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The Last Two Months...

Well, its been a while since my last update and so much has happened! Too much to tell you in one blog update for sure, but I made an attempt to give you a short version of two months travelling including formula 1 racing and Julia Roberts!!

Laughing

Let me start by saying that I somehow escaped all the natural disasters. I was long gone before the typhoon hit Luzon in the Philippines, and I flew 12 hours after the big quake hit Padang. I still have all ten fingers and toes so I guess I'm doing allright.

I left the Philippines and decided to tackle the Malaysia Pensinsula from the east towards the west. This leaves me in Sabah, Brunei, Sawarak, mainland Malaysia, Singapore consequently. Especially Malaysian Borneo was all about going back to nature. In one word: B e a u t i f u l !!! Can't be described in any words. I wish I'd known that beforehand as I only had three weeks for this part. I met two Swedish sisters who planned two whole months for Borneo! Well, I can tell you, that's what you need when your looking for the real Borneo experience. What did I do in these three weeks?

I became one with Kinabatangan river and met my ancestors (yes, monkeys) in the Sandakan river cruise tour; left 'mammal' world for 'fish' world in Sipadan, one of world's best dive sites; joined the locals on a ramadan experience in Brunei; had a longhouse tea in the amazing Kelabit Highlands; experienced to be 'fridged' in all those d*rn AC long-distance buses; and eventually became friends with the Macaque monkey (read: being their favorite to steal food from) in Bako NP in Kuching.

I put quite some pics online. Maybe that will put it all a bit in perspective, but it simply cannot describe to you the genuine friendliness of the people of Malaysia. I met my favorite Asians: its the Malay. They don't haggle at you, scream at you from a distance, lie at you. They help you, don't rip you off as much as the other Asians, invite you for ricewine and a talk about their lovely longhouse communities, and the Kelabits appear to be one of the most intelligent tribal communities in the world with having some Kelabits in high governmental positions and Shell appeares to be a popular employer. My guide Lian was also a former high Shell employee but even more a very friendly man. I truly enjoyed my long chats with him. I hold good memories of the Kelabits and the Swedish girls -who I told to definitely go to Kelabit Highlands- are also big fans. I gonna stop here before I bore you all too much but it was great. Laos is still my favorite country (nothing beats Laos) but it has a big 'competitor' to my opinion.

Coming back to Kuala Lumpur meant exchanging indigenous people with Indians (Question: who is the biggest population group? A) Malay or B) Indians -- My bets are on the second!!). And that's definitely not a bad thing! On the contrary, gorgeous Indian food widely available: I'm happy! With this change the hassling increased a bit, but it sounds something like this: 'good evening, do you already have a guesthouse, I know a good one for you.' Me: 'Well, I first wanna check out a different one'. The indian: 'Oh which one?' Me: Shoot, now he gonna convince me it doesn't exist, etc... 'erm, Grocers Inn', The Indian: 'oh, that's easy, thats around the corner. Good luck finding it and if you don't like it, here the folder of my GH and I'll give you discount...'. So NOT ever gonna experience something like that anywhere else in South-East Asia. Brilliant!

I spend a few days strolling around in KL with a Tzech couple before I headed south to Melaka, my first encounter with Dutch colonial history. I may sound crazy but walking around in chinatown (former dutch town) really gave me the feeling of being closer to the Netherlands again. Perhaps its the infrastructure, perhaps the many tourboats in the canal but it felt good. I had my Apple Pancake dinner at a Dutch-French restaurant 'Orang Belanda' to complete my Dutch experience in Melaka.

Cool
 

After that it was time to go to Singapore for some Formula 1 racing. Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to arrange the real race tickets but Steve, the Ozzie I met in Sipadan, did arrange a friday night practise round ticket, good enough for me! It was crazy, everywhere in downtown Singapore area were the sounds of the tracks audible, sounding like an ongoing fierce wind. But being in the Walkabout the sound of the tracks hurt my ears quite badly (stubborn, didn't take my earplugs; so not cool you know...). Oh, and now I'm forgetting the coolest part. For all those former Backstreet Boys fans out there, I saw them live and -the best part- saw them for free!! Ahh alright then, I bought a Starbucks cappucchino nearby to wait for the race to be over and ask for a entrance ticket, but isn't it great?! They are live qutie good actually!

After that it was time to say goodbye and to go back to KL for my flight to Sumatra. Unfortunately, 15 hours before my due flight a severe earth quake hit Padang area and I only learned about how bad the aftermath was after I arrived in Medan (Asians don't care that much for news, not a good info source). Here's where I met Raheleh, a very sweet Iranian girl who I gonna meet in a few hours again. She flew in from KL for a visa run and so we hung out for two days. Medan is not a very nice city and with the quake damaging all the roads heading south Sumatra didn't leave much for me to explore. As to convince me to leave Sumatra I also had a negative encounter with a homeless person which ended -thankfully to Raheleh- happily. After she left I also decided to leave Sumatra for Bali to meet Migi from Italy.

