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Entries about waterfalls

Langkawi, Malaysia

Island hop number 4: Over than Malaysian border!

sunny 40 °C

The speedboat ride from Ko Lipe was literally like being on a rollercoaster for an hour, with added water sprays at regular intervals. We were very glad that not only had we saved money by taking the ferry between Lanta and Lipe, but the additional two hours on the journey time were more than worth it to avoid three hours on a speedboat.

We took a taxi across the island to our accommodation, which instead of being 300m from the sea as implied by our Rough Guide's clearly inaccurate scale, turned out to be 1.5km away. We got some lunch and then spent the remainder of the afternoon on the beach until the sun went down at half 7.

The following day, we went up the mountain on the Langkawi cable car. The journey took about 10 minutes to the top and offered excellent views over the forest as you headed up in the little 6 seater car. At the top, their were a couple of viewing platforms allowing you to see the entirety of the island.

Just up the road from the cable car is Telega Tujuh Waterfalls, otherwise known as Seven Pools. The walk to the top involved a gruelling 500 step climb fortunately in the shade of the forest. We arrived at the top, and having read that the pools are best visited in wet season, which finished two months ago, we were pleasantly surprised by the waterfall. This waterfall flows down rocks which over the years have smoothed in places, making a 50m stretch of natural waterslides running into seven different pools.

Chris did his usual dance as he reluctantly submerged himself into one of the cool fresh water pools as I decided I would just slide right in. I walked along the rocks and attempted to join one of the slides halfway down, slipped and ended up rather ungracefully sliding down into the water at a very strange angle. Chris was naturally very pleased he didn't miss this, mocking that yes my way was better. I now have quite a bruise on my bottom from this fall!

We spent the next hour or so sliding between the pools, which seemed like they had formed especially to create a water park. Occasionally when you did slide out of control, you worried about what rock you would hit under the water, yet they were all smoothed at the right angle and as they were covered in wet moss, you would just slide straight off. The last two pools were round private looking infinity pools with sheer 100m drops the other side.

We started off walking through the woods along the waterfall, but you couldn't see much and we were not too fussed about going to the top and so returned for a little more sliding around.

Although these were some of the least picturesque waterfalls we have seen, other than the infinity pool drops, they were definitely the most fun and therefore secure a place in our top three waterfalls of the trip.

On our final full day on Langkawi, we visited the two main beaches. The white sands at Cenang beach were very pretty, but the constant stream of jet skis ruined any chance of it being considered paradise. After lunch, we returned to Tengah beach, where we spent the first day and enjoyed the peaceful golden sands.

A high percentage of the Malaysian population follows the religion of Islam and we had wondered how Islamic women manage to enjoy the seas, joking they go in head scarf and all. Turns out they do and just walk straight in dressed head to toe in their normal Islamic dress. What must they think of these western women going in and laying around in the equivalent of underwear? Even the men seemed to keep their t-shirts on.

On Sunday, we had a ferry booked at 5pm to Penang and so headed out late towards the beach. We decided to give the 6D cinema a go out of curiosity. To make it 6D, the film was played in 3D, which according to Chris was of average quality at best, the seats moved, but not the screen, making it difficult to watch and then there was random water sprayed at the beginning and wind jets throughout. Having visited Futuroscope some 15 or so years ago, despite all the many technological advances since, found that to be far better, as the seat movement here seemed to bear little to no relation to the film being showed.

Lunch was a large slice of chocolate cheesecake in a cute little English tea house. Although the building and decoration inside resembled nothing you would find in England, the tea was perfect, served in proper old fashioned teapots. This was by far the best cup of tea we have had in months. After two large pots between us, we were both ready for the toilet. Unable to see any sign of a toilet, I asked at the counter if there was one, and the man smiled as he replied 'no, but McDonald's is across the road.' Fair enough, for the whole of this trip McDonald's has been seen as a 'free public toilet'. (Is that not how everyone sees them?)

We spent the final couple of hours on the beach, swimming in the warm sea and hiding from the sun in the shade of the trees before taking the three hour ferry to Penang.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 07:24 Archived in Malaysia Tagged waterfalls chocolate beach tea car cake cable speedboat Comments (1)

Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Trekking through the jungle - an entry by Chris

sunny 30 °C

It's Chris again. Zoë managed to contract tonsilitus for most of this section of the trip so it's up to me to write the blog.

