A Travellerspoint blog

Home sweet home with Giardia

For the flight from Gold Coast back to Auckland [Auckland-travel-guide-1139106], I was seated back in my allocated seat squashed between two people. They were interesting enough, especially the lady to my right. She looks completely African but has a Chinese name and carried a Hong Kong passport. We got chatting. She speak and writes both Mandarin and Cantonese and studies in Taipei. Her father is Chinese but monther Nigerian. And in her B&W passport photo, she looked quite Chinese. I wonder if she ever has trouble getting through immigration in any country!

Then I noticed that one of the crew was from Uzbekistan from the flag on her badge. She was very impressed when I told her that I had just been to her embassy in KL for a visa and was off to her homeland soon.

The flight landed in Auckland 15 minutes late and I was picked up by Kim, who had only arrived back last night. End of another trip comprising of multiple and varied adventures.

Edit: I went to the doctor and got myself tested for my long-lasting but slight tummy troubles. Positive with giardia. Because of the timing and incubation period, I put it down to the glass of tap water I had upon arrival at the apartment in Gran Canaria. It was the perfect weight loss programme ... only two half days of real problem, and long-lasting appetite "suppresion" resulting in 2kg of weight loss! Special antibiotics wil put an end to that though. If I could bottle it, I'd make a lot of money. Plus I had a middle ear infection too which didn't appear to respond to antibiotics which possibly was viral rather than bacterial.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

My Uzbek visa


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Today was the much awaited day on which I’m meant to pick up my Uzbek visa in Ampang [Ampang-travel-guide-1324798]. I woke up to AirAsia’s big sale though and scrolling through the destinations it seemed that I had either been there (sometimes more than once) or it didn’t appeal. Then I thought of Makepung in Bali, a place I’ve been transiting through lately rather than visiting.

I checked some dates about a month after my planned completion of my Galapagos trip in 2018, and it seemed to work. So I snapped up SIN-KCH-xKUL-DPS-SIN for peanuts. I will fly AKL-SIN-AKL on a free ticket which would be expiring.

After some muesli and milk I headed out about 0840 on the monorail and LRT to arrive at the embassy around 0940 which was 10 minutes after its opening. Not bad! When I rang a few days ago to check on my visa approval, the gentleman told me to come to the embassy then go to the Maybank down the road to pay (rather than the original advice by another man to pay at Maybank before calling at the embassy).

Arrgh! I was given confirmation that all was OK and I had to go to Maybank to make the payment into the embassy’s bank account ... as per the original advice! So, I took the bus to Menara Perkeso where the bank was located.

The bank staff were nice and helpful and all very chatty being interested with my trip. I had to pay USD65 which I had with me but they told me it would better for me to get money from the ATM and let them do the conversion. If I gave them USD, they would have to convert it into MYR and then back to USD.

Once done, I took the bus back to the embassy. I guess I wasted about 20-30 by calling into the embassy before going to the bank. Ah well ...

I took the now familiar LRT and monorail route back to the hotel. I had paid for an extra night to use as confirmed late check-out (otherwise late checkouts are only notified at midday and available till 1800 for half rate). I got back just before midday and it would have been stressful if I hadn’t done that.

After lunch, it was a relaxing afternoon with a massage by a blind Sabah [Sabah-travel-guide-1319168]an near the hotel. We had a very nice chat about Sabah and its many ethnicities. I learnt that Bajaus with their horsemen are a different Bajau who are normally seafarers. The former are found on the west coast of Sabah, eg. Kota Belud.

Around 1930 I checked-out and walked to KL Sentral to take the bus to KLIA2. I had been notified of my Optiontown 3-seats so I could sleep horizontally. I got to the check-in counter exactly 3h prior to departure. My three seat numbers were written onto my boarding pass against my original seat further back, whereas last time my boarding pass reflected one of the three seats. Even though I had bid only for AKL-OOL for horizontal mode, the check-in staff told me I could have it for OOL-AKL as well. Let’s see how that goes.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Nightstop with a purpose


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We woke about 0600. Kim had an 0945 to Singapore for an overnight before flying to Auckland. I had an 1145 to KL for an overnight, especially to collect my Uzbek visa before flying to Auckland. Uber to the airport was super cheap at MYR16.10.

Kim dropped off his bag but it was too early for mine to be accepted. We had breakfast together before going our separate ways.

