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Kuta, Bali

We catch another Bemo to Kuta. This one turns out to be the slowest one on the island I think!

We take Caroline to Warung Campur Campur, which is perhaps our favourite place to eat in Kuta. After breakfast we head down to the beach.

It’s hot today, and there is a little surf. Not enough for a proper surfboard, but Caroline rents a bodyboard.

We all get red in the sun. Once the sun has set it takes us a good while to get a taxi back to Sanur.

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Balangan beach & Ulu Watu, Bali

After breakfast we find a taxi driver and negotiate a price for a day out at Balangan beach, and then down to Ulu Watu for the sunset.

The drive to Balangan beach is good. Lots of natural landscapes. The beach is very much empty, with a few people, a couple of shacks and a number of surfers enjoying the rocky point break. The rock makes the water too shallow for swimming.

We chill on the beach for a while with a few drinks.

Caroline makes the rookie mistake of accepting the first price on sun-loungers. £6 for 2! Woopps. Abby has banned Caroline from any further negotiations.

After we head to Ulu Watu. The temple is just as I remember it from last time, although this time there are many more visitors, due to it being the holidays. The monkeys seem more aggressive.

The sunset is great and get some good pics.

The traffic is busy as we head back to Sanur. We talk to our taxi driver a lot. He has good English. He is a hard working man, who sends his children to private school, and occasionally eats at McDonalds. He is obviously doing OK in life.

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Kuta, Bali

We head over to the water park near Kuta, via Bemo which is fun. It’s the busy Leberan period though, and when we get there the park has closed due to reaching it’s capacity.

Undeterred we walk around Tuban, by the runway, and the Discovery Mall.
My continual fight with flip-flops continues. The new cheap pair I bought recently is already showing signs of failure. So I buy an expensive pair, in the hope that they will last a long time. I find a nice Rip Curl pair for £20! Fingers crossed!

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Meeting Caroline From the Airport, Bali

Abby’s mum, Caroline, is flying in from England today, via Kuala Lumpur.

We get a Taxi from Sanur to the Airport. I ask the taxi driver to wait, with the meter off, and he says fine. The airport taxis are more expensive, and not as good as the Blue Bird Taxis.

Caroline’s flight is early and she is through immigration in no time. She is tired, but enjoying being in Bali.

We spend the day chilling, with dinner in Sanur.

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Earthquake in Bali

I’ve experienced my first earthquake here in Bali. Everything seems fine, there are no warnings.

At around 7am local time, I was awake and thinking about getting up when I felt a minor tremor. Then immediately after the proper earthquake could be felt. It lasted for about 5 seconds from start to finish.

There is no obvious sign of damage to anything. There was a little noise during the quake as things around me were shaken.

The guys who run the guest house here don’t seem bothered at all, so it must be a fairly regular occurrence.

I checked a few websites, and it seems the earthquake occurred 60 miles south of Bali. This is a worry as this is a dangerous area for earthquakes near Bali. The same fault that caused the 2004 Asia Tsunami also runs south of Bali. And it is this fault that is most likely to cause a Tsunami for Bali, especially for Kuta and other southern resort areas.

There seems to be no warning given.

See the links below for more information

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Shopping in Bali – Kuta, Bali

Abs and I head over to he Matahari shopping centre. Abs wanted to get a dress and some new sunglasses.

Abs doesn’t find the long dress she is after, but she does get some sunnies, and a new pair of flip-flops.

On the way over I notice that my flip-flops are about to die, so I get a new pair and…. I find a cheap guitar. Only IRP400,000 (£25) and a lot better than the one that I bought in Indonesia last year.

So all round, a great days shopping, and it really didn’t cost very much.

The Matahari store is a great place to shop in Kuta. The market stalls that line the streets all same the same stuff, and it’s way overpriced, meaning harsh bargaining is required to get a fair price. The Matahari is probably overpriced by locals standards, but great for us visitors.

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Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

After a casual day in the city we grab our bags from the hotel and take the Metro to the KL Sentral railway station.
The train, is of course, delayed. But only by about 30 minutes.

Once on the train we settle in, but some of our fellow passengers don’t. A big group of Indian travellers are spread along our carriage. But hey have been allocated the top bunks, rather than the bottom bunks. This is a huge problem for them it seems. They are all elderly and I guess the top bunk is not easy for all of them.

They spend the whole night complaining and shouting at various people. Eventually they end up bargaining and swapping bunks with people. Not before they’ve laid on, eaten on, and messed up other peoples lower bunks. Sad.

Indian passengers, making a lot of fuss

We have a great time enjoying our snacks, watching them argue, and eventually get some sleep, with the aid of earplugs.

In the morning we are woken by the immigration officers, and we cross in Singapore.

The customs is straight forward, and we watch with excitement as we roll across Singapore.

The landscape is new, modern, clean and dense, very different when compared to the rural Malaysia we have just left.

We get to Singapore station and head off on foot.

We ask several people for directions to the Metro, and find people to be so friendly and helpful.

We make it to the hotel, the Ibis. This hotel costs us £50 a night, compared to the £10 we normally spend. But it is really nice – a short of luxury we rarely see on our budget travels.

We enjoy every bit of staying in this hotel, especially the buffet breakfast. I have a big appetite and try just about everything on offer. Yum !

Singapore is expensive for almost everything, so shopping is kept to a minimum. We love walking around though.

We only have a few days, and cram the activities in. The zoo was great, and exploring the city in the evening provides great photo opportunities.

Singapore CBD skyline at night

After a few days we take the AirAsia flight to Bali.

