Day 17-24. Kuala Lumpur & Taman Negara – Malaysia

20th of April – 24th of April: Kuala Lumpur

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Hello KL! The drive from the airport to the hostel was beautiful – it’s all green :-). Arriving in Backhome hostel felt a bit like coming home. The staff was amazingly friendly, the room clean and the showers the bést. On top of that they’ve a small garden and a kitchen. A good thing about the hostel is also the café next door; Lokl. At Lokl you have the best food, coffee and homemade ice tea’s. Kas ate here the best burger he ever had.

One thing I didn’t realize about Malaysia is that it’s really Islamitic. We traveled a lot in KL with the underground and in some trains you’ve seperate cabins for woman. And in shops for woman, man are not allowed near the fittingrooms.

We spend a lot of our time in KL in 2 buildings you actually want to avoid; the hospital and the Thai Ambassy. We visited the hospital three times because of my tickbite. The docter warned us for a red circle around the bite and one morning this red circle appeared. With some help of my Dutch doctor and the doctor at the hospital I finally had some good and heavy antibiotics for the coming 10 days.


We also went 3 times to the Thai Ambassy to arrange a Thai Visa for 2 months. Everybody at the ambassy was well prepared. Except Kas and me. We only took our passports. We forgot our passport photo’s, didn’t have a proof of our stay in Thailand and we didn’t have a busticket either (because we didn’t book anything). But we managed it. After 3 days we are the happy owners of a 2 months Thai visa.

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In KL we visited the Batu Caves, a hindoe temple in a huge cave. The golden statue is impressive and so is the cave itself. The monkeys here were also an attraction. They eat all your food and are really, really naughty.

If you say KL, you say the Petronas Towers. You can take a look inside and go up to enjoy the view from above. Entrence was 20 euros each and we decided it wasn’t worth it. We have a budget and we can only spend the money once. So we walked into a small park with a small pool. With our feet in the water and the Petronas towers in front of us we knew we did the right thing. Sometimes the best things don’t cost anything.

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Near our hostel there’s a big Local market which we visited on our last day. Lots of foodtrucks and so a happy me. I loved it! The coffee place Kopies was my favourite. This guy makes the most lovely coffees I’ve ever seen. I ordered a frappuccino and it includes every sweet you can imagine: m&m’s, cookies, marshmellows.. It made my day :).

24th of April – 27th of April: Taman Negara.

Time to leave KL for Taman Negara. We booked this trip with HAN tours. A touroperatour in Kuala Lumpur – which was the most brilliant organisation we’ve ever had. When we arrived at the hostel – a hostel from HAN – they didn’t know ánything about our trip. What time the jungle tour started this evening? No clue. Dinner? She thought somewhere around 6, but it could also be 7. Or something. Our other questions she answered with ‘yes’, I think that was the easiest way ;-).
We slept in a dorm, with beds covered in plastic and the showers were full of insects, including cockroaches. We shared the room with Anna. Anna loved this organisation so much, she decided to write a complaint of 1,5 A-4. Dinner surprised her the most; she had rice with fried chicken three days in a row. And so did we.

Anyhow! We found the jungle tour by night and we were both pretty excited. So were the 3 guys we met; Bart(NL), Julian(DE) and Aron (UK). Well, the hostel was a big joke, but this was even worse. We walked on a path with eleven people and sometimes our guide shined her torchlight on an insect. This last part was intresting, but we all hoped for a night full of adventures – as they promised us.

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Luckely the big adventure was still to come, a 2 day tour in the old rainforrest with a night in a cave. In the morning we packed our backpacks with all the campinggear. We first made a boattour of 2 hours and covered ourselves with sunblock. Unfortunately sunblock 50+ for 2 hours on the water was not enough to protect us.

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We had a little swim in the river and then the real tour started; the 6 our hike. We did this tour with 2 groups – also the 3 guys joined. It was so beautiful but at the same time pretty heavy. I think it was a combination of the full backpack (15 kg), the freaking high temperature (the windchill was above the 40 degrees), the heavy antibiotics and I also had my monthly party (dammit!). Luckily I had my favourite Kas with me to talk me through it and to carry some of the bottles water from my backpack. Around 6 we arrived at the cave – we looked like we just jumped into the water, we were all só sweaty. But it was worth it. The cave was incredible big, full of bats and the concert of all the animals in the jungle was awesome.

