Let's Do This
Burj Khalifa - worlds tallest building
Round The World - Tips on how to & how not to travel - travel as a couple (+ Neil) - Nomads?
This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.
Let's Do This
Burj Khalifa - worlds tallest building
Where to start.
24.11.2016 - 02.12.2016 10 °C
Okay so, to cut a long intro down, at the beginning of 2014, we (Milly & Paul) both moved to Southern Spain and started working at the same gaming company in Gibraltar, where we met.
After an amazing first year, it was quite obvious that we both loved travelling and that we still had loaaaaads of places that we wanted to tick off our bucket list's. Both in our our late 20's we decided to jump straight in to it. In other words, we had better get it done before we are "serious adults" with "serious commitments" and we didn't want to fall in to the majority of these guys who quote 'I wish I had done that before it was too late'.
So anyway, we decided that we wanted to take a "big trip" (slight obsession with quotation marks). We visited lots of different places together in a short space of time (mainly within Europe) and we pretty much went somewhere new whenever we had the chance.
Upon deciding that we would actually take the "big trip", we had to take lots in to consideration. Most importantly, can we stand being glued at the hip for the duration?
We had been living together a while and all was well, but then also decided that we would work together (exact same work pattern) living in each others pockets. This way we could also have the same time off together and take some extra little trips before our "Big Trip" This really helped because we got to see how both of us would cope when faced with different kinds of stressful situations in day to day life and whilst travelling.
Luckily, we didn't face too many problems. We pretty much discovered that Milly ridiculously stresses out over little things that don't really matter, whilst Paul is cool as a cucumber and that Milly remains weirdly calm in an actual stressful situation whilst Paul adopts a useless mute approach. Something that conveniently seemed to work for us.
Surprisingly, working together seemed to go down pretty well and it helped with planning. We spent months and months discussing different idea's for our travels, such as places we wanted to see, things we wanted to do, experiences we wanted to share with each other and how long to go for.
We decided to give ourselves 18 months give or take to save up enough funds. It was handy that we had a good while to plan because their was a lot to consider. Just a few of these things include the route, flights, visa's, travel Insurance, how to save, vaccines, new Passports (Ours were slightly beaten from our daily trips over the Spanish border in to Gibraltar as you will find with most people in the same role). So anyway, we needed to both visit the UK for over a week to get new passports. We also had to consider the budget, what to do with our apartment, where to store our things, what about our cat? and the big fish tank we had? and both bank cards which expired? and what about our jobs?
Thinking about it, all of these things and much more make it easier to understand why many people don't ever end up taking their "Big Trip". It is a dream and it's not the kind that is easy to make come true without some strong will and determination.
Anyway, some how, through all of the excitement I imagine, we managed to buckle down, save and plan our trip. We decided to plan a trip for about 8 months. We stopped going out every weekend, rented out our spare room out for a few days or weeks to people which was really helpful. Rather than dip in to the savings at the end of the month, we would have extra funds from our guests. It was also cool because we got to meet some really interesting people and even made some friends who we plan to visit and stay with on our trip. We agreed that simply cleaning a room and changing bed covers was the easiest money we ever made. So much so that it felt kind of awkward when guests would thank us. Another way in which we believe we saved lots of money was by indulging in many different tv series. We choose the long ones with about 5+ series so that they would last long. Another thing was our food shop. We would write down every meal we would have for a month and then make a list of the exact ingredients that we needed and strictly stick to the list. We could not believe how much we saved. One month it cost us €40 for the whole month and we ate really well. It's amazing what a difference it makes when you really plan things.
We have spent hours, days, maybe weeks planning things. From looking at different routes, prices of flights, accommodation, things to do, things to see. We became pretty obsessed really. When we had about 8 months left until we planned to leave for our trip, we reassessed things and decided to leave about 4 months earlier than originally planned. This really put the pressure on and made things real. After day dreaming about all of it, it was time to really actually do stuff. The first thing we did was visit the UK and get shiny new passports.
Next, we chose our route. That was much tougher than you would think. It included looking at flight prices on different sites for different times of year, not to mention that we had to look at the weather for different places at different times. Our route changed so many times. Some people thought it was silly to go in a clockwise direction because the flights from Europe to South Africa are so much cheaper than the flights from South America to South Africa. The facts are, that's true, but the flights work out more expensive on the other side of the world to go in the other direction and so it worked out best to choose clockwise.
Another thing that was questioned was why we chose to go from South East Asia to Beijing and then back to South East Asia. The reason for this was that we needed to apply for visa's from Kuala Lumpur to enter Beijing, which actually worked out well because it places us in Beijing for Chinese New Year and it's much cheaper to get a visa from Kuala Lumpur than from most places.
Anyway, once we chose a rough version of our route we booked our travel insurance. After that, we booked our first flight to India and consultations for our vaccines. Obviously with such a big trip, we had to get lots done. Not to mention that we had a few trips planned and so we had to find the right time to make the appointments between the trips and shift work. For example, the rabies vaccines are taken on day 0, day 7 and day 28. They can make you pretty poorly as you are injected with the virus to help your body learn to build up immunity. To be honest, other than a dead arm, we both weren't too affected. We got off pretty easy
We also discussed where we would stay after the trip. Would we return to Spain with the easy life we have only known together, working in Gibraltar, or would we head back to the UK where our families are who we are both very close with and miss lots. That subject also gave us lots to consider and changed a few times.
After many discussions and visits back to the UK, we both decided that we would choose Spain. Obviously it will be hard missing people but the opportunities and happy life it gave us outweighed that. Plus we could always visit people and vice versa. We are aware that nothing is ever set in stone but as two people who like to plan ahead, that's our plan.
We have both picked out rucksacks and other little things we will need to take, such as micro fibre towels, first aid kits, macs in packs, travel kits, plug adapters, sewing kits, medication, camera's, clothes, foot wear, deet to repel mosquitoes........Lots of stuff but not too much to carry on our backs 😩
Whilst away we do expect our route to change here and there. It's expected as we meet people, like places or dont like places. But we have already booked India to Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to Beijing to Thailand. As we touched upon before, we needed to start the route through Kuala Lumpur. We also had to have our flights in and out of China as well as accommodation booked to apply for our visa.
We only have a certain amount of time before the visit that we can actually apply for the visa. It is the same in many countries, however, the actual application process in most other countries is much easier. For example, we could apply up to one year before visiting Australia and we could do it all online.
