Thursday, 24 November 2011

Malaysia Part I

Next stop Malaysia. And time for our next bit of airport strife... we were running a bit late but only mildly panicking. The panic level increased considerably as we realised we were in the wrong terminal !!MAD PANIC!! Our terminal was a train ride and long walk away but we made it five minutes before the gates closed... phew!

But this time we felt like proper, hardened travellers: not wanting to take any more flights (the budget airlines here force you to have proof of onward travel) we Photoshop'ed a fake onward flight confirmation which - after a tense few seconds - was accepted by the check-in clerk and we were through.

Kuala Lumpur :: 03/08/11 - 05/08/11

After a short and uneventful flight, we arrived in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and were greeted once again by humidity but this time interspersed with rain to cool things off. We found a very nice hostel, again in China Town.  Suzy's guesthouse was a very pleasant find. The room was small and windowless but clean and new.

If you want to make your own Kuala Lumpur, simply take Singapore and place La Paz (Bolivia) on top of it. Thats how it felt; a mix of flashy buildings amidst hustle, bustle, mopeds, shacks, sounds, smells and a constant buzz of something happening somewhere.

Once again we're right in the heart of china town: home to delicious food and cheap black market rip-offs... 'Channel', 'Kevin Clein', 'Guccci', 'Paul Smitt' (yes, really) and so many more. A great place to people watch and a haggle with the locals. Katy got a 'genuine' Casio G-Shock watch (at least it was genuine until the words 'Casio' and 'G-Shock' rubbed off) to replace the Nike watch which literally fell apart in South America.  You'll be relieved to hear Tim fully re-stocked the underwear section of his bag with Kevin Cleins.

One of the most exotic fruits they have here is a spikey fruit roughly the size and shape of a rugby ball called a durian. You will smell one before you see it. They are a stinky cross somewhere between sweaty body odur and rotten drains. Many buildings and public transport have signs prohibiting them inside. People will tell you that despite their smell, they taste delicious... We tried a durian cake and for us it didn't smell as bad or taste as good as people seem to think.

We did the usual touristy thing of visiting the Petronas Towers: indeed, an impressive sight. The observation bridge half-way up is free and gives a great view of the city. Afterward, Katy decided that she would experience a fish spa. Katy had been told about it by a few people. Tim wasn't keen so headed for a coffee while she got nibbled by hundreds of piscine epidermivores. Very ticklish to the extent that Katy was sat laughing like a fool by herself. It wasn't the nicest experience ever, but it was an experience nevertheless.

Next we took a local bus (like a magical mystery tour in its own right) to the Batau Caves. Here - on a blisteringly hot day - we climbed the hundreds of steps leading up to an enormous cave full of shrines and monkeys.  And hot, wilting people. Though - as is so often the case around here - look around the corner of a shrine and its piled high with rubbish... different cultures, different attitudes I guess.

Buddhism aside, Malaysia is a very Muslim country and we had arrived at the begining of Ramadan (fairly typical 'travellingmarshs' ppp*).  A unique opportunity for us to observe a very cultural difference... just don't plan on eating any time soon. In the big cities its not so bad but head out to the backwaters and - just like the locals - you'll be hungry until nightfall. But then it is all-change. During this time (which ran from the start to the end of August) tented 'food villages' spring up all over the city where feasts are prepared and consumed socially. Such an amazing array of sounds, colours, smells and tastes. Some of which we recognized, but most we did not.

But in the big cities such as KL you can normally find something and at the recommendation of our hostel manager, we headed to the old bus station, below which there was a restaurant selling indian/malay curries jam-packed with Malay people. Once the crowd stopped staring at us so much, we were helped out by one of the people working there who suggested which huge pots of food we might want to try. It was amazing food and all-in cost less than US$2... we were frequent visitors thereafter.  

Melaka :: 05/08/11 - 09/08/11

Ahh - Melaka. Everyone Likes Melaka - including us - but for the life of me I can't quite think why. There's nothing particularly nice or special, it just has that certain feel. Just a few hours to the south west of KL and tantalisingly close to the coast, we travelled by bus and arrived to the small but bustling town centre where everything is painted terracotta red.

