July 30, 2009

Jaisalmer-Shimla by train

After spending such a good time with our Jaipur guest house family, we found it hard to leave. 
We arrived on Jaisalmer without any reservation. The touts there were pretty hungry with the low season, any tourist is assaulted at the train station. I never got so surrounded, at a point that Noah started to yell at them. We walk out of the train area to escape from the touts and went on the road. It is the desert, so hot and bright. Few hundred kilometers away is Pakistan. 
Jaisalmer is famous for its kamel rides in the desert. 
A beautiful fort sits in the middle of the town and you can have your beauty sleep inside it.
We checked the first hotel I read about on internet and thankfully it wasn't full. We had the best room in India there, all built into red stone, very clean, big bathroom with a tub, good TV and AC. It felt like I was in a castle. We didn't really left the room as we felt so good...The heat outside and the hassle you get every time the local see you is discouraging... we totally forgot about the kamel ride... too short stay anyway... instead we spent two nice days relaxing in our hotel with the nice view on the fort from the top roof restaurant. 
Late at night, we hit the railway again to go to Bikaner and visit the unique rat temple in the world.
At the train station we met Judy, an Indian girl who is living in UK since she was little. We shared a room in Bikaner with her and spent the day together, she was such a lovely person, I really enjoy her company. Luckily we found a clean hotel right at the train station with a very good restaurant. We hired a rickshaw to go to the Rat Temple and rode for an hour as we had the slowest rickshaw in India. It was fun though and we didn't broke down like all the ones we saw on the way. We had plenty of time to look at the scenery. 
The rat temple is small and you have to take off your shoes to go in (like in every temples). From outside it looked good but inside..... the smell was really strong, rats were hanging out everywhere. They didn't look healthy and I didn't want to get too close from them. Most of them were just sleeping or trying to get cooler since it was such a hot day. Death animals were all around and I didn't feel good at all. I visited it on the tip of my toes and went out very fast. 

Back on the rickshaw for an hour direction the Fort, one of the best I visited, arranged a bit like a museum. It was really interesting to see it.

The long day and rides got us hugry and we decided to have brunch-dinner at a nice restaurant by the hotel. We had the best indian meals and service there. Then I walked down the street with Judy. A street "marchande" tried to sell me some plastic bracelet... I ended up buying some rope to dry my clothes...

We caught the night train back to Delhi. We had an AC sleeper coach, very nice and clean but an old woman sleeping under Noah's bed snore so bad that she kept Noah awake the whole night...

Delhi... We took a room for the day before our night ride to Shimla, north of India. 

In the train to Kalka we shared our room with two mans from Delhi. They are railway worker and they were going to the north to have some security classes. They were traveling with two other co-workers, very funny people as they all sit with us in the same room, squeezed in so we could be all together...

We had to stop in Kalka to change train. We rode the toy train to get to Shimla. It is a very pleasant little train and the ride up to the mountain is surely a change from what we've seen so far. The nature and the temperature is really nice, but the buildings spoil the view. We rode the mountains like a snake and I felt asleep. 
Shimla is an Himachal town, situated 2000m above see level, in the northen part of India. The weather is totaly different from the Rajastan and the lifestyle as well. More westernised, more cleaned with rules and clean roads. 
It felt good to be in the forest and cool weather. The clouds were coming and going as the day went by. It feels so weird to have so much difference in one country, I'm not used to that at all, in my island nothing really different from one side to the other. 
Here in the mountains people are not as excited as they are in hot places.... Noah always says that the cold keep people calm, like in the airport or in the airplane when they try to freeze us.
The hotel we stayed at made me feel like I was in Europe, the smell of the pine wood, the flowers...
A catholic church sits in the middle of the town and the market is built around. 
In the crowd sherpas are walking slowly up the hill with big bags of vegetables... most of them are old man.... it is a hard work but no car are aloud in the market area.

Before I came to India, people told me, either you hate it or love it.... Noah definitively don't like it... I don't hate it, I just think that I need time more time for India... I saw the tip of her beauty in some people faces, eyes, an extreme beauty.... India needs time to share her secret with us... 

Take care


July 24, 2009

Delhi-Jaipur by train

17th of july

After hanging out in Delhi(16 millions people) for the day and walking around the bazar area, we left 2/3 of our luggage at a guest house situated in front of our first hostel the Smyle Inn.

