perjantai 21. elokuuta 2015

The Road Warriors

We enjoyed our scooter drive on Wednesday, so we decided to rent bikes again on Friday. As it was a public holiday it was hard to find a rental place which was open. The place we rented our scooters before had all scooters rented out already. After a while of searching we finally found a place that had scooters. Unfortunately only two of them. So our solution to our situation was that Janne and Santeri both rented actual motorcycles from the place we made our rent on Wednesday. Eero and Jussi rented the two scooters we found earlier. Finally we were ready for our drive.

The driving was a lot easier and it felt a lot more conformable compared to last time. This time we headed to the eastern part of the island. The new route allowed us to drive quite long and wide roads. It was a hot day and it felt cooling as the wind breezed while driving. Our first stop was a huge eagle statue by the sea, some sort of Langkawi attraction. After a short break we continued our travels. There was this group of local kids that started to drive along side of us for a while. They seemed to be excited about us westerns. They said that they could lead us to our next destination, but somehow we managed to loose them (We actually took the wrong turn and headed to wrong direction for a short while). Once we got back on the right track, we stopped again by a beach and enjoyed the view. It didn't take long from there that we ended up in a beach within a guarded area. We had to stop at a gate and a guard gave us this rule sheet for the place, which we had to sign. The beach we reached was peaceful and apparently there was a hotel in the area. We wanted to go for a swim but we decided to head back to the guest house we were staying and go for a swim in the beach there. We met a couple of cows when walking to the beach and again we were accompanied by Rocky.

As it was our last night, we decided to have a three course meal for our last meal in Langkawi. We found this restaurant that served a wide variation of food. There was Italian, Indian, Chinese and even Mexican food. Everyone were satisfied with their meals and it was quite cheap if you compare it to prices in Finland (Around 80 ringits per person). Thus came our journey in Langkawi to its end.

We pre-ordered a taxi for Saturday morning through the hosts. On Saturday morning the taxi arrived just as we had requested at 6:45 am. It was a successful trip and we had a life lasting experience. Definitely would recommend the place for exchange students next year.

Eero, Janne, Santeri

The Island

On Wednesday evening we decided that we would go island hopping the next day. On Thursday morning we managed to book the trip in just 20 minutes notice. We went to our hostels reception and asked is it still possible to go to the trip. The owner kindly called to the island hopping organizers and asked them to pick us up from our hostel. 15 minutes later a car arrived to pick us up. After squeezing to the small van we headed to the harbor. The trip took only about 10 minutes. After arriving to the shore we were guided to the boats. The weather was beautiful. The sun was shining and the clouds didn't bother us during that day. Our group climbed into a motorboat and so our journey began. Quickly we headed to the sea and towards our first location.

Island No.1

After 20 minute ride we arrived to the first island on the list. We had no idea what to expect. The driver told us that we had 1 hour until we would have to return to the boat. We followed the stairs into the jungle and eventually ended up seeing a giant fresh water lake inside the island. The place was inhabited by monkeys, swarming around the trail. We quickly wen't down to the lake to swim exhausted from the heat. The water was cool and refreshing. it was a really great experience. When the time was running out we headed back to the boat. On our trip back we witnessed some hostile actions by the monkeys. The tourists has been feeding the monkeys over the years which has made the monkeys to bother the people for any scraps of food. Before leaving Janne bought a snickers and one of the monkeys started to pull his shorts in order to get something to eat. Another monkey hanged on my towel which didn't bother me that much but some poor woman with candy got a monkey harassing her much more aggressively. After reaching our boat we would continue to the next location.


We started to head out to the next place on the list, still no idea where we were going. After about a 15 minutes our boat arrived to this small water area surrounded by eagles. The sky was full of them. The drivers of the boats threw meat next to the boats so that we could get a closer look at those magnificent animals. After a while we continued to our last island.

Don't feed the monkeys!

Again unsure of our destination we continued our trip. This time it only took about 5 minutes for us to arrive to the next island. This place was the kind you see in postcards and movies. The beach contained palm trees and white sand. We headed a bit further from the other tourists and laid to the sand hoping to get a little tan. It didn't take long until we got company. A monkey came to sit next to Jussi. At first it seemed harmless and we just let it be. Soon it would start acting aggressively and trying to steal our and other tourists stuff from the bags. One lady had left her purse on her towel and the monkey wen't to steal something from it. Janne quickly reacted to the situation and managed to drive the monkey away. Soon another monkey came along. This one was even more aggressive. It was running around with it's teeth out harassing the little group of people we had around us. We moved closer to the other people and after a while we headed back to the boat and to the harbor.