As usual, we head for China Town (in this case limited to a couple of main streets) and our hostel 'Jalan Jalan'. Again, everyone raves about how quaint and laid-back the place is, well, maybe its my age or maybe we've been travelling too long, but for me it was not so much 'quaint' as 'delapidated' and you can replace 'laid-back' with 'shabby'. But the mosquito nets were largely free from holes (thankfully, as the place was infested with them).

Its the kind of place which is a magnet to certain types of people (those very keen to 'find' themselves). It didn't take too long to discover the two (and too) overtly friendly americans were jehovah's witnesses. Luckily though, they were there to absorb the outpourings from the annoying ex-pat american who lived in Melaka but seemed to spend every day sitting in the hostel whining about life. The saving grace was Lewis, a laid back Aussie youth... he was completely normal. We didn't spend long talking with him (as we couldn't bare the others) but don't worry, he crops up again in our adventures with freaky regularity. Instead we hit the streets.

We were fortunate to be in Melaka at the weekend where - as evening approaches - the china town streets swell with a bustling night market full of all the food and tourist-tat you could ever wish for. A particular favourite was the uncoiled potato, coated in something spicy and fried all before your eyes, like an extended Walkers Crisp.

This is also the home of the pineapple tart, which is thankfully much tastier and less malodorous than durian cake. We feasted on a box full whilst watching the world pass by and sinking a jug of Tiger.

Food features heavily for us so we were delighted to find a tandoori restaurant which was both dirt cheap and delicious but most notable were the people at the table next to us - or more accurately - their snake. At first, the waiter went overto their table and it seemed like some clandestine drug deal, but then they pulled a
snake out a bag so the waiter could have his photo taken with it. Noticing our interest, they offered us to have a go too!

Taman Negara :: 10/08/11 - 12/08/11

From Melaka, we had a brief return to KL - which is a bit of a transport hub for southern Malaysia - before heading to the Taman Negara National Park. Whilst people are generally agreed that Melaka is nice, there is even more agreement that Jerantut is not.

Unfortunately it is where you have to stop off before reaching the national park. The slogan for the place is 'Jerantut - the blandest town in Malaysia'. Maybe. Its saving grace was yet another amazing food village in the bus station, filled with smells of spicy roasting chicken and huge pots of currys whilst our eyes were assaulted by the most vibrant of gelatinized deserts and unidentified drinks served in plastic bags.

Twenty fours hours and a roller coaster bus journey later and we're at the riverside waiting for our 3 hour boat ride to the park. Twenty minutes later, we were wishing we'd opted for the bus. It was initially all very exciting as we feared imminent capsize and death by pirhanna fish (or at least the loss of our precariously loaded bags), but tightly wedged in on the wooden floor of the boat, feelings of fear were soon replaced by lack of feeling of bum-cheeks.

WE MADE IT! In fairness, it was a beautiful view as we sped through the water, it was just 200% too long. Hot and bothered, we unloaded at a stoney riverside, beside floating restaurants. As a tourist destination (and it was decidedly touristy) it has been around a while but it feels like it is only half finished. Maybe thats just to keep a rustic feel to the place. Backpacks on we trudge up the steep muddy bank and hunt through the ramshackle village to find somewhere to sleep. This is the middle of nowhere remember, so imagine our surprise to find a room for $5 (albeit no bed, just a mattress on the floor)... with air-con... and the only place in the village with free wi-fi (are you listening Australia?!).

But of course we were there for the park, not for torrenting movies! There are defined paths through the park and to stray from those would create damage to the park and probably to yourself; tree-roots intertwine with creeping vines in boggy ground and there's probably something big and nasty in there to bite you too... stick to the path. Even the paths were tricky; it was so very hot and humid but at least it was dry... aside from the leeches, god knows how slippery it would be.

In the middle of the jungle there is a connected series of suspended rope bridge tree-walks. Your head tells you its probably fine, but the first few steps were very heart-in-mouth.

We were rewarded with great views at the top followed by a perilous rock infested descent. To cool-off at the end, we took a dip in the river, dodging the long-boats with their mighty engines as they sped past. But one day was enough for us and we still have so much to see...

*PPP: Piss Poor Planning

Friday, 18 November 2011


31/07/11 - 03/08/11

We said our thanks and goodbyes to our friend Tryn at Perth Airport Departures ready for our flight to Singapore. Approach to the check-in, reach desk, and find out that our budget carrier - JetStar - requires proof of an onward journey before they will issue our tickets. We explained our travel plan of 'just winging it', but the lady behind the counter did not seem too impressed. We had one hour to try to find an onward flight before our flight closed and we would sheepishly have to phone Tryn.

