August 14th – 31st 2012: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Driven distance on August 14th – 31st 2012: 350km (220 miles)
Driven distance total: 46’640km (28’980 miles)
After we arrived in Kuala Lumpur we went to our budget hotel which we booked over the internet. The double room had an incredible huge size of 9m2 (100 square feet) and in the bathroom it was difficult to turn around:-). But to safe some money wherever we can is quite important!
Unfortunately we had to stay 2 and a half weeks in Kuala Lumpur, because we had first some trouble until we received Landy from the port and afterwards the car had to go the repair shop! The container ship arrived on August 12th and we finally got the Landrover on August 24th at 8PM! One reason for it was the 4-day festival „Hari Raya“ (end of the Ramadan) when nobody was working. Another reason was the rather slow and annoying course of action from the shipping agency which was driving us nuts so that we had to take some “frustration beers”;-)!! Another surprise when we opened the container was the roof box. Probably in India somebody (maybe customs) crushed the box until the were able to open it even with the lock on it! The box is still more or less functional, but it is still frustrating L.
And then, at the end of our Kuala Lumpur journey, the car had to go to the shop for new breaks and service. To our surprise, Landy was famous here and my name was all of a sudden Thomas Monsch and the car had ZH (Zurich) license plates:-). 3 years before on Landy’s first world tour, the car got also serviced at the same shop:-). How else could it be, we also had delay here! First, there was something else broken at the breaks and had to be ordered. When the part arrived, it didn’t fit and had to be machined. All together was the car 3 days in the shopL. Since Malaysia’s independence day was on August 31st, we decided to stay one more day in Kuala Lumpur.
Now we have seen quite a lot in those more then 2 weeks! To catch a good view of the city we went on the 421m (1380 feet) tall Menara TV tower. The view was spectacular and we were also able to see the famous petronas twin towers. In the city itself we also visited the colonial quarter, little India, Chinatown (where we stayed), the lake gardens, the national museum, the planetarium and so on… And not to forget the several shopping malls, which we also visited sometimes just because we were bored!
Besides Kuala Lumpur itself, we also visited some nearby attractions! By train we visited the 13km (8 miles) far away Batu caves, which were transformed in 1891 into a pilgrimage place for Hindus. The caves were also worthwhile visiting even besides the temples and statues inside! On another day we took the train and boat to visit an island. The Pulau Ketam island is car free and has only 5000 habitants, most of them Chinese who are fishermen. Most of the island is covered with mangrove swamps. The actual sight are the stilted houses and the life in general on the island. After we got finally the car back, we went to something a bit more special to see. We drove 50km (32 miles) north to witness countless fireflies. On the way with a small rowing boat we could see many fireflies glowing and blinking greenish in the trees along the river. Something different :-)...
On August 30th, independence eve, we went to the Petronas towers, because there was supposed to be a firework. Around 9PM we sat down in front of the big fountains in front of the towers. Unfortunately the fireworks didn’t start before midnight, so we had to hold out for 3 hours to a somewhat boring evening program containing some fountain shows, light show, small concerts etc.. After our bums started to hurt from sitting on the concrete ground the fireworks finally started:-)! The next morning, on the actual Independence Day, we were excited to go and see some parade and shows. At 11AM, when we wanted to see something was everything already overL.
September 1st 2012: Kuala Lumpur – Sri Menanti, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 1st 2012: 150km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 46’780km (29’070 miles)
After our long-term visit :-) in Kuala Lumpur we couldn’t wait until we were finally „on the road“ again and to see what there is to explore in Malaysia! First the trip went to a sleepy small village called Sri Menanti, where one of the „regional Sultans“ has it’s place of living and palace. Unfortunately we couldn’t see inside of the Sultans living room ;-), but on the other hand we could visit an old Sultan’s palace. Thus had a very special type of construction that was brought in from old Sumatra immigrants. The wooden palace contains of 4 floors sits on 99 stilts and was constructed without any nails or screws. On the inside of the palace we were able to witness the bedrooms of the King and Queen, the kiddy room, the big dining hall, several weapons and other royal stuff :-). We spent the night at a hotel parking with a nice view at a idyllic pawn full of lake roses.
September 2nd 2012: Sri Menanti – Melaka, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 2nd 2012: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 46’940km (29’170 miles)
We visited the town of Seremban in the middle of the 160km (100 miles) trip to Melaka. There were some buildings from the Minangkabau architecture, several colonial structures, the so-called lake gardens and of course McDonalds where we couldn’t resist the yummy burgers:-).
At this point there is also to mention that the driving here is enjoyable compared to India. There is order and peace on the good road:-)!
In Melaka we drove back and forth in downtown to find a hotel. We were almost going crazy from all the one way streets where you had to turn right or had to turn left at some points:-/. Finally we found a place at the nice family lodge „Sunny’s Inn“.
