It is officially my last night in Malaysia. Come tomorrow, Tim and I will finalise packing our bags, and head off on the bus to begin the long journey home.бизнес

Our journey involves a one hour bus ride, a one hour flight, a four hour stopover, and almost a nine hour flight through the night to Australia. Followed by a day and a half in Brisbane to get the rest of our belongings and say goodbye, and then we’ll be driving across three states to get to our new home.

They do say that “change is as a good as a holiday” but never content with doing things by halves, Tim and I decided the best thing would be to have a holiday, then come home to a massive change in life. The decision to send our belongings across the country and move to a new state seemed like a really good idea before we went away, when we had a heap of money saved and were fresh out of jobs we’d grown tired of. But now… It’s seeming like a bit of a crazy decision.

I still can’t decide if I’m looking forward to being home or not. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing my pet, and my sister and girlfriends from work. I’m excited to drive down to Melbourne with Tim, because we’ve never been on a road trip together before and I’ve never been on a road trip with someone who will pull over if I want to take a photo in the fields of grain. I’m really keen to wear some different clothes and read new books that I couldn’t carry with me on this trip.

But I am going to miss motorbiking on the edge of a foreign country, and eating delicious and extremely cheap food every night. I’m going to miss the freedom of not caring what time it is, or where we are. I’m going to miss having no schedule to stick to other than the upcoming date of a flight to another exciting destination. I’m sad to be leaving the amusing confusion that comes from not speaking the native tongue of whatever country we’re in.

So it’s a bit of a mixed bag of feelings today. I think I’ve got pre-post-holiday depression – which is really unfair because being prepared for things isn’t what I’m known for, and this isn’t even being prepared for anything good. I think I’m going to just stop blogging now, before I get too mopey about my upcoming return home. Instead, I’m going to go out and eat my last dinner in Malaysia, and I’m going to enjoy it!

So again, I’ve been majorly slacking. I have so many ideas for this blog and what I should post about, and I’ve been forcing myself to explore Brisbane further so that I actually have more to blog about. And yet, I just write everything in my little black book and forget about it.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m working 60 hours this week and am finding it hard to find time to eat, let alone do anything else. Running on about four hours of sleep a night is messing with me a bit, and I need to work out a better routine for myself. I’m still sure that my body will never get used to night shifts and all of the drama that comes from working in an all-female environment, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to try anyway.

Good news for this week is that I’m going to Cirque du Soleil this weekend to see the Michael Jackson IMMORTAL world tour, and at work I managed to meet some of the techies from the show and they’ve promised to take my friends and I backstage when we go on Sunday. I’ve also just booked flights for Tim and I to leave for Malaysia on the 21st of January, and then on to Thailand that night. So exciting! Our rough plan is going to be Luang Prabang in Laos, then 3 weeks on motorbikes in Vietnam and then back to Penang in Malaysia to visit my family because they should be settled and beginning overseas life by then.

We’ll see how that all pans out in reality, but one thing is for sure, I am going to ride another motorbike and try not to crash this time! I’m extremely excited about time off from my hectic work schedule, and even more excited to be travelling overseas with my partner for the first time. I’m sure he’s even more excited about it as this will be his first time backpacking in Asia, but I wish he’d do a little research of his own and tell me what he wants to do instead of letting me plan anything. But since I know he probably won’t, I’m turning to anyone who still reads this blog and I’m asking: what are some fun things to do in Vietnam that we shouldn’t miss out on? Luang Prabang will be our chance to relax after a few days in Thailand, but apart from what I did with my family when I was last in Vietnam, I must admit I’m at a loss.

So let me know in the comments below if there’s anything we should see, something we should eat, or someplace we should stay!

P.S. Motorbike crash injuries from last time that I pray I don’t experience again!

motorbike injuries

We recently came to Bangkok after staying for two weeks on the lovely island of Penang. What nobody told me about Penang was that it’s a long way away. An overnight train is needed to get there, and to get back from there as well. I won’t reiterate the trip from KL to Butterworth, because my mother posted about it here and she pretty much got it all down. Except for the bit where because we waited so long to book tickets, we had first-class seats and not sleepers. That meant a whole forty minutes of sleep for me the entire trip! Not cool.

Always book your tickets ahead if possible. Don’t think it’s lame, don’t tell yourself you’ll be spontaneous and whatever happens, happens. Because if you know you need a sleeper in order to be in any kind of human state the next day, getting seats will not make you happy. Not even first-class seats! Book ahead!

Also, it’s freezing on that train. If you get seats, take a blanket or something similar to wrap yourself in. Trust me.

So, after a really lame time on the first train, we still had issues convincing my mother that we should book the train tickets as soon as we got to Penang. You’d think she’d agree. But no. She’s adopted this “we have all the time in the world” attitude which leads to no plans, arguments, disarray and the urge to smack her. More »

One thing I didn’t know about Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was that it housed a little piece of India inside it! We had recently decided that we were probably not going to spend the money on visas to get into the real India (they were about $500 Australia for five visas – two adults, three children) so this was awesome news for us!

The best part about “Little India” in KL is that its not a little town made for tourists or anything like that. The population of Indians that live in Kuala Lumpur mostly live in Little India, and live their lives as they would in India. It’s absolutely great to experience.

