Singapore Slingers

Hello Children,
We are in Singapore and glad to leave Kuala Lumpur behind. Singapore is one funky town. Everything is a superlative. The best underground we have been on, the best museum we have been to and tomorrow we go to Universal Studios, hopefully the best theme park we will have ever been to!

No wireless internet at the moment so we shall write more when we can.

Sri Lanka: an ode to cleanliness

Hello sailors. Sorry for the week off, we were in Sri Lanka. A tropical paradise, kind of. We had to be at the airport bound for Colombo at 4am. So, up at 2.15 was the plan. With a bedtime of 10pm, that’s a solid 4 hours sleep. Perfect. The little problem, (there’s always a little problem in our lives, as big problems won’t reach us until touchdown on April 1st and we need something to gripe about to give us joy) in the twin bedroom next door were a family of five and a child whose choice of communication is the scream that from 2 miles away, dogs don’t understand why they’ve just weed themselves. 15 minutes of sleep pulled us down to the taxi, we dragged our knuckles behind us across the jagged concrete. We shared the lift with a chap from the hostel who had the same tired look in his eyes.

The flight itself was uneventful. The ryanair of Asia, or Air Asia as they call it squashes you into a leather seat, my hips barley squeezing past the arm rests. But yes, yaddayadda fourhourslater we arrive in Colombo airport. Our plan: to head down the coast to Hikkaduwa. We attempted the free shuttle bus but the shiny boot AK47 squadron pushed past the 40 or so people and half filled the bus. They politely pointed at us, then waved a patronising no-no finger at us. You already know that I won’t put up with that sort of crap, so I walked straight up the army man and I said, “Excuse me, where is the taxi rank?”

30 minutes later and sharing with yet another person, an older German lady who only had eyes for designer shopping malls, got dropped off there a little before us at the train station. The 3 hour train was 160 rupees or about 90p. Brilliant. What wasn’t brilliant? Getting on the train. I completely forgot that the British rules of queueing, saying I’m sorry when someone pushes into you, giving up your seat to less fortunate souls do not exist in any form of this society. I’ll hold off on this point for a bit longer.

Before boarding the train, we spotted a man hunting for something in a nearby bin. He pulled out some scraps of paper and started rubbing his hands over them. I decided to walk over and offer him some squirty antibacterial hand wash. He kindly accepted and rubbed his hands before drawing them to his mouth. He smelt the alcohol, clean smell, gave a funny look and put his hands back in the bin to find something to scrape it off with. Does this story give you an idea of how filthy we found certain areas?

This train is exactly what you think it will be, overcrowded and dirty. There weren’t any people on the roof, but many were clinging on to the steps and hand rails and drifting along. Waiting for the torrent of maniacs who would use their own mother as a ramp if they could get on the train first to finish their business, obviously, we had no seats but we set up camp in the corridor opposite the open poo hole and the open carriage door. It was remarkably comfy and suited our needs perfectly. We trundled along the coast and all was well.

Many people came up to us to ask where we were from, how we were, how long we were staying in Sri Lanka for, did we have a guest house already, because they kno… Oh, we do have a guest house… Oh, fine then. Good day to you sir! Every ten minutes for 3 hours. Sadly, in our entire trip in Sri Lanka not one person wasn’t trying to hustle us. It made for very paranoid and shaky greetings from then on. Our tuktuk driver asked if we had any English money as his children collect coins from around the world. We said we didn’t but a 5000 Vietnamese dong note might alley their worries for lack of queens heads. Only when three more people asked us for English money, and watching people pay with English money did it click that when we told him it was worth about 15p his face turned to both utter disappointment and slight resentment. Cheekyhustlemanfatface.

Our first three days were nothing days. Just laying about in boiling heat, sweating in the fan room as air con was just too expensive at our place. Good fun though. We caught the train a few days later up to Negombo, where i thought the school was. I rang the project manager who said that it was on the other side of the island, and that his dad was in hospital with a transplant so he can no longer take me. Bit of a bummer, but that’s life. The train up to Negombo was easier as we had seats but when the train stopped 30 people were doing the usual trick of trying to get on a train whilst people, single file, were trying to get off. They stopped at nothing. I hauled myself off, but Noony was completely trapped at the foot of the door high up off the platform, as now both sides of the 30cm wide step ladder were overrun with incoming passengers. Think Lord of the Rings, battle of Rohan. I was fuming at this point because with a huge backpack on she was just being dragged back onto the train. For the first time this holiday I shouted. Screamed.


Not only did the ten or so remaining people clambering on stop, turn around and look at me, they part like the red sea and helped Noony off the train. But as Judy Watts, old classroom sidekick and the only person reading this who has seen me shout when angry, she often reminds me that I “go all posh” when I shout. Don’t know what she means.