September 3rd – 5th 2012: Melaka, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 3rd – 5th 2012: 0km
Driven distance total: 46’940km (29’170 miles)
The pretty town of Melaka is mainly famous for its colonial buildings. In the year 1511 was Melaka getting occupied by the Portuguese which stayed for 130 years and also brought the Catholicism into the region. Afterwards, 1602, the Dutch took over and finally in the year 1795 it was the British who entered. The main place of the colonial district is the „Dutch Square“, where the red „Stadthuys“ and the as well red, simple „Christ Church“ sits. On a small hill we visited the ruins of the Portuguese „St. Paul’s Church“, which was used as well as a church by the Dutch, but by the British just as warehouse for gunpowder. Later on we visited a reconstructed Malayan Sultans palace, a small quarter with traditional Melakan houses, the Portuguese quarter, strolled around in Chinatown and visited several Buddhist, Hindu and Tao temples and as well some Islamic mosques.
September 6th 2012: Melaka – Gunung Ledang, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 6th 2012: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’020km (29’220 miles)
Since we are from time to time lazy bums ;-) we just crawled out of the hotel around noon and treated ourselves for once with a yummy Pizza. On the way to the Gunung Ledang park we bought some fruits, but of course only fruits we didn’t know and that seemed suspicious:-). The street vender was quite amused about us, since he had to explain to us how to actually eat them! Since we had anyways more then enough time this day, we stopped along the way in a remote street eatery, enjoyed a typical lemon ice tea and were very welcome. In general there is to say that the people are very friendly, but also (luckily ;-) ) more shy then for example the Indians!
After arriving in the Jungle of the Gunung Ledang park, we put up our camp and enjoyed a fruit snack with view on the jungle.
September 7th 2012: Gunung Ledang, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 7th 2012: 10km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’030km (29’220 miles)
Early in the morning we woke up with all kind of noises from birds, insects and monkeys. We took afterwards a short hike to a waterfall in the cool morning air. Unfortunately the waterfall was not that spectacular and the rest of the park as well. To get further into the jungle it would be necessary to take a guide. Around lunch we continued to the Gunung Ledang resort, where there was as well a waterfall to check out. There was a small river pool and Stefan didn’t miss the chance to cool down in it:-).
September 8th 2012: Gunung Ledang – Muar, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 8th 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’070km (29’250 miles)
Thanks to the short distance we arrived in the cozy town of Muar already around lunch. We were welcomed very friendly by the Chinese owner in the budget hotel and the old man was telling us all kinds of stuff :-). Also the “hotel mommy” was very gracious and explained us very quickly where we can find good and cheap food. We took it quite easy in the afternoon. One job that needed to be done was the fixing of the rear sun-protecting shield of the Landrover. After 5 shops we finally found a backpack shop who could stitch us the ripped off fixtures.
For dessert in the evening we tried the local so-called otak-otak. It is a fish paste which is wrapped into banana leafs and heated on coal. It was really good to our surprise. Since we only took 2 pieces to try them out, we got them for free and they were happy that we try those things:-).
September 9th 2012: Muar, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 9th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’070km (29’250 miles)
Like the locals we ate „Roti Canai“ for breakfast and drank a „Kopi-O“ = black coffee :-). The first one is some kind of a flat bread, freshly made on a big plate. You can choose from several ingredients like egg, bananas or fish :-). Then it is served together with a dip of curry sauce. Afterwards we started to go to a tiny forest full of monkeys. We were quite surprised when one of the local “monkey whisperer” the little animals touched and even took them on his arm. We on the other side, are always very careful with monkeysb. For lunch we had noodles with fish sauce and shrimps and squid inside, another specialty of Muar. In the afternoon we visited the Indian temple and the several neoclassical colonial buildings of Muar. As everywhere in Malaysia, also Muar is influenced by the Chinese. Thus are counting for nearly a quarter of the Malaysian population and often are the shops hotels etc.. labeled in Chinese. Also our Indian friends have a part of 8% on the Malaysian population.
September 10th 2012: Muar – Batu Pahat, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 10th 2012: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’150km (29’300 miles)
There was a short photo shooting with the hilarious hotel owners before we took off. Proudly they showed us also pictures from other guests who were travelling by bicycle:-).
Well, as you can see from the driven distances lately, our daily trips are quite short, but that’s good like this:-)! Also those 80km (50 miles) we managed quickly. After some looking around we finally did find a good spot at the sea where we could arrange everything for the night. For dinner we prepared a mouthwatering dinner. A mixed salad with eggs and tuna and some yummy chicken wings! :-)
September 11th 2012: Batu Pahat – Johor Baru, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 11th 2012: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’340km (29’420 miles)
Unfortunately the night wasn’t as quite as expected. Around 2AM some nosy people with flashlights were around the car. Then around 5AM we woke up again as some Indians were performing some kind of a 2 hour ceremony. Actually quite interesting but not at 5AM;-). Afterwards we drove slowly in direction Johor Baru. A short midway stop we took at the village of Kukup, where we enjoyed some inexpensive shrimps and other seafood;-).
September 12th 2012: Johor Baru, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 12th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’340km (29’420 miles)
First we had to go to a car repair shop to change once again a U-joint from the front drive shaft. Now it is getting changed for the third time after Kyrgyzstan and India. Let’s hope it will last longer than the last time:-/! Our sightseeing tour started at the Sri Mariamman Hindu temple and continued to the former Sultan residence. Along the river we walked towards the Abu Bakar mosque, which is impressive with its four big towers. Unfortunately it was one of the mosques where “non-believers” have no access.