If you drive in from the highway and into the main street, you drive under huge welcome arches with Selamat Datang ke “Little India” written across the top meaning “Welcome to Little India” in Malaysian. There is a beautiful fountain with elephant statues, and decadent archways that stretch away down the main street.

When you get further in, there is a whole array of shops with Indian food, jewellery, clothing, music… you name it, they probably have it in a shop! The jewellery was absolutely beautiful – I have never seen such sparkly earrings and hairties. Yes, hairties!
Of all of it however, the stalls with the flower decorations and the sari shops (or as they write it, saree) were definitely the prettiest and my favourites.

“Little India” in Kuala Lumpur is a great place to visit, with great people and a lively attitude. As we were getting into Hassan’s car to head home, we saw a whole crowd of people across the road croweded around Indian dancers while loud music played, and everyone was having a fantastic time. I would definitely recommend a visit, especially if you can’t go to India itself.

When planning our travels, we found that most flights to Asia had a transfer in Kuala Lumpur. Before this trip, I’d never heard of Kuala Lumpur. But after talking to our friends who had recently been to Vietnam, I was very afraid.

They told us that Kuala Lumpur, commonly known as KL, was one of the most disgusting, frightening, dangerous places they’ve ever been. They have a daughter who is sixteen, so one year younger than me. And they said that she felt completely unsafe, and they were constantly worried about her. We were told the men were pigs and they felt as though she was about to be snatched or grabbed at any moment.

I’m here to set the record straight. Apparently, as a seventeen year old girl myself, and my fourteen year old sister Kate are the main targets for the attention of men in Asian countries. They’re fascinated by our height and our dark hair and eyes and our fair skin. I can definitely vouch for the fact that the men stare a lot more obviously than I’m used to, and at first it was quite disconcerting, but after a while you get used to it.

My sister Kate isn’t too thrilled on the idea and mostly tries to ignore the guys and walk away. For me, after the first few times, I just started smiling at anyone who looked at me and saying hello. The smile they give back is absolutely hilarious to me, it’s like I’ve made their whole day just by smiling. There is also no uneasy feeling, even when I’m not with my family and a guy strikes up a conversation with me. I don’t feel unsafe or worried in the slightest.

In addition to that myth about the men being disgusting, Kuala Lumpur is already one of my favourite places in the world and I’ve considered starting an online business so that I can move here. It is seriously that awesome.

The food is great, in the restaurants and off the street. Things mostly aren’t dirty or disgusting, and when something is, there are so many other options for food or shopping that it doesn’t even matter. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that they like spicy food here a lot. We ate very very very spicy fish, and our friend Hassan informed us that it was only mild to them. So if you’re not a curry or spice lover, be sure to ask for little or no spices with your meals.

I can’t vouch for the accomodation because we’re homestaying here, but if reports online aren’t great, I would most definitely reccommend homestay. Our host cooks us breakfast and dinner every day, which we didn’t expect at all, and he is always teaching us about Malaysia and even drove to the airport to pick us up and bring us to his house. He has been nothing but agreeable and accomodating.

So when people tell you to avoid Kuala Lumpur or have the shortest transfer time here possible, don’t believe the un-hype. Kuala Lumpur is a fantastic city with so many things to see and do, and people that are warm and welcoming to foreigners. We’re also travelling with young kids (14 & 10) and they’re having a great time here as well.

I have to point out that not all homestay hosts will do what Hassan does for us, this is just a personal experience.

A lot of people travelling to Asian countries seem to ask the question “What is durian and should I eat it?” and my family was no different. We’d heard of durian when looking to book accomodation, and the hotel stated that durian could not be brought into the hotel because if the smell got into the air vents, it was impossible to get out.

On our first day in Malaysia, whilst being taken on a tour from the Air Asia airport towards Kuala Lumpur to our homestay accomodation, the lovely Malay man we were staying with, Hassan decided to let us try some durian.

If you’ve never heard of durian, it’s an Asian fruit with sharp spikes making up the skin, and inside it is made up of sections of the fruit.

Hassan informed us that most tourists hate the smell of durian, but the locals absolutely love it. He said it was similar with the taste – the locals love it and tourists mostly hate it.

So once we were out of the car and at the durian stand, the men there kindly chopped one open and let us have a taste. You have to pull out a piece from the inside, and it is white and has a mushy and somewhat slimey feel to it.
Once you bite into the fruit, it becomes very mushy and has a strange taste. My younger sister described it as tasting of onions, whilst the rest of us couldn’t place it. It is definitely not sweet like most fruits are in Australia, and that is probably what threw us off the most.

My sister tried to swallow hers and immediately threw up, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow it and spat it on the ground, and my younger brother swallowed a tiny bite and complained of the taste. As for my parents, they both swallowed theirs down, and my step-dad seemed to like it a lot more than my mother.

One surprise about durians that we found out later was that it was, as my mother said, “the gift that keeps on giving” as it makes you feel gassy and every time you burp, you taste the durian again.

So while it isn’t sweet and has an unexpected texture, durian is an adventure that you should definitely take when in Asia. Ask a local to check if it is “good durian” or not, and then take the plunge. You may not want to force the kids however, as anyone with less developed tastebuds seemed to reject the idea.