The Indian visa newly offered an online option this year and so we were able to do that too. It was a little bit tougher than the Australian visa as you need to apply within the 34 days before your trip and no earlier. You also need to upload a picture of yourself of a certain size as well as a scan of your passport. One document must be JPEG and the other, PDF (both with a max and min file size) without being computer savvy, this can be quite a task. Not to mention that the "very official" visa application is written in broken English and so we just kind of had to wing half of it.
With the application time being only one month before your visit to China, we can't do it before the trip (it will be at least 2 months before we reach Beijing) and we will need to do it whilst we visit Kuala Lumpur, where there is a Chinese embassy (The closest embassy to Gibraltar is Madrid). For that reason, we extended our stay in Kuala Lumur, just in case we have any trouble. For no reason should we get declined, but it does add a little doubt to the whole situation. The kind of doubt which Milly tends to obsess over, but also massively prepare for. The amount of 'To Do' lists that have been made in the last 6 months is something "special" let's hope it pays off.
With just three weeks left until we leave for the big wide world and just one week until we leave our home in Spain, we still have so much more to do. We are just finishing work this week and can't wait now. Some days seem like everything is going at a million miles an hour, whilst others feel like seconds are hours. It's very hard to explain. Anywho, we are very excited!!! Make sure you check in for updates on our trip of a lifetime around the world.
Our Travel Mascot 😍 Expect to see Neil with us at famous landmarks, getting up to mischief or even alone on days when we may be a little worse for wear.
24.11.2016 - 02.12.2016 10 °C
BHX - DEL
All ready at the airport. Said our goodbyes. Flight delayed by 2 hours. Tiny lesson learned on Paul's behalf. 😂 it really is worth paying that little bit more for a decent rucksack. His first one didn't make it from Nottingham to Birmingham 🙊 he now has an impressive new one which he is rather pleased about. "I have found a new compartment" he keeps saying. Exciting times! Lesson learned on my behalf. You can be too organised. I applied for my India visa on the first day of the 34 day window in which I could apply and so I must arrive in India on 15/12/2016 or my visa will be invalid. Paul booked his a day later. Luckily our flight would need to be delayed by a further 12 hours and so I am not too worried. Maybe i should be. But I am not. I refuse. ☝
We have been given £15 to spend on anything through departures by air India for the delay. Off to Delhi and he decides to have a curry for his last meal in the UK. Funny boy. We've received some funny looks from people (checking out Neil). To be expected to be fair. Super excited!
Ciao for now.
X x X x X
Delhi & Agra
15.12.2016 - 22.12.2016 23 °C
So, India. Where to start?
First of all, we weren't able to collect any Indian Rupees from Birmingham airport and so we decided we would get them from Delhi airport when we arrived. Well when we arrived, it turned out that the airport had no way of withdrawing Rupees. The ATM's were all out of cash and we literally had our bank cards and that was all. Not to worry we though, we had arranged for airport pick up with our hotel and so we said we could just stop at a cash point on the way. Well, after an hour and a half of waiting, our ride hadn't turned up, so we started to look at options for taxi's. We couldn't find any of the taxi stalls which accepted card and so we approached a taxi and asked how much it would cost to our hostel, with a stop at a cash point. We were quoted about £2 more than what we had arranged, so happy days we agreed and off we went. The taxi guy didn't speak great English and about a mile down the road, stopped to collect his so called "brother". The "brother" did speak English and so that was helpful, however, he explained to us, something that had a big affect on our trip to India. A couple of weeks prior to our visit, India's priminister had made an unscheduled address to the nation. By the next day, 500 and 1,000 rupee denomination notes would no longer be valid after midnight, with these amounts being the former largest bank notes in India — equivalent to about £6 and £12, it sent the country in to crisis. Respectively the old 500INR and 1000INR notes were replaced by a new 500INR note and a 2,000INR one. All old notes were decommissioned. Reason being was to combat tax cheating. At the point we arrived a few weeks after the news was first announced, it appears as though things were starting to recover, however, ATM's still have long queues for 1-2 hours with no promise of funds being available by the time you reach the machine.
Our taxi took us to a store where he said they may be able to give us cash back for a small price. Dodgy as! Upon going in to the store the arrogant salesman tried to sell us excursions, in order for us to pay more (most likely get ripped off, with no other place to compare to). We refused and told him we simply were not interested. After a long flight, we couldn't be bothered with this. We told the taxi man to take us to our hostel and they would pay it. Luckily, he took us straight there and the man at reception gave us enough to cover it. We would later pay him back.
The hostel was decent in comparison to where it was located. It's more like a hotel to be fair. We have a private room and bathroom but it's just a bit beaten down. Considering that we are literally right in the middle of it all, it's good. We were staying just down a little side road from the main market street (called the main bazaar) The side street is called Chandi Wali Gali. We often took walks down the main Bazaar in the days and evenings. It was like our little Indian Neighbourhood. There are cows just walking down the streets and people are preying to them.
You see lots of people living in slums and beggars & homeless people.
Bits arent too nice to see, but we really wanted to get a real feel for things. We certainly through ourselves in at the deep end we think. Lol. I feel like a bit of a celebrity to be honest, because I am blonde, people keep approaching me to ask for selfies with me. I expected that, but expected them to ask for a picture, not use the phrase 'selfie'😂 Funny. It's really foggy here from all of the polution and smells like inscense sticks, not sewage which was what we were expecting. 🖒
We have been very cautious with food, only eating things cooked above certain temperature and no meat or salad as advised by some fellow travellers.
We get breakfast included with our hostel. It isnt amazing but its edible. Its basically an omelette in a toasted sandwhich with some chai tea. Omelettes a little bit salty but it served us well and some how we managed to dodge the dreaded Delhi belly. The Chai tea had a peculiar skin on the top of it 🙈 but once you pick that off, it was actually really nice. It has a strong ginger taste which we both like .
We have met others who have found that the whole money situation was a nuisance. One girl told us how she arrived right in the midst of it all and that she was alone. She had been given a 2000INR (about £24) note and nowhere would accept it because they didn't have enough change for that amount. She had gone two days without eating until she suggested to a restaurant to pay the 2000INR there and she would eat there over a few days. Obviously, the place was okay with this. We had been pretty lucky to arrive a little later really. We ended up waiting at an ATM one day to find that it declined us when we reached it.
People hassle you a lot in the street! They give you advice and then want a tip for doing so. Most places expect a tip in India, taxi's, porters, waiters ect. As stingy Brits, it took a few awkward moments to get used to it. People in the streets will ask you the same questions. Where are you from? and how long you are visiting for and what excursions you are interested in so that they can recommend a friend to you. Considering the fact that we did actually wanted to visit the Taj Mahal, we decided to book with an agent and then get cash back from them that way. We also booked a taxi driver to take us around Delhi for a day.
