Friday, 17 December 2010

SE Asia done... for now!

So I've been back in cold old blighty now for just over 24 hours so I need to finish off my adventure. After leaving Singapore for KL we flew to Tawau which is in northern west Borneo (the Malaysian part) where we were picked up by our scuba company Scuba Junkie and taken to a little coastal village called Semporna for the night. Since Claudia was recovering from food poisoning and didn't want to eat anything remotely Asian we headed to KFC for dinner. On our way to and from dinner we realised what a dump Semporna is and we glad we were only staying there for one night. The next morning we awoke early to catch the boat to Mabul; an island where we would be staying for the next 3 nights. The first day was spent Scuba diving around the island and relaxing in the hotel bar. Because we were staying in a resort just for scuba divers and snorkellers everyone was pretty like-minded and really friendly.

The reason we went to Mabul was to dive around the world famous SIpadan; a protected island with only a limited number of permits thus limiting the number of visitors. When Claudia and I first contacted Scuba Junkie all the Sipadan permits were full for the days we wanted to visit but we were told out names would go on a waiting list and fingers crossed we would be able to dive around the incredible island. Fortunately (as it would have been a shame to travel so far for nothing) our wishes we granted and both Claudia and myself were given last minute permits to dive at Sipadan and by god was the diving amazing! Sipadan is surrounded by a 600m wall of coral which means the marine life is incredible. Sharks come up from the ocean depths to feed on the large fishes of all colours and shapes. The diving was indeed world class, we lost count of the numbers of turtles and sharks we saw and the fish we some of the most incredible I've ever seen. The day was exhausting, a 5.30am start followed by 4 dives but it as completely worth it!!!

On our third day we dived around another island; Siamil where there were tonnes of macro organisms to see. It wasn't as amazing as Sipadan (I doubt many places our) but it was still great fun. Over my travels I hacked done a total of 30 dives!!! Increasing my mere 7 I came away with to a much more respectable 37 and I can feel a massive improvement in my abilities. That evening we were able to finally relax as we didn't have to get up early the next day and therefore enjoyed a little rum with our dive masters and ended up on the beach until the early hours.

The following day, which was started by a much needed lie in was a haze of rain and an awful lot of travelling. After a boat, bus and plane journey we arrived back into KL in the evening where Hairah, a friend from our toxicology masters was waiting to pick us up (THANK YOU again)!! That even we stayed at her sisters house (just outside KL) and spent the night chatting and catching up, it was lovely! Hairah drove us into town on Wednesday morning where we eventually found a place to stay for the evening. After out goodbyes we explored the city and headed to the KL tower for afternoon tea. Unfortunately the weather the rubbish and all we could see from the 300m high revolving restaurant was clouds and rain plus the cake we had for tea was pretty nasty. The clouds started to clear and we were eventually able to see the Pertronas towers and the city scape which was pretty cool! That evening we headed into town for some ladies night action (read: free drinks) and a little bar hopping. We ended up in the Luna Bar which is on the top floor of a skyscraper where the views of the city at night are incredible. We got there after the bar had shut but we were still able to behold the city from the swimming pool and surrounded sofas at the bar.

The Thursday was our final day in Asia and we spent the majority of it shopping around China Town. We all spent far too much and took far too long doing it so we were unable to see Little India or anything else for that matter. In the evening we went to the airport to board our final plane journey, a 13 hour flight to London. The flight was of course delayed and we feared it would even be cancelled but it wasn't and we arrived into Stansted at 6.30am on Friday. Mum and Dad were waiting for me with some tasty sandwiches and I said goodbye to Claudia and Martin who had to wait until 1pm for their flight to Berlin.

The last 2.5 months have been completely amazing and I am already desperate to go back to SE Asia and see much more. I think my favourite places have been Hong Kong, Vietnam and Northern Thailand and even though I hate to admit it tubing in Vang Vieng was one of my highlights. There are many places we didn't get to see or spend enough time in but I'm still young so there is plenty of time to go back. I would like to see more of Vietnam including Sapa, Dalat, Muine and more of Hoi An and the Mekong Delta. I would like to see the coast of Cambodia and spend more time exploring Laos. I really want to go back to Thailand and see more of the north and dive in the Simalan islands. We hardly saw anything of Malaysia so I definitely want to go back there (including Borneo again) but the country I really want to see the most is Indonesia.

I'm actually happy to be home (despite the cold) because it is so festive here but that doesn't stop me yearning to go back, which hopefully wont be too long away.

Fingers crossed it wont be too log until I update this blog again xx

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