The last time I wrote to you, we were trapped in the rain in a hostel in Cameron Highlands . Lying in bed doing nothing, we spend a good part of the day. We had just started the trip but it felt like we had hit rock bottom. The rain had won us another battle again… but not the war. That night we made a decision: let it rain whatever it wants, since then we have been touring Asia with wet socks. Hold on we have returned.
( 08-25-14 ) The local bus ride there was surprisingly comfortable, although the last stretch we had to face a zigzagging mountain road. From the window of the bus we began to realize that Kuala Lumpur has little or nothing to do with the rest of Asia.
Our arrival at Cameron Highlands was awkward, as usual. We launched into the search for the only hostel about which we had found some interesting information. But upon arrival, for a change, it was packed. This is our fun hobby of going all the places without reservation. But come on, it was not difficult to find something to match, three minutes later there was another shelter with all the basics: hygiene, beds and a bathroom.
For those of you who have never been to this area of Asia, let me introduce you to a standard bathroom:
That’s right, there is no shower tray, no bathtub or “ná de ná”. The entire toilet itself is a shower and as such is liable to be wet. It has the advantage that if you know how to organize you can even pee in the cup while brushing your teeth in the sink while you shower. The first day it caught our attention, now we are one more. Once located and after eating in an Indian restaurant that I will present to you later, we went for a little tour of Tanah Rata, the town where we were staying. Tanah Rata is the reference city in the Cameron Highlands, a must-see region for mountain lovers. Great for hiking or visiting their tea plantations or strawberry farms.
That day we opted to do some hiking, but since we are not excessively equipped and it was starting to get dark, we chose a simple route. A pleasant walk surrounded by lush vegetation following the course of one of its very brown rivers. It gave time to connect a little with nature, take the occasional photo and get wet, again. Have I already told you about how much it rains here in August?
Luckily we were close to something like an exit and we were able to take shelter before it got serious. When the rain stopped so much, we walked along the road looking for some dinner. Malaysia is a multicultural country and the offer of international restaurants is vast. Just as in Spain it is usual to find local restaurants, franchises, Italian, Turkish, some Chinese and little else … in Malaysia each restaurant is from a completely different country or region: Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Turkish, Cambodian from the South, North Cambodian, Malay… that night we opted for something Muslim and it was an especially fun experience.
And the fact is that in the entire letter there was not a single photo and none of the names that appeared sounded familiar to us, just one such Coca-Cola. And the second because the waiter who served us did not understand 9 out of 10 words that we said. The result was that we asked for a boleo, he understood us at random, and he brought what he wanted. And some of the dishes tasted good to us, but others had serious problems enjoying them. With a confused stomach, we went to sleep.
Cameron Highlands Tea Plantations
( 08-26-14 ) Looking to go back a little from our thickness from the first days in Kuala Lumpur, we decided to force ourselves to get up early to take advantage of the day. Our goal was to visit the tea plantation, and there were several tours that might satisfy our curiosity. But since you already know what we think of the tours, we looked for information on the Internet and did the visit on our own.
HOW TO GO TO THE CAMERON HIGHLANDS TEA PLANTATIONS
The trick: go on the local bus instead of with an agency. The difference: about 12 euros less per person. The result: see the same but without haste. At the Tanah Rata bus station we caught the local bus and got off where the driver ordered us to. At that point there was only something like a service area and a local mini-market, where we bought (supposedly) freshly picked strawberries for breakfast. And from there, by a dirt road and about three kms later you reached the tea plantations. Awesome. But I don’t say it, I teach it.
I’ve always heard that tropical growing landscapes are often very attractive, but it still took me quite a bit by surprise. Just as in Kuala Lumpur it was difficult for me to get the camera out here, it was difficult for me to store it and they well know it.
Among other things, we were able to see the tea pickers in action.
Following the path we arrive at a small and colorful town, made up of its shop, its bar….
… His nursery, his Hindu temple and his four or five humble houses.
Refreshed, we retraced the path we had descended from and returned to the point where the local bus had left us, which in theory would come by to pick us up in half an hour. But since we had no better thing to do, we decided to resume the old habit of hitchhiking and that was to take out the poster …
… And the same bus appeared as on the way out. He didn’t seem ready to lose his favorite Spanish passengers, so after a bit of insistence we got on with him. Once in town we ate lunch. This time we opted for the Sri Brinchang Indian restaurant that had given us such good results the day before. His friendly waitress, always attentive, helped us deciphering the menu and recommending us. We are all satisfied with the menu. Highly recommended
HOW TO GET FROM CAMERON HIGHLANDS TO GEORGETOWN
After lunch, we returned to the hostel, from where a minibus left at noon for Penang, our next destination. Apparently in this area of Asia this type of transport is frequent among tourists. Instead of going to the station to catch a bus, you manage something smaller from your accommodation. It costs a little more than the normal one but you save on time and logistical problems. In our van we headed to Penang , accompanied by a friendly Dutch couple. The trip was not too long but it was too many curves so it ended up being tiring. Penang is a city located in the north of Malaysia, especially known for tourism for Georgetown, a neighborhood-island. To access you have to cross one of the longest bridges in Asia. That’s where the driver left us and after parting with our new best friends …
… We started the search for a bed. A tip: if you go to Asia, don’t stay in the first hostel you find. There is accommodation to kicks and if you go to the right street you will soon find the suitable hostel. The key is to go from hostel to hostel and ask to be shown a room and bathroom. If both meet minimum hygiene conditions and the price is acceptable, go ahead. With that policy we found the Reggae House, a quite acceptable hostel franchise in Malaysia.
