•Beware of the sharks!•

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By bus (maybe the best we’ve ever had ‘cause of the massage-function in the seat) we crossed the next boarder and arrived in the historical town of Malacca after five hours and with a relaxed back.  We spent two days there and discovering the sights including China Town with its “chicken feet snacks”. Yummy! ;-)

 

 

 

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur (short: KL). Tini, a friend from Hamburg arrived and we were really happy when she opened her bag full of liquorices – and of course to see her after such a long time! ;-) All together we did some sight-seeing and stared at the glowing Petronas-Towers after nightfall. The area around the Sultan palace is also nice and worth visiting.

After a couple of days in the city jungle we were happy to get away again. We took a bus which brought us to the Cameron Highlands – a region that is famous for its tea plantations and strawberry fields. Unfortunately it was raining like hell when we arrived in Tanah Rata. The two of us “flip-flop-travelers” didn’t quite know what to do (as we had no rain in weeks) and almost got claustrophobic attacks as we put on our rain jackets. Tini, however seemed to be used to this weather from Germany! ;-)

 

 

Anyway, we made the best out of it and booked a tour for the next day. And surprise, surprise: the sun was shining again! So we finally got to see the town from its best side. From muddy paths to very jungle tracks at the cloud forest we saw everything. The highlight of the tour was the “mossy forest” – one of the oldest rainforests in the world where everything is covered with moss…stones, trees and even the ground is soft and green. This place was so silent and peaceful. A truly magical experience where you felt so connected with Mother Earth.

 

And we were also very lucky with our guide who explained a lot of medical plants and their effects to us. That was when we realized that nature offers everything that we need to live healthily. Afterwards we learned a lot about the tea that is grown in that region and even got the chance to try! It was that tasty that we bought a lot in the end! Usually these tours have a turning point when the guide tries to make you buy stuff from his uncle that you don’t really like but out of pity you buy it anyway. But this time we were lucky and got to see colorful butterflies, insects which looked like leafs and the biggest hibiscus blossom we’ve ever seen!

 

The next day we boarded a minivan to reach our next destination: the Taman Negara National Park. Sometimes these minivans are the only option to go somewhere and that means that we are completely at the driver’s mercy – which can be horrifying at times. For some reason most of them speed like crazy, behave strangely or make you wait in the middle of nowhere… these sharks! Often they forget about a traveler’s luggage which results in a lack of space and safety belts are an unknown term. This time we got it all plus a driver who started smoking… but let’s talk about the nice things again!

 

To reach the national park we hopped on a traditional wooden boat and went up the stream. Lush green plants and deep jungle were surrounding us. Actually this boat ride was the highlight of the trip as the national park itself was quite disappointing with no animals (except a handful of monkeys and some birds) and dedicated fiberglass-tracks. The only thing worth mentioning is the canopy walkway consisting of several hanging bridges in a scary height which was great fun!

 

The way back to our hotel in Jerantut (50km) was an experience that belongs to the chapter of “pure fear”! As there is no such thing as regular buses or minivans from the Taman Negara National Park to the nearby villages, we had no other choice but to hire a private car with a driver. And these guys there know that travelers like us are dependent on them. So they ask for sky-high prices. Except this one guy with his wanna-be pimped car and the spastic convulsions. It was bearable until it started raining and he kept on speeding… a (world) trip like this is certainly not the best way to gain trust in strangers.

 

The following night we got up at 2am to catch the night train that would eventually bring us to the northeast of Malaysia. In Kota Bahru we jumped on a speedboat and arrived 30 minutes later on our long-desired destination: The Perhentian Islands! The ride was rough (wavy) and our backs were hurting badly afterwards… the only thing that counts for these “soulless” boat people (aka SHARKS!) is MONEY MONEY MONEY! Pedal to the metal as time is money!

 

 

As Tini was on vacation we decided to relax a little after this action-packed first week.  And the Perhentian Islands are just the right place to do so! We found a place to stay on the bigger Island (Perhentian Besar). Beside some accommodations and a handful of restaurants the island consists of nothing more than green jungle and amazing beaches (no roads – no cars!). Over muddy tracks we discovered the thick jungle which was full of mosquitoes, monkeys, huge ants and steep hills – which cost us a lot of sweat! But it was definitely worth the sweat as beautiful beaches with chrystal clear water were waiting at the end of the trails.

 

5 days went by so quickly – we relaxed, read books, played some volleyball on the beach and snorkeled a lot. The area around the Perhentian Islands is famous for its underwater treasures and we definitely support this statement. The moment you stick your head underwater the marveling begins: it’s full of colorful fishes and sharks! And this at a water depth of only 1 meter! It’s totally fine to hang around in the shallow, warm water and watch the curious fish come closer and closer. We were totally stoked – especially the huge Titan Triggerfishes with their massive mouths got us hooked. They eat corals like crackers! And the Parrot fishes go with the fashion and wear neon! ;-)

 

After coming back from a little snorkeling expedition Patrick told us full of excitement that he’s seen two mighty sharks and that he has followed them to get a better picture of them. (Sonja and Tini declared him insane for doing so!) The guys at the dive center clarify: most probably the sharks were Blacktip Reef Sharks which can get up to 2 meters and are harmless to human kind… unless you make them angry! ;-)

 

Our next destination was Georgetown at the northwest coast of Malaysia. We wandered through the historic streets, were amazed by the beautiful buildings and the surrounding of the Old Town. And then we continued our travels northbound towards Thailand…of course in a minivan. How this trip ended and what we did in Thailand, you can read in the next blog post.

 

Here you can have a look at the pictures from Malaysia!

 

 

And what are the “green” news?

Lush green palms as far as the eyes can see! In front of the clear blue sky you could almost believe that the ecosystems in Malaysia are healthy. But this first impression deceives: palm oil and rubber tree plantations are anything but good for Mother Earth. Because they’ve replaced most of the natural (rain-) forests and destroyed the habitats of the animals of the forest. On top of that illegal slash and burn and logging of tropical hardwoods as well as poaching are still common. Environmental organizations are protesting since years but still: economical growth and export earnings count more than environmental protection with which you cannot make any money (acc to Malay thinking).

 

We hope that Malaysia will have a look across the border and see what Singapore has achieved in terms of infrastructure AND tries to imagine what Malaysia will look like environmentally in 10 years when they keep on doing like before.

 

But there’s also hope: Georgetown! This historical city takes a leading role in environmental terms. People there seem to see the benefits of environmental protection and various projects are implemented to keep the city “green”: posters explain how to recycle, the government tries to reduce urban traffic by promoting riding bicycles, there are a lot of recycling containers where people can also read why and how they should do it and several more projects which aim to reduce energy- and water consumption. Thumbs up!

 

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