We went to the Taj Mahal. That was epic! and gave me butterflies. It was very romantic in a weird way and we agreed that it was the best part of the trip.
It was hard work getting in there. At first our taxi driver took us to the back of the Taj. The back is basically over the river Yamuna and is about 500 meters from the Taj. Add to that, the fogg. 🙈 We laughed a little. We were having none of it. We asked to go to the front and decided that we wanted to go inside. After walking about 15 minutes from where the taxi dropped us, it came to our attention that you can not pay by card. So we walked the 15 minutes back to find a store where we could negotiate some cash back for another charge. Marvellous, anywho, we sorted it and walked back. We waited in line to pay 1000INR each (£12) Locals pay 40INR each (about 50 pence), however, none residents get certain privileges, such a queue hopping. After the queue hop, I was told that my bad was too big and that poor Neil was not allowed in to the grounds either. We were directed to the lockers which obviously cost some more (not much) and are another 15 minutes away from the Taj. No argument left, we did as instructed and actually managed to enjoy the rest of the day.
The Delhi day tour was really good. We visited a Mahatma Ghandi museum, museum of Indrah Ghandi (first Indian female president), temples, India gate, The Lotus temple, a nice park and much more. We enjoyed that.
Other days have been spent exploring really. We found that after a few days, we had worked out how to fit in as best as possible and not get bothered so much. Basically, dress scruffy, don't look around and stay deep in conversation with each other. It also helped to walk quickly 🙈 we found a nice central park where we spent some time and generally chilled out.
We met a guy from south India called Sayid and spoke to him quite a lot about his life and what it is like for other young men growing up in India. He had moved to Delhi in hope of finding a job. It didn't look too hopeful if I'm honest. 😕 He was a Muslim and told us how he had a girlfriend who was Hindu and so they had to hide it from their families. It was really interesting talking to him. He was very curious to know all about England and how things work differently. He was shocked when we told him about the size of our families and that we can marry who we want. He had never learnt about these things.
We both agreed that we wouldn't choose to visit Delhi or Agra again, definitely not for a holiday, but that maybe we wouldn't mind visiting a few other places around India. We really have enjoyed our time here. But more than one week would be too much.
P.S Disneys Aladdin really actually does paint a good picture of India. Lol xx until next time.
23.12.2016 - 03.01.2017
We will start by saying that we both seriously loved Kuala Lumpur! There isn't much not to love here. We arrived here on 23rd December, at about 5am and had decided to kill some time in the airport so that we could save a few quid, or Malaysian ringgit even. We could also try to familiarise ourselves with the public transport system a little whilst finding our first destination. So anyway, Melissa ended up falling asleep on the chairs in the airport whilst I stayed on look out, although I'm not sure what for as I didn't see much. A couple of hours later, we made our way to what we thought was the train. Well, we ended up getting something called the ekspres which took us to a place called Sentral Station. (Not really that central to Kuala Lumpur city centre FYI). Anyway, for two people who seem to have no trouble mastering the London tube, Roma underground, Berlin trains and others, we considered the Kuala Lumpur public transport system to be pretty confusing. They have the ekspres, the monorail, the train, the metro, the komuter and the transit to name a few. Most of the time, we didn't really know which one we were on to be honest. All pretty similar (on a track). You pay at a ticket station or machine and are given chips to enter through turnstiles and use them to leave the station at the other end.
The first place that we stayed, was called Regalia Residence and was located North of Kuala Lumpur, towards the famous Batu Caves. We were pleased because we wanted a chilled out place after Delhi and before the New year. It was perfect and we had the most beautiful view. We had a week to stay here before we chose the next place where we would stay in Kuala Lumpur.
The apartment was great, with lots of space and good wifi to contact the family for christmas day. Even the gym received a couple of visits from us. We decided to go to the restaurant up on the roof for christmas dinner for a 5 course meal. It was really nice. Neil joined us with his smart attire. Watching the lights turn on was great. We had a brilliant view and sat outside. It will be one we will remember for sure.
Around the corner from our accommodation, was Putra Mall. It's a great big mall, with all sorts of things going on. It actually reminded us a little of Dubai. Kuala Lumpur has many similarities with Dubai. We took a couple of walks around there and the surrounding areas. One of the days, we visited Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) to take a trip to the visa office to apply for our chinese visa's. The visa takes around 4 days to be processed. We also visited the park in the centre and took some photos of the Petronas towers. The park had some interesting looking plants and trees which we got some snaps of. We also got a good show of the fountains with lights and music in preparation for NYE. Impressive stuff!
We also went for cocktails in The Traders hotel opposite the park which is rumoured to have one of the best photo opportunities of the Petronas Towers. It was alright 😒 meh. Wasn't the best!
Whilst staying at the Regalia Residence, we also decided to visit the Batu Caves as it made sense to do it then. In all honesty, they were a bit of a let down. They were impressive outside and believe it or not, the 272 steps were much easier than we thought. But otherwise, the caves themselves weren't too impressive. We both agreed that lower st Michael's cave in Gibraltar had a lot more to it. One of the main things that let it down were the dated statues within the cave which took away from the nature of the cave itself. Not to complain too much. We still had a lovely day and really enjoyed the outside of the caves. (Neil too😆)
After our time was up in Northern KL, we went to a hostal in KLCC. Before heading there, we had to make a stop at the visa office. We left very relieved that our China visa's were approved! We couldn't believe it. We had waited 15 minutes on the day to hand in the application and about 10 on the day to pay and collect it. No interview needed and most people can wait an average of 4 hours just to hand in the application. We were totally jammy there! The best thing was that this allowed us to plan ahead some more regarding where we wanted to visit next. We decided that we wanted to see more of Malaysia as we had 2 weeks to kill before heading to Singapore. We asked some locals where they would recommend and had a look at some tips on forums online. We decided that the first change to our original route would be to add a visit to Penang and Langkawi (two islands North/West of Malaysia) Penang was mainly recommended by travellers with lots to do and see and Langkawi was highly recommended by locals as a place to relax with white sandy beaches.
Anyway, we went to our hostal (Summer Suites) and got stuff booked. We stayed in an 8 bed mixed dorm and we were really happy with it (besides a funky smell fromantic the bathroom). It was very central with nearby bars and restaurants etc. Which was what we really wanted for new year 😆 It also had a really cool pool with see through sides which we got some cool video's of. I wasn't able to upload the videos on here 😕 so I've added some on FB if you wish to have a look.
