Leeches suck !

Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
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17
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Trip End Sep 01, 2008


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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

You will remember that our time in Laos caused us to fall in love with travelling again after we had become just slightly weary with being on the road. Spending about 12 days in Malaysia only strengthened those good feelings all the more. We remembered why we liked travelling, experiencing and seeing life in a way we haven't before, meeting new people, tasting new foods (not always liking them!) and seeing new places that feed your travel imagination and tick off items on the 'places to see before I die list' !

Before we left Laos, I (Tom) contacted an old friend, Jin-Yu that I knew from sixth form days who I travelled to Oman with as part of a young peoples leadership course called the Fulcrum Challenge. Jin-Yu is Malaysian and I hoped he might have ideas of places for us to see. Instead of tourist suggestions, he arranged for us to stay with his parents who live in Kuala Lumpur and suggested that we stay with him in Singapore when we arrived there as I had told him of our final route plans for our time in South East Asia.

We had decided to fly to KL as the coach would just take too long and we were anxious to spend time seeing rather than sitting on a coach. We arrived in KL and were met by Robert and Angie, Jin-Yu's parents. They looked after us very well and were very generous to us for the time we spent in Malaysia. They offered their house to us as a base and we took advantage of this offer to unpack our rucksacks fully for the first time in ages.

The rainforest was on the list 'places to see before you die' and we knew that the primary jungle of the Taman Negara on the peninsular interior of Malaysia was a great place to have the rainforest experience. We booked a tour from KL to the jungle and travelled about 6 hours by coach to the border of the national park. From there we got on a narrow boat to reach the place we were staying at 2 hours upriver.

The term 'rainforest' should have given us a bit of a clue about the conditions there, but man did it rain! As soon as we were on the boat we realised how wet it would be as the rain came down. Still, it was exhilarating to be in the rainforest, to be seeing a type of place that is so green, so alive with wildlife and plant life and completely lives up to its term of being a jungle.

We were in a group with only two other people and they had evidently taken the luxury option rather than our chosen budget option because when we arrived at our destination they were given a jeep ride to their lodge, whereas we were given directions to ours, about a 15 minute trek away up and down a hill and on the other side. The first tiny bit of exertion in the very humid rainforest causes a full on sweat, so carrying a bag had me soaked. Our hut was fine, a bed each and an attached bathroom. Thankfully we had remembered to bring the mossie nets (thanks again Col and Dawn!) and set them up quickly. The bathroom had a coldwater shower and western style toilet, which is to say a normal toilet. But there were ants there. Lots of ants. Ants that seemed immune to drowning. Ants that came back from the drain in greater numbers each time they were washed away!

We had two days to spend there. We did a short night trek to a hide to see if any animals had come out to feed at the waterhole. The sounds of the jungle night and the utter complete darkness when you turned off your torch was breathtaking, and a little unsettling. We saw some deer, bats, centipedes, spiders, ants that were huge and lizards. Later that night we discovered that I (Tom) had been sucked by a leech. Thankfully it had fallen off but had left a weeping sucker mark and a bruise. Well we couldn't go to the jungle and not have some sort of battle wound!

We went on the canopy walkway which is 45 metres above the ground and saw the hectares and hectares of forest all around. To see natural beauty like this makes you realise as a Christian how beautiful the Creator of it all is. We also did a trek up a hill called Pukit Teresik which wasn't really that high, wasn't really that long a distance, wasn't really that strenuous a trek. However, throw in the humidity and heat of a jungle and it suddenly becomes very hard work, and makes you look like you just came out of the shower.

From the Taman Negara we went to the coast to visit an island called Perentian Kecil. The way to get to the island from the mainland is by speed boat. These boats have two 300 hp engines and practically fly over the water which makes for a terrifying, bumpy and wet 45 minute journey. We spent the next three days recovering on the sandy palm tree lined beaches, enjoying the warm South China Sea and the waves. We found a beach hut to stay in that cost us 20 ringgit (3.50 pounds) a night and ate fresh BBQ fish at night.

Back in KL we saw all the sights, and Sarah made a good, but never the less vain effort at trying to visit every shopping mall the city could offer. You can't do it, there's just so many and they are so huge.

We went up the Petronas Towers which were the worlds tallest building until China built something taller, but they can claim to have the worlds tallest double decker viewing platform! To go up to the viewing deck on the 41st floor is free and they had a good little exhibition to look around. The best display was a machine that measures your height and then calculates how much taller famous buildings are than you. So, some facts for you; the Empire State is 215 times taller than Tom, the Sears Tower is 255 times taller, the Jin Mao is 237 times taller and the Petronas are 253 times taller.

We visited the historic town of Melaka and we had lunch at the most amazing house. It belonged to family friends of Robert and Angie who we were staying with. The house was over 300 years old and had been in the same Chinese Malaysian family for that time. It was full of family treasures and history because one of the key political figures who helped to finalise the Malaysian constitution after independence from the UK was the great grandfather of our lunch hosts. An old photo showing him and the British diplomat Lord Reid was displayed in the house. We saw the same photo in the National museum in KL which showed the significance of this man in forming the country of Malaysia 50 years ago.

We really enjoyed our time in Malaysia, it was a good mix to have some time on our own travelling around but also to have friends to stay with. This gave us the creature comforts that we had missed for a while!
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