So, then I was on the Cameron Highlands. I woke up way too late, so I missed the breakfast (it wasn’t included either way, so luckily I didn’t miss out on free stuff). I was hungry, so I had to improvise. Luckily, the city/village had a street pretty much full of restaurants, and one of those still happened to serve breakfast, although it was almost noon. Looked at the menu, ordered a sandwich and didn’t expect too much, but holy smokes… 6 sandwiches, fries and salad. And that all for not even €3! Until that moment, life was great. But then I became overconfident. There were a couple of jungle walking trails around the village, and originally I just planned to do a short, simple route. I started off doing a short track, that was mainly just walking, without really hiking/climbing. I didn’t really feel tired after that, and I didn’t want to head back to the hostel yet, so I ended up doing another trail, that was much more challenging. And then the overconfidence started kicking in. Long story short, a good 3 hours and 12km worth of climbing, tumbling, losing the trail at some point and having to slide down for 3 meters to reach the actual path again and sweating later, I reached the hostel. By then my t shirt had very much changed colors, everything was dirty because I had to slide down to reach the trail because I got lost, and my feed were sore because I did the whole thing on flip flops. And if it couldn’t get any worse, nearing the end of the trail, my left contact started acting up, and ultimately disappeared somewhere inside my eye. Because I didn’t really have stuff with me to solve that problem, I walked the last few kilometers with one eye closed, so that I wouldn’t lose it… And still, I very much enjoyed it, and I would do it again (sans the contact thingy and the flip flops) in a heartbeat. When I reached the hostel, and wanted to get my stuff to take a much needed shower, I was greeted by two familiar faces. The two British girls (Cissey and Eleanor) I met in Cat Ba, and they had just checked in. Surprise surprise! (Not really, I knew they were coming to Cameron Highlands, and I told them where I was staying). After talking for a bit, they (plus the German guy, Niklas, they were traveling with) went and did a jungle trail, and I took a shower and caught my breath for the next few hours. At night, we met up again, had some dinner together, and played some card games and some Jungle Speed together (where we almost broke the entire glass bottle collection of the bar, but luckily we didn’t get further than ‘almost’).
The next day we decided we wanted to do another jungle trail. The others had heard about the ‘mossy forest,’ that supposedly resembled (parts of the) jungle in the movie Avatar, so we headed there. To get there by foot, we had to cross the highest mountain top in the area. It started off easy but boring, because we first had to walk on normal roads for quite a while, before we reached the actual jungle path. But then, pretty much immediately, we figured out what an actual jungle trail is. Some moments, the trail was so steep that we moved more vertically than horizontally with each step. We kept on hoping that the view was worth, and unfortunately, it wasn’t. It would’ve been, but it wasn’t. As soon as we got close to the top, we also got really close to a cloud. Which was annoying. So instead of seeing amazing views, we saw cloud. There was a watchtower close to the top, and we climbed it, only to see more cloud. Ah well, we had fun getting up there, and we still had the mossy forest coming up. And luckily one side of the mountain was already getting less cloudy, so there was hope. After a few minutes of walking, we arrived in the mossy forest, and there we walked around some wooden walkway through the trees. It was quite a unique experience, and it indeed looked like a mix between Avatar and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings. Then, we all needed food, so I got my phone out, searched for the nearest cafe/restaurant, and that’s where we went. Until someone (Niklas) decided we could also try a different route that seemed to be leading in the right direction. That worked wonders, until it didn’t. We made quite a detour, and ended up in a completely different place than we planned, but they had tea and cake, so we didn’t complain. Although we filled up our energy levels, we didn’t really fill up on our motivation to walk back to the hostel for 12km. Luckily, there was a pick-up truck with Malaysian people that was nice enough to pick us up (ha-ha) and let us hitchhike in the back, and even though it was not exactly on their route, they were kind enough to drop us off in the village we stayed in! We walked the last couple hundred meters home, and after taking a shower we all pretty much crashed in the lobby/dorm. As soon as it started raining, Niklas and I went out to get food, because other than breakfast and some snacks along the way, I didn’t really eat anything. That night we just chilled and sat by the ‘campfire’.
And that was Cameron Highlands. In the morning I packed my stuff, checked out, and got in the minivan to Penang/George Town. Last night, Niklas decided to join me, and he was just in time to secure one of the last spots in the minivan. We had one of those drivers that watched too much formula 1, and he raced us down the mountain roads. After a couple of hours, we arrived in George Town, and there we checked in to a nice and quiet hostel. Quite soon after arriving, I met a Chinese guy whose English wasn’t too great, but I managed to understand that he asked me to come have lunch with him and a Korean guy, so that’s how Niklas and I ended up having lunch at some Chinese restaurant, next to a Chinese guy that was constantly smacking his lips, and a slurping Korean guy. But I had one of my best meals so far, so it was very much worth it! After that, I walked around the city for a bit, exploring the street art. George Town is famous for its street art everywhere, and some Lithuanian artist has placed some 3D murals around the city, which feature a combination of random objects, and a painting that seems to ‘interact’ with such an object. But there’s also quite a lot of other street art by other artists, so there was a lot to see! After making my trip through the city, I returned to the hostel in time to head out to dinner with the Korean guy, Niklas, and a guy from Austria (Gregor). We went to the nearby food-court, where they had all imaginable kinds of food (almost), and where you could combine whatever foods you wanted. I have no clue what I ended up ordering, but it was delicious, so for anyone ever visiting that food court, definitely try that dish out. After that we just sat around in the hostel, talking, and called it a relatively early night.
