Day 227: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Is This Evil?

One day remains of this blog guys, then I’ll be free.

We spent the majority of today on the beach, soaking up the last of the Asian sun before we left for Australia the following evening. Although on occasion I reluctantly do a lot of things Sarah suggests, more often than not I do enjoy doing them. For example, had I not gone to the beach with her today I wouldn’t have seen a man sunbathing with his pet monkeys. Yes folks you read that correctly, there was a man on the beach with not one, but two monkeys… but we’ll get to that. After the beach we returned to the hotel for a few hours, then headed back out for an evening meal. All in all it was a good end to our Asian adventure, now allow me to explain what else happened on this day.

Sarah got her wish this morning when we got up early. The cheeky so and so woke me up 15 minutes before the alarm, our bed was so big that I didn’t feel her get out, it was only when I heard the toilet flush that I awoke. We then got dressed and went for breakfast. I took advantage of the buffet for the second day running, then we returned to the room to apply sun lotion and pack a bag for the beach. When we got downstairs the security guard helped us hail a taxi again, but this time there weren’t that many on the street. There was tons of traffic but few taxis. Eventually, after blowing his whistle to halt the traffic, he helped us cross the 6 lane motorway to a cab that had pulled over for us. Rather than go back to Kuta beach, we got him to drop us at Legian. In theory they were the same beach, it was just so long that it stretched over both Kuta and Legian. We walked a few hundred yards from the entrance to get away from the sewage like smell, and paid for a couple loungers for the day. I then got to work on yesterday’s blog, and wrote an introduction to the Erratic Ramblings for anyone yet to discover it. It was shortly after I’d finished, that the man with the monkeys arrived.

As he led sunbathing on a lounger, one of them led beside him like a hairy child. I’d never seen a monkey sunbathe before, and let me tell you, it’s quite amusing. I understand the severity of the situation, it was wrong that the monkeys were with him in the first place, but it’s not something you see everyday, and the sad thing is it’s not something you can do much about anyway. I don’t quite know how long this man had owned the monkeys for but they were in no rush to get away from him. There are two sides to every story, so maybe this man hadn’t killed their mother to get the babies like most poachers do, maybe instead he had rescued them. After all they seemed to love his company and all the fruit he gave them. Perhaps they were just in it for the fruit. And unlike most poachers, he wasn’t allowing people to hold them for photographic purposes. It’s weird to think that Sarah and I are accustomed to such sights now, I’m scared to think what would actually shock me these days.

Sarah and I continued to sunbathe until we began feeling thirsty. We left our loungers, at the risk of losing them, to grab some water from a nearby shop. When we got back we were fortunate enough for them to still be available. It was then back to sunbathing. Being the gentleman that I am, I “definitely” don’t notice other women, but today was an exception. As I led soaking up the sun, a woman with very large breasts came walking by. Much like the man with the monkeys, it was hard not to notice. There’s no other point to be made here, I just felt I had to write about it. Without warning the tide came in and was as high as our loungers. Sarah had had enough of sunbathing anyway (if you can believe that) and suggested we head back to the hotel to watch a film.
“Sold to the blonde haired woman at the back!”
I thought that was a great idea and packed our bag immediately. Before we could do that, we needed to collect our laundry. We walked a long way up the beach until we found an exit. Too bad we had to go by some shops along the way, Sarah stopped in a few and ended up buying a new sarong. There was an awkward moment when I took interest in some vests, but didn’t actually have enough money to pay for it. I had to explain to the owner I couldn’t buy them, but he thought I was making an excuse and kept reducing the price. In the end we walked away and located the laundrette. As we arrived they were adding the final touches to our clothes, a lady used a fragrant spray to keep them fresh as we transported them back. With 6kg of clothing we hailed a taxi and returned to our hotel.

We stayed in our room for hours this afternoon, partly due to the fact we discovered room service brought cooked meals to us. We took some showers to get rid of the sand from the beach, then we each devoured a burger. I also had an additional plate of spaghetti bolognese because of how good it was last night. Although we came back to the room to watch a movie, we didn’t actually get round to it. After I’d finished messing about with my blog, I played my Nintendo for a bit, while Sarah plucked her legs. It was around 5:30pm before Sarah said she wanted to go to the beach for sunset. We had been in Bali for over two weeks now and hadn’t managed to see a good one in all that time. In the distance she could see the large hot ball descending, and informed me there is a classic photo people take of it setting, which she also wanted to capture. I was still playing on my Nintendo while Sarah was waiting to go, it took me 5 minutes to save what I was doing and turn it off, then we had the pleasure of catching a taxi outside.

The usual security guard had finished his shift for the day and was sat with a friend conversing. He didn’t want to help us hail one this time, so it took us twice as long to get one to stop. The fist few wouldn’t take us for anything less than 50,000 rupiah (just over £3), which was double the usual cost. Then a random driver stopped and tried charging us 100,000 rupiah, again we said no. Eventually one stopped and took us on the meter to the beach. For some reason the traffic appeared to be redirected as we grew closer, meaning we had to take a lot of side streets to get to our destination. We ended up getting stuck in traffic no more than 200m from the beach. We paid the man and decided to get out and walk the rest of the way. It was too late when we arrived, the sun had gone and Sarah was angry. An argument ensued as to why we missed it, with me getting defensive when Sarah blamed me straight away. I only had a small part in it, but I’d like to think the 10 minutes waiting for a cab, and the 15 minute car journey had something to do with it as well. We still sat on the beach and watched the sky go through the colour spectrum, before taking some pictures and moving on. Now that Sarah and I resented each other slightly, we didn’t really want to do anything. Sarah claimed it was our last night in Bali and it was ruined. I did my best to cheer her up as we walked along the beach in an attempt to find the beachwalk shopping centre. That didn’t happen, and only fuelled the fire worse when I guided us the wrong way entirely. Along the beach, a little farther away, we saw a sign which read “turtle release 4:30pm”, another thing we had missed, this also didn’t help matters. We kept walking until we eventually reached a different mall. It was filled with designer shops, all of which we couldn’t afford to shop in, so we walked straight through and asked for directions. A local man set us straight, and saw an opportunity to drive us in his taxi. We said “no thanks”, then continued to walk a new part of Bali we hadn’t seen before. Building after building, there was nothing but expensive restaurants and surf brand shops. When we got back to familiar territory we explored the markets and found the beachwalk mall. By now we were scarcely low on money, and the only way we could afford to buy branded clothing would be if we were to make a withdraw. Seeing as we didn’t have our cards on us, we left after only 5 minutes.

