Oh my. The photo above was taken so long ago! It was a self portrait taken out front of the Perth International Airport in Western Australia. Back on the 1st November 2011. We have both changed a lot since then. This is what we have been up to over the last four fantastic and awesome months.
We have done so much in those four months that we figured it was time for an update on where we've been, what we've done and where we are going.
Back on the 1st November, 2011, our first stop was Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The city may not have been as welcoming as we liked, but we stuck to our guns, and enjoyed everything that Kuala Lumpur had to offer.
After a few days, we hopped on a bus and headed for Melaka. Now, that is a city that everyone must visit. This is my (Tanya) favourite place in Malaysia. The Dutch influence in the buildings, the glorious food that could be eaten at any time of the day. Just an awesome place to go.
Ipoh and the Cameron Highlands followed our stay in Melaka. We were told we should visit. So why not. It was pretty up there. We got to visit a tea plantation, pick some tea and then drink some tea. The highlight of that part of our travels in Malaysia has to be Andrew having food poisoning. Also that it was cool enough to be able to wear sweaters and socks.
And then, we needed the beach. We were in tropical Malaysia after all. So we headed to Pulau Pangkor just off the west coast of Malaysia. It was an interesting little island. A lot of local Malays come to Pulau Pangkor on long weekends and for their holidays. Thankfully, there was not a lot to do on Pangkor Island so we got into the groove of sleeping, eating and swimming. Rinse and Repeat.
Penang in Malaysia came next. Andrew's favourite place in Malaysia. It really was a nice place to spend time and he could see us living there. Penang had a lot to offer us. Nice and fairly cheap accommodation options, great history, beautiful artwork, westerner sized shopping, and of course the food. The food was fabulous.
Although we hadn't spent enough time on Penang, we decided to island hop to Langkawi. Oh yes, another island where all we could do was sleep, eat and swim. Langkawi was a nice island to visit. We met some great friends there, drank a lot of very cheap wine and were able to buy fancy cigarettes. The food was ok too. Always with the food.
We spent six weeks in Malaysia. Trust us, it is not enough time. But, we had to get to Koh Samui for Christmas. So off we went on a massive mission from Langkwai to Koh Samui via the towns and cities of Satun, Hat Yai, and Surat Thani.
That was a looooooon way we travelled. But we finally got to Koh Samui, where we stayed in a luxurious hotel and had a holiday from our holiday and had a fabulous time with great friends over the Christmas period of 2011. It was kind of weird being back in such a touristy environment but we certainly enjoyed our time socialising with our friends. We miss you guys 🙂
This started our Thailand island hopping adventure. We couldn't not go to Koh Phangan. We were so close after all. For those of you who don't know. Koh Phangan is where all those smelly hippy young people get to enjoy such delights as the Full Moon Party on Hadrin Beach. Oh and quarter, new, half, black moon parties. It is a party island. Yes, we are old. We still went, but hung out on the top north west corner. Far enough away from all the fun and games.
Koh Phangan was where we decided that we had "Tropical Island Fatigue". So what did we do? We went to Koh Tao. Yet another island off of Thailand's mainland. Honestly, we couldn't not go to Koh Tao. It was right there.
Koh Tao is another party place. But with a difference. People also get their diving certifications there. Apparently the diving off of Koh Tao is awesome. We didn't even bother snorkelling. Ha! The beach was nice though and it was a beautiful place to continue of cycle of sleeping, eating and swimming.
Finally we left the islands of southern Thailand. Our first stop on mainland Thailand was an awesome place called Chumphon. If you get a chance, stop here. It is a lovely small city that offers everything a person could ever want in a Thai city. The local people were so nice and no one hassled us for a tuk tuk ride, songteaw ride, massage or seat in their restaurant. Nothing like that. We did have the most awesome Thai version of Dim Sum there. Yes, again with the food.
From Chumphon we headed up to Phetchaburi on the train. We have friends who live in Phetchaburi so were both very excited to catch up with them. Along with our friends, Phetchaburi is also famous for the monkeys. There are so many of these animals everywhere. Check it out one day! Just don't have any food on you. The monkeys are always hungry...
From Phetchaburi we headed for the big smoke of Bangkok. We love Bangkok. Bangkok is just the most amazing city ever. The sights, the shopping, the street food. The city is always open. So different and so much bigger than where we are from, Perth.
We briefly stopped in Ayutthaya to visit the previous capital of Siam. Then back on the train and headed for our one time home, Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai, how we did miss you. We spent most of 2009 living in Chiang Mai, so we were both very excited to set foot back on Chiang Mai soil.
In the four weeks (or was it five) that we spent there, we caught up with a lot of old friends. And made new ones. We stayed in an apartment for a month and got our teeth done. Andrew had his teeth whitened and I had around twenty different dental appointments. Yes, that many.
Apart from the dental appointments, we really didn't do too much. Andrew spent a lot of his time working and catching up on magictravelblog.com. I spent a lot of time recuperating. When I was well enough, we hung out with our friends, and well, not much else. Life is great.
We couldn't have spent this much time in Thailand without organising our visas before starting our trip. We ended up purchasing dual 60 day visas. So in total, 120 days in Thailand. We had to do a visa run to Tachilek in Myanmar, after the first sixty days of our Thailand stay.
What's happening in the future?
In a few days, we are renting a Honda Phantom 200cc motorbike and riding the Mae Hong Son Loop. It is a famous ride through the northern part of Thailand. Apparently lots of twists and turns and hills to keep up occupied for seven days.
Andrew's excited about the ride. He has been driving little 125cc scooters for the past four or five weeks while we have been in Chiang Mai. I am not so. The only thing I am happy about is that I get a comfy seat and a backrest on the motorbike. We will see.
Once we finish the Mae Hong Son Loop, we will come back to Chiang Mai for a few days, say good bye to our friends and head to Laos via Chiang Rai then the Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border crossing. How exciting!
I have been to Laos before. Andrew hasn't. I am really looking forward to seeing how much it has changed. I have heard that there are ATMs available all over Laos now. That should certainly make it different. And the food. Mmm French influenced food!
This is really where our trip starts. From here on out, we will be visiting a lot of places that neither of us have been before. First stop, the slow boat from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang. That will be interesting.
There will be lots of exciting things to come!