Tuesday 28 December: Taking the squeaky-clean Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train to Woodlands station on the northern tip of Singapore island I board the number 950 bus to take me across the road bridge and through the border checkpoints to Johor Bahru in Malaysia, a two-hour bus ride from the east-coast fishing village of Mersing. This is the fast-ferry departure point to the popular duty-free island of Tioman in the South China Sea.
Wednesday 29: It's absolutely bucketing down. "Sorry Sir, there are no ferries today, a tropical cyclone is forecast and the seas are too rough . . . ". Not again, drastic measures are necessary if I'm to get anywhere near a party atmosphere this New Year. It's an eight-hour coach ride to the far northwest of peninsula Malaysia, away from the east-coast monsoon, to an overnight stop in Kualu Perlis, the ferry port for Langkawi Island near the Thai border - Malaysia's top tourist destination and duty-free zone.
Thursday 30: Finally I make it to Daddy's Guest House on Langkawi Island. Red wine boxes by the pallet-full, beer by the bucket-load, a beach of soft white sand splashed by a warm green sea, bikini-clad beauties, and jellyfish (well, nothings ever perfect). After three-months in Indonesia the range of food here is staggering, Mexican, Italian, British, Irish, Indian, Chinese and, of course, Malaysian fusion. With my passage to Australia delayed until mid-February, I may stay here for some time.
Friday 31: By the time I get there the beach party is in full-swing, glowing candles, blazing bonfires and burning lanterns slowly gracing the skies. As the old year fades away, exploding fireworks along the sands herald in the New Year. Happy New Year!
Sunday 9 January 2011: An island-hopping trip takes me to several offshore islands where the swooping Sea Eagles and Brahminy Kites are far more difficult to photograph than the pretty little Swallows, Tiger Fish and semi-tame Macaques.
Tuesday 18: Hiring a mountain bike for the afternoon I cycle to Seven Pools for a cool splash then take Langkawi Cable Car (77th mode of transport) to the craggy-limestone twin peaks, incredibly linked by a steel bridge, of Gunung Machinchang high above Pantai Kok. Even in the haze the views are incredible. A misprint in my guide book tells me it's a 12km trip but it's actually 22km one way. So, by the days end I've cycled more than 30 miles which has caused much pain to my recovering foot and to my calf muscles which have had no excercise since my motorcycle accident on Lombok two months ago.
Thursday 20: I'm sailing tomorrow for Satun in Thailand and onto Hat Yai to catch the northbound train to Bangkok. As I still have a month before my ship departs for Australia, I've decided to take a look at Burma.
Photos of Langkawi Island.