We then walked down Poppy Street to find somewhere to eat tea. By now Sarah had perked up a bit and we were talking to each other again. Although I wished we weren’t, every time Sarah spoke she tried encouraging me to get a massage with her. Along the road someway, we stumbled upon a cheap massage parlour, and just to shut Sarah up we went in. Now, you remember earlier when I said I reluctantly do things Sarah suggests, but actually end up enjoying them? Well this would be one of those times. We had a half hour reflexology treatment, followed by a half hour back massage. Both of which came to a total of £5 at the end, very cheap I think you’ll agree. I preferred the reflexology to the back massage as I’d never had it done before, although, having a stranger rub my feet is a punishment I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. It felt really nice and I nearly fell asleep, but there was a slight painful sensation when he squeezed the little toe of my right foot. I didn’t know what that meant, so later that evening I researched. Apparently the little toe is connected to your ears, maybe I’m going deaf. I think Sarah was really chuffed with not only the foot rub, but also with what the lady had to say. She compared her arm with Sarah’s and told her they had the same coloured skin – this was by far the best compliment anyone could give to Sarah. After the half hour was up it was time for our backs to be pampered. I didn’t enjoy it much, as the whole time it made me aware of just how much weight I’ve lost. There was no muscle anywhere for my masseur to work. As he rubbed the oil into my back I could feels his fingers playing my ribs like a skeletal xylophone. Had I gone there at the start of the trip it would’ve been another story entirely, there was plenty muscle to work with then. My treatment was concluded with an Indian head massage, I found it very difficult to answer his question while he did this because of how relaxed it made me, I was like putty in his hands. When the hour was up we paid the cost and left them with a tip, then we went to Mozzarella for tea.

This was the restaurant we’d eaten at with Sarah’s parents. The food was so good then that it brought us back for a second visit. I ordered a massive helping of pork ribs. In their menu it claimed to be one of their best dishes, and I’m not surprised, it was fantastic. Sarah had an equally as tasty dish when she ordered the mushroom and cream pasta. Surprisingly, for the size of food we ordered it took no time at all to arrive, it couldn’t have been any longer than 10 minutes maximum. As we sat opposite each other at a candle lit table we contemplated everything we’d done so far. We were really sad to think this was our last full day in Asia, the past 8 months had flown by. Neither of us were fully ready to embark on an Australia adventure next, we were still having too much fun up in the clouds, but all good things must come to an end. We couldn’t have asked for better meals than the ones we had, afterwards we settled the bill, then went outside to find a taxi.

Because it was a quiet road it didn’t take long, and the driver didn’t charge us much. We were a little farther away from our hotel now, so rather than have a meter running we agreed a price of 30,000 (£2) to get back. As we grew closer I pointed out our hotel to the driver and he dropped us at the entrance. We then climbed in the elevator to the second floor and retired to our room. I used my phone to Skype my mum again, as it rang I looked in the mirror and saw the full extent of my sunburn from earlier that day. My lower back and upper legs were scarlet. My bum now looked whiter than ever. It was only a short call lasting around half an hour, but in that time my mum mocked my tan lines. After that I had a quick shower, then we attempted to watch a movie in bed. This didn’t work for one reason, when watching a movie with Sarah, she tends to like having all the lights off. This in turn made us tired, so much so that for the second night running we had to pause the movie. I then struggled to stay awake as I wrote this post before going to bed.

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Day 213: Eat, Pray, Loving Bali

Today was another active one, we didn’t stop from the time we got up to the time we went to bed. We hired a driver from a nearby tourist shop, and for 8 hours he escorted us around southern Bali. We visited three separate locations, but because they were so far apart it took a while to reach each one. When the day trip was over we returned to Seminyak to grab our bags, before being taken to Ubud. A place we’d be staying for the following 4-5 days to hopefully relax.

• The alarm clock rang at 8:30am, and what a horrible feeling that was. Initially I woke up with some energy after having a good nights sleep, so I used that to pack the last of my bags. Ann then came a knocking to let us know her and Simon were ready – bless ’em, they’d been up a lot longer than us. We did a final perimeter check to make sure we had everything, then headed to reception to put our bags in storage for the day.

• Today we’d be leaving the rather dirty looking Seminyak for the more attractive Ubud. However, instead of going straight there, we decided to hire a private driver for the day and visit various places before hand. We were hoping to have the same driver as the day before, but when we reached the tourist shop he was already out with other customers. In place of him we were given another driver. They were happy to accept the price we’d negotiated the night before, and one by one we climbed into the minivan.

• It was very hot inside the vehicle at first, but thankfully the a/c unit had three settings, and was directly in front of my face. We flicked the switched to the third dial, and cold air filled the vehicle. Simon was sat in the front and throughout the day he made small talk with the driver. He didn’t speak as good English as the guy before, and tended to repeat the last words of Simon’s sentences. Simon did better than I could, when the drivers can’t speak very good English I tend to find it a little awkward and prefer not to talk. The conversation usually sway towards football after they discover you’re English. A subject I know little to nothing about. Our first stop of the day was to a secluded beach called Jimbaran. All of our stops today were around the south of Bali. Like our taxi driver said the other day, you can see a lot of Bali in little time by hiring a private driver like we had. In the period of time you have them for you can cover a lot of ground. It took around 45 minutes to get to Jimbaran, but when we got there it was very pleasant.