In the evening we could pick up Landy again and we were happy that he creates normal noises again:-).
September 13th 2012: Johor Baru – Desaru, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 13th 2012: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’440km (29’480 miles)
When we drove towards Desaru, we once again crossed endless palm fields, which are used to produce palm oil. In between are also some Banana-, Pineapple- and Papaya fields and from time to time even a little bit forest... A sad fact is, that a lot of rain forest had to be vanished to create the palm tree fields, and now there is crazy monoculture in the whole country. Indonesia and Malaysia together are producing more then 85% of the world’s palm oil! But luckily there are some national parks, where at least some of the hundreds of years old rainforest could have been saved. When we arrived in Desaru we were looking for a nice spot for the night. There isn’t much more then a small village and a beach resort. We lost one hour because we ended up in a small muddy ditch with the car:-). With the help of the shovel and the sand sheets we were in reasonable time back out. It is not quite like this that the Landrover would have trouble to get out of such beginner ditches by himself :-) , but currently the differential lock seems to be locked somehow. Anyways we found a nice place at the sea to stay overnight.
September 14th 2012: Desaru – Gunung Panti, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 14th 2012: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’520km (29’530 miles)
That we don’t end up as lazy couch potatoes we went on a beach walk after the breakfast:-).
Then, on the way to the Gunung Panti recreational forest, we saw a sign of a crocodile farm. Since we have plenty of time we did the 10km (6 miles) side trip. In the little village along the river where the farm is we found a small restaurant. We ordered some food that we didn’t know what exactly we ordered, but the squid, shells and shrimps in the noodles were very tasty:-).
The crocodile farm wasn’t exactly that nice! The crocodiles were indeed huge animals, but some of them were locked in very tightly and they offered crocodile soupe on the outside :-/.
At the parking of the Gunung Panti park we put up our camp and enjoyed a cold beer. A properly dressed, nice security guy came to us and observed the car. Since he also saw the beer on the table, he couldn’t resist the temptation and asked for one as well. He put it immediately and quietly in his pocket and left again:-).
September 15th 2012: Gunung Panti – Mersing, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 15th 2012: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’640km (29’600 miles)
After a short hike we came to a beautiful waterfall with several little pools, so of course we also went in to enjoy a refreshing massage bath underneath the waterfall :-). For the locals it is a well-known weekend getaway place and therefor was quite something going on. All the women were taking a dip in the pools with their cloth and scarf on, so of course I also jumped into the cold water with my T-shirt and shorts on :-). The main religion here in Malaysia is the Islam, besides the Buddhism and Hinduism. But compared to other Islamic countries are the cloth very liberal and colorful. Around lunch we started our journey towards Mersing.
September 16th – 20th 2012: Pulau Tioman, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 16th – 20th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’640km (29’600 miles)
By a 2-hour boat ride (without Landy) we went on September 16th from Mersing to the Tioman island, or how the Malaysian call it, Pulau Tioman. The small gorgeous island is famous for diving and snorkeling. In the very small town of Air Batang we got a tiny little house for the coming few days. Those huts are amusingly called Chalets here in Malaysia:-).
We enjoyed the 4 days on the island and visited several beaches where it was sometimes even possible to snorkel. Already at the place Ort Air Batang we could witness corals and different fishes.
At one of the days we allowed us to go with two others on a boat trip to coral island. The 5-hour trip was definitely worth it. Besides the pristine beaches and the crystal clear water it was also fantastic for snorkeling. Since we are definitely no sea-experts we can simply say, that we have seen numerous bigger, smaller and beautifully colored fishes;-). And of course also Nemo was swimming around in the fantastic corals! The colorful corals were also a real highlight besides the fishes.
September 21st 2012: Mersing – Endau Rompin Nationalpark, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 21st 2012: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’800km (29’700 miles)
After approx. one hour we left the main road and continued on a bumpy unpaved road to the rather less known Endau Rompin National park. We advanced quite slowely, since the road was getting worse with the put holes towards the end. After arriving at the park office it was already too late to register, so we started to get settled for the night at the parking lot. We already thought that we are the only tourists, but met later on two Australians who gave us the hint to move to the second visitor’s complex further back with a nice campground. Of course we went there but couldn’t find the campground, since it was already too dark. But anyways we stayed there for the night.
September 22nd 2012: Endau Rompin Nationalpark, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 22nd 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’800km (29’700 miles)
First thing in the morning, we had to register at the big visitors complex. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go on big hikes, since both of us have painful blisters on the toes! During snorkeling a few days ago on island Tioman, we were able to get several blisters from wearing the finsL. It would have been possible to enter deeper into the jungle, but only with a 70$ special permit. Since a boat trip was in the same price range, we also skipped this, since we weren’t able to walk anywhere there. Instead we visited the village Kampung Peta just aside. In the tiny village are still living the indigenous people of Malaysia who are called Orang Asli. There are only less then 150’000 Orang Asli still living in Malaysia. The native people we have seen are living in very simple huts and have it more difficult to live compared to other Malays. They also seemed to look more dark then the rest of the population.
