Ilha Grande

So, we arrived from Rio through a series of bungled transportation options, with 2 other British girls. To top it of, one of them got promoted to captain on the little fishing boat bringing us across to the island!

Ilha Grande is an old prison and lepper island, and thus not too popoular with the Brazilian tourist crowd, and this was low season, so at times, it felt like we had the place to our selves! The whole island does not have any cars, or paved roads. everything in Abraão, which is the biggest city, is within strolling distance along the beach. We had a hostel up the eastern end of the beach, overlooking town and the bay. Very nice and cruizy!

Our first day, we felt like some excersie, so we walked to a beach called Lopes Mendes. It is said to be one of Brazils most beatuiful beaches. It was ok, but Oz has better….



It was a nice walk through virgin rain forest, 2 hours each way, so by the end of it, we where pretty knackered. We contemplated catching a boat back, but persevered and walked back instead. We could feel the hills in our legs the next day!

And because of that, we spent the next day relaxing in town, strolling along the beach, dipping in the ocean every now and then, and eating ice cream. They got this brilliant concept here, where you have self serve ice cream parlours. So, you pay per the gram, and the price is not cheap, and you tell yourself that you will only have small scoops. Then you try and decide what you want to eat, and forget everything about the price, until you stand in front of the register with a 300g cone with only 2 scoops! And then you cant take it back of course. Twice we fell in this trap, although its hard to argue that we fell in it. I think we let ourselves be tricked… Of course, the street cake stalls have been very sweet to us too.

Anyways, I had wanted to go scuba diving, and I had heard about the helicopter being an interesting thing from the Lonely Planet. Turns out the helicopter is pretty boring, and the diving agencies where kind enough to tell me that visibility was not all that good. Max 4 meteres currently. So I passed. For future reference, 2 dives with all gear included was quoted as 150R. There is a wreck though, that looked quite interesting, and not too deep!

Instead, we signed up for a speed boat trip for snorkling, that included the helicopter. Hence Im not too upset, as I could see it wouldnt be all that. I think Sara was pleased as well, as she wasnt too keen on reading any more trashy novels while I was diving.

The snorkel trip included our very own celebrity travel reporter, who gave us some very helpful tips on São Paulo! She of course got the trip for free, while us normal humans had to pay….

Video of Sea Monster

Crazy puffer fish

The day was nice, although with had some overcast so it wasnt all that warm at times. However, the Island is great, and we could easily have spent another day there! Today, we have travelled to Parati, still getting closer to our deaprture for Norway.

View Ilha Grande in a larger map

Cannibal Holocaust

So, we didnt know too much about the Amazon, except that we were going to what was described to us as a frontier town of the Peruvian Amazon; Puerto Maldonado. A few months earlier, I had watched “Cannibal Holocaust”, and those were the impressions freshest in my mind…

It of course turned out to be nothing like it! The above is more for dramatic effect… We only carried DEET to protect ourselves.

We had decided to go to the Amazon when we first bought our tickets, without knowing what we would do there. Monday was spent pestering various tour agencies organising a spot for us, and choosing activities. We figured the Mystic Adventure offered by Explorers Inn sounded like a good thing. I was at the same time in the early stages of travellers diarrhoea, something which I kept with me for a good few days. This might have had an impact on my ability ot make rational decissions under pressure….

Anyways, we left on Tuesday with Sara clutching my knee again as we took of and landed only 40 minutes later. The usual pickup process and getting to know thy fellow guest rituals followed, and a 1hr bus ride and a 1.5hr boat ride later, we were at the lodge.

Exploreres Inn on Google Maps

Explorers Inn was very nice, and we settled in to some nice warm days, 30 degrees and sunny every day (something we have been missing)! We even got a bit of rain in the rain forrest!

Halfway through the second day, was when the first alarm bells appeared. We were walking back along a trail, and we were casualy told, that “this is what you will be drinking with the Shaman”. Ok, we will be drinking? What do you mean? “For the Ayahuasca session, stupid!”. Ok, but what do you mean???

At this stage, we were starting to wonder, and inquired a bit further and after the penny dropped, we explained to our guide what we were expecting… something like sitting around a camp fire and observing a magic ritual. What it turned out to be, what we had signed up for, was a hallucinating inner spiritual cleansing process… Not quite what we had on mind… We bailed out! It would start at 9pm on the last night (not quite sure why it had to be the last night…) and last between 3-5hrs in room 7D… It would be co-ordinated by a spanish speaking (and no, unfortunately, we still arent too good on the old spanish) Shaman and our 21 year old guide translating. Not our cup of tea at that stage! Note also the vomitting and diarhoea that might come from this!