• This was Simon and Ann’s first experience of the clear waters and white sands, and better yet we had it to ourselves. We still hadn’t had breakfast yet, and running alongside the beach were several restaurants. The first place we tried was very expensive and only sold seafood, but the second place was better with a more traditional menu. Ann, Sarah, and myself all had the chicken dish, but Simon stuck to his usual spicy dishes. While we waited for it to arrive Ann went for a stroll, taking pictures along the way. When she came back she looked really chuffed with what she’d captured. When the food arrived I couldn’t believe my luck. For the second time since being in Bali I’d received a good sized piece of chicken. A whole leg to be exact, and the seasoning which was added to it didn’t hurt one bit. By the end we considered it more brunch than breakfast because it left us all rather full. Whatever was left on the bones I fed to a hungry looking kitten. After settling the bill we returned to our driver who recommended the next location.

• He took us to Nusa Dua. This took the shortest amount of time to get to out of all the stops. Nusa Dua was an area you could go to for trips like snorkelling, diving, and sea walking. We explained to the men when we arrived that we weren’t interested in any of that, and instead just wanted to take a stroll along the beach. He told us we wouldn’t be able to, because surrounding the area were resorts, and each one owned a part of the beach, making it private to its guests only. So back to our minivan we went (after only 5 minutes of arriving) to be taken to a different place.

• Padang Beach was our next stop. The driver kept calling it Pegang Pedang, I don’t know if this was the correct name or not, but in the Lonely Planet it was just “Padang”. It was around another 45 minute drive to get there, and Simon kept the driver entertained with anecdotes about the British roads and cars. None of us knew if the driver fully understood, but he continued to repeat Simon’s last words as if he did. When we arrived we had to walk down several concrete steps to reach the cove like beach, but it was a lot different to the first one. It was busy to say the least. There were mostly Australian holiday goers on the sands occupying all the parasails. The sea was blue and clear, and the sand was the same colour as vanilla ice cream. Poor Ann couldn’t stick sitting in the sun without any shade, so she stayed with Simon at the bar, while Sarah and I got in the sea for a bit. Pedang Cove was featured in the “Eat, Pray, Love” movie, although the clever editing made it look a lot bigger. The waves were quite strong and frequent, making the relaxed bobbing Sarah and I were doing a little tricky. After 15 minutes we got out and dried off on the beach. When we were deemed minivan suitable, we rejoined Ann and Simon, and the four of us climbed the concrete steps. I think the heat and exertion was too much for Sarah’s parents, as when we reached the top they both asked for a rest. During that time a monkey appeared and grabbed the attention of every tourist with a camera. When the tired pair regained their breaths, we located our driver to be taken to yet another area.

• Our driver received a phone call from his boss at this point. The boss told him he had been out for “X” amount of hours already, and that our time was nearing its end. The driver explained to us that hiring a driver for a whole day meant only 8 hours. Given how far apart everything we wanted to see was, we had to be selective. Unfortunately we didn’t have the chance to go back to another beach, so instead we chose to go to Ulawatu (a Hindu temple), before returning to our hotel and moving on to Ubud. The temple was about 20-30 minutes away from Padang, and in the car park were mischievous monkeys. When one stall vendor wasn’t looking, two monkeys ran over and stole a piece of corn on the cob each. The man tried chasing them but ultimately gave up when he realised it was no use. It cost us 20,000 rupiah (just over £1) each to get in, and we had to wear a sarong to cover our knees as a sign of respect. Ann was terrified when the lady at the entrance said she should hide her glasses because the monkeys might steal them. What the lady didn’t know was that Ann is blind as a bat without them, and what Ann didn’t know was that this woman only said that to try and scare her into hiring her as a guide to keep the monkeys at bay. It’s a fact that the monkeys like shiny objects such as glasses, sunglasses, and cameras, but these items are usually stolen from the people who are dumb enough to get too close. With that said, no sooner than we walked around the corner we witnessed the first primate theft. A group of Chinese people were making their way out, when out of nowhere a monkey ran up behind a woman and snatched the camera from her hand. In the monkey’s defence, she was swinging it it back and forth from her wrist. I didn’t see if they managed to get it back, but they began shouting for help as it ran off into the trees looking at its new toy. One monkey even stole a baby’s toy and began tearing it to pieces, they are inquisitive I’ll give them that.

• The temple was nice, it was situated on the peninsula and overlooked the many cliff faces. I don’t think Simon was too impressed with the visit. Again, the worshipping grounds were closed off for Hindus only. We didn’t stay long, but we did appreciate the stone work and statutes around the temple while we were there. Ulawatu looked like something from a Tomb Raider game, I could just envision Lara Croft running around shooting those cheeky monkeys. At one point a young monkey tried taking a running jump to grab Simon’s water bottle, but it was no use. Simon stood his ground and lifted the bottle up high. The young monkey, feeling threatened, screamed at him and did a backward hop. That wasn’t the best part. The whole time Sarah had ahold of her mum, guiding her around because she wasn’t wearing her glasses. Because Ann couldn’t see, she was none the wiser to what was going on. So when the monkey screamed out, as did she. Ann then froze to the spot and a slight tear was shed out of fear. I’m pretty sure the monkey caused her to lose her poop too. When she regained her composure we made our way back to the minivan.

• In the space of time since leaving our hotel earlier that morning we had covered most of southern Bali. We then asked our driver to take us back to Grandma’s so we could grab our bags. This was the longest part of the journey because of traffic. We were stuck in the rush hour havoc from the temple, all the way back to our hotel. How our driver had the patience to manoeuvre the vehicle through it all was astounding. Any small space there was, was filled by anyone on a scooter, it was madness. After an hour or so we had made it. We quickly popped back in to grab our bags, then one by one they filled the spacious trunk. It took 2 hours to reach Ubud.

• After leaving Seminyak the roads opened up. They were long and quiet, and all around us was green. The tall trees, rice paddies, and thick forests were all that surrounded us. It was then I could see what all the fuss was about with Bali. It seemed so peaceful and different to Seminyak. This finally looked like somewhere that was more my speed, we would no longer need to rush about sightseeing, we could just chill out and relax. Our resort was possibly the nicest one we’d stayed at this whole trip. Mind you, for £30 a night I’d hope so too. Our Asian adventure was nearing its climax, and we were beginning to treat it more like a holiday. And why not. After some of the places we’d stayed, and the fact we’d be earning money again in Australia, we could afford to live like this for a while. The name of our resort was Inata, and it looked stunning. The staff at the resort were even more polite than Grandma’s, opening our doors as we arrived, and taking our bags right away. We were then given warm flannels and welcome drinks as we sorted out our reservations. The owner spoke with us for a food ten minutes, explaining how everything worked, and the various day trips they offered. The whole time Sarah and I were itching to see the room, at that point we weren’t paying any attention to what the man said. Eventually he stopped talking, then in groups of two we were shown to our rooms by the staff members.

