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Entries about landscapes

Thailand - Koh Mak


View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

Our small mini bus left Bangkok at 8am on Friday 22nd January. We were cramped inside for a 5 & 1/2 hour journey with a young couple who were constantly taking selfies - a picture of the inside of a mini bus is what everyone wants to see, you get a real sense of the fun you are experiencing. Sarcasm over, we stopped at a rest point to which we were ushered onto a small train like truck vehicle - the ones children go on around zoos, you know?! This peculiar transportation took us to the ferry port and we boarded for a 40 minute journey across to the island of Koh Mak. Once we stepped foot on the island we were immediately approached by a taxi man, we accepted his services and he drove us the short journey to our dwelling - Banana Sunset Bungalows. Down the dirt road strewn with coconuts, that no one will make use of, and we were checking in with the boisterous Cambodian receptionist/waiter/bar man Tom. We were offered fresh pineapple, given toilet paper and shown to our room. A modest bungalow with en suite "wet room" and a faint musty smell, albeit very conformable and only a few meters from the waters edge. After showers we went back up to the bar for a spot of lunch overlooking the sea, then down the adjoining board-walk and into the sea. As much as Jack makes fun of my jelly shoes they were extremely useful over the rocky sea bed, I ultimately had the last laugh as Jack had to wear manky wet suit boots that had previously had other men's wretched feet in. Urgh. Plus my jelly shoes have glitter in a look pretty in the sunshine.
A trip to Banana Sunset is a must for anyone visiting the island, as it has an amazing viewpoint to watch the sunset over the sea. We spent the remainder of the evening at the bar, where the music was a good volume and a chilled, relaxed atmosphere ensued. They even had a pool table, table football, darts and other games to keep us entertained.

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The following morning we pretty much did the same, had breakfast overlooking the sea then chilled at the bar and swam in the sea. Drank beer in the evening and played games.

The next day was a little more active, we packed up our rucksacks and hired push bikes for the day. It was tough riding, with some big hills and questionable gears/breaks on the bikes. We rode down into the small village and stopped at a restaurant called the "Food Art Hut" and had a big old breakfast washed down with fresh fruit shakes. Delicious. Although Jack did get the shits from some dodgy ham (suspected). Swings and roundabouts. We carried on riding around the island where only two months previously had the main road been finished and about every 15-20mins you would see a scooter, car or another human being. Back to the bungalow for a skype with the family and a shower and we were riding back out into the village for dinner. We tried to have a beer back at the bungalow bar but Jack's bowels weren't up to it so we played Yahtzee in the room instead.

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Monday we had booked in for a cooking course from 10am-2pm. So we walked the short distance from the bungalows and down towards Smile Cooking School. We were greeted by Leng, who teaches the class and given hibiscus tea which helped to settle Jack's stomach. The class took place on Leng's terrace overlooking the sea, a beautiful and serene setting to learn how to make delicious food! Leng offers a class from either 10am-2pm or 3pm-7pm and each class has four spaces. Luckily for us we were the only two that booked for the morning class, so we had Leng all to ourselves! We were given a small cookbook and began by learning how to make pad thai, after we chopped and prepped we moved over to the small woks on burners and it took seconds to make. We got to munch on it afterwards and it was so tasty! We then started to prepare ingredients for meals such as fried tofu with cashew nuts and stir fried vegetables with Chinese kale. After this Leng's assistant brought out a large structure filled with colourful ingredients and we learnt how to make green curry and penaeng curry from scratch! It was hard work on the pestle and mortar. Leng taught us that you should separate the coconut milk into cream and milk rather than pouring it all straight in. The cream should be used like oil in the beginning, the milk for the curry and a little cream at the end. Once everything was made we were directed to the table in the garden to feast on all the food, Leng even served us blue rice that she grows in her garden. An amazing experience and we'll definitely be cooking a LOT of Thai food when were back home - which you should all look forward to!

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Food coma in full flow, we headed back over to the bungalows for a well deserved nap. Later in the afternoon and after checking our insurance policy, we rented a scooter from Banana Sunset for 24 hours and went out for yet more food! The bungalow bar drew us back in and we spent the evening drinking beer.

We did find out after we initially booked the transport to the island that the beaches were riddled with sand flies. You can ward them off by covering yourself with coconut oil, but this surely meant that you would cook like a roast potato in the sunshine! We hopped on the scooter and rode around to Vista view point to have breakfast and take in the breathtaking views. Hopping back on the scooter we then travelled to the south of the island to buy ferry tickets for the follow day's move. Once there we took a walk down the pier and decided to lather our legs with coconut oil so we could have a swim in the sea. We travelled even further around the island to Ban Laem Son where there was a small bar overlooking a quiet beach, we sat and had a refreshing drink and bumped into Leng and her buddies. The return journey took about 40 minutes to get back, however the jungle and rubber trees either side of the road were a perfectly peaceful setting.

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For our last evening, you guessed it - we had beers at banana sunset bar and enjoyed a game of pool and chatted to Tom and the team. We had a final leisurely morning eating breakfast overlooking the sea before we had to check out at 12pm and got a free lift down to the ferry port ready to board the speedboat over to Koh Chang.

Koh Mak is a really beautiful little island that is very much off the beaten track and life moves at a steady pace. We found out the island is owned by 5 different families and all decisions taken co-operatively, thus preventing the island from turning into the next Phuket. They even have an island AGM for all residents to discuss island issues and agree a plan for the coming year. Whilst it doesn't have the dramatic scenery of the west coast islands it makes up for it in other ways and it is certainly not touristy in the traditional sense. If you want a laid back, pretty, friendly island experience, then Koh Mak is the choice!