In the early afternoon we went back to same spot as last night, but this time we found the campsite with view onto the river. Including jungle feeling we spend pleasantly the rest of the afternoon by the car:-).
September 23rd 2012: Endau Rompin Nationalpark – Endau, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 23rd 2012: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 47’960km (29’800 miles)
We drove the same road back to Mersing and then continued in direction north. Our favorite eateries for lunch are the tiny nice street restaurants with 4 – 5 tables. There is no menu, just a big pot with rice and several sides like fish, chicken and vegetables where you can serve yourself. To drink we always order a self made lemon ice tea, our favorite drink in Malaysia :-). We really appreciate those typical Malayan restaurants, since in many towns you get mainly Chinese food. Near Endau we found a nice place at the sea and put up our camp.
September 24th 2012: Endau – Pekan, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 24th 2012: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’100km (29’890 miles)
Not as expected were monkeys visiting us during the preparation of the breakfast, but a horse was suddenly standing there. But when it realized that we didn’t have a horse-breakfast it kept on moving:-).
On the way we of course enjoyed another yummy lunch at a tiny street restaurant. Also to mention is, how much life costs. A lunch for both with plenty of rice, vegetables and meat/fish costs including the drinks around 5$!
September 25th 2012: Pekan – Balok, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 25th 2012: 230km (140 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’330km (30’030 miles)
The quiet and well maintained town of Pekan used to be the main city of the state Pahang and is still today the home of the sultan of Pahang. We spent the morning with checking out some of the old Kings houses, a marine museum and two mosques. After this we went on our way towards Kuantan. Originally we planned to stay here, so we went on the beach. Unfortunately there way only a small bay and it was completely full of hotels and restaurants. We continued our trip for another 15km (10 miles) to Balok and found there a nice beach place with even some kites on the sky. During the preparation of the dinner it started to poor down from the sky, so we looked for shelter at a nearby bar. Since the bar seemed to be closed, we installed the kitchen here and also got the car to this place. Shortly after, the owner of the bar, Wolfgang, arrived. He is a German guy and lives here for many years. We felt somewhat strange, but since he was OK with it, we stayed between the bar guests and ate our dinner:-). Afterwards we could stay there for the night and could use the toilets.
September 26th – 27th 2012: Balok, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 26th – 27th 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’370km (30’060 miles)
Nicely we spent the day at the beach, or better said at the bar :-). But not to drink beer the whole time, the bar was closed anyways during the day. We also got to know some of the frequent visitors, when the bar was opening again in the later afternoon.
The second day we had the intention to drive to the nearby village Cherating, but one day wasn’t enough to do some shopping, so we ended up again at the bar from Wolfi:-). Well no, we aren’t actually that slow, but when we started around lunch, we realized that one of the tires has lost air and we had to get it repaired, and in the shopping center we wasted some time in the internet at McDonalds:-).
Since we were already the 3rd night at Wolfi’s Bar, and since we count almost as locals, we were invited to a eatery by the 65 years old Chinese man Chey. He is a dedicated surfer and now also kite surfer and we had a very good time together. Back at Wolfi’s place were also the two funny German women, Pia und Eva, which we already met the first evening. First we enjoyed all together fantastic old music videos from the 70’s and 80’s, at the end there was only Wolfgang and us left and we enjoyed nicely more music videos and some beer until it was after midnight. It was really a great evening and at this point a very big thank you to Wolfgang and the Sunday Bar!! :-)
September 28th 2012: Balok – Cherating, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 28th 2012: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’500km (30’140 miles)
In the morning we visited the nearby Gua Charas caves. After a short but steep climb, we could enter about 200 meters (600 feet) into the Buddhist temple cave. On the lightened path we passed several smaller altars until you reached at the end the big statue of a sleeping Buddha. After the cave visit we drove right back to the beach and continued until we reached the small cozy travellers beach town Cherating. Here we intended to camp, but couldn’t find the right spot. A few kilometers further north we went to the Club Med luxury resort, which unfortunately don’t have much interest in having overlanders ;-). Almost directly besides it we found at a lonesome beach the pet friendly resort Ruby’s Inn, where we could use the toilet, showers and Wi-Fi.
September 29th – October 3rd 2012: Cherating, Malaysia
Driven distance on September 29th – October 3rd 2012: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’570km (30’180 miles)
Well yes, the place at Ruby’s is quite dangerous. We intended to stay 2 or 3 days, but had trouble to leave on day 6:-). If we’d have stayed longer, it would have ended like with Perla & Dominik, who stayed an incredible time of more than 2 month here on the beach :-). We met the Swiss couple in February in Oman and knew that have spent quite some time in Cherating, but we were still quite surprised when we saw their blue bus at Ruby:-). They parked the bus temporarily here to travel with backpack to New Zealand and some other places.
It was the perfect place at the beach to just relax and simply enjoy it. Every morning when we went to the toilet at Ruby’s we were greeted very friendly by 7 barking running dogs:-). Besides the dogs there were also the 22 cats and of course the dogs of the guests, who mainly visit the place because it is created as a really pet friendly place.