After dinner we noticed a leech on Kas’ foot. Not that bad, but it kept on bleeding. Our guide showed us a small plant. If you put it on your wound it will stop bleeding. And so it did. The miracles of the nature :-).

At midnight we woke up because of a loud animal noise and the sound of someone eating. The porcupines arrived. We hang all the food we had on a rock, so the rats couldn’t eat it. Unfortunately the porcupines could climb and had a lovely meal. Kas also had a good present during the his sleep; a bat shit on his head (hahaha)!

The next day we visited another cave – which was even more full of bats then the cave we slept in. Beautiful to see those animals. Those bats are not the ‘vampire bats’ that can bite you, but the ‘fruity bats’. This cave was also the home of a snake, spiders and some scorpions.

During our hike back we saw a few giant lizzards(2,5 meters), a condor and an ant battlefield. Groups of ants were lying on the ground – dead. They probably had a territory fight. When ants are fighting, there will never be a winner. They will die both due to the poison that they inject to each other. Fascinating story.

Luckily or unfortunately – we are not sure – we didn’t see the wild tigers, panters and elephants who are living in this jungle.

We had a noodle-lunch at the river, a small swim ánd Julian cathed a fish – as happy as a kid with his own catched lunch.

We started the last part of our hike, I was so happy we arrived. We took the boat to a small East-African village that’s living in the jungle. We got a small explanation about how they live. As soon as we had to go back by boat to our hostel it was raining cats and dogs. Well, at least our 20 minute boat trip (without roof), was very refreshing.

Writing this in the bus from Taman Negara to Cameron Highlands, we are ready for another adventure.

Day 12 / 16. Beijing – China

15 – 19 April Beijing – China

We arrived in Beijing After the last spectaculair China landscapes from the train.

In Beijing we stayed in the hotel Xin Yuan Inn, located in the middle of the Hutong area (Hutongs are area’s with many narrow streets). Since the mid-20th century, the number of Beijing hutongs dropped dramatically as they are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. More recently, some hutongs have been designated as protected areas in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history.

The start of our stay in Beijing was good; we had some beers with our train-friend Marouan. The view of the rooftop pub was fantastic. On the left we had a big lake and on the right we could see a beautiful temple. We didn’t check the menu before we ordered the beers. A few beers and the check later, we had to pay 60 euro’s for a few beers. After those drinks we had dinner a few blocks further – we had lots of food for the three of us for 8 euro’s.

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Saturday morning was – again – an early one. We booked a tour to the Great Wall with Chinahiking including a camping overnight next to the wall. The hike on the wall was amazing; I was more impressed than I expected. This wall has a length of 6.000 km. We had beautiful views; the wall was always around us and the most special part was that we hiked an abandoned part of the wall. We didn’t see any other tourists.
The thought that people worked on this wall for more than 2000 years made me realize how impressive this place is. All the hard work to win the fight against the Mongolians.

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After a 6 hour hike and just before sunset we created a small tent village next to the wall (to use the wall as cover for the hard wind). We enjoyed the view with Hans – a man from Norway – and our guide Heidi. Heidi is born in Mongolia but lives with her Belgium husband in Beijing. They are the owners of Chinahiking. Heidi’s English is perfect, she is sweet and most of all; very funny. Heidi brought a ‘white wine’ to keep us warm. We took a zip from this ‘white wine’ and we understood what she said about the wine keeping us warm. This wasn’t white wine but pure alcohol; hello 46%. Heidi told us this is the Chinese white wine, they drink it during dinner or in the morning as breakfast;). Crazy Chinese people.

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Unfortunately finishing the white wine didn’t help us sleep – the ground was rocky and it was cold. Waking up seeing the sunrise made us all forget about the cold and the bad sleep; it was a fairytale. The birds woke up, the sun showed up behind the mountains and shined her light on the great wall. Ready for a new day.

In the afternoon we walked home through Wudaoying Hutong, Dongcheng District (near Lama Temple) for a coffee at Kitchen & Co. You can compare this street with the 9 streets in Amsterdam. Lovely shops and lots of great coffee places and restaurants. We ended this day in a hipster bar/restaurant called 4Corners. Great food (including sweet potatofries), all different kind of beers and a very nice owner.