• “OH MY GOODNESS!!!! Would you look at that”. There were two large sliding doors we had to go through to gain entry to the room, and what lay inside blew our minds. First of all the room was generously spacious. There was a large sofa that was nicer than mine was back home. A monstrous sized bed, which had to have been a queen size at least. The toilet and bathroom facilities were top notch, and the cosy lighting around the room made it feel really homely. We didn’t want to leave, especially after we were introduced by to the tv and DVD player. Funnily enough there was a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love” just sat there waiting to be played. It was everything we wanted and more. Sarah got a little grumpy with the shower after following the staff member’s instructions. She pointed the tap the way she was shown, but got nothing but cold water. When it was my turn I moved the tap in the opposite direction and enjoyed a hot steamy shower. Until Sarah found out. Immediately she forced me out and warmed herself up instead. While she did that, I attempted to download some new tv shows. DRAMA, all our movies and tv shows had disappeared. For some reason the sd card wiped itself clean. I gave up after a while and had a nap on the bed. 10 minutes later Ann was at the door, and the four of us went out for tea.

• As well as being an amazing resort already, they kept adding to their charm by offering a free shuttle to wherever their guests required. We saw a place during our arrival earlier on. It was called Cafe Des Artistes, and decided that’s where we’d go. We were driven 5 minutes down the road, and were given a card by the driver upon arrival. We were to use it when we wanted to go back. Unfortunately I had picked up a cold from somewhere, most likely our reintroduction to the a/c units in Singapore. My bed was directly under a unit in the hostel there. This was a real shame because it meant I couldn’t taste the mouth watering beef steak I had in front of me. I let Sarah have a bite to let me know what it was like, and her jaw hit the floor.
“Oh my god, that’s amazing”, I believe were her words. After eating we sat around talking for a while before asking for the bill. I think we overloaded the waiter with demands when he arrived. As well as requesting the bill, we also asked him to phone our resort for the shuttle, told him our room numbers, and a time for collection, then asked him where the nearest convenience store was. It was a lot to take in, but amazingly he did it all. The bill arrived, the shuttle was booked, and down the road, and around the corner we could locate the store. As soon as we paid, we went to the Circle K for a cash withdrawal and water. When we returned to the restaurant the shuttle was ready and waiting.

• Back in the room I got Simon on the case, and together we solved the mystery of the missing videos. All we had to do was try a new sd card and it triggered something inside. When I replaced the new card with my old one they’d reappeared. Our daily time wasters were still there. Ann and Simon returned to their room shortly after, then I watched some tv shows with Sarah. After a couple episodes I Skyped my mum. She was in good spirits, if not having cold feet about retirement which was just around the corner. During our call she showed me a new toy my dog Rocky liked. It was one of those long pronged head massagers. He sat as still as a log as she gently stroked his head with it. His little eyes closed and I am pretty sure I saw a smile. It was getting on for midnight by the time we’d finished talking, and to see off the evening we put on “Eat, Pray, Love”. But rather than watch the whole film we just skipped to the Bali bits. It was a shame to think that that film had probably boosted tourism, it looked so peaceful and quiet in the movie. Nowadays the reality is more a case of loud groups of Australians coming over for a cheap holiday.

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Day 133: Operation Rooftop

Apologies if this post is patchy at all, I am writing it 2 days after the events occurred. It was a fantastic day, we crammed so much in, it began with the zoo and ended with a sneaky oceans eleven style act. So here we go:

• It was Anna, Sarah and I that visited the zoo on this glorious sun shining morning. We got up around 8:30am and went about the morning bathroom duties. We then got dressed and headed downstairs for breakfast.

• I only include the point of breakfast, as on this particular morning I ate 6 eggs, and 4 slices of toast. This isn’t really specific to anything, just thought I’d brag about the size of my feast.

• We were told by the receptionist that the bus we’d need to catch would collect us from around the corner. When we arrived there was no sign of a bus stop, only a long 4 lane road. Roughly 10 minutes later, a coach pulled over dead on time (10:25am).

• We were the only 3 people to climb aboard the vehicle, and were taken on a 20 minute journey to the Singapore Zoo’s front gates. Had we missed that bus, it would have been an hour long ordeal of catching the metro and a bus.

• A lady greeted us outside, we had to pay her for the transportation. We asked her to take a photo of us at the entrance. We paid for our tickets, then began our adventure in the greatest zoo in the world.

• Singapore Zoo is by far the best zoo I have ever been to. All the animals aren’t confined to cages, instead they are in enclosures. It’s all open, you can practically touch them, and in certain cases you actually can. For example, they have tamed monkeys that walk freely around the zoo. This doesn’t mean they annoy people, instead they keep to themselves and mostly spend their time eating fruits and nuts. Words won’t do this place justice, it was a truly magical experience, and for once, the animals seemed genuinely happy. Not a single one looked stressed.

We were given a map to explore the vast grounds. The map also showed the feeding times, and shows if certain animals. We began our visit by admiring the majestic elephants. They were putting on a show with their Mahout trainers. It was fantastic. They began by walking them out into the water. The elephants then sprayed water at the audience through their powerful trunks. It was a real marvel to watch. The lady on the microphone was explaining how the Mahouts got the elephants to manoeuvre, to which they demonstrated. One of the elephants then performed a balancing act on a log, followed by a demonstration of their shear strength.

They crushed coconuts with their feet, lifted gigantic logs with their trunks, and one of the older elephants dragged a 400kg log through the water and onto the bank. The elephants then put all the items back in their places for the next show. The act was concluded with a comedy show. They led on their sides and tripped the trainers with their trunks. Some even stole food from their belts. It was great to watch, I just hope it was all above board and no harm ever came to them.

