Tag Archives: photography

Melaka 

Standard
Melaka 

After our few days in Kuala Lumpur it was time to move on to the very nice town of Melaka. Melaka was a major trading port before Singapore took over, and was the main hub for trade in Maylasia. When you see the quaint narrow streets with its many architectural beautiful houses, along with it’s small narrow canal system it’s hard to imagine the town as a major trading hub. It has now become one of Malaysia’s tourist hotspots. Now you can visit Melaka from Kuala Lumpur, just as a day trip. As the journey from KL is only around one and a half hours to two hours away. I’m sure there are many tour companies in KL that will cater for this, but my suggestion is take the train or a taxi to the TBS bus station and take one of the many luxury buses that run down to Melaka, and for a fraction of the cost of a tour company ” the single journey cost 26 ringetts for two which is just under £3. I would strongly recommend not just to go for the day but to spend at least a couple of nights there, to really enjoy it. There are an abundance of restaurants and street food stalls to choose from, and also many shops. These are mainly along Jonker street and the surrounding area. One thing to mention is that Melaka is a weekend town for tourism, with many people coming in from KL even Singapore of a weekend break. During the week it can be a little quite. But the town comes alive at the weekend. One of its main draws is the weekend night market, which is held on a Fri, Sat and Sunday night.

Top sights

  • Night market, (Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
  • River Boat Trip
  • Illuminated Rickshaws
  • Jonker street
  • Reggae Bar

 

Kuala Lumper

Standard

After our busy few days in China, here we are in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia’s capital for the next stage of our trip. We are staying at Summer Suites which is a 10 minute walk from the Petronas Tower’s and a five minute walk from the monorail. A perfect location for discovering the city. The one tourist attraction that I would recommend when visiting are the Petronas Towers for a great view over the city. We booked our tickets back in the UK which I would recommend doing. As firstly if you are only in the city a few days like we are you are guaranteed to the get the day and the time you want. Also as it is a popular tourist spot it can get pretty booked up, so you may be disappointed if you just turn up. On the visit your first stop is the “Sky Bridge” which is the walkway connecting the two towers. Next stop is the 86 floor and the “Sky Deck” which affords amazing views of the city. There is another tower in KL you can visit, and that’s the Menara tower. My suggestion is go up the Petronos during the day, and visit the Menara at night, this way you get to see the Petronos towers lit up at night in their glory. Other top sights to see in the city are. China Town, Little India and Batu Caves. China town is exactly what it says, lots of Chinese restaurants, shops and street food, a good place to go and explore, and to eat. Next up little India, much the same as China town, but you guessed it ” An Indian slant on things”. Now if it’s shopping you want then you could go to Petaling Market in China town, “it’s where all the guide books say to go” but in my opinion it’s overpriced and you get major hassle. You could try Central Market, but my Top Tip is take the monorail to Chow Kit station, which is in little India, and there is a market there. No hassle and the prices are a fraction of what they want to charge in Petaling street. Next  Batu Caves which is a short drive or train journey out of town. They are a must see. Here you will find a collection of Hindu temples inside. Entrance is free to the main cave, so don’t be enticed into buying a ticket from any of the dubious ticket offices.There is on exception however the cave to the far left of the main cave (just walk along the pathway in front of the car park) does have a small entrance fee, but it is well worth it. Just one thing to mention. The stairs leading up to the main cave are a little steep and in the heat can be a struggle, I did read that there was a cable car but I saw no sign of this. This said there are plenty of places to stop along the way, and I’m sure that the many monkeys which are running around along the way will keep you amused with there antics.

