throw chicken into the sea and the eagles will hover round the boats before swooping down for their food.

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Our next stop was Pulau Dayang Bunting (Island of Pregnant Maiden). It is Langkawi archipelago’s second biggest island (after the main one) and draws the tourists and locals there for the huge freshwater lake in the middle that is said to make you super fertile. We moored up, paid our entry fee and walked up over the hill to the lake.

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On the way we encountered a bunch more monkeys, one of which really wanted my shoes and one was leisurely eating onion ring crumbs.

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After a dip in the lake we headed back to our jet ski to motor our way towards one last stop.

View from the jetty on Pulau Dayang Bunting

We took a couple of detours to the next stop. The first one was a large cliff face that throws back incredible echoes, which was fun to shout at. The second was an island with some spectacular stalactite like rock formations from the sea erosion.

At this point I felt pretty confident on the jet ski and it was great fun speeding over the waves. We had a 10-15 minute ride to a beach on Pulau Singa Besar. The beach had one inhabitant, a rather eccentric adventurer who had built an array of buildings for himself to live in. A lot of it was built and furnished from anything he had found washed up or left on the island, including a full box of lonely flip flops.

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We strolled on the beach for a bit before chatting to this chap about his life. He said his hobbies included walking to a waterfall on the island, which he offered to show us. We took him up on his offer and walked through bogs, mangroves and rainforest to get to a small run of waterfalls and the spot he had built a network of pipes from to get his fresh water to his camp. It was pretty and it was very nice of this man to show us his personal idyll.

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As we pulled up to the beach this was the view in my rear view mirror.

After our tour we were escorted back to our hostel where we removed the sand from ourselves before seeking out dinner. We ended up at a Western restaurant called Red Tomato for their stonebaked pizzas, espresso martini and cider.

After dinner we went back to our favourite beer vending machine and chatted to our new American friends.

The next morning we checked out for our journey out of Malaysia and across the border back into Thailand.

The hostel

Zackry’s Guesthouse was everything I want in a hostel: a bed and super cheap beer! It had a bunch of other stuff like scooters; they sorted tours and ferries; there was a swimming pool; and you could use beach mats and towels for free. But this is a cheap island for beer and they undercut everyone!

Bye George(town), We’re Off To Langkawi

Tl;dr – evil taxi company (no beef with the driver though), boat with a film, no legit taxis, legit taxi obtained

We asked the hostel about getting a taxi to the ferry terminal which they booked for us as a flat fare taxi. Turned out it was through Uber… So much for the boycott. But the driver was great and he got us there in plenty of time.

We marched through the terminal and sat down only to stand up immediately to get onto our ferry. We sat downstairs in our seats across the aisle from each other (which was a bit annoying as there were plenty of spare seats) and set sail. Kate didn’t fancy a cheese omelette now she was bouncing around on the sea but it came with wedges which were seemingly ok. I helped her out with the omelette.

During our crossing the TV in front of us showed a safety demonstration before showing us the Kevin Spacey film Nine Lives. An odd choice but vaguely enjoyable.

We arrived into Langkawi and we walked through the terminal with people offering us taxis left, right and centre. We had been forewarned about these diddlers so we sternly told them no and walked through to a taxi rank. There was a taxi information booth the other side of the road so we crossed to find it empty. Next to it was tourist information who told us to go to the taxi information. When we told them it was empty they went to investigate and there was a lady in there. Not sure where she was hiding because her office was a tube big enough for one small person.

We asked for a taxi and named our hostel and we were quoted a price and pointed to the rank. She looked over and realised the taxi rank was devoid of taxis, so she went to investigate. It turned out the taxis were trying to avoid the rank in order to pick up an unfairly raised fare from the main road bit. So this taxi lady stood at the rank entrance and directed these reluctant taxi drivers to come and accept an honest fare.

When our driver turned up he seemed nice enough and he told us it would take around 30 minutes to our guesthouse. This was a flat-out lie. 29 minutes later we were at the door.

The stats

13:20 (GMT +8) taxi from The Frame Guesthouse to Langkawi Ferry Terminal: 5.50 MYR (£0.99), 7 minutes

14:00 ferry to Kuah Jetty, Langkawi: 140 MYR (£25.09), 2 hours 46 minutes

17:06 taxi to Zackry’s Guesthouse: 30 MYR (£5.38), 29 minutes

Arrived 17:35 (GMT +8)

Total time in transit: 3 hours 22 minutes

Total travel time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Total cost: £31.46 (£15.73 each)

Curious Georgetown

Overview (Georgetown)

Population: 708,000

Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)

10 MYR = £1.79 £1 = 5.58 MYR

Time Zone: GMT +8

28th Nov – 2nd Dec

Our stay in Georgetown, on the island of Penang, started with a nap. A really big one. We had gotten an early train to get a jumpstart on the day but only got going in the evening. I don’t know if you have gotten the idea yet but travelling can be pretty tiring!

