Saturday, October 31, 2009

Batticoloa to Badulla then to Ella

6 am, my phone alarm just went on, I have been counting the drops of the heavy rain outside for quite some time trying to get back to sleep after another wave of mosquitoes.,
I am excited and in a rush as I must pack up again, clear the room and check out to meet my bus at 7.30. I like to be a bit of ahead of the schedule.
Its 6.45 and I have walk under the rain from the guest house for a good ten minutes to finally be disappointed. The bus to Badulla left at 6am and the next one won’t be before 1.30pm. I am rumbling, I am definitely unhappy about it especially as I have been misinformed by the guest house on this.
I return there to kill the time on the internet and doing nothing less else before leaving for the second time, definitely the last this time. The weather is back to normal and left quite a huge sun to dry out the asphalt running by fast under my walking shoes. It feels like I am running with my house with not much effort.
I have just two hours to kill , one spent talking around with the drivers and get loads of good tips and the other one, taking some needed force especially once I knew I would be stuck for another 6 hours journey.
My neighbor Luxmam tried to make out conversation once a nice and good size rainbow pierced the clouds and let us admire it for the few minutes of sunlight remaining. I couldn’t be rude to him(but I was bored already) while he was browsing through his phone, showing me his wife, kids, dogs and grandparents and asking me the inevitable question of my marital status.  It seems like society here is seeing wedding as a very important value and doesn’t really understand to see a white male aged 30 still not complying with the mold. Maybe I am abnormal!
The distance was not that long and it felt like déjà vu though the road was in a much better condition till we arrived at the bottom of the mountains, in an absolute darkness, barely able to see the pedestrians on the side of the road or dogs crossing without a warning.
Badulla, 7.40pm, almost 6 hours in total crushed in the backseat. My information was correct. I am starting wandering around the bus station, trying to spot for some guest house, found a lodge but they are full. The owner calls a three wheeler and for one hundred rupees I ll be able to hunt with him for accommodation. I don’t plan on staying here more than one night as my objective is to reach Ella. After one unsuccessful try, we got a new address to check. Time for a rest, its 8pm and I am falling asleep.
6 am this Saturday morning! I slept almost ten hours and feel like a charm! After a cold shower I am back on the tracks aiming at the railway station. Badulla is apparently famous for its waterfall but we can’t go swimming there so this is not really worth for me to go there and lose the opportunity of being very early in Ella and enjoying myself.
I must anyway be in the tea trails if not Monday, at the latest Tuesday if I want to explore the south of the islands and chill in MIrissa.i ll soon confirm with Amuthan for my arrival there but need to finalize the last bit of the ride from Hatton train station to Norwood.
Badulla to Ella was fantastic, back to the train and its melting pot of people from different social backgrounds. I am by the window, watching out and being waved at by some teenagers that will soon join me on the rail, in the fresh air as I was fed up being seated among breast feeding mums and kids yelling around and throwing food at me by lack of precision !
Badulla-Ella, it is only one hour by train and finally get to see some big tea factory.
The smell Is hard to describe but I am feeling much better here, away from the massive pollution of the city centers.
I am outside, saying bye to my teenagers singing act and spot the hotel country comfort right in front of the station.
This will be definitely the first one I will give an attempt and in fact that’s where I am staying for the night after bargaining for a mere 30 seconds. The price went from 1500 to a rather worth 1000 lkr much more in my line of budget.
Left the hostel around 12, supposedly the warmest moment in the day but its very cloudy today and the wind condition makes it very nice to walk outside though it looks like it will rain but lets hope not, I didn’t take my jacket.
I walked back to the train station, took the road down and made a right , pass through a tunnel and start climbing the hill ahead with the idea of getting a view point and finding some internet.
The story will tell that I didn’t get both in the right order but so much more! On the way to the top, I had a quick rest at this place called the skygreen hostel. Talk to the manager and sealed a deal for tomorrow night…even better from 2500 lkr he went down to a 1000 lkr. I am getting good at it!
The pitstop was necessary and resourceful in information. Got to the summit in no time, the last part was a bit harder as it was mostly burn and the soil was covered of pine needles making it very slippery.
Sat there for a while and a few minutes later an eagle came back to its nest quickly to feed the birdies and went flaring a few meters ahead of me, glancing at me like I was eatable… barely had time to pull my camera and got a shot of its rear. Really beautiful !
As I was waiting to make the shot, I got caught up by the rain and got soaked wet in no time. Stuff my t shirt in the backpack, put every single belonging in there too and covered it up with the rain protection as I was slipping through on the way down.
I got protection first under some banana tree then under the porch of the house I found. Very convenient place that allowed me to wait for a calmer moment to make an exit.
Still looking for internet if you do remind, took a staircase then another and soon I was on the rail track right behind a western (yeah) that I followed for a while before catching up on him and being tipped regardless my search.
I just met the guy again, his name is Fabian, he is a couchsurfer out of munich and we just kill one beer while the rain is still pouring and I must go back to my own place….
Just the idea is discouraging !
I also received an email today regarding the rest of the plan at dilmah and I ll be first in the bungalow, then hosted by the manager of the plant till the 5th.
I love when a plan comes together…(cf to Hannibal smith and the a team)

