Email from Malaysia and Singapore

Hi there everybody
well seems I have been slack as ever! Its been over 3 months since my last bulk email with photos. Sorry! Anyway better late than never.
I guess my lack of email has coincided with meeting my man. He’s called Kurt and is from Estonia (but he has been away from there for 7 years or so and can speak perfect English). Anyway there might be quite a few photos with him in.
So from Sinhoukville in Cambodia we went to Phnom Pehn for a couple of nights and then got a bus to Saigon in the South of Vietnam. We spent a few days in Saigon exploring round Chinatown and hanging out, we also ended up watching some tv as our hotel room, and every other hotel room in Vietnam had cable tv so much so that by the end of our time in Vietnam I was sick to death of crappy Vietnamese tv., From there we got the bus to Nah Trang which is a seaside resort, loads of concrete and a dirty beach, altogether not my cup of tea but you could get draft beer there for 1500 dong (less than 10p) for about 2/3 of a pint so that was one saving grace. We did also do a hellish boat trip and hired a moped and drove 20km north to a nice (small) waterfall where we didn’t see another soul.
From here we headed up the coast to Hoi An which is a very old town and one of the few places that was preserved despite the Americans bombing the country (I think there was some kinda agreement not too). Anyway it was very picturesque and very touristy with bus loads of American and Japanese tourists wandering around with cameras hanging round their necks.
We then hit Hue which was another old historic city which we wandered around for a couple of days and then went up the coast to Hanoi which was our last main stop in Vietnam before we headed to the Lao Border. Hanoi was another big city but the old city did maintain quite a lot of charm and there was minimal hassles once you left the touristy area. Alas like most of Vietnam there is hassle galore around anywhere that tourists are likely to be. By this time we had both got utterly fed up of being asked to buy something constantly and having very little contact with the Vietnamese people that didn’t involve them expecting us to pay them for something. This did really colour our experiences in what is otherwise a very interesting and at times beautiful country.
In Hanoi we obtained our visa’s for Laos and at the embassy found where the nearest border was (about 300km sw of Hanoi). We tried to find out if there was a bus to the border but all the travel agents (almost all transport by tourists is done through travel agents as local buses and trains are about 3x more expensive for foreigners so private buses are cheaper) where claiming either the border wasn’t open to foreigners or trying to sell us tickets to Vientiane instead of Vieng Xai (the nearest town to the border on the Lao side). At this point in time we should have guessed that it wasn’t an easy border to get too. Anyway to cut a long story short we managed to get a local bus half way with about 150km to go to the border and we did think we where at the totally wrong place but with the use or an expensive (well only because they charged us way more than they should have) internet cafe and mapquest we managed to find out exactly where we where and where we had to go. With a combination of walking (with all our stuff for a total of about 40km) and hitching (we got 3 good rides 2 free and the other costing 10$US between us) over 2 days (one night spent in the tent just outside town as the only place to stay was a hotel costing 50$US) we made it too the border and crossed it easily.
Entering Laos was lovely, the attitude of the people was so different from the Vietnamese that it was a pleasure to travel there. Vieng Xai was a very nice place and a great place to chill out for a week and recover from the strain we had put ourselves through. We stayed at a very basic guesthouse by the lake with very friendly staff and great food and excellent lao lao (lao local spirit) . We didn’t see any other tourists all week. We then travelled by bus to Sam Neua and then to Muang Ngoi where we spent a lot of time chilling out in the hammock and not doing much at all (pretty much like the last time I was in Muang Ngoi).
We then headed to Louang Prabang and enjoyed the delights of the night market for both food and shopping and ended up bumping into Kim McGeer (for those that know her my ex flatmate from the western rd flat who was heading towards Oz to see Lorna with her lovely boyfriend) anyway we ended up going for a herbal sauna (as you do) and then a few beers. From Louang Prabang we headed to Vang Vieng and went Tubing and enjoyed more chilling out in Hammocks.
We spent on night in Vientiane before heading into Thailand and then spent a week in Nong Khai and enjoyed the water festival (and stayed put for a week as not to get drenched in transit). From there we went to Bangkok and spent a few days then headed very quickly to Malaysia on night buses and after one night in Kuala Besut we went to the Pehrentian islands and spent 18 nights in Corel Bay on the Small island. I did loads of Diving (16 dives here) and unfortunately got my camera stolen (left my bag on the beach and went swimming one evening, doh) but I hadn’t taken many photos before I lost it but alas I have no photos of Malaysia as i replaced it in Singapore. The Pehrentian islands where lovely, white coral sand, clear turquoise waters which where at times too warm really (30 – 35 degrees C) and lots of sun.
After the islands it was to Chetaring about half way down the east coast where we stayed for a week enjoying the laid back atmosphere (as you can tell we are really stressed and needed the break ;))
We then left Malaysia for Singapore where we camped out in the national parks for free and its all allowed (the cheapest accommodation in Singapore) we stayed 5 nights in the East coast park and 5 nights at Pasir Ris park and I would recommend it to anybody coming to Singapore as the cheapest accommodation other than that is 10S$ for a dorm bed and these places are not very nice, and the facilities in the park are superb and very clean and you get a sea view . We did a lot of shopping and wandering round town and i spent my birthday wandering round the botanical gardens and the national orchid garden after having a sushi picnic, perfect.
We are now in Kuala Lumper waiting for our Indonesian Visa’s and then we should be off to Indonesia to do more Diving.
Hopefully the next email will be a bit sooner (but knowing me it wont be)
Love Charlie
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