Until next time....

J&K x

Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 07:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged landscapes trees sea sunset palm_trees travelling travelling_honeymoon koh_mak Comments (2)

Malaysia pt. 2

Penang

sunny
View Honeymoon Tour on Daft Slags Do..'s travel map.

On a sweltering Monday morning we took a coach from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Island. It was a four hour coach ride and we even had lunch included in the price. We had requested a vegetarian lunch for Kiwi only to be offered a "chicken sausage" to which was refused and then a chicken and egg sandwich arrived (one was chicken that looked like ham and the other egg) They got it 50% right, sigh.

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Alas! We arrived at the bus station in Penang and hailed a taxi to take us to George Town. George Town was a welcomed surprise - lovely old colonial buildings lined the pavements and the sun glaring down on the buildings made you feel as if you had stepped back to a world gone by,

We were dropped off by the taxi man (Texting for 20 of the 25 minute journey) Nerves a little on edge we soon found our feet and located our hostel further along the road. The Frame Guest House - http://www.theframeguesthouse.com/ We had a lovely welcome on arrival and were shown to our private room, basic facilities and a shared bathroom but all you could desire for a few nights. We ventured straight out to into the town and realised we were in the backpackers area of George Town, it had a great atmosphere and plenty of hustle and bustle around. We headed down "Love Lane" and found a quaint jazz bar opposite the cat cafe for refreshments. Afterwards we went back to the hostel for a nap and a refreshing cold shower. In the evening we went for pizza and beer at a reggae bar then an early night after a long day of travel.

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The room we had turned out to be near the stairs and therefore rather noisy with heavy footed travellers pounding past all night. After an interrupted night’s sleep we arose early and went to break our fast on a toast and coffee that the hostel offered. We walked down to the harbour front through the shaded pavements of the old colonial buildings and caught the free ferry over to a town called Butterworth, from which we located the train station and purchased our tickets for onward travel to Thailand the coming Friday. Once back across to Penang we got the bus to the nearby beach Batu Ferringi, (Costing £0.37 for a 45 minute drive)
The beach had an overwhelming feeling of abandonment with few people around, although still beautiful. It was hit in the 2004 Tsunami and seemed like it was still recovering, we stayed for a couple of hours and swam in the bath like waters of the sea then left this haunting place and back into George Town. The evening was much of the same and we both had a Pad Thai costing only £1 each.

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With a better night’s sleep under our belt (we got given free ear plugs at the hostel and Kiwi wore them for the first time – what a treat!) we got up early to beat the crowds at Penang Hill. After the bus ride there we then had to take an almost vertical tram 700ft up. However terrifying the view was worth it – we could see the whole of Penang Island just as the clouds were breaking and even the bridge over to mainland Malaysia. It proved better to have gotten up so early as on the way down the tram queue was packed out. During the bus ride back we decided to get off and visit the Kek Lok Si Temple, one of the largest in Malaysia. The street where the bus dropped us was full of traders selling their wears and we had to weave in and out in the baking heat to find our way to the temple.
Kek Lok Si Temple with its impressive structures and brightly coloured buildings loomed over us. To get to it one had to go through a long cobbled maze, winding up and round with shop keepers at every turn selling anything from water to Spanish flamenco outfits. There was a small bridge with turtles swimming all around on the way up, but again up and around along the never ending path with hand written signs leading the way.
Once we reached the top we were so hot and bothered it was an effort to take it in. We joined the scores of tourists taking photographs and appreciating its beauty. Incandescent Buddha statues shone brilliantly with the illuminating scent of incense from passers by offering prayer. We found a peaceful garden further up and sat in the shade, decorated with stone turtles across the lawn and the sound of water trickling from a nearby trough was thoroughly relaxing.
Back down into the street and realising what a juxtaposition the two places were in such close proximity, we caught the bus back into George Town to chill at the hostel and opted for another cold shower.
In the evening we headed out for dinner, not knowing what we were quite in the mood for we kept walking on. Down Love Lane, around the corner and down the wonderful street full of the lovely colonial buildings and to the end… then we saw it. Bright lights glistening behind trees just off to the right, Red Garden Food Paradise! It was like a secret world unbeknownst to passers-by. Once inside we found it busy with locals, travellers and holiday makers with a vast array of food on offer. Kiwi opted for a pad thai and Jack had a Thai Green Curry (a flapper, as he would say) The food was absolutely delicious and a fraction of the price in the busier back packer area. Just as we had finished eating the heavens opened once more and a storm was in full flow, no point trying to fight it so we ordered another beer and enjoyed the entertainment – a small stage with four singers taking it in turns to perform, along with the head guy on keyboard adorned in a cowboy hat.
An enjoyable evening!

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On arrival at the hostel we were given a map of the area which pointed out local sights. The next morning we set off to walk around George Town and follow the street art tour. Impressive paintings and drawings were found all over George Town, some the span of a whole building, others hidden away behind a shop door and even inside some buildings.
We walked down to the pier and around a beautiful sunlit park and across to George Town’s impressive town hall – a great white building that stood out among its neighbours. Afterwards we visited George Town’s camera museum. Jack found it very informative and they had one whole room as a pin hole camera projecting the image of two men at work out on the street. In the evening we went to the Red Garden Food Paradise again and enjoyed much of the same as the previous night, with the exception of stopping beforehand to do laundry (exciting!)

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Next stop... Thailand!

J & K xx

Posted by Daft Slags Do.. 21:57 Archived in Malaysia Tagged landscapes beaches temples honeymoon malaysia penang travelling georgetown travelling_honeymoon penang_hill Comments (2)

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