Ciao Everyone

Love you all

Big kisses to Pauline, guillaume and the amazing dog left home certainly having croquettes as I type in those last few words.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Having a rest in Batticaloa

And i thought i would only stay there for one night but i actually enjoyed sticking around here for a few more just to relax, catch up on long waited to be answererd emails and organising also the rest of the trip.
On my arrival tuesday afternoon , i was really exhausted though i did nothing else than seating in that bus for so many hours. Try 6 hours for 110 kilometers on the dusty trail.
So i found myself a nice little place to sleep and after three different ones, i found the good one ! well centered, a few minutes away from the bus stand, lots of mosquitoes around to suck me 24/7 but more importantly a wifi connection ! ahhh you have no idea how much that was needed.
The subaraj Inn is just good enough for what it's worth.

Wednesday, i spent also quite some time over the internet mostly watching online docs, reading on visas requirements and then i went for a good walk in the city, first aiming at the dutch fort (now mostly use as an administration center after the war).
The fort is in a very poor state, felt like bombs felt on it and the garbage keep getting bigger.
Plastic bags were flying, smelled like open air toilets all over the place.
couldnt stay there much longer and i was anyway starving after a 24 hours diet for the meal of the day ! ah such a nice place again i found out by chance.Few minutes later, i was down in my plates dipping in with my fingers like the locals and getting quite some attention while doing so but this was really really good.
left from there shortly, walked quite a distance in the other part of the town and while trying not to get lost, i was hoping to see something more typical as suggested by the guest house help desk but never really manage to get there and soon i was back , having a rest and cleaning up the dirty laundry.
Thursday was on the same tempo but managed to get my invitation for one night only within the bungalow at norwood so i ll be certainly reaching dilmah around the 2nd of november.

Tomorrow, i ll be leaving to dabulla and reaching ella in the mountains for a few days.

see you.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dirt off your shoulders

The past 48 hours have been quite interesting as i am trying to recess all the tiny bits of the adventures !
I left anuradhapura after having lost the interest in doing anything else since i saw most if not all of it with my amazing tuk tuk driver, hope you are still following till now.

The ride to trincomalee was quite something too, i got up super early to prepare the backpack, went to the checkout and dropped the last book i finished (some thriller called Flinch).
I got a tuk tuk to drop me at the bus station and since i was a bit early there , had time to go for the spicy breakfast with some chai on the side, refilled my water supply as i know i always drink a lot in the bus and here we go !

Glad i was there before the rush because it was full right from the beginning and i had the most annoyable neighboor all the way, i mean she was large and it was just one butt too many on that bench.
In the end i manage to forget about her and start enjoying the landscape which was getting dryer and dryer but i was dreaming to see some nice beaches and the sea again.
The ride was really long, almost 4 hours for 159 kilometers but the bus is stopping everytime someone is waving at him...the magic of privately own buses !
Arrived in trincomalee downtown at the bus station and from previous reading, i only knew one guest house name which appeared to be right accross the street so here i am entering, negotiating in some weird adapted english accentuation for locals and successing at it for a room.
The room appeared to be clean at first and i was just too tired to look carefully and i went for a little nap that was really short as i woke up surrounded by bed bugs all over the place..grrr and very disgusting ! jumped back to the shower and went on for a scandal at the reception showing them the problem.
few minutes later, new bed, new mattress, new sheets time for me to relaxe on the offered beer on the house and the same story repeats itself ! even more bed bugs concentrated !
i asked for a better room at the same cost which i got.
The adress is on 23 main street, its called mansion hostel ! would not recommend it anyway but its the only one offering low rates in the area.
After such a bad start,  it was time to go see what this town was all about ! went all the way down to main street, missed the train station i was after, got lost by the lagoon and back again downtown through the maze of small streets not without being waved or whistled a few times at...
tourists arent that common just yet in sri lanka and it is slowly coming back !

7am tuesday 27th october

I am walking outside of the dirtier place i ever paid for in my entire life, still thing i should have walk out of it but they ve been very accomodating to my matter and took action so couldnt blame them forever.
Walked to the bus station nearby, ask for direction to go down south to batticaloa. Was quite happy with the first answer given which would make me change three times of bus until someone game me the inside tip that changed my day !
jumped off the bus into a tuk tuk, asked to be drop a the nearby harbor to make the boat to muthur (pronounce moutou for the french readers) and from there i ll be able to make the bus.
So i add not only another mean of transportation into my long list of already used but that was  a hell of a cool one.
once again, i am the only white boy in there, being stared at but i am getting better at managing my success over kids not to add the rest of the crowd.
ended up at the back of the boat, watching the shore getting smaller and being even prevented from taking any more pictures reason being it was a private and very secret police camp ...anyway, i got enough of them in time !
Arrived in muthur in 45 minutes after a nice talk with someone studying political science and that couldnt find anyone to match his english skills.
Got the necessary connecting info at a charming place, even got a ride to the bus station nearby and enjoyed good times before making the 11am bus.
First time in the whole trip that i am really crossing the ancient war zones and you can tell there is a lot to be made to make it forgot but no such things as bomb holes or shuttered glass or whatever, only one big indicator : the number of checkpoints and the state of the road ! i didnt count but i would have lost it anyway. got controlled once for my passport in total and once for my luggage ! and that was without the others asking whose bags were belonging too or being asked for my name just to make sure i was really french ! such a laugh.
Lets go back to the road condition most primor reason i got so late in the end here !
Its like a safari trail, no such things as ciment or where there is some, its shared between two lanes, the cows, the bikes, the guys at work repairing it.
Anyway, i made it here around 4.30pm, walked around looking for a guest house knowlingly there were a few on the way back and in the end got advised to go in that direction too.
I am finally on the east coast and will certainly chill here for two nights before heading down south or straight into the mountains at ella !

More to come soon !

ciao all


Saturday, October 24, 2009

In the shoes of a japanese tourist

Today was like no other day !
First i got to be so freaking early last night that i was up rumbling in my room at 3am this morning wondering if i should start even walking to the destination.
Glad i didnt, it was quite far and in the end i went outside takeshi's inn to wait for the bus.
45 minutes later, i was still the only decoration tree on the side of the road, being waved by all the minibus certainly heading in the same direction but not picking me up.
Walked downtown to end up facing the same misery, only a rare bus once in a while that doesnt leave the city before being totally full.
Jumped into a tuk tuk who cut me a local deal and dropped me in front of the gate after i got into an arguement with him as he was willing to leave me at the entrance of the park when we agreed on something way different.
He was pretending it was only 300 meters showing me some gate but it avered to be the exit and in the end the 300 meters i was supposed to walk were well worth the discussion as he drove for another kilometer if not more in the dusty trail.
Felt like finishing a tennis match on clay court after that ride !
The Japanese run was about to start with quite a scenary ! let me tell you, sigiraya is worth every thing and i really mean it.
Its a huge block of rock, fallen out of nowhere thats has been conquered by some king a few thousand years ago ! sorry for the history lesson but i am sure you will find the necessary information online.
Few facts about that antique ! 1500 steps, a series of staircases that are breathtaking and leave most of the mortals awed if not by the beauty of hit or by the increasing difficulty it takes to end up the climbing.
But wow, the view you are getting from 600 ft is quite something , especially with the clear weather we keep on having around here !
I am entering a shooting frenzy that will only end once i ll be down the road , waiting for the ghost bus, reaching another tuk tuk and finally missing the chance to get that bus as we are crossing it a few hundred meters after i got in....
Reached the guest house, packed all of it again and merely had the chance to say bye to the owner that the bus to the anuradhapura was here.
When i say my day was packed up, i was very near the truth !
Arrived after a mere two hours drive at 2.45pm there and the story repeats itself. a tuk tuk come to me, know a great place, i start negotiating the price over the phone before even tagging along and got what i wanted but still used the last lifeline of the free visit before making the final decision.
The place is great though a bit pricy but got all the necessary even a wifi connection, yououhhh !
My tuk tuk driver is offering me a good deal to visit the whole thing there in the afternoon without paying the entrance fees to all the sights, magic !
I never saw that many things in such a short time , took way too many pictures but really enjoyed the experience. I am now wondering if i ll leave tomorrow because i lost the envy of staying here one more day or chilling and killing a day at the hostel watching the flies flying by !
Have fun and next destination is trincomalee !

