Edit Blog Post
Published: August 15th 2006
Well, I made it to Malaysia, not that it's difficult to jump on a 30p public bus from Singapore! Caught a coach 2hours north up to Malaka, a little stop-over to break up the journey to Kuala Lumpur (KL to its friends).
Malaka is quite a lively little place, full of Singaporean, Chinese and Indian tourists taking the heat off us travellers, (yes, I do view myself as a cut above the 'standard' tourist), however saying that, you don't get half as much hassle here as in Indo - thankfully!
It's been hard to enjoy the lively Sat night street markets, line dancing (!) and kareokee because my ear is still killing me and I'm necking paracetamol like they're Smints, but at least I can get my teeth to meet meaning I can chew now so the antibios must be doing some good. Sorry - I'm such a whinger!
Tomorrow I'll do some walks and plan my way through this country a bit more - I was thinking of giving southern Thailand a miss due to budget, time and not wanting to race through Malaysia.
Just been brought a branch of weird spikey fruit as
desert, I think they must be a member of the lychee family but blander and rather like eating an old pickled onion.
I'd jumped on a bus from Melaka to Jerantut in the country's interior, waving goodbye to Sama Sama guest house and its Swiss-Chinese owners who wouldn't look out of place in a Roald Dahl novel - she had crazy frizzy hair, soul-penetrating eyes and a creepy high pitched Swiss accent that didn't know which octave to choose; the kind of woman that would just appear from nowhere when you were wearing just your boxers and you'd have to make embarrassed small talk; the Chinese guy kept himself to himself and was content to tend to the beautiful fish he kept in old coke bottles that were also plant pots while Bob Marley circled endlessly on the battered record player in the yard; lovely people tho.
I woke up to an increase in noise and fidgeting from my coach-mates and a view of skyscrapers that I oddly thought I recognised. The Petronas Towers? I hadn't even realised this journey to Jerantut went via KL.
The bus stopped and everybody else disembarked. I stayed on, supposing
Not far from the terraces of Manchester
that I shouldn't be surprised that the majority of passengers only went as far as the capital.
It wasn't long before the driver shouted me off the coach. I explained my ticket was to Jerantut and he pointed me inside the station telling me to talk to the travel desk....
When is the next coach to Jerantut?
I asked at the desk.
No bus to Jerantut
I brought this ticket in Melaka to Jerantut, where is the bus?
I tired again
Bus to Jerantut leaves from Melaka
Yes, I know the bus leaves from Melaka, I was there this morning but I want to go to Jerantut, like it says on the ticket
I showed him my ticket
, the surprise evident in his voice,
This is Kuala Lumpar, you need bus from Melaka
he explained, looking happy with himself that he'd realised the problem.
My patience was thinning.
I know this is KL! But I don't want to be here for another week. I should be in Jerantut; two of your staff told me to get on a bus that came here!
- It went on and on. Eventually I found out there were no buses to Jerantut today and I would have to try another bus terminal tomorrow. Exhausted I gratefully accepted a refund and plodded off in search of a bed for the night.
I'd almost had high hopes for KL, but I should have known better; just another dirty city where you spend half your time breathing vehicle fumes and the other half trying to escape breathing vehicle fumes - either way you loose.
I spent most of the next day,
(I'd decided to see KL for the day or two and slow the travelpace down to a managable level), wandering the sweaty, smelly streets trying to come up with Plan B for the cheapest possible price.
The 'spectacular' Jungle Railway from Jerantut , (base of Taman Negara national park), slap bang in he middle of Malaysia, up to Kota Bahru, (north east Malaysia), was, I'd been told, no longer running during the day which buggered things up a tad since I'd been really looking forward to it, however I had two weeks to fill and thought I may as well try and get lost in the Malaysian rainforest... it was something to do.
So for the next three days I've been deep in the humid Malay jungle, zooming up and down Sungui Dungan, (the dividing river), and eating endless fried noddles, (Mei Goreng), on the floating restaurants.
Simon was a 26year old Brightonian lad - very southern, but none the less very sound - who'd plonked himself down next to me for the 3hour boat trip up river and within a few mins of voicing my vague trecking plans for the next two days I had a
travel companion. Bish, bash, bosh, sorted.
Our bags were heavy; laden down with 4.5l of water, sleeping bags, roll mats, and my usual can't-be-bothered-crap-camper tins of food, (yes, believe me I know they weigh a tonne and you're supposed to take rice or pasta but we decidede we probably weren't going to get a stove so needed stuff that was cooked....ahhh memories of trekking in Abel Tasman all over again).
First stop was the longest canopy walk in the world; a huge half a kilometer of rope bridges swinging a terrifying 45m above the tropical rainforest - awesome! Then the real hard work began. We'd planned to take the shorter 5hour walk to Bunbum Kerbang hide, (in which we'd reserved two bunks the previous day), but in the end it took us six and a half hours to find it, getting lost several time missing the so called 'clearly sighposted' track and wondering whether we'd ever see civilization again or meet our fate with the elephants, tigers and tapirs (native large, browsing animals, roughly pig-like in shape but with a short, prehensile trunk... so says Google anyway), lurking in the dense and humid jungle. As
it turned out the only beasties we encounted en route were mosquitoes and leeches, three of the latter having got into my boots, feeding on me for God-knows how long and turning my socks red with blood.
We whispered small talk with the other four who'd made it to the hide before settling down at the window to stalk the locals. Within the hour a family of tapirs and wild boars had graced us with their presence, snuffling around in the dirt, but by which time it was getting dark and we decided to cook up.
We'd managed to hire a camping gas stove back at base but unfortunately at pot-noodle-lunch some silly idiot hadn't read the instructions on how to insert the new gas canister and ended up piercing it incorrectly causing a huge gas cloud to spill out and freezing liquid gas to stream out over his hands....guilty...but we weren't to be perturbed and set about warming our combination of tinned beef curry, tinned sweetcorn and tinned baked beans over four candles. Surprisingly delicious!
The journey back was slightly less trouble bar the enthusiastic leeches picked up during a boots-off river crossing that had to
be burnt off with a lighter so as to avoid its three-jawed sucker being left embedded in my leg.
Shattered after the long walk and being kept awake by the large rat that noisily raided our biscuit supply during the night, we finally reached base camp broken men.
Tot: 0.084s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 26; qc: 47; dbt: 0.0101s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb