Saturday, May 19, 2007

The lost tales of a backpacking slacker...

Ok, I guess I really should post some photos from the remaining days of my travels last year, besides it beats writing a long-winded entry describing all these places, so here they are in sort of chronological order:

At the Chinese New year (2006) celebrations

along the Singapore riverside

Catching my coach ride to Kuala Lumpur the next day, the

AeroLine coach service stops and starts from the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in downtown Singapore (Note: I'm not actually running here, I'm just imitating the logo on the coach and it was a good coach ride at around Sing$ 20 one way)

Crossing the bridge connecting the Southern-most tip of the

Malaysian peninsula with Singapore

Important immigration information for travellers:

As you are literally crossing the causeway into another country you will need to have your entry permit slip to hand (the slip you fill in and the half of it you are given at the port of entry into Singapore by immigration) along with your passport if you don't need a visa to visit either Singapore or Malaysia. The immigration points of both countries are on their respective country's end of this causeway and so you'll need to get off your mode of transport twice to go through both immigration points (once for each country when coming or going).

Now here's the important part, when travelling in a party such as on a coach (especially on a coach!) and when you get off at Singapore immigration make sure you fill out your exit permit well BEFORE you are processed by immigration as any delays here will mean you missing your coach ride or equivalent (especially if its a cheap company!) that waits for a reasonable amount of time for most (not all!) of its passengers before continuing on its way across the causeway to Malaysian immigration. That's why they make you take all your luggage off the coach just in case!

I was lucky enough to go with a reputable company such as AeroLines as they were kind enough to wait for me because I didn't fill in my exit permit even though it was given to me when I got onto the coach! The reason? Because I didn't think I would need to go through Singapore immigration, not until I actually FLEW out of the country! Alas I didn't make the same mistake when it came to Malaysian immigration on the other side. But on my way back from Malaysia to Singapore I used a cheap coach company and was left behind because I didn't fill in my NEW entry permit for Singapore before getting processed and had to go to the end of the long line of people and start over again! It was no biggy getting back to my cousin's place because Singapore's so small.

As a side note the Malaysian immigration personnel seemed really relaxed compared to the Singaporean ones (that could have changed by now!). Also if you intend to bring the equivalent of your local Blockbuster's in pirate films/music and any other counterfeit products into Singapore, lets just say its not a good idea. But a few fake designer goods or other things should be ok and if the authorities are reading this I'm not condoning purchasing fake goods in any shape or form.

So to summarize (as if I ever needed to):
  • Fill in your entry and exit permits BEFORE you get processed by immigration at either end of the causeway and have everything that's immigration-related in order

  • If you're caught with counterfeit goods in bulk especially DVDs/CDs the penalties are high

My lunch on the AeroLines coach service to KL (this is not standard so you won't get this on a cheaper coach services but I could be wrong)

Welcome to KL! My first night in the city and I made a beeline from my homestay (hostel) to the Petronas towers to see them by night after a really cheap yet quality dinner (It was some kind of Chinese chicken with beansprouts in blackbean sauce) with some exchange students visiting the city

My breakfast (mmm...satay chicken skewers) before going on the official Petronas towers tour, the tour is free by the way but you need to queue up really early in the morning to get a shoo-in

The Petronas towers by day with a touch of the Chinese new year

atmosphere in the form of lanterns hanging across the street

One of the many views from the bridge connecting the two towers,

I was hoping we could go right to the top but security's real tight here

While exploring the rest of the city I stopped by the National Mosque near the old KL train station to pray, it looks pretty plain from the outside but it's really quite pretty inside and this is coming from someone who's seen many mosques and other Islamic architecture from around the Middle East!

I'm no architect but I do love the straight clean lines and how this Bauhauesque theme works well with the functionality of traditional Islamic design (but I could be biased because I'm Muslim!)

The main prayer hall under one large dome

The Sultan Abdul Samad building,

this is where the Federal court was housed before it was moved

Petaling street aka Chinatown where I bought a pair of Levis 501 jeans; Docker's Khaki pants; 2 t-shirts and a seemingly nice pair of blue suede Pumas (they were 1 size too small because my size was sold out and I couldn't resist buying them for £6!) for around £15!

The busy main street of Chinatown

The next day I went to the Batu caves on the outskirts of KL with another backpacker, the caves aren't all that spectacular inside but getting to them is quite a task and is part of worship for many Hindus oh and that big gold statue is apparently the world's biggest Lord Murugan statue

Next stop: Pulau Penang!

I took this shot from the coach en route to Penang island to illustrate how much of the ancient jungles in the Malaysian countryside is being destroyed to make way for vast palm plantations - Malaysia is the world's largest producer of raw Palm oil

Looking Westwards and you can just make out the coast past those mountains

Crossing the Penang bridge/causeway into Georgetown, capital of Penang

The view from my hotel room balcony the next morning (The hotel Mingood - I'd recommend this hotel because the staff are really helpful and homely). The tall building behind those houses is the Komtar and it's part of a shopping complex, its the tallest building on the island

Breakfast at the rooftop restaurant at the hotel and real halal beef bacon rashers!

Artistically positioned antiquated rickshaws at the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion near my hotel

Different generations of transport in Penang in front of a mosque

built by early Bengali settlers

Lunch! Chicken curry, garlic naans, lentil soup (or daal) and a nice tall glass of ice cold Mango Lassi! You gotta love the food here!

My feet started to hurt as I toured the nearby area on foot (courtesy of those ill-fitting Pumas!) so I hired a trishaw for the princely sum of RM16 if I remember correctly, these things are purely ceremonial these days and mostly tourists ride on them

The next day I met some more backpackers to hang out with and check out the rest of the island and so we went to quite a few places like Penang hill (above) early in the morning where you get amazing views of the island and surrounding sea because the air is so clean at that time of day. We also went to the one and only Snake temple aslo known as the Temple of the Azure Sky (its full of poisonous snakes just hanging around !) and the Penang butterfly farm which sounds boring but had some really interesting exotic species of not only butterflies but strangely, tortoises, squirrels and millipedes!

After touring the island in the taxi we hired for the day we ended up just chilling out on Batu Ferengi beach which isn't the most spectacular of beaches - I've seen better - but it served our purpose!

Another shot of Batu Ferengi beach

On a boat in rural Bangaldesh crossing one of the many rivers that criss cross this country, this was taken in my Dad's home district in the South of the country

And to neatly finish off my whirlwind photo tour

of South-East Asia (which really did take 2 weeks) here's a fitting sunset from Bangladesh

Hopefully you can put two and two together to fill in the gaps between the end of the trip and now!

This better have been worth it...Mybrid! It took me forever to get the apparently 'new' blogger to format the pictures and text and even now they're still looking screwed up.


Mybrid said...

All I can say is WOW! Absolutely fantastic! Loved all the photos. Kinda baffled at the first breakfast photo. It's a lot of photos to take in. I feel like I need a vacation now. :) Post more! I'd love to see them. If blogger gives you a hard time, then just post a couple per post. That should keep you busy for the next 365 days...

nafie said...

welcome back bro

melanie said...

sweet! thanks for the travel pix and the up date. sighs. Wish I could do some traveling.

glad you are back.