After the first show, we spent the next half an hour looking at the monkeys. They had all breeds, spider, capuchin, mandril, to name but a few. All of which were on islands surrounded by water. They had plenty of room to swing, climb, jump on their large climbing frames. We then walked to our next show: “The Rainforest Show”. This was just as entertaining as the last, even if we did catch it 10 minutes in. It involved all the smaller animals of the jungle, such as birds, snakes, otters, lemurs. At one point, they got a member of the audience to go on stage and compete against an orangutan in coconut cracking. The man, try as he did, couldn’t get the thing open, even after several blows against a wooden spike. The ape on the other hand, grasped it in her hands and feet, and with one squeeze the fruit was in pieces.

They had a man come out pretending to be a lumberjack. He imitated a cutting action on the trees using his toy chainsaw, then several small animals ran across the stage to chase him off. This was all done to demonstrate a point. Another lady on a microphone came out and told us a scary fact. She said, “because of the illegal logging that occurs in rain forests, animals are losing their homes, and the forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. If this continues, in as little as 20 years there may be no rain forests left. Meaning there will be nothing left for future generations!” She finished the speech by saying “lets work together today, to help make a better world for tomorrow”, then loud beautiful music began to play, and all the animals came running down the ropes above our heads, and birds flew to the stage out of nowhere, the otters swam and jumped in the water. It was a real beautiful moment.

There was the option to have your photo taken with a snake at the end, but it wasn’t that big, so we weren’t that bothered (it’s not about the size). We then had some free time on our hands before any more shows, so decided to go for lunch. The food was great, but the fruit was even better. We took the fruit with us, and made our way to the African section of the zoo. There was an educational lesson at the lion enclosure. As well as a feeding. We learned that the lions ate between 5-7kg of meat each day, and during mating season, the male lion mates every 15 minutes for 3 days straight (that’s too much by anyone’s standards! Think of all the chaffing)

Off to the side, one of the trainers threw chunks of meat into the enclosure. Each time, the two lions watched tentatively as it flew through the air and landed at their feet. When the educational lesson was over, we admired the rest of what Africa had to offer. We saw rhinos, gazelles, warthogs, meerkats, and giraffes. You could feed fruit to the tall terrors for 5 dollars. Their long leathery tongues reached out to all those who did. There was also one solemn cheetah. A sad fact beside the enclosure explained there had been many cheetahs killed in the wild, either for their fur, or because of farmers. Due to their natural habitats being demolished, they have no choice but to find food closer to villages. This means they kill live stock in order to survive. The most shocking point on the board was how few there are left in the wild – 100. It could be very well true that the next generation may never get to see them!!!

Africa was great, but what came next was something I was really looking forward to. The white tiger! There was a live feeding, which we got to enjoy. Much like for the lions, the trainer threw in pieces of meat. The tigers were much more energetic about it than the lions. They jumped up to catch it as it flew towards them. The trainer had a good arm, each throw landed right next to them. We were warned at the beginning that if we stood too close, there would be a chance of getting hit by meat juice. “Ooooowww, Sarah you poor thing!” Yes ladies and gents, Sarah got hit on the hand. That was enough to make her scream “eeww”, and walk away.

We learned how white tigers came about. They’re not a rare anomaly like other albino animals. The tigers have black stripes, pink noses and blue or green eyes. In fact, they’re all inbred. Years ago, a sultan went out hunting for a rare white tiger that was in the nearby jungle. After many days hunting, they eventually located it. Amazed by its coat, he took it captive and bred, and bred, and bred it until he had more. So all white tigers you see today are descendants of the first white tiger. I took plenty of pictures of the inbred pair, then we continued around the zoo.

We were quite hot and thirsty by this stage. We made a stop in the restaurant once again, where we had some drinks and took a look at the map. Sarah was ticking off the animals as we went. We had already seen quite a lot, yet still had a lot more to see. Our next stop was to visit the orangutans. I didn’t really listen to what the lady had to say about these animals, as I was too distracted by their cheeky ways. Four of them climbed down to sit in front of us on their branch. One of which was carrying 2 babies. The trainer wiped one of their noses with a tissue, and one by one he gave them a drink. At the end, we were allowed to sit in front of them and have a picture taken. Slightly unnerved about turning my back to such a mischievous animal, Anna, Sarah and I sat down and smiled. Nothing happened to us luckily, we then went about exploring the rest of the zoo.

We had seen all the feedings and shows we wanted to, so for the rest of our time we went about observing the animals from a distance. Here are just some of the many we witnessed: turtles, naked mole rats, leopard cats (like household cats, only a tiny bit bigger, with larger eyes), kangaroos, sun bears, chimpanzees, squirrels, manatees, bats, and crocodiles to name but a few. While in the area of the sun bears (they’re the worlds smallest bears don’t you know!) we learned of how Teddy Bears got their names. Save me having to type, I took a picture of the fact itself, you can see it at the bottom of this post.

We had spent the whole day at the zoo, to the point we almost missed the 5:30pm coach to get back. We rushed as fast as we could, it took a surprisingly long time to leave the premises, but we made it. We paid the lady for another ticket, and 20 seconds later the coach pulled away (that was a close one).

• The journey back took a lot longer, a whole hour to be exact, during which time the weather took a turn for the worst. Not only were we stuck in rush hour, but the heavens opened, and the streets turned into a swimming pool. We thought we had stayed on for too long at first, nothing around us looked familiar. Until the next corner that was, “ah Little India, as bad as your food is, I am glad to see you!” I was even more happy to see the hostel, where we could sit down and relax.

• We remained at the hostel for a while that evening. The girls enjoyed some noodles they bought from the 7 Eleven next door, however, because all their flavours involved seafood, I forwent eating until 2am that morning; but we’ll get to that. We all chatted over cups of coffee, and decided to go visit the Singapore Flyer that evening. When everyone had faffed about getting ready, it was around 9pm.

• The receptionist told us how to go about getting their, it was just a short ride on the metro. When we arrived, the rain was still falling, everyone had an umbrella bar me. My hair got ruined people! All that time styling it was for nothing. Just kidding, I didn’t care. The Singapore Flyer is much like the London Eye, only a lot bigger. From the top (on a clear day) you’re supposed to be able to see the border between Singapore and Malaysia.

