Saturday, March 29, 2014

Back on solid ground...

...even now everything is still swinging :-) and being on land seams just strange after a week at sea. I am now taking ferry to the mainland and a night bus to Kuah, this post will get better as soon as I find another WiFi. Here some pics:

Alright, so here I am sitting in a motel restaurant in Alor Setar close to a bus station, talking to a blind Malay man who has a very good English while waiting for my night bus to KL. We had a huge and long storm which cooled us down :-) . 
A week ago when I was still in Cenang, I met a nice New Zelander Malcolm who recommended me a better guesthouse, so I moved to a very family like place. We spent some time together talking and then he introduced me to Edy, american guy staying in same dorm, we enjoyed very interesting conversations and Edy gave us a great hata joga class. We swam at night in the sea, sat on the beach for long hours and had a banana roti at 2am, I enjoyed every minute! Thank you, you two scientists and filozofers! 

Sailing with was great fun, I have received my competent crew certificate today so I feel a bit more competent now :-) . We sailed around the island and seen some fantastic places. I have to admit that sailing is a hard work and my body is sore and tired, but I wouldn't change it for anything, it was a very nice experience.  And I am glad I made the effort and got some gloves and good sun glases. I slept on deck most nights as it was just too hot down below. Stargazing is more fun when someone knows what stars are you looking at isn't it? :-) . It was 3 of us taking the course, me and English couple originally from Manchester, bit more world citizens now as they have been on the road for 4 years. Barry, the instructor was joking around a lot and his wife Lynette cooked as some great meals! I was outnumbered by Englishmen, but enjoyed tea breaks and European breakfasts for a change. My head is full of sailing terminology now, I hope I can remember it all till next sailing opportunity. Life is so different on a boat, slower and more intensive. This planet is very beautiful and fortunately, there are still some unspoiled places, there is hope!
 The school has 3 boats and there were two courses alongside, so we met them in marinas, and actualy, we raced them once, it was good fun. Marinas here are great, two of them have nice pool, restaurant and bar. Well enjoy the pictures, I thing I made too many. Those birds are eagles, Langkawi actually means a red eagle, and there are truly many or them, also sea eagles, we had a chance to see them well from the boat.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cenang beach

Dear friends, as I am slowly recovering from the mosquito attack from last week, there is not much to report. I made some pictures on this beautiful beach. We had rainy afternoons lately, which is much appreciated by people and the nature equally. Some strong winds blown some animals ashore so I have taken some pictures of fragments of the sea life.
I have spent a great afternoon on Rebak island, where I was invited to by Mike yesterday. It's a private island owned by a hotel but marina tenants can use the whole facility. We had pleasant conversations, did some laundry, had nice ready meal dinner on the boat and met some fellow sailors, hotel guests at the beach bar... I came home around eleven totally exhausted from this nothing doing. But I guess that's all down to my current condition and medication. I might visit again tomorrow as I don't feel fit enough for scootering around yet, maybe on Thursday. Today, I am just hanging around WiFi and sorting some things out. So have a look at new pictures :-) .

One news actually! Found cheapest lunch place so far, vegetarian plate and ice tea for 5RM! Very tasty and just around the corner. Bye bye expensive touristy restaurants :-) yep!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Itchy bites story

OK this post is not going to be as cheerful as the last one.
 I came to Langkawi two days ago by ferry from Penang. As the royal marina is very close by, I went there and placed my number on notice board for some sailors to pick up in pursuit of a crew position. Got a taxi, found the guest house I wanted to stay in but they were full, so I went on to the next one, got a shabby room with awfully shabby shared bathroom for 40RYM and I immediately started looking for other place or solution like volunteering or so. I have met my future sailing teachers to pay my skipper course and enjoyed sunset on the beach. I woke up early in the morning for a sunrise swim in the sea and found out that lots of mosquitoes were having luxurious feast on me. The windows were not closeable so they had it easy. :( Swimming will cool it down I thought so I enjoyed nice morning on the beach and went looking for a local dog and cats shelter to see if they need any volunteers. Later that day, I got a text that they are full and other places I tried online didn't reply to me. So I have moved to a bit better guest house near by and for same price I got nice room with a private bathroom. Phew! Hung my mosquito net for a first time and enjoyed the rest of the day. I only had a slight suspicion that some of the spots are new and that was weird. After rather itchy night I found out in the morning that lots of my spots multiplied but there was no insect to do so, also some of bites got blisters and that is a sign of infection. So I got a taxi (teksi) to hospital for a check. They gave me antihistamines, antibiotics, some other pills, creams to apply on skin and an injection. I feel a bit weak but my skin is already improving. So I think it's good I didn't get any volunteering job for now as I need to take care for myself first. It's nothing serious, I am just glad I had it checked. It reined for first time after 4 month of draught this afternoon so that feels very nice too and it might rain again :-) . I have met Mike a boat owners and his fellow sailor - a nice girl from Poland, we might meet again next week to see the boat. Once i feel better, I will hire a scooter and explore this island a bit more.
These mosquitoes really love me, I need to do anything to stop them from now on as I might be allergic to them or, they might carry infections which I do not deal well with. Oh, dear I hope next post is much more positive as I am sure that this place can offer much more joy and fun. :-)
Here is an evening update: medication started working so all is a bit better, less itchy, less red,...

