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Colin and Sue’s Travel Diary

Monday, 16 Apr 2007

Location: KL and Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

MapWe arrived in Kuala Lumpur for Easter and the Grand Prix - both of which pretty much passed us by (note - must have extra eggs next year). It was an incredibly hot - we subsequently met some KL residents who confirmed it was a particularly hot weekend even for KL. We stayed in the heart of Chinatown - in a pedestrian street which confused our taxi driver no end. It was the first windowless room we've had - but in the event it was fine and very quiet - just harder to know when it was morning as we've given up on the alarm clock unless it's absolutely essential.

We decided to go to the skybridge between the Petronas Towers (88 storeys high, bridge at 41 storeys) - this was a mistake really. First off, in rushing to get there, I tripped over a glass catseye reflector thing when crossing the road and fell over - grazing my knee and elbow but much worse ripping one of my only two pairs of trousers. This is when Colin mentioned my failure to touch real wood when talking about not having used any of our plasters (helpful - not). Next we queued for over an hour to get tickets for later in the day, came back, waited another half an hour, watched a promotional video (in 3-D mind you) and then finally spent about 15 minutes on the bridge. A good view but not worth the investment in time.

KL was an odd mixture of old and new - some amazing new buildings but seemingly impossible to have a pavement that is level without pits and traps for the unwary. We got the impression that the Malaysians are trying desperately to make KL like Singapore but failing - often through lack of attention to detail. We only had a couple of days there and that was enough. Chinatown was good for atmosphere and lots of pirated watches etc. We only bought fruit and roasted chestnuts - there were loads of fruit vendors and we finally tried the infamous Durian fruit - notoriously stinky and banned from hotel rooms - we weren't very taken with it. Food generally was OK but not great and on our last morning when I couldn't face anything difficult for breakfast, we were compelled to go to McDonalds for Egg McMuffin breakfasts. Little did we know that this was only our first trip to one of the US food chains that we wouldn't normally be seen dead in!

Our next stop was the Cameron Highlands - beautiful, green hills in central Malaysia and much cooler, in fact bordering on chilly at times. We stayed at Fathers Guesthouse in Tanah Rata - we were in one of their most deluxe room (with private facilities) for about 12 quid a night. It was a really sociable place - as the rooms were fairly basic, everyone congregated in the communal areas either watching DVDs on the big screen (we can't recommend Perfume but enjoyed Shrek 2 again) or chatting over a beer. They also had a TV room where we watched Man Utd storm to victory over AS Roma (shown "live" even though it was a day later - we knew the score but the guys we were watching with didn't so it was unhelpful of one of the drunk staff to not only mention the score but each goal scorer before ambling off to bed.

We went on a good day trip which involved an extremely wet walk through the "Mossy Forest" which was lovely and a visit to a tea plantation in the morning and a visit to the home of an Orang Asli family (the local indigenous people) in the afternoon. This was clearly all set up for tourists as they live far into the jungle and obviously the house and their costumes were all set up for our benefit. But the tribe make money, we get to see their lifestyle without actually invading their homes so everyone was happy. We tried their tapioca and coffee and held the pet baby monkey (despite strict instructions from our practice nurse never to touch monkeys in case of rabies) - allegedly its mother was killed and eaten - we weren't sure if it was being fattened for the pot! We also had a go with the local musical instruments (hard) and blowpipe (quite easy to hit a big, stationary target). We went on another walk - getting wet again and attacked by another leech in Colin's case which this time attached and gorged itself - not nice.

We failed to do any more trekking due to the weather and decided to head for the beach and the sunshine of the Perhentian Islands - we had no intention of going there before we got to the Cameron Highlands but were persuaded that they were unmissable.