Taman Negara, Malaysia

The bus journey to Taman Negara was pretty good fun. It was only Eva, Volker, Sophie and myself. I plugged the old iTrip into my iPod and we had a bit of a music session on the drive down. This was great fun and made the trip go a lot faster.

We arrived in Taman Negara and set about looking for some accommodation. We found a dorm room in Trembeling Riverview Guesthouse for RM10 a night, about £1.50.

After the journey, we were all pretty hungry so after a quick chat with the local guide about possible trips for the following day we headed down to get some food on one of the floating restaurants.

We also got chatting to a couple of guys there who had been in town for a few days and they recommended a guide for us. Because we didn’t have long, we were not able to do any of the standard tours, which usually involve a night in a hut, where you can (hope to) see some wild animals, such as boar, deer, snakes, squirrels, etc. They are not guaranteed, which sounds rather like the warnings I had been given that all the game has been scared off, and to see it, you really need to get off the tourist trails and deeper into the jungle.

We wanted to do the Canopy Walkway, which is one of the main attractions in Taman Negara and a short hike. There is a hill near the Canopy Walkway, which takes a couple of hours to hike up, so we opted to do that. That would get us back around lunch time and in the afternoon we could go to see one of the caves near the town.

After dinner we chilled out outside the dorm room and planned an early night as we had the trekking the following morning. I actually have a very funny story top tell here… but not one that I am going to share 😉 no matter how much you ask!!! That is something for me and someone else to keep to ourselves!! I just needed to write this so that I remember when I read back!

The actual trek in the morning was fine. It was a very easy trail with a slight steep section for about 40 minutes, then the rest of the trail was a well trodden path, and even some steps for part of it (which we didn’t use!).

Our guide, Armin, was very knowledgeable about the area and kept pointing out plants and trees to us, with information on how the Orang people (aborigines) use them for eating, building, medicine, poison, etc. His English was great and he was a good laugh.

I was mightily impressed as the guide was fasting for Ramadan at the time and to trek in that heat for a few hours and not even be able to drink water or eat anything is a pretty tough task. He said that he is used to it as he has done it for a few years, and can normally manage a 8 hour trek without water! Although he does carry some in case of emergency.

The final viewpoint at the top of the hill was rather uninteresting. We just saw a small valley and lots of trees. I am not sure what else I expected to see in the jungle, but there were no features of interest. Still, it was a nice walk.

If I had longer in the area, or ever came back then I would love to go on the 7 day trek they have up the mountain, which, I think, is the highest mountain in Malaysia, maybe even SE Asia.

After the walk we headed to the Canopy Walkway, which is a large suspension bridge about one foot wide held up with ropes through the canopy (top) of the jungle trees. Eva had some vertigo, so was nervous about it, but managed fantastically. It doesn’t look nearly as high as it is because you have a lot of trees beneath you, so you don’t get to see much of the ground.

I was a little disappointed here as well. We were in the canopy, and I guess the reason is to see what life lives at the tops of trees, like birds, squirrels, fruits and anything else. But there was nothing! So it was a walk along a high rope bridge and that was it. I wish I was more scared of heights, then it would have been more fun with the adrenaline flowing. Oh well. We still had fun in our group.

After the canopy walk our guide took us to where he saw a snake sleeping a few minutes before. We all wanted to go see it, so he took us 5 minutes back up the steps and there it was. The first wild animal we saw (apart from a bunch of HUGE ants!) a beautiful green Viper curled up sleeping in the tree. This snake was very poisonous so we needed to keep our distance. It had just eaten so would be sleeping there for a while. That was cool.

After a spot of lunch back in the floating restaurant we had a half hour sleep then headed back out to the cave. This was a 45 minute trek over a flat jungle path and then climbing through the rocks. It was fun… and dirty! And there was a hell of a lot of bats… hundreds of bats, every where! You just have to remember to keep your mouth shut when you look up at them, in case they drop you a small present!! We also saw another snake in the cave. A black and yellow one, but I forget the name.

After the cave we headed to the posh restaurant over the river. A high class resort where the cheapest room is RM320, going up to a few hundred for the bungalows. They did look very nice though.

The food was really good and it was nice to have a couple of beers at the end of a tough day… well, only tough because I have been so lazy over the last few weeks!

Another night and then onto the boat/bus to Kuala Lumpur

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

I finally managed to tear myself away from the Perhentian Islands, after more than a month on the Island.