After arriving to the harbor we got a lift back to our hostel. The trip was over all success. We really enjoyed our time and it was exciting to witness some wild life. If you are going to the island hopping trip we recommend you to pack as light as possible. Just put on your swimming gear and take a towel, hat and sunscreen with you.


After showering all the sand away back at the hostel, we headed to the city to grab something to eat. We ended up to a sea restaurant were we all had something that we hadn't tried before on our trip. After a good meal we headed back to the hostel to get ourselves ready for the beach. We went to the hostels common room were we enjoyed a few beers and hanged out with a German couple that we had met the other day. They said that they would be happy to join us. Soon we began to leave and for our surprise one of the hostel owners dogs came with us to show the way. We quickly named him Rocky! The sun was slowly setting but the temperature was still high. Rocky walked in front of us the whole way to the beach and every once in a while he would check that everyone from the pack is still present. After reaching our destination we played a while with the dog and after that he would return to the hostel. We swam at the ocean and witnessed the sunset. It was quite astonishing.

We headed back to the hostel and after refreshing up we went out to eat to a Indian restaurant. We all agreed that the food there was amazing and one of the best we had eaten during our trip. After finishing our meals we wen't to walk to the main beach and hanged out for a bit just listening the sounds of ocean and thunder in the horizon.

Eero, Janne, Santeri

Road Trip

On Wednesday we rented scooters. We asked a recommendation from the Zackry's staff and they guided us to one of the nearest rental places. We all took scooters, which cost only 40 ringgit (9,5 €) per scooter. The traffic is left-hand in Malaysia, so it took us some time to get used to driving on the left side of the road. The traffic is much more free flowing than in Finland. Cars pass scooters all the time, even if there's oncoming traffic, but everything goes quite smoothly because people give space to each other.

First thing we did was to fill up our scooters. Petrol is cheap in Malaysia, one liter cost around 2 ringgit (0,5 €). You pay first and then fill up. If you pay more than your tank can take, you can claim the left over money back from the counter. Gas stations are good places to buy water, soft drinks and snacks to get energy when traveling across the island.

We had a map with us so it was easy to spot places of interest. We stopped at a waterfall, which was the highest waterfall in Langkawi. There was a small pond under the waterfall, so we took a dip.

When we drove back to the town we ate at a Mexican restaurant Eero saw earlier. After having amazing burritos we returned the scooters and headed to the beach.

Sante and Eero

Passed a harbor


Road in the jungle

Pit stop

Eero, Janne, Santeri

The Second Arrival

On Tuesday we went to have a short vacation in Langkawi, Malaysia. It's an archipelago of 104 islands, around 30 km off the mainland Malaysia. The main island Langkawi Island is duty-free, so it's quite cheap there. The flight from Singapore to Langkawi took only a little over an hour. When we arrived at the airport the weather was cloudy. Weather forecasts are not reliable in tropics, so don't worry if you see only rain and thunderstorms forecast during your trip.

We took a prepaid taxi from a taxi counter and started our trip to the Zackry Guest House, where we would stay on our vacation. The staff was friendly and told us about local activities. The rooms were cozy. Zackry has a self service beverage station based on honesty system. There were yogurts, soft drinks and beer in a fridge. They cost 2 ringgit (around 0,50 €) a piece. After unpacking we made our way to a restaurant. The guy who took our order recognized our accents and, to our surprise, spoke a few words of Finnish to us. The food was inexpensive and great.

After eating we wandered around the town. Most of the traffic and informative signs are in Malay, but we didn't met a person who wouldn't speak English and generally people were helpful. After checking out part of the town we went to the beach. There are many beach bars, which have tables on the beach. Some of the bars play music and some don't, so there's variety whether you want more party-like atmosphere or just relax listening the ocean and watching stars.