We crossed the bazar crowd, a mix of people, animal and dust to get to the New Delhi railway station. More than a hundred of people were sitting on the floor waiting for their ride. It seems like the crowd never move as it’s always pack everytime we come.

For the first time of our life we saw a man so skinny that we thought he was going to die, he was laying on the floor, asking for money.

We crossed bridges to get to platform 12. People are everywhere, sitting on the side of the shaded bridge… We got there on time. We had a sleeper room witout AC and shared it with 4 other persons. At the train reservation office they manage to put all tourists together, which I wasn’t wishing for my trip to India… anyway they were very nice. Three Japannese and one American. It’s interesting to see how much more Asian are traveling as backpackers.

The night was noisy, food and drink sellers were welling every 2 minutes “chai” “coffee” during the whole ride, even when everybody were sleeping.

One of the other unique experience we have riding the train from Delhi to Varanasi is the sight… seeing Indians pooping in the nature, not hidden at all and at every passengers view, we can see all the details… of course we are not perverting on them but we can’t avoid seeing them. Imagine you are in the train waking up and excited about seeing as much as you can of India and looking at every piece of India landscape, trees, green vegetation and right there in front of your face, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 man pooping, one of them very comfortably as he is reading a magazine... Then the city comes and even closer, right by the train rails, some more “poopy man”… In the evening and in the morning you can see at least 100 of them in an hour… Amazing India !!!! We are still laughing about it.

18th of july

We got into Varanasi (1.5 million people) in the morning. We didn’t know where we were going and we decided to look for a guesthouse to have a shower and leave our bags there for the day after a long and sweaty trip from Delhi.

The arrival at Varanasi train station was a real eye opener, as shocking as India can be I guess. A group of touts (con artist), 6 or 8 of them spotted us and were looking at us like we were pieces of meat as our cabin was full of tourists. It really annoyed me and we close the window on their face.

While people were disembarquing, poor kids were running thru the whole train looking for leftovers or forgotten items.

We got out of the train and the touts were right on us like sharks. We runned away, and got out facing another dirty and messy town, making me loose all hope for a clean and peacefull Indian city experience….

We were shadowed by more touts and rickshaw drivers. We crossed the traffic jam to try to loose them. We got to the other side of the street and some more touts surrounded us. I waited for Noah in one of the hotel lobby while he looked for a place for the day. A big group of Indian were waiting to check out in the lobby and some women dressed in beautiful saris asked me to take picture with them. It was propably my first enjoyable experience with Indian excluding any money exchange. It gaves me hope about having Indian friends and erase all the bad feeling I had since Delhi.

Noah got a room close to the train station and it made everything easier and mellow for us.

A rickshaw took us to the Gange, THE holly river.

Everyday, thousand of people travel from all over India to come here to have a bath, cremate their family bodies and spread the ashes into the Gange, the door to a world where everybody is equal.

Along the river on the temple side, a holly city have been built, where pilgrims, students, tourist, marchands, goat, dog and cows live in harmony. Coming from the main noisy street, I felt better and more relax in here, it is another world…

The view of the Gange wasn’t spectacular at first. In front of us was a giant sand bank with some people on boats.

Then we walked down the straits and on each sides, all along the river, peoples were swimming, boats loaded with Indians dressed in their best outfit were cruising … on our right a cremation ceremony was held. The best cremation is made with wood fire. It cost around Rs4000 (80 USD) and takes 3 hours. The other option is the electric burner and it cost around Rs700 (13 USD) and it takes only 5 minutes to have your ashes. It is sure very cheap and could be a good industry for the country.

We hired a boat. I didn’t want to touch the water, as for me it was more polluted than holly. What realy impress me at the Gange is how people strongly believe in the power of the river, turning the brown and polluted water into something drinkable. The swimmer face were as relaxed and happy as the faces of a tourist swimming in a clear blue lagoon. Some mans were fishing, other washing their clothes, brushing their teeth, washing their mouth, cows were having a bath… It’s just amazing how beleiving in something changes everything… At one point, those who believe in the power of the river, who don’t think about the filthfiness of the place, are somehow more free as they don’t bother as we do…

19th of July

Agra (Pop: 2 millions)… the Taj Mahal city. We arrived there more organized than in Varanasi, we learn the lesson. The guest house pick us up at the train station. We stayed at Rose Guest house, situated in a residential area, the rooms are a bit dirty and old but we can’t be too picky in India… The owner were very nice, probably the first ones who didn’t try to sell us something. We found out that day that the Taj Mahal entrace was free from 2pm and for three days for Shah Jahan's birthday, the Mughal emperor who built this mausoleum in memory of his favorite wife, we could enjoyed it as many times as we wanted. The Taj construction start in 1653 and it took 21 years to finish it.