Khao Sok National Park is a large area of jungle and limestone karsts in central Thailand. There is a small area where all of the accommodation and shops, restaurants etc serving visitors to the park are located. Most of the accommodation is bungalow type rooms on stilts. We booked a bungalow right on the river as we were intending to have an easy couple of days relaxing on the balcony, reading, drinking and snoozing after a pretty non-stop couple of weeks. As usual this didn't materialize and before we'd arrived we'd already planned a couple of trips into the jungle.

Unfortunately on arriving Zoë was a bit worse for wear and after a good look down her gullet with a touch it turned out she had tonsillitis. She spent the first afternoon napping whilst I relaxed on the balcony.

The next day she still wasn't feeling right so for the first time on our trip I decided to venture out on my own, guessing she would probably sleep through most of the day. Our guidebook suggested two different trails into the jungle and I decided to try what sounded like the shorter but more challenging trail so that if Zoë felt OK the next day we could do the longer, yet flatter one together.

After eating breakfast (alone), I set off along the 8km route (4km each way) as soon as the park opened to avoid the crowds and the worst of the heat. I needn't have bothered as I only saw one local jogger on the way there and about 5 people on the way back. The jungle was formed of thick bamboo and looked quite cool with the morning sun cutting through it. The first two or three kilometers were quite easy but then I had to start crossing rivers which meant getting wet shoes. This didn't bother me at first but then I realised that my ankle was bleeding and it turned out I was being leeched. I flicked the first few off but more kept appearing so I had to stop every few minutes to remove them. I then reached the waterfall which marked the end of the trail and the turning round point.

I took my shoes off to check for leeches and let them dry out a bit but as I was crossing the final river at the waterfall I slipped over. It wasn't until a few moments later that I realised that I now only had one shoe! After searching in the water in the vicinity of where I fell, I couldn't find it and wasn't looking forward to walking back with one bare foot no doubt being relentlessly eaten by leeches.

After a bit of thinking I decided to conduct a 'controlled experiment' where I would see if my one remaining shoe would sink or float, making sure I could grab it if it went downstream. It turned out they floated which meant my shoe could be miles away. Fortunately after setting out on what could have been a long expedition down the river I found my shoe lodged against a rock not far from where I fell. To say I was relieved would be an understatement. After a clamber up the waterfall and a bite to eat I set out on the return journey.

On the way back I bumped into a guy who we'd sat next to on the bus the day before. We ended up chatting for over an hour, standing in the middle of a stream, whilst he told stories of Thai body-to-body massages (apparently better than sex), getting into Aussie bar fights dressed as a woman, and the ethics of performance enhancing drugs in professional sport. I arrived back about 2.30 and Zoë had just got out of bed. I knew she was starting to feel better as she was ready for lunch.

Fortunately the next day Zoë was feeling better so we set out on the second of the jungle trails. It started off easy enough with some nice spots for swimming along the way. As we got closer to the turning round point the trail started to get a lot more difficult and it was becoming apparent that the guidebook suggesting that this was the easier trail was ill-informed. At points we were sliding down hills and clambering up the other side using our hands. This wasn't helped by wildly inaccurate distance markers, unless the last 200m did actually take us 45 minuted! We finally got to the waterfall at the end of the trail and were rewarded with a beautiful waterfall and rock pool which provided an excellent opportunity for a refreshing swim, made even better by only having to share it with one other person. The trip back dragged and I got leeched a fair bit again, but we stopped off for yet another swim which helped cool us down.

Before leaving I decided it was finally time to get my hair cut. Just realised, this is my second blog post and both times have been when I've had my hair cut. Anyway I was a bit nervous due the language barrier but after requesting 'same same but shorter' the result was fine and I was now a 'very sexy man', the hairdresser's words not mine!

The following morning we left Khao Sok, fully stocked up with corner shop antibiotics, aching and unrested to head to Khao Lak, an hour down the road and for another attempt at relaxing, this time on the beach.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 21:47 Archived in Thailand Tagged waterfalls trek jungle leeches Comments (1)

Kanchanaburi - Death railway, Kwai bridge, Wang Pho Viaduct

Thai countryside

sunny 34 °C
View South East Asia on Roaming Rolts's travel map.

We set off at 6.30 am, took the ferry up the river to Bangkok Noi to start our day trip on the train, this journey is done as an excursion, which I'm sure the Thais finds quite entertaining. As we waited for the train, we ate breakfast, which today consisted of chicken bum sticks (not a typo) and sticky rice. Not too sure what chicken bum is, but i doubt it will be the worst thing we eat in Asia by far.