With minutes to spare we booked the cheapest onward flights we could find (in fact due to crappy internet, we ended up double booking and unsurprisingly are still awaiting the refund), took a photo of the confirmation screen and raced back to check-in. Simply showing the photo was enough proof (crazy) and we were through.

Welcome to Singapore.

Arriving at 5am, we were greeted by warm, humid air - something we would soon have to become accustomed too. Singapore is an easy city to navigate round. Thanks to it super clean, prompt underground train system. With tickets bought we hoped onto the air conditioned train and were whisked through the city to China Town (invariably the cheapest area to stay). We checked in to the Beary Nice Hostel (sic) and moved onto our air conditioned dorm. Not cheap, but a lovely place in the heart of china town.

Time to explore. It was difficult; the humidy just drains you. Thankfully we found an ice cream shop where they served pyramid shaped ice creams. Much appreciated. We were excited to be right in the hawker market area where the best and cheapest food was to be found. Hot too. We both like spicy food but our first foray into Asian cuisine was pretty firey, but delicious. We were liking Singapore alot already.

Singapore is home to many a pagoda / temple. The level of details in the design of each one was astounding. Visiting them was enlightening and a welcome relief from the intense heat. You are free to walk inside but must be modestly dressed and Katy's shorts & vest were frankly too raunchy; thankfully, some temples provide garments for covering-up all the pink bits.

In the evening when it was only a little cooler we headed down to the water front known and Marina Bay. We knew next to nothing about the area and were amazed as we rounded the curve of the river to find the Marina Bay Sands hotel complex. Looking like a spaceship has landed on top of three skyscrapers, the building was home to a hotel, shopping mall, ice rink, casino and who knows what else. Adjacent to this, another building that looks like a hand or a flower opening (it's actually an art gallery). There are many other beautiful edifices dotted around the waters edge all vying for attention but they are all now relegated into second place (until something even more amazing is constructed).

Katy tried to run one morning but returned thinking she was going to melt (hot, humid and no water fountains). It looked like she had swum back to the hostel (gathering strange looks as she did so).

We ventured onto Orchard Road, a very bustling multi-lane street. We were there on the hunt for a bar that Tim's dad used to frequent 'back in the day' we hunted high and low but could not find it anywhere (later dsicovering it was long gone). But we did find our first Marks & Spencer in a very long time. We popped in to check on what's what and Katy was pleased to note that some of her designs were present (soups taking a prime postition). If I was a Percy pig eater this is where I'd be stocking up.

Instead, wandered to Little India for a malysian curry, wife cakes and sugar cane drinks. Its all so different from Australia!

On recomendation, we spent an evening at the night safari on the outskirts of town. After a very long bus ride we arrived at the zoo and were herded into an outdoor theatre that was to be the venue for a number of nocturnal beasties from wolves, snakes, owls, a civet cat and a group of otters. Very entertaining indeed. Then onto the slowly ambling train through the grounds where we got to see lions, tigers, tapias and many more sleeping beasties. And an elephant which charged at us because incompetent tourists couldn't turn off the flash on their cameras and irritated the hell out of the pachyderms. Thats the secondtime we've been charged at by elephants... whats their problem?!

Our Singapore stop was short and sweet. Many people dislike the place but we enjoyed ourselves (maybe because it was just a few days).

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Counting the Cost of New Zealand and Australia

17/12/2010 - 31/07/2011

[click images to see the bigger picture]

New Zealand and Australia are EXPENSIVE. Particularly after we had spent so much time in South America.  There were a number of expensive 'one-offs' in both Aus & NZ.  These were things like river-rafting and sky-diving.

We bought a car in Cairns, Queensland and sold it in Adelaide, South Australia.  'Food' takes up a big chunk of cash but is just a general grouping for all consumables such as toiletries, sun cream and anything else that might come from a supermarket,

Because we have been so lucky with HelpX placements in this part of the world, the cost of living for us was actually very good.  NZ was clearly very expensive considering our short stay, cheap travel option and the kindness of some lovely Kiwis.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Australia Part VII
- The Other Bits

The Great Ocean Road :: 04-07/07/11

Back on top Travelling-Marshs form, we bid a sad farewell to the Machins and the heavens opened. As we skirted around Melbourne toward Geelong we were down to 10kmh and had strategically placed the washing-up bowl on the back of Clive to catch the major leaks dripping inside. Regrettably, we sloshed past Philip Island; the MotoGP pilgrimage will have to wait.

