Thursday, 28 August 2008

Back in the Big Kok

With two weeks left til term starts I certainly wasn't going to hang round KL kicking my heels so I packed my bags and shot over to Bangkok for a few days. I never fail to have a fabulous time when I visit there. So many people to see, spas to visit and shops to peruse.

I had a lovely couple of afternoons visiting the new additions. First it was cuddles with the lovely Leo, Si and Tessa's new bub, who made my day by happily snoozed in my arms for hours making occasional gurgling sounds. Very, very cute. Then it was over to Adam and Adele's to see the gorgeous Ihlara, not so much interested in the snuggles but enjoyed showing off her new trick of rolling over all on her own and giggling away - another absolutely cutie. (Can you hear it? If you concentrate really hard you might just make it out...... tick tock tick tock). Think it was a good thing CK wasn't there to witness the broodiness - he might just have legged it!

Needless to say I got stuck in endless Bangkok traffic jams so kept having to switch to motorbike taxis to actually get anywhere on time. For the first time ever I was actually given a helmet. The strap wasn't adjustable but I thought something would be better than nothing. Not so! As soon as we picked up a little bit of speed the wind caught in the gaps in the helmet which was far too big and flew about 5 inches above my head! I ended up having to release my vulcan death grip on the bike and hold onto the helmet instead, relying only on my dubious sense of balance to stay on. I think in some circumstances no helmet is better.

Friday was our big night out and met the old gang for a bit of a bar crawl along Sukhumvit. Needless to say there was a stop at Cheap Charlies and then for a bit of a boogie to the band in Titanium. I can't remember when I last went out dancing! It was great to see the old SIS lot and of course Ange Mad Dog Molony intent on teaching us some very important sign language!
Of course there was shopping and the Rachels, Soph and I hit MBK with a vengeance. Determined to stock up on warm clothing for my winter trip to the UK I managed several pairs of jeans and some trainers. A few bikinis and flip-flops were also thrown in for a good measure, as well as a new suitcase to get it all home in.

I don't think I have ever spent a weekend with Rach and Rach without some serious pampering and they didn't let me down. Post shopping we enjoyed a Pretty Face, Happy Feet package - a simultaneous foot massage and facial. Bliss! Then after a very large sunday dinner Rach P took me to her new fav spa, The Oasis, for the Lanna massage - three massages in one. First you have a thai massage to loosen all those knots, followed by a hot stone massage and finally topped off by an aromatherapy massage. Fantastic. Truly spoilt.

All in all a great trip. Great to see everyone. I'm sure I'll be back over very soon.

Monday, 18 August 2008


Some holiday snaps

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Kopi Luwak

Meet the Palm Civet - a cat like creature with a penchant for coffee berries. This picky animal only chooses the best berries for its dinner which it devours joyfully. As with all of us nature takes its course and the coffee beans come out the other end having passed through the civets digestive tract unharmed but enhanced by the enzymes it met on the way. Some lucky person then has the delightful job of collecting the poop and it is then turned into Kopi Luwak or 'monkey poo' coffee, the most expensive cup of coffee in the world. Mmmm.

Biking in Bali

What better way to see Bali than by bike. We were dropped off at a high point with a view of Lake Batur and started our descent through the back roads of the island. Although it was a 40km ride the majority of it was downhill so I mainly just exercised my hand muscles on the brake. We were met by shouts of 'hello' from everyone we passed and all the kids wanted to high five us - I had to let CK do the honours as I'm far too un-co for much one handed riding. We whizzed past village temples hosting local ceremonies, through brilliant green paddy fields and past people carrying everything under the sun on their heads. It was a fantastic way to spend our last day in Bali.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Escape from Gili Meno

Lazy days have been spent on the gorgeous Gili Meno. White sand, blue sea, scorching sun and cool beers. It really is beautiful island. You can walk around it in a about an hour and we took late afternoon strolls along the beach to watch the sun set on the other side of the island. Needless to say there are no cars or motorbikes and, apart from boats, the only form transport is an old fashioned horse and cart.

The snorkelling was fantastic and I was uber excited to swim with several turtles. The sea was crystal clear, the coral bright and the fish in abundance. But mainly we spent lazy days reading and chilling on the beach.

After a few days of this you would think nothing could faze us, however our journey to Bali undid all the good work. As we didn't particularly enjoy the ferry ride over to the island (rolling waves, nausea and 4 hours turning in to 6) we were delighted to be offered a faster trip home. Just 2 1/2 hours in a sparkly new speedboat - seats 28, galley, facilities, safe and reliable - we even saw a picture! As there was no jetty we weren't surprised to first get into one of the longboats that shuttled us from the ferry to the beach when we arrived. However, it soon became clear that this was our transport all the way to Bali. Admittedly my sea legs are non-existant but I tend not to freak out about things willy nilly and I can tell you now I was not happy with the journey. The boat pitched and reeled with each wave and each roll covered me with a new spray of water. I held on tight but left my seat on several occasions, first staring at sea and then at sky. I kept my eyes firmly on the outline of Gunung Agung and felt my spirits rise as it got closer and closer. Not a trip I would care to repeat and not too chuffed about being duped - how long have I been doing this now? You'd think I would know better. Hey ho - at least I'm in one piece.


Yogyakarta = temples galore.

Our first stop were the Buddhist temples of Borobodur. With over 2 million individual blocks of stone it is apparently the largest single temple in S.E. Asia (although it is pretty stunning it somehow doesn't quite rival Angkor Wat). With six levels leading up to a huge stupa at the top the temple represents the Buddhist idea of the cosmos leading up to Nirvana. The intricately carved stones show the story of Bhudda and took three generations to carve.

After the Buddhists left Java the temple was abandoned and was eventually covered with ash from nearby Mount Merapi. However, the Dutch found it again and it has been carefully restored - a couple of times- since someone tried to bomb it and earthquakes shook it's foundations.

From Borobodur we went to the Hindu temple Prambanan. This didn't fare so well after the 2006 earthquake but were still beautiful to see.

After a long day temple tramping it was time for an apple pie and camomile tea. Mmm.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

All Change

Friday saw Hannah flying back to KL and me boarding a train for the 9 hour journey to Yogyakarta. Trains are definitely the way to go. Leg room, 1 seat 1 person and a good breeze. I was on the 'bizniz' train though so maybe the economy train might not have been so pleasurable. Unfortunately without Hannah there to give me her 'we're not sleeping here' look I checked into a pretty basic room and after a night of no sleep got up and found a much better option just in time for Craig's arrival. So we're kicking round Yogyakarta for a couple of days before we head of to the beach. Today saw us visiting the Sultans palace and local markets as well as enjoying a cultural performance - although the soporific music and slow dancing did send Craig to sleep! Boys!