The train is 3rd class only with large windows to let in a warm breeze. Although the train was there at 7.30 and due to leave at 7.50, for some unknown reason, it left 40 minutes late, which is apparently quite common. The train travels at a fair speed, with cars easily overtaking on the main roads next to it. It bobs and clickety clacks through the Thai countryside between towns and villages for 2½ hours before it reaches Kanchanaburi, which is where death railway and the tourist section of the line begins.

Along the route, we passed houses which were so close to the tracks that had someone stuck their head out their window as a train went past they would lose it. Along the journey, various leaves joined us in the carriage with Chris being covered in leaves on a couple of occasions.

On arriving at kanchanaburi, an additional four carriages were added to our train to allow for the number of tourists joining the service. The first point of interest on our trip is the bridge over the river Kwai, made famous by the film in the 1960s. After this it takes about an hour to travel up the picturesque river to the Wang Pho viaduct, which gives death railway it's name as most of the prisoners of war who built this bridgee along the cliff edge lost their lives.


The final stretch is like a green jungle as you head towards Nam Tok, where the train turns round and you head back the way you came. By the time we set of from Nam Tok, the train was now 1½ hours behind schedule.

Our accommodation for the next couple of nights is a gorgeous little wooden bungalow on stilts overlooking the river.

The following day we took the local bus to Erawan waterfalls, the most beautiful waterfalls Thailand has to offer, and the best part is, you can swim in them. There is a 2km trail which takes you up the waterfalls, stopping at 7 ledges along the way, which are perfect for a quick swim to cool off. The only downside is the little ankle biters, as in the not so little fish who nibble at your ankles if you stay in the same place for too long. The waterfalls are stunning, with bluey-turquoise pools at the end if each drop over white rocks.

The water was so refreshing and a welcome relief from the heat. The walk up the waterfalls was fairly easy with the first 5 stages being footpaths, bit the last two sections were more of a climb over slippery rocks and staircases. On the way back down I managed to slip on one of the steps sliding half way down on my bum and bruising my already swollen and scabby leg. My left leg is looking a right state now!

We spent a few hours here before catching the last bus back to kanchanaburi. At one point, the bus was so full, one guy was hanging out the bus door!

Tomorrow afternoon we are catching a bus to the former capital Ayutthaya.

Posted by Roaming Rolts 09:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged waterfalls trains temples temple travel shrine Comments (0)

South American Highlights and Summary

A quick round up of our amazing trip to South America, before we start on South East Asia.

View South America 2013 on Roaming Rolts's travel map.

Number of days in South America:81

Countries Visited:
Peru: 21 days
Bolivia: 11 days
Chile: 13 days
Paraguay: 3 days
Brazil: 20 days
Uruguay: 4 days
Argentina: 9 days

34 different accommodations
+2 revisits
+3 nights camping (Inca Trail)
+7 night buses
+1 airport (São Paulo)
+1 night flight

48 different places gives an average stay of 1.7 nights.

Most frequent change: 7 nights, 7 different accommodations when
travelling from Chile - Paraguay - Iguassu Falls

Top 3 Accommodation
1. Apartment in Rio de Janeiro - just generally good, reasonably
priced accommodation.
2. Hostel in Foz Do Iguazu - good room, really helpful, friendly owner
and the best breakfast we had all trip.
3. Pousada in Paraty - nice room, 2 gorgeous friendly cats, lovely
outdoor courtyard with hamocks and swinging bench.

(Turns out they were all in Brazil, yet one of our worst was Alameda
Park Hotel in São Paulo, unless the payment for that never goes
through....The bed was literally solid and the whole place was
incredibly dated.)

Worst Accommodation
1. Calama, Chile - really skanky thread bare sheets, paper thin walls
and disgusting shared bathrooms. Seemed to just be lone men staying
2. Uyuni Salt flats hostel - no electric, no heating (even though it
drops below zero at night), no showers, no hot water. Dorm room for 6.
We didn't get a choice on this one.

In our whole time in South America, we accidently booked bunk beds for
the twin room once (hehe!) And had to share a dorm room only twice. We
had ensuite the rest of the time on all but 2 other occasions.