We spent the first night in a hostel in the coastal town of Torquay. The UK Torquay is in the English Riviera and is - as we all know - eternally sunny; the down-under version was cold, windy and very wet. And the hostel was bizzare; we wandered in to find everything in boxes... the UK part-owner was moving out the following week and we shouldn't really have been staying there. It was a bit disconcerting when she started telling Tim how the fire alarm system worked and that if the alarm did go off, here is the switch to mute the alarm! But just in case, she also gave him the phone number for the fire-brigade. With that, she dissappeared for the night!

Thankfully, the training was surplus to requirments and after Katy returned from a windswept coastal run we continued through the wind and rain, which - if nothing else - made for a more theatrical backdrop to the winding coastal drive following the rising and falling cliffs. By the second night we'd reached Appollo Bay and picked the best of a bad bunch of hostels, which was actually quite homely and had a lovely view of the bay, despite the rain.

Although very quiet, a few people were staying,including - unusually - a family. As we sat in the lounge watching the maelstrom of weather outside, we offered them some of our biscuits (felt a bit guilty eating them in front of them) and we started chatting. An hour later they had offered to take us to dinner! We gratefully refused but they insisted so we then had a game of cat n mouse: at night, in the rain, trying to find somewhere to eat. They were Israeli (and Israelis sure love to travel!); we've met a few who are really quite... demanding? But this was a lovely, funny and interesting family.

The following morning, after saying brief goodbyes, we were back on the road. This time with slight deviations along quiet country tracks, often blocked by free roaming cows. But we were there to see KOALAS! In all this time, we'd never seen them in their natural habitat, but here they were. Clinging on in the rain and virtually impossible to see. But when you did, they were very sweet. Katy happy.

On to Portland. After much hunting for cheap accommodation, we eventually found the Bell View 'guest house' which transpired to be a couple of static caravans in a field. It was one of those times where we nearly turned back but glad we didn't... we knocked on the house next door and met met Olive and Harold, a really sweet old couple. They showed us around (didn't take long) and we just had a really relaxed stay.

The following morning, we walked deserted pathways surrounded by fields of sheep and lambs until reaching the deserted Yellowstone Beach where we recorded a happy birthday message for Krazy Kylie Baty.

Back in the car and onward to Adelaide. Atypically bathed in glorious sunshine, we drove through forests, villages and many famous vineyeards, hardly seeing another living soul. The journey was uneventful but thoroughly enjoyable. We reached the outskirts of Adelaide and re-entered civilisation (though people from other parts of Australia might disagree).

Adelaide :: 07-21/07/11

We stopped in the relatively expensive YHA hostel (made a bit cheaper by using our YHA membership which had expired the year previously). A characterless building full of backpackers with bigger budgets than ours, plus we needed car parking space so we moved on to another - rather less salubrious - hostel. On the edge of town, with free carpark and - bizzarely - a sauna in the car park, it became our new home.

Adelaide gets a bad press from most Australians (even those living in Adelaide). So we were not looking forward to spending much time there. Unfortunately we had to as this was where we had to sell the car (train tickets already booked).

To that end, we printed sale-posters for car, posted them in hostels across the city. Then quickly went back to each poster to reduce the price having seen the others already out there that were failing to sell.

While we waited for the offers to come flooding in, we took a look around. Adelaide's critics might have a point (too small, nothing happening etc), but its not as bad as all that. When its sunny, the area by the river is beautiful; it has some nice streets with cool cafes and some grand old buildings; the foodmarket was great (on the few times wecould afford anything from there) and there was a very cool arts centre... yes, I think thats everything.

Hostel life was generally good. Most of the people were great; some passed through regularly but there were also some long termers (mostly irish) with jobs like fruit picking. Unfortunately, it was during our stay here that Tim had his hoodie stolen but this was the only bad thing to happen (in fact the only bad thing to happen to us on the whole trip... so far). With regular income, the Irish contingent could afford to drink... they didn't need much more encouragement than that!

