Since we left Penang in April, we have stayed in 24 hotels, done 16 bus trips, 9 boat trips, 3 plane trips and an oxen cart ride. The adventures started in Phuket’s Kamala where we discovered some fantastic Pad Thai at a local street stall. In fact it was so good that we had to go back again the same evening.
Our next stop was a treat from our friends Belinda and Lisa who gave us 3 nights of luxury in Patong to celebrate our wedding anniversary. With everything going on we were surprised to find the best food, at great prices, was right on the beach with stunning sea views.
Stop 3 took us to Khao Sok, besides the towering Karst Mountain scenery, one of my favourite moments was just standing quietly watching the monkeys playing in the river. Then with a quick stop in Ranong we were off to Koh Phayam. This was the true beachside bungalow experience with hornbills coming to visit us. We also had some of the noisiest frogs I have ever heard serenading us most of the night right under the floor!
Chumphon was supposed to be just a stop before our first Thai train ride but we came across a Korean shaved iced ice desert that is still one of the prettiest chocolate creations we have eaten. Cha Am and Hua Hin were supposed to interesting retirement options. We did see the retirees but we did not really see the attraction!
In Amphawa, we had breakfast next to the Mae Klong river and soaked up the atmosphere of their weekend floating markets. Now on our various bus trips we had become quite used to stops for petrol and breaks for food etc but the stop for fresh flowers for the shrine on the driver’s dashboard was a new one for us, but when we were in all the traffic fighting our way into Bankok, we did start to understand the logic!
Bangkok was like visiting old friends like Wat Arun, The Grand Palace and the hectic water buses weaving their way up and down the river.
Another train trip and we arrived in Ayutthaya. This is a place of rivers and ancient temples and the local custom of dressing in formal Thai clothing to visit the temples made our sunset boat trip even more impressive.
Next it was Cambodia, Siem Reap (well what can you say about Angkor Wat and all the surrounding wonderfulness!). Battambang – great food and a very interesting American teacher who had spent the last 2 years teaching in a local school and had lots of great stories to share and an ox cart ride. And Kampong Chhnang where we were completely defeated by the deafening noise of a 3 day wedding next to the hotel.
The place that we had planned to start our South East Asia trip was the Cambodian coastline but it took us 4 months to get here. The first stop was Sihanoukville (it is a rather unpleasant building site). But a couple of hours by minibus down the road is Kampot, which is an attractive colonial riverside town where we learned all about the rebirth of the local pepper industry. And finally Kep where we could sit on the balcony of our hotel and watch the comings and goings of the Cambodians on holiday.
After a few days in Phnom Penh where we visited a wildlife rescue centre, it was back to Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur. I had read a story on-line that you could now go and see the new baby panda at KL Zoo. So guess what we had to do.
The trip back to Penang took us to Taman Negara (Hot sweaty Rainforest), Cameron Highlands (Beautifully cool for the first time in months) and Ipoh (a surprisingly trendy Old Town).
So now we are back in Penang and it is time to slow down a bit. For us that means a housesit for a few week. So today we take charge of 2 beautiful dogs while their family are off to Australia.