Moving on, we decided that we wanted to sample some of the local cuisine and street vendor's which are said to sell some of the best stuff. We really made it our mission. Melissa doesn't like fish and isn't too good with spicy either, which was interesting. But we both got pretty adventurous. We tried Nasi Lemak, Nasi kukus, Nasi kandar, dragon fruit, types of fish and loads of things which we couldn't really remember the name of.
We did try lots, but don't seem to have too many pictures. We went out for New years eve with an Irish guy called John, who we met in our hostal. We didn't actually stay out really late, but we did manage to get a really good spot in the middle of KLCC park. We are giants in comparison to Malaysian folk and it was easy to get through crowds. The fireworks were great and the atmosphere was something we will remember.
As we headed back not too long after midnight, we were fresh for the first day of the new year and were able to sort everything ready for our onwards journey.
We decided to stay one more night in Kuala Lumpur because the flights were cheaper to Penang for a day later and so we booked a hostal near sentral station which was easier for us to get to the airport from. It was good because it meant that we got to visit China town and the 'I ❤ KL' sign. Glad that we got that extra day as we had wanted to do both and not got round to it.
So our time in Kuala Lumpur has now come to an end. In conclusion, we would definitely come here again, the people are great, foods good, prices are great, no trouble, lots to do, stunning views. still together, still strong 😙 Lol 'we like!'.
11.01.2017 - 17.01.2017 33 °C
Penang is a great place to visit for a short time. We were told to visit Penang because it is very popular with tourists. We are after all different kinds of experiences on this journey of ours. Yes, we want to experiance the 'real culture' in places, but the tourist spots aren't one to be missed. Besides, there is always fun stuff to do in these places, so we booked to stay for 8 nights (flights were cheapest for those dates too😏 Always helps.
Well, it wasn't exactly what we were expecting. We were thinking of lots of beaches, attractions, sights and so on. We stayed in a place called George Town which is know to be the typical tourist destination in Penang. We arrived very early morning and could see that one of the main reasons this place (Love Lane, George Town) was so popular was the night life and amount of hostels. Don't get me wrong, the place was not crazy or anything. It was a pretty short street, but the atmosphere looked pretty awesome. As it was 1am and we had been travelling the full day, we decided to get to sleep, ready to give it our all the next morning.
So, we got up pretty early, got our brekkie at the hostel which was again, included with our booking. (Decided that this is a brilliant way to save the 💰 By the way) It was decent, we got toast with some different spreads and watermelon each day. Can't complain for nothing. Anyway, we scoffed it down, grabbed a map from the hostel and took to George Town to explore. We noticed some spots on the map where we could see some street art and so we ended up going on a little mission to see it all. There was some pretty awesome stuff. Neil obviously got involved 🙄
Our hostel was at a cross junction and so each day, we would walk in different directions. One day, we headed towards the coast to find the beach. We came to a market/village type place which was built on a small wooden Jetty (a small pier where boats can dock). I don't know how it was still standing to be honest. We had stumbled upon one of 6 remaining clan jetties. A clan is a group of close-knit families; in this case, they are all of Chinese origin. A clan Jetty is a community village consisting of houses built on stilts, over the water. When the jetties were built in mid 19th century everybody who lived on the same jetty, had the same last name because they had all come from the same fishing village in Fuji. When they arrived, they did not have money to buy land and so decided to build the jetties. To this day, none of the families pay tax as they are not living on land.
The men go out to fish to feed their families and the women would stay in the shops to sell all sorts of things such as tourist souvenirs, henna tattoos, smoothies and so on. One thing I spotted was Egg Jelly! I mean, just, why?
On our 2nd or 3rd night in Penang, it was ladies night, which basically means that girls get cheap/free drinks in certain places. Paul had also been looking online for good places to visit. He found a place which was basically a convenience store which sold really cheap booze and had pull up chairs outside. Apparently, many locals and travellers would go there each night and everybody gets talking to everybody, so we went. We had a really good night. We started the night there, went to the main strip and then ended the night there. I actually met a guy there who happened to know one of my friends from back home (small world). It was a really good night and cost us next to nothing, and I think we ate at some point too. 🤔
One of the other days in Penang, we decided to visit the national park. A couple who had been staying in our hostel recommended it and mentioned that we could get the bus there and back easily. Well, whilst it was really good, it was tougher than we had expected. The heat made it a million times harder. The path wasn't really much of a path. We walked along logs, climbed and crawled through it. The wildlife made it even more interesting. Monitor lizards which were a good meter long were able to make Paul make a noise I have never heard him make before 😂🐊 seriously though, we were both pretty freaked out about snakes 🐍😢. Before going in to the park, you also had to write details down, such as your passport number. The reason was made clear about 10 minutes in. 😲 Anyway, at the end, we came out to Monkey Beach where we saw zero monkey's, but it was a really nice beach, excluding the biggest jellyfish I have ever seen.
As you can see, Neil graced us with his presence. We chilled out at the beach for a little while and then got a boat back to where we had begun. Neither of us had the energy to trek back. Plus the boat trip was pretty cool. We were taken to a very long, wooden pier to walk down to reach the entrance. It was not what I would consider in line with the health and safety regulations back home and some people were refusing to walk it. But for anybody who has never been to Asia, I would say that this is something that you need to get used to if you plan to visit.
So we did really enjoy Penang for 3/4 days, but after that, we kind of found that we spent lots of time, wasting time. We went for a lot of walks. In the different directions and spent lots of time chilling at our hostel. Luckily, it was a decent one.
Again, we tried some more local foods and drinks. Paul had a green drink called Ambra on one of the days. When I asked how it tasted, he said... 'Like a tree' 🙈 We also tried some fruits that we haven't had before. Jack fruit which was really nice, star fruit which was pretty sweet, kind of like a really hard apple, and coconut jelly which Paul liked but I didn't.
All in all, we enjoyed Penang and would recommend a drop in if you visit Malaysia. But four days max.
Now, let see if we can find a beach. Off to Langkawi we go...
11.01.2017 - 17.01.2017 33 °C
So, Langkawi is amazing! We arrived around 5pm and got a taxi to our hostel. The taxi driver was strange. After agreeing a price, he drove out of the airport and pulled up to explained that he wasn't sure where the hostel was and so wanted to contact the hostel on the phone for directions. Now, Langkawi is not a huge place and we were staying at a well know hostel. The driver got himself in to a fluster and Mel had to ask him to calm down. We pretty much directed him there ourselves. Strange start.
