Day 23 – Our first couple of hours in Malaysia are hectic. This also must be one of the first (of many) times where we are trying to find our way through a non-touristy area which means there are fewer communication techniques available and lots of locals around you who do not speak or understand much English. We must have looked really clueless and ‘easy targets’ upon our arrival at the bus terminal when a few local guys approached us and tried to sell us bus tickets. I admit, my very pale complexion tends to stand out like an approaching headlight so it is sometimes hard to lay low. A little overwhelmed, we followed one of the guys to the little bus ticket office where we purchased our bus tickets. Luckily, we checked the price of how much a bus ticket would go for so we wouldn’t end up being scammed but the price seems to be accurate. With our bus ticket in hand, we get on the long haul bus that departs from the busy Larkin Sentral and will take us 330 kilometers further up north to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Five hours later we arrive at the bus station in Kuala Lumpur and have to figure out how to get to our hostel that we had booked for the night. The neighborhood, Setiawangsa, raised a lot of eyebrows and shrugged shoulders when we asked around, but then again, I might have totally butchered the pronunciation. A very kind lady on the metro helped us out and put us in the right direction and on the right metro. From the metro station, it is a short walk to our hostel, the Dreamville Hostel. Nothing too dreamy about it but for two nights it will do and an hour later we leave the hostel all refreshed for a short evening walk around Kuala Lumpur before calling it a day. Tomorrow we have the Petronas Towers and the Batu Caves (see image) on our travel list.
Day 26 – On our second day in the Cameron Highlands, we explore the ‘top pick’ of this hilly region, the BOH (Best of Highland) tea plantation. From our hostel in Tanah Rata, we take a short uphill taxi ride to Brinchang where we start our hike, the Gunung Brinchang Jungle Trail N°1. This adventurous climb leads the way through to the Mossy Forest and spoils us with nice scenic views along the way. We eventually end up at the BOH plantation where we take a short break before heading back to town. We soon realize the road back to Tanah Rata is still ways to go and try to hitchhike our way back but there is not a lot of traffic on this rural road. Luckily two locals in a pickup truck stop and offer us a wobbly ride back to our hostel. Once we get back we meet up with Courtney, a dauntless American girl who is staying at the hostel as well and shares some unique travel stories and tips about her time in Myanmar, a country that is on our travel path as well. We exchange contact information over some Tiger beers. A new friendship has formed.
Day 27 – Today we continue our journey to our last stop in Malaysia, Penang Island. Five minutes into our bus journey it suddenly looks like we were not going anywhere when the bus driver gets hit by another bus. Thankfully nobody gets hurt and after assessing the situation and the damage, the bus driver decided to continue the drive northwards. Almost four hours later we arrive in the city of Butterworth, which is our transfer point for the Rapid Ferry to Penang Island, also called the Pearl of the Orient. From the port, we walk to our trendy hostel, The Frame Guesthouse, which is a great spot for every backpacker to lodge for a few days while exploring the historic streets of Georgetown, which are part of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Cultural Heritage Site. Make sure you also plan a visit to the Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia although I felt like they were turning this impressive pilgrimage point into a total tourist attraction.
Day 29 – We leave Georgetown in the dust and buy a seat on a minivan from Georgetown to Hat Yai, our first stop in Thailand. During our travels through this streetfood market paradise, we hop from to the one tropical destination to the other, get to see what the infamous Khao San Road and Soi Cowboy is all about, and we get a return ticket for a lively train adventure from Bangkok to Chang Mai.