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dambulla, A necessary stop on the way up north

Friday morning, 7th weeks touring, exploring, socialising, forgetting about my previous non exciting life !
I left early the guest house i was staying at for the past three days missing the chance to actually see the temple of tooth in kandy on thursday morning as i didnt have my trousers on and couldnt find a suitable drape to cover myself.
My last day in Kandy was well spent though since i went on visiting new areas , got lost just a little bit around before finding the tourist desk and the well sought after information needed for my next stop.
Exiting the office, i just couldnt resist the temptation of what was just looking at me for way too many days already, the buddah statue uphill !
Here i am then, full speed on, declining hundreds of tuk tuk offers on the way, making my path through traffic, pedestrians, sacred cow and dogs of all sorts and reaching out quite fast the base of the hill.
it was a very good hike, especially after some short eats (thats definitely a breakfast i am getting used to though a bit spicy making it quite fun at first for my empty stomach to enjoy.. internal curry burp as i like to call it those days).
I am getting quite fast climbing up and made it in barely 20 minutes but i was needing a rest to catch my breathe again especially under the hot sun , it was close to noon already.
The classic tourist entry fee was required to give a good look at the statue and smack buddah on the cheeks though it was much easier to access its rear this time around providing a very nice perspective of the city and a great panoramic angle too.
I stayed there for almost two hours relaxing and enjoying the fresh air of the city while the honking noise was finally being covered with the prayers of the monks.
Coming down to reality was not a choice i was willing to make but had no other solution and was definitely needing some internet time to finish uploading the dilmah pictures.
Finished that up under two hours, paid my dues and left back to the guest house by bus.
I was quite tired and felt asleep quite fast to in the end waking up too late to make it on time to the ceremony at 6.30pm at the temple. i guess i ll have to come again !

Today, i left the guest house deeply motivated at 6.30am and had to wait for 20 minutes to finally hop on in an empty bus..something really rare especially on a school day here !
Found my bus to dembulla , route 42 and had just no time to get some water or else to survive the trip ! 73 roupies for 2 hours, another good reason to chose the local bus here !
I crossed what seemed to be a never ending spices gardens territory and cities full of trees transforming shops. My great neighboor in the bus was even managing one of those in matale.

I made it to dambulla city center at 9.30 am and went for a well desserved breakfast, you know already what i had ! after this interesting break, being once again the center of all the attention (not so many western are stopping by or even eating out) i took my stuff out, looked around for a bit, chose a direction and few seconds after someone came to me asking if i was looking for accomodation !

Lucky me ! a tuk tuk driver who also owns a guest house... i am loving every second of that offer !
Jumped in the tuk tuk, found out that takeshi guest house was really clean, not so outcentered and very close to my connection to sirigaya by bus the day after !
Dropped my gear and my new friend drove me to the rock temple which i really enjoyed.
Spent a good hour resting on the steps, talking with the souvenirs salesmen, exchanging and even being invited to a house party tonight !
Too bad i already had an arrangement to sleep, i was being invited to stay with his family !
another thing i ll have to do next. "J'irai dormir chez vous in sri lanka ". I ll report this as soon as i succeeded in this new mission on that trip. knowing the good people around, it looks like an easy challenge.

The rock temple in dambulla was definitely worth stopping. Five caves in total, fully painted from ceiling to the floor, filled up of buddhas of all kind and all sizes, in a huge block of rock in the mountain. Photos to be followed soon but you can have a preview by clicking HERE.

I am now chilling again, certainly going soon to the guest house to meet up the family there and spent some good time before a good night out with my new friends here in dambulla !