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Monday we traveled to the Summer Palace with thousands of other tourists. The only difference between us; we were blond, tall and didn’t have a selfiestick – even men were walking proudly with their pink selfiestick. Walking was a challenge; there was a big change you’d be hit by a selfiestick and people wanted to make pictures of us. We found out there are two types of Chinese paparazzi.

1. The sneaky ones. They do a small run so they are in front of you, grab their selfiestick and make a picture. They smile carefully to you and run away – cheering.

2. The ones with currage. They ask if they can make a picture. After permission they aare as happy as a kid. Don’t expect only children asking this, we got this question especially from people above the 40.

Kasper thought about asking an euro for every picture that was made, we would be rich by now if that would have worked ;-).

Tuesday we prepared ourselves again for the paparazzi because the Forbidden City was waiting for us. They told us to be on time; they have a visitors maximum. They only allow 80.000 people (80.000 people!!). Despite all those people everything went super smooth. The Forbidden City is great to see and eveywhere you walk you see something beautiful. The Chinese love small details.

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We didn’t expect anything of Beijing and it was the first time in China for the both of us. After a few days in this city we can tell we fell a bit in love. For everybody who is planning to go here; please do! The people are amazingly friendly – a bit weird though due to their habits but that’s just because we are not used to it -, the food is super tasty and the thing I liked the most is the variaty of this city. You want real Chinese? Possible. Are you looking for Western places? They have plenty. Rather have a hipster place? They have enough. You love crowded streets? Or you like to have no people around you? Seriously, they have it all.
A bit difficult is the Chinese language and the fact they don’t talk any English. Difficult with ordering in a restaurant – always a surprise what dinner will be – but also when you are looking for the toilet. The word toilet or wc isn’t in their vocabulairy. Luckily they have public toilets on every corner (notice; there are no doors between the toilets)- seen the fact I need to pie a thousand times a day, this is totaly my city.


So this is not a goodbye but a see you soon. Beijing thanks for beiing so great – Kuala Lumpur here we come!

Day 7-12. Ulaanbaatar – Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar – Mongolia + last part of the Trans Mongolia Express. 10-04-2016 // 15-04-2016

After our arrival in Ulaanbaatar on Sunday morning we wanted to do 2 things: take a shower and a good coffee. The shower was lovely and we felt so clean! Next step was finding a coffee place. Our hotel – the dream hotel – was in the middle of the center. Suprisingly the center was not as crowded as we expected, so it was easy to explore. On Monday we realized it wasn’t common to see an empty street – weekend was over.

The coffee place we found is named Caffè Bene and you have a few of them in Ulaanbaatar. It reminded me a bit of Starbucks but with a different brand name ;-). For dinner we went to a restaurant (named Sparta) around the corner of our hotel. The food was good and cheap, only 4 euro’s for a meal!

For Monday we booked a tour with Ulaanbaatar tours. We started the day with a one hour drive to a fascinating statue of Chinggis Khan. This statue is 40 meters high and is a memorial of the man who was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiuous empire in history after his demise. Besides watching this amazing statue from the outside, there is also a possibily to take a look inside. You can go inside to enjoy the view upstairs but there’s also a shop and a small ‘museum’ part. Our guide arranged something special for us – something Kas and I really enjoyed;). They gave us real Mongolian clothes and we had to take place in a ger so they could take pictures of us. The people working here but also the other visitors had more fun about this then we did. Can you imagine; two long blond dutchies with a white skin dressing like Mongolian people?

Anyways, the statue was beautiful and so was the view as soon as we reached the top. All this nature, so many unused square meters. You can not even imagine how streched out the nature is. Mongolia has 3 million inhabitants, the half of this population lives in Ulaanbaatar. So it’s not strange Mongolia has so much nature and space.

From the statue we drove to the National Park. The first stop here was at the turtle rock; nothing more then a big rock, that looks like a turtle. Funny to see how they make something out of a rock and sell this as a ‘special thing you need to see’. As long as you use your fantasies there’s an animal in every rock.

In the afternoon there was a real adventure waiting for us; horseriding. Yes – this will surprise the people who know me. It was great! Allthough I had the naughty one – of course – who refused to walk or to listen a few times. The nature around us was spectacular, it felt like we were in the middle of a painting.