The entrance fee cost 33 dollars. Sarah didn’t bother coming up, as she had already done it before. She was right not to do so, as I felt very disappointed by the whole 40 minute experience. The booth we had was steamed up on one side, and each window was covered in rain drops. It made for very difficult viewing, and photographs. It was still nice to be able to see the whole of Singapore from so high up though. We weren’t that upset by it, as next we’d be visiting the Marina Bay Hotel! I was jealous that when Sarah had gone up (2 and a half years earlier) it was during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. She got the chance to see all of Singapore’s night sky alive with fireworks! When we got to the souvenir shop, I did something a bit naughty. Ignoring the no camera sign above the tv monitor, I snapped pictures on my phone of the group photos we had taken before boarding the flyer.

• The Marina Bay hotel was within eyesight when we got back on solid ground. Then again, it’s within eyesight from any place you look, the building is massive. During our walk to the entrance we noticed a long queue of people hoping to reach the rooftop bar. Knowing it would cost us time and money to get there, we formulated a plan that would get us to the top free of charge. Sneaky!

We continued past the first tower, past the second tower, then made our way toward the entrance of the third tower. Outside the entrance were taxis dropping off guests, concierge with their golden trollies, and many business looking men. The girls I had with me all looked great, they were dressed up to the nines. I on the other hand, had a pair of jeans, converse shoes, and a black Tshirt. It’s safe to say I didn’t look the part, though I was wearing aftershave for the first time in a while. Nevertheless, the 5 of us made our way through the intimidatingly sized lobby. The walls went on forever, you could barely see the ceiling, it was that tall. Even the decorative foliage was large. Later on that evening, when we saw employees tending to some trees, they looked tiny. They needed a ladder to reach the top of the pot it was in. It reminded me of those giant chairs you get you pictures taken on.

I felt like George Clooney in the “Oceans” movies as I made my way to the elevators with my team. We strode through like we owned the place. The best way to avoid suspicion was to to look casual. It was a really long walk to the lifts, but unbelievably, we made it without question. When we got in the lifts we all breathed a sigh of relief, and pressed the button for floor 57. “Doors locked” said the sign! “Why aren’t we moving?” A sign read that we had to enter our guest card in order to use the elevators. We thought our plan was ruined, we’d have to accept defeat and join the long queue outside. Just as soon as we were about to walk away, Sarah said “wait a minute”. Our saviour had arrived. A couple guests with their cards, all we’d have to do was join them in the lift and we could go to any floor we wanted.

Inside the lift, we watched as the man put his card in and pressed a button. “This is it guys, we’re going up!” I thought excitedly. No sooner than those words ran through my mind, the same man snatched his card from the slot, and the pair of them darted from the lift. We were then back to square one. I’m not quite sure why they did that, possibly they were new to the hotel and were warned of freeloaders like us. Whatever it was, we needed to climb 57 floors to achieve our goal.

Our plan was falling apart by the second. The longer we remained in the elevator area, the more suspicion we raised. A place that fancy was bound to have an impressive security system, and no doubt we had shown up on the radar. Any second now I was sure security guards would be along to usher us out. As predicted, two figures came around the corner heading right for us!

“Phew!” Another sigh of relief, it was another couple, followed by more guests. We all got in the same lift, only this time we achieved elevation. The 2 couples got off on their floors, then we continued upwards. BING, floor 57 we have arrived. The first thing we did was walk to the railing at the buildings edge to admire the view. It was stunning. As far as the eye could see were city lights, tall buildings, landmarks, and hotels, it was amazing. It was also very windy, but we didn’t come for the view, well we did, but we wanted a drink to sip on as we took it in.

The bar was only 20 metres from where we were stood. At the doors a bouncer stood. By comparison to the a******* back home, he was the nicest bouncer I’d ever met. He asked us for I.D, but seeing as we hadn’t needed it since being in Southeast Asia, we didn’t have it on us. Back home that would have been it. No I.D, no entry. This guy asked us for our birth dates, and after everyone said how old they were he gave us the benefit of the doubt. He finished by said “you wouldn’t lie to me would you?” Bless him. With that said, I wish he hadn’t let us in after what came next!

At the bar, we were handed the menu with a list of cocktails, wines and beers. If you’re drinking something while reading this, I suggest you swallow it now. After tax had been added, it came to 22 Singaporean dollars for a 50cl glass of Stella Artois. That was around £11. I don’t even like the drink that much, but it was the cheapest alcoholic beverage on the menu. Eleven pounds, man, even as I write this I can’t believe I spent that much on one drink. Regardless of the extortion we had been subjected to, we took our glasses and made our way outside.

The city was gorgeous, even that word doesn’t do it justice. The city skyline looked like a magnificent painting. The way the lights flickered on the river below made for a nice view to drink our liquid gold to. We could see the curve of the ship from where we stood. There was a rooftop swimming pool, which was closed off due to the late hour of our visit. During our scooter tour we were told about a traveller who had been confident enough to bluff his way to the roof and have a swim.

The only thing that ruined the experience were the rich business men all around us. I presumed they were business men, I didn’t ask. All I know is they must have been rich, each one of them was suited and booted, eyed up every woman around them, and had enough money to afford all the bottles of liqueur they had around them. I think they may have been insecure on some level and were overcompensating for something. They offered any nearby woman to drink with them, and every few moments they’d join in unison to shout as loud as they could, for as long as they could. A weird drinking game to say the least. They are the sole reason I hate being sober in bars, that sort of behaviour enrages me. However, if I’m drunk, I’m usually the one acting off, so swings and roundabouts.

We took photos to commemorate the night we sneaked into an expensive hotel, then when our glasses were empty we returned to reality. A place where we had no income, and the only way we could afford to stay in such a luxurious building would be in our wildest dreams. By the time we left it was gone midnight, meaning we had missed the last metro, and bus. There were 5 of us, so getting a taxi was out of the question, Meg and Jenna were at the end of their travels, so they couldn’t afford one on their own, it left us with one choice. We had to walk.

