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no idea what happened today

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Friday 18th January
Writing this a few days later and can’t remember what I did all Friday. I think I spent most of this day asleep. Got a few things back that I left in Dean’s luggage at Chusri guest house. One thing is for certain I did not get the lacquer table packaged and posted.

Posted by 1985 trip 05:41 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Post office closed

have to change rail ticket

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Saturday 19th January 1985

Packing service at the post office closed over the weekend!! Aaargh.
Change railway ticket to Tuesday for 10B. Take trip to weekend market. A huge market area on the edge of Bangkok were you can buy anything. Buy water bottle, small plastic shoulder bag (75B) and straps for shoes. Enjoy the plant quarter, lots of orchids growing on bark on a coat hangar. Also tanks of exotic fish. A lot of US army stuff too.
Have a curry and go to bed early.

Posted by 1985 trip 05:43 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Heroin smuggler caught

and other travellers tales

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Sunday 20th January 1985

Meet Dean and Yvonne at Chusri, seems they fought all round Burma, but liked it all the same. Travelled on a different budget to me. Learn how to finish off my knotted cotton wrist strap I had been weaving in idle moments.

In the evening walk a good distance north beyond the night market and meet Cathy, Lloyd and Kevin who I last met on Koh Samui, they travelled a lot with Dean in Sri Lanka last year. Also meet French girl Pascal who spent three months wandering around China. Useful chat. Ian the Aussie has just smuggled some gold from Hong Kong and some hash from Nepal. Yesterday they caught an Australian at Bangkok airport with 1½ lbs heroin strapped around his tum. Consensus his he will be shot.
Wat Arun Bangkok

Wat Arun Bangkok

Posted by 1985 trip 05:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

post the Burmese lacquer table home 1985

collect letters from home at poste restante

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Monday 21st January
Post the table after having it professionally wrapped at the post office. Dean sends some clothes home. Then we catch river taxi down to the General Post Office to check Dean’s mail. He’s been travelling for 2 years and picked up a lot. I am most surprised to find 5 letters. Two from Dad with news of interesting things going on in Thailand (!), 2 from Elaine and 1 from Jayne and Alan.
Buy some Thai T-shirts, then go off to visit Jim Thomson’s house. Well worth it, a beautiful haven, should have brought the camera.

Posted by 1985 trip 05:50 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

to Prison in Bangkok

then train to Malaya

sunny 30 °C
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Tuesday 22nd January 1985

Visit prison with Yvonne. Take some fruit, cigarettes, a shirt and a newspaper. Talk to two English guys about nothing very much. There are a couple of hundred Europeans locked up in Thailand, mostly with very long sentences for drug related offenses. John Cornish said he’d only travelled to smuggle something, so he was interested to hear of our wanderings. Everyone seemed healthy despite their poor diet and crowded conditions. One can live quite well in prison given some income, these Brits had long since run out of money, and receive nothing from the Embassy except a monthly novel. This is quite a contrast to other European Embassies. Seemed glad of the bananas.

Fall asleep after lunch, but manage to post Keith some temple rubbings and T-shirt, buy 40M$ and catch the International Express just as the man is waving the green flag. Take up my seat next to a large Malay of Muslim Indian origin returning to Malaya from trip to Calcutta. He is dressed in robes of white with small oval pill box hat denoting a past pilgrimage to Mecca. He speaks no English but we talk about a few things. All very jolly, never entirely sure what is funny. Have a beer and sleep. £1 = 2.75M$

Posted by 1985 trip 06:58 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

meet Claude and Damien

on the way to Kota Bahru

sunny 30 °C
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Wednesday 23rd January 1985

Wake early, my companion has a loud snore and a loud sniff. Breakfast in the restaurant car. Shave in the wagon-lits. Pass through many delightful well kept stations. Train makes many stops in the middle of nowhere - I think its a one track railway. Meet two French speaking Swiss; Claude and Damien, on the train.
My large companion agrees to show us the way to Kota Bahru. He even pays for the rickshaw to the border. Customs man tells me Manchester City are playing Kota Bahru on Sunday. Catch local bus for 2M$ to Kota Bahru which is about 30 km from the border. Find Town Guest House, dormitory 4M$ inclusive of tea and coffee. Eat vegetable curry off a banana leaf and rambutan in the night market. Its very humid. Sleep like a teak log (heavily).

Posted by 1985 trip 07:03 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Monsoon floods

& tying friendship wristbands

rain 28 °C
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Thursday 24th January
This morning there was an ugly 1 ft cat fish on the doorstep. Swims up the dikes. Sim (or was it Lim) pops it a bucket. Spend the morning buying breakfast and exploring Kota Bahru. Have curry puff pastry rolls. In the evening eat at the Banana Leaf Restaurant - Indian curries. You have to eat with your fingers off a banana leaf as much veggie curry with trimmings as you can eat for 2M$.
Can’t work how to tie a diamond pattern in my thread tying. Visit rail station to suss out railway tickets onwards.