Then, there was of course Sting, a cat who didn’t live with Ruby, but was also well known in the neighborhood. It seems that the cat likes overlanders very much, since the cat already lived for two month with Perla & Dominik at their bus. Sting spent every minute with us and was rarely happy with sitting on the floor, since it was probably more comfortable on our laps:-).
Then there were also other guests from time to time very close to us. Sometimes a cow herd was coming, then a wild boar was strolling around, monkeys were climbing in the trees and even some hornbill birds we could see.
October 4th 2012: Cherating – Jambu Bongkok, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 4th 2012: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’690km (30’250 miles)
It was quite hard to say good bye to Ruby, the staff, the many animals and of course to the wonderful place at the sea. But of course the hardest part was to say good bye to Sting, our Landrover cat:-). The cat had to go to the vet with Ruby so at the end we had to put her in a cage to say goodbye… Now we hope that Sting stays with Ruby and doesn’t return again to the jungle. In many countries the animals are living in the streets and aren’t treated as good as at home. At Ruby’s the have a wonderful life. But there are also certain rules at Ruby’s, for example all the animals have to take once a week a shower, even the cats:-).
The trip continued up along the east coast. Near the village of Jambu Bongkok we stayed again at a nice beach. Those places are also quite popular by the locals on the weekends. Unfortunately in many countries are the people not so environment friendly and throw the garbage just on the ground.
October 5th 2012: Jambu Bongkok – Tasik Kenyir, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 5th 2012: 180km (110 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’870km (30’370 miles)
After the beach breakfast and a one hour beach walk we continued to the Kenyir lake. The lake was created due to the construction of a dam and is today the largest man made lake in Southeast Asia. After we were looking for a quite place at the lake without success, we ended up back at a parking lot near the visitors center. Somewhat later 2 cars were approaching and parked just besides us and started to talk to us immediately. We were invited directly to a picnic with yummy noodles and fish chips. After a tour of Landy and some talking was there of course the quite long photo session:-) Nice afternoon!
In the evening we enjoyed the wonderful view on the lake with perfect weather and temperatures.
October 6th 2012: Tasik Kenyir – Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 6th 2012: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’940km (30’410 miles)
The Kenyir lake contains approx. 340 little islands and around the lake is still a lot of rainforest with several waterfalls and caves. The lake is as well quite popular for fishing. Unfortunately are the boat tours relatively expensive and since we didn’t find any other people to share a boat, we spent the rest of the afternoon nicely at the shore of the lake and drove back to the coast in the evening.
October 7th 2012: Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 7th 2012: 10km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 48’950km (30’420 miles)
We started to go and explore some of the sights of the city. To do some morning fitness we went on the locally little hill, the „princess hill“, in the center of the city from where you have a good view and there is also a light tower to see. After we got some energy from the lunch in Chinatown, we continued to go to the state museum, which is the largest in Malaysia. The really huge buildings are made in the typical village house style, but just in an incredible scale!! Besides many other things, there was an exhibition about ships, the fishery, traditional buildings, handicrafts, textiles and the Petronas oil industry gallery.
October 8th 2012: Kuala Terengganu – Merang, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 8th 2012: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’020km (30’460 miles)
In the morning we visited the crystal mosque, which is built onto the river and is made out mainly of glass. Then we continued our journey. The road along the east coast was leading often along the palm tree and forested beach through little villages. We found in near Merang a great spot to stay overnight and enjoyed the rest of the day with „dolce far niente“... :-).
October 9th 2012: Merang – Tok Bali, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 9th 2012: 90km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’110km (30’520 miles)
Shortly after our normal breakfast a car was stopping at our beach. An older couple came out, was chatting a little bit with us and gave us a local breakfast which we should try out. The breakfast number 2 was a roti canai which we already knew. At lunchtime we took a break in Kuala Besut for checking out when, how and where we can catch a boat for the Perhentian Islands. Because it was already to late to catch a boat today we continued to drive and looked for a sleeping place at the beach.
October 10th 2012: Tok Bali – Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 10th 2012: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’130km (30’530 miles)
Back in Kuala Besut we went immediately on the boat. We rushed with 400 horsepower in direction Perhentian Kecil Island. After speedy 40 minutes we arrived with messed up hair and a strange feeling in the stomach:-). For about 8$ we got a basic small chalet, this time unfortunately not directly at the beach... In the afternoon we got drawn once again with our snorkeling gear towards the brilliantly clear turquoise water. Also here we got to see fantastic colorful fishes and corals. In the evening we enjoyed since a long time the nightlife of a backpackers place with live music and some beers ;-).
October 11th 2012: Pulau Perhentian Kecil, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 11th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’130km (30’530 miles)
After a very cozy morning at the beach we dared to go on another boat snorkel trip. The first stop we made was at a turtle watching site. And our boat man was able to spot one and we could very nicely see how the big turtle was eating from the oceans ground and how the animal came up to the surface from time to time:-). At the next stop were unbelievably many fishes who immediately were very close all around you;-). And once again there were small fishes who confused us with a meal and started to chew on us:-). And finally there was the shark viewing place, where we could really see some smaller sharks. All in all a wonderful day on a great island.