We walked out to visit the area. Mecanic shops, dump with cows on the other side, fruit stall, food cart… people were looking at us like we were from Mars, I guess there’s not a lot of tourist walking on the area, we were the only one. We kept walking and the street got narrower and busier, the air was dusty and hot. We saw Agra Fort from far and walked towards it. Car part shops were sharing the block with flour maker, bag shops. Before we got to the fort, we crossed the dusty fruit market and the very busy bus station. I saw for the first time a real slum situated on the other side of the fort. All the river had no water but instead black mud full of plastic bags and trashes. Kids were following us to beg for some money. It was really hard to see so much poverty, and think about the beautiful fort and Palace. It doesn’t make any sense, how can a country have such gap ?

We arrived at the Fort entrance. The locals pay Rs25 for the entrance and the tourist Rs500. The Fort is gigantic, red and have some very beautiful stone carved walls and pillars. From there we saw the Taj Mahal for the first time… The locals are the main visitors and it is really nice to see that they are take interest into their heritage.

We got out after an hour visiting and enoying a quiet place then took a rickshaw for the Taj Mahal.

We ate at a restaurant there and had some Indian food. It was really good, I love the garlic nan (local tasteless crepe), dipped into a curry sauce miam !!!!

We waited for 30 for the free entrance… many people were waiting also, womans in colorfull sari were sitting under a three, young indians, some tourists…. Some kids probably living in the slum, were selling their souvenirs thru the crowd and were mainly dealing with locals as they represent 95 % of the visitors. Some of them became our friend and Raj offered me the Taj Mahal souvenir key chain, after trying to sell it to me.

The locals usually like to talk to us and once a person start, the group get bigger and bigger. They are really nice and usually want to be friend with you. We got along with a group of young people who came to see the Taj for the day and we went inside with them. The sight of the Taj Mahal was breathtaking, it is one of the most beautiful building I ever seen, perfectly constructed, strong and ageless, in perfect shape after 350 years, all built into marble. The park was crowded and colorful, full of life, indian woman walking gracefully in their sari. Wearing it is like an art…

The queue to get in was long and it was really hot, our eyes were hurt from the reflection of the white marble floor.

Beside the sculpted marble piece around the tumb, the interior part we were aloud to see wasn’t as spectacular as the outside. We got out very fast and sit in the garden. It was so peaceful and fresh, hassell free, pollution free and green.

Too thirsty after the wait under the bright sun and the heat, we had to get back out into the busy street to get water…

We went to eat at Mc Donald. For us it is a safe way to eat and they have good vegetarian burger… no cow meat in India, yeah !!!! They should hav vegetarian burger at every Mac Donald I think…

20th of July

We overslept, feeling comfortable on our bed in the AC room. I did some laundry as I was running out of clean clothes. We then had lunch at Pizza hut, they have delicious pizza with garlic and parsley ring. We don’t really want to eat in the street after what we’ve seen and it is hard to find clean Indian restaurant.

We felt better after the good lunch and walked around the area. We sat on the side of the road and watch the traffic and the cows. They hang out in the middle of the road and no body touch them, they are holly and they do what they want… almost (they are not aloud to steal food from the vegetable stands).

It was amusing to watch the traffic. There are probably more rickshaw than car in India, as small as they can be, they are usually packed and you can see 6-8 people in it. Tourist get to ride them alone... too bad.

We went back to the Taj Mahal for the last time that afternoon. It was very crowded, more than the day before. May be a hundred thousand visitor were there, and may be a milion for the day, if not more… we stayed in the park and enjoyed the beautiful view of the Taj Mahal filled with life and energy. After a little while, some rain drp got us out, and we hang out with our little friends. They escort us all the way to the main gate to say goodbye.

21st of july

We got up early to go to the train station. Supposely departing at 6.15 am, we left 4 hours later. I finished my night on our bag at the train station. I didn’t know I could sleep so good on a such little area…

We rode in the non-AC sleeper coach, surrounded this time by Indians. They are very curious and very nice. I ended up spendind the whole trip with my neighbour from the next compartment, Rekka. She was so nice and willing to share some time with me. We talk about everything, her sons, her life. She will go to Canada in August to visit her older son for two month and that’s why she was very happy to be able to have someone to speak to so she could improve her english before Canada. I walk her out of the train, she wanted me to meet her husband. Then I jump back on the train to arrive in Jaipur at 3pm.

