Saturday, 6 September 2014

Day 46 - 48 Kuala Lumpur

1 - 3 September 2014

Day 46
Flight from Amsterdam to Paris aka One hour in Paris ;)
I had to do a short flight to Paris before the long one to Malaysia. It was delayed by 30 minutes but I had lots of time before my next flight so it was no worries. On this flight I read the magazine in the seat pocket and learned that dragonflies are the fastest insect. They can fly at up to 15m/s for short periods. That's 54km/h!

In Charles de Gaulle airport there was a Playstation 3 and I thought the warning sign next to it was funny.
PS3 warning sign
"Avoid playing if you are tired". I think playing games is probably the thing that makes people tired.
"Take a 15 minute break every hour". But you'll lose your focus.

Flight to Kuala Lumpur
I slept for a bit on the flight, but like always, it's not very comfortable. I also watched a few movies on the flight.

I started to watch the new Godzilla but I couldn't finish it. The screens on the AirFrance plane were pieces of crap and the contrast was so bad I couldn't see anything during the night scenes. So maybe I lost interest in the movie because a fair bit is in the dark but it was also very "America, fuck yeah! Kill everything!" and I just couldn't take it. Sure part of it was set in Japan and Bryan Cranston spoke some Japanese but for the most part, why did everyone in Japan speak English?

Next movie was X-Men: Days of future past, which was ok. All I could think of was this Oatmeal comic though.

Then I watched The secret life of Walter Mitty. This movie was really good and by far the best movie I've seen for a while. I highly recommend it. I feel like it was a good movie to watch at the end of a trip although he was a lot more out there than I was. I lived pretty safely.

Maleficent was next up and I enjoyed this movie too. Like all magic movies, I couldn't help but analyse the inconsistencies of the magic in the movie but it was a good story.

The final movie was Capitan American 2: The Winter Soldier but I didn't get to finish it because we were coming in to land. AirFrance, although owned by KLM, are nowhere near as good as KLM. The equipment is better on the Dutch flights and they let you watch movies from the moment you get on to after you land. It's how it should be.
Flying away from the sunset
Day 47
In Kuala Lumpur
I didn't really do much in KL because I only had 1 night there and I've already done most of the typical tourist things. The goal was basically to get my blogs done and eat as much of the amazing food as I could fit. I've been pretty good about not talking about food on this trip but this is all I've got for this blog.

In Chinatown I found a street food stall that sold these things that the lady called crocodiles. I don't know what the real name is but they're really nice. They're made of vegetables cut up and mixed with batter and fried and they're served in a plastic bag, covered in spicy sauce and stabbed with a skewer to eat them with. You can't complain at the price either at 2 RM for 5 of them, which is about 65 Australian cents.
I tried one of these potato curry puffs for 2 RM too.
Cheap, delicious curry puff
It was 31 degrees in KL so these slushie things are a nice relief from the heat.
My blog will never be this cool.
Day 48
Roti canai
I'd seen roti canai on the menu when I was in KL on the way over but didn't know what it was. I eventually looked it up, after I'd left, and it sounded amazing so I wasn't going to leave without trying it this time. It was a bit on an effort because the first night I went out and none of the places I walked past served it, then the next day I found a place but they only serve the dish for breakfast or dinner. Finally, third time's a charm, I got it for dinner on my second (last) day. The restaurant was full of locals so I didn't take a picture of my food and show that I was a total tourist but it looked a lot like this.
Same as what my roti canai looked like
It was both really yummy and quite cheap. I could get used to having it for breakfast. The only complaint is there wasn't enough of it. While I was there, I saw a lady order something similar but bigger that I think it might have been the thosai dish, so more like a pancake.

Finally something not food related. I saw this cool looking temple in my wanders around Chinatown.
Very detailed temple
In the evening it was off to the airport for my flight back to Adelaide that left around midnight. It was an AirAsia flight, so no onboard entertainment but it left on time and was fairly empty so I scored a row of 3 seats to myself.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Day 40 - 46 Noordwijk

26 August - 1 September 2014

Day 40
Wrong station
I ended up at the wrong train station in Den Haag. I was at Den Haag HS but needed to be at Den Haag Centraal to catch my bus. Let's not ask why two major train stations were close enough to each other to walk between, but they were. It wasn't all bad though because there was a store in the HS station that sold this amazing dish.
Kebab in a tray. Fries, meat, cheese, salad and sauce.
This giant bike was at the HS station too.
Monster bike!
Once in Noordwijk, I got to go for a walk on the beach because I had the wrong spot marked on my map. I eventually found my way to the hostel, which wasn't on the beach front, and got checked in.

Day 41
Family dinner
The reason for being in Noordwijk is for a family wedding (tomorrow) and tonight there was a family dinner for pre-celebrations. I got to meet all the friends and family of the couple-to-be and there was some excellent food too. We had Thai food from my aunty, French champagne and there was a massive cheese board in the shape of France that was full of French cheese. I don't know the names of all the cheeses I tried but they all tasted amazing.

