A Travellerspoint blog

Oz, Singapore, Malaysian Borneo

Lots to tell!

Hello everyone! Nomad Wall here, sorry for the time it's taken to write this entry.
It's been almost 5 weeks since my last post, but it seems like longer to me, I've
done so much, a lot of it in internetless areas, hence the lack of contact.

As it's been a while, this is gonna be another long one so you might wanna go
and make a cuppa! I'm going to split it into three parts: the last section of Oz,
Singapore, and Malaysian Borneo. Oh yeah, I've uploaded more pics, but as
it was so slow as always, I've only managed up to the end of Oz. Will try again
in Kuala Lumpur as I'm going there for 5 days from tomorrow.

So, after I posted last I spent three days on a catamaran on the Whit Sunday
Islands in Australia. It was good, but due to various hitches, not as good as it
could've been. There was a large group of annoying cliquey business students,
who really should've had their own boat as they weren't really interested in
anyone else. And the other people were two German couples, nice enough
people but on the whole not a great dynamic, which was a shame. Also, due to
an engine failure we didn't make it to Whitehaven Beach, the idyllic place that's
always on the postcards. The snorkelling wasn't amazing, and I left my only
jumper and torch on the boat, never to be seen again. I didn't sleep well either
as the boat was constantly rocking through the night. So, all in all, not one of
the best bits of my adventure, but I still enjoyed it anyway. The food was
excellent, and the staff were lovely, especially the skipper who looked like a
cross between Johnny Depp and Kurt Cobain, that helped!

After returning to Airlie Beach, I made my way further up the coast to Cairns.
I stayed in a lovely artsy hostel called Dreamtime and enrolled on a PADI scuba
diving course. I was nervous about diving but was determined to give it a go.
The first day was hard, but I managed it, just pool and classroom work.
But on the second day I freaked out a bit and really struggled to go deep in the
pool. I couldn't shake the feeling of panic, and decided to drop the diving and
change to a snorkelling trip. On the third day we were to go on a live aboard boat
and continue our course, but I just didn't feel I'd had time to get used to the
feeling of breathing underwater and to become confident with all the equipment.
I got a part refund and was still able to go on the trip to the Great Barrier Reef,
just with a snorkel instead! So the following morning we left Cairns for three
days on the reef. I was so excited to see the wildlife (after I'd got over the
disappointment of not diving), and it was my birthday so I was determined to
celebrate! Some of the girls on the boat gave me presents which was lovely,
and I had a fab day snorkelling. It turned out there was three other people
who didn't want to dive, and so team snorkel was born! In between
the dips in the sea, we ate lovely food and I sat like a right anorak, identifying
and listing all the species I'd seen. I had made the right decision and loved
every minute of all nine snorkelling sessions, well, except for when I got stung
by Cone Jellyfish one morning. We wore stinger suits with hoods and gloves
to protect us from the deadly jellies, but our faces were still showing. I swam
through a massive soup of Cone jellies, which aren't deadly but when you've
been stung right acros half your face by them, it really hurts. I got the guys
on board to check me out. They were satisfied it was nothing serious and
kindly sprayed me in the face with white vinegar to ease the sting! Eugh!

Anyway, we saw huge amounts of beautiful fish, coral and other wierd sea
creatures, but the highlight was the gorgeous turtles and white-tip reef sharks!
On the last night, there were loads of sharks swimming in the flood lights
off the boat. The divers were going in for their night dive and us snorkellers
hadn't been allowed in at night before. I really fancied getting in with the
sharks, just for the buzz, so I asked the skipper and he said I could as long
as I didn't go out of the lit area. The rest of team snorkel were chicken so I
went in on my own! The boat staff put the Jaws theme tune on really loud
as we were getting into our stinger suits, just to get the adrenaline going.
Ha ha, brilliant! It was scary, but reef sharks aren't known to attack humans
so I wasn't too worried. Having said that, after I'd been in a while, I
commented to the skipper that I seemed to have scared off all the fish,
including the sharks. He said I should get out as it might be something bigger
than me that scared them off! I did as I was told!
It was a fantastic trip, I totally loved it.