So if Kuala Lumper is a stopover on your way to further afield, don’t just use it as a transit stop give it a look

Taxi Scams One thing I should mention is the many crafty taxi drivers. It was almost impossible to get a taxi driver to put there meter on like all the guide books insist that you do. They all want to charge you a really inflated price to the correct metered fare. Now us on our travels either walk or use public transport. We tried once and he wanted a stupid price, we wasnt  going far, (we only wanted a taxi due to the the fact that we had been walking all day and our feet had, had enough) So I told him ” don’t be so stupid” and walked. So I suggest you download an app on your phone called grab taxi and book a taxi through the app. (You will need a data connection) An example of the price difference is when we arrived at Melaka Central bus station and needed to get to our hotel, we went to the supposedly official taxi office and was immediately descended on by a throng of drivers who all wanted the same price. The fixed price was 20 ringetts, around £4, which we had to pay as I had no data connection to use the app. (Normally I get a local sim) When we got to the hotel and had some wifi I checked the price on Grab Taxi and the official fare was 8 ringetts around £1.50. I have to point out that it wasn’t the cost as £4 would be more than exceptable for the journey we took in the UK but the Malaysian government are trying to clamp down on the taxi syndicates run by local crooks. So beware

 

The Great Wall

Standard

Our next day in Beijing with another busy day ahead it was tIke to visit the magnificent Great Wall of China. Before we left the uk we did some research on the best place to visit. The main tourist spot is at a place called Badaling, but after looking at a lot of images and also watching the UK’s TV series “An Idiot Abroad”, with Carl Pilkinton, it showed  what looked like a football crowd walking along it, so we decided to give this section a miss . So with some further research we settled on going to a section a little further outside of Beijing at a place called Mùtiányù. This is far less touristy, in fact it was very quite when we went as we were outside the main tourist season.

The Chinese started building the wall some 2000 years ago and the wall covers a distance of 5,500 miles. We sourced “which as it turned out” a very good company on the internet run by a chap called Miles Meng. “In fact he is listed in the Lonely Planet guide book which we discovered later”. The journey takes about 2 hours and cost 700¥ (for the car not per person) this is around £80. If you decide to visit the  Badaling section of the wall you can take the train from Beijing north rail station, but if you decide on Mùtiányù then you need a taxi or private tour. The trip doesn’t include the entrance fees, these will cost 100¥ for the return cable car trip and 45¥ for the entrance totalling around £17

Top Tip instead of taking the cable car back down take the toboggan or luge it’s much more of a fun way to get down.

Visiting the wall in March like we did was perfect, there was no crowds, it was cold “there was still snow on the ground” and there were clear blue sky’s. Seeing the wall in the flesh so to speak was just amazing, in fact it was quite emotional. Another wonder of the world ticked off.

 

South Africa Re-visited Pt 2. Zambia

Standard
South Africa Re-visited Pt 2. Zambia

Up early today for our flight to Livingstone, Zambia, and the Victoria Falls. On arrival in the arrivals lounge we were confronted by a horrendous queue for entry visa’s. “We did some research some months prior to our visit, and it was possible to get your visa online, but this has now stopped”. When we got closer to the entry visa desks we could see what the hold up was. All of the four desks available were manned but they only had one card machine between them, and as so many people were paying by card the operators were passing the card reader to one another. On top of this when we got to the desk the operative’s phone rang, so he was busy having a conversation. “probably it was his mum asking him what he wanted for dinner”. So Top Tip Bring cash, dollars like the guide books suggest and like we did and maybe people will get processed faster, rant over.

Our accommodation during our stay was the excellent Green Tree Lodge. I cannot praise Green Tree Lodge highly enough. The proprietors Andrew & Victoria were really helpful and very welcoming. Also as it turned out, Andrew who was from England, used to work where I was currently working at the time (small world)

On our first day we were up bright and early to visit the Victoria Falls (Top Tip to avoid the tour groups arrive early) As we approached the falls we were both stunned into silence, they were truly amazing, we both felt quite emotional at the sight,more so for my partner, as it was her childhood dream to see the falls. We started off at the highest point of the falls as recommended by Andrew at Green Tree Lodge. Seeing the Zambezi plunge into the ravine below was just breathtaking. We worked our way down, and walked along the opposite edge of the falls. We were told by Andrew that its one of the few places on earth where rain goes up. Well its not rain but the massive spray from the Zambezi as it hits the ravine below. We stupidly hired some waterproof ponchos to keep us dry, but like I said the rain (spray) comes up, so we were absolutely soaked. What an experience.