From Sri Lanka with love !


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A sweet city called Kandy

Hiyahhhhhhhhhhhh !

After leaving my host at 6.45am tuesday morning using a tuk tuk (no bus at that time would allow me to get in with two backpacks unless i pay three to four times more than the usual 23 roupies rate) which costed me 500 to be dropped like some common merchandise at the railway station.
Went on trying  to find the next departure to Kandy which after quite a thinking (a mere 5 seconds the night before) was going to be my next stop in Sri Lanka.
Went on to ask for information but their limited understanding of the english either make them believe i am a brit or an american , maybe i had too many couchsurfers from there !
in the end i got the information right, no direct trains were available since the last portion of the track was broken or under repair... got a ride for 180 roupies till the junction which is 6 kilometers south of the city and here i am again on the go with the 9.45am departure train.
Being a tourist but not feeling like one is quite hard to justify when you are the only white in a 5 kilometers radius but i have some good interactions with the locals , thats when they are not trying to rip me off with some stupid scam or miscalculating the total bill when i had previously my breakfast
Hard for them to give it a shot as i know my way round the pricing now so i just politely decline to pay and they came back with a more suitable result for my wallet ! 270 became 220 ..

The ride itself was quite a scenary that i would have gave up for nothing in this world, ok maybe a little skydive but things are coming in line as they should, a born traveller ! i am getting quite addicted to the feeling of freedom on this trip.
Train left on the clock and i got myself a nice seat by the window to shoot around ! i ll try to give you a little extra but kinda lost most of the pictures i took on the way but the region you are crossing is really nice... rice fields, coconuts trees all over and a slow progression in the mountain that make you at some point so close to the edge ! really worth every second.
so beautiful that i even missed my stop at the junction thus forcing me in  another bus ride which i found almost instantly after exiting the station at gambulla.
Arrived at kandy in the end around 2pm, contacted at first a friend of ananda which couldnt in the end host me as he was in colombo. i called a guest house nearby and arranged pick up at the restaurant i was protecting from the heavy rain.
The guest house is simply great, clean and uphill giving an extra sense of liberty !
its somehow well connected and tomorrow i ll head towards the elephant orphenage few hours away.

bye bye

Monday, October 19, 2009

Loading the first container to France from Dilmah HQ in Colombo

Some circumstances cannot be planned...

Sri Lanka...first impressions

I will try to be as thorough as possible though internet connections here seems to be stuck to dial up speed and that shall not help me to wake up as it is so slow to get a page up !
I arrived early morning last friday the 16th at 7.10am, magnific weather, super hot and not humid for a change which pretty means the end of heavy sweating session like i was just getting used to in malaysia.
Back to a more normal life you might think ( i mean thought it too myself ) but soon to discover the state of the art transportation system !
Wow quite a shock, nothing can really put words on what i had the chance to grab in the first few hours here ! i heard stories from eric after he got back , from my parents also and i am still sure i did get the real expensive limo driving me with full ac from the airport !
arriving there, i just had to set up a few things and simcard which was easy to find since only one operator was working the airport and the change rates is the same all over the place.
You do get 166 roupies for one euro (which is not so bad knowing it was around 135 in march).
Here i am, holding my two backpacks, looking like a mule being offered really great chance to spend my roupies in a überexpensive taxi (2200 roupies is quite nothing back in euros but its my daily allowance budget).
My aim is to spend the three weeks in sri lanka with a mere 500 euros no more ! quite a challenge isnt it ?
Thanks to couchsurfing, i found myself a host living in colombo 7 and i am down to his place after a great touk touk ride from the airport....pollution, constent horns communication, smokes of all kind, dirts, dust you name it, i had it all ! the shower back to kunishke was leaving trace of a black colored ! finally a shower that has a purpose....
I am finally enjoying myself for a few hours, sleeping a little bit watching a movie before "business" duties are finally catching me back just a few expected hours before the original plan.
dad is quite happy to reach me on the phone and let me know the container is due to leave dilmah in a few days and has not yet been loaded..after a few phone calls, pickup is being arranged and here i am enjoying the first ride to dilmah hq on negombo road....
had the chance to see the factory but they were all cleaning and thus not producing anything.
Spent a few hours there before being sent home by the same locomation and meet my host for the first time and few of his buddies.
To cut the story short, i was supposed to stay at his place through monday but somehow he changed his mind during the night and asked me to leave as i was preparing my breakfast i am trying to see what went wrong, trying to sort out the situation as i am also packing up the mess and also getting my plan b luck, got it worked out few minutes before i left the house to go back to dilmah attend the loading of the first container !
I am currently uploading the pictures on my flickr so stay put !