Clouds between Singapore and Bali

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More shopping and walking – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We get up at 07:30, quickly shower, then take the train over to the Petronas Towers. We had read that the tickets for the sky bridge sell out by about 11 am. We get there at 9am to find a massive cue, and the sign stating the tickets are all gone is already out. We ponder joining the cue, but it is massive. It’s a shame, and we figure this is a bigger than usual crowd today. Oh well.

We grab some breakfast and take a look around the shops, most of which aren’t even open yet. After an hour or so we decide to head over to Buka Bintang, the series of shopping centres, including the IT mega-mart Low Yat.

On the walk we find a park by the Petronas Towers, and find several impressive buildings. Once we get there we take a good look around. Abby buys a new top, I buy a new shirt, and we replace the LAN cable we use for our computers. I don’t by the TV cable for my MacBook that I have been thinking about, as it’s just more crap to carry around.

I am annoyed at the amount of stuff I am carrying at the moment, even having had a good clear out. I reckon I can throw away 50% of the stuff I have, even though the items seem essential, and still travel fine. But we only have 2 more journeys to make (KL to Singapore, and Singapore to Bali) before stopping for a while, so I will keep my stuff until we start taking lots of small journeys again.

After the Bintang shops we take a walk back to KLCC, the home of the Petronas towers. After a lot of walking we catch the monorail back to the hotel, and sort our bags out for tomorrow.

Kuala Lumpur Monorail

in the evening we take another long walk through Little India. We stop for Indian food…. hmmmmm…. yummm….

Petronas Towers at night

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We arrive in KL, at the Pudaraya bus terminal. We’re familiar with this bus station, and easily find our way to the Metro stop.

We have visited KL may times, always staying with our friends Cameron and Anna. Cameron now lives in Bali though, so we decide to stay in the Tune Hotel, downtown. Cameron and Anna lived an hour outside of the city, in the very un-atomspheric suburb of Puchong Prima.

We decided to stay downtown to get a feel for the city, and to do all of the things we haven’t done here.

After taking the Metro to the Tune Hotel, and checking in, we hit the streets. We’ve a love of shopping centres. Not that we buy much, but we like to walk, look and enjoy the air conditioning.

Inside the life – Kuala Lumpur Tune hotel

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Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

We’ve been staying in Georgetown for a few days now, at the Tune Hotel.

The Tune Hotel is good. Malaysia has the worst budget accommodation in Southeast Asia. Whilst in most countries £10 gets you a pretty good room (Aircon, TV, clean), in Malaysia is doesn’t (grubby).

The Tune Hotel is costing us £10 a night, but it’s modern clean, has AirCon and doesn’t have bugs!

We rarely stay in corporate run hotels, so it’s always nice to do something a bit different.

During this visit to Malaysia we have discovered the Old Town coffee and toast houses. A chain of stores that sell lots of different coffees, and lot of different toasts, and other rice-style dishes.

In Malacca we also found Old Taste, which is a rip-off. The colours, uniforms, menus, and just about everything else seems to have been copied.

Well, in Georgetown, they have Georgetown Coffee. Yet another rip-off of Old Town. There is not much to choose between them. Better coffee at one, better breakfast menu at another.

We visit them on most days for coffee and breakfast.

It’s the start of Ramadan, the Islamic period of fasting during the day. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, so there are a lot of celebrations and events.

We found a great Indian restaurant. During one meal, just before sundown we noticed a number of Muslims sitting at tables with food before them. They didn’t eat their meals though, they waited until the time was right. Interesting stuff.

Around the streets of Little India are a lot of celebrations, especially after dark.

Whilst in Georgetown we take a bus out to Bakinafaso. The beach is quite nice, but the surrounding areas are rough and poorly planned. In fact the area has a bad feel and is so disorganised that it’s not a great place to be. After a little lunch we head back to Georgetown.

We take a lot of buses whilst in Penang. It’s a good network that works well. It’s just as well, as Taxis in Malaysia are dreadful. Not only bad cars (clapped out Protons) but the drivers are rip-off merchants. Although they are reasonably priced in Malacca, and the Kuala Lumpur airport limousines are good value.

There are constant religious celebrations in Georgetown. The Muslims have their Friday prayer times, but the Chinese burn incense and paper all of the time. We see gigantic incense sticks all over town.

We do the heritage trail. A walk that takes in 30 or so historic buildings that formed Penang’s history. Some are most interesting than others.

We stop at an old Chinese clan house, and a friendly old Chinese man shows us around the old house. It’s an interesting stop, and we tip him nicely.

Friendly man at an old Chinese clan house

We try a few of the Indian sweets on offer, and fine some better than others.

Abs buying Indian sweets

One of the reasons we have visited Penang is to get visas for Indonesia. If we get visas in advance we can stay for 2 months, rather than 30 days. The visas are easier to get in Penang than Kuala Lumpur.

I read that one of the big guesthouses can get the visas for us, for only £5 more. We get the paperwork together and drop it off. They take our photos, on a red background. We think this is scan to get a few quid off us, but later read it is how the Indonesia embassy accept them.

We get out visas back in 24 hours, as they said. Good stuff!

After a great time in Penang we buy bus tickets to Kuala Lumpur. We normally travel by train when possible, and we can do so here. But the buses are quicker and they take the massive road bridge we’ve seen all week. We have the mispleasure of sitting with some constantly complaining Australians whilst waiting for the bus. They claim the Malaysian are constant time wasters. It’s not the case, and the bus service is well run.

Leaving Penang on the very long road bridge