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The horseriding came to an end. I said goodbye to the naughty horse – I was thankful he brought me here safe – and I started the hike to the monastery. The view on the top was – again – wonderful. The monastery can be used by everybody who wants to meditate but is not used by monks anymore. In the past the monks went here to meditate for 3 months up to 6 years. Can you even imagine you sit on the ground for years and years, everyday in a row?

Tuesday morning a driver picked us up and it was time to prepare ourselves for two days at a Nomad Family. After 2 hours we saw three gers and many animals. We met the family; Choka the dad, Oanna the mom, Patoka the 4 year old kid and 3 big dogs. They gave us a happy welcome. We were the third guests they ever had: the first one was the Dutch king Willem-Alexander and his wife Máxima, the second was Ban Ki-moon and now we are the lucky ones!

Oanna welcomed us with a cup of hot milk with salt – something they all drink in Mongolia to stay strong. Their ger looked like a small museum. They had 2 beds, a heater which is warmed on coals and a small sink. The toilet was outside and contained a hole in the ground and 4 wooden planks covering it.

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Oanna made us a real Mongolian lunch: soup with flower and meat – not my favorite – and noodles with vegetables. This first day we did a few hikes (the three dogs came with us as guards), played with the kid and enjoyed being around the animals. Being here during spring is amazing; they had lots of small goats and Tuesday morning a calf was born. How cute!

In the evening all the animals – except the horses – came back home. This family has over a thousand (!) animals. After this fascinating proces I helped Oanna making dumplings for dinner.

The next morning we woke up early and saw the sunrise. Everything was covered in white because it snowed during the night- the weather is unpredictable. After lunch we said goodbye to this great family and returned to the crowded city.

We didn’t finish the Trans Mongolia Express, the end of our trip was Beijing. Thursday morning we took the train again and this time we did share the cabin with two others; a Dutch couple from Groningen. Small world ;). The train was different then the previous; the beds were softer, the coupes were cleaner, they had two toilets ánd toiletpaper- so luxury!

After a couple of hours In the train I felt something on my head, I asked Kas to take a look but he wasn’t sure; was it a birthmark or something else? We asked Robin and Els – the Dutch couple – to take a look. Unfortunately it wasn’t a birthmark, but it was a tick. Robin – the tic expert – pulled it out of my head. Nasty, nasty animals! We organized afternoon drinks – with our train friends – to forget about the tick.

Anyways, I’m warned and will check every spot on my body from now on. Luckily it’s now time to go to the big city (hopefully without ticks);Beijing! We can almost touch it, only 5 more hours to go..

Day 3-7: Trans Mongolia Express

Trans Mongolia Express 05-04-2016 – 10-04-2016

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We booked 2 beds in a 4 persons cabin (a private cabin was too expensive) for the train from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar. As soon as the conductor showed us our ‘room’ I was a bit shocked. I expected it to be small, but this? When we booked it we expected the rooms to be bigger but there’s no way you can stand here with 4 people at the same time – just to mention the room was 2 meters by 1.5 meter. The train left at 11.45 pm and Kas and I were lucky – we were still with the two of us in the 4 persons cabin.

The first night was horrible – the bed is hard, it’s the same feeling as lying on the ground. Besides this, the train is moving, makes quite some noise and stopped that night every three hours.

Because of the low season the train is almost empty – except from our coupe. We share the toilet and the sink – yes we couldn’t shower for 5 days – with 10 other people. With some of those people we had drinks together a couple of times – fascinating to see how easily you meet people. For example the conversation with Clautilde – a French girl – she loved the people in Moscow. She told us she learned a bit Russian – just the basic part – before visiting this city. Everytime she spoke Russian, they smiled and helped her out. So maybe a good tip if you are planning to go to Moscow; learn the language.

Speaking about Clautilde, she also has a blog, but not like we expect. She doesn’t write stories, she draws them. And they are amazing. It’s defenitely worth a look. You can find it here!

There’s not much to do in the train besides reading, sleeping, watching the beautiful nature and small talks. Sometimes the train stops at a station – it depends how long, from 5 to 25 minutes -then you are able to go out. It’s good to have some fresh air, stretch your legs and you can buy some food at the small shops of the station or you can buy some food from local woman. Almost every stop they are waiting for the trains to come, with a car of homemade food. You should try this out – its cheap and tasty – defenitely better then the food that they sell in the train.