Saturday ended well as i met my second host, ananda right outside his place just  a bit further on the suburbs of colombo...which is promissing more funnier moments in transportation.
We spent the whole afternoon in colombo exploring parts he never went too, from buses to touk touk, cant really remember how much time we changed directions but it was for the greater good as we reached the cinnamon grand hotel for a small gathering at the cheers pub with locals couchsurfing members.

Met the 10pm bus back to his place at the last second as the bus was leaving the depot and made it in no time back home for a good recovering session of due sleep.
Sunday was no different but ananda was working and he gave me instructions as things i could go see and i went on a day trip to negombo. by train this time for the inbound (40 roupies for 90 minutes worth) and ended following someone to a nice hostel in the region to enjoyed the beach, the cocktails and the parades of so many western people in their bikinis (some should have chose something else) when it was not their full body swim suit ...
negotiated my unlimited buffet for a few euros with the assistant food manager, got even his card (he offered me some discounted rate if i was to come back to the hostel...i wont but i played the game to save a few hundreds roupies).
I made the return by bus with the intercity number 4 (90 roupies) since i had no envy to wait in the heat for another 70 minutes for a slow train.
Connected with my host again around 6.20pm outside the shortcut leading to his parents' house.

All for now, feel good to have this out !

i am leaving colombo next wednesday to kandy and will certainly spent a few days around there to see whats available (mostly the elephant ) but a few other things before heading up north then to tamil country ! its supposed to be much safer now so i might just check that out and see something worth after such a time at war.

blue skies,


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wednesday 14th October

Already one month in my thirties and i kinda celebrate it by going to a small exhibit right outside town

The ride there was fast , merely 35 minutes by bus 6 from the stc bus center in kuching. I just missed the previous one by 4 minutes which made me wait in a local restaurant for a good hour to take the next one at 11.30am.
I made it so right at the door of the preservation center after a little 25 minutes walk from the road entrance.
Cost was cheap, 3RM to enter the forestry reserve.

I went around at first to see when was the feeding involved and walked myself to the start of the trail in the jungle excited to see some wild animals , supposedly aggressive, willing to take a bite on my french body to replace their original diet made of watermelon, sugar cane and bananas !

The forestry managers (the official guides) were just trying to force me into taking someone to come with me but i ll quote his words ( you should take a guide) compulsory then i thought so here i was, exploring this little bit of forest hoping for the best encounters....

And few minutes after i started the walk in the park, my luck struck back again !

And two medium sized Orangutans !

At some point, i even thought they were throwing me stuff as they were looking for food and they are mostly in fact making dead branches meet gravity !

At the same time, i was being attacked by hundreds of mosquitoes and without my repellent and the proper shoes, its been quite an experience !

I encountered quite a few group of tourists so freaking louds that it made almost "my animals" scared.
Not with the warning being issued again and again that i shouldnt be in the jungle alone, that it was dangerous and so on ! made me laugh ... no way i would pay 40 RM to be in somone's foot steps for two hours when i can do the whole 2.5 kilometers in less than 70 minutes for Free.

feeding time was fastly approaching thus allowing some closer shots that i have enclosed here.

was good to be back online for a while.

i have a better idea of my sri lanka tour now after a few slow days of planning here at tracks b&b.

happy family !


I am leaving Kuching tonight with the 8.50pm flight to KL with airasia and will be connecting with my flight to colombo at 6.15am tomorrow morning.
I am due to be in colombo at 7.15am friday and i finally managed to get a couch there so yeepee !

I ll be in touch soon with another cellphone number !

blue skies


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welcome to Kuching baby !

Tuesday 6th, 6am and i am being dropped at the airport by Chel, a local girl my partner in crime convinced to turn into an early taxi, i never asked what he did though i ve got quite a few leads !
The flight was pretty luxury considering they were not so many people with us and i managed to secured a nice row by the emergency exit and sleep for the entire length of it..made me at least recover the lack of sleep accumulated while in KK.
Landing was by no meaning soft but i am still here to speak about it so i guess that it is as good as it gets here when rushing a plane down to meet the hour !
Romain and I were quickly welcomed by the local committee in the person of Mathias (another french couchsurfer from Paris) and Kelvin, a local active host that just graduated and will soon work for two years for the government as a doctor.