Road to the guest house

At guest house

Bar at the beach

Eero, Janne, Santeri

lauantai 25. heinäkuuta 2015

Dinner Rush

4th of July we wanted to do  a "Anthony Bourdain" trip. The idea was to visit some the places Anthony visited in his show the Layover during the Singapore episode. The places we picked were: Tiong Bahru Market, Tanglin Halt Hawker Center, Chin Chin Eating House, Bismillah Biryani and Samy's Curry. We looked up the places from map and planned out a perfect route for our eat-a-thon. When we arrived at the first place on our list, we found a huge hole in our plan: We didn't look up the opening hours of the places we were going to visit. Some food courts close quite early, especially on weekends. So, if you want to visit some particular booth, go there early in the morning or afternoon.

The first place we ate at was Samy's Curry House. Anthony recommended curry fish head there, so we ordered that. The dinner was served on banana leaves and the main dish was served from a big clay pot. The food was delicious and the whole experience was memorable. Because we didn't look up the opening hours (and food courts don't show opening hours for individual booths), we didn't have the change to visit the other places in our list. Still, the trip was successful, as the food we ate was great and we had the change to saw the city more.

Curry Fish Head

Our feast

11th of July we went to Sungei Road Thieves Market, which is the last big open air flea market in Singapore. It is popular among tourists and locals alike. The market has been there since the 1930s. The selection was wide, you can find everything from vinyl records, medals presenting Chinese leader, hand made Terminator figures made of scrap metal to vintage cameras and watches. The place can be hard to find, as there are construction sites at the area. The market is going to close in 2017.  So don't wait for long if you want to visit there. You can find interesting gifts from there so it is worth to go to the Thieves market and have a look at the wares. Santeri and Janne bought Singaporean army jackets, which cost only S$10 a piece.

Thieves market
Janne and Santeri with their new jackets

sunnuntai 19. heinäkuuta 2015

The Constant Gardener

On 3rd of July we decided to visit Gardens at the bay, which is a park consisting of three water front gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central. It was easy to get there with MRT as a station is near Marina South Pier at the end of North South line. Although afterwards we realized that Bayfront station would've been closer choice. The station that we stopped was right at the seashore and as it was dark we could only see the lights coming from boats and ships. The pier wasn't surrounded by anything interesting. We spot couple of construction sites and you could see the city skyline beyond the sites.

It didn't take us long to reach the Gardens. We are not sure which entrance we took in but the park guard showed us the way to Supertree Grove. We'd advice to visit the park at least twice, during both the day and night time. Because at night you can't see the plants and the garden ornaments but you can enjoy the lights, city skyline and the lighted Supertree Grove.

Arriving to the gardens

Supertree Grove

From foot of a Supertree

After having a little break at the foot of a Supertree we headed through Marina Bay Sands hotel to get to the water front. The views were spectacular and again can't be described by words. We walked around the river and at the end of the evening we relaxed at the shore and saw a light show. Here are the pictures of the night.




Water front

Light show

Our group

Another from water front

Eero, Janne, Santeri

lauantai 18. heinäkuuta 2015

Confessions of a Shopaholic

On Sunday 28th, we (Janne and Santeri) decided to visit Orchard Road, a huge shopping street. The first thing that draw our attention was the large crowd of people. Even thought we've stayed here in a big city for a quite a while now, this was the first time we felt suffocated by the number of people in the same area. The street had narrow side walks filled with both locals and tourists.

Orchard road

We heard that there was a video game store that sells retro games and we tried to locate the shop as soon as possible so we wouldn't have to stay in the crowd. We found the place and it turned out not to be a store that sells retro games. After leaving the game shop we stumbled into a tailor shop which sign said "Tervetuloa suomalaiset asiakkaat" ("Welcome Finnish customers" in English). The owner had had Finnish customers and spoke few words of our beloved mother tongue.

The Orchard road and it's neighbouring area have a lot of malls, many right next to each other. It's easy to get by the underground tunnels that connect the malls. Afterwards we visited Orchard road again to visit Kinokuniya a huge book store (This time Eero came along as well). Kinokuniya is located in the Ngee Ann City shopping centre.

Ngee Ann City

It was a pleasant surprise to find a large comic book section at the book store. Janne two science-fiction books: Perdido Street Station by China Miéville and Sand by Hugh Howey and a graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman. Eero picked up two books as well, both graphic novels: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons as well as Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli. Because the store had such a large selection, we consider visiting Kinokuniya one more time before our departure back to Finland.

Big Damn Sin City (and Eero) 

The comic book section at Kinokuniya

ION Orchard

Bulldog statue

Eero, Janne, Santeri