Among all the young people we had a special and cute neighbour; a baby girl of 2 years old. When she came in we were a bit surprised; 2 years old and 5 whole days in the train? Isn’t it asking for a crying kid? But it turned out to be the opposite, a sweet all day laughing girl. She was traveling with her mom from Mongolia (their home town) to Moscow and now they are traveling back home. Everyday she brought a visit to everybody in the coupe. Playing, singing and talking all day long. Those 5 days we only heard her cry as soon as she had to go to bed – she loved being around all the people.

Another special person we’ve met in the train is Martin; a 75 year old man from Switzerland. Martin doesnt’t want to take the plane because of the pollution. He did this traintrip 3 times already and loves it, in the train he finds the time and rest to learn Chinese and Spanish and play some violin. One night he gave us a small concert, amazing! He is also a great story teller based on all the amazing things he experienced. He negotiated for exemple during the cold war in Russia with Gorbatsjov.

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You can say this train trip was special. Sometimes I was a bit restless; wanted to go outside, have a long walk and after 4 days I looked forward to a nice shower. The sleeping part was only rough the first night, you get used to it and I loved the flow of the train – I will miss it when I will sleep in a normal bed again. The thing I loved the most about this train were the people; it felt like we were one group of friends, traveling all together.

Now it’s time to explore Mongolia till Thursday, then we will take the train to Bejing!

Do you’ve any plans making this train trip? Please make sure you take this stuff with you:
– Food! This one is important. Somebody told me we should take some snacks and food. We are so happy we did. The food in the train is not very tasty and expensive. We took some brown bread, fruits, crackers, nuts, chocolate and ginger (perfect to make some tea)
– Washcloth. Seriously, otherwise you will smell yourself after a few days.
– Toilet paper. Something that’s not available in the train so make it yourself comfortable and bring enough.
– Cards / games. After 2 days of doing nothing you will be happy you brought some games. It’s also a good way to meet people.
– An external charger. There are just a few charging points which are not always working. You will be bored when your Ereader is out of battery, believe me.
– Water. There are days when they don’t have cold water anymore. Boiled water is always available, so you can cool this down if you like.
– Flipflops. The toilet is not clean, so do yourself a favour and put something on your feet.

Day 1+2. Goodbyes & Moscow – Russia.

Moscow: 04-04-2016 // 05-04-2016

Monday the 4th of April, time to start our journey. So excited to discover the world but also a bit nervous; what are we going to do coming year? The hardest part of this Monday was to say ‘goodbye’ to my mom. But as soon as we ended our hugging and dried our tears, I was ready to go! After a few hours we were airborn from Amsterdam to Moscow.

We booked the first part of our trip with Tiara Tours, it was easier to book the Trans Mongolia Express with an organisation as Tiara. They’ve arranged everything for us; transfers, hostels, excursions, the train, the stop in Mongolia and our VISA. The hotel they booked for the first night was Maxima Hotels. A hotel 20 minutes from the city center of Moscow. Clean, not to big and the rooms were fine – it had everything you need.

Tuesday the 5th of April we explored Moscow with our guide. She took us with the metro to the heart of Moscow. I truly recommend to travel by metro when you are in Moscow. Due to the 11 million (!) inhabitants there are always traffic jams and it will take you hours to get to your destination. The metros in Moscow go every minute – seriously – and besides it is easier, it’s also very beautiful. The metro stations all look like musea – made by Jozef Stalin to impress the world after World War 2. Also to show the citizens a bright future – marble walls, beautiful chandeliers and golden decorations.

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The guide – Elena – showed us the Historical museum, the red square, the Kremlin, the St. Basil’s Cathedral and the lovely shoppingcentre GUM. The red square was absolutely impressive and I loved all the colors of the St. Basil’s Cathedral. We had lunch in the GUM, which you should visit if you are in Moscow. Besides those must-sees this city is a museum itself. The buildings are build in Barok style but all in different shapes and pastel colors.

One of the most impressive things today was passing the side where Boris Nemtsov – a very important Russian politician and criticaster of Putin – was murdered. The reason behind his dead is still not revealed. These moments makes you realize you are just a small ant in the big world.

While we were impressed by the city, we didn’t really like the people. They have a very closed personality and nobody smiled.

After dinner at the hotel we relaxed a bit and at 11.45 pm it was time to take the train. Honestly – I was a bit nervous, something we wanted to do so badly, but how will we actually experience it?