I crossed the Malaysian border by train to a small town called Butterworth and then took a ferry to an island of the West coast called Penang. The weather there was so much hotter than in Thailand, it was definitely in the high thirties. Penang has had many different cultures living there for centuries so there are many different types of delicious food. It was lovely wandering through the narrow streets looking at the wonderful architecture and watching people celebrate the last few days of Chinese New Year by lighting the most enormous incense sticks, some of which were at least 6 foot high and 6-7 inches in diameter.
Huge incense sticks!
I met some other English people in the same Guest House as me as I was watching the owner kick through their door as he had lost their key! We got well so we had some drinks and ate together. Whilst drinking beer outside the guest house we met two English girls called Sarah and Kate they were both travelling alone and had met each other in Kuala Lumpur. They told me that they didn’t like their guest house and as I had two double beds to myself in a huge room I said that they could move in with me, which worked out only 2 pounds each a night! We all went to the beach together the following day. The beach kind of sucked but it was a good laugh anyway.
Kate and Sarah in my massive room
The owner of the guest house (Charley, the forgetful one!) really wanted us to go to one of these karaoke nights with him so that night we gave in and took him up on his offer. It was so much fun. There was a birthday party there so we all got party hats, cake and a boiled egg! It was so bizarre it wasn’t cringing!
Our almost pure English group (sorry louis)
Bizarre Karaoke singers
Our plan from Penang was to go south east to the Cameron Highlands but I met up with a friend who told us about an island north of where we were called Langkawi, it sounded good so we forfeited our bus tickets to the highlands and took a ferry up to Langkawi. The beaches were lovely and the island was surrounded by 99 other smaller islands which made for good boat trips and parties. We met an English couple on the ferry so we stuck together for a few days. We hired a car and explored the island, went on a cable car ride and generally chilled out and partied. The island was very beautiful, full of mountains, fantastic coast lines and everything was tax free!
On the ferry to Langkawi
Island hopping boat trip
The crappy automatic car we hired!
Our party group!
Graffed up VW
After we had had our fair share of sun, sand and tax free nights out, four of us headed to the Cameron Highland Mountains in central mainland Malaysia. It was more amazing than I could have ever imagined. There were rolling hills covered in tea plantations as far as the eye could see, with mountains covered in dense jungle perfect for hiking through. We met a fantastic group of people at the hostel we stayed at. It was lovely hiking, eating and just hanging out with a group of good fun, like minded people. It is very difficult to hire motos and impossible to rent a car in the highlands so we had to rely heavily on the generosity of strangers as we hitch hiked everywhere.
On the bus to the highlands
Amazingly cheap Indian meal
Start of our first hike
In the jungle
Jungle cat paw prints!
Making lunch at the top
Top of the lookout tower
Butterfly and insect farm
Cleo with scorpions
Start of our tough hike
Most people headed to Kuala Lumpur from the Highlands. I had heard of an almost untouched spot of coast line called Cherating on the east coast where it was possible to surf. I thought as I would be surfing in Indonesia I would get some practice in. I had a good look at a map and decided I could get there in a day. I set out very early in the morning. First I got a bus to Kuala Lumpur, then a train, then another bus to a place called Kuantan 40km south of Cherating. I found out I had missed the bus to Cherating and a taxi was too expensive so I thought about all the hitch hiking I had done and decided to try my luck. I stood at the side of the road for two and a half hours and watched it get dark. Thousands of cars must have gone passed but nobody was willing to stop. Just as I was about to turn back and find some accommodation a small car stopped with a young Muslim couple in. It turned out they had seen me and done a u-turn and come back around to pick me up. They drove me 20km further than they had intended, dropped me at a guest house and then took me to get some food (which I insisted on paying for). It's people like this that make travelling so worth while, it brings a smile to my face every time I think about that night just knowing that there are people like that in the world willing to go right out of their way to help someone in a shitty situation.
The lovely couple that helped me out
Cherating was lovely, really nice beach, fairly good surf and soo quiet! I spent two days surfing there but then decided I would go to KL as I was a bit lonely!
Huge lizard outside m beach hut
KL was really fun. The guys that I had left had befriended three Indonesian girls that were studying there and had there own apartment. So we spent a lot of time with them going out and going to there apartment. Didn't do a lot of touristy things there, mainly going out and meeting people I had befriended earlier in my trip.
KL tower from Sky View Bar
I got an email from a friend I had made in the Highlands saying she was going to Bali. As I had no plans I decided to fly to Bali and meet up with her. I met a guy called Adam at Bali airport who had come straight from Tokyo and was getting ripped off by the baggage handlers, I decided to go and help him out and was stuck with him for over 2 weeks! We went to Kuta to meet up with Cleo, the surf was good there but the beach was filthy and the sea was full of rubbish. We stayed in Kuta for a few days and met up with Oskar. We then followed the coast north and came across a more chilled out place to stay. We found a bungalow for only £4 each a night. All we did was ride around on motos, go to the beach, swim in the sea and go out in the evening.
On the beach
Crazy hat man
My last place in Bali was Ubud, a small town full of culture, lovely architecture and surrounded by some spectacular volcanoes. It was the perfect place to spend my last couple of weeks. Again we mostly spent our time riding motos and chilling out. We also visited a monkey sanctuary and attended a very strange dance including a man dressed as a horse kicking and walking on glowing coconut shell embers. Oskar and Adam went to Lombok a day before 'Peace Day' and Cleo stayed with me as I had no money to travel any more apart from my journey home. Peace day happens once a year where you are not allowed out of you're hotel, electricity is minimal and you shouldn't eat, drink or smoke, not that it stopped us! The day before Peace day we decided we would climb a volcano called Mt Batu. It took us over an hour to reach the base of the mountain, we rode dirt paths to get as close to the mountain as we could. When we could not ride any further we dumped the bike and started on foot up the volcano. It was very demanding! We couldn't find a path to the top so we had a hard time deciding the best route to take. We did eventually make it to the summit scraped, bruised and incredibly exhausted. The volcano we climbed was actually a volcano in a volcano. The large crater was about 14 miles in diameter and we were right in the middle. We could see the weather closing in so we made a hasty retreat to the bottom. The descent was much easier as we followed a path down. On the way back to Ubud we got stuck behind a carnival procession in the rain! After peace day it was time for me to leave Cleo and head to the airport and begin my journey home.
The monkey sanctuary
Carnival demons getting the finishing touches
Cleo and our volcano
Start of ascent
At the summit
A special thanx to Adam Maltz, Oskar Rennerhorn, Cleo Brooks and Angela Marshall for helping me make my trip as amazing as it was.