The next day it was relaxing visiting the Royal Livingstone Hotel for a posh afternoon tea, and of course the obligatory bottle of wine watching the sun go down over the Zambezi and the falls.

Our last day we decided to take a trip in the air over the falls, mine was in a microlight and Jackie’s was in a helicopter. After our amazing experience we spent a couple of hours wandering around Livingstone and in the evening, finishing off the trip with a sunset cruise on the African Queen along the Zambezi river. A truly memorable end to a fantastic trip.

South Africa re-visited

Standard
South Africa re-visited

 

Well it’s almost a year since we were in South Africa, so I am finally getting around to finishing my blog on our visit, before we head off on my 60th birthday trip. More on that later

After leaving Swellendam we headed for our next stop, Cape Town, with a stop on route in Stellenbosch. A very pretty town not only famous for its wine but also its Ostrich farms. After a stroll around the town and some lunch, it was time to move on to Cape Town.

As we approached Cape Town things got busier as you would expect, the wide open spaces that we were used to in the east became less and less also things got somewhat bizarre. You see some friends of ours who have been to South Africa a few times told us a story about when they stopped at some traffic lights, they saw a woman in the middle of the road trying to sell a wardrobe of all things. Just the sort of thing that you need whilst out for a quite drive. Well it appears that the entrepreneurship of the South Africans doesn’t just stop at furniture. We stopped at some traffic lights (probably the same ones) and saw a guy waving the biggest fish you can imagine, around trying to sell it to passing motorists. Quite how many days he had been waving around in the South African sunshine I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess. Before we checked into our guest house, we decided to stop off and have a look around the V&A waterfront area of Cape Town. The V&A consists of many chain type restaurants and high end shops, all very nice but a bit too commercial and polished for my liking, but worth a visit all the same.

On our first full day in Cape Town we visited Table Mountain. We had pre booked our tickets back in the UK having read about the vast numbers of people visiting, as you can imagine, as Table Mountain along with Robben Island are Cape Town’s biggest tourist draws. On reflection we needn’t have bothered as the queue for the cable cars for people with pre booked tickets was just as long as the queue for people without, Oh well we tried. Our next stop and in my opinion a must see is the District 6 museum. District 6 was an area of Cape Town which was a thriving township community, consisting of blacks, coloureds, “South African’s term for mixed race” and Malay people. The district was demolished because the white South Africans decided they wanted the area for themselves to build nice big fancy buildings and high end houses. The entrance to the museum (which incidentally is housed in an old church, the only building left standing from the district) is free to enter, but once inside I would wholeheartedly recommend taking a tour with one of the guides. The guides are all former residents of District 6. Our guide Ruth who was brought up in the district was so informative, and her story was so moving, she was in tears telling us, even though she must have told it a thousand times, very moving indeed. I cannot get my head around how one person can treat another so badly just because of the colour of their skin. We ended our day with a good few cold beers in a bar/restaurant called “Bombay Bicycle Club”.

Our next day in Cape Town was a visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for the best part of his 30 year sentence. Robben Island is definitely one I would recommend booking in advance. If you are staying in Cape Town for a few days I would recommend making your booking to the island early on during your stay, because if the ferries to island are cancelled due to bad weather you can use your pre-booked ticket for another day.

A must visit if you are in Cape Town for a few days is Boulder Beach, which if famous for its population of penguins, it was just amazing to see them in there natural habitat. Could have watched them for hours going about their daily business.

Now the 26th of March is my birthday, so we asked the owner of the accommodation that we were staying at Acorn House which incidentally I would thoroughly recommend. If she could recommend a nice restaurant for the occasion. She told us about a high end restaurant called La Mouette, at Sea point which a short drive from Cape Town. She said she would try to book a table, but could not promise as it gets booked well in advance, but luckily for us we managed get a table. We decided to go for the six course taster menu, which also comes with a glass a wine with each course. The food and the wine was amazing. If this restaurant was in London the cost of the meal would be astronomical, I’m sure well out of our price range, but the meal was just £60 for the both of us