Our hostel was located within a tiny village just next to a paddy field (field used to grow rice) the village was also home to a few chicken and rooster/s who were our Langkawi alarm clocks. It was a very small hostel which had about 12 beds throughout 3 rooms. One of those rooms being the hall way. We had seen some great reviews and so were quite excited about this one. It wasn't the most plush, with one shower and toilet to share and very poor wifi, but the atmosphere and friendly hosts make it what it is. Also, the air conditioning was pretty awesome amongst other things which means less mosquitos 👍🏼 always a bonus.
We met one our host's (Irene & Sam) a Young couple. He was Malay and she was Italian. He loved fishing and she spent lots of time taking care of the hostel and cleaning. True to their stereotypes I suppose. Irene showed us around. We also met the guys who we were sharing our dorm room with (Luke & Liz) Luke was from Cornwall and Liz from Birmingham. We decided to go exploring the area & to pick up some basics from a supermarket we spotted on the way. The hostel had a communal kitchen area to use.
On our way to the shop, Mel was amazed by the path ways which were lifted from the tree roots which had obviously been planted before the paths had been laid. This is quite common in Malaysia, however, Langkawi was an exaggeration of the issue of bad planning. It just appears as though nobody thought about the tree roots and so they just laid a path without even thinking. It makes for an interesting walk down the street.
We stopped off en route to check out the beach. Well, it was epic! Better than we had imagined. The sand was white and the beach was clean with barely any tourists. There were a few nice bars playing up beat music and a few places selling different water sports. We also took a late night walk up the Main Street and found that there was lots going on. We fell totally in love with Langkawi and were quite gutted that we hadn't arranged to come here for longer, especially as we had been waiting around in Penang for 3/4 days.
Anyway, the next morning, we got up early and took our pale selves to the beach. We also did a small shop and Mel got a new bikini 😉 Langkawi is a tax free island and so we decided to take advantage of the cheap drinks and relaxed back at the hostel, getting to know people. On the way, I decided to get my hair cut as it had got pretty long and the heat is irritating. I opted for a 1 all over, which is pretty different to my usual, but I was really pleased and I felt like my head could finally breath.
Later on, Irene took us to the night market, which was really good. We brought lots of little bits of local snacks which cost about 30 pence for a handful. We can't recall what they were exactly, but they were nice. 😊
The next day, we had planned another beach day but had got there and were not able to handle the heat. Not to mention, we were pretty sore from the previous day, So, in an ultimate fail of a plan, we ordered some cheeky beef burgers and decided to head back to the hostel to chill out.
In the evening, we decided to plan the next day. We were going to visit the cable cars and sky bridge in Langkawi where they also have a place called 7 wells. Which basically makes up waterfalls. Mel is very excited about visiting waterfalls. As the island is tax free, we decided to hire a car because it was about £30 for the day. Liz, the girl in our hostel was also going to be joining us. We also spoke with our other host (Sam) who was arranging an over night fishing trip for us. After booking the car, Sam told us that the trip would start at 1pm the next day and so we wouldn't have time to visit the sky bridge and seven wells. Luckily, we managed to get a refund on the car and decided to do that a different day so that we could take part in the fishing trip. The next morning, we got up, had breakfast. Mel made omelette with a few of the leftover bits we got from the night market. We set off for the fishing trip. There were about 12 of us. Mel was the only girl. We got a coach to Kuah, a city South of the island and everybody stopped off for snacks and drinks. And loo roll (essentials) 😊
We arrived at a small docking bay where we got a tail boat to our fishing spot for the day and night. It was pretty cool. We were really excited to see where we would be staying. It was a fishing spot which was floating in the middle of the sea. We each had our own rooms which were decent. Neil joined us of coarse. The place was pretty big. There were plenty of spots to fish and hammocks to chill on. There was also a bbq where we would cook any fish we caught, along with a kitchen to make dinner. It was boiling and everyone was sweltering. But the experience was one of those that will stay with you forever. We loved it!
After a few hours, most of us took to fishing in the shade as it wasn't really bearable. It was good fun, learning to fish. Mel had to get used to cutting squid up to put on the hooks, as well as live shrimp and a fish which we cut in to pieces. After about 4 hours, none of us had caught any fish accept Sam, he basically lived for it and knew the tricks. Not to mention, he was told the best spots. We put a bet down for who would catch the biggest fish. It was all good fun. For dinner, Sam cooked some noodles for everyone which he had bought from the hostel as they had been left behind by guests. We all had a few drinks and carried on fishing and just chatting. It was really therapeutic and the views were awesome, especially when the sun started to set.
I caught a fish, a decent sized one too. There were loads of big jellyfish around. One of the guys put some music on and we all just chilled out. A few of the guys were hungover and went to bed pretty early. Mel went for a power nap and asked me to wake her up at about 1am, but everyone had gone to bed at that point and I was pretty tired too, so I went to bed too. Sam stayed up to catch more fish. He was very determined to get the biggest one and managed to do so. We woke up pretty early around 6am. The view from our room window was so nice to wake up to. We slept with a lizard in the room, but didn't really care all too much as we were so tired. The room had a fan but it was pretty hot.
When we woke up, Sam had cooked some fish on the BBQ. We both had some and it was delicious!
Some locals arrived with breakfast for us. We had coconut rice with a chilli sauce over it. It was funny because none of us could eat it. It was so spicy and this is a normal dish for breakfast in Malaysia. It sure woke you up.
After fishing for a bit more, Mel caught a tiny fish. She was so pleased with herself, bless her❤️. Sam threw it back in the sea. A bit later, everybody was pretty much ready to head back, everyone was in the same clothes the whole time and had sweated in them, slept in them, wiped squid ink n juices over them, not showered and generally were minging. Sam wanted to fish some more and suggested that we go to a deserted island near by. Another tail boat came and took us to this island for an hour while Sam stayed at the fishing spot and carried on fishing. On the way, we stopped off at a cave and had a look at the bats in there. It was pretty impressive.
We were dropped off at the island and the boat drove off for an hour or so, we all went for a swim in the sea and investigated a bit, but the tide started to come in and there wasn't really anywhere for us to go, so we ended up standing on a small spot of sand and waiting for Sam to come and get us on the boat.