• We walked and walked, and walked, and walked, until eventually I noticed we were covering the same route we took on the scooters. Granted, it took us miles out of the way, we would have been better off staying on the track we started on. Sarah was really hungry by this point, in fact we all were. It had been over 12 hours since Anna, Sarah and I had eaten, and by the looks of things, we weren’t getting food anytime soon. After asking a passer by for directions, and following the map for a while, a taxi driver pulled up in front of us. He asked if we wanted a lift, but chose to drive away when we told him there were 5 of us.

He suddenly stopped, all but 5 feet from us, and stuck his head out the window. He told us he’d take us all for 5 dollars more. By then our legs were aching, we were slightly wet, and our stomachs were empty, 20 dollars seemed like a bargain to be free of those ailments. He told the girls in the back that they’d have to try and stay hidden, in case any police were on patrol. Unlike other Asian countries: Bangkok, Laos, Vietnam etc, Singapore was more westernised, and clearly had a better road safety system implemented. Anna volunteered to squat down out of sight, and we continued down the road. It was a good job the taxi driver appeared. As we drove the many different roads, I noticed occasional markers from the scooter tour. We’d have had one hell of a long walk had we continued. We asked him to drop us off at a late night Indian restaurant close to our hostel. It wasn’t a problem, and 10 minutes later we arrived.

• The food was once again infuriating. It the reason I keep poisoning myself with McDonald’s. “How the mighty have fallen”, is a quote that comes to mind. Back home I would have had a McDonald’s once or twice a month, at most! I was much more into healthy living: gym, fruit, veg, meat. All in big quantities. Seeing as we were staying in Little India, we didn’t have much choice, and given the lateness of the hour, we had even less. The girls love the food, and say it’s some of the best they’ve had. That annoys me the most. I may have said this before, and if so I am sorry, but when I order meat, I EXPECT MEAT! Not only are the portions small, but the meat is 80% bone. You have to pick at all your food, and when it’s in you mouth you constantly have the worry that you’ll be stabbed by a stray bone. Oh and to go with that chicken, you get a naan bread. Terrific. When we finished eating, I begrudgingly paid, and me and my harem returned to the hostel.

• I didn’t get round to typing up the blog when I got in as I was exhausted, I prefer to type it up at the end of each day. That way all the memories are fresh, as well as the emotions I felt with each experience. Clearly the food is still an issue, as 2 days later I am still able to have a good moan. It was 4am before I got into bed, where once again I had to share my single bed with Sarah. Only this time, she had somehow upgraded her stay to the wall side. Ready for sleep, I got comfy on the edge of the bed, closed my eyes, and waited to doze off. Bu-Dum Tsss!!

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Day 127: Batu, Bless You

So today was a another long one, it got off to a slow start, but we made up for it by cramming a lot in. Here’s how it played out, from it’s tiresome beginnings, to it’s exhausting end!

• I was the first to wake up when my alarm went off. However, I dragged out the getting up process when both Anna and Sarah didn’t move. I joined Sarah for some morning cuddles (because hey, I spoil her remember) and around 10:30am everyone decided to start getting ready.

• In Sarah’s absence we were befriend by a guy named Tong. He was the owner of a series of hostels named Spicy. He was a genuinely nice guy, and was in KL to buy a new camera. We told him our plans to visit the Petronas Towers at night later that day, to which he asked if he could join. Of course we agreed, and said we’d leave a message at reception should our plans change.

• When we were all ready, the 4 of us headed out the door to find some food. On our semi-long walk we stumbled upon a large group of people and lots of stalls with free food. Across the street was a Redbull promotion vehicle handing out free drinks. Seeing as we needed breakfast, we thought what better a way to fix that problem by joining in. We were soon put in our place when a student turned around and said “only for students!” Gutted! His words cut like a knife.

• In the end we settled for a nearby restaurant filled with local people. We had the rice and chicken plate. For some reason the girls were blown away by it, claiming it was the best rice dish they’d had yet. I remain it was adequate, far from great.

• After our Asian brekkie we walked down the street to a bus stop. The reason for this, we wanted to go to the Batu Caves. Unfortunately, the bus we needed was the number eleven, and it passed in front of our very eyes. This meant we had to wait over an hour before the next one arrived. In that time we grew very impatient, especially after we asked the man how long it’d be, and all he said was “no time limit, I don’t know”. “How efficient” we all thought.

• Another number 11 bus showed up eventually, and aboard it we made a new friend called Gabrielle. Much like the angel himself, he told us a story of how he helped a person in need. Gabrielle explained that the last time he was at the Batu Caves he saw an older lady struggling up the steep steps. He went back to her, even after she refused his help the first time, and together they reached the top. Gabrielle truly was the angel reincarnate.

• When he reached his destination (the university) Sarah gave him her email address so we could all stay in touch. One stop later we had arrived at our own destination.

• The Batu Caves didn’t take long for us to visit. We had to climb the very steep set of steps (Gabrielle had described) to reach them, and passed a large golden statue of a deity (most likely from Indian beliefs) on the way. As we climbed the steps, we were entertained by lots of monkeys. One of which was sat stop a street light, rocking the thing back and forth like it was in the derby. I think it rocked it too fast at one point, and was holding on for dear life so it didn’t fall off. When we reached the top, Sarah noticed a cut on my leg and hand. Even now as I write this, I don’t know how I got them.

The Lonely Planet had once again duped us. It claimed that between the months of January and February, people can expect to observe masochistic rituals being performed by devotees during a certain religious celebration. Let me tell you now, we saw nothing. It was really boring, the most exciting point was taking a picture underneath a stalagmite. In the end we left and paid a visit to the Dark Cave, which was on the other side of the steep steps.

We were very cautious as we made our way there, on accounts of all the monkeys. There were daddy monkeys, mummy monkeys, and baby monkeys. In total I think there were around 20 monkeys blocking the pathway. Out of nowhere, one appeared beside Sarah. It was trying to grab her drink bottle, as 2 minutes earlier it discarded the one it had because Sarah’s looked shinier. Sarah was quick to put it in Megan’s bag, and we continued on our way. Like most animals, if you leave them alone they’ll reciprocate your kindness by doing the same.

