Malaysia: a touch more expensive than we had hoped, but a lot cheaper than Singapore. A breakdown of two weeks’ expenses.

This time round, we spent just over two weeks in Malaysia. We needed to kill some time before heading up to Chiang Mai for a month.  As you can only get a 30 day visa for Thailand (we can’t be bothered with the hassle and expense of a visa run), and as we want to arrive in Sydney just before Christmas, we needed to get our arrival and departure times right. Continue reading

How much a month travelling in Indonesia cost, and where we could have saved money

man-pushing-a-pink-food-cart-blitar-java-indonesiaOur style of travel seems to be panning out as budget-luxe.  Sadly, ‘luxe’ with a lowercase  L, not upper!  We seem to mix it up quite a bit and our expenses (mainly food) vary wildly from one day to the next.

One day we spent 60p on two, yes TWO, delicious bowls of what I can only describe as a spaghetti Bolognese style soup (tasted much nicer than it sounds, honestly) yet other days we’d spend nearly £10 on coffee and cakes and then dinner on top.

Activities: By our standards we did a fair few activities in Indonesia – a cooking class, spa treatment, and a day out with our own driver in Bali. In Java we did sunrise over Mt. Bromo, and visited Prambanan and Borupudur. These came in at just over £200 between us. Continue reading

Turkmenistan: The Door to Hell at the Darvaza Crater

sunset-behind-odyssey-overland-truck-and-camping-chairs-karkoum-dessert-turkmenistanThe wonderful roads around Ashgabat soon ran out and we spent many, many hours driving on bumpy, dusty, pot-holed roads. It turned out to be like this for a number of weeks, all the way through Uzbekistan and beyond.  We weren’t to experience smooth tarmac for any great length  of time until we entered China.

Eight weeks previously I had undergone significant abdominal surgery.  I still had a gut full of internal stitches and the bumpy roads for weeks on end caused me significant discomfort. But there was little I could do about it, I was still happy to be there. Bumping along. Day after day, after day.  Continue reading

Sunrise over Mount Bromo and the Sea of Sand

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Our jeep.

We set off at midnight from Malang to watch the sun rise over Mount Bromo, an active volcano in East Java.  It sits in a ‘sea of sand’ and is part of a national park. The last eruption was in 2011.

There were four of us travelling in (what looked like) a vintage Toyota Jeep. It was good to have some additional company.  Since our overland trip ended, we’ve not socialised with other people – travellers or locals – as much as I hoped we would.  

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HiGoats, Angry Chickens, and Crazy Potatoes

I’ve seen many different food concepts and ways to present/sell food on my travels, and back home in England.  Some, I’ve stood back and thought ‘That, is genius’.  Sadly, nothing springs to mind right now but I’m sure it will, be sure to check back.  Other times I’ve thought…’You are kidding?’  I seem to have had a few of these moments in Malaysia recently, a country which has some fantastic food. I bring you three that have caught my eye.

1. HiGoat: Meaty AND Milky

Now there’s a combination that’s never crossed my mind before.  Am I missing out on something? Available at a bus station in Kuala Lumpur.

hi-goat-food-sign-pudu-bus-station-kuala-lumpur

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Beauty on the road: “This Sisley mask is for baggy, saggy skin. It’s suitable for you”

When you walk ‘air side’ at Bali airport you are suddenly surrounded by luxury products. It’s as if you’ve walked into a mini Selfridges beauty hall, with a handbag hall around the corner.   It’s a sea of luxury. With few staff in the beauty section.  Which is not a criticism.

bali-denpassar-airport-beauty-duty-free-counters

A sea of luxury, with barely a soul around. So not sure quite why I couldn’t take a decent photo of it.

In the UK you’d be hard pushed to get your mitts on many of these products without first having to jockey with a stern counter assistant.  Whose sole role is to make you feel that, only minutes before arriving at the counter, you crawled out of a KFC bucket in a gutter.  But here it was, for all to use. However, it came at a price for me.   Continue reading

Gripes and whines: Hotel showers that hurt you.

Number 4,765 on my list of gripes and whines regarding hotels.  Showers that hurt. This, people, is the most painful shower I have ever used. Ever.  It was a (marginally) worse experience than the shower in China that filled your nostrils with ammonia and the stench of back flow from the sewage pipe.  Or another one in China where the base of the bath tub felt so thin and fragile I was convinced I would fall through and be trapped, my ankles and feet torn by shattered plastic.

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Don’t be fooled like I was. This thing is evil. Evil I tell you

No, this one physically hurt, and there is no need for it to.  Continue reading

Farewell colourful Blitar, you’ve been good for us

We leave Blitar tomorrow.  I’m very sad about this.  We have already started making plans to return.  Why?  Because it’s one of the most colourful, friendly, open and relaxing towns I’ve been to.  If not ever, then certainly for a long time. wooden-rocking-horses-blitar-java-indonesia

A quick google search of what to do in Blitar, particularly since Mt. Kelud is still out of bounds, doesn’t exactly paint an interesting picture. But I think it’s all the better for that. Continue reading

Willing workers of Blitar, Java, Indonesia

Whilst on our walks around Blitar, we came across many people plying their trade.  Becak drivers, metal workers, fruit sellers, street food vendors, mechanics, bakers, fryers…the list is endless.

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Men selling feather dusters. I wonder if they use the dusters themselves. . .

Each and every one of them were interesting and happy to take the time to show us what they were doing.  Fascinating.  Continue reading

Gorgeous faces of Blitar, Java, Indonesia

We’ve seen very few white faces here. We’re quite a novelty.  And are treated as such when we go out and about.   I doubt many visitors venture far from the Tugu Hotel, and I don’t blame them.  If I’d been staying a night or two – as it seems most other guests have – I too would have enjoyed the lovely hotel and then moved on.  But boy, are they missing a trick!

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Gorgeous boys!

The people of Blitar are so, so friendly and kind. We’ve been invited to people’s houses, had our hands shaken, and offered breakfast.  People were happy to have their photos taken and in return they took photos of us.  Continue reading