The next morning I didn’t really feel like doing anything, so I ended up not doing anything. Read some in my book, watched some Netflix, and then I joined the Chinese and Korean guys again for lunch. Once again a Chinese restaurant, once again trouble communicating, once again delicious meal. After that I headed to some old Chinese clan house in the old part of the city. In George Town, the Malaysians are actually a minority, since 60% of the people that live there is Chinese. Because of that, you see all kinds of Chinese influences, all kinds of Chinese restaurants, and of course all kinds of Chinese everywhere. But that also makes that it felt more like Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam than Kuala Lumpur did, and I really liked that. After the clan house I went and walked around in little India, which is the Indian version of Chinatown. It’s always nice to walk around in a city, and suddenly it seems like you’re in an entirely different city, because everything around you changes, including the people that are walking around. After getting back to the hostel I chilled for a bit again, and ordered food from the other side of the road. After food I spent most of the rest of the evening watching Netflix (or trying to do so, the internet didn’t really work reliably) and after that chatting with some other people from the hostel (including a guy from Scotland that lived in Helmond and spoke Dutch) and then went to bed, because the next day would (finally) be a day of scootering around the island!
Excited! I love driving around on scooters, and it’s been way too long since the last time. So I got up early, munched my breakfast, and got myself a moped. George Town is so big that you don’t really feel like you’re on an island, it just feels like you’re in a generic big city. But after driving for a couple of minutes, and getting out of the city, you suddenly experience the actual island. It was great driving around in the mountains and exploring the other side of the island. I started off driving to the other side of the island, and finding myself a nice beach. The beach looked nice, but there was a slightly scary sign up front. The sign told me that I shouldn’t swim there, and it actually had a ‘drowning cases’ counter (3 people drowned there between 2012 and 2014, if anyone’s interested), so I ended up just laying on the beach and reading my book, instead of actually swimming. After reading a couple of chapters I headed to a huge Chinese temple area, with all kinds of temples/pagoda/stuff. It was impressively big, and you could climb the pagoda, which gave a really nice overview over the city. Then, I went back to the hostel, had some lunch with Gregor (we constantly geeked out, and had the most amazing conversations that probably would’ve made the average not-so-nerdy person cry) at some really nice vegetarian Indian place, and then hopped back on my scooter again to head to the Botanical Gardens. Walked around for a bit, saw a couple of lizards and had a couple of heart attacks because there were monkeys flying from trees all the time. After that I returned home, had some dinner, and returned my moped. Then, one of the people that work at the hostel told me there were two celebrations going on in the city, and that I should check them out. One of the celebrations was for the birthday of the sultan (if I recall correctly) and featured a couple of shows (with music that wasn’t really my taste) and free food for everyone. If only I’d known, but because I just had food, I had to skip the free goodies. The other celebration was because George Town was happy to be a Unesco world heritage site. All through the old city there were things to do and things to see. All kinds of traditional games from some kind of weird French balls with marbles to basketball to ‘animal chess’, and there were all kinds of stands selling food or showing what the community was up to. One of the most impressive things was the lion’s dance, which was a show by two people in a suit that was half lion half dragon, and they were constantly doing all kinds of crazy acrobatics, while a ‘band’ with all kinds of drums added the background music. After that, there was also a show with all kinds of cute chubby Asian kids that suddenly turned into absolute killing machines when they showed off their martial arts skills. Once again, very impressive to see, and I wouldn’t mind not meeting any of them in a dark alley. After that I returned to the hostel, and spent the rest of the night chilling in front of the hostel.
The next morning I left George Town for Langkawi, one of my final stops before I’m heading back home. I walked from the hostel to the ferry, really didn’t fit into my seat, and the chubby Indian that fell asleep and wanted to cuddle with me didn’t really help either, but luckily, just over 3 hours later, I arrived on Langkawi. From there, I took the taxi to the south-west of the island, where all the touristy stuff is located, and checked in to a very cozy hostel. The dorm was full, so I had to check in to one of the queen size single rooms, but having a room for yourself is always nice every once in a while (although my queen size bed is currently filled with all my stuff, so I’ll probably sleep on the floor tonight). Spent my day walking around and exploring the city, walked through some shopping malls, and ended up on the beach, reading for a bit. I’ll spend my next few days in Langkawi, just enjoying the environment and the beach, and probably driving around on a moped for one or two days. Or not. I’ll see. Ah well, time to sleep now!