The guest house manager was waiting for us at the train station. We drove thru Jaipur to get to our Guest House. The family welcome us as never in India, gave us flower lei and red point with rice on our forhead. We were their first foreigner guests and they treat us like kings. They are really really nice and were very helpful, making sure we had everything we needed, and giving us tips about the rides. It feels so good to be with people like them, I felt like they were family to us. The room was clean and big with a nice big garden. It is situated in a residential area of Jaipur, a good place to relax and get away from the dusty busy city area. They own a naturotherapy center where they teach yoga, like a retreat center.

We went for diner at a shopping center nearby. A lot of shopping centers are being built all around India, like in Thailand and Malaysia. The type of shopping center where you will find the same product as you will find in the street but in a clean and covered place, and of course, more expensive. It’s less interesting than the street market as they mostly have the same product everywhere, mainly clothes but it feels good to be in a clean place.

We treat ourself with some ice cream and it was really really delicious…

After a good night sleep we woke up to check if we could see the partial solar eclipse but it was too cloudy to see anything. Vishwa, the owner of the guest House, brought us our breakfast a curried rice with vegetable and nuts.

We hired a taxi to visit some of Jaipur monuments. The most important one for my guest house family is the Amber Fort, a huge fort with wall going on the hills like a snake, linking it to another fort sitting above Amber fort. Mirror walls and marble lace, jasmin garden and maze alleys, cobra dancing and art marchand...

Jaipur (pop 2,5 million), known as the pink city, is an interesting city to visit, has many gardens where you can relax and beautiful architecture... The city still have many red old building. Slums are like recycling center, every trash go thru but most of it stay in...

The heat exhausts us very easely ad we had a big nap to end the day before a late train ride to Jaisalmer...


July 16, 2009

India !

Wednesday, 15th of july 2009

We got on the plane in Bangkok at 9 am and landed in Singapore after a 2 hours spent in a very comfortable plane... Singapore is probably the cleanest city in the . The airport is at the image of the town, a huge shopping center where you can enjoy yourself, free cinema and wireless internet (in the whole town too), showers, massage hair dresser and bed for those who wants to spend some money to relax before their flight.

Thursday, 16th of july

We flew of Singapore at 11pm and landed in Delhi at 2am. The airport looked good but to get a real idea of the cleaness of a town I check the bath room... and it usually gives me the right idea... it edlike piss, even in the women bathroom...

We ended up in the bazzar street where our budget hotel is situated, cows, dogs and man were sleeping in the street... plastic papers everywhere but it was 2 am... What would it at day time????

I followed the taxi driver in a dark narrow dirt road to go to our hotel... the manager was sleeping behind his counter... Our room was pityful for the price we paid but at least no flea, no rats and no sticky floor.
I'm always traveling with a sheet and a sleeping bag (and a little pillow I got on a plane). It's really useful when you are traveling as you can make yourself comfortable everywhere.

After a short sleep, we took our breakfast at the top floor. It's really hot here, almost too hot to breath... 40 degrees
We saw the laundry service and changed our mind about cleaning our clothes here... they will be cleaner if we don't.