Sam arrived after a little while and had been trying to catch some barracuda fish but he hadn't had any luck. We drove around for a little bit, looking at the near by surrounding islands and Sam told us bits about them. After, we went back to the fishing spot, got our bits and headed back to the hostel. A shower has never been so satisfying. When we got back to the hostel, we also arrived back to fresh washing! Now this is something that you get very excited about when travelling! Fresh clothes are a luxury. It was a good feeling. 👍
The next day, we were going to the cable cars and were meant to hire a car to get there, but we just didn't have the energy. We took a nice walk down the beach and sunbathed for a short time. The beach really was beautiful. Later, Irene had mentioned to Mel that she had some paints and that Mel was welcome to paint whatever she wanted, anywhere in the hostel. Mel spent the majority of the day painting a ying & yang sign in the kitchen and I chilled out in the hostel with the others. Irene and Sam had loads of alcohol left over and had asked me to get rid of it for them. So, being as kind as I am, I did them a favour. 🙊
Mel made noodles for dinner and we packed our things together, ready to leave for Singapore, early the next morning.
Langkawi has been top of the places which we have visited so far. We just wish we could stay here for longer. It is a beautiful place with lovely people. Honestly, before this trip, neither of us had even heard of it. We are pleased that we listened to the locals in Kuala Lumpur and will definitely ask locals again in the future. We would both certainly come back here. It is ridiculously cheap and has a little bit of everything.
Until next time....
17.01.2017 - 23.01.2017 35 °C
We arrived in Singapore in the afternoon with time to kill until we would be able to check in to our hostel and so we decided to get there using public transport. We planned to stay in Singapore for a week and so the best option we found was to get the Singapore tourist pass. This pass allowed us to use the metro, trains and buses for three full days for only 30 Singapore dollars which is only about 17GBP. You also got 10 Singapore dollars back when you returned the card after it expired. FYI - The refund isn't mentioned anywhere accept online or in the small print of the T&C's. So all in all, you pay about 11GBP for three full days. We sure got our money's worth!
So anyway, we found our way to the hostel with two changes on the metro and no trouble. On first opinion, we would say that Singapore seemed like a very well kept, organised city. Random fact, it is illegal to have chewing gum in Singapore. If you are found with gum, you risk a hefty fine. Repeat offenders will be set to follow out work orders and in other circumstances even face jail time. Best to just not take any with you. It is surprising how much you want it when you know you can't though. 😜
When we got to the hostel, we still had an hour before we could check in and so decided to check out the local shops to get a feel for the prices of Singapore. They didn't seem to extreme in comparison to England prices, considering that Singapore is known to be the most expensive country in the world. However, our hostel was more on the outskirts of Singapore and so that may be why they seemed pretty average.
Once we checked in, Paul had a little cat nap because he was shattered and so I updated the blog and spoke to the mothers 😍. Our room in the hostel was interesting. We were in a 12 bed mixed dorm, which was fine, but the set up was pretty crazy. It was like a long corridor with a line of bunk beds on each side. The room smelt bad and about half of it was taken up by residents who had clearly been there for a long time. Most of them worked nights and slept in the room during the day. I had a crazy Malaysian woman next to me who was seriously, frightening at times. She would play a game on her phone and scream at the phone. She wore paper underwear which I got a good eyeful of every time she would jump up in a crazy rage and thump things with her fists. She also set her alarm each morning for 5:30am and would not wake up to it for about 15 minutes. Her snoring was loader than the alarm. The alarm was load enough to wake everybody else up though. The worst part was that she would finally turn the alarm off and go back to sleep. The bloody thing didn't even have a purpose. It's fair to say that we hated the hostel in Singapore. The showers also did not lock and you were not in there alone. Lizards and other bugs were very present. All this being said, is not to say that we did not like Singapore, because we really did.
After Paul's nap, we took the metro to visit the botanical gardens. It was super hot and the gardens were huge. There were all different sections of the gardens, spanning over 180 acres. We walked for ages through them. There was even a rain forest within the gardens where we saw some more of Pauls friends (the beloved monitor lizards).
After that, we felt super hungry and decided to go to China town to see what was on offer. We walked through the markets for a while and spotted one place which had queues out the door of about 40+ people. I went to see what it was for. The shop was called Lim Chee Guan and they prepared hand made 'Bak kwa' (sliced BBQ pork) which is a Chinese delicacy brought to Singapore from Fujian province in China centuries ago. It is traditional to eat Bak Kwa during the Chinese New Year. We had also seen it in Kuala Lumpur at China Town, but we couldn't be bothered to wait the long time in the queue and neither could we be bothered this time either. Maybe next week in Beijing which is where we happen to be for the Chinese New Year 😀 Anyway, we found another place which looked pretty busy and chose to eat there. It was a little awkward because we were seated on a small table with another couple. We ordered some noodles and corn on the cob and took to the chop sticks. It was the longest that either of us have ever taken to eat anything and I'm pretty sure that the couple we shared the table with, got a laugh out of it. We did get better with practice though. After dinner, I decided to surprise Paul and catch the metro which took us to the Gardens By The Bay. Paul was clueless and just went with it. He had wanted to go there for a long time. His face lit up when we walked out of the metro station. It was pretty dark and the gardens looked great all lit up. We walked through the gardens for a little while and got some pictures.
It was nice and had a very futuristic feel to it. The next morning, we decided to visit a near by spot (promenade metro station) to get some good day time pictures of the Marina Bay sands Hotel. We asked a random guy to show us where we could see the best views. He was really nice and helpful and walked us to the best spot. We have found that Malaysian people are generally very friendly.
The heat was crazy. It was actually nice to escape in to the metro stations to be honest because the air conditioning down there was super strong. We decided to visit Changi chapel and museum as I had seen it on a popular site, with some really good reviews. It was quite a distance to travel. We caught a few different metro's and a bus, then had to walk pretty far, but it was totally worth it's! The museum is dedicated to Singapore's history during the Second World War, which I wasn't very educated in previously. The museum wasn't very big, but we hired an audio guide and took our time walking around. It was so interesting. Obviously, it was also very sad. You get a real feel from the audio guide. We both really rated it.
After the museum, we visited an area of Singapore called Clark Quey but the weather got really bad and so we didn't stick around for too long. We decided to visit little India to grab a bite to eat. The weather didn't improve and so we just went to one of the first places we found. Well, it was vile. Take a look at the rice for a start. That is supposed to be egg fried rice. It actually tasted like mud. We barely touched it. I genuinely think that we would have been rather sick if we had dug in.