I had a choice of where to go. I really wanted to see Taman Negara, which is a big national park set in the Malaysian jungle. I had been told that it is really touristy with lots of resorts, and as a result there are no animals of real merit to be seen as they have all been scared away by all the tourists. Also, because it is the rainy season it is very (VERY) wet and with that comes a whole load of leeches. I heard stories of people trekking through the jungle and coming back to find leeches all over their bodies. Not nice! For this reason I decided to bypass Taman Negara and head straight over to the Cameron Highlands.

I got the bus early in the morning, and after the taxi from Pulau Perhentian Kecil (Small Island) to the mainland I was very happy to find that I was the only person on the bus!

Great. All to myself. Time to lay down and catch a few Zzzz’s (since I hadn’t been relaxing enough lately!!)

The bus journey was rather uneventful. The driver was rather amusing and seemed obsessed about asking how many women I had had while travelling! Strange guy!

En route I had to change busses and when we stopped off I got chatting to a few people who were going the other way. Since they had just come from Taman Negara I felt it was a great opportunity to get some recommendations on accommodation and things to do. I was recommended Daniel’s Place, which had had a really bad write-up in the Lonely Planet. Worth a shot, as I trust personal recommendations much more than guide books.

Place change so fast in SE Asia that a write up from a year ago doesn’t really mean anything.

When I arrived in Taman Negara I got dropped off at my Guesthouse and had a look around. The room looked fine, basic, but pretty much clean and no bed bugs and there were a few other backpackers sitting around, so I checked in.

I arrived in the late afternoon, so I had a quick walk around the town and found a shop that processes film camera’s, and they could even put the pictures onto a memory card for me! At last, after carrying around a disposable camera from the Full Moon Party and an underwater disposable camera from a dive I did on Koh Tao, both from about 2 months ago, I could finally look at the pictures! How ever did we manage before digital cameras?!

I guesthouse had a Jungle Bar in the back, with a camp fire and a few people sitting round with a Guitar.

I went out for dinner on my own and found a whole bunch of curry houses! Heaven. I have been craving a good curry and Nan bread for weeks! It was great.

I was really tired from the journey (it’s amazing how doing nothing but sleeping on a bus drains your energy!) so I just stayed in my room and read my book. I am currently reading a book on the French Foreign Legion, which is actually quite interesting. I also booked a tour for the next day, since I only had one or two full days in the Highlands before moving on.

The next morning I met for my trek at about 8:45am. I met a couple of other people who were also on my trek (a German guy called Volker, a German girl called Eva and a French girl called Sophie). We headed off for some breakfast before being picked up and, of course, were a bit late!!

The tour started with a trip to a tea plantation, which is the main attraction of the Cameron Highlands. We went to the Boh plantation, which is the largest in Malaysia. They don’t export their tea to the West, but sell it to Malaysia, Singapore and a couple of other countries around SE Asia.

This was pretty interesting and the tea was very nice. It tasted a lot more earthy (fresh) than the tea back home.

After the tea plantation we went on a one hour hike into the jungle to see one of the worlds largest flowers, the Raffleasia. This was pretty cool. It is actually a mushroom and when it flowers, it only stays in bloom for 4-7 days, then it dies and the guides have to find a new one for the tourists.

At the end of the trek we stopped at an Orang Ansi (Original People) village to see them using a blowpipe, a weapon used for hunting. They use a poison dart, with the poison coming from the Ipoh tree, and then blow it through a long bamboo pipe. One dart is enough to kill a person, but it takes about 4 or 5 to drop a large cat.

Our final stop was a butterfly sanctuary with a bunch of flowers, animals, such as beetles, snakes, lizards, spiders, turtles, etc. and of course, the butterflies. These were huge butterflies and very colourful, great for photos.

After spending around 2 months living on beaches, it was so nice to get back into the travelling lark and it felt even better to do some exercise!

That evening I spent with the guys from the trek and the other backpackers in the hostel. It was nice to sit around the campfire drinking a couple of Tigers and chat to the guys.

Volker, Eva and Sophie were planning on heading to Taman Negara the next morning and I had to decide whether to go with them, stay in the Highlands for an extra day of have a couple of extra days in the cities (Kuala Lumpur and Singapore). There was only a strawberry farm to see in the Highlands, which I wasn’t bothered about seeing, there are plenty in the UK! And I didn’t fancy too much time in the cities, and I really enjoyed hanging out with the Germans, so I decided to brave the leeches and head over to Taman Negara. 