Travelling Times

Time spent on buses: 141.5 hours
Time spent on flights (excluding connection times): 37 hours
Time spent on ferries: 13.5 hours

Total time travelling: 192 hours (8 days)

Stuff stolen

Robbed 3 times :-( + 1 hotel dishonestly taking $75

3 kindles
2 rucksacks
2 tablets
2 cameras
2 iPods
2 driver's licences
2 passports (amazingly handed in!)
1 mobile phone
Various amounts of various different currencies
Various tops


We started this list on paper and it almost became a list of everything we did, so we've tried to condense it to our top 3 choices for each country.

The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were a given for Peru, and so cheated by coming up with three more. (And even then we've got plenty more to add.)

Huacachina - Sand buggies and running down sand dunes
Lake Titicaca - Uros floating islands and Isla del Sol (I know this is Bolivia, but was more to save on our list!)
Cusco - Saqsaywaman Inca ruins and pony trek

La Paz - Mountain biking down death road and pedestrian day.
Sucre - Dinosaur prints park
Uyuni - 3 day excursion to the Uyuni Salt Flats

Iquique - Ghost towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura
Chiquimata - Copper mine tour
Santiago - Bella Vista Patio - restaurants and quirky little shops in a hidden courtyard.

Asunción - Train museum
Asunción - Regenerated neighbourhood by night

Puerto Iguassu - Argentina
Iguassu Falls and wildlife
Speedboat trip through the waterfalls

Foz Do Iguazu - Brazil
Iguassu Falls - We preferred the Brazilian side as you could see all the falls and get a greater impression as to their size and magnitude.
Bird park - good collection of toucans.
Churrascarrías - Eat as much as you like for about £8, which included about 15 different types of meat served to you from skewers.

Paraty - Colonial coastal town with narrow cobbled streets and cute buildings plus relaxing boat trip to surrounding islands and beaches.
Ilha Grande - Car-less beach island on the way to Rio de Janeiro with white sand beaches (Lopez Mendes), jungle walk and colourfully lit beach bars by night.
Rio de Janeiro - Sugar Loaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer and favela tour around the largest favela Rocinha.

Montevideo - Wandering around the town and the best steak ever from the barbeque market.
Colonia de Sacremernto - Colonial port town
Colonia - Bike ride along the coast to the former bullring and a train museum, stopping at picturesque and deserted white sand beaches.

Buenos Aires - Tango show and dinner - one of the highlights of our trip.
Buenos Aires - bi-century museum showing Argentina's history since 1810 to the present day and the MALBA contemporary art gallery.
San Antonio de Areco and Tigre - Excursion into Las Pampas and the Paraná Delta.

Overall our favourite country was Peru, as we felt this offered the greatest variety of attractions and you could easily spend a fortnight to 3 weeks visiting here as a normal holiday and would have the best experiences.

We thought Brazil was a very close second; however felt this was less culturally different to a lot of other more western cities. If you were to spend a week in Buenos Aires, you must add on an extra 3-4 days and take the boat to Uruguay to visit Montevideo and Colonia as they are such a contrast to the massive capital of Argentina.

Now for 26 hours flying on 4 different flights across a 10 hour time zone and 4 days to South East Asia to start the next part of our big adventure. Bangkok here we come!

Posted by Roaming Rolts 19:47 Archived in Argentina Tagged waterfalls boats rain travel bus chile plane highlights border bolivia isla_del_sol summary pedestrian_day itaipu Comments (4)

Iguassu Falls, Brazil and Argentina and the Itaipu Dam

What a dam good river!

sunny 30 °C

Tuesday 24th September - let the border hopping commence: Paraguay - Brazil

We left for the Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay first thing in morning. The journey is only about 20-30km, yet took us the best part of 2 hours. The first bus for some reason left empty and would not take us. The second bus took us to within a kilometre of the border before we were kicked off and made to walk to the bus at the front of the queue, which was about 15 buses up. We explained to the driver we needed to stop at the border to show our passports as the locals do not need to go through immigration.

We then sat at the side of the road for 15 minutes for some unknown reason before changing bus driver. Maybe the new bus driver was late? We forgot we would need to tell the new bus driver we needed to stop and so went soaring past immigration. We got off the bus and walked the hundred metres or so back to immigration to be stamped out of Paraguay. Before alighting, we had been given a transfer ticket for the bus so that in theory we could board the next bus on the same ticket.

The next bus pulled up from the same company, yet would not accept our tickets, saying we had to pay. We decided that seeing as we still had to get off the bus at the Brazilian immigration after we had crossed the river, we would walk the 500m bridge of no man's land to cross the border and catch a bus in Brazil. We cleared the Brazilian immigration and flagged down a bus. It turned out this bus was a Brazilian company as opposed to the Paraguayan company we had started with; however they were more than happy to accept the tickets.