On the way back to our hostel, I had a little hair trim in a random hairdressers, just to try and fix some of the sun damage. I haven't used straighteners for a month now and my hair has gone a little wild 💇🏼
The next day, we some how managed to get up and go out. Our dorm room had been constant noise all night. Crazy paper pants next to me had been jumping up and down like she was on a trampoline. When she finally hit the hay, she snores like a champion. The night workers got back at around 4am and we had about 6 young German girls who went out partying. Not to forget the guy from Bristol who called his sister from Melbourne and did his best to share his life story with the entire room. He had missed his flight to Bali, he had also mentioned that he had got very stoned and didn't understand how he had managed to fall asleep and miss his flight! I do wonder.
Anyway, we had breakfast at the hostel. The cups had little clusters of bugs in them. Like tiny maggots. I didn't even have the energy to mention it. Paul sure did when he left the hostel review though. ☝🏼 we headed out to visit Sentosa island. It's basically an island full of fun and different shows and attractions. The main attraction being universal studios. There was also a Casino, a long sheltered beach, golf courses, 14 hotels, high end restaurants, an aquarium, the famous Merlion statue (this is known as the guardian of prosperity for Singapore) and many more. It was really cool to visit. There was loads of things to see and do.
After leaving Sentosa, it was still pretty early, so we decided to visit Raffles, as Paul's parents had visited Singapore a few years back and they recommended it. We walked around for quite a while and sat down for a while next to the Singapore river. We decided to go for some food and came across a place called Penny Black. It was a typical English looking place and so we both ordered some typical pub grub. Paul had steak and ale pie and I had bangers and mash. We didn't even feel a little bit bad for being so typical 😄 A random guy came over and started a conversation with us. We mentioned to him that we were planning to go to Raffles hotel and asked him about it. He told us a few bits and mentioned the Singapore Sling (a famous cocktail served around Singapore which was first made at the hotel). Once our food turned up, he left and two free Sling's turned up at our table. It turned out that he was the manager at the restaurant. Happy days. After that, we decided to give the hotel a miss for that day and carried our stuffed selves back to the hostel.
The next day, we didn't have our Singapore tourist passes as they had expired and so we decided to explore on foot. I had taken a look online for some temples near by to visit. I had noticed the Buddah Tooth Relic Temple was about a 90 minute walk away and so we set off on a little mission. The outside of the temple is old Chinese architecture. (The kind with the funky shaped roof tops on top of each other) Also known as Tang Dynasty architecture. You'll be able to see in the pictures what I mean.
I expected to see loads of buildings similar to this in Singapore, but this was the first I had actually seen. It was a lot more modern than I had expected Singapore to be. Anyway, the temple has five levels. It is also a museum. The first floor is the 100 dragons hall, where we watched monks taking part in a service next to a giant Maitreya Buddah statue. The surrounding walls were lined with a multitude of mini Buddah statues. The next two floors teach you all about Buddah and the Buddhism history and future. The fourth floor is home to the tooth relic itself. Honestly, it was a little underwhelming. However, this floor was very peaceful with different places for people to meditate. The fifth and final floor was a rooftop garden which is where you will find the worlds biggest prayer wheel. I wasn't going to go up to the wheel but a man waved me up there and so I thought it would be rude not to. In all, we spent a few hours in the temple. We both really enjoyed it and both learnt quite a bit. It was much more impressive and educational than previous temples we have visited.
For the next few days, it seemed to rain a lot! The weather took a complete turn.
On one of the nights, we brought a few bottles of Tiger. It seems to have been our beer of choice throughout Malaysia. It's super cheap and doesn't taste awful 👍🏼 we also took a look around a shopping mall near by, tried some wanton noodles (with improved chop stick skills), I had my hair coloured for no reason at all apparently as it came out, pretty much the exact same colour and took 4 hours and we packed our rucksacks ready to leave for Beijing.
Our last night in our hostel was like torture in our dorm. I think I got about three hours sleep at most. During the night, I had got up to go to the toilet and some guy also got up and went at the same time. I may totally over reacted but I could hear him standing outside of the cubicle and felt really uncomfortable, luckily, I had taken my phone with me and so messaged Paul to come meet me before I would come out. The place had a very unsafe feel to it.
When we checked out at reception the next morning, the woman did not say a word apart from asking if we had change for her. She didn't bother asking how our stay was or wish us a nice day, nothing. In fairness, I can totally understand why they would avoid asking, but a smile wouldn't have hurt. To be fair, the place cost us only £5 a night with breakfast. Even still, I have a feeling that it won't be, but I prey that this place is the worst accommodation we stay in during our trip.
All in all, we both really enjoyed our Singapore adventure. We found that Singapore has a lot to offer. I must add, that Singapore airport is the best I have been through with loads of things to do and places to relax (even if they did take my nail clippers 😠) We are pleased that we added Singapore to our trip. It was a great experiance.
23.01.2017 - 03.02.2017 -13 °C
So we arrived early morning in Beijing to the temperature being a freezing -13 degrees. Yes, that is a minus symbol there. Luckily our hotel allowed us to check in at 8.00am after a long journey flying over night. The place where we stayed (Kings Joy Hotel) was like a Palace compared to our last place and it was in the heart of Beijing. We both woke up at midday after taking a snooze and decided to venture out of the hotel to pick up a hat, scarf and gloves as it was pretty essential, believe me.
We were directed to a Walmart by reception at the hotel. Eventually after walking, which seemed forever (45 minutes) in the cold, we finally found Walmart. We spent almost 1 hour there, in which half an hour was spent queuing up to purchase our things, with China being so over populated queuing for long periods to buy food or tickets was in fact the norm and they are not very good at it either. Prepare to be pushed aside and for people to blatantly just push in front of you. Whilst British people have a reputation for managing queues well, this was crazy. There was no sense of personal space and people were not afraid to put there arms around you to pull you backwards.
Finally after being served we walked back to our hotel with our new pollution masks, hats,scarfs and gloves. When we left Beijing, we gave the thermals to some homeless people and they were so pleased 😆 we wouldn't be needing them again after all. 🖒
We also stocked up on noodles, breakfast bars and fruit to save some extra cash, as we could prep them in our room. 😀
Once back at the hotel we decided to relax at the hotel as the 15 hours travelling the day before had taken its tole and tired us out.
The next day we woke up bright and early and decided to go and see The Forbidden City. Which was a 15 minute walk from our hotel. We set off at around 10am. When walking towards the Forbidden City we couldn't help but notice how many Police and Armed Forces littered the streets, they were literally at every street corner. At certain points there were 'Check Points' which were like going through airport security but on the street. Although we both felt it was a little intimidating with everyone having to show ID and be scanned at the check points to cross the street, at least we knew it was extremely safe security wise.
After passing the check points we saw several famous land marks these being:
Momentum of people's Herod
Chairman Maos Mausleum
Great Hall of The People
We were both looking forward to entering the Forbidden City which cost 40CNY each(£4.00) we also opted to take the audio tour which also cost 40CNY. We both thought it was a bargain entering such a famous land mark for so little.
When entering the grounds there was a sense of humbleness. Looking at the Chinese architecture of the Emperors buildings. It was the style that Melissa had been hoping to see a lot of in Singapore & she was in her element here. The buildings were incredibly detailed.
However, neither of us would recommend the audio tour as the voice was monotone and failed to catch our attention. We ended up talking to each other about the buildings instead. There was also plenty of signage which told you about the history.
In the evening we decided to book The Great Wall Tour, we did look at going ourself without a tour guide but when pricing it up and after a lot of research it was the same price to be picked up from our hotel have a traditional Chinese lunch see the The Great Wall with a guide and get dropped back off at our hotel as it would of been to go ourselves with no lunch or guide. We chose to visit the Mutianyu section of the wall, because we had taken a look at loads of reviews and found this to be, the most beautiful part of the wall, without too many people overcrowding it.
So the next morning we set our alarm for 6am and were to be picked up at 7am from the front of the hotel. This is where we met Chan our guide for the day. The 12 seater mini bus turned up on time and Melissa went back to sleep on the two hour journey to the wall.
Whilst driving to The Great Wall I could see the pollution smog which was thick and dirty over Beijing and I could now understand why Beijing had such a bad reputation for pollution. We were pleased to have our pollution masks. They also helped with the cold weather as a bonus ☝🏼️One thing we did notice was the amount of people who spit in Beijing. Now, it's understandable that the pollution may be the reason for needing to do this, but they could learn to be a little more discreet about it to say the least. The sound of people viscously hurling phlegm surrounds you in Beijing. It is disgusting.
At 9am we arrived at The Great Wall and Chan took us all to a map at the side of the road and explained the different parts of the wall which we were at. He mentioned we had two options. Either, walk up to the wall (up a mountain) which would take 1 hour 30 minutes or get the cable car up and down for 100CNY (£10.00) we opted for the cable car as when being at a world wonder we'd rather spend our time on the wall than walking up to the wall.
After taking the four minute cable car to the top we stepped out of the cable car to a freezing -10 degrees and noticed we were above the clouds and could see snow in areas at the top. We strapped the go pro to my head on top of my hat to make a time lapse video of our walk and then set off for what was one tough walk!!!
We were informed by the guide that over 500,000 people died whilst building the wall and that there bodies were buried in the wall every meter or so as it was too difficult to bring the dead bodies back down the mountain, so they buried them there.
Whilst at the top we both couldn't believe how steep the wall was in places and how many steps there were. Whilst walking to the highest point of the wall we both had to take several breaks as it was exhausting and once we reached the highest point we could, Millie had a touch of altitude sickness.
After getting back to the bottom we enjoyed a traditional Chinese Lunch which consisted of rice, noodles, chicken balls, stir fried veg and sweet and sour sauces which was beautiful.
It was Chinese New Year whilst we were in Beijing and we asked around for any fire work displays or parades which may be on around midnight. The answer was simply 'no'. The Chinese celebrate the New Year with their families at home, along with a big feast. They let off their own fire works at home. So we both decided we would take a walk towards the Forbidden City where it was a big open space to see if we could get a glimpse of any fire works being let off. Midnight struck and whilst we could hear them coming from miles away as they were so loud, we barely saw anything. As we headed back to our hotel, we saw a few in the street which were on ropes and are lay down on the road. They were very loud and seemed pretty dangerous, but the police didn't seem to mind at all. The point of fireworks at Chinese New Year is not to make them as big as possible, but as loud as possible. This is to warn off evil spirits. All in all, we were both disappointed.
On one of the days, we decided to catch the metro to Beijing Zoo. The metro was super cheap and very easy to understand, with a similar set up as the Singapore or London metro.
The Zoo was crazy busy. We saw lots of different animals, including panda's, birds, tigers, lions, bears, monkeys, giraffes, elephants, zebra, crocodiles, polar bears, reptiles and even a two toed sloth!!! It was such a shame as he was all cuddled up facing away from us and so Neil missed out on his photo opportunity. We weren't too amazed with the Zoo to be honest as it seemed to us that, they had one of each animal to pretty much market the variety available. They also didn't seem to accommodate the animals very well. The elephants looked like they were going crazy for being placed in a tiny space, the polar bear looked like the saddest polar bear in the world, as well as the warmest. They just generally didn't look too happy and it left us feeling sorry for them more than anything.
With the weather being as unbearable as it was in Beijing, we decided that we would use here as a location to have some downtime, plus we had a decent hotel to chill out in. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and whatsapp are not available in China. You also aren't able to access Google, Netflix, YouTube, Gmail or google maps provided by Google. This would have made things pretty difficult, however, like most residents in China, we downloaded a VPN to our iPad and were able to chill out and watch Netflix and speak to family. Seemed pretty petty to us and quite ironic that in order to find a search engine available in China, Mel asked her mum to google it. 😂😉
Well anyway, we decided on one night that we wanted to go out to eat, as the smell of noodles started to make us both retch, after a week of nothing else. So we went on the search for some traditional Chinese grub. Well, let me tell you, the experience that we had when trying to find anybody who spoke a little English was no fun. We understand that English people can be quite ignorant when it comes to learning another language and that we seem to expect places around the world to know English, but this was impossible. We couldn't even find anybody willing to try and use body language or anything. In the end, we tried McDonald's and were told that they could not accept visa or MasterCard. We also had no cash and needed a cash point but they would not accept Visa or MasterCard either. Nobody spoke enough English to direct us to one, even at our hotel reception 😒 people were really rude to us. It was a particularly busy night and we were getting pushed around everywhere. One place even told us that we would need to wait an hour to have food. We asked to take away and they said that they were too busy to cook take away. In the end, we found a Pizza Hut and settled there. In an attempt to stick to our goal, we enjoyed a Peking Duck Pizza. It was actually really good.
After that, we ended up finding a cash machine which allowed us to withdraw, but generally found that people remained to be very hostile towards us. Apart from the days when we went to typical tourist spots, we didn't enjoy Beijing at all. We wanted to speak to people or try out some of their culture and food, but it wasn't possible. Neither did anything at street vendors look like something we could attempt if either of us wished to remain well. We try to be open minded and obviously with the trip we are on, want to give each place a try. Well, we tried Beijing and we didn't like it. It goes to the bottom of the list. Now, let's go somewhere else please....