Archive for April, 2010

Big yellow truck

A couple of days ago our big, yellow truck arrived in Cape Town. This will be our home for the next four months. Looks pretty sharp eh? Only two more sleeps until we climb aboard and drive away. We’re madly checking things off of our to-do list, and meeting many new people as our group starts to gather at our hostel.

We made it!

It was a marathon: an 11 hour flight followed almost immediately by a 28 hour train ride. But the good news is that the flight was smooth and comfortable (kudos to Malaysia Airlines for making our first flight on these travels a pleasant one), and we had a 4 berth sleeper cabin all to ourselves for the whole train ride, so we arrived in Cape Town happy and relaxed. And now we’re in Africa! Even though we were in transit for over 40 hours, this is by far the fastest transition between continents for us yet, so it hasn’t completely sunk in. Tomorrow we should finally be meeting some of the people who are going on the overland trip with us, and we’re excited about that.

So that’s our update: we made it safely across the Indian Ocean and through Johannesburg. Hopefully that puts all of your minds at ease — and yes, parents, we’re talking to you :)

A long way down

Mark and I are at the KL airport waiting until it’s time for us to board our plane to Johannesburg. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we will be in Africa. So fast! Our ocean legs on boats have given us time to acclimatize and mentally prepare. We’re feeling anxious. Although we’ll be crossing the Indian Ocean very quickly, this is going to be our longest stretch of continuous travel yet, or at least it’s going to feel like it. Our flight is an 11-hour red-eye. Once we land in Johannesburg, we’ll make our way to the train station to hop on the Shosholoza Meyl sleeper train to Cape Town. The train is supposed to take 26 hours. In total, it will probably be about 50 hours in-transit. Hope we make it!

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The Cameron Highlands

Tea fields in the highlands

The fresh, cool air of the Cameron Highlands greeted us as we got off our bus in Tanah Rata. We checked in to Father’s Guesthouse, perched up on top of a treed hill overlooking the town. We had a huge window that opened out onto a garden, and filled our room with light and breeze. Result: bliss.

The Cameron Highlands are about 4700 feet above sea level, and are the perfect climate for growing tea and strawberries. The cool air draws local tourists from Malaysia as well as foreigners trying to escape the heat. The things to do here: visit a tea plantation, check. Hike through the jungle, check. Eat Indian pancakes with fresh strawberries, check. Actually sleep well at night, without sweating buckets, check. Relax and enjoy the wonderful Malay people all around you, check!

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We downloaded a cool new app for our iPhone called “ShakeIt” (thanks to Lisa and Rob’s facebook recommendations). Now we can take polaroids as we go! It’s fun. So we documented our trip from Georgetown to Tanah Rata, since our trips are usually the stretches that get photographed the least. Enjoy!

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In a few short hours we will be on a plane to Africa, leaving Southeast Asia to our memories. We had such a fantastic time here. It’s about as far away as you can get from home for us. There are many different religions, languages and customs. All this makes for exciting travels, and was for the most part (excluding Sumatra) relaxing and easy. Before leaving, there are just a few random things we wanted to reflect on. For those of you lucky enough to have visited this part of the world, I’m sure you will be able to relate.

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silly sporks

They’re spoons and they’re forks. They’re sporks! And they’re broken. These ones are made by a company called Lightmyfire.

TIP: avoid using in jars of crunchy peanut butter.

in action killing bacteria and viruses

The Steripen is a handy little device for sterilizing water. It uses AA batteries to power a UV light bulb which kills 99% of bacteria and viruses. It’s really simple to use and only takes a minute or so to do a litre of water.

We’ve been using our Steripen wherever possible to reduce our consumption of plastic water bottles. Between the two of us, we could easily drink 3L of water a day, or 3 big water bottles. Over a year, that’s an insane amount of water and waste, especially in these parts of the world where waste management and recycling is severely lacking.

It works great providing the water is clear to begin with. Clarity does not always mean clean and tasty, however. To get around foul-tasting water we often mix in some drink crystals. Temperature is also dependent on what comes from the tap. When we’re traveling in scorching heat, sometimes a nice cool beverage is on order so we do still purchase water from time to time.

The upfront cost of the Steripen was about $100. We’re hoping it will have paid for itself by the end. It’s definitely reassuring to have on hand just in case. It’s also something we’ll definitely keep on hand when we go back-country camping. We’ll probably never bother with a filtre pump again.

New photos

Some beauties from our last month in Thailand. On the photos page.

The last beach

sparkly soft sand

Before leaving Thailand for good, we craved a little more beach time; a beach all to ourselves. Does such a place even exist anymore? It does, providing you’re willing to give up a few creature comforts, such as electricity and espresso machines. And in some cases, hire expensive longboats to take you on scouting missions. Our paradise was found on the island of Tarutao. (This should be the last of our paradise-gushing posts for a while now.)

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