Strawberries, lavender, honey, flowers…sounds a bit like England but doesn’t quite look like it 🙂 we left the plant filled roof terrace of Kuala Lipis and arrived in The Cameron Highlands where the temps are lower and lots of fruit and veg are grown in these polytunnels which have little lights in at night making for a pretty view
We had to hitchhike the last bit due to an unfortunate mishap meaning we couldn’t pump up the trailer inner tube after fixing a puncture, so we tried stuffing it with socks but this failed and caused damage to the actual tyre. So Thomas stuck his thumb out and within a second a perfectly proportioned pick-up truck stopped and helped us on our way. He was a mineral worker and stopped to get cheap cigarettes from some Orang Asli people (the indigenous minority) who prefer living in the jungle in beautifully made bamboo huts like they always have, rather than moving into a concrete future – good choice we say, minus the cigarettes.
An angelic lady, Elaine, then went completely out of her way to ensure we had and got to a bed for the night, where we met Harn (more about that joy later). A return day trip on a bus to get our trailer tyre fixed reminded us how much nicer it is to cycle on winding roads (!) so we were glad to get back in the saddle the next day. After a steep start, going down from the highlands the next day was a 29th of Feb to remember! 60km an hour was our top speed at one point, a break for the backside and a happy breeze.
****pictures not uploading tonight! So we’ll add these as soon as we can****
Firemen were tackling the starts of a forest fire in one section, cycling through flames added to the heat but the firemen were a friendly bunch.
The outskirts of Ipoh, surrounded by tree covered tall thin hills, was a nice place for a wedding anniversary though we missed the Welsh daffodils 🙂
Taiping, the only town in Malaysia with a Chinese name (it means Everlasting Peace). On the way we met a French cyclist and a German man who is skateboarding through SE Asia pulling his trailer in his hands:
They recommended the Sojourn hostel which was stylish bijoux and very friendly. Taiping has this absolutely beautiful park:
We sat in the Burmese pool made naturally by rocks in a river, popular with locals but not very busy and the fish enjoyed being Podiatrists to Thomas’s feet. That night we stayed in the park thanks to this kind hearted man who believes the land belongs to everyone. He had built this hut in the past so we stayed there as he has now upgraded
The next day we set off to Butterworth where Harn had generously invited us to stay with him and his family. He is an absolute legend. He has been to all the best places in England, like Peterborough, and Preston! He judges fish, breeds tropical fish, is a tour guide, a professional photographer, and passionate about motorbikes.
His family own a restaurant where we had such delicious food!!
Harn invited us along to a couchsurfing event that he used to organise, and the next day, ‘sunsurfers’ were having their first meet up in Penang, so we joined them for chai at Turtle Beach (there is a turtle sanctuary there) in Penang National Park. They were an eclectic bunch, from all over the world, introduced us to sweet mango sticky rice with coconut cream, most of us slept out on the pier as there was more breeze, and we saw luminescent fish and a sky full of stars. Meditation in the morning and some yoga, a fruit breakfast, then we had to leave them to it. We were gatecrashers really so were very grateful for the inclusion. And Harn introduced us to our first fellow Brit (hi Sophie!) who is now living in Penang and about to start a wonderful business I’ll be telling all the lasses in our lives about soon. And Aussie Tim, also living in Penang, look out for him on tv in ‘Indian Summers’ 🙂
The next morning, a motorbike ride for Thomas with Harn to get something we left behind, his conclusion: it was great! But I wouldn’t put you or my sister on the back of one, in just shorts, tshirt and helmet that is.
cherry is discovering a new found like of origami and has a level of inflexibility Thomas finds amusing, so our own version of Tom&Cherry ‘guru Jesus’ yoga is being entwined into our journey…inhale, exhale 🙂
Onwards, to new improved camping with aircon (usb fan into our solar charged powerbank)!
and then to Alor Setar, where via ‘warm showers’ the professional cyclist Goh (so fast!!) welcomed us into his home, took us to his friend’s restaurant/health food shop/library where cherry fell in culinary love with a porridge-like bowl of ‘rice milk’, Goh then showed us around town, the royal museum, the biggest mosque in Malaysia and the prettiest I’ve seen
a Chinese temple where the monk introduced us to a fudge-like sweet afterwards, Thomas joined in the ball game Sepak Takraw outside in the cool of the eve; The middle aged men that were playing it were fantastic at it! Very fun to watch. Then we went out to eat some delicious Claypot cooked dinner, each pot with hot charcoal underneath
and we tried a nutmeg drink for the first time – delicious! Goh paid for everything before we could realise, his English is little and is heart and smile huge. It was lovely to spend time with him. We joined some more of his friend’s for morning yoga, fixed a puncture, then headed off with Goh in the lead until we met two extremely minimalistic wonderful Spanish tourers. We all had lunch together and then off they went with Goh ready to encounter the joy of both of Goh and of Malaysia. We continued on discussing whether we would want to be as minimalist, the pros and cons 🙂
A short refreshing stop in Kangar overnight where a man insisted on filling our water bottles with cold water when he saw us setting off (thank you!!), and now we are spending our last Malaysian night in tiger and cobra country! Apparently the tigers are fine, but the snakes are not. We’re on a teak research centre in the Mata Ayer Forest Reserve, that a local Muslim man (we met via his son being on coachsurfing) recommended and guided us to this place on his motorbike after feeding us fresh coconut drinks, bananas, deep fried banana cake balls, and giving us a chicken and rice dinner and two cokes to take away, and accepting no payment. It bowls us over. Generous in every way.
Tomorrow we head to Thailand, we will miss you Malaysia, thank you to all the many many people who have smiled, waved, cheered, had a go on the tandem, fed us, given us shelter and use of laundry facilities, shown us round etc etc.
It’s a wonderful world.