So here we were riding towards some destination (original plan was bako national park but the conditions were not optimistic) thus forced us to find a different heading !

 Kelvin drove us to the caves, Wind and fairy to be more precise.

here is the first we visited, Wind caves with a lot of bats flying around and the mysterious things they were bombing on us !
hats necessary and torch lights...

 The we moved on to the fairy caves and after a few steps up the mountain via the structure outside and also quite a lot more inside followed by a series of staircases, we end up to the main part of it !
really cool i have to say and had to pay my respect to the fairy in person.

View from the top of the fairy cave.

a little climb, crawling through a hole in the rocks that led to a small flat piece of rock from where i shot this.

Soon after the caves, we went for lunch in some local foodcourt and killed a few meat buns and some specialty fried chicken rice on my side. the rest of the afternoon was pretty cool...rain felt on us around 3.30pm and we agreed once we secured our guest house to meet for drinks.

Mathias and Diana a local couchsurfing host in Kuching.

The end of the "party" was fast, i was falling asleep really soon after with the aim of going to bako the morning after thus waking up early to get the bus.

A few hours later, we are stuck in a taxi because the girl side of romain kicked in and he took him humm let me think 10 minutes back and forth to go pick up some flip flop in the room..anyway, 40 RM shared with the french trio later, we were on the edge of the bako national park, talking to a taiwanese girl i never understood the name and a guy from the usa that i instantly located to be originally from texas which kinda surprised him...if he knew i hosted 160 US citizen, he would not be so surprised !

The boat ride that we are forced to take is merely costing 94 RM return for 5 people, do the maths, in the end we all payed 19rm.

our "skipper" was pretty skilled at avoiding the waves as the low tide was barely starting and dropped us on the beach with mere directions as "follow the others foosteps". fair enough, lets use our flair.
The view from the boat !!

So here we are, starting the trek ! first warm up party is to do the T Paku trail which will allow us to see some ugly monkeys..yeah !!!!!!

the view on the beach was definitely worth the hike !
  we went back to the crossroads to aim at another difficulty, certainly the second hardest i endured after cameron highlands but my boots were ready to meet up with dirt again.

T Pandan Kecil was the objective of the second hike (2.6 kilometers one way, same on return you got it ).
The view was just splendid and we gave ourselves 20 minutes to recover.

View from Bensar beach, third trail we followed before heading back to meet the 2.30pm boat

The rain was on time and we avoided a free shower by a mere two seconds as me and romain made it to the bed and breakfast that afternoon.

Thursday  8th

I have waited for romain to come back to do the check out and change to another guest house , much more comfortable and that will anyway cost me 15RM/night (3 euros).
My idea was to aim to the crocodile farm in the afternoon once i had said bye to romain after a last lunch, i ll meet the man again in indonesia in a few weeks.

Soon after being dropped by the bus, one kilometer away from the entrance of Jong crocodile farm.

well the legend said, missing tail croc !

cant beat that description i think but it was time to go to the show worth 16rm...the feeding of the crocs !

Et voila !

another good day in paradise ! will see what i do tomorrow as some locals are finally calling me and inviting me over to do stuff ! yeah, i cannot be left alone, i am telling you...

more to follow in the next report of antoine's adventure ....