We wondered around Little India before finding a nice Indian Restaurant (oddly enough) and because we missed lunch we had a feast.

Our hostel was sat a hundred metres or so from the famous Love Lane so we wondered in that direction for a drink. We found a sister bar of the Taps bar from KL and popped in for one nice drink.

Our second day started reasonably early. We once more had free toast breakfast, this time with traditional kaya spread and some good coffee, which was unusual for a hostel. Penang was pretty big on its coffee though, which I found out later.

We set off to the Heritage Centre where we picked up a map to find all the famous street art spots. In 2012 a Lithuanian chap called Ernest Zacharevic was invited to Penang to paint some walls for the annual Georgetown Festival. He did a rather good job and so they decided to keep them and bolster them with more over the years. His painting of the children on the bike (coupled with half a real bike) has become one of the most iconic images of Penang.

We wondered the streets for a couple of hours, trying to find all the artworks hidden down alleyways. Our art tour took us once more to Love Lane where we had some lunch in a place called Selfie Coffee. Turns out you can get your face on a coffee.

My face on a coffee

After lunch we walked down to the waterfront where you can walk along a collection of jetties with stalls and shops selling their wares.

One such business was a group of three Indian ladies drawing henna. After the nose piercing it seemed her rebellious streak was to continue.

After all the varying levels of art we had found/drunk/watched, we had built up quite a thirst. We found a stall across the road from the jetties selling large smoothies for just over £1. When we got it we realised large was an understatement

Our 900ml bucket of mango and passionfruit smoothie

We still had some day left but the weather was about to turn. We saw online that there was an interactive museum a small way up the road. We found it, wandered in and paid our admission.

From the description it sounded like a good selection of different things, one of those being more trick-art, which we had seen plenty of in Busan and Sinapore. However we figured the rest of the stuff would make it worthwhile. Unfortunately it was at least 80% trick-eye. Having paid to go in we tried to make the most of it.

There was also a cardboard village, a rather dated virtual reality film of a rollercoaster and a camera that did little more than add some Snapchat-esque filters. It also turned out we had gone to the wrong one! We had gone to Penang Amazing World but had intended to go nextdoor to Made In Penang Interactive Museum, which appears to be pretty much the same thing. Why Penang needs two trick-eye museums next-door to each other is beyond me. There is a third elsewhere in Georgetown and an “Upside down house” too!

Once the daytime hours had come to an end we headed out to Red Garden, a night market hawker centre selling an international selection of food. I got myself char kway teow, a traditional noodle dish with prawn and sausage. Kate was sold some spring rolls, calamari and deep fried prawns from an absolute nutter who named his food stall after his favourite president.

Apparently he doesn’t like Trump

Whilst there I had another Malaysian staple, asam laksa, a fragrant fish soup that I wasn’t very keen on. Kate had herself a big mound of egg fried rice.

The Red Garden was packed and I can see why. There was live music, a huge selection of great food and a guy that comes round to top your beer up every minute or two. It was also very easy to navigate all the menus with everything in English and plenty of Kate friendly options.

Afterwards we went back to Love Lane for a not-so-quiet drink before heading to bed.

Day three started once more with kaya toast and coffee/tea. We would be getting the boat to our next stop and so walked to and up the coast to the ticket office. We then walked back down the coast back to the bus station to get to Penang Hill.

Penang Hill is a 833m hill 6km west of Georgetown with a big furnicular railway that has been sliding its way up and down the hillside for almost a hundred years.

There was a hefty queue as only one train can go up and one can go down at a time. There is a rather scary passing loop around halfway up where the two trains pass, both at full speed.

At the top there is a food court where we had some lunch. To keep up with all the Penang must-eats I got us a traditional dessert called Cendol: a bowl of coconut milk with rice flour jelly coloured with pandan leaves, palm sugar, shaved ice and kidney beans. It was interesting, especially the beans.

The hill was used as a retreat by the Brits in colonial times to escape the heat and malaria in the towns. Now you can find a large selection of odd tacky touristic exhibitions like a love tunnel and an earthquake experience.

There are some small hikes you can do once at the top, including back down the hill, but we settled for walking around the top. We found a spot to admire the view over Georgetown and stopped there for a bit.

We zoomed back down the furnicular and waited for our bus back to Georgetown. Once back we got some food from a Japanese restaurant and headed in the direction of Love Lane once more. We tried a couple of bars before finding a cool artsy tourist shop where we got chatting to the owner. We chatted a lot about Tapirs as he had constructed hundreds over the course of three months for an exhibition.

Day four was a day of big houses, the first being this lovely green house.

The Pinang Peranakan Mansion was built by and lived in by a Chinese family on the 19th century. It has been lovingly restored after falling into disrepair. It now acts as a museum to the lives, culture and design of the Peranakan people.

A fountain within the mansion complex

After big house number one we went to a vegetarian restaurant recommended by the tapir loving chap from the previous day before heading to get some coffee. Of all the hundreds of coffee shops in Penang there was one I wanted to try something a bit different.

Kopi Luwak is known as the world’s most expensive coffee and supposedly the nicest too. In Kopi Loewak they served this luxury brew in a number of ways. The reason for its pricetag is the method of its coming to be. Civets (weasel like critters) find the best coffee beans and eat them. The farmers then collect these partly digested beans and give them a bit of a rinse. The idea is that the combination of the civets picking the best beans and the enzymes partly breaking down the proteins in the beans make it a super smooth coffee.

They drip brewed it and served it black with no milk. It was very smooth and quite possibly the best black coffee I’ve ever had, but that could be partly down to the fact I never have black coffee. And at about £6.50 I’ll stick to my flat whites.

Another digestion based adventure was another traditional desert: Ais Kacang.

It’s another odd mix of ingredients in a bowl with ice. Amongst others it contains peanuts, red beans, jelly, rose syrup and sweetcorn. Not my favourite pudding, not even close.

We went back to more solid sights and walked across Georgetown to our second big house: the blue house.

No bears are in this big blue house

This mansion belonged to a well known Chinese businessman called Cheong Fatt Tze who is perhaps best known for having had eight wives. He built this blue house with three beautiful courtyards with the intention of it being his family home for many generations. It only lasted two before his last son died and it was sold on to a buyer who restored it back to its former glory.

One of the beautiful courtyards

That evening we went to get a curry from a street stall the tapir guy had recommemded but it was shut. We walked back to the hostel but Kate started to feel unwell so we went back to the room. I went out later to an Indian restaurant down the street and had a quick dinner.

Kate waa feeling much better for our final morning in Georgetown started like the rest but then we went to get our last of the Penang must eats. We found a street stall in Little India that did roti and teh tarik. Roti is thin tissue like bread served with a curry sauce for the grand total of 20p. Teh tarik however was the main attraction. It’s name translates as pulled tea and the sweet condensed milk tea is poured from a height with great skill and accuracy.

It tasted ok, a bit sweet perhaps, but fantastic to watch it be made. After the show we headed to the bank before finding a cafe for lunch. We had about half an hour so we sat down and ordered. It was only after 20 minutes I was informed they did not have what I had ordered and Kate’s cheese omelette hadn’t turned up either. We went up to cancel it but it came out of the kitchen so we took it to go.

We made it back to the hostel with just enough time to get our taxi to take us to the ferry terminal

The hostel

The Frame Guesthouse was a cool rustic hipster hostel with lovely staff and a brilliant breakfast. Our double room was nice, quiet and cool and we were right in the heart of historic Georgetown. We had a little shower by our room that no-one else seemed to use, possibly because it was cold and door jammed shut so you had to use a lot of force to get out again… But it was ours!

KL To Penang

Tl;dr – taxi, train, free shuttle bus, ferry, walk

Our Uber boycott would face its first real test on this trip. Our experience with Grab so far had been slow. We’d tried to get one during rush hour and no-one would accept and, when they did, they were 30 minutes away. We needed to get to the station for our 9:00 train. As breakfast was drawing to a close I started the process. Ten minutes later our taxi was ready and waiting.

After looping the train station a couple if times we were finally dropped at the front door (Grab uses a fixed fare system so it didn’t matter).

We wandered into the giant building and found zero signage. I asked a security guard who pointed us round the corner where we found a throng of people and another security guard behind a rope. We asked him about our train and we were told to wait.

Fifteen minutes later we were ready to board onto our allocated seats. Because the train afterwards were fully booked we ended up booking onto a slightly more luxurious train with food included. Sure enough, part way into our journey they brought round some snack bags.

The train was lovely and comfortable. We were in rows of two and two so there was plenty of space. I don’t know how much of a step down the regular train would have been but for two pounds each extra I probably wouldn’t be inclined to find out.

We arrived on time into Butterworth, the town on the mainland across from Penang. It did not appear to be a happening place.

The train company puts on a free shuttle bus from the train station to the ferry terminal which we were happy to jump in. We got to the ferry terminal and got a bit flustered. We were advised we needed port entry tickets but they only took coins. I rooted through my coins and realised I didn’t have enough. We let everyone go in front of us and noticed that the last guy gave a note to the man. It transpired this ticket guy was not a ticket guy and was a change guy. We changed our smallest note, deposited our coins and were into the jetty building. We noticed the boat was waiting so we strolled towards the sea but were stopped at the gates along with one other bloke. If we had understood the whole change scenario we would have been waving back to that bloke as we sailed across the sea…

Thankfully it was only 15 minutes until the next one so we had time to get sone crisps and a Kickapoo Juice.

Once the next boat turned up, the gate opened and I strolled to the front of the boat to get a first glimpse of Penang.

The crossing was short and smooth and we disembarked into Penang. It was a short stroll from the jetty to our hostel but we got our first taste of the complete lack of pedestrian walkways in Penang. Weaving around cars and scooters we successfully navigated our way to our next home and the first time we’d soent four nights in the same place for a long time.

The stats

08:17 (GMT +8) Grab taxi from Explorer’s Guesthouse to KL Sentral Station: 10 MYR (£1.79), 12 minutes

09:00 train to Butterworth: 158 MYR (£28.32), 3 hours 52 minutes

13:00 free shuttle bus to Butterworth jetty: 8 minutes

13:38 ferry to Georgetown: 2.40 MYR (£0.43), 19 minutes

13:59 walk to The Frames Guesthouse: 17 minutes

Arrived: 14:16 (GMT+8)

Total time in transit: 4 hours 48 minutes

Total travel time: 5 hours 59 minutes

Total cost: £30.54 (£15.27 each)

KL With KL

Overview

Population: 1,768,000

Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)

10 MYR = £1.79 £1 = 5.58 MYR

Time Zone: GMT +8

26th – 28th Nov

Kate was very excited to be visiting a city with the same initials as her. So excited in fact we both went straight to our room and slept.

Once refreshed and ready to explore we went to get lunch on a market street across the road from the hostel. This street just so happened to be Petaling Street, a rather famous bustling marketplace in the centre of Chinatown. Having spent the previous three weeks in English speaking lands with English menus of largely Western food we eased our way into Asian food at a hotel restaurant.

Nasi lemak kampung and tricolour fruit juice

After lunch we felt less refreshed, despite our napping. Perhaps it was something to do with the 5 time zones we had travelled through. So we went back to our room to watch a film on Kate’s Kindle.

We gathered up some more strength later on to go find the Little India night market which is only held on Saturdays. The first few stalls we came to were all selling the same assortment of cheap sportswear, but we ploughed on with faith. We turned a corner and it was the same load of Premier League football kits. Our faith was strong because we turned back and went down the next street to find hundreds and hundreds of stalls as far as you could see. We stopped at a stall selling Jackfruits to give them a go.

Much nicer than durians

We carried on for a bit but it just seemed to go on forever. I made do with a couple of chicken satay sticks, steamed buns and a bandung juice (bright pink super sweet Indonesian specialty). Kate was not totally ready for going back to Asian food so plumped for the nearby McDonalds instead.

The next day we started pretty early. Turns out going back a few time zones really helps for prompt sightseeing. After our complimentary breakfast of coffee and toast we thought we would start with the central market, which was not yet open. So we trekked across to the national museum.

There were four exhibits spread over two floors with a climate change exhibition in the central area with someone dressed as a penguin high-fiving all the kids. The main exhibits were based around the history of the country spanning ancient, human settlement, colonial and modern day Malaysia. It was pretty good and a nice way to avoid the rain if nothing else!

After the museum we ambled back to the central market.

I was expecting a shouty atmosphere with all the traders selling their fish and veg. Turns out it’s a rather sedate affair with souvenir shops and brand name cafés. We had a nice lunch though and I got myself a t-shirt.

We wondered around the local area a bit longer. Having not seen a temple in weeks it was high time we visited one.

And across the street there was another one!

From here we found a coffee shop before trying out KL’s free bus network to get to the business end. We found the bus stop, got on the bus and four stops later we were at the base of KL Tower.

The free bus network is relatively expansive and we probably didn’t make the most of it in our short time in KL but it’s something that makes travelling so much easier. Having experienced so many variations on how to pay your bus fare, it’s one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on getting the right bus in the right direction to the right stop.

KL Tower is a 421m tall structure built on a hill. It looks out over the slightly taller Petronas Towers (452m) but because of the hill the altitude is higher. And it’s more central. So your view us supposed to be better.

There are two different viewing galleries to go to, one slightly higher than the other. But with a huge price difference we figured we would stick to the lower one.

We walked from there to the Petronas Towers with the intention of going up that too. Even if the view wasn’t as good it boasts the world’s highest two-storey bridge.

We got there, went into the lobby and found the ticket office, only to discover the next ticket available was in three hours time. We decided to forego the wait and just look at the towers from the pond in front of them.

We then headed to a craft beer bar called Taps for a drink with the intention of heading back after one. Unfortunately the rain started up and as the road became a river we decided it was best to stay put and eat. And have a couple more drinks.

Back at the hostel we needed to sort a couple of things before we went to bed, one of which was to print out our train tickets for the next day. We were directed to a nearby hotel which had apparently printed something for a guest the previous day. In those 24 hours however they had seemingly stopped this service as we were not permitted to use their printer. I instead trecked down the road to our hostel’s sister hostel which kindly printed our tickets for free.

The next day we got our breakfast down quickly and awaited our taxi to the station.

The hostel

Explorer’s Guesthouse is right in the heart of Chinatown, a few minutes walk from a bunch of KL’s best attractions. Our double room was lovely; the aircon worked a treat and it was super quiet. Part of the reason for the quietness was probably the complete lack of windows but that worked in our favour for daytime sleeping. The staff were nice, the breakfast was nice, the facilities were clean and it did everything it needed to.

AucKLand – KL

Tl;dr – world’s most expensive taxi, 13 hours of planes with an Aussie stopover, new taxi app

If you’ve used Uber before you will know that during busy times prices get multiplied wity surge pricing. You will probably remember a time when you could get notified when prices dropped. Uber helpfully updated their app to drop this feature during our trip and so when the surge price was 2x and we had plenty of time I thought I’d wait but had to keep checking myself. It was steadily rising so we were going to call a regular taxi until I found a new prebook feature that quoted us a base fare ($42 – $55 without surge) for ten minutes time, with the promise of notification if the price increased. Sounded too good to be true!

So the taxi turned up with no notice of a surge and as the taxi arrived (and whilst I still had wifi) I checked to see if the price had increased. Apparently not, so we happily jumped in. At this time of day the 20km journey took 50 minutes due to epic traffic so we slept most of the way there. When we awoke we thanked our Uber driver and walked into the airport. As soon as the free wifi was signed into we got our Uber receipt. $162. Oh.

I emailed Uber and we had a few exchanges back and forth but apparently what happened was impossible and the “excellent improvements with the app” have included a price quote so things are now simpler. “No Math and No Surprises!” I couldn’t believe their arrogance. I’m sure it looked to them like I was a customer who had regretted paying £90 for a taxi, but when I was sold it for £20-£30 I felt a bit hard done by. I once bought something that was on offer in Asda but was charged full price. They gave me a full refund and a £2 voucher which I bought two easter eggs with. I left Asda very happy. Instead Kate and I have deleted our Uber apps and have started our boycotts.

We checked-in and boarded our flight, although there was an issue with another passenger after I was let through and Kate had to wait for five minutes or so before she was let on. It was probably something to do with that time she did in the prison she told immigration about.

We were seperated by an aisle but I was wearing my Sabah proboscis monkey t-shirt and a bloke from Sabah was very impressed and moved us to two seats together. With a window!

We landed in the Gold Coast a short while later where we had to disembark, down the waters we’d bought for the trip to go through security and re-embark.

We flew onwards, separated by the aisle once more and actually got a good sleep on this one.

Although we landed at 4:41 local time we had flown 5 hours into the past so we felt relatively refreshed. Nevertheless we had booked an extra night at our hostel so we could get in and go straight to sleep!

We tried out our new taxi app (Grab) that was apparently cheaper than both the airport taxis and Uber. And although we couldn’t find him and he had given up on us and left, when we discovered he had been on level 2 we went up and he came back for us. And we had a great trip to our hostel for a good old post-overnight-flight nap.

The stats

17:34 (GMT +13) – taxi from Uenuku Backpackers to Auckland International Airport: NZ$161.86 (£91.45), 52 minutes

20:24 (4 minutes late) – flight to Kuala Lumpur: NZ$545 (£307.91), 13 hours 17 minutes (11 minutes late)

05:53 (GMT +8) – Grab car to Explorer’s Guesthouse: 73 MYR (£13.10), 52 minutes

Arrived: 6:45 (GMT +8)

Total time in transit: 15 hours 1 minute

Total travel time: 18 hours 11 minutes

Total cost: £412.46 (£206.23 each)