Month: August 2009

Eating in Dali – Things I Miss About China

We had great food in China Dali… I could really go for one of these right now.

The officially MSG-free dumplings made by the women of a large family in a tiny, tiny shop just off the West Gate.

Dali Food

The ridiculously overpriced but oh so delicious fried yak meat with chilies from Jim’s Tibetan Café.

The famous Across the Bridge Noodles in the large restaurant at the intersection of Foreigners street and the main tourist street.

How to Kill a Poisonous Spider in 3 Steps

Ronnie is dead, long live Ronnie. Minutes after he got here, M kindly offered to kill her for us when she’d come out again, in the evning. We shamelessly accepted but ended up having to take the matter into our own hands. She came out during the day, and aimed for our bags. We had to intervene.

Shoehandler: D

Camera: Chloé

Step 1 – Practice shot

Step 2 : We recommend skipping this step unless you have large enough shoes

Step 3: The Squat, also known as Gravity

Things I will do with my sister

My sister and M are coming to join us tomorrow.  Do you know what we’ll do?

– We will watch the sunset while sipping gin tonics.

Sunsets Kecil Besar

We will take snorkelling day trips.

We will take long breakfasts in the beach café.

We will charter boats to secluded beaches.

And we’ll catch up on the past 6 months!

Herding lizards, not spiders

Last night, we saw the biggest spider we have ever seen. It was huge, it looked mean and it was inside our room – on the very important bed to bathroom path.

D saw it first and he simply bounced back and silently took refuge on the bed, making sure tht his feet were not touching the floor. I was not wearing my glasses and he wouldn’t tell me what was going on but we eventually both sat on the bed, strategizing.

I (cowardly? lazily?) thought we could just leave it there. “Chances are it’ll just go away. It’s not like big spiders like to climb into people’s beds at night and bite them.” I really meant that but D’s horrified face made me wonder – maybe they do like to do that.

–         We could kill it

–         But then if we miss it may run away and climb on us

–         There is enough meat on this spider to make some people deep fry it and eat it, it would be juicy. Very juicy. Would you clean up?

We thought about using the broom and chasing it outside but there were too many obstacles along the way: bags, bed… the last thing you want when chasing a potentially poisonous spider out of your bedroom is for it to hide under your bed or in your luggage.

But we had a bin. Right next to the spider. It’s actually where Connie, our lizard friend, hung out all day bvefore she obviously was chased by the evil spider.We were really hoping that providing shelter to Conie and her friends would keep us from finding ourselves in such situations – lizards are supposed to eat spiders, no?

Somehow after taking care of cockroaches in Vietnam and various other large insects over the past 10 weeks, D had decided that it was now my turn to address the situation. I took a deep breath and, with the broom, placed the bin against the wall where the spider was, hoping that it would simply jump in and politely let me escort it out. That was underestimating the spider. After dropping the bin twice because I thought the animal was climbing out, we realized that it simply went back inside the closet.

Kecil 002

We have not seen it again but we have not dared opening the closet. As D puts it: “I’d rather just let all of them hang out in there. It’s better than upsetting them and risking having them all over the room.” Wise man? Famous last words? Only the night will tell…

Update, 24 hours later:

Ronnie was back. Not at first wen we went to bed but I woke up at 3 to go to the bathroom and it was there, even closer to the bathroom. After discussing the subject some more, we opted for the friendly approach: we named her, used her name in a few sentences and went to sleep. This morning, she was gone. I do believe she ate our lizards though.

Our friends had one too – they killed it. He killed it, she cleaned up: “Of course we killed it! I donKt want to sleepwith a spider in my room!”hen you say it that way…

Demain, ma sœur arrive!!!

J’ai tellement hâte, j’ai plus ou moins subtilement « emprunté » la montre de D afin de pouvoir compter les heures. Son copain et elle passent 3 semaines en Malaysie et nous avons donc décidé de nous donner rendez-vous dans les îles, plus précisément les îles Perhentiennes au nord-est du pays.