Anyway, aside from the drama of the defunct mystic tour, we managed to do a lot of rainforest walks and relaxing. The rainforest was really nice and most days started at 5am with the howler monkeys and all of the birds in the forest. Our footwear was strictly gumboots (surprisingly comfortable despite the odd 10km walk we did) and as it was coming out of the rainy season, there were stretches of slippery mud. We saw a lot of cool plants, many of which had medicinal properties for the locals. We tried a few of these, like one stem that we were told to chew on and after a while we realised that it had anaesthetic properties!. There were lots of cool relationships in the rainforest too, like the tree that was living with soldier ants; the soldier ants kept the area around the tree clear of any other growth (about almost a meter radius) so the tree would not have to fight for nutrients and the ants survived on food from the middle of the tree. Another one that sticks in my mind is the tree whose bark looks like a particular snake and within its root is the antidote to the bite from the snake for the locals!

We also went to a fruit farm across the river and got to eat the flesh of the chocolate bean. Very nice, but no, it didnt taste like chocolate…

We decided to stick to the nature stuff, of which I have a few pictures below:

In the jungle...

Lago Cotacotcha


Lago Copacotcha

Brazil nuts



Lady in the sunset


I also included another video, of a crazy ant trail, they was very impressive! The Amazon is definately something we would do again!

Malaysia trip

We left Friday night on the red eye with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur. I have to say the airline is a bit overrated. Economy class seems to just become more uncomfortable… We had booked a flight with AirAsia to Sandakan on Saturday, so that we could fly directly to Penang from Kota Kinabalu when we left Sabah. We knew if was an 8 hour wait, but we had thought the LCCT terminal was a bit more comfortable than it turned out to be. Turns out that upgrades where due to be completed 2 weeks after we used it.

Us buggered on the only seats available, outside

We had also booked a stay with Sepilok Jungle Resort for 3 nights. It was great! We arrived in the afternoon, and enjoyed a great dinner outside.


Next morning we went to the Orangutan Reserve. It was quite educational, and very nice!

Commanding silence
Commanding silence!

Cruising down the jungle freeway
Cruising down the jungle freeway!


Macaque playing

Orang Utan eating

After lunch, we went on an overnight tour to Bilit, along the Kinabatangan River.

Cruising down the river


We did an afternoon river cruise, where we saw lots!

Promiscuous Proboscis monkeys

We saw more longtailed Macaque, Proboscis monkeys and lots of different birds! We skipped the night walk, as it would just be to many leeches we figured. Next morning we had an early river cruise, before we headed back to Sepilok.

Once back, we went for a city tour of Sandakan. We saw the war memorial from the Sandakan death marches, the city market and the floating village.


This was our last night in Sepilok, so we went on a guided tour of the Orang Utan centre with a ranger. I was really struggling with the humidity, but it was so interesting! We saw vipers, stick bugs and birds. We both loved it! Even though Sara was very apprehensive in regards to the leeches.

We cought the bus to Ranou and Poring Hot Springs Tuesday morning. We missed out one the morning bus, but got there just before sunset anyways. The springs where not too inviting for us, but the Canopy walkway and the Butterfly farm where nice!

Up high

We left the springs aiming to catch the express bus to KK, however, it was full, and we where rather rudely rejected. We figured we walk in to city center, but got picked up after less than 100m by a very friendly driver who was going to Kota Kinabalu, so we went with him the whole way. Very good service! KK was ok, we got a room at the Daya hotel and chilled for the night, before leaving for Penang very early the next morning (Thursday).

Us on our Balcony at the Golden Sands resort in Batu Ferengi in Penang.

Since we where all checked in to our resort before 1100 in the morning, we spent the day familiarizing ourselves with the area. The comfort we where presented with was almost uncomfortable, but oh so nice!

From the spice gardens

Flying Squirrel

What fruit is this on the fruit farm?

Going up Penang Hill

Had to try the snake… Its a Burmese Python, so not very dangerous

Sara kept accumulating mozzie bites….

Its hard too see, but a Burqa seems to be no problem when parasailing!

After 3 nights in Penang, we left for Cameron Highlands on a very quiet Sunday morning. The bus drive felt like it took forever! Once in Tana Ratah, we where picked up and talken to our Hostel. We spent the afternoon exploring and making arrangements for a tour the next morning, before our bus to Kuala Lumpur. That night we had a awesome Banana Leaf dinner at a local Indian restaurant, it was huge!

Flycatcher in the mossy forest

The area has lots of tea plantations! Home of the BOH tea.

How the tea is collected, you also got the scissor method and the machine method

Had to hold the Scorpion too!

Monday afternoon we caught the express bus to Kuala Lumpur, it had 3 seats in a row, so very roomy! We stayed at the Federal in Batu Bintang. The shopping and business district of town!

KL was hot and humid, we spent the first half of Tuesday doing our tourist stops, going to KL tower. Had a great lunch at Blue Boys vegetarian!

Wednesday morning we went to Batu caves, north of KL. A big Hindu temple north of town. The monkeys here where very cheeky!

We watched as a kid got robbed of his drink can by this monkey. Kid wasn’t too impressed.

The rest of the day and Thursday was spend shopping, before another disappointing red eye flight back to Sydney.

Great holiday!