The Dark Cave stank. This was probably due to all the bats living there. We would have to pay for a 45 minute tour if we wanted to go inside. After looking at the map of the cave we decided against it. Not because it looked boring, but because half of it was under conservation work, and was closed off. Instead, we looked through a folder which showed all of the insects we could expect to find inside. They varied from spiders to scorpions. It housed the worlds rarest spider also, the secretive Trap Door Spider. Anna and Sarah were deterred enough when they read that, but said they’d have been happy to wait if we wanted to go in.

• In the end we walked back down the stairs, slowly passing the cheeky monkeys, and found a taxi to take us to the Petronas Towers. It took a couple, as the first guys were very rude, and claimed there were no more number 11 buses coming. Not knowing if it was a trick we continued walking. At the main gates one guy reluctantly took us for 30 ringgit (£6).

• It was light when we went in, but the main reason we came back (other than the jewellery store for the girls) was to see the towers in lights. We had an hour or so to burn before sunset, so we spent that time drinking coffee. Aware that our plans had changed, and we didn’t leave a note for Pong, we found a place with wifi. Starbucks’ Internet was terrible, so, thinking on my feet, I suggested we try the Samsung store to use their products. Eureka, we found our hostel’s number and left a message for Pong.

• We explained that the plans had changed, and that we were at the Petronas Towers already. Should he want to join us he could come meet us there. We left a number for him to get in touch, then the 4 of us went outside to see the lights.

• Before we could even reach the main site, we were distracted by a rainbow fountain out the back of the building. We took some photos there, then walked through the complex to get out the front. We made a brief enquiry about the prices to reach the top, but were deterred when a lady confirmed it would cost 80 ringgit (£16). That was four nights accommodation for us, and not to mention 70 more ringgit than the Lonely Planet said it was.

• Outside, the buildings looked phenomenal. They were so much better at night, they looked like completely different buildings. They were so bright in fact, that the light pollution they caused turned the sky to change colour. It was almost a chalky purple/white shade. It made for amazing photos, we had no choice but to recreate the ones we took the other day. With no sign of Pong, or receiving no phone call, we made our way to the tall telecommunications tower.

• We passed a T.G.I Fridays people, the one eatery I miss from home, and we passed it. To be fair, the prices were probably extortionate, at least that’s what I have to tell myself to be able to sleep at night. Nonetheless, it was a T.G.I’s and I missed their Jack Daniel’s sauce. We weren’t in Malaysia for that though, so we marched up the hill until we reached the main gates of the tower. There, we caught the free shuttle to the foot of the 421 metre structure.

• Again, the prices were wrong. Only this time it wasn’t the Lonely Planet’s fault, it was a website online. Sarah had read it should cost 37 ringgit (£7), instead it cost closer to 50 ringgit (£10). We paid the money, then up we shot. 250 metres to the first floor of the tower, the observation deck. It gave us a 360 degree panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur. There were even free periscopes to look through. They were amazing, they allowed you to see people down on the streets walking along, builders on rooftops working, and if you were lucky enough, people getting up to no good in their hotel rooms. Unfortunately, we didn’t observe anything exciting through them, but I couldn’t help thinking, “I imagine a few people have been caught in embarrassing situations through them”.

Another let down with the tower, it used to be home to the worlds highest McDonald’s, but we found out that was 7 years ago, much to our disappointment. After watching an educational video of it’s erection, we learned there was a reflective pool outside the tower. That too existed long ago. 8 years to be exact. With that sad news we left.

• When we’d had enough we headed back to the city centre for some food, passing our hostel on the way. I grabbed a McDonald’s (partly due to talk of the place back at the tower) whereas the girls refuse to eat there as often as I do, and chose to eat elsewhere. We tried to find somewhere in the nearby Pavilion, but because they were all franchises they’d be too much.

It was there that I fell in love. Never have I been so excited to visit a shop. From the outside I spotted the Superman and Batman symbols. My beady eyes spotted them when we first got off the train in KL. Seeing as we didn’t go in the shop I didn’t know what it was, but after googling it later that day, I learned it was a store which sold lots if comic apparel, collectors items, and other memorabilia. I’d be paying that place a visit the next day!

• On our walk back towards the hostel area, we were propositioned by a local trying to flog an expensive phone. It happened back at the Petronas Towers as well. These were blatantly stolen handsets that they were flogging on for 40% less than their RRP. It all came together then, why the thieves were so easily able to snatch Megan’s bag the other night. They probably steal them from tourists, and other unfortunate souls, then sell the contents to strangers on the streets. Unfortunately we didn’t see Meg’s anywhere.

• The girls ate at a quiet restaurant at the bottom of the hill from our hostel. The place was completely empty, on the one hand we felt like celebrities, on the other, concerned. We’ve walkways strived to eat at places full with people, as that way you can presume the foods half decent. It wasn’t long after they ordered that we saw a rat run across the floor. 10 seconds later we heard sneezing coming from the kitchen. Reassuring! The food came out perfectly fine, even if it did have some droppings in…. I joke, I joke.

• When the bill was settled we returned to the hostel with snacks in tow. By snacks, I mean chicken kebabs, and slurpees. We sat on the roof for a good hour or so, during which time Pong joined us. He told us there must have been a miscommunication with the message. The one he received explained we were running behind, but would meet him at the hostel. Plus, on top of that, his Thai phone didn’t work in Malaysia, so he couldn’t even call us.

• Before we went to bed, we said our goodbyes to Pong, and he told me that should we go to Koa Toa anytime soon we’d need to book in advance. As his hostel was very busy a lot of the time. It was nice to know he would be looking forward to our arrival though, it made me feel wanted!

• We then spent the next half an hour being very noisy, as we attempted to get ready for bed. Finally, I started getting to work on the days blog, but would you look at that. 3:01. Well, I think we can forget the whole 9am start can’t we, especially with the fat Japanese man in the bed opposite who won’t stop snoring. “JUST TURN ON YOUR SIDE ALREADY, YOU CAN’T SLEEP ON YOUR BACK UNLESS YOU LOSE WEIGHT!!!!!”

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