Still with no takers for Clive, we dropped the price again and put ads online. And we settled in to a bit of a routine. The hostel owner, Andrea was really nice and whilst our room was only $20/night, we halved that by Katy taking on the cleaning of the hostel. Not a big job - taking just a couple of hours after she came back from her run - and she quite enjoyed having a purpose and some fixed activity in the day. Tim found the library's free wifi and started learning to program .asp web-pages... so everyone was happy.

Some days later: Its SOLD! Not the car, but the surfboard. We were getting worried by this stage, so just wanted to sell what we could. Amended posters, reduced the car price again. And waited. The Irish had partied one too many times and were asked to leave. We watched '127 Hours' and realised that we'd been to the part of Utah featured in the movie. This has been one hell of a trip.

This time the price was right... too right. We had loads of calls, but ended up selling to a family recently emigrated from Leeds: Rob & Abby. We'd only taken it to them at their home in Glenelg to show them but they bought it there and then... it meant making our own way back home but that was fine with us. Clive is now a family car! We celebrated with expensive fish n chips and a tour of Glenelg before returning on the tram and preparing for the off. ITS SOLD!

Over the next few days we packed up and wound down, fitting in 'The Hangover II' and 'Bridesmaids' at the very lovely Nova cinema before finally saying our goodbyes to our new friends and heading for the train station.

Across the Nullabor Desert :: 21-23/07/11

We were dropped off on a bluebird day at the well maintained Interstate Train Station ready for our journey from South Australia to the coast of Western Australia; a distance of 2712km which would see us leave on Thursday evening and arrive on Saturday morning.

As we'd already talked to a few people about the trip, we were well prepared. We were - as always - doing things on a budget, so were relegated to the Red carriages (the others being Gold). Instead of sumptuous sleeper cabins we had chairs which reclined... a bit. They were actually more comfortable than you might think (but this really depends upon your levels of imagination) and anyway it brought back fond memories of our many bus rides through South America in our 'semi-cama' seats.

By the time we got going it was nearly 7:00pm and night-time so the views were going to have wait until tomorrow.

Dining was another area where the Red service differred ever so slightly from the Gold. Like orphans on Christmas eve we peered through the windows of the Gold dining carriages (they weren't really gold) and could see the crisp white table cloths below the crisp white napkins, beside silver cutlery and voluminous wine glasses. The Red dining carriage looked like a truckers cafe by comparison. And an expensive truckers cafe at that. Good job then that we stocked up with supplies... our trip was snack fuelled by chocolate and biscuits and crisps and dips. It was like a three-day childrens party (where one of the children likes hummous & carrots).

We were also naughty by bringing on our own wine, strictly against train rules. Whilst Australia is generally expensive, wine is the exception; our ever so classy two litre box of merlot costing just $14. You can get cheaper than this of course but this one also tasted really good. Indeed it seemed to taste even nicer as we discreetly filled our paper coffee cups and sipped whilst watching the world drift past and nonchalantly avoiding the gaze of the train personnel as they walked past us along the aisle... we looked busy, reading books and nibbling biscuits.

Sleep was not great, but not as bad as might be expected. We had plenty of floor space but once everyone has reclined, its like one big game of 3D Tetris... very difficult to extract yourself from, even harder to get back in. The chairs were actually pretty comfortable but all i could think of were the sumptuous sleeper carriages.

On the plus side, we were awake at the break of dawn and after a surprisingly good shower it was time for breakfast. Our economy breakfast saw us eating cereal from more paper coffee cups (we'd bought twenty) though we did splurge and pay for cups of tea from the dining carriage (it being just too early for wine).

With breakfast out of the way (paper cups and plastic spoons made washing up very easy) we could concentrate on the days activities of doing not very much. It was great.

After dawn we had our first sight of the Nullabor. Wow. So much sky. The surrounding countryside was very flat with only tussocks of grass and low shrubs ('Null Arbor') and appeared very similar to our time spent in the 'Back o Bourke' with the Crazy-Batys. The contrasts of colour between deep blue sky, sandy red earth and suprisingly vibrant green plant life was beautiful. Katy saw a dingo walking off with something in its mouth and we saw a few wedgetail eagles but what we were really looking our for were the camels. Yes, camels! I think they were originally bought over from Afghanistan to help carry loads in the outback and they have thrived ever since, apparently over a quarter of a million roam these parts... but nowhere near our train unfortunately.

