Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mulu national park

I have been supposed to write this post for weeks, nearly months but I haven't been very inspired...
We were in good company (C&S were still around), we were on the amazing island of Borneo, the accommodation was brand new,
the national park was well organised; everything was in place for a brilliant time, but may be it was just a little bit too nice, not really what you expect from a few days in the Malaysian jungle.

I'll tell you what we did and what we saw anyway!

First, we took the shortest flight ever, less than 30 minutes between Miri and Mulu. You might think it's excessive, but the other options were 8h in a 4*4 or 12h on a boat with no guaranty of arriving! See, my carbon footprint could have been worse ;-)
As mentioned everything is organised in this park, so before lunch, we book all tours we want to do as guides are mandatory for pretty much everything! We'll discover later that there is no reason for that...
As a warm up to the jungle we borrow the keys to the watch tower from where we see... Nothing. The jungle is really noisy but animals are doing a really good job at staying hidden!

First proper excursion is to the very famous local caves (Deer cave and the other one which I have forgotten the name of...), there are indeed gigantic. If i remember well, you could fit 7 747 (the planes) in it!!! Never seen anything that big before! In some places, the roof has collapsed so suddenly the light has been allowed inside which creates some gardens in the middle of this huge cave.
We came to see the famous escape of millions of bats from the cave at sunset, unfortunately it is raining so heavily that it doesn't happen and we really get soaked! (if you pay really good attention to the photo below you can see the gigantic entrance of the cave from where the bats are supposed to come out from)
2nd day is our full day trip, we wanted to go "advanced caving" but we didn't have a certificate (yep, apparently you need to bring your caving certificate when you go on holiday...) so we were offered the option of doing a trial but that would have messed up our schedule and it was apparently full of snakes (a special type of snakes who likes caves!). So we opted for a different option, boat trip followed by a few more caves where we spotted a few tiny bats (they seem much bigger in vampire films!) and the usual stalagmites, stalagtites.
then we went for a dip in the river (luckily we didn't meet any animals while in the water apart from a couple of pretty butterflies which I am definitely putting pictures of on this blog as I' have no other animals for this post!!!!!!!!)
and then we decided to walk back instead of taking the boat. We did go through the most fun cave (on our own, the guide took the boat back), it was pitch black and the pathway was very narrow, good fun! 
If I remember well it was called moonmilk cave, the inside was completely white with some rounded shapes usually seen on videos from lunar expedition. We only saw that thanks to C&S good organisation, obviously R and I go caving without headlights...

On the way back, no animal whatsoever, the jungle is really not what it used to be...

In order to make the most out of this trip, we decide to squeeze another walk in this 2nd day, this time no guide! We are going to the waterfalls. It's muddy, it's slippery, we are not really sure of where we are heading and there are leaches all over the place. It's S turn to discover this pleasure!
Ok the waterfalls were ridiculous but it was the most jungle-like walk of the WE!

On the final day we do the canopy walk. There is 800m of bridges at 25m height, going from tree to tree; quite an amazing design,
not a single nail has been used on the trees which support the entire installation, but once again no animals whatsoever :-(((((

Finally the long WE is over, the Singaporeans have to go back to work, leaving the Parisians on Borneo, but before this WE is off, here are a couple of photos from Miri's beach. First fishermen targetting jumping prawns and then the local offshore platform seen from the beach (ok zoom 18...)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Photo of the month: Windows

No, no, no,no,no
I was prepared, I had everything but I forgot to post it on time...

This month I prepared well in advance! Photo was taken end of last month, and I'm typing this at least 3 days in advance!

So, the theme of the month is: Windows. In English, it feels like taking a photo of your computer but I went for the original meaning of the word and I didn't go very far: This is a photo of the awesome windows of one of the shophouses of our street.

Living in Chinatown is great, these old little chinese houses are everywhere, I love them!

And here is what the other members make of this month's subject:
100driiine, A&G, Alice, Anne, Astrid, blogoth67, Carnets d'Images, Caro, Caroline, Cécy, Céliano, Céline, Céline in Paris, Cherrybee, Chouchou, Clara, Claude, Cynthia, Damien, Doremi, Doréus, Dorydee, Dr. CaSo, E, Eddy, Eff'Zee'Bee, Ennairam, Fabienne, François, Frankonorsk, Frédéric, Genki, Gilsoub, Grignette, hibiscus, Isabelle, Jo Ann, Krn, La Madame, L'azimutée, Le Loutron Glouton, Les Caribous-bou-bou, M, magda627, Mandy, Marie, Marion, M'dame Jo, Maureen, Nathalie, Nicopompus & SeriesEater, Noelia, Nolwenn, Olivier, Onee-Chan, Où trouver à Montréal ?, Paris by Mag!, 4 petits suisses dans un bol de riz, Sébastien, Shandara, Stephane08, Tambour Major, The Breathless Quills, The Parisienne, Thib, Titem, Un jour-Montreal, Urbamedia, Véronique, Virginie et Viviane.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anambas islands or how to dive wrecks?