Perhentian Islands 2, Malaysia

Wow, it has been a couple of weeks since my last update.

As I mentioned in my last post, I kinda like it here. After coming for around 5 days initially to do my Advanced Diver course I have ended up staying for over a month.

After 8 months of near solid partying I decided it would be a good idea to chill for a while before hitting Australia, where I am sure I will be partying a lot more again. I thought it would take me a couple of weeks settling in somewhere to get ready to hit the road again, but it has taken me a month.

The people around here are fantastic, with locals and other customers being really friendly. Groups have come and go as I have been here, but there has been a steady stream of people to keep me occupied. I have also become keen on a couple of girls that I have met since being here. A really nice Dutch girl and a great fun American girl (not at the same time, mind!!) So that has made the time here quite special.

To fill the time I decided to take my Rescue Diver course as well, which I completed last week. This course is all about being aware of other divers and learning how to handle an emergency situation, such as a panicked diver or a non-responsive diver. You learn how to approach them, protect yourself, bring them to the surface and get them back to safety and perform emergency first response (First Aid). It is a tough course and quite physically demanding but the best I have done yet. Just being aware of diver emergencies makes me more relaxed and comfortable as a diver myself. So if I got into an emergency situation I would like to think that I would be able to stay calm and sort myself out… and also have the ability to help other people should they need it. Very good course and my instructor, Dee, was fantastic. Cheers Dee!

I have bought myself a dive computer. Dee was buying a new one, so I have bought his old one. It’s a good computer (Suunto Stinger) and since I was thinking of buying one in KL or Singapore anyway, a very good price. It even has his Tsunami profile logged where he was diving in Phi Phi when the Tsunami hit! I’ll try to get a docking station for the watch so I can upload them to my computer when I get home.

I am up to about 50 dives now, I have done around 30 here on the island and am hooked. i am trying to upload some photos, but my internet provvider keeps messing up and the photos don’t show up. I am working on it, and hope to have them uplaoded very soon.

Other than diving I really haven’t been doing much. Just chilling on the beach all day, playing some scrabble, boggle, cards, practicing my Poi and that is about it. I haven’t had any big nights out in the last couple of weeks, preferring to stay at the local Beach Bar owned by the friendly Karime, who we just found out came second in a mixologist competition (mixing cocktails) in Vegas a few years ago….he is good!!

It has become so difficult to leave here. I have totally fallen for the beach lifestyle and am thinking of coming back the season after next to do my Divemaster course and work for a season. I think I would be MUCH happier diving in the summer and snowboarding in the winter. Of course, that means giving up the well paid city job, which will be tough. I might also just be caught up in the heat of the moment, so we will see how that plan turns out after getting back to London. I might fall for the money again!

I finally have to leave here on Monday morning. If I don’t leave then, I won’t have time to see what I want in Malaysia before my flight to Aus. I was going to see Taman Negara, a jungle area with trecking and canopy bridges (rope bridges in the trees). I h ave been told that they are not actually that great, as it is so touristy, most of the big animals have been scared off and since we are coming into Monsoon season there is a shed load of rain and even more leeches. I’m not so keen on the Leeches, so I think I will head straight over to the Cameron Highlands to see the famous tea plantations, then head to KL (Kuala Lumpa) for a couple of days finishing with a couple of days in Singapore before flying out on the 2nd October.

So, that is about all I have to update for now. Life is just chilled and relaxed. In fact, I have never been so relaxed in my entire life. The feeling is adictive. For the first time ever I can sit in a chair and look out to sea with out doing anything or thinking about anything. It’s fantastic and the exact opposite of stressfull city life. Why do we all stress so much back home about stupid little things that really, are not that important at all! Life is too fast and I know I, for one, miss the simple things in life that make it so joyfull. The one thing I have learnt this trip is how to relax and ignore the *** that surrounds us, but isn’t that important.

I have started work on a small internet project that I hope I can launch while back home. If it takes off, I hope to be able to make money from it via advertising whilst spending little

time managing it myself. If I can pull it off, then it will be so much easier to leave the city life and live the dream that I feel suits me so much better than the stress of my day job.

We’ll see how that turns out. I’ll let you know more when it is ready to be tested, I will also be asking people to help out by adding any information they may have. More on that later 🙂

It will be interesting to see how I deal with life in the big cities again!!
Hope your all well and I really will try to get my photos uploaded as soon as I can. 

