Australia

Malaysia - KL

KL wasn’t as worrying as I’d thought it was when I first arrived. In fact I found it pretty interesting. I got into the Travellers Moon Hotel, in China town for 8 RM a night, then did most of the usual tourist sites. The tower gave a pretty good view, although it was rather cloudy. The central market was a bit like a shopping mall, rather than a market. Chinatown’s evening market was much better. I got lunch at a street stall in Little India - it was the best Chicken Curry I’d had in ages. That night I met up with Owen and Nicola again - they had chosen the same hostel by chance. Finally I made it back to the airport the next day and got the 6 hours to Dubai, followed by the 7 hours to London.

 

This last entry was typed at home, just before I trek down to Harlow to start work on Monday. Oh joy. See ya next time…

Malaysia - Tioman Island

The connecting flight from KL to Tioman was a tiny plane run by Pelangi air, with only about a dozen places on board. We flew into Tekek, the main village on the volcanic island, and I thought there was too many people, so I caught the water taxi to Salang - a small village further up the island. It was a little nicer, but all the rooms had already been booked up in advance - so I got a dorm room for 10 RM a night, with fan and shower. The room was clean enough, but the path to it crossed a stagnant pool, used for all the waste from the village. Still, it wasn’t much different from the rest of Malaysia. The beach was pretty nice, and the rain-forest came right down to the edge in places. I booked up a 2 dive trip with Ben’s diving centre. They seemed both friendly and professional. It cost 110 RM for 2 dives. The rock formations were good, and there was lots of soft coral, and some huge Georgian fans. We saw a single turtle on one of the dives - a green turtle I think. The snorkelling from the beach at Salang was also good, but there was a huge number of sea urchins. I did try to do a night dive, but the weather was no good - there was too much ocean swell.

 

The next day, I walked over the hill to Monkey Bay and must have sweat about 4 litres of water. The beach was nice, and deserted - one Malay chap had built a shack there, and I only saw one other couple on the beach all day. The beach itself sloped gradually for quite a distance until dropping off to some pretty good coral. There was an abundance of coral fish there, which all seemed to come out and follow me round as I was snorkelling. Perhaps the locals had been bringing many tourists here, who then fed the fish. I tried dragging a half rotten leaf down from the surface, and the fish almost ripped it out of my hand. Even the cleaner wrasse had a go, but he was more interested in my hand.
It started to get late, so I tried to get a water taxi back, but the only one I saw wanted 20RM, so I waited, and waited, and eventually had to walk. It rained, and I got wet.

 

A quick mention for some of the people at B&J’s dive shop - Ben, who is half German and half Malay, not as quoted in the Lonely Planet, and JC run the place. Edwina did her Open Water course there, and decided she would rather live on a tropical island and dive, than do a day job in London. Who can blame her. If anyone reads this, and then goes to Salang - say hi from Andy.

 

The day before my international flight out from KL to London, I thought, perhaps I’d better get back to KL. I went standby at the airport on Tioman, and caught the second flight out. If I’d taken the ferry and bus, it would have taken me all day, and I wanted to look round KL.

Malaysia - Penang Island

We got a direct bus to Penang / Georgetown and arrived at about 3pm. We found a reasonable hotel on Lebuh Chulia called the Sky Hotel. We ate, then climbed Penang Hill for a good view of dusk over the city. There was a great cooling breeze at the top. The next day, we say Mosques, Temples and Churches from about every denomination in Malaysia. We wondered into Little India for lunch, Briani or something for 3 RM - rice, meat and veg all eaten off a leaf with the fingers. Great. We wondered around town some more - Georgetown really is a great place to get lost in, had dinner on the Esplanade, then Owen and Nicola caught a bus to KL


My plan for the next few days was to visit the Perhentian Islands. I tried to book a bus ticket, but due to the school or university holidays, everything was booked up for about 3 days. Eventually I tried Malaysian Airlines, and they suggested flying, but all the flights were booked up. Eventually, after much scouring of the Lonely Planet, I decided to fly to Tioman island the next morning. It cost me 250 RM, but I thought - what the heck. You'd pay that for a train ticket back home, and I've only got a few days left. I got up the next morning at 4am for the flight to KL. There was almost no-one in the streets, just a few old men sleeping in trishaws, and the rats scurrying across the road. Occasionally a motorbike passed at a distance, and finally I managed to find a taxi, just as it started raining.

Malaysia - Cameron Highlands

I got the bus to Tapah for 10 RM (one pound is worth about 3.7 RM), and then an expensive taxi to Tanah Rata, and the Twin Pines Hostel. The first people I met were Nicola and Owen, both from my year at Southampton Uni. We went out for a meal, then watched a really dodgy video of Mission Impossible, a la camcorder in cinema style. The next day, we got a bus up to the Boh Tea plantation, then down to Brinchang. I attempted to do one of the walks marked on the tourist map (2 then 3), but got lost at several stages. The maps are not only ‘not to scale’, but they are completely inadequate for some of the paths. It took us about an hour to find what might have been the start of the track, through the back of a monk’s garden, up a very slippery and muddy slope. We trekked up hill, down hill, down stream, up stream, and through forest. Anyway we found the road about an hour before sunset, and walked back to Brinchang in about 20 minutes. We had been trekking through the jungle for about 3 hours.

 

That night I went out with Nicola and Owen for a steamboat at 12RM per person. A steamboat is rather like a fondue, with the oil replaced by a stock. You wait for the water/stock to boil, then cook the food yourself. It was fun, and highly recommended, as long as you cook the chicken properly.