Malaisian pictures are in this new album :

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Penang - the love affair! ;)

I admit, I am really enjoying myslef here, don't blame me. It's all downtown to this place and nice people. I went to see the biggest Buddhist temple in Malaysia called Kek look si and came back early and truly exhausted by the hot weather. Unfortunately these pictures are lost as the mini SD card is broken, so no pictures. It looked very modern anyway, but the blend with Chinese culture is interesting, lots of fish ponds, fresh water turtle pond with one turtle white, I wonder if that means luck? Anyway afternoon nap and good night sleep putted me back on my feet and I went to the National park, so much recommended to my by my Austrian room mate. :-) So of I went to the jungle, bus or rather bas 101 took me and few more tourists to the last stop (about 5 km). It was another hot day even in the shade of dense Forrest. I decided to take longest walk to farest turtle beach, I had my snack and water, so I have enjoyed the hiking track even it was in a rather difficult terrain. The beach was beautiful and I have noticed some turtle tracks in sand. I didn't really swim as there was lots of jellyfish and without glasses, well I didn't want to risk a burn. It was only about 5 people there, very piecefull. I went to ask about turtles and found out that there is a sanctuary where I saw some 3 day old beauties and one 2 year old. I was told that turtles come to lay eggs to that beach every month and this sancuary keeps some of the babies for 2 weeks and then let them go to the sea. Unfortunately, I was too tired to go to the monkey beach, so I didn't see monkies. Instead I took bas to the famous ferringhi beach and had dinner with cheesy sunset. Got myself a dress and some stuff for my friend, which I have managed to send of by post today. Well done me :-) ! I have met many people today, one Welshman telling me interesting information about Burma and two German guys which came fresh from airport from Thailand. Both chats were nice. And it feels good to meet people. I am finally heading to Langkawi island tomorrow morning by ferry, so wish me luck as there should be a marina and hopefully some sailors in need for crew! New pictures are in the same Malajsia album. Posting soon :-)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First steps in Malaysia

Do you know the feeling that some things and events are already planned for you? And if your plan doesn't match the general plan everything will happen according to higher plan anyway? Well that's what just happened to me couple of days ago. I wanted to take the long train journey from Singapore to Butterworth - Penang on Thursday. So I went to get the train, but I didn't make it on time, traffic was stuck, trains slow, just wasn't to be. So at the end I spent some good 3 hours in SG cold and clean public transport! Then I found the bus crossing to Johor bahru - Malaysia. Past through customes, got tran ticket to KL, bought new sim card and after some persuading I have managed to withdraw some money. Then I have found out that train traveling here is a serious businesses. You need to get queque number before purchasing ticket first, then you should be ready to board the train half an hour early and need to sit on designated seat (until the air con breaks in your couch and then you can sit just anywhere). :-)
So far, I love Malaysia, the eye contact, smile, helo, care, interest, oh it feels so much better here. And everyone knows basic English which makes it harder to learn at least thank you in Malay, but easier to talk to people. So far cheapest country and its reasonably clean.
I arrived to KL at 10pm, found taxi to china town, found a room in Backpackers and went to sleep totally exhausted. Next morning, I met Amanda from California in the lobby, we went to find Petronas towers together and got fantasticaly lost twice, so we arrived there much later then it would have been possible, but it gave us nice time to talk, eat breakfast and have fun. Then I ren back to hostel to pack and check out, got lost again, but made it on time. I didn't realise it was Friday until I was told that the second class in my train is full and had to buy a fist class ticket... first class freezer I would say. I even unpacked my jacket for first time to be able to survive the cold aircon. Well next time I will go by bus, several people recomanded it to me, its cheaper, faster and they should apparently have very comfortable buses. I will report on it once I see it.
I made it to the ferry to Penang at 10 pm, where I met Sharon from GB a lively young girl. We walked together, found hostel, (my first dorm), got late dinner and went to sleep. Oh I almost forgot the surprise waiting in the room! A Czech woman was there, it was nice, but we didn't even said our names and she left in the morning before I was fully awake, shame... Now its only me and Austrian old guy there :-) . It's all nice and clean for 20RM!! (120kc) but I got several - looots of strange and very itchy bites during night. It was not a mosquito, but I don't know what it was. I have asked at the reception, changed bed, sprayed the anti-insect thing all over me and this morning, found only two or 3 new bites. Well, bugs love me for sure... I will ask for some local product tomorrow in pharmacy I think.
Penang - George town, love it, so strange, you can get a fantastic meal for 4rm at one place and cappuccino for 9 elsewhere :-) ! But it's very friendly place, great mixture of different etniques lives here and I guess that creates this nice atmosphere. This place is famous for its street art and tasty food - confirmed.
I went to an event yesterday, small meeting in photography museum organised by local InterNation group (expats) which I've joined. We had guided tour around this fantastic museum full of interesting old cameras and had fun. I recommend a visit.
One guy from the group was heading to very first St. Patrick day parade in Penang so I have joined him. It was very nice, there is actually profound historical connection with Irish people, most famous are founders of schools, buildings, society moves,...and we heard and saw The sigh band - back pipes and drums - fantastic sound! I hope I will a mange to upload video somehow, so far it doesn't works :(.
 So we ended up spending whole evening together, had dinner and strol through market, it was great to meet someone who lives here and explained me some of interesting facts. I have enjoyed the night and company greatly.