October 12th 2012: Pulau Perhentian Kecil – Bachok, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 12th 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’170km (30’550 miles)
Now it was time to say good bye to this tropical paradise. It was planned that we leave with the 8AM boat, but changed it due to heavy rain to noon. The rets of the day we spent underneath palm trees directly at the beach. By the way, also palm trees might be dangerous… We always have to be sure that there are no coconuts falling on us from the trees:-). Well, other countries, other problems:-)). Once in a while we got visits from some locals from the village, and of course the received a Landrover tour and left with smile later on:-).
October 13th 2012: Bachok – Kota Bharu, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 13th 2012: 30km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’200km (30’570 miles)
Shortly before we intended to leave, we got once again visitors. First, there was an old man coming and talking to us quite a bit, in Malayan language:-). Another typical elder village person joined us and we chatted together, in signlanguage of course;-). Since there were everywhere coconuts, it didn’t take long until one of the men got two coconuts from the tree (with a long stick) and offered them to us. He wonderfully prepared the fruits with his big knife and we enjoyed the tasty milk and the meat from the coconut. Any fresher is impossible:-). In Kota Bharu we took since quite some time a room in a guesthouse and enjoyed surfing in the internet.
October 14th – 15th 2012: Kota Bharu, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 14th – 15th 2012: 30km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’230km (30’590 miles)
On the first day we visited once again two former Sultans residences, which are used today as museums. In the first one we could see how the royals lived. The second one was built in 1887 in the traditional style, and the museum contains mainly with descriptions of royal ceremonies. The region around Kota Bharu is famous for their handicrafts such as for example batik, carving, silverware and kite making. On the second day we were able to see how the beautiful and colorful kites are made in a one-man shop. Once a year is the kite festival where they lift their kites up to 350m (1150 feet). In the afternoon we visited the cultural centerwhere there were several traditional shows.
October 16th 2012: Kota Bharu – Kampung Geting, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 16th 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’270km (30’610 miles)
We took off to visit one of the many Buddhist monasteries/temples in this region. The temple “Machimmaram” contained pictures from immense brutality, from punishments in hell and so on...
Later along the way we could finally find the Malayan king fruit Durian:-). As an afternoon snack we cut the peaky fruit and were actually quite disappointed that we didn’t faint from the smell:-). Apparently is the smell of this fruit terrible, but ours wasn’t that bad at all. We enjoyed eating this fruit while watching the view to the sea.
Well, we didn’t actually plan an evening action event, but we did get some entertainment. As many times we got a visit from a cat. The lovely cat was a rather annoying guest and didn’t allow us much quiet time or just tried to enter into the car! Another cat was in the neighborhood and the two started a heavy fight, of course just below the chair of Maryse! One of the cats jumped in the back of the car hiding because she was so frightened! Oh yes, and then it started to rain heavily in a very short time! To check where the cat is we closed the drawer with the refrigerator and started the search. Since we couldn’t find the cat anywhere we re-opened the drawer of the fridge and amazingly the cat was looking at us. At least we didn’t crush the cat when put the fridge away;-). And last but not least there was a huge moth in the car that didn’t wanted to go out. Fun fun fun:-)
October 17th 2012: Kampung Geting – Stong State Park, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 17th 2012: 170km (110 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’440km (30’720 miles)
There are many Buddhist temples here since we are currently near the Thai boarder. First we checked out the Wat Mai Suwankiri, where there is besides the main temple a smaller temple in the shape of a dragon boat. The second temple, Wat Phothivihan, is home to a 40m (130 feet) long, laying Buddha. In both temple areas there are many dogs. The dogs are looking for shelter in those temple areas since they are not welcome in the Islam religion! Afterwards we continued our trip towards the Stong state park. A part we drove along the Thai boarder until we went south again. We stayed overnight at the parking of the resort there. The Stong state park lies around the 1400m (4600 feet) high Gunung Stong mountain. There is also Malaysia’s tallest waterfall, Lata Jelawang, which poors down from a height of 540m (1780 feet).
October 18th 2012: Stong State Park – Kuala Koh (Taman Negara NP), Malaysia
Driven distance on October 18th 2012: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’570km (30’800 miles)
We simply drove from A to B, and once again along endless palm plantations.
October 19th 2012: Kuala Koh (Taman Negara NP), Malaysia
Driven distance on October 19th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’570km (30’800 miles)
Unfortunately we were out of luck and it was raining all day long. We organized ourselves in a restaurant and spent the day with reading and writing orange-iguana reports. All of a sudden we got a visit from a group of economy students from Kuala Terengganu and we chatted quite a bit with them. Then they invited us for BBQ in the evening. Surprisingly there was only meat to eat without rice or anything else:-). Since they were making a study about tourism in Malaysia, we had to give an interview how we like this specific place and Malaysia in general. We spent a nice and funny evening with this happy crowd:-).
October 20th 2012: Kuala Koh (Taman Negara NP) – Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara NP), Malaysia
Driven distance on October 20th 2012: 340km (210 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’910km (31’010 miles)
Since we considered us to be able to take a hike, even with the blisters on our toes, we started to go into the jungle full of motivation. The plan was a 3 hour hike which we gave up after 10 minutes! Not really because we are in such bad shape;-), but rather because we had after 5 minutes of walking about 20 blood sucking monsters on our shoes and socks:-/. Luckily, thanks to the Swiss army knife, we were able to get rid of the leeches and escaped the place:-). Obviously there were so many leeches because it was raining the entire day before. Really a pity, since at this place of the famous Taman Negara national park are almost no tourists. At least we went on the canopy walk, which is high above the ground hanging from tree to tree. Completely without any tourists we could enjoy the canopy walk and the great view over the jungle.
Later on we started the trip to the southern end of the Taman Negara NP. Since we presumed the distances a bit wrong we finally arrived when it was already dark. We spent the night on a secure parking with toilets and showers.
October 21st 2012: Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara NP), Malaysia
Driven distance on October 21st 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 49’910km (31’010 miles)
Also here in Kuala Tahan exists a canopy walk, on which we walked around high above the jungles ground. In the afternoon we made a boat trip to a orang asli indigenous village. The ride there was quite wet, since we booked a boat tour with „rapid shooting“... This means, that the captain shook the little boat right and left when passing a rapid, so the water was coming in from the sides and all passengers got really wet:-). Well, in the beginning it was quite funny, but after some time with the wind from the speed it got somewhat cold... The orang asli village lies directly on the river. The guide explained us how they live here. Some of the locals there demonstrated to us how used to make fire in early times and how they use a blow pipe with poisoned darts. The orang asli are still today hunting only with this method. They are also the only people who are allowed to hunt in the national park. We were really surprised that there are still such nomadic tribes in Malaysia, who live in very simple huts in the rainforest and still are living a very traditional live. We were also astonished how the people looked. Many of them had very curly hair and were very dark skinned. Many of the tribes were actually forced to settle down and to give up their traditional life.
October 22nd 2012: Kuala Tahan (Taman Negara NP) – Sungai Koyan, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 22nd 2012: 230km (140 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’140km (31’160 miles)
Since we need some time every morning to eat breakfast, do the dishes and relax in general ;-), it is usually almost lunch when we take off. For once, Google maps led us completely wrong. We ended up on a small track where a local man stopped us, laughed and explained us that we are wrong, that this is “Malay Kampung” here :-). Since the whole trip to the Cameron Highlands was too far, we stopped around 4PM and enjoyed later on a good bottle of wine and some pasta for dinner.
October 23rd 2012: Sungai Koyan – Tanah Rata, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 23rd 2012: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’220km (31’210 miles)
We drove the rest of the trip up to the Cameron Highlands, to the village Tanah Rata. This village lies at 1400m (4600 feet) and the climate is of course much colder, which was much nicer anyways:-). Finally we could wear some jeans and a jacket in the evening;-).
October 24th 2012: Tanah Rata, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 24th 2012: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’290km (31’250 miles)
Since one of the wounds from a mosquito bite on Maryse’s arm just doesn’t want to heal since weeks and is rather getting bigger then smaller, we decided to visit a pharmacy in town. They just sent us to the local hospital. After a blood test and a bag of meds we could move to our second job for the day. Since there are Landrovers everywhere in the Cameron Highlands we finally wanted that the differential lock is working again. We ended up in a one-man crappy shop where the spare parts stock consists of disassembled Landrovers:-). The mechanic started to look after the poor car not even one minute after we arrived in the shop. Since it was luckily just the gear lever itself we could get it to run within 4 hours. From the spare parts pile he took a 30 year old part and mounted it to the car:-). The costs ended up to be including tourist surcharge and lunch 50 dollars, quite OK ;-).
October 25th 2012: Tanah Rata, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 25th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’290km (31’250 miles)
Today we went for a forest hike to the Robinson waterfalls with the dogs from the guesthouse. The falls weren’t that spectacular. In the evening we granted us a „Steam-Boat“ dinner, which is coming close to our Foundue Chinoise. The only difference is, that you put mainly seafood, noodles, eggs and vegetables into the quite spicy soup:-).
October 26th 2012: Tanah Rata, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 26th 2012: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’340km (31’280 miles)
Today it was about time to visit one of the numerous tee plantations in the region. In the tee factory we had the chance to witness how the process is going on with the sorting, drying and fermenting of the tee. At the little restaurant there we enjoyed of course a local tee and some cake. Since we were just at the beginning of the plantation we were drawn further into the plantation. Along the way we found another, much bigger tea factory which was surrounded by a workers village, where most certain all people work in the factory and the plantation.
The endless plantations are actually creating a nice picture in the landscape. The approx. 1m (3 feet) tall bushes are looking like a pattern, which is laid over the hills.