online soon


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Aux Francais qui me lisent


Utilisons un terme matinal bien qu'il soit presque déjà l'heure d'aller chercher un petit rafraichissement ici sur Kuching, plus grosse ville de l'état de sarawak, Bornéo !
Un vol bien matinal depuis kota kinabalu(KK) avec un pote rencontré sur place (on avait demandé à la même personne avec un léger décalage pour surfer son canapé) ne citerai pas le nom de l'heureux perdant à cette lotterie mais j'ai fini par prendre l'hôtel (4€/nuit en dortoir) au final une nuit avant de dormir chez pei et rencontrer donc romain, également en partance de France depuis une semaine pour quelques mois à venir.
Le hasard faisant souvent bien les choses, romain partage une de mes passions favorites pour le parachutisme et il est en malaisie pour participer à un événement de base-jump.
Mon dernier jour sur KK  s'est plutôt bien passé. nous nous sommes loués deux petits scooters 125cc, en poussant un peu on flirte le 100 kl/h...bonne sensation en attendant de reprendre le parachutisme en australie en janvier certainement...
on s'est fait une petite visite de la tour mustafa, de la mosquée d"état avant de se perdre vers l'ouest tout en revenant par chance sur la bonne direction juste avant que j'explose la courroie et perde toute distribution sur mon cher scooter...bref il était 14h et je me retrouvais sur le bord de la route à faire l'attraction locale pour les malais coincés dans les embouteillages pendant une bonne heure avant que la dépanneuse n'arrive.
quelques instants plus tard, nouvelle monture, nouvelle first beach, très proxi de l'aéroport pour une baignade dans les vagues vers 16h.

La fin de journée ressemble un peu à toutes les autres, rencontre avec mon hôte Kuni et direction un petit restaurant pas trop cher (quelques euros tout au plus pour un plat vraiment géant) ! je me demande déja comment je vais pouvoir aimer payer mon entrecôte 15 euros lors de mon retour si d'aventure il reste encore des boeufs !

je vais faire dans le court, la météo semble redevenir plus clémente après une bonne douche tropicale qui nous a rappelé les derniers événements dans la région..quelques typhons restent à venir! je prévois toujours d'aller en indonésie mi novembre !

ciao à tous et à toutes

blue skies


Friday, October 2, 2009

Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

Wednesday 30th, i took an early flight with tiger airways out of singapore to Kota Kinabalu (KK) at 9am.
The flight was spent without any much of a problem and we even arrived earlier than scheduled, guess i just found the equivalent of swiss air for asia continent !
Took me just a few minutes to get ready and picked up my gear from the belt and here i was in the terminal looking for the best connection to go to town. this time around, i had no couch though i have sent quite a few requests beforehand so i was aiming at a cheap hostel down town. i called from the airport and secured a space !
went outside in the hot air, almost 31 °c and here came the sweat again...i end up at the end of the taxi line, talking to a local guy that seems pretty helpful as he soon gave me a ride outside the airport.
i thought, yeah i am getting super lucky but it was for a short while only as they dumped me at the bus station right outside the airport pretending a bus would come fast...25 minutes later i was still stranded, one car stopped to ask me if i was needing a ride and of course charging me 25rm for it that i quickly declined. thats pretty much at that time i decided it was time to stop being a virgin hitch hiker and here i was, thumbs up, smiling at the car passing through ! one stopped almost immediately but was not going in my direction but soon i found my luck !
This nice family took me in and dropped me right outside the tourism office on jalan gaya from which i walked to the akinabalu youth hostel for one night.
Arriving at the hostel and once secured on the bunk bed for a mere 20rm per night, went to check my mail and soon received a reply to my former couchrequest sent to pei.
she was pretty much telling me that she could not host me before she got the approval of another couchsurfer she has just started to host.
funnily she told me he was french and also quite found of skydiving...small world small world !
No need to say that soon i got contacted by romain, the crazy skydiver and we ve met downtown by the shore in front of the meridien hotel for a few hours that were pretty much well spent ! i ll let you judge by yourself.

Few beers later, i understood he had already more than a thousand skydives and 330 base jumps ! hell yeah...

romain is actually in the region as soon there is a base jumping gathering in kuala lumpur and in fact a few stops were being planned in borneo but had been cancelled last minute.
I will travel with him to kuching next tuesday morning !

I soon met his host who is actually reall cool and she allowed me to stay for a few nights over here so i wont even need the help of Kuni, a japonese i ve met in singapore earlier this week.
Couchsurfing situation : 3 weeks couchsurfing, one week hostel !

Thursday 1st october :

This morning i left the guest house, not without a little difficulty to get my money back from the desk office but after a little bit of argument, i came victorious and saved 20% of 20rm ! yeah all of this for 4 RM, not even a euro ! but here you can have a meal with that much !
I walked all the way to pei's mansion, a nice condo situated on the beach front and joined romain there. quickly after we were enjoying a relaxing time by the pool before heading downtown. the idea was to visit the island nearby but we came quite late at the jetty and didnt made it !

I have finally managed to include a few pics within the writing so lets see how it goes. send me your feedback !