Back on land, I decided to go to Cairns Zoo. I hadn't seen koalas in the wild
and I wasn't likely to. I'm not usually a fan of zoos but this one seemed ok.
I met a lovely Indian guy called Sri there, so we went round the zoo together.
We also saw Cassowary, Wombats, Kangaroos and Wallabies and other Ozzy
animals. The educational value of it was great, as I knew little of the koalas
plight as an endangered animal.

After that, I flew up to Darwin in the Northern Territory, for a three-day tour
of Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. This was fantastic, and despite the
36 degree heat I really enjoyed everything: 4x4 rides down deserted roads,
walks through the bush to deliciously cool swimming holes, Aboriginal art,
cruising down the Adelaide River to watch the huge crocs being fed, camping
in mesh tents and watching the incredible skies from our beds, loads of
wildlife and a really good guide to talk us through it all. The rest of the group
were really nice too, and we all got on great, so fun was had.

When I got back to Darwin I had a day to look around, which was definitely
all that was needed. It's not the prettiest of towns and there isn't much going
on, so I wasn't sad to fly off to Singapore later that night.

Singapore was interesting. It had a bit of everything. On the first day I went
to Changi museum and chapel with a couple of girls from the hostel. This was
a hearbreaking journey through stories of the Japanese occupation of
Singapore in WW2, and how barbaric they were to the captive servicemen.
many of whom were from England. It was unbelievable and I had all on not to
cry.
Later I walked down to East Coast Park and ate stingray for dinner at a
hawker stall. On the second day I had a city day. I walked around
Chinatown, looked at an excellent modern museum about Singapore, and went
in an horrific shopping centre (out of need not want - I will never call Meadowhall,
Meadowhell again, Suntec was pure shopping evil!).
Luckily, as I was coming out of the hell hole, I came across Marina Bay Sands
just before dusk. This is a huge, bizzarely-shaped casino hotel which looks like
three massive towers with a boat-like structure across the top. I had seen the
sillouette of this wierd building from the beach in East Coast Park, and had
wondered what on earth it was. I looked up at it as the daylight faded and the
electric lights came on and was dazzled by the harbour it sits on. It really is
impressive, and I had a couple of hours just wandering about the place, with a
rock band playing on the waterfront stage as my soundtrack. Awesome.
On my last day in Singapore, I got an early bus to the Botanical Gardens.
Someone had told me they were huge, and as I love gardens I decided to
allocate the whole day to it. Woah, it was enormous! I got there at 9.30am
and didn't leave until 5pm, and I only had half an hour for lunch! It is utterly
spectacular. It was fantastic, my favourite bit of Singapore, and I was lucky to
have wonderful sunny weather all day. If you ever go to Singapore, and you
like interesting gardens, you mustn't miss it. Superb.
After walking almost all day, I didn't go back, but decided to see the Night Zoo!
This is a clever set up for seeing nocturnal animals walking around and going
about their nightly business! I loved the Mousedeer, really tiny deer that are
only 25cm high, soooo cute! The zoo itself was actually, in the end just
another zoo, and I left feeling as usual, a bit sorry for the animals. Don't
think I'll go to another zoo again but it was an interesting experience.
The following morning I flew to Borneo, and that's where the real wildlife fun
started!
But am gonna have to leave you there on a bit of a cliffhanger, as I've run out
of time!

I promise to get you up to date over the weekend, but for now my new French
friend (and fellow mountaineer - for those who are on Facebook!), Carole is
waiting for me, for goodbye dinner and drinks on our last night in amazing Borneo.

Hope you're all well and happy, and I'll be in touch again soon.

Smiles,
Mel xxx

Posted by ExplorerMel 02:58

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