Day 42
The Wedding
The beautiful couple arrived in a cool looking Kombi
The celebrant did his thing
The celebrant did the informal part of the ceremony, where he spoke about the couple, in English and Dutch. Then he did the official ceremony in Dutch and French. It was the first time I've experienced a multi-language wedding and he did an amazing job at seamlessly swapping between all the languages.
The cake was cut
Photos were taken
I even got in on a photo
There was a beautiful sunset. I like all the trails from the planes in the clouds
The new wife performed a Spice Girls song to her husband, I didn't get pictures of this, and then...
The groom serenaded his new wife with a song
I had a really good time at the wedding. The food was lovely, we enjoyed some nice drinks, there was dancing and the weather was fairly kind to us. When it rained we went inside to eat and when it cleared up, we all went back outside to enjoy the day.

Day 43
Lazy day
Today I went back to the same beach club that the wedding was held at for a coffee with everyone from the wedding. Then in the evening, an Israeli that I met in the hostel and I went for a walk around the city, saw the beach and then had a drink at the hostel bar.

Day 44
Beach walk
Today was a super lazy day. The only blog-worthy thing I did was go for a walk on the beach. It's a nice beach, with sand and all, but it was super windy.
Panorama of the beach
There were a lot of kite surfers out because it seemed like perfect weather for them. There were also a lot of kites on the beach and I took this video of a group of people who were flying kites but were barely in control.

Day 45
Bike ride
I hired a bicycle today and rode from Noordwijk to Zandvoort. It was another windy day and it was a head wind on the way but it made for a lovely, relaxing ride back.
Proof I made it. The cool bike is in the background.
I saw this bad ass scooter on the way
I rode for about 30km and the Dutch bikes must work different muscles to the mountain bike I normally ride because my legs were feeling it after. The best thing about doing the ride was the entire thing was on dedicated bike paths. These paths weaved through forests and sand hills, so they were quite scenic and they were separate from the walking paths so you didn't have to avoid (many) pedestrians.

Panorama of part of the trail. The bike path is on the left, walking path on the right.
Animals aren't something I expected to see but on the way back I spotted...
Some Bambis
A fox. Just sitting by the path
Day 46
Flight to Kuala Lumpur
Today I headed off to the airport for my long flight to Malaysia.

Supermarket stuff
Yum, cow slag.
Carrot balls!
Stubby Chubby!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Day 38 - 40 Ghent

24 - 26 August 2014

Day 38
Short train ride
I think today is the shortest distance I've moved between hostels on this trip. Last trip too unless you count moving hostels in the same city. I only went 25 minutes on the train.

On my walk to the hostel, I possibly got included in a Google Street View picture too. It was on the corner of Jakobijnenstraat and Predikherenlei, so keep an eye out.
Google Street View car possibly getting me in a photo
The weather was still good when I arrived and I managed to get some good shots of the skyline.
View from the Sint Michielsplein bridge
The view from my hostel window
Belfry TowerDay 39
There are Belfry Towers all over Flanders, including in Bruges. I didn't climb the one in Bruges because the line was too long but I decided to climb the one here to get a view of Ghent from above.
Looking south west from the Belfry
Looking north west from the Belfry
Looking north east from the Belfry
Looking south east from the Belfry
In the tower you also get to see...
The main bell
About the main bell
The oversized music drum that triggers all the bells
Creepy staircases
The bells go off every 15 minutes so I got to see the music drum working and all the mechanics that go to the bells. I really liked how they set it up but it looked complicated.

Walking tour
I almost missed the start of this tour. I turned up to the meeting place early expecting to see someone with a sign, umbrella or shirt for the tour company or even just a group of people but nope, nothing. I went for a walk to see if it was in another spot close by, it wasn't, then came back just as the tour was leaving. Just made it! The group was only 6 people and the guide wasn't wearing anything special, so no wonder they didn't stand out.

The tour was good fun and the guide was great to listen to because he was so full of life. It rained lightly the whole time and the guide almost got us all with his umbrella at one point or another as he was spinning around with his spirited explanations of things. Here's some of the things we saw.
Painting of all the animals available on the menu at this restaurant
An architect's joke: a sun clock in a town that has 300 odd rainy days a year
A giant toilet roll. It's the toilet for a museum
Waffles and soup
It was still raining at the end of the tour so I went with three girls to a waffle place for a freshly cooked, traditional waffle then we went over to a soup shop and sat in there to have soup (surprise!), chat and hide from the rain.

At my hostel in Oslo, I met a girl who lives in Ghent and as luck would have it, she got home yesterday. So tonight I met her for a beer and a chat. She's from South Africa and I learnt some things about her country.

Day 40
I was leaving today and I felt like fries so I wandered over to the recommended stall in one of the squares but it wasn't open. Next stop was to go to my friend's house for a coffee. I had the address and directions on a map but I still couldn't find the place. I'm from the suburbs so finding apartments isn't a strength I possess. By this time I was a bit wet because it had been raining all day so I decided to grab my stuff and head off.