We arrive in Negombo with bashed shins and turn up at our second accommodation. We had paid for two nights A/C and one night fan. What we weren’t expecting was to be woken up at 7am on the second morning by an old lady, who thinks she is speaking English, and told that we had to moved rooms NOW. Too tired to know what just happened we started packing, telling each other that surely checking out of a room is usually done when you not asleep. That’s all I want to say about that place. It was crap.

On a final note, having travelled extensively on all modes of transport in Asia I have now developed an unhealthy fear of flying. The slightest wisp of turbulence and I am fantasising about the wing dropping off, the pilot screaming through the speaker “oh my god, how is that goose flying so high it’s going to hit th…”, or turning to Noony and telling her that over the past four years I’ve come to regard her as someone I’ve met. I actually feel travel sick writing this now. For comfort I now stare at the cabin crew like a pest that lives in park bushes. During particularly bad bouts of turbulence, of which there was an hour’s worth on today’s flight, I look to see if they are still getting on with their job smiling. As soon as you see them give each other ‘the look’ you know it’s game over. God has yanked the joystick from his Amiga and thrown away the floppy disk.

I love ending on such positive notes.

Here are some photos.

From the highest “twin level” bridge in the world. They might as well have boasted “the highest green painted bridge in the world” for all its worth!

Before Noony jumped up and down violently to, “See what would happen.”

Pez inspecting a diagram of what a bridge looks like from the inside.

A Sri Lankan sun on a Sri Lankan beach.

Men showing off their appendages.

Hikkaduwa, Feb 2011. Spending time here was exactly like this.

Thunder and lightning a’plenty. True story.

We found a rooftop pool to mooch around.

Stone the crows! They’re conjoined!!

What is this please? I think its a lesser-known poo-tit.

Charming boats and birds.

Typical Sri Lankan Road. Add Bangkokian reckless death driving and its a moving horror flick.

More optik joy in colonial centre.

Here are some more photos of Kuala Lumpur from us doing the tourist thing and the wildlife I forgot to post yesterday.

Guinea pigs.

Looks really small in the tree, but it wasn’t.

There it is!

There was nothing little in Little India.

Muslim architect uses pretty shapes.

Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur. So good they named it twice.

Today was our first day in hot hot hot Kuala Lumpur. I don’t know why people rave about the heat of Bangkok (which was bloody hot) because KL is ridonkulous. I definitely melted a little bit. We went for a wander about into 3 of the millions of huge malls sprawling the city. It was very boring as everything is the same price as it would be in London. I think Pez was secretly hoping for some cheap technology.

Then, we took the monorail to the Lake Gardens where we spotted a huge lizard (over 3 feet long) and accidentally scared it up a tree; we also saw some lesser mouse deer. They are teeny weeny and look a bit like a skinny guinea pig with long stick legs.
Finally, we visited the planetarium which was awesome. We had some fun in an antigravity room and watched a couple of films on the massive dome.

View of Georgetown, Penang.

I don’t know if this is aimed at either girls or racists.

Indoor roller-coaster. Standard.

KFC is miniature in Malaysia.

This robber took my hat clean off my head and walked off with it.

Did you know Kuala Lumpur used to be a think jungle? Yeah, true story.

Our only water supply.

If you look very closely, you can see Noony melting.

I’m not too far behind.

Pez shows off his Achilles tendons.

Dome face.

Random photos on my iPhone lol

Noony doesn’t realise there’s a bloody great snake next to her.

Leonardo was so impressed with our sand drawing of his face, he gave us his own personal map.


They sat patiently waiting for their husband to finish swimming.

We climbed this hill.

For some reason, this is called Turtle Pagoda.

In this photo, you can’t see the other 24,950 lights.

So many lights.

“My master, is everything alright?”. “Matey, everything’s A-OK”

Something people would buy on their Gap Yah.

The three stages of awesomeness.

Try and work out how big she is. (It’s like throwing a hotdog down a hallway)

Nice mixture of religious iconography there.

We thought taking a photo of the best photo there is apt.

Bring me my bow of burning gold! Bring me my arrows of desire!

So, where were we? Yes. We sat outside our Inn after reporting about Andrea’s ridiculous spontaneity thinking we had only a few weeks until our tranquil lifestyle is transformed by the arrival of another person! Andrea is easy-going, passive, fun and shares exactly the same gripes as us.

I think we’re going to fall out.

We headed over to a Hard. Rock. Cafe? to celebrate. It was a 2km walk down the coast, past one of the longest line of stall vendors in Malaysia (go on, guess how long…). We were greeted by Elton’s suit, Motley Crew’s Drums and Tiny Tim’s ukulele. However, ‘turns out the hard rock prices don’t differ in any country and the bill smacked us in the side of the head like a…?

Oh yes. gōng xǐ fā cái!! (pronounced ‘hap-ee nyoo yeer’ to those not versed with simplified Chinese.) Everywhere in Malaysia was fully booked, especially on the islands. Our Halong Bay and ‘beach’ beach buddies, Jean and Val, got stuck in Langkawi as there were no boats and ended up sleeping on the floor of an elderly French couple’s room, polite enough to help them out. The beach was absolutely ram-a-jam packed with public holiday folk. Just off the shore were 20 jet skis, 10 banana boats and 12 parachute-boat jobs. Some chap hurt his leg on one of the propellers and hobbled round the beach and the large number of jellyfish warning signs told us to move on into the main city.

Georgetown was built by the British, and shall be demolished by the British, by Jove! There is a stark difference between Brit architecture and that of the poor countries last visited. Not being racist, like, but yeah, it’s like totally better? We stayed in Chinatown, in midst of their biggest celebration. Everything shut for 15 days. With empty streets, we walked through the old town; quaint, picturesque and dirtier than a French prison latrine. We spotted six rats rummaging through broken Chinese lanterns. One had a hat on. It might have been some chicken, I didn’t have my glasses that day. We bumped, randomly, into Jean and Val for the 3rd time in Asia and spent some time with them, but as they will be in South Malaysia when we are, there’s more to do and share and fun-it-up together. We will throw some more photos at the Blog at some point, as the highlight was Kek Lok Si Temple. A hilltop temple that shows off over 25,000 lights, but only for Chinese New Year. We caught a local bus there at Sundown, got completely lost but made it there and back again unscathed. Needless to say, it was very bright and lit up the side of the mountain. It was a bit like a religious theme park, but all the rides occur at the end of your life.

I will write but one sentence about Ipoh as that is all it deserves.

Ipoh is so boring, destitute and lacking in any charm we damned the day that we let Lonely Planet convince us that three nights was perfectly acceptable.

(Anyone deciding to travel, don’t buy a guide-book. The mis-information (or lies) they spread can send you on a wild goose chase round a city you thought was on the other side of the river. It took us three days to find a restaurant. I. kid. you. not.)

Today we caught an amazing train, (seats and everything) to Kuala Lumpur. So far the Malaysians win in terms of transportation. I’m sure that’s something to do again with the British. Rah rah rah Hurrah!

Tinkerty Tonk
The Hon. Andrew.

A New Recruit

Andrea Marie Tsarbos is wonderful. On an inspired whim she has bought tickets to come and join us for a whole month in Singapore and Indonesia. She is mental.
We are shocked and amazed and oh so excited. Yay for Andrea!

Borneo Adventure

We have just discovered something that we thought we would not do, but now we have found it, consider it a trip of a life time, above and beyond anything we have seen so far. It is an amazing trip to Indonesian Borneo to visit an Orang-utan Conservation Centre.
The trip includes flights, a private boat, English guide, cook, captain, etc. and takes you deep into the jungle for 3 days. At night, you sleep under the stars on the top deck of the boat with no one else around apart from gibbons and orang-utans.

To those in Bristol, those in London and those somewhere in-between, we promise you signed photos of the orang-utans. We can’t promise these will be signed in ink.

To lovely family members, the same applies as above, but we will also send you all the photos of our adventure.

If any of you want to make a donation to the sanctuary, let us know and we will pass on the money.

Good deed.

We have been staying in Langkawi for 4 days and are still at the resort in the middle of nowhere. It has been really nice to laze by a pool for a few days. We have been to Kuah town and to Cenang beach around the island. There are plenty of things to do here but nothing that has really caught our eye so we have been happy relaxing at the resort.

However, we have noticed a beautiful white cat who hangs around here who is very sick. On the first day he looked like he was just losing a little fur on one side but after 4 days it has turned into horrible gaping wounds with ants crawling all over him. I asked at reception if they would take him to a vet, and when she didn’t understand I asked for “a hospital for animals”. She said there is no such thing in Langkawi and laughed at me. Pez found an animal sanctuary in about 3 seconds on the Internet and we have emailed them and they say they will treat the cat for free but cannot pick him up. So, we then asked at reception for a box, so we could take him there ourselves. Again, the lady laughed and said she had no boxes. We found a box ourselves and lined it with paper and cut little holes to make him more comfortable. I wanted to use the hotel towels but Pez says we shouldn’t. I think we should as they are cruel and evil.

Finally, after asking if they could help us with getting a taxi that would allow the cat in the car, the manager came to speak to us and said he will let us use the resort driver to take us to the vet, but he couldn’t take us for a few hours. So we nursed, fed and watered the cat and put him inside the box to let him get used to it before the journey. He is so friendly and so sweet, I can’t believe all these people at the resort and the staff have just been watching him deteriorate for days and not do anything about it, especially when we had explained that the vet is free.
The journey in the van with Gandalf the white was quite uneventful. He behaved really well and seemed fairly happy in his box. At the vet, she told us that he was probably burned with hot oil or with acid and that his skin had become infected. Poor little bugger. But on the plus side, she said when he is better and goes to the shelter for rehoming he will be very popular as white cats always are for some reason.
Good deed done for the day, Pez and I feel happy that he will be cared for, but sad that we won’t see little Gandalf again. The adventure continues…