Posted by 1985 trip 07:06 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Town Guest House in Kota Bahru and wild boar BBQ

streets several feet under water

rain 28 °C
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Friday 25th January 1985

Day of Allah. Day of rest. Besides which we are having heavy intermittent showers. This is a bit unusual, must be the tail end of the monsoon. For about 2 weeks in December or January it rains all day and all night in this corner of Malaysia. The streets flood to a depth a several feet, and everyone wades about or has a little boat. The pavements are three or four feet off the ground, this looks very odd for most of the year.

Meet some interesting people; an American, a German and an Aussie have just come from Teman Negara. It has just opened again after being closed for the monsoon. Sounds quite an experience and get lots of info. Damien and Claude decide to come with me. A Burmese lady aged 54 comes to stay at Town Guest House. She has just popped over from Thailand in order to get a new visa. She fled Burma many months ago, fed up with the poverty and dullness of totalitarian isolationism. She borrowed some money to bribe someone to get a passport. She is teaching some English in Thailand to pay back the debt and hopes eventually to reach Australia she speaks immaculate English and had some English blood in her ancestry. She hopes to become an illegal immigrant in Oz and gets lots of advice from the anarchic types at the Guest House.
Town Guest House is very rickety affair, the dorm is more like a large garden shed several decades past its prime and rapidly returning to the jungle. It is run by a few young Chinese-Malays and has a very friendly atmosphere, there is no hassle and they patiently answer endless questions, very good guest book with lots of info.
Get ripped off in the night market, 5M$ for two pieces of BBQ chicken. Must remember to ask the price before. Pay 1M$ for 1.5 kilos of pineapple and 1M$ for a 2 kilo watermelon. Oranges are a expensive here. The evening is much enlivened by a wild boar and chicken BBQ in spicy sauce at Town Guest House. One of the owners had been up-country shooting. Enjoy a fine punch and the well cooked tasty boar all for 4M$.

Posted by 1985 trip 07:09 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

plan trip to jungle

with Claude & Damien

rain 28 °C
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Saturday 26th January
Plan to see the top spinning etc today, but get to the tourist office and find things not happening, as its the close season. Damien and Claude get soaked in the rain. I have my umbrella. Becomes a running joke that it will be useful when we get to the jungle in Teman Negara and meet a tiger. Occasionally one is seen, also leopard and bear. There are no crocodiles in the rivers though. The trees get enormous, reaching 250 feet.
We will have to travel to Jerantut on the day train, as there is no night train going south, overnight in Jerantut, then bus to Tembeling to catch the park boat at lunchtime. Manage to get through on the phone to the National Park Office in KL today and let them know we are coming. I hope more than us three turn up to catch the boat, otherwise it will be too expensive.

Posted by 1985 trip 07:11 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

football match with Manchester City

Manchester City 3, Kelamantan 0

sunny 30 °C
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Sunday 27th January.
Catch bus out of town to an area where several of the cottage industries can be seen. These activities usually take place in the cool shady place under the house which is wooden and on stilts. There is sarong weaving, particular specialty is incorporating gold thread, stringing the weft for the intricate patterns is very complicated. I have solved my own weaving problem getting the desired pattern on knotted friendship bands, so I do not need to ask their advice. Adrian and Mikael have come with us. See also batik and kite making. The kites are particularly impressive. Brief siesta on the beach of passionate Love. Adrian is a good laugh and may be in Europe by Christmas, so I give him my number.
Eat a murghibakt for lunch, a huge thick crumpet thing poured and cooked in front of you on a market stall, about 9” across folded in half over a sweet corn filling.
Meet Eddy an American, he is 68 and has decided to travel. He takes things at his own pace, he is well known in Kota Bahru, several locals owe him money and he has been here three months now. This is his way, to stop and stay and get involved locally. He is working in the kitchen of a chinese restaurant at the moment.
Bagus - good. Nasi goreng - rice and veggies plus a bit of what ever is going. Mee goreng - same but noodles. Setu, deo, tigre, 1,2,3. TeO - black tea, sesu - milk.
Five of us go to watch Manchester City play Kelamantan the home team and the town’s large stadium. Huge bats catch their dinner in the floodlights. We buy terrace tickets for 4M$, but are shown to the grandstand where we get front row mid field seats. Some of the Manchester lads are limbering up on the pitch, we let them know they have some supporters with an assortment of whistles from a toyshop. However they seem in a bad mood and are unappreciative, must be missing home cooking, and reply in coarse vernacular. However we remain unrestrained throughout the game. Our vociferous and frequently abusive shouts prove more entertaining to the hordes of small boys in the stand than the game itself. Despite the referee awarding a free kick every time one of the locals falls over (they are notably smaller than the Mancunians) the final score is 3 - 0 to City. From the turn out the army made and the extensive spiked fencing we were anticipating a lively crowd and hoped for some trouble, but although vocal everybody was very well behaved and remained seated throughout, they even stayed seated in the terraces.