There we unleashed ballast in our curious and very high room. Small but compact, with more than enough space if you organize. Hence initiation return to Georgetown. That day it did not stop raining so the return lasted as long as we wanted to get wet. But what little we could see made us hungry enough to keep doing it. Pillow moment.
What to see in Georgetown (Penang)
( 08-27-14 ) For the third consecutive day we signed up to get up early, but this day with more reason than ever. Irene, a Malay girl of Chinese descent, offered to show us around the city at the point of the morning. And best of all, car included. It is not that we are touring on four wheels but it was raining all morning so at least we saved water on the way. We started the tour with a simple but tasty local breakfast …
… And we continue on the road. First stop, Clan Jetties , a fishing and merchant neighborhood built on top of the sea. Although it has only one street and it is quite narrow, it is enough to discover something about the maritime culture of that place.
In addition, most of those who live there have the doors of their house open and even if you do not enter you can find out a few things about their “style” of life.
Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram
Back in the car and we go to temples. On the same street: Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram and Dharmikarama Burmese Temple. The first, a Thai Buddhist temple inside which hides one of the largest recumbent Buddha statues in the world: 33 meters of gold and silver.
Beyond the statue, a large number of Buddhist sculptures and a cemetery for believers. Apparently, practitioners of that religion can pay to be cremated and have their ashes placed in the temple. The more money you give to the cause, the higher your remains can be, so theoretically you will be closer to heaven.
A few photos later, we went to the temple opposite, the Dharmikarama Burmese, somewhat less ostentatious than the previous one, but more spacious, green… and in general, more complete.
Remarkable is the source of wishes, to which you can throw coins and if you hit a few containers your requests are fulfilled. Some call it a religious symbol, others will call it a quartet.
Something similar is the money tree, a small artificial tree on which you can hook banknotes as a donation to the temple in exchange for sacred concessions.
Details aside, a pleasant visit and highly recommended.
Kek Lok Yes
After finishing the second course, dessert arrived: the Kek Lok Si temple , between us THE TEMPLE. Awesome. In the middle of a lush mountain forest 130 years ago they decided to build this monument that holds the record of being the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia.
No matter how big it is, any corner to be covered is taken care of down to the last detail.
In addition to its wide collection of statues in honor of Buddha …
… Offerings to their Gods…
… Its colorful walls…
… Their prayer chapels…
… etc, etc, etc. From this visit we left with our batteries charged (despite the inexhaustible rain) and with a small souvenir: protective tapes (similar to those of the Virgen del Pilar in Zaragoza) to hang in our backpack.
In short, if you are ever in Penang, do not leave without seeing the temple. After the tour Irene took us to eat at a curious place. For us to understand each other, it was like a plaza with restaurants in a shopping center but with the peculiarity that all the stalls belonged to the same restaurant, so instead of choosing from the menu, what you did was go from place to place choosing your plate. Then they would take it to the table and there they would charge you. We were advised by Irene who undoubtedly made the right decision in all her decisions.
Irene was truly a great host, she chose the tour well, treated us wonderfully and opened doors that we would never have found for us. A great girl to whom we gave our now traditional Pilar ribbon of gratitude. Now without it and without the blissful rain, we still had the strength to take an aimless tour of Georgetown.
If for something we prefer this type of travel to tours, it is because in our own way you always end up taking time to lose yourself aimlessly around the place where you are.
And walking without destination you discover corners with a lot of personality …
… that surely do not appear in any travel guide.
A relaxing walk that ended in Little India , a neighborhood inhabited by people of Indian origin who have turned it into a window to their country. Not so crowded, obviously, but with a characteristic atmosphere.
In short, Penang is a very authentic city at any time of the day. Now, at night it is better to stay on the path of light because where the streetlights do not reach it may not be a good place for tourists. Or maybe that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Night in Penang and until today. I am writing to you from Krabi (Thailand), after a crazy and long journey by minibus that I will explain to you in the next post. We temporarily left Malaysia, awaiting our return last week. Now we are officially in Thailand, a country that from its customs already appears different. It has certainly been leaving Kuala Lumpur and a world of possibilities has opened up. Tourists who left Kuala Lumpur have gradually become travelers again. Now yes, Nothing Included begins. Our comments are still open to you.