Malaysia 160

Suivant son talent habituel pour les plans efficaces, ma soeur a réservé un vol en fin de journée, ce qui veut dire qu’elle arrive au port d’où partent les traversiers juste à temps pour manquer le dernier de la journée. Elle part aujourd’hui mais on devra donc attendre à demain matin pour se voir puisqu’ils devront passer la nuit à Kota Baru, ville ou aterrit son vol de Air Asia, puis prendre un taxi, puis un bateau tôt demain matin. Mais bon. Kota Baru est réputée pour avoir les meilleurs et plus grans marchés de Malaysie – et une salle de quilles qui rocke. Non mais que voulez-vous de plus, vraiment?

Je ne sais pas si c’est parce que je suis sur la route depuis trop longtemps, mais je croyais que les Perhentiennes seraient beaucoup plus isolées et difficiles d’accès. J’ai dû cconfondre « plus belles îles du monde » et isolement. Elles étaient probablement plus difficiles d’acès avant que le Lonely Planet les ajoute à sa liste d’endroits à ne pas manquer en Asie du Sud Est Dire que je suis déçue est beaucoup dire mais… on pourrait presque les appeler Khao San Road by the Sea, d’après le quartier de backpackers de Bangkok. C’est bondé. On dit que la semaine dernière, des gens ont dormi sur la plage tellement les hôtels étaient remplis. Et c’est cher.

Mais ces backpackers sont aussi la raison pour laquelle nous n’avons eu aucun problème à nous rendre ici. En effet, il semble que tous les agences de voyages et auberges de jeunesse de la Malaysie offrent des services de navette porte à porte. C’est pour dire combien de voyageurs passent par ici. Avant-hieri, nous nous sommes donc levés à 7h dans les Cameron Highlands, ou se trouvent les plantations de thé malaysiennes. Nous sommes montés dans un minibus 10 passagers à 8h, avons passé 6 heures à rouler dans la jungle et à 14h, nous nous sommes fait déposer au port, ticket en main pour le prochain traversier. Vous avez dit isolé et difficile d’accès??

Mais il faut dire que sur une carte, ça paraît loin. Situées à l’extrème nord-est de la Malaysie, les Perhentiennes sont reliées à la terre ferme par de petits bateaux qui font la navette (30 minutes) plusieurs fois par jour. La ville d’où partent ces bateaux est en fait un miniscule village de pêche et se trouve à 1h30 de Kota Baru, une plus grande ville avec des hôtels et autres sites d’intérêt. On peut s’y rendre avec le fameux Jungle Train, le train qui traverse la jungle, mais qui peu prendre un bon 14h. On peut aussi faire le trajet en bus (environ 7h) et, pour ceux qui peuvent dépenser US$10 par personne, on peut aussi s’y rendre par avion, avec Air Asia qui offre 5 vols directs vers Kulala Lumpur chaque jour. Bref, ça paraît loin mais la réalité est que l’industrie touristique étant ce qu’elle est, les Malaysient ont vite répondu à la demande et le trajet est plutôt simple. Sauf si on book le dernier vol de la journée!

If it all goes according to plan…

After about 10 weeks without plans, we have decided to spice things up a little. We’ve been pretty lucky with wifi access recently and have decided to put it to good use. We researched and planned.

This is what we hope to book for the rest of the trip, at least if we are able to get the special rates we’re hoping for and if they’re all available. As you’ll notice, after all these weeks and a few bad experiences, we are starting to loose our patience for overpriced scruffy bungalows and are going to the other extreme: if I have to go above budget, I will at least enjoy it!

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia: Fathers Guesthouse for some cool weather, free wifi and good hikes. We are hoping to see the largest flower in the world and to do some tea tasting.

Kecil Island, Perhentians, Malaysia: Maya Beach Resort. Ten minutes walk from the main town but on a quiet, more secluded beach. Hoping it’ll beat Koh Phangan. Still hesitant though so comments and suggestions are welcome if anyone has been to the area.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Hotel Maya. Another Maya although we’re a bit hesitant about this one as we are a bit unsure about the location. The hotel itself seems amazing – floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Petronas towers and free in-room cocktail every night? Yes!

Singapore: The Scarlet Boutique hotel witha  rooftop bar in the heart of Chinatown, just so we end in style.

So that is the plan… but it changes by the day. Any suggestion?

Getting our culture on

Normally, when on holidays, there just isn’t enough time to visit museums, churches and other ‘sights of interest’ between our food and drink focused days.  However, given the amount of time we are travelling, we found the time to stop by the Grand Palace in Bangkok and it was well worth it.

Bangkok New Camera 032