Posted by 1985 trip 07:13 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

single track train to Jerantut

12 hours of jungle scenery

sunny 30 °C
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Monday 28th January
Up early, bus to Wakaf Baru, and train at 9am. Plenty of room in 3rd class with friendly passengers. Twelve hour journey along single track railway through highland jungle, beautiful little immaculate stations along the way and a man holding up a green flag at each. Several areas of lumbering activity, long train loads of huge hardwood logs.
Arrive Jerantut after dark and Damien does sterling work finding the cheapest beds in town while Claude and I wait with the bags. I change some sterling with local of Indian descent who wants to buy some english money. Sell one pound note and a king George 2/- piece. he is so pleased we have a free satay. Also eat good chicken curry for 2M$. On the way to hotel go up the wrong flight of stairs and interrupt a large mah-jong session. Several tables of players and everyone stops and looks at us, and 20 inscrutable chinese faces crack into smiles.
One room three beds 10M$

Posted by 1985 trip 07:18 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

fast boat up river Tembeling

tense negotiating cheap price to National Park

sunny 30 °C
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Tuesday 29th January
Catch local bus, after a lie in, up to Tembeling. Walk to the jetty in the countryside were we were expected. However no other tourists to fill the seats so its 20 dollars each. We say we will come back tomorrow and hope for more travellers. Bad vibes. Hang around in case things resolve. Several Malays are going, and at the last minute they take us for less than 8.60 dollars. Main difficulty was the efficient parks management who will expect the money, but they find some way to fudge the books. Three hour 60 km journey in a long thin boat up the fast muddy river Tembeling. Walls of dense greenery on either side. Occasional flight of muddy steps, or a grove of bananas are evidence of a small village. See families out for a wash in the river, lounging buffaloes, and fishermen with throw nets, also monkeys (?long tailed macaque) and kingfishers.
Arrive to find well laid out park quarters, lawns end suddenly in jungle, neat rows of white washed wooden bungalows in colonial style. At dusk boar and sambar deer come snuffling around the camp.
Teman Negara national park

Teman Negara national park

Posted by 1985 trip 07:21 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

jungle trek

tiger hunting with trusty umbrella

rain 30 °C
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Wednesday 30th January.
The view from Bukit Teresika

The view from Bukit Teresika

Up early, breakfast and buy provisions. Set off for a night in the jungle, in long socks, canvas shoes from Burma, shorts and shirt. Have a water bottle, small black bag and camera, my back pack has been emptied and refilled with three sheets, bananas, torch, candles and crackers. Trudge up Bukit Teresika and see large hornbills with noisy flight, and hear the bark of muntjak. Sweat runs freely, dripping off my nose and running in rivulets down my back. Grand views over the jungle from the top, Path is treacherous muddy and large roots.
Trudge along for 5-6 hours more to Kumbay hide, pass several large elephant tracks in the mud. From the mushrooms embellishing their dropping these are old trails. Hear lots, see little. Many leeches have to be regularly plucked from shoes and socks. You see them on the path and when they sense you near they stand up and wave !
Smeared my legs with Tiger balm as a deterrent before we left. It does not seem to discourage the leeches but should put the tigers off. Everyone seems to know someone who saw one last week. Claude has a cold and sneezes a lot in the hide. We see a tree squirrel and a hyperactive tree shrew the size of a rat but little else. People just before us saw a malaysian night heron. Got thoroughly drenched on the way to the hide by a tumultuous down pour. Sheets and T-shirt dry inside plastic bag. Dinner of bananas and crackers. Sleep well in log cabin.

Posted by 1985 trip 07:24 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

trek back to park HQ

shoes fill with blood

sunny 30 °C
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Thursday 31st January
Elephant spore

Elephant spore

Get up in the night and at dawn but nil to see. Force march back to main park quarters. Exhausted and aching. Four leech bites, painless but bleed a lot and canvas shoes filled with blood stains. Leave a strange purple spot on the skin like a meningococcal rash.
Cook up rice on a wood fire with onions garlic herbs 2 tins of baked beans a tin of sardines and a pot of tea. Sleep well in the dorm 4M$

Posted by 1985 trip 07:27 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

living off bananas and crackers

in the jungle

sunny 30 °C
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Friday 1st February
Jungle trek

Jungle trek

Meet two French speaking girls, after breakfast off last nights rice, we all set off across Sunghai and make for Yong hide. After about one hour come to a small limestone outcrop with narrow caves etched out by the stream. Fascinating crawl through by two of us. There was a rope to follow at the start but after 10’ I find a broken end. Many bats - round leaf horse shoe and fruit bats, also frogs and giant toads and a small catfish. Bat guano is soft and spongy because of the energetic work of the mites burrowing into it, quite pleasant like well rotted manure. Outside see a scarlet sunbird, and tall pungent ginger plants. Arrive at the hide in the mid afternoon after slow walk. Attractive setting, a dusky leaf monkey crashes about, someone else sees a muntjak. Bananas and crackers, again.

Posted by 1985 trip 09:39 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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