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

Hey everyone. Just a quick post to let you all know I am still alive! The internet connection here is very ropey, so I am not sure when I will be able to get my photos up.. I have about a months worth… so keep watching!

I left Phi Phi a couple of weeks ago to spend 3 or 4 days in the Perhentian Islands. I had finally had enough of the constant rain in Phi Phi. All day and all night long. I still had a lot of fun there, but my tan was fading fast.

I figured a few days in the Islands here, then travel through Malaysia to get down to Singapore for my flight to Australia on October the 2nd.

Well, over 2 weeks on, and I am still here and probably will be for another week!

I have fallen in love with the Perhentians. The weather is amazing, the people are super friendly, the diving is great as is the wakeboarding and I am really getting the hang of Poi (fire dancing)

The trip down here from Phi Phi was a bit of a mission. I had to to get a boat to Krabi, then a bus to the Malaysian border, walk over the border crossing and then find a taxi to Kuala Besut. I arrived here at about 1am and the first boat in the morning was at 7am, so we slept on the hard floor of the local travel agent! There were about 7 of us who all met on the bus down from Phi Phi.

At 7am we got the boat over to the Perhentian Islands. I heard that Long Beach on Small Island (Kecil) was the best place to go and also the Irish girls (Jamie, Suzie and Claire) were there already.

The place was super busy when I arrived and rooms are very hard to come by, so I made sure I was on the first boat.

I booked into the first cheap room I could find to make sure I had somewhere to stay and then took a walk along the beach. The girls were staying in Panarama, but they were full up so I kept walking.

At the very opposite end of the beach I found Moonlight Guesthouse, which also had a dive shop attached to it. After checking out the room and the divemasters I decided to move here. I was only going to be here a few days to do my Advanced diving course, so paying a bit more for my room wasn’t a problem.

The first day I booked my Advanced Open Water PADI diving course to start the next day, then met the girls and went to Turtle beach for some well needed sunbathing. After being in the rain for a week my tan really needed some work.

Unfortunately I didn’t account for the strength of the sun, the lack of sun cream and my diminished tolerance after a week out of it. Yep.. I burnt. Quite badly! My forehead turned into leather and I was in agony. Of course I couldn’t dive the next day as my head would not take the mask and my back wouldn’t take a BCD, so I decided to stay a few more days and start the course a couple of days late.

After a couple of days in the shade and evenings in Palm Tree Café, rather drunk I was fit and ready again. The girls left the day I started my diving, which was fine as I had that to keep me entertained, and I was actually looking forward to a few days just on my own with my book. After so long partying almost constantly it would be nice to chill, not drink, read a book or 2 and take it easy. There was a group of people in the guesthouse that I knew were there and I could hook up with at any time, so I wouldn’t get bored by not meeting people.

My Advanced course went fine.. I did the Deep Dive, Navigation , PPB (Peak Performance Buoyancy, Underwater Naturalist (not naturist!) adventure dives and after that was a Advanced diver! Yay. The course was a lot of fun and my instructor was fantastic. Cheers Dee!

Since then I have dived pretty much every day and now I am up to about 30 dives. Not bad since I started only a couple of months ago.

Evenings have been pretty chilled. A bit of dinner, then a couple of beers at the beach bar. No real heavy nights out (although we are planning one tonight). I have had a couple of Poker nights with the diving chaps and have even been playing a lot of scrabble in the days.

The people in my guesthouse are all so friendly that I really feel like a local now… apart from not having a job!

I have spent a good hour or more each day practicing my Poi as well and have got quite a few moves down. I am happy with Corkscrews, 3 and 4 beat weaves, butterflies and a bunch of others. I am definitely going to try fire at least once before I leave the island! So I might be bald the next time you see me!

I have also tried my hand at wakeboarding, which I have been wanting to do for a long time now. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and got up on my third attempt, which is apparently pretty good, especially since the sea was quite choppy at the time.

So, that is about all my life has been over the last couple of weeks. I am trying my hardest to upload the few photos I have taken from the last few weeks, but internet is not something that this place does best… so it has been a bit of a mission. Hopefully I’ll have better look when I try again in a day or so.

Hope you are all well… and feel free to drop me an email to let me know what is going on back home. I need lots of gossip!

Speak soon..