Our last stop before Australia was Singapore, the home of great airlines, delicious chicken rice and good Tiger beer. Our stop was short, which meant that we saw only a few things in the city. Walked around the colonial district and harbour, went to the movies during monsoon rain...

...and then we went to the zoo. It is mind-blowing, a large area and an incredible amount of species that I had never quite realised existed, such as white tigers and all different kinds of monkeys. We could have spent days there wondering around.

However, once we reached a section called "Australian outback" I started to think whether heading to Oz is such a great idea after all. How can one country be so poisonous? And the weirdest part: The most venomous snake in the world Taipan (lives only in Australia of course) is the tiniest thing! And here's another great thing: Apparently, if a snake bites you in Australia, it would be a good idea to kill the snake and bring it with you to the ER (if you make it that far). Yeah, right! I have no idea what is going to happen to us out there in the bush with a campervan, but I would just like to use this moment to wish you all a happy life and have a merry christmas.

Multicultural Kuala Lumpur

Originally we had a bit of a sceptic attitude towards Kuala Lumpur. We expected it to be just another big city, which we would try to leave as soon as possible once the practical things, such as laundry and band-aids for blisters were taken care of. However, we ended up staying extra as the hostel was superb and the city itself had a lot to offer.

Kuala Lumpur (or "KL" among friends) has a rare ethnic mixture of Malays, Chinese and Indian people and they all appear to be co-existing nicely. This kind of variety means that one can see mosques, hindu temples and chinese markets in the same city. Not to mention that one can eat seriously good food anywhere with ridiculously cheap prices. However, a word of warning: Do not eat durian fruit - it smells and tastes like fart. Lesson: Not all local delicacies are worth it.

We did nearly all the classic sights, such as Sky Tower and Petronas Towers (not bad at all!). One of the most interesting sights we visited were Batu Caves, about 13 km from Kuala Lumpur. These holy hindu caves witness an annual event called Thaipusam, where hundreds of people pierce their bodies with sharp objects - cheeks with long, shiny steel rods - often a metre long - and chests and backs with small, hook-like needles in penance. I was looking at the festival pictures and thought "I can't believe I was ever nervous about getting my first pair of earrings."

Some people that I've met have asked me about the jellyfish scar. I so wish I could tell them some kind of a Tarzan story, like "oh this little scratch? I got it while I was fighting with a crocodile, while giving CPR to my fellow divers". It is not nearly as cool to admit the truth - that I was hanging on to the anchor rope and beeping like a five-year-old. I wish the scar would vanish already.

No whale sharks, but marine life everywhere

So, we did not see any whale sharks, however, had a great time in the turtle island of Koh Tao. (ended up staying 11 days:)). I think it is time the locals change the name of the island to more of a dog island as every night at about 4am or so, the hauling and barking was crazy, it'll wake you up. (nothing a set of ear plugs won't fix though). Now seriously, if you love diving as I do and I think Jenni after her OW cert does as well (even though she got a nasty sting by a jelly fish - took it like a trooper - I did offer to pee on it) :), Koh Tao is the place to be. Come here for a month or so, rent a cottage and a motorbike and dive and dine away :).

During the stay, we were contemplating where to go next, either Koh Phi Phi, Krabi, straight to Kuala Lumpur or stick around here. Finally, we decided to go to a near by bigger island called Koh Samui (only about 2 hrs on a boat from Koh Tao) as Ko Phi Phi was a bit too expensive for us and Krabi was probably full of tourists during this time. After a long search and a few phone calls to expensive or disconnected phone numbers, we found the Green Villa bungalows. It is actually quite nice area about 100 m from beach and for a great price (400 baht). It is a bit weird as it is owned by French folks, so TV5 Monde station is on all day long :).

Koh Samui is a much larger and more touristy than Koh Tao, however, it does have its beauties as well. If you are not sunbathing at your hotel's pool, you can explore the inner jungle of the island on a motorbike. Start with a refreshing swim in plentiful waterfalls (very nice), or go elephant trekking (did not do, so sad to see the animals tied up), or go mini golfing (did do, good fun) or drive to a deserted beach south of Lamai beach and relax with the local fisherman and eat some great seafood.

Our next destination is Kuala Lumpur, so we are boarding a 24 hr VIP bus (as they call it here) tomorrow bright and early at 5:30. Next news from a brand new country.

From Bangkok to Koh Tao

After our short stint in Vietnam we have boarded luxurious airplane from Cathay Pacific (definitely a nice change after all the buses and trains) and made our way via HongKong to Bangkok. We didn't stay in the backpacker center around the Khaosan Road, however, were just a short water taxi ride away in on a Silom Road. Hotel was very cozy, but no warm shower :(. (but I guess that is Thailand for ya). After a cerveza and Mexican cuisine from a Phillipino cook, we were ready to hit the hay.

The next day we decided to head out to the Khaosan road to talk to a travel agent from the Buddha View diving school on Koh Tao. Very friendly folks set us up with a VIP bus + catamaran tickets to Koh Tao for the next day. As you can imagine, we didn't really sightsee too much in Bangkok, but it seems that most of the big temples (wats) can be seen from the water taxi, so we saw at least something :).

The trip to Koh Tao (a small island on the east coast, close to Chumphon) was quite pleasant except the very choppy ride on the Catamaran which made a lot of folks not feel too good :). Anyhow, we have arrived and the Buddha View diving school came to pick us up and took us to their headquarters where we sorted our accommodation (about 8 euro/day).

Now we have been here for a few days and can't get enough of this lovely small island, its dive sites, people, food (shakes and pad thais :). It is just wonderful here. You can breath diving here all you want. Unfortunately, we came about a day late for the full moon party, so there were a tons of folks hung over and ready to go home :). We are staying for a few more days, so hopefully we will see some whale sharks :).