We stepped outside, smelling piss as the open public piss room is right at the end of the street.
The main dusty street is full of little shoppes, bike-trickshaw are finding their way thru the crowd, some guys are picking up the trash in the street but the smell of the piss is stronger than anything else... We are like targets here, and some guys started to talk to Noah, asking him where he was from and this and that... telling him that they were just talking to be nice, they didn't want any money, getting us confident about his friendship by giving us a tip, "go to the governement tourist office", showing us the place on the map.... then he left telling us to go straight.... a minute later a second one arrived and started the same conversation... leading us to another point of the street and telling us to go straight if we were going to the tourist information center... after 5 minutes, a guy we notice earlier engage the conversation and led us all the way to their tourist office scam. At that point I looked at my map and it did seemed to be the same office as the one we should have gone to but they got us into it... as we were inconsciently looking for a cool place to relax and get away from Delhi's heat and smelland what is more attracting than a AC room and some comfortable seats...
A seller took us in his office, the room was air-conditioned... it was soooo good...
Then he start to ask us about what we wanted to figure out what speach he was going to use on us.. we were pretty easy target as we didn't have any plan and we didn't read anything about India... no guide books...
His speech was good, he was really nice, and told his idea about the best place to go, the way to do it... but where he really failed was when he gave us the prices without looking at anybooks and just by playing with his calculator.. then calling someone by clicking a switch... their office looked pretty good for governemental office also... he gave us photo books, which really got me out of their deal. We told him that we were going to think about his plan but he didn't want to let us go so easy so he gave us some other trip idea, "you will do as you want".. they offered us some water... It was over and all we wanted was to get out of there... he change his voice tone and his face as we were standing up to leave... As we stepped out Noah saw the first guy who talked to him and that made everything clear to us. Looking at the map, we knew we were far out.
We started to walk back and ask a policemen how to get to the real tourist information center... Beggars are sleeping on the street, woman with colorful sari, family eating in the dirt, piss and poo along the walls... dust air and rickshaw everywhere...
Touts were following us, talking to us and trying to get us away, far away from our destination point. They will try to get you out of your way even in front of the tourist information center gates, it's just crazy. We got in the office after a mission walk and we were reassure as we saw the not so luxurious office with the not "overnice" people. They were helpfull and nice but not too much like in the fake office. They gave us the informations for the train rides.
Touts are everywhere here, looking at you and listening to you, studying you... some tried to get us out of our way to the train station office but everytime they told us something we did the opposite. The train station was full, people sitting on the floor... the line for the second class seater has no end. In the stairs to the international train station office, a sign warn the tourist about the touts... They have a special office where foreigners can buy their ticket in a cool and organise space... After all that, sitting in the safe room and thinking about what happened, we felt better, being aware of what's going on out there and we laugh about it.
We got our ticket, planned our whole trip for two weeks in India.

We will leave tonight to go to Varanasi to see the Gange, then to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and the other temples and forts around, then Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Bukaner and the rat temple, then a northen town called Simla... And back to Delhi for the last day... if everything goes at it's planned..

Take care


July 14, 2009

Nana Bangkok

Last day in Bangkok... tomorrow we will fly to Singapore to catch our flight to India, Delhi. Bangkok trapped me and we stayed here longer than I thought I would. We found a very comfortable and affordable hotel here and we felt tired after our touristy trip to Cambodia. 
Bangkok is a big and busy city where the king and the queen face are in every corner... It's kind of brain washing and I started to like him without even knowing anything about him. They posted stores dedicated to him, the queen and the country flags around the schools. The king have to sympathize with his people as early as he can.... 
Fruits are delicious and very cheap, I had some of the best rambutan, mango and logan... mango shakes are just unbelievably delicious (60 cents).. 
Tourist are everywhere, markets fill the streets and keep people busy buying after work...
We visited the week-end market, the biggest market on earth I read... It was really big I agree, so big that I thought I would never see the end of it. 
We visited golden Temples and saw golden gigantic Buddha... walk along the brown river...
We rode noisy Bangkok tuk tuk and visited tailor shops to help out the driver to get a commission...
Coming out of our hotel and having people calling us and our money for a ride... is as aggressive as the heat and the sun when you come out of an air-conditioned shady place. Well take it positively and just laugh about it or you will hate Bangkok...


July 8, 2009

"Suostey" Cambodia

We left busy touristy Bangkok by bus to see one of the wonder of the world, Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. We rode the bus full of tourist for 8 hours cross a chaotic border where tourist are lining to get into the country of the Cambodian Khmer heritage. Buses, wooden wheel cart, casino shuttles and taxi are driving in every directions. The poor cambodian pushes his wheel cart on a dusty road in front of the Las Vegas look a like casino. After driving 10 minutes in a town unbalanced between poverty and money palace, we drove thru empty rice fields to get to the most popular town in the country... Siem Reap. Huge massive newly built hotels welcome you to the Temple town. Then we hit the busy dusty town centre, scooters everywhere, bicycle, wheel cart, wooden houses, new concrete colorful houses, Hotel, restaurants...

Tuk tuk driver offer you a sunset ride to the temple for 5 dollars. Everything works with dollars, even ATMs spit dollars. Before sunset the street are changing faces, lights everywhere, girls walking in high heels on muddy road looking for a charming foreigner prince, beggars all around, kids selling postcards, bracelets, food stands on the walkway, night market...