The walk from the hostel to the train station was about 40 minutes and by the end, everything I was wearing was completely soaked from the heavy rain. My bags had rain covers so thankfully they were fine but I couldn't sit on the train like this so I had to get changed. The only (publicly acceptable) option was to do it in the toilets. These were ones you pay for so you'd think they would be clean but they weren't. I spent a bit struggling to get changed in a small cubicle without letting any of my stuff touch the festy bits bit I failed and my towel fell on the floor. I'd have to wash it later. It felt good to be in dry clothes though.

I caught three trains to get to Den Haag, each with about 5 minutes transfer time and I'm glad to say that I made it through all of the treacherous points of failure without issue. Then from Den Haag I caught a bus to Noordwijk where I was staying.

Thoughts on Ghent
  • It rained a lot, which really rained on my parade so to speak.
  • I feel like I saw a good amount of Ghent because it's only small.
  • It's far less touristy than Bruges but still has the same medieval feel.
  • It's a nice place to stay but I probably wouldn't come back just to sightsee because I've already done it. Maybe to catch up with friends though.
Random stuff
The toilets in the hostel had a strange set up. They had cubicles that had a urinal and a toilet in them. That feels a bit redundant because you could just have a toilet to do the same job. I'm only speaking for myself here but I wouldn't be keen to have two people in there at the same time to maximise efficiency.
Double toilet power!

Day 36 - 38 Bruges

22 - 24 August 2014

Day 36
When I turned up to the Brussels train station to catch my train to Bruges, I was pleased because it said there was a train arriving in a few minutes. I went down to the platform but was worried because the 4 trains before mine were all running late, up to 45 minutes. I don't know what happened to those other trains but mine turned up on time.

At the other end, in Bruges, it was raining. I suspected that it would end soon because everyone was waiting inside so I too waited and sure enough, after a few minutes it cleared up. When I walked outside and looked at the sky, it seriously did clear up.

Look at that contrast of weather
Free dinner
In the hostel I met some Turkish guys who cooked too much pasta for dinner and kindly offered to share with me. Teşekkür ederim.

Beer Tasting
My hostel was running a beer tasting session tonight so I signed up. I think almost everyone in the hostel was there so it was a good place to mingle. We tried 6 Belgian beers like: Duvel, Chimay Blue and Hoegaarden Citron. Most of them were pretty strong and although we only had a small glass of each, it really hits you.

Going out
After the beer tasting I headed out with some Canadians. We didn't really achieve much because we were a bit distracted. We walked for a bit then stopped for food and road beers, went a bit further and stopped for more beers then arrived at the club. We were screwed before we even tried to enter the club though because another guy from the hostel already pissed the bouncer off and then he said none of us can come in.

Instead we crammed into a packed bar round the corner for about 5 minutes before deciding it was home time. On the way home we grabbed some fries and when I felt a few rain drops, I decided it was home time. I tried to beat the rain home but failed and it started to pour down. I left my map at the hostel, rookie mistake, but I thought I'd be ok because we were staying right by the church tower. Turns out Bruges has three towers so I was lucky I had a map saved on my phone and managed to successfully find home.

Day 37
Walking tour
The same guy who ran the beer tasting was our tour guide for the walking tour today. We saw...
The smallest window in Bruges.
Colin Farrell's character's house from In Bruges.
Lucky I didn't write "the house Colin Farrell lived in in In Bruges."
Beer wall
Burg Square
And we finally ended up at the Beer Museum where we enjoyed some of their 2 euro beers. I tried a sour beer for the first time and it was an interesting taste but I don't think I'm a fan of it...yet.

While we were having a chat over beers in the museum, I learned that hops were originally added to beer for their antibacterial properties to make it keep for longer.

After the walking tour I went over to see the windmills and try to get a view out over the town.
It's a windmill.
The windmills have European stairs (aka a ladder) on the back that you can climb so I thought that'd be a good spot  fora view of the town.
Windmill stairs
The problem is they were pointing away from the town though so I couldn't get the best view.

Partial panorama of the city from the top of the stairs
Another partial panorama from half way up the stairs. Still not great.
On the way back to the hostel I stopped for a traditional waffle, cooked fresh in the waffle van.
Traditional waffle. So good when it's fresh
I also saw some markers for the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.
Bronze shell marker
And I saw an old crane that was used to (un)load boats in the canal.
Old crane
My map mentioned that I should kiss this frog for good luck too, so I did that.
Kissing the frog
Day 38
Chance encounter
A friend from my home town now lives in London but today I bumped into him and his girlfriend in a quiet lane in Bruges. If either of us were 10 seconds off, we wouldn't have seen each other but then using that logic I've probably missed seeing a lot of people I knew by 10 seconds.

His girlfriend had a great idea to go get some beers, so we did. We tried a bunch of different beers but the most interesting glasses we had were these.
My friend with a Kwak and me with a La Corne
After a few beers and a chat it was time for me to jump on a train to Ghent.

Thoughts on Bruges
  • It's very touristy but other than pushing past some people in the streets, I didn't have a problem with queues.
  • Lots of the town is covered in green moss.
  • It's a small town so you can easily walk around the whole thing in a day.
  • The church bells are used like a choir and when they go, they go nuts for about 10 minutes straight.

Supermarket stuff
I don't think Australia would let a product say cigarettes on it