Archive for February, 2009

tropical beer notes #2

February 25, 2009

Royal Stout – Malaysia – 8%

Easygoing, chocolatey, ‘same same’, sweet – you can feel the alcohol warmth. The label reminds me of a certain omnipresent chocolate brand, and coming in at a huge 8% it did reduce your humble correspondent to something of a cadbury.

Beers tend to fit into a ‘mega brand lager’/’very strong’ division up here. Perhaps with the cost of booze being quite high for the locals it’s temping to hop into a special brew or bear beer and let all your troubles quickly/far too quickly slip away. 12/20


the bed bit me

February 23, 2009

It’s a rite of initiation for all budget travellers: bites from the bed.

About 40 in total, all over. Red, then a sort of purple (eek!) – a child actually pointed at my leg in horror. Still there, although faded, a week later. And really, really itchy.

What are they? Vote in our poll! (yes, we just worked out we can do polls on this thing…)

hammock o’clock

February 15, 2009

There was much talk of hammocks in the lead-up to our departure on this trip. So after sweating it out in Singapore and Melaka, the time had come to channel our inner beach bums and induce some serious loafing.

A smelly, noisy local bus (archetypal feature of our travels so far) ferried us to Cherating. Lonely Planet occasionally hits the nail on the head with its descriptions: “This is truly nowhere; how delightful.” Surrounded by a strip of resorts, Cherating proper is solely comprised of a few shops; a handful of A-frame chalets; an eatery or two, and not much else. The surf apparently rips in the monsoon (Cherating was host to a Billabong Pro Am competition in December) but we only splish-splashed around in shallow, warm waters.

Our place at Cherating was not unlike, say, the Kalbarri caravan park and in our experience, such places tend to attract the sorts of mildly crazy characters who rolled in one day a decade ago and never quite got around to leaving. If you were writing a novel about such a place, you might like to consider including characters such as:

Our near neighbour, David, who has rented his chalet for “cheap” (uh, dude, it’s cheap anyway…) for the better part of 8 years in exchange for keeping the gardens tidy. Upper-crust British accent and slightly wonky eye. Regaled us numerous times with tales of his encounters with wild pigs and other “beasties” while mountain biking through the jungle. The guys who run the place buy him half a dozen boxes of Raisin Bran on their regular trips to Kuantan. Always clean shaven but we didn’t see him don a shirt in our entire week there. Not once.

The Canadian organic vegie farmer, Taj, who has been spending the winter in Cherating for the past few years. Lived in Jamaica for 14 years before that. A wardrobe solely consisting of lurid boardies and friendship bracelets. Used to be a quarterback in his youth. Friends with Douglas (see below). Loves “Flight of the Conchords” (what a champion).

“Douglas from Perth”. Bought a house in Leederville about 30 years ago; the rent keeps him happily making friendship bracelets and selling them by the beach.

We were lucky enough to befriend a Frenchman, Samir, who gave Catie some welcome relief from “Dodd rants”. Bonded over shared passions for politics-talk and rising late.

We also befriended the proprietors of the next door Payung Cafe who kindly invited us to their 17th wedding anniversary/daughter’s 10th birthday celebrations on our last night. Wonderful hospitality, tasty BBQ and they also make the best scrambled eggs in town.

As much as we would’ve liked to, it might have been a bit tragic if we’d fallen victim to the “never quite got around to leaving” syndrome so early in our travels. So we set off north for Malaysia’s showpiece islands, the Perhentians.

(Insert mildly annoying incident involving a wayward ATM machine and Catie’s card, resulting in an unforeseen overnight stay in Kemaman: home to the world’s most helpful bank employees and smelliest meat ‘n’ fish market. Needless to say, we ate vego while we were there.)


The Perhentians are the stuff of postcards. The clearest water we’ve ever seen; no joke. Highlights included a daily breakfast of roti canai (the Malaysian relative of the formerly mentioned roti prata) and snorkelling with leatherback turtles and reef sharks.

The main characters in “Trapped in Paradise” included the hilarious/exasperating “manager” (for want of a better word) of our guesthouse: think a Malay Basil Fawlty. Oh, and some really, really hot Swedes.

Thanks to an ideally-located hammock but 2 metres from the sand, we chowed through a small smorgasbord of books and will soon be adding a list of our literary conquests to the blog.

Back to mainland civilisation today and a few days in the unassuming town of Kota Bharu (friendliest city-folk to date) before hopping aboard the ominously titled “Jungle Railway” to Malaysia’s premier national park, Taman Negara.

tropical beer notes #1

February 15, 2009

tiger beer

Originally uploaded by Catie & Linds

Tiger Beer – Singapore – 5%

Fizzy, cooling, identifiable as beer. Pretty much what you want when it’s 37 degrees and 98% humidity. A bit on the pricey side in Lee Kuan Yew‘s Singapore and Allah’s Malaysia, but that just makes it taste all the sweeter.