A Travellerspoint blog

Malaysia pictures!

Langkawi and KL, Malaysia

Subay-di! (that's hello in Laos...I'm learning very fast!)

Finally found an internet cafe that will let me upload...these pictures include the fish spa where the fish ate our feet! Enjoy!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2340090&id=13604534&l=b35cb3eb58
xx

Posted by meggiep 02:23 Comments (0)

Lazy days in Malaysia

Langkawi and KL, Malaysia

Hey guys!!

I had such a wonderful week in Malaysia...I can't believe it's over and that I'm in Laos already! Time is really flying by...

Last Sunday I left KL bright and early to take what should have been a 5 hour bus north, to a small town called Kuala Perlis, where you catch the ferry to Palau Langkawi. Instead of being 5 hours, the bus was 10 hours long, because we kept having to stop for prayers and meals! It was very frustrating...I was so happy to finally make it to my hostel and meet everyone. The hostel was great, full of fabulous, fun people and pretty close to the beach and strip of restaurants.

Monday I headed to the beach for a tough day of tanning with Karl and Becky, a lovely couple I met from Liverpool. It was INSANELY hot in Langkawi...after about 5 minutes of walking we were all gross and sweaty. The beach was lovely - super soft white sand, turquoise waters, all surrounded by jungle covered mountains. It was very windy though, and we got sand blasted for a few hours while tanning. After we got too hot for the beach (there were too many jellyfish in the water that day to cool off with a swim) we headed to one of the cheap restaurants for lunch. We spent the afternoon napping and then went for dinner, and hung out with everyone from the hostel. Hard day!!

Tuesday was another lovely lazy day on the beach, after which we went back to the hostel and got into the inflatable pool with our beers since it was so hot! Karl, Becky and I decided that since my birthday is so important, we are going to meet up on Ko Tao in Thailand for a party we're calling Megfest 2009. Should be great!

Tuesday night we partied at the hostel with a bunch of people from Calgary, and since I had to leave the hostel to catch my ferry at 6:30am, I decided to just not go to bed...I was SO tired on the long bus ride back to KL, which of course took another 10 hours!!

On Friday, Dini, my friend from McGill who lives in KL, met up with me in the morning and we had a fabulous day being tourists. We bought tickets for the tourist hop-on hop-off bus, which took us all around the city. First we went to the Central Market, wandered around a bit, and visited the fish spa - you put your feet in a pool full of little fish for 5 minutes and they all swarm your feet biting off the dead skin! It was such a strange feeling!! After having our fish pedicure, we jumped back on the bus and headed to the Bird Park, apparently the largest of it's kind in the world. We saw tons of tropical birds and peacocks, and some very aggressive parrots (one tried to attack me twice...I could have died! It was traumatizing!!!) After a quick lunch we got back on the bus and headed to the National mosque, just in time to see it before it closed to the public for afternoon prayers. We got to wear these purple burqas, which kind of made us both look like Obi Wan Kanobi. It was a very beautiful, airy building. Next we headed to Dini's fave stop - the Islamic Arts Museum, one of the best in the world. It was a really fantastic museum, with artifacts from all around the Muslim world.

At this point we were tired and starving, and we got on the bus to head somewhere for dinner, only to be stuck in horrible traffic (wouldn't be Asia without it!) I had such a fabulous time with Dini...it was great seeing the city with a local, and she told me a lot about what it's like living in Malaysia...as a tourist you don't realize how strictly Muslim it is. And of course it was lovely to catch up with Dini!!

This morning I flew to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. My flight left at 8 but I had to leave the hostel at 4am to get to the airport on time...NOT fun. I'm spending a few days here before heading on an overnight bus to the town of Luang Prabang, where hopefully I'll do some trekking with elephants!!

I'm having trouble uploading my pictures, but as soon as I can I'll post them.

xo
meg

Posted by meggiep 22:03 Comments (2)

Crazy KL

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hey everyone!!

What a week...in 4 days I was on 3 different continents!!

On Saturday I flew from Lima to San Francisco, with a very quick stopover in San Salvador. I then spent a very busy 48 hours in San Francisco with the fam. It was great...I got to stock up on more essentials for the next 6 months (tshirts and peanut butter) hang out with the fam, and see my cousin Kiernan! It was hard to say goodbye to everyone! On Tuesday at midnight I had a long flight to Hong Kong, which was actually pretty easy, since I was exhausted and popped a gravol before the plane took off - I managed to sleep 9 out of the 14 hours of the flight! After a stopover in Hong Kong I flew to Kuala Lumpur and suddenly plunged into Asia.

Kuala Lumpur is a really awesome city. It's incredibley diverse - the population is a mix of Malay, Indian and Chinese - it's relatively calm and clean for an Asian city (so I'm told!) and there's lots of neat things to see. Yesterday I set out with a girl I met at my fabulous hostel, Susanna, to do a grand tour of the city's highlights. We first went to the city centre to see the massive twin Petronus towers, apparently the highest in the world. We wandered around the city centre for awhile before jumping on the light rail (which is wonderfully air conditioned) and heading to Kampung Baru, the Malay area of the city. Although you can see the city skyline from anywhere in the neighbourhood, it's like you've left the busy, crowded city. A lot of the houses are traditional wood houses, the streets are quiet, and everyone is peacefully going about their business. We stopped by the neighbourhood's mosque (most Malay people are muslim) but couldn't go inside because it was a Friday, and then headed to the Sikh temple. After washing our hands and feet and putting on head scarves, the security guard led us upstairs, the the giant gurdwara, where Sikhs come in the mornings and at night to worship. An old man who was in the gurdwara saw us and decided to show us around, gave us a lecture on Sikhism, and then led us downstairs to the free kitchen for lunch! He was lovely...he kept pushing us to take more food and chai tea, and then wouldn't let us wash our dishes afterwards! All Sikh temples have kitchens offering free food to anyone...something to remember when I'm in India looking for a free lunch!!

After leaving the temple we headed to the Chow Kit market, a massive food market just north of Kampung Baru. We saw every fruit, vegetable and chili imaginable, plus fish (the catfish were still alive on the tables!), chicken, and cooked snacks. Everyone at the market smiled and said hello to us...Malaysians are so friendly!!

We left the market, very hot at this point, and headed to Chinatown, where we checked out another mraket selling everything from food to electronics to fake designer purses! We attracted a lot of harmless attention...as I walked by one stall, the guy there called after me "You want purse? You want sunglasses? You want shoes?...You want boyfriend??" It was so funny!

We got back to the hostel totally exhausted. The weather here is incrediblely hot and humid, so napping in the afternoons is essential. My hostel is just lovely...it has air conditioned rooms, lovely, helpful staff, and is right near some great restaurants! Malaysian food is SO good...you can get great Indian, Chinese, and traditional dishes!!

Today I bought my bus tickets for Langkawi, and island I'm goign to tomorrow to relax for a few days on the beach, and then headed to Little India. What a chaotic, colourful neighbourhood! There were stalls selling yummy street snacks, stores filled with silk head scarves and saris, and Bollywood music playing everywhere! I got lost several times because many of the streets aren't signed, and several have the same names. Very confusing!!

It'll be nice to head to the beach for a few days, but I can't wait to get back to KL! My friend Dini from McGill lives here, and she's taking Friday off work to show me around a bit. Can't wait!!

Here are a few pics from San Francisco and my first few days in KL:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2340090&id=13604534&l=b35cb3eb58

xx
meg

Posted by meggiep 01:39 Comments (1)

WOW Galapagos!!

Las Islas Galapagos, Ecuador

Hey guys!

This will be a long once, because the Galapagos were SO amazing!!

Jo and I spent our last day in Quito, last Saturday, wandering around Old Town, and getting ready for the big football match between Ecuador and Uruguay. Everyone we saw was wearing an Ecuador football shirt, so obviously we had to buy some! After checking into my fabulous 5 star hotel (it came with the Galapagos trip!) we went back to our favourite spot in Quito, the Magic Bean, to watch the game. Ecuador scored in the second half, and the place went wild - people were hugging and kissing each other, and everyone was yelling! We only got to celebrate for 45 seconds though, because before we knew it, Uruguay scored. It was a tense game until the end, when the stupid biased ref carded the goalie and Uruguay got a free shot on net, winning the game for them. We were very sad!! Jo came back to my fabulous hotel room to watch movies, and we had a very sad goodbye...but hopefully I'll see here again soon!

Sunday we woke up early to head to the Galapagos! The flight we were on didn't have assigned seating, so I got to sit in first class...such a lovely way to start the trip! At the airport on Baltra island we were met by our fabulous and enthusiastic guide, Mauricio. We had a short bus ride to the dock, where we were met by sea lions lounging on the benches! Our boat, the Queen Beatriz, was amazing. I had my own cabin and the staff were lovely and helpful, and the food was amazing! Sunday afternoon we went out in the dinghys and toured around the mangroves in Black Turtle on Santa Cruz island. From the dinghys I saw my first blue footed booby (very exciting!) as well as giant sea turtles in teh water, sharks, and beautiful rays. On land we saw a great blue heron, pelicans that dove into the water so close to our dinghy that we were splashed, and a few marine iguanas, along with many other beautiful birds. It was a fantastic way to start out in the Galapagos! As the sun set 7 or 8 frigate birds flew around our boat, occasionally diving into the water. They followed our boat each night we were there...it was incredible!