When not camel hunting we were book reading. I'd been looking forward to this for quite a while. I've read a few books since we've been gone but nowhere as many as I thought i would... unbelievably there never seems to be time. Anyway, trapped in our metal capsule, I now had time and managed nearly two books between Thursday and Friday evenings. It would've been more but I had to make time for some critical daytime snoozing, which felt so decadent. after every sleep you were greeted with a new vista; open plains turned to woodland turned to scrubland and occasioanlly a tiny town.

The train only makes three stops between Adelaide and Perth. These stops are out of necessity rather than pleasure. Our first stop was in the very small town of Cook. Twenty-five minutes to stretch our legs and have a nose around, at what is barely a village. what it lacked in houses it made up for in jails (two, but they were only small and a dedicated larrikin could easily cut through the bars with some goanna teeth). It also gave us our first real look at the whole train. It was quite a sight; i belive there were over forty carriages (including the car transporters at the back). The beautifully emblazened blue Indian Pacific engine looked magnificent in the morning as it was being topped up with fluids. We liked our trusty steed.

And the day progressed. A snifter of wine in the afternoon and we were set up for a great sleep, only awaking in time to watch a beautiful sunset. later that night we stopped at Kalgoolie, a large mining town and hence surprisngly well developed. But also surprisingly cold, so with only thongs on (don't be so childish) we didn't venture far.

Clearly some people had a good time that night as i overheard someone the following morning apologising for stepping on someone elses head, when drunk and desperate for the bathroom. As the other person (who i think was his newly acquired girlfriend) was equally drunk at the time there were no hard feelings, or indeed memory of the event. just bruises.

Perth :: 23-31/07/11

We arrived in Perth bang-on schedule at 9:00am. And with us had bought the Travelling Marshs curse... apparently Perth is always gloriously sunny but on our arrival we were greeted by fog and even a little rain... hrrmphhh.

We were also greeted by a tout trying to get people to stay in his hostel and with nothing else arranged, we agreed to take a look. I should point out here that we'd stayed in some pretty ropey places whilst in south america but this place in vibrant, prosperous Perth made even the worst of Bolivia's offerings look good. Damp, dirty and smelly are three of the most pleasant words i can find to describe the place;add these to 'damp' 'infested', and 'fetid' and you'll start to get the picture. When we told the person showing us around 'thanks, but no thanks' she apologised and admitted the place was terrible; she'd only been working there one day and hated it. Lets hope our new - if much more expensive - home, The Billabong Backpackers is as good to us as our Adelaide home...

We wandered down to waterfront at night where we saw a large white marquee, but with no big crowds we figured we'd missed whatever had been happening. We were just about to walk away when music started playing. We stayed a while longer and realised that the marquee was actually full and as we walked closer, Pulp started playing. We found a gap in the side of the tent which gave a perfect view of the stage so we had a free concert. Wierd, but sounded great and reminded Katy of her William street days.

The following day, we managed to meet-up (all too briefly) with Sarah Ryan. We'd first met Sarah on Vancouver Island so it was amazing after all that time to meet again in her home town. She took us for dim sum at a great place we would never have found on our own. But she was just about to leave for Europe, so the meet was short but sweet.

A couple of days later, we also met with Tryn and her family. She used to live in Brecon, Wales but had moved to Aus several years ago. We'd been looking forward to this reunion for ages.

We met outside the Hospital, where she works and she took us home to her place. She lives in a lovely suburb of Perth with her husband Terry and sons Fraser & Josh who had both grown significantly since we last saw them (and become a little bit aussie too). At the time, Terry's son - Sean - from the UK was also visiting so it was a full place! It was so great to meet with Tryn again and she had not changed one bit (this is a good thing!). The family was so nice... and the BBQ!

We took a brief trip to Fremantle which everyone raves about. It was 'Ok' but with the dreary weather continuing, I think we didn't see it at its best. Much more fun was the AC-DC exhibition, next to the University. Loads of 'DC realted nostalgia in their homeland.

We met Tryn on another couple of occasions. The first: a lunch date at the Lucky Shag, down by the harbour (you can tell its a classy place as it has two way glass in the mens toilets looking out into the bar). And the second was when she offered to take us to the airport to continue our journey and on to our next big step... South East Asia. But first she treated us to another great meal... we have some lovely friends!

But eventually the time came and - six months after arriving - we hugged and said our goodbyes and were back in an airport full of excitement and expectation and roast dinner...