Very funny thing happened today, I was walking through the centre and they close some streets to cars on Sunday mornings for fairs and community time. I was gathered by local medical association promoting a kidney health and was given free medical check - they insisted. So I report, that I have normal sugar in my blood, low cholesterol, 57kg, 172cm!!(I thought I was 174cm :[), normal blood pressure and I feel good. I received a present and met a guy who was hanging out with me for some more time showing me all nearby stalls and it was fun. I have also tryed the calligraphy brush for first time and made mandrine sign for heart!! <3 on paper on which you paint with watter so it all disappear after few minutes and you can start again like everything else in life. Yes and dragon candy! All pictured, have a look. :-)

This street art is amazing !!! Prague, make some notes and stop that stupid tagging! Signature can be an art or the other way round.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

From Siam to Singapore

Leaving Bangkok and Thailand after a month was nice and sad in the same time. It was mainly thanks to my new friends that I really enjoyed it and also it felt like I have finally got used to it. Sunday was fantastic, Natt and her husband were driving me from place to place, explaining everything I didn't know. I made my very first offering and prayer to Buddha and found out that because I was born on Tuesday, my Buddha is the reclining one (there you have it mom, thats why I like lying down and sleeping so much)! :-) well, no, actually this image shows buddha leaving to final nirvana, not sleeping. I also met Natt's parents, very nice people, her auntie made me a traditional hat which old rice farmers used and her mom gave me fantastic grilled sticky rise desserts. I felt pamperred all day long! Later back in the hostel, I met Monica again and we had a nice breakfast together the following day. So thank you all very much!

Now Singapore! It is a she, it's a lioness and so it looks like! I felt a little bit like back in Europe for first few minutes although, many things here function much better then on the old continent. Being on MRT train, you just cannot miss your stop, not mind gab, get lost or feel unsure, everything is so well marked that it's almost unbelievable. This time, I'm staying with a very nice CS Olivia, she managed to pick me up at the train stop and recognised me! :-)
She has a pretty flat and two cats! Blocks of flats here are really nice, mostly due to friendly community atmosphere. People here are out a lot, playgrounds, benches, hawkers stalls, everything is outdoors and I like it.
This modern city invites you for long walks and rewards them with interesting views. Although, sometimes a tip from a local can help find nice spots which are happily hiding behind all those skyscrapers and heavy traffic. For shopping lovers, this is the right destination, malls, markets and more malls and shops,...anything can be found here! Hunting for some old places, I strolled through a lot so my legs suffered greatly. I have very much enjoyed the South Asian museum with free guides talking about some objects with deep knowledge and in an entertaining manner. Lots of new places will breathe pure artificial, or at least they did to me. Like the famous water front gardens or even Sentoza island which looks like a huge playground, with aqua park, aquarium, monkies, trains, beaches, lots of theme places for kids, it's all there in bright colours and under precise maintenance.
The Raffels hotel is worth a visit, I was surprised by its size and luxury.
Well unfortunately, I'm leaving this entertaining island tomorrow morning as I have a long train journey ahead to another island - Penang, Malaysia. I already have a snack ready so need to pack and get a good sleep. :-)
New album link: