A Travellerspoint blog

Sumatra - Indonesia

DAY 14-21

semi-overcast 30 °C
View Julia and Frank on the Ro on Frankee's travel map.

Sunday 24 December, we went to Medan by ferry - horrible trip, it was supposed to take 4 hours, in the end it took 7 but at least we didn't drown!
From Medan we went straight on to Parapat at Lake Toba on an even worse journey:
Imagine the following - turn up your car stereo at top volume, now double it and play marusha in a never ending loop. Try, whilst driving on the other people's lane, at top speed (for Indonesian mini busses 80km/h this is), to avoid hitting any car driving in your direction. At the same time honk for every car/pedestrian/bicyclist/motorbike/dog/... you want to overtake and honk again if you successfully did so (adds up to an estimated 12456 honks per hour). Do this at night time with hardly working headlights.

Unfortunately we didn't make it to Tuk Tuk, our actual destination in Sumatra as we arrived at 9 pm, just a bit too late to catch the last ferry to the island in Lake Toba. As a result we had to celebrate christmas in a not so comfortable and quite expensive hotel with rather sticky bed sheets. At least we bumped into Santa Claus on our way to the restaurant (nice place but we had to take care of eventual dog dishes appearing on the menu), who was accompanied by a big band on a truck and plenty of supporters. Most of the population is catholic and these guys really know how to celebrate christmas!

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In the morning of 25 December we crossed the lake to Tuk Tuk and spent the next 3 days with former canibals ; )

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NB: The people of Lake Toba, called Bataks were of a canibal background a mere 200 years ago. Two European missionairs did their best to convince them to restrain from canibalism with success, however only after they got eaten as well.

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Most of the time we spent with doing nothing at all. Only one day we rented some mountain bikes for a couple of hours and the other day some motor bikes to explore the island a bit which is a really chilled out and peaceful place.

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Thursday we left Tuk Tuk to go to Bukit Lawang, a natural reservoir for orang utans. After a 12 hour journey (for only 300 km) we arrived at the Jungle Inn, a nice place to stay, just at the entrance of the reservoir. In the end it was definitely worth the trouble of getting there (taxi and public bus this time, still Indonesian marusha on public bus at full volume, with twice as many people on the bus as were actually able to fit in). On our second day we did a 3 hours jungle treck where we were able to see about 5 orang utans some of them even carried babies (the youngest one was only 2 months old). We were even allowed to feed them bananas which was a great experience!

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The idea of the project is to get young orang utans, that were captured and seperated from their mothers by hunters, back into their natural environment. This can take several years of keeping the animals in quarantine, so that they can learn how to survive in wildlife. After this period most orang utans stay in the area of the feeding platform, where they get milk and bananas twice per day. After a while they get bored of this simple menu and will search for other fruits in the jungle until they make their own ways.

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Two days later, on Saturday we went back to Penang. This time by plane which we almost missed (the public bus took 5 instead of 3 hours for 80 km to Medan, because of all kinds of interferences - picking up building materials, coconuts and all other things you can think of on its way!)

So now we are back in Penang to celebrate new year. We didn't know it but it seems like the biggest party in Malaysia is going to happen right here - about 100.000 people are expected to celebrate new year's eve on a massive open air beach party which kicked off already 9 hours ago. It's about time we get moving ...

... happy new year to all of you and still ... merry christmas! : )

- sorry it took so long to add in pictures! it really depends on the connection to the internet and the facilities whether we are able to add in pitures or even to check emails, please be patient with us -

By now we are already on the Phillipines. We will tell you about here and our time in the Cameron Highlands and Kuala Lumpur soon!

Posted by Frankee 05:16 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Penang - Malaysia

DAY 12-13

sunny 30 °C
View Julia and Frank on the Ro on Frankee's travel map.

The next day we visited yet another budhist temple called Kek Lok Si, just a bit outside from Penang. It seems to be one of the largest budhist temples in Asia and was very impressive.

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We did go to the Chinese opera, lion and dragon dance and drums show. It was just brilliant as you can see on the photos below!

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We were even allowed to go backstage - well, let's not dramatize it, it was only a mobile stage and the setting was pretty basic. But still, it was a great experience to see traditional Chinese opera, dance and drum performences from so nearby!

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Our Chinese guide was able to tell us basically everything we wanted to know about the chinese culture. However we didn't stay the entire night as we were still a bit weak from our illnesses and especially the noise of the happening (for some time it seemed like opera and lion dance sound systems were fighting each other!) but were able to enjoy most of it.

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Posted by Frankee 04:31 Archived in Malaysia Comments (3)

From Koh Tao to Malaysia

Day 6-11

overcast 30 °C
View Julia and Frank on the Ro on Frankee's travel map.

In the end we decided to go directly to Malaysia. Krabi would have been just another nice beach probably a bit more crowded than Ko Tao ('same same but different' - as Thais would say).
So we spent a few more days on this beautiful island, had a swim every morning in our hotel pool, relaxed on the beached and hung out in cafes.

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Frank went diving once but unfortunately got ill after that. Basically we were hanging around on the island for the last two days suffering from headaches and sore throats (Julia) and flue and bunged up sinuses (Frank).

Still we did enjoy our stay on the island, as less tourists were on Ko Tao the heavier the storms got at sea. After about 4 days on Ko Tao we moved on to Malaysia with quite a spectacular boat/train trip. We started off by ferry from Ko Tao to Chumphorn on 2-3 meter waves (1/3 of the passengers onboard got sick while Julia was only dreaming of surfing). After that we hopped on a bus that brought us to Chumphorn train station (nothing much exciting about neither Chumphorn nor the trainstation apart from a little night market we visited).

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The nighttrain took us to Butterworth in Malaysia in just 15 hours. Luckily we booked beds - at least until 6 am when the single beds all off a sudden converted to 2 persons seats. We think the nighttrain was a good option to get from Thailand to Malaysia. The beds were comfortable and if we had felt better (headache wise) we certainly would have slept for the entire journey.

Anyway, Malaysia is great so far. At the moment we are in Penang where we already did part of the standard tourist duties (taking photos and visiting 4 of the 3124 temples, churches and mosques). The best things we experienced were a chat with an administrator of a chinese clan temple. He invited us to their family opera, dragon dance, drums and kung fu show which will take place tomorrow night, as long as we don't tell his furious grand mother! And Julia who, we are happy to announce, turned to islam - congratulations! (well, at least for our visit in Captain Keling Mosque)

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More on Malaysia and then Sumatra (where we will scare the shit out of orang utans by showing them Frank) soon in a blog near your computer.

Posted by Frankee 21:58 Archived in Malaysia Comments (2)

Thailand - Our first stays

Day 1-5

sunny 30 °C
View Julia and Frank on the Ro on Frankee's travel map.

After arriving in Phuket we actually planned to stay there for at least 2-3 days. However we soon decided to move on to Kao Sok national park to do a one day jungle tour which turned out to be quite an experience! The night we arrived we first met some monkeys who were drinking from a river not too far from our bungalow.

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The next day our jungle trip kicked off.

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After a 1.5 hour boat trip we arrived at our starting point for the 2 hour jungle treck.

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We felt a bit like Mogli from The Jungle Book without talking animals but including the original motion picture soundtrack sung by Stefan - father of a German family we met - who entertained his 3 year old daughter Milena. It was a nice group anyway - 2 girls from Canada joined as well as a couple from Liverpool and a slightly irritating guy from Equador. Anyway, the final part of the jungle trip was a 1 mile long cave packed with spiders (diameter about 5 inches (15cm) - no shit!),

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all kinds of bats (you don't want to know their size), frogs and fishes swimming in a river which runs through the cave. After about 1 hour in the cave we had to climb through the narrow sections and even swim through the river which was pretty shallow so far. Oh and yes, did I mention that the spiders can swim as well? They can and they did! I think the happiest one of us was Milena who didn't notice that and who found spiders pretty cool anyway!
In the end we survived but this trip was not made for wimps really!

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On our 4th day in Thailand we went on to Ko Samui but for a stay over only. The next day (today) we hopped on the ferry to Ko Tao, an awesome island for snorkelling and scuba diving and just for chilling out as well. And that's what we need!

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A couple of days rest and we'll move on to either Krabi or straight on to Malaysia, we don't know yet, but you'll find out afterwards. We are more than happy for any fresh informations about Krabi area or hidden spots - imagine that, you tell us where to go and we will go there for you - it's like you're virtually on holidays! Kicks ass!

Posted by Frankee 19:30 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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