The market is generally cheaper than Bangkok and much nicer, people are not aggressive. Tintin have his stands, he even went to Cambodge I saw... I'm not so sure about that, I have to check it out. 

We left the hotel at 5 am in a Tuk tuk (a scooter with a home made wooden covered cart in the back). We started by Angkor wat. The entrance cost 20 USD per person for a day.  Tourists are everywhere like ants, I guess that's how it is everywhere recognize as a world wonder, I don't like it but I have to deal with it or find ne wonders... The temple is huge, carvings everywhere, it's beautiful and it's makes you realize how talented and patient were the people in the ancient times. Most of the statues lost their heads but carved walls are still telling stories and woman carvings seems to be alive and dancing... Angkor Thom is the next with elephants caring tourists around. So far it's my favorite temple, hundreds of faces and details, broken colums. 

Check out the picture from our Cambodian trip on the right colums with more details...

Take care


For more info about Angkor Wat  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat

July 6, 2009

Welcome to Thailand

We left Kota Bharu yesterday and took a taxi to the border. We filled our papers and crossed the bridge to go thru Thailand customs. Then a nice local muslim gave us a ride to the train station with his three wheels home made motor bike. 
At the entrance of the train station some army guys with guns were filtering the crowd and were patroling in the station... I was wondering why...
We had to wait for the second train trip leaving at 2.30pm so I went for a walk in the not so clean border town, Sungai Kolok. I bought some ramboutan (45 cents USD/kg) and logan (1.5 USD/kg). By buying a plastic bag, I ended up giving a pronunciation-reading lesson to the owner daughters whom are going to participate to a speech contest very soon. I spent an hour with them... I learn a little bit more about the town, that they have terrorism, murder, drug traffic and bomb attack, which got me a little worry for a second but I had a good time and I forgot about it very fast. They offer me thai candies for my help and some water. 
30 minutes before getting in the Express train, we found out that the southern line we were on had been bombed several time and was shoot.... pretty crazy and a bit scary, sometimes it's good to not know too much about were you are going !!! 
Some friendly military with guns boarded with us and I understand why they were all around... to protect us from the terrorists. I heard that the people that are bombing the trains are separatists muslim, they want to have their own country and not belong to Thailand anymore. I saw muslim womans in black with their face covered for the first time in Kota Bharu and Sungai Kolok, it's pretty impressive. 
We were in the 2nd class sleeper cabin and they were very comfortable, with a lot of muslim, ouf !!! We thought they were going to put all the tourist together to make it a better target.... Once we past the south part of Thailand, more and more food seller were boarding and inviting us to buy their product. 

We arrived after all safe and in one piece in Bangkok. We took the cab and had a difficult time with the driver as he wanted to charge us 7USD instead without turning his meter on. He got upset when we told him to turn on the meter but we ended up paying the real price... 2 USD. 

Seems like people working with tourist in Bangkok are not happy with what they are doing and they aren't very pleasant, never smile or say a nice word, they are all about your money and if you don't buy right away or ask too many questions they start to speak in Thai, complain and have their bad face... 

Tonight we have a room in Pahtit, a "safe" area in Bangkok, for 22 USD. Fried rice or noodle cost around 1 USD. It's right by the most touristy part of the town, Kao San Road. It's full of tourist, tailors, silver seller and wedding dress shoppes.

We met some friends from USA, Myrna, and Chile, Ximena in the street and we are going to Cambodia to visit the Angor Wat temple.

A bientot,

Take care


July 3, 2009

In Malaysia

Hi everybody,

I haven't been a very good blogger since Indonesia and I apologize for not writing anything since then. I will try to summarize our Indonesian trip later... 

We left Singapore today and rode the train for 16 hours to reach Malaysia border town to Thailand, Noah's first train ride !!! 
We went thru Singapore and crossed the bridge to Malaysia. We paid in total 29 USD for today's trip.
We slept a lot during the train ride, comfortable seats and air conditioning. The "Jungle train ride" was good, nothing spectacular though. The jungle (from the train) is not that impressive and sadly they are replacing the original forest by palm trees and rubber trees plantations.
The population is mostly muslim here and it feels weird to see that it kind of make the women (mostly) look the same, from Indonesia all the way to Malaysia, leaving them without any cultural specificity. The same thing is happening to the nature, by turning the orignal and full of life jungle into a monotone palm tree plantation... 
We are in Kota Bharu for the night. On the way to the hotel we saw our world tour companion, Mac Donald... 

Take care