Malaysia Time

February 17, 2012 - Georgetown, Malaysia

GeorgetownSo, left the Thai’s and traded for the Malays! Crossed the border with no problems whatsoever. Arrived late in the evening in Georgetown on Penang Island. I had befriended a lass from Austria called Marlies, so we wandered around Chinatown looking for accommodation, and managed to find a sweet dorm at the Reggae Hostel down on Love Lane. It was a cupboard type space with 4 blocks covered by a heavy curtain, a very comfy mattress and our own light and cupboard. For a hostel, and for a dorm, it was very plush, and only $10 a night. Taman Negara - Penang islandThe a/c was on, which was a blessing because coming just that wee bit south into Malaysia really felt like someone had notched up the heat or the humidity or both!! The music downstairs was blaring 90’s pop and obviously some reggae/bob marley music too ! Thank goodness for earplugs!

Marlies and I spent the next day wandering around Georgetown and exploring Little India and the sea wall. It was so hot, we kept crossing the street saying ‘shade’ and laughing, phewweee, it had to be 36 degrees, or maybe it was just less but very humid … either way … We ate at Little India in a restaurant full of Indians all eating with their fingers, balling the rice up on their plate, and grabbing more chicken or veggies as they went! Unreal … we asked for cutlery … sorry! Marlies left for Thailand the next day, and I rented a scooter and off I went to the north of the island (after I’d tried to navigate out of Georgetown city – that’s another story!). I went to see the National Park there and hike around in the coastal jungle, it was very basic, but the trail was well maintained, and the humidity once again .. wow! I have never perspired from the top of my cheeks before, so I was hot hot hot!! Once at the beach I walked to the end of the shaded pier and watched the sea swim by! On my way back to Georgetown I stopped by a posh hotel to use their lobby toilet, to discover a sign for the outdoor pool by the beach. Well, I had my swimsuit, so why not .. ha ha .. I left a few hours later! No harm done! Back to the big city, made it back to the hostel after one incorrect turn down a one way street to be turned around by a Malay policeman ! Oops!

Scooter Day with TomI ventured out on the bikes the following day with a Dublin lad called Tom, he had his own scooter, so we both went south, and visited Snake Temple, where we said hi to the pythons and vipers! Then to a war museum, but it was too much for entry, so we said no way. We then went to the far south west of the island, where the road was small and windy, and where no tourists venture because they can’t be bothered. Tom and his fruit ice bowlThe small towns down here were happy to see us, we stopped at a fruit stall where they crushed a block of ice, and pounded fruit into it to make us a fruit icey bowl for like 60c !! Unbelievable, and sooooo refreshing on this hot day ! We found a small beach and Tom went for a swim, to be stung by a big white jellyfish! I told him to pee on the wound, his hand, which he did. I was hoping he’d be ok, because I didn’t want to have to pee on him (we’d only just met today!! Ha ha!), but I would have if he asked if the pain was too much. Lucky for me he was ok, and we got advice from a young fisherman who said to go to town and buy some loose tobacco, wet it and roll it around on your hand. He did this, and instant refreshment! So tobacco can be good for you !! We biked back to Georgetown, and fought the traffic coming into town, man they are aggressive. At one point we just could not cross the 2 lanes of traffic to turn our turn, so we had to continue on and u-turn miles away, just to come back the same way. I was in the lead this time and I put my indicator on for ages and just merged! Tom said he was well impressed with how aggressive I was .. roadrage! Ha ha! Not really, but I was going to make that turn hell or highwater!

Tea PlantationsThe following day I got the bus to Tanah Rata which is high in the Cameron Highlands in central Malaysia. Chatted to a good guy called Martin from Argentina, and agreed to share his booked accommodation for the night, which was a twin room in a guesthouse. At $11 a night, its perfect! We went out to the night market for dinner, and had some cracking noodles and rice with chicken and seafood. Tea leaves crushed!We booked on a tour for the following day to see the area in a Land Rover 4x4, so we were excited and ready to go! Met the group the following day, and off we set to explore the highlands. We went up one of the highest mountains in Malaysia (in the 4x4 of course!), we had a 45 minute hike through a jungle trail where we saw some amazing plant life, some of which were really rare! Our guide Francis was amazing, he was so knowledgeable, friendly and had all the time in the world for us, he was very patient! Our group for the dayWe went to see the rolling tea plantations, and saw the workers ‘shearing’ or trimming the new tea leaves from the bushes. The smell in the air was amazing! We visited the factory where the leaves are brought, dried, sorted and shipped off to wherever they go for further processing. I have a whole new tea appreciation now!

Martin and I got dropped off a town before our stop so we could explore some more on foot now that the tour was over. We brought some fresh produce (strawberries – ummmm), we stopped at a strawberry farm for a strawberry smoothy and some strawberries and ice cream with chocolate sauce! Amazing! We then saw a temple, and then hiked the back residential roads back to Tanah Rata where we checked out a little waterfall as well.

Trekking the Mossy ForestMartin checked into his new hostel accommodation, and then we met up with Jasper and Merryn (who were on our tea tour!) and we had dinner together at the night market. We ordered ‘The steamboat’ which is like a big fondue pot of fish broth and veggies, they then bring you noodles, raw eggs, raw chicken, shrimp and squid, and you cook it all yourself there and then at the table! It was lots of food, and was very yummy! I went to meet my host, Gabrielle, at Starbucks, and we went back to join the others and all hang out. I went back to Gabrielles place for the night, I’d found him on, where people all round the world offer their couch or spare room for free to travellers. He lives with 2 others, but one was away, so I could have that room, perfect! Gabrielle was a nice Italian guy, an engineer working on a major dam project here in Malaysia. I spent a comfy night there, and then the next morning caught my minibus off to the Taman Negara jungle, a 130 million years old forest! So ... next up will be my jungle adventures ... i'm off to find some tigers and elephants !!


Taman Negara - Penang island
Scooter Day with Tom
Tom and his fruit ice bowl

1 Comment

Lois Johnstone:
February 17, 2012
Great pictures Claire! Looking like you are having a wonderful time. Rain here today, no swimming but I will go to Hoi Anh on Sunday with a bunch of teachers for the day.

love from Lois and the 8 lovely cats!
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