To be honest, the title is a bit of a lie because we never step a foot on these islands. I suppose the trip was only called Anambas islands because of the proximity of the main wreck to these little bits of grounds sticking out in the middle of the south china sea.

Anyway I won't keep you too long today as I have absolutely no photo whatsoever of this trip. We went diving and it was a liveabord WE; one of these great WE where you get on a boat in Singapore on Friday evening, the boat sails when you sleep, you dive, you eat, you sleep and they drop you back in Singapore on Sunday evening! You are completely assisted and I love Asia for that (at least the lazy side of me loves it!)

Anyway, for the keen divers in my readers: 
we did 6 dives, the first 2 on the 7 skies wreck. It's a tanker (so I'm on home ground:-) and it's really deep: 62m! So we only saw the top of it at 35m, strong current, very little time down there and I run out of air (thanks R for rescuing me...) so not the most fun...
Some of the people with us on the boat dived this one wearing dry suit and carrying a total of 6 bottles!!! Apparently it's called technical diving and it doesn't look too much fun!
Dive 3, nothing exciting, apparently I have become picky after the walls, the sharks, the turtles and the manta rays of layang-layang...
Dive 4 was a night dive, my first one since my advanced open water. It was cool, very relaxing! But I did manage to get cold in 29C water wearing a long wet suit... 
Dive 5 and 6, now we are talking! Iguana wreck, another tanker, actually half of it, they managed to secure the other half before it sank, so it is still now sailing around the world attached to a brand new aft!
Anyway, this one was awesome! There were lots of cracks in the cargo tanks so you could cross from port to starboard, visiting the cargo tanks in between! Great corals and fish and brilliant super structure!!!! 
Apologies, the engineer in me is coming out...
I have probably talked enough for a day without photo, so I'll stop now!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Guggenheim in Marina Bay sands

R was treating me to a night out in the brand new theatre of Marina Bay sands when at the break I got a chance to take a couple of pictures of the lobby.
R and I then started an argument about does it look like the Guggenheim or not? For me it was a copy cat for him, may be in the spirit of the rounded shapes...
When we figured out that I was talking about the Guggenheim in NYC and he was talking about the one in Bilbao, we ended up being both right! (great for couple peace...)

Little note for a very good friend of mine:
Dear F, I'm sure you will agree that it looks exactly like our cups! ;-)

One of our housemates

I was going to pour myself a glass a water when I met him...

There are called gekko, we have plenty at home, they love hiding behind picture frames, leaving poo everywhere on my walls, eating mosquitoes and obviously drinking my water...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Malacca, a city under dutch, portuguese and british influences

We had kept this destination for a last minute WE trip and after months of WE well organised in advanced, we are finally short of organised trips so we decide to use the back up plan!

Malacca is on the east coast of Malaysia. A couple of hundreds km south of KL. According to me it should take 3h by bus from Singapore, according to R it's 4h30 and in reality it's closer to 7!!!! And I fully blame the Malaysian immigration for that: we waited for more than 3h at the border to have the pleasure or should I say the privilege, to enter Malaysia! They have a new finger print system which is rather quick but they haven't thought of the IT  power required to run it!
Anyway after finishing a full book, coming close to dying of starvation, we finally make it to Malacca!!! Actually to the giant warehouse they use as a bus station
When we finally get to the city centre, we start exploring Chinatown which looks surprisingly like our Singaporean Chinatown: it has a buddhist temple, but also a mosque (which looks like a pagoda) and an Hindu temple! A culture melting pot!

The Buddhist temple is the oldest one in south east Asia, it's small but quite beautiful indeed.
For the cultural side of the WE we go to the local peranakan museum (mix of Malaysian and Chinese culture), it's a privately run museum where everything reminds you of how much the Asian culture is based on being rich and showing it when us, Europeans feel so uncomfortable about it.
We then move on to the old quarter where the Dutch influence can be felt with red painted buildings all around.
Then I'm not really sure which ex-colonial empire we can blame these brightly decorated trickshaw on...
And at the top of the hill appears the Portuguese influence: an old church with carved stones showing ships and pirates!

This city is very lively at the difference of most of the other ones we have been to in SE Asia, the streets are crowded at night, the restaurants are full, ok may be the school holidays do help a bit!
It feels like quite a nice place to live and the closeness to the sea can't be a bad thing either!