During the night we sailed to Floreana island (it was a bumpy night and I felt a bit sea sick...thank goodness for gravol!) In the morning we visited Post Office Bay, where pirates and sailors used to leave letters that would be picked up and delivered by other boats. The practice still occurs today and we all left postcards. The rule is that they must be hand delivered, so mum and dad, you should expect someone to deliver a post card to your door in the next few weeks! Mauricio told us that it's more reliable than Ecuadorean post! We also went down a lava tube into a lava cave, where this crazy Irish man lived in the 1800s for 5 years. After that we went to the beach and went on our first snorkel adventure. We saw so many sea turtles, and they swam so close to us that you could touch them (of course we didn't though, that's against the rules!) I got some incredible pictures though.

In the afternoon we headed to Punta Cormorant, where we walked along the beach with sea lions and sally lightfoot crabs. We walked to the lagoon, where we saw flamingos and finches, and then went to Flour Beach, a beautiful white coral beach where sea turtles lay their eggs. In the water there were TONS of sting rays...every time a wave went out we saw 15-20 of them, babies and adults! We then sailed to Devil's Crown, a volcanic crater in the ocean, where we had our second round of snorkelling. We saw lots of colourful fish, and I saw with a white tipped shark for five minutes before it dove into deeper water! We were on the lookout for hammerhead sharks as well, but unfortunately didn't see any. It was such a fantastic day!

Tuesday was my favourite day. During another rough night of sailing (that I missed most of because of the miracle of gravol) we sailed to EspaƱola island, the oldest visible island in the Galapagos. We spent the morning at Gardner bay, a beautiful white sand beach that was just packed with sea lions! We took so many amazing pictures with them...they're not scared of humans at all! The beach is mostly females with babies, and one dominant male that parades up and down the beach barking at us and any other males that threaten to take over his territory! We also saw some marine iguanas lying lazily on the rocks. We went snorkelling out to some rocks by the beach, where I saw another shark, and a lot more colourful fish. Mid morning, we sailed to a small island nearby, where we went snorkelling with sea lions! They love to play with snorkellers...they would swim right up to us, nip at our fins or goggles, and then twirl around in the water with us! It was amazing...I was playing and twirling around with sea lions for about an hour!!

After a delicious lunch, we sailed to Punta Suarez, a beautiful point on the island. We spent almost 4 hours hiking around. We first arrived at the beach, where we saw more baby sea lions than anywhere else in the Galapagos...some had just been born that morning! There were also lots of marine iguanas swimming and lying in huddles on the rocks and the beach. We saw blue footed boobies and Nazca boobies nesting right along the path, and got to see some of their babies! We even got to see the famous blue footed booby mating dance...it was incredible (and very funny! The male walks around with his feet high in the air, while the female watches, quite unimpressed!) We are lucky that this is the time of year when the waved albatross is on the island. These birds spend 2 years at sea, never touching land, before coming to mate and raise their babies for just 6 months, only on EspaƱola island. We saw many albatross babies, getting ready to make their first flight at the end of November, when they'll spend 5 years (!) on the water before they're old enough to come back to the island to mate. Albatross mate for life, and they have a very intricate courting dance, which we got to see - the hit their beaks together as if they're swordfighting, and then move around each other, seeming perfectly choreographed. It was so cool...I felt like I was in another episode of Planet Earth!! We also saw friagate birds, tropic birds, and oystercatchers flying around the cliffs on the point. There were marine iguanas and lava lizards everywhere.

Tuesday night we had a farewell cocktail with our crew, before sailing back to Santa Cruz island, but the opposite side to where we visited on Sunday. We woke up VERY early (5 am!) to get to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where scientists are trying to increase the populations of giant tortoises and land iguanas. We got to see the tortoises as babies and older ones, and even met Lonesome George - believed to be the last of his subspecies, so he can't mate with any of other tortoises. They keep trying to find him a mate though...poor guy! He's thought to be about 100 years old, and these tortoises live to 150 or 200 years!

We then took a bus into the highlands of Santa Cruz, the natural habitat of the giant tortoise, where we saw many of them grazing in the fields and cooling off in small ponds. They are so cute...and again, we could get so close to them, they weren't afraid of us at all!

Leaving the Galapagos yesterday afternoon was very sad. I had another night in my fancy hotel and this morning went back to the Magic Bean, where I'm spending two more nights. I actually like it better than the fancy hotel...the staff are much nicer and the atmosphere is more relaxed and fun...plus the food is amazing! Last night a few of us watched the Ecuador-Chile football match, Ecuador's last chance to make it into the world cup. Unfortuantely, Chile is a great team, and watching the game reminded me of watching the Leafs play - they got so close to scoring, and then just choked. Chile won 1-0, but it was still fun to watch.