October 27th 2012: Tanah Rata – Ipoh, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 27th 2012: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’470km (31’360 miles)
Thanks to the cooler climate the Cameron Highlands are also famous for the vegetables, fruit and flower plantations. The plants are grown underneath huge roofing, and they are many times built on man made terraces along the many hills. Unfortunately aren’t those roofing nice for the beauty of the landscape... Very popular are the strawberry plantations, where you can pick yourself the fruits. We couldn’t resist to try at the restaurant there some things. We tried one cup full of strawberries with whipped cream and ice cream and one yoghurt with honey and strawberries, yummy yummy :-). Afterwards we drove towards Gunung Brinchang, a 2000m (6600 feet) tall mountain. The mountain is overgrown with trees who are extremely mossy. We were somewhat surprised from all the traffic that was there on the weekend. Additionally there was a holyday in Malaysia, which increased of course the traffic even more. Along a steep and narrow track we climbed up the mountain. From the top we had a great view along the forested hills around. Then we made a short hike through the mystic „Mossy Forest“. On the way back we ended up again in a bad traffic jam, because there were many bottlenecks and the cars had problems to cross. Afterwards we went in direction Ipoh. In the lower regions we encountered again the oppressive humid heat L. Near Ipoh we visited „Kellie’s Castle“, which was given to commission by a Scott named William Kellie Smith. It was then never really finished because he died during the construction.
October 28th – 29th 2012: Ipoh, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 28th – 29th 2012: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’660km (31’480 miles)
On the first day we visited the nearby temple cave Perak Tong. In some of the many limestone hills in the area there are accessible caves, which are sometimes used as temples. In this cave was a 15m (50 feet) tall golden Buddha statue. The walls were wonderfully decorated with paintings and several smaller religious items. To get a good view it was possible to climb up the 385 steps through the cave:-). Out of breath we could enjoy the great view over the city Ipoh. We continued afterwards to the really scenic railway station building and to the clock tower of the city.
On the second day we tried first to return some Landrover spare parts, which we bought in Kuala Lumpur and that didn’t fit. It didn’t work out to return the parts after a frustrating search of the Landrover shop, but at least it got organized that we can return them in the next bigger city.
In the later afternoon we visited the big Gua Temperung caves, which are somewhat south of Ipoh. Like many of the limestone caves there was just a small entrance and then it opened immediately to this huge cave.
In the evening we got picked up by Zuraini, got invited to a steamboat dinner and had a really nice evening together. Zuraini is one of the teachers I met during my short working period in Ipoh last April.
October 30th 2012: Ipoh – Kuala Sepetang, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 30th 2012: 170km (110 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’830km (31’580 miles)
In the morning we visited the company / university, in which Stefan had a working visit a couple of month ago. Afterwards we started to go towards Penang. In the middle of the trip we decided to stay overnight in a mangrove forest. We had planned to sleep in the reserve, but the manager told the security guy to tell us, that it is not allowed. We didn’t give up yet, since we didn’t have any problems elsewhere to stay in parks. We acted like we are intending to leave the park, but at the exit we tried again to negotiate with the security guy. At the end we were talking with the manager over the phone and explained our situation. To the question, why we are not allowed to stay here, she answered: „because nobody never does this before!“ :-). Somewhat irritated we continued discussing and finally we were allowed as the first ones to sleep on the parking lotJ.
October 31st 2012: Kuala Sepetang – Georgetown, Malaysia
Driven distance on October 31st 2012: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’960km (31’670 miles)
We got waked up by one of the school classes that were also here to visit the mangrove reserve. Before 7AM they had some fitness on the parking lot and it was funny to see them jumping up and down:-). Our morning walk through the mangroves was quite interesting. The trees had very unusual roots, which started to separate about 1m (3 feet) above the ground from the tree! Since the tsunami of 2004 is the interest for the mangroves higher again, since they provide a natural protection for the coast.
Before we could drive over the huge bridge to Georgetown, we gave back the Landrover parts that didn’t fit the car. The world heritage site Georgetown is located on the island of Penang.
November 1st & 2nd 2012: Georgetown, Malaysia
Driven distance on November 1st & 2nd 2012: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 50’980km (31’680 miles)
The island of Penang was the 1st settlement of the British in Malaysia in the 18th century. Very quickly it became an imported trading town and the population kept on growing gradually. Specially Chinese traders were settling down.
On the first day we visited several sights of Georgetown, like the Fort Cornwallis, several British colonial buildings as well as some Chinese temples and mansion.
The second day we used to get on the view point of Georgetown, the Penang hill (821m / 2700 feet). According to our hotel owner it would have been possible to drive up there by car. We tried our luck but were rejected because it was no public road. Afterwards we had to get up there like anybody else. From above we had a great view over the city and the nearby mainland. In the evening we granted us a visit in the movie theater and enjoyed some thrilling time with the new James Bond movie:-).
November 3rd 2012: Georgetown – Kampung Keling, Malaysia
Driven distance on November 3rd 2012: 30km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’010km (31’700 miles)
After lunch we started our journey in direction north of the island. Fortunately we could find a cozy sleeping place at the beach with not too many houses and people.
November 4th 2012: Kampung Keling – Alor Setar, Malaysia
Driven distance on November 4th 2012: 150km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’160km (31’790 miles)
The trip around the island led us to a small batik factory. We could see there how they pattern and the drawings on the cloth are made. The very winding road continued through a forest with many durian trees. Along the road those fruits were also for sale everywhere, and since their smell is quite intensive it was possible to locate them very quickly :-). At the end we visited the Chinese snake temple. The main altar is guarded by greenish poisoning vipers. According to the legend they appeared mysteriously after the temple was finished in the year of 1850. Just besides it was a snake farm, in which we could see many snake from very small to very big. Afterwards we drove from the island back to the mainland in direction Thai boarder.