I met Migi during the Sandakan river cruise and we immediately got along. We exchanged emails in case -by any chance- we would meet again somewhere in Asia and although aI didn't expected our paths would cross again, it did, this time in Bali. Bali was a huge adjustment for me. After two months of travelling by myself and hardly seing any white people, being in an airplane with all but white faces was... I don't know, lame I guess. The authenticity of my experiences so far ended with this decision and that was quite dissapointing at first. But as soon as I left for Ubud things change. I LOVE Ubud. Friendly people, stunning nature, amazing art scene, nice temperatures, cheap guesthouse and motorbike rental. In short, perfect! I could have easily stayed there longer if I had time. It was also nice to be with Migi again, he's so funny! We rented a motorbike, but after two days decided to rent a car instead for 4 days and cruise around Bali. I also made a dive again at the Liberty wreck close to Tulamben and saw the biggest Barracuda ever!! Too bad Migi was there only for one week.

After he left I decided to chill on Gili Air for 5 days and that was a goooood decision! First time in what seems to be ever, I wasn't haggle at. I could just walk around in my bikini without seing hungry male eyes staring me, and that for a Muslim island! Whoohoo! I did have one negative encounter with a local who tried to get me into his house (not by physical force thank god) but all the other male locals dissaproved that behavior when I told them about it. Nice to be understood!

Laughing

On the way back from Gili Air I met Ben from Germany, a very nice and fun guy with who I hung out the last two days on Bali. He's already travelling for 18 months in Asia and still has no intention of going back to Europe. Wow, isn't that fantastic! We rented a motorbike for the last two days and went souvenier shopping while enjoying the amazing scenery of rice paddies, tatched roof houses, and rice paddies. We went all the way up to Lake Batur and -after a delicious bubur lunch and a fruit break at the littered lake- made an attempt to see Pura Besakih. This is hilarious story. Here we are on this very steep mountainous semi dirtroad going higher and deeper into the forest of Gunung Batur and never reconsidering if this dirtroad makes sense for such a popular tourist attraction... Eventually we ended up in the middle of nowhere with Pura Luwuh in front of us and 6PM on our watches. Right... Fortunately, we discovered the wrong turn and eventually took the back route to Pura Besakih. And this turned out to be perfectly planned coz now we were there on our own -ok, besides a lot of aggresively barking dogs and a family offering ceremony- with a nice setting sun in our backs giving us amazing views!

And now I'm forgetting the best part. That morning at the Ubud market Eat, Pray, and Love was being filmed with...(hear the drum)... Julia Roberts! Yes, I saw her live doing her acting. Ben tried to take a pic and I guess only we will recognize her on that particular pic, but isn't it a coincidence! I didn't know she was shooting the film in Ubud but apparently she already in Bali for a few months. Some local told us this before we entered the market and we didn't believe him -I mean, c'mon what are the odds- so I walked in, looked at some souveniers when I was approached by one of the crew 'are you part of the cast?' What the... 'no? please leave the set, we're shooting right now' and before I could respond I was being escorted out. Still flabbergasted by this sudden change and still recovering from this shock I was again approached: 'You are not part of the cast are you, please go out, OUT' and again I was being relocated... Cool!

Laughing

This was definitely a sweet experience and made my cousins and niece jealous when I told them a few days later in Java. Every Indonesian is very delighted that Julia Roberts is in THEIR country. I stayed in Java this last week before I flew back to Kuala Lumpur yesterday. I went over to Java to visit my Aunts and Uncle. We went to the market, Jakarta, tea plantations, saw my cousin getting married in a traditional Javanese wedding, etc. My Aunti Harti bought especially for me all kinds of Dutch foods (chicken schnitzel, baked potatoes, fresh baked bread, etc.) and when I told her I love bubur she asked her sister to make me some which meant getting every morning a big bowl of bubur. haha, they are so sweet and caring and really are spoiling me too much!

Tonight I fly to my next and last destination: Australia to see Ilvie! I'm so excited!

soesan.myphotoalbum.com

Pics of Indonesia will be uploaded later...

Hugs & Kisses

--Suzanne

Reacties

Reacties

Rosanne

Hé Suus!

Nou hier zong vandaag iemand een nummer van de backstreet boys...dus ik vertellen dat ik daar fan van was vroeger en nou heb jij ze gewoon gezien!!! haha wat grappig!

Meid ik kan niet wachten om je hier te zien!! Lijkt me echt heel leuk!

Liefs Roos

Kirsten

Hey Soesan!!
Echt top om weer even te horen hoe het allemaal is daar.
Wat supergaaf allemaal!! echt hoeveel jij meemaakt daar!!
Nog heel veel plezier in Australie. En we zien je gauw weer in Maastricht!
x
Kirsten

Charlie

Hey lief zusje!

Wat een verhaal en wat een ervaringen!! Backstreetboys voor praktisch niks. En Julia Roberts! Nou dat zal je denk ik niet snel meer meemaken! Wat leuk allemaal En dan alle verhalen tussendoor. Wat geweldig allemaal. Jammer dat je Migi niet zo lang hebt gezien maar wel een goede overgang na Sumatra lijkt mij.
Trots op jou leave!!
Dikke kus je zusje!

Tamara

Hee meis!! I loved BSB! Hele posters vroeger op de muur en nooit live gezien en jij nu WEL! Geweldig! Leuk dat je je family hebt gezien en zoveel leuke mensen tegenkomt :-) Geniet van laatste paar weken! En tot heeeel snel weer in Maastricht!

En natuurlijk groetjes aan Ilvie!

Dikke xx Tamara

Ben

Hey Suzanne,

thanks for being the perfect travel partner in Bali! Shame we only had two days - hope to travel with you again in the future. CU in South America?

Ben

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