I have two more days to spend in Quito, which I'm happy about because I really love it here! Then I begin the 40 hour journey to San Francisco, involving 3 flights and a 22 hour layover in Lima. I'm excited to see the fam though, before I head off to Malaysia and the next stage of my big adventure!

I've also changed my travel plans a bit...after South East Asia, I'm headed to Kenya for a safari in Masai Mara park, then to Cape Town for a week, and then in mid-December I'm going to Ghana to volunteer at an autism centre for a month. It should be an incredible experience...I'm really looking forward to it!!

Here are some pictures...
Check out the last picture in this album..so cute!:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2335951&id=13604534&l=31e228b903

And of course, the AMAZING pictures from the Galapagos:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2338646&id=13604534&l=cd4af7b8b3

xx
meg

Posted by meggiep 08:43 Comments (0)

I LOVE Quito!!

Quito, Ecuador

Hi guys!!

I've had the most amazing few days here in Quito..I really like it here, and I'm surprised because I heard so many bad things about this city!!!

We arrived on Tuesday, after a short drive from Otavalo. We are staying in a little neighbourhood in the New City called Mariscal, at the most FABULOUS hostel/restaurant/cafe called the Magic Bean. There are so many cool and yummy looking cafes and restaurants in this area that Jo and I have started eating 4 meals a day!!

On Tuesday, we headed to a place called Mr. Bagel for lunch...amazing. They had real bagels, JIF peanut butter, and English newspapers! We were very happy! Then we spent the afternoon wandering around our awesome neighbourhood, getting lots of juices along the way!

Yesterday Jo and I went to El Jardin, a giant mall, for the morning. It was like being in North America again...everything was so clean and orderly! We got breakfast at a nice cafe, where I got a triple fudge brownie that was basically all fudge..so good! And we wandered around the giant supermarket there. I love foreing super markets! In the afternoon, Jo and I, and our new friend Louise, an Australian who is staying in our dorm, went to the Old City. We went up to a view point to look over the city, and then spent the day wandering the streets in the Old City, checking out amazing cathedrals and churches. We stumbled upon a protest in the main square, where 100s of people were happily chanting and waving flags in front of a government building. The protest had something to do with teachers, but both the protesters and the police were very happy.

Wednesday night we had an AMAZING dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Red Hot Chili Peppers (love the name!) It was so good we ate until we felt sick! That's pretty much how it's been in Quito.

Yesterday Jo and I took a trip up to the Cotopaxi volcano, one of the many volcanoes near Quito, which is in an area called Avenue of Volcanoes. We drove to Cotopaxi, and then drove up the mountain to around 4500m, where we left the van and had to walk up to a refuge at 4800m. It looked pretty close and we figured it would be an easy climb...ha!! The wind was blowing in our faces so hard we almost fell over, the climb was really steep and the alititude made it impossible to breathe, and the ground was all sand, so every step we took we slid backwards! It was SO hard...and when we got to the top, it was freezing! After lunch we headed back down...much easier and more fun than going up, and were immensely relieved to reach the warm van again. My asthma was really acting up which was no fun. It was definitely an adventure that we won't forget for a LONG time...but the views of the valley, as well as the glaciers at the top of the volcano (some of the only equatorial glaciers in the world!) were incredible, so it was definitely worth the pain of the climb!

Last night Jo, Louise and I had dinner at the Magic Bean. We ordered hummus, salad, and guacamole with chicken salad, and the most fantastic fruit juices (I took a picture), and then went to bed, completely shattered from our day of climbing!

Today Jo and I got up fairly early to go up the Teleferiqo, a cable car up the nearest volcano to Quito, Mt. Pichincha. The cable car took us to about 4100m where we had amazing views of the city and the mountains surrounding it. Breakfast at the Magic Bean was of course incredible...we got real, north american pancakes with MAPLE SYRUP, and coffee...I just LOVE the food here so much!

This afternoon I check into my fancy 5 star platinum hotel for my Galapagos trip! I booked the trip originally as tourist class, the most budget class there is, but because my boat was scheduled for maintenance, I got upgraded to superior class and get to stay in this lovely hotel for the night! I'm really excited. Jo and I are going to wander around our area a bit more before one last amazing meal in Quito and a night of dancing. It will be weird to say goodbye to Jo...we've been travelling together for 5 weeks, which is longer than I've travelled with anyone else! Very sad...

I can't believe I'm headed to the Galapagos tomorrow. I've wanted to go there since I found out it existed! It should be pretty amazing...

Here are some pictures of the jungle (and Mona the monkey!) and Quito...enjoy!!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2335951&id=13604534&l=31e228b903

ciao!
xx

Posted by meggiep 09:03 Comments (0)

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