Airside, I headed to the lounge. AirAsia had a sale on (officially tomorrow but I can get earlybird access to the sale rates using my member login). I checked the prices for a flight I needed to connect to my super cheap Tehran flight in May 2018.

Flights on that day had been consistently excluded from promotions (but only available as low or regular fares). Sure enough, it remained undiscounted when I checked. To make it worse, when I logged on to access the new prices valid from tomorrow, it went up. So I booked it, logging in only at the later stage to enjoy the lower fare. There must be something happening on the day for them to not discount the fare even many months before.

Boarding commenced about 45 minutes before for my flight to KL and nearly everyone was seated 30 minutes prior to departure. The crew in charge made an announcement to suggest that we look at the inflight menu and catalogue so we could spend more money on board! We closed up and pushed back 15 minutes early. I do find AirAsia the most reliable amongst the Malaysian domestic carriers.

Unfortunately, I found my ears to be blocked during the flight. They were definitely blocked and uncomfortable without being painful. I’ve had slight sore throat and a little mucous on and off together with my long-lasting Sicily Belly but the symptoms have evolved further. Time to see my GP back in Auckland. No symptom on its own was bad enough but for all of it to go on for a month, it is definitely worth checking out.

Upon arrival in KL, I took the MYR12 bus to KL Sentral rather than the pricey train. It only took about half an hour more and I got to the hotel about 45 minutes after official check in.

I rested for the afternoon before being picked up for dinner by an old school acquaintance Thomas. He had picked me out of a crowd at KL Sentral about 6 years ago despite not having seen each other since school. Someone like that is worthy of a second catch up!

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Orang utans


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large_5550_15050533363152.jpgAttendance report.
Even though we had all been to Semenggoh to see the orang utans, I thought it would be a nice outing combined with Siniawan Night Market (which my guests hadn’t been to). We left around 1330 and got to the park around 1430 for the 1500 feeding session.

After a somewhat lengthy introduction and safety briefing, we would led to the tiered viewing area where we could see the feeding platform. We saw nothing for more than half hour despite the rangers making encouraging noises.

Eventually, we saw some rustling in the distance and a youngish orang utan turned up. He grabbed a bunch of bananas and then grabbed a couple of other fruits with his feet, then climbed away.

We were then asked to return to the briefing area where we saw four other orang utans including the alpha male.large_5550_15050533423540.jpgYoung orang utan feeding on bananas with more fruit in its feet.I seem to recall the same thing happening last time where we didn’t see much at the viewing area but the main activity being at the briefing area.

The low turnout for the primates was due to the fruiting season. As they have plenty to eat in the jungle, many are self-sufficient. Looking at the “attendance” chart, there were some that didn’t turn up at all during the month of August while some had turned up roughly every second day on average.

I guess the low turnout means that the rehabilitation centre had done a good job in teaching the rescued apes their life skills in the jungle (rather than relying on human feeding).

It was a short ride to Siniawan Night Market where we met my niece Angela. We were all very hot and sweaty and Kim was feeling rather unwell from the heat. I cooled down with an ABC before we wandered into the main drag to survey the food offerings.

We sat down and slowly ordered various snack before getting the main course of grilled stingray with sambal on top. Awwwh! It was so delicious with the creamy flakey flesh. It was the first time I’ve had it with the cartilage layer removed; the man had split the fish to remove it.

Time to head back to the apartment to return the car to Mum and prepare for our early morning departure. The Kuching stay had gone too quickly but I’ll be back in November.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

World's largest flower


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large_5550_15050532176103.jpgRafflesia bud.
The facebook page of Gunung Gading National Park indicated that there was a rafflesia in bloom. I decided that I’d take Paul and Steevie (my guests) there and suggested that my brother take his guests too. They are all in town for my mother’s 90th birthday.

We set off around 1000 for the 1h50 drive to Lundu [Lundu-travel-guide-1097174] where we had some lunch before going to the park nearby. We paid the park entrance fee at the park gate and at the office, we were introduced to an older guide whom we paid directly.

The eight of us plus two others were guided through the steamy jungle to some buds and eventually the rafflesia in bloom. The rafflesia is the world’s largest flower and this one was about 80 cm in diameter.

The guide explained that the smell of putrefying flesh is only around when it firsts open and we are a little late. The entire walk took about 45 minutes; about 400m direction through uneven ground climbing over logs and tree roots.

I thought my previous guide who was a young forestry student was much better at her explanations than the old guide. We got back to Kuching [Kuching-travel-guide-1096915] about 1600.

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Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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