We were not looking forward to having to do it all again the following day when we crossed into Argentina.

Itaipu Dam

In the afternoon we visited the Itaipu dam, which is situated on the Paraná river and forms the border between Paraguay and Brazil. This dam generates 75% of all Paraguay's electricity and still leaves 90% of the supply for Brazil. Itaipu is a binational company and you could tell our guide loved this with endless binational jokes. The tour begins with a 30 minute brainwashing video about how amazing the Itaipu dam is, forgetting to mention any negative consequences which have come from its construction. Afterwards you're driven around the site and it is explained how they use the water to generate electricity. The dam is 200m high. It is unbelievably big. All the equipment they use to generate the hydroelectric power is completely oversized. The turbine hall is a kilometer long and each turbine has a diameter of about 25m. It was really fascinating to see something so different. For this tour, you have to wear a hard hat. For part of it, you are within the working dam; part of the tour takes you through the offices, where you still have to wear the hard hat, to the amusement of the workers.

After the dam tour, we found an all-you-can-eat churrascaria for £8. These are found all over Brazil and for your £8 you get a pretty decent self serve buffet of rices, pastas, salads and a couple of mains. This is not why you go though; the staff continually come round with various different meats on skewers and cut you a piece off. We must have had about 10 pieces of meat. And it was decent meat as well. I think we could be visiting a few over these over the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday 25th September - Iguassu Falls, Brazil and border hop number two: Brazil - Argentina

We got up early to go to Iguassu Falls in the hope that we would beat the crowds. Although it was busy at the entry gate and on the bus which takes you around the national park, the bus nearly emptied as people decided to do the visitor centre first. This meant that at the Falls, there were only about 15 of us. The waterfalls were magnificent and well deserved of their title of one of the 7 wonders of the world. That are high, loud and powerful along some distance. They were beautiful. The speed at which the water travels was unbelievable. I am so glad we have seen the Falls as these are definitely something anyone who gets the chance should go to see.

Next door to the national park is a bird park which we decided to visit, not really expecting much. We ended up spending over 2 hours there and have never seen such a vast range of birds. There were a few walk through aviaries, including one with some very impressive toucans. Their beaks look so fake and stuck on the front. They posed very nicely for photos.

Afterwards, we collected our rucksacks from the hostel and crossed the border into Argentina, which was fortunately a lot more civilised than attempting to cross over from Paraguay with only one easy bus change. And back to understanding when you're being spoken to and what is written down. For Chris though, it's all in 'foreign' but at least he's 'got his translator back', which coincidentally was the first reason he listed for not wanting to travel alone. Nice to be valued by your husband.

Thursday 26th September - Iguassu Falls - Argentina and third and final border hop: Argentina - Brazil Enjoying the fact we got our passports back and can therefore re-enter a country.

Once again we got up early to beat the crowds; however this time that was not possible. The Argentinian side of the Falls is reportedly the better side from which to view them and is a lot more accessible with the majority of the route being completely flat. We personally preferred the Brazilian side as you can see the Falls as a whole and get an idea of the magnitude. With the Argentinian side, you are right on top of them and so you can only really see that section of the waterfall. The wildlife is probably better on the Argentinian side with more colourful and exotic birds, as well as a few different smaller breeds of toucan.

We also went on a speed boat ride up to the waterfalls and under 3 of them. It was worth seeing the Falls from water level and looking up at them.

That evening, we made our final trip over the border back to Brazil and went out for dinner. Over dinner, we began to notice the number of very attractive and natural women, to which Chris commented that we were going to need to tie his mouth shut. I didn't get this at first so questioned him. His response was so they can't tell I'm gawping at them and demonstrated his open-mouthed, transfixed expression. Hmm....

Itaipu Dam brainwash part two

Included in the price of our dam tour, were 'free' tickets to their eco-museum which showed more reasons why the Itaipu dam was so brilliant. It was a strange museum with a few unrelated themes, and only English or Spanish translations in the first couple of sections meaning we were really not too sure what was going on in most of the museum or what relevance it had to the construction of the dam. I mean one section was a dirty cartoon comic strip competition.

After a late lunch/early dinner, we caught the 16 hour night bus to Sao Paulo, where the temperature is in the 30s. I can't wait!

Posted by Roaming Rolts 08:23 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls river puerto dam border passport iguassu foz itaipu Comments (0)

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