Bursting the burka at the seams – Feasting at Ramadan

We visited Brunei in the heist of Ramadan, a religious festival which to me makes no sense. Muslims set the alarm for the crack of dawn to which they awake scoff their faces with food and drink before sunrise, then go hungry/thirsty all day in the blistering heat until 6/7pm when they then gorge like little sacred piggies all through the night. So maybe Ramadan isn’t a good time to visit Brunei and write a blog about food? Actually, the opposite, Ramadan brings the entire country together, and around 5/6pm night markets set up all over town for people to buy all sorts of goodies to break the fast.

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Money madness in Malaysia

A wildlife lovers paradise, Claire had been dreaming of going to Borneo ever since she was rescuing worms in the garden, naked. While in Malaysia and Borneo we were to be real life David Attenborough’s exploring some of the worlds best dive sites at Sipadan to the steamy jungles of Borneo. Hopefully Malaysia wouldn’t put too much of a dent in our bank balance.

All daily prices below are for the 2 of us (for all the non mathematicians, if you want single cost- divide by 2!).

Accommodation
So far we’d managed to stay pretty clear of fellow travellers, however Malaysia was the first country we’d experienced actual backpackers, and with backpackers comes hostels. Arriving in KL we were shocked to find double rooms costing at least 80 ringgits (£16.56) and with 2 dorm beds costing 60 ringgits (£12.42) it was pretty clear there could be no spooning for the next couple of weeks. Our average accommodation per day over our time in Malaysia was 50.43 ringgit (£10.44) to which we spent 90% of our times sharing a room with fellow farting/snoring travellers in dorm bunk beds in hostels/homestays.

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Borneo to be wild

Semmengoh Nature Reserve
After a swift flight change at Kuala Lumpur we boarded yet another ‘winged friend’ and touched down in the early moonlight hours at Kuching, the other side of Malaysia. Basically, to all you kids that nodded off during geography, we were extremely excited to have arrived in Malaysian Borneo. Not ones to miss a trick, we dumped our bags and headed into china town for our first Borneo fill of rice washed down with a bucket of beer. With Claire still out of practice and getting p*ssed on two cans, rising in the early hours would normally be a long drawn out process but, not today. Claire was up, dressed, fed and camera ready…………. we were off to see our Orange cousins!

Sharing 97% of our DNA (98% if your ginger), if was very difficult not to pick one up and put it in our rucksacs. We soon changed our minds when we saw the photos of the tourists and guides who had tried to do just that. Thankful for all 10 fingers, we gave it a miss and just oooo’d and ahhhh’d very quietly when we were fortunate to see the cheeky monkeys coming out from the jungle for a bit of free snap. The Orangutans here are semi wild and live within a vast section of protected jungle. Its sad to believe that these fantastic creatures are rapidly dissapearing off the face of the earth but, when you fly over Borneo glancing out of the window to the uniformed miles and miles of palm oil plantations, you can see why.

Semmengoh Orangutan Rehabilitation CentreOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Mouthwatering Malaysia

The first thing you realise when landing in Kuala Lumpur is that everyone is obsessed with eating, at every turn you will see hundreds of hawker stalls selling everything from the standard fayre of rice and noodles, to the freshest fish pulled out of the water that morning. Over the next 5/6 weeks we would be travelling around Peninsular Malaysia to the island of Borneo, hoping to track down all the best local snap.

Nasi Lemak
Some call Nasi Lemak Malaysia’s unofficial national dish. Everyone else calls it delicious. Nasi Lemak is a typical breakfast which can be seen on every street corner around the country. Nasi (rice) is cooked in coconut milk, then packed in to a banana leaf along with anchovies, peanuts  chilli sambal and a boiled egg for good measure. This is then wrapped into intricate little parcels and picked up by passers by on their way to work. Whilst this little tasty breakfast might sound nothing like what we’re used to at home, for 4 ringgit (£0.82) its no surprise they’re normally sold out by 10am.

Malaysia KL, Perenthian, Kota Bharu 245 (1280x850)

Nasi Lemak, Kuala Lumpur

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Pineapple Wine – Malaysia

Malaysia K Hghld, Miri, Brunei, KK, Sepilok, Uncle Tan, Sep & KL 041 (850x1280)
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Orangutan Monkey Juice – Malaysia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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Diving feet first into Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur
We arrived this time at the Kathmandu International airport, a whole world away from the domestic shed next door. Thinking it would be a low key affair flying out of Kathmandu, we couldn’t believe our eyes when we walked up to the big bird sat on the runway, it was massive and there wasn’t a person in sight! Thinking we would be laying along the seats and taking a hard earned rest, we were somewhat shocked when on entry about 1000 pairs of brown eyes were set on Claire (well 368 pairs to be exact). Unknown to us, Kuala Lumpur is an epicentre for the cheap Nepalese labourer and they had been sat down waiting in their seats for over half an hour. Nestled inbetween 368 Nepali men, Claire was eternally grateful for the female only toilet, Danny was grateful for the ultra modern sliding toilet door in the middle of the plane which fortunately, the Nepali’s couldn’t work out how to open.

The Airbus A330 – Bigger than the airport itselfOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Running out of rupees, our Nepal budget

When it comes to activities Nepal has it all, trekking, rafting, paragliding, bungee jumping the works, so after a couple of days planning our next 6 weeks we knew that we’d probably leave Nepal having spent more than we were hoping. After all, the activities we would be doing were at a fraction of the price to what you’d pay back home.

All daily prices below are for the 2 of us (for all the non mathematicians, if you want single cost- divide by 2!).

Accommodation
As a rule a bed in Nepal is pretty cheap, and even more so when trekking. Often when up the mountain, teahouses will offer you a free bed for the night in exchange that you will eat all your meals in the teahouse during your stay. So while this figure is pretty low, this isn’t a true representation as our food cost is overstated due to silly mountain food prices. Our average accommodation per day over our time in Nepal was 325 rupees (£2.36) with our most expensive room being in Kathmandu at 600 rupees (£4.34) for which you get a double bedroom with own toilet and hot shower, a real luxury!
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Going gnarly in Nepal

Kathmandu
Touching down in Kathmandu we couldn’t wait to make up for the lack of decent snap up the mountain and to top up our depleted calorie intake with as much cheap booze as we could muster. Kathmandu was significantly hotter than we remembered so the hangover the next day was twice as nice. The sudden intake of booze and food also signaled the return of the Delhi belly for us both so this time, in a desperate attempt to finally rid us of this bug, we literally ‘trotted’ on down to the clinic returning ten minutes later with two fine samples in an airtight pot for them to poke at.

A very hot midnight snack Nepal Pokhara, Poon Hill Trek 004

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Nepal Ice Strong – Nepal

Nepal Pokhara, Poon Hill Trek 237
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