Month 11: Travel Summary and Statistics

Greetings from Thailand! We’re in the country’s second city, Chiang Mai and it’s scorching! Humidity levels are high. Infrequent thunderstorms a blessed relief! Here’s what we have been up to over the last four weeks.

We started the month back in Borneo in the frankly horrible town of Semporna. The town is the launch pad of diving trips to world-famous Sipadan and Mabul and most divers have to spend a night here. But we got lucky and had to spend three due to the scheduling of our flight back from Kalimantan.

We were diving with Scuba Junkie again. When we went dived in Komodo National Park, we went with their sister organisation Scuba Junkie Komodo and they had a lot to live up to. We had booked four days of diving that enabled us to get a permit to dive for one day in Sipadan. Regularly named as one of the top dive sights in the world, we had high hopes and it was a great day especially seeing the swirling schools of jackfish and barracuda.Chris diving at SipadanEliza diving Sipadan with jackfish

After getting back to dry land we headed to Sepilok and enjoyed a wonderful morning at the Sunbear Conservation Centre. Sunbears are the world’s smallest bear and under threat of extinction from logging, illegal captivity and poaching. Their paws and gall bladders are highly prized in Chinese medicine.Young sun bear, Sun bear conservation centreAdult sunbear climbing a tree

We spent a couple of days on the Kinabatangan River and saw long-tailed macaques, others, proboscis monkeys and amazingly a wild orangutan and her baby. Alas she was too quick and camouflaged for us to get a decent photo, but a memory to be treasured.Young long-tailed macaquesBaby long-tailed macaques
Juvenile proboscis monkey
Egret, taking flight.Borneo Dwarf Kingfisher

If you’re feeling hungry brace yourself, as the rest of this update is going to be all about street food. First up, George Town.

George Town in Penang, Malaysia is considered to be one of the best places in South East Asia for street food and we have to agree.

There was Assam Laksa at Jooi Cafe.Fish laksa

Wan Tan Mee from a tiny stall just a few minutes walk from our guesthouse.Wan Tan Mee, George Town, Penang

Popiah on Kimberley Street.Popiah

Cha Koah Taw served on street stalls all over town.Cha Koah Taw

And delicious dessert Cendol on Lebuh Keng Kwee. 
Chendal, Really popular stand

There are two popular stalls on this street. One with a large queue serving its cendol in orange bowls and one with a huge queue that uses blue bowls. We sampled both and the orange bowl won.

When we weren’t eating we were busy snapping photos of the town’s incredible street art.Eliza on swing street art

Street art of George Town

From George Town we took a couple of trains over the border into Thailand and a flight up to Chiang Mai in the north with the intention of staying for a month to climb, do yoga and eat!

We’ve made significant inroads to the later, sampling most of the dishes at Chiang Mai Gate market including:

Som Tam, our favourite fiery green papaya saladSom Tam: a fiery, sweet, sour green papaya salad

Pad Thai … in an omelette ‘bag’Pad thai encased in an omlet, North Gate Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai’s famous Khao Soi, a moorish coconut curry noodle soup Khao Soi, often chicken, but can be vegetarian: a creamy curry with egg noodles and crispy fried noodles

Delicious barbecued goodness with spicy marinade

Grilled skewers, Chiang Mai

And steamed, grilled eggs!Grilled eggs: the shell is emptied, the white and yoke whisked and seasoned. The shell is refilled, steamed then grilled before eating.

Now to climb some mountains to work it all off!

Stats of the month

Countries visited: Malaysia, Thailand

Places visited: 7

Semporna, Mabul, Sipadan, Sepilok, Kinabatangan, Kota Kinabalu, George Town, Chiang Mai

Money spent: £42.31 / $51.42 per person, per day

Distance travelled: 3960 km / 2460m

Meal of the month:

Cendol, no assam laksa, no som tam, no khao soi, cendol… we’re going with cendol! This dessert is the perfect antidote on a hot day. Shaved ice over green jelly noodles made from rice flour and padan leaf which give them a fragrant note, creamy coconut milk, a splash of condensed milk and rich molasses like palm sugar. In George Town they add red kidneys beans which give a slight savoury edge.Chendal, Popular stand

 

Next steps:

Finally we are pulling on our harnesses on and heading out to Crazy Horse Buttress for some outdoor climbing action. We’ve signed up to a cooking class to learn the secrets of Northern Thai cuisine and plan to volunteer at an Elephant sanctuary.

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