How to waste three flights in 24 hours. I decided to go to the Perhentian Islands. I booked a flight for the next day, but after I tried to find accomodation I found out that at that period the island was fully booked. Only eye bulking, expensive resorts were available. I decided to cancel the flight and go for Langkawi. This was the first flight I wasted, because there was no refund. The get to Langkawi you have to go through Kuala Lumpur. I booked a flight from Kota Kinabalu to KL in the morning and a flight from KL to Langkawi which would departurein the afternoon. Somehow the departure time of the last flight stuck in my head. I got up the next morning to get my flight in the afternoon… darnit! This flight was in the morning. There you go, wasted to other flights. I had to rebook the two flights at the airport and wait there for a while! Pfffff And my flight from Kota Kinabalu to KL was the fastest flight ever. One hour!
I decided to chill out at Langkawi. I have been running these past couple of months, which was really nice, but now it was time to do just nothing. I managed pretty well and because of the Ramadan there wasn’t really much going on. I stayed at a hostel founded by an ex real estate guy from Dubai who fled the country during the recession. The hostel had free drinks all day and delicious food. The organized diners for the guest where I had inspirational conversations with the owner himself and a guy from Syria who lives in China. Wow! I drove around the island on my scooter and just relaxed. I did an island hopping tour. On the first island monkeys snatched the bags of tourist. One tourist thought his bag was save, because it was zipped and monkeys couldn’t open zippers. Well was he wrong! Haha we also saw some white colored, dust like elements blowing over the sand. These were actually crabs. Funny!
The people in Malaysia point with their thumb, because it is rude to point with your finger!
Each morning at 6 I woke up to the muezzin calling the prayer from the minaret. One morningI realized that this wasn’t a tape playing, but actually live singing. The muezzin got a caugh and had to repack himself. Also each evening at 21 and 23 o’clock the prayer was called.
I enjoyed the sunset from the beach, sitting in a plastic chair, with a beer, beautiful music on my earphones and just thinking… This is the life!
The next day I also went to Cenang beach and saw people parasailing. I decided to do this. The guy at the counter told me that it would almost be too late, but if I was quick I could still go. I ended up in the air while the sun was setting. I was there up in the air with my flatcap and flip flops still on. The view was astonishing!! The beach, the people, the sun setting… At one point the speedboat made a turn, having me lowering. As I came down I almost landed on some people who were swimming in the water. As I approached them from the sky we both jokingly wooooowed!! Lol! Then it was time to land. I was going for the perfect landing. Stretched my legs and was ready for a quick run. Then my feet touched the sand and I wallowed all the way on the beach, fell on my side and got pulled a few meters further by the parachute that was pulled by the wind. No elegance in this one! Lol!
I went all the way to the Durian Perangin Waterfall. I had to climb to the waterfall over slippery, wet boulders. At the top sat an old man. He greeted me: “AsSalaam alaikum.” I greeted back: “Wa aleikum salaam” With hand gestures he offered me to watch my stuff as I go for a dive at the foot of the waterfall. I trusted him and did just that without thinking. The water was cold, but the experience was warm. I swam towards the waterfall and stood under it for a little while. Then went back, took my stuff and thanked the old man. I had no towel with me, but you dry quick on the scooter ;-)
Kota Kinabalu, the gateway to Sabah bearing the same name as the big Mount Kinabalu which I would optionally want to climb. I booked an accommodation in Kota Kinabalu and took a plane from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. From the airport I took a taxi to the place. It was raining and the clouds were grey. We arrived at a compound with a series of beige, brown flat complexes. It looked like a normal residential area in the middle of town. This had nothing to do with a hotel, an apartment or even any form of tourism. “Here it is”, the driver said. I was sure this could not be the place. We got out, I looked around. There was just this flat with a porch. It was actually the right address. I asked the driver to wait for me as I would go up and see if there was something going on at that house number. As I took the elevator I met some people who were living there, but none of them knew of any apartment or hotel. I saw a door with the number on my address, protected by a gate, but no sign of life. I went back down stairs and asked the driver if we could call the owner. We did. A happy girl picked up. “Oh, you are already there. Great! I’m on my way. If you want to go in, the code is 1211. I’ll be there in a sec!” I hung up, thinking: “This is the right place!?” The driver left and there I was in Kota Kinabalu, in a residential area in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t know where to use to code I had just been given, and since I don’t have a phone of my own I decided to wait. Within 5 minutes Precilla arrived. She let me in the appartment and to be honest it was awesome. Nice, clean and shiny. Then I got the explanation. She and her boyfriend used to live in this apartment and now they rented it to pay off the mortgage. I got it!!! The apartment had three rooms. One for each guest. I was the only guest, so I had the whole place to myself. Hahaha Not for long though, because a Dutch couple would arrive later on. I went out to do some grocery at the supermarket nearby. I was seriously the only tourist and for a second I really felt like a local. Going back to my apartment, in some neighborhood, in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.
I wanted to do a serious Jungle trekking and may be climb the mount Kinabalu. Through Precilla I quickly found out that the mountain climbing wasn’t going to happen. You had to book that one way in advance. However the Jungle trekking was possible.
I did the Jungle trek together with a Dutch couple, who also arrived at the apartment later on. They had rented a car, so we drove to the spot with the three of us. The only difference is that they would return the same day and I was going to stay the night.
The way to the place took us more than two hours. At one point we were driving up hill, our ears started to pop because of the altitude and the car struggled to get up the hill because of the steepness of the hill. After some searching and calling the owner back and forth, we finally arrived. What a view!! Jungle, jungle, jungle. The owner had a base camp situated in the midst of the jungle. The owner’s name was Inas. A small, cheerful guy, that looked like mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid and claimed to be chief of over a 100 villages. We were now looking at the oldest rainforest in Borneo, covering 96966 Km2, twice the size of Singapore.
The Jungle trekking was awesome! We drunk water from a liana and learnt a lot from Inas about survival in the jungle. The lianas of rubber trees for example are poisonous. So is everything that has bright colors or glows in the dark. Yeah, really some things here do. He showed us glowing mushrooms on a stump. He also told us that when they hunt, they made sure that the wind is not blowing towards their prey, otherwise the prey will smell them. Another tip he gave us is about getting lost. If you get lost in the jungle look for broken twigs, this is a sign of a beaten path, regularly walked by humans which could also bring you back to safety. Another tip is to follow the stream to the river, which mostly lead to a village. Most villages are built alongside a river. I loved it! Even the bloodsucker on my leg, which made my blood flood like hell. It seemed these little creatures have a substance in their saliva that dilute your blood so it keeps on flowing. This substance is also used for blood thinners.
We got back just before rainfall. When we returned we saw a big rhino beetle, and played around with it. We also tried to burn the Kamayan stone we found during our trekking. It smells like church incent. We ended up at a local pub eating wild hog, drinking local rice wine and singing karaoke on Una Paloma Blanca, the Bee Gees and the Beatles. Inas did not want to leave! Hahaha. Because it was a local custom that you can’t leave before the bottle is empty, they even gave us the bottle to take with us. Hahaha.
The evening was filled with all sorts of jungle sounds. I slept alone in my tent and was the only visitor, because the Dutch couple had left that evening. The next day Inas asked me to join him to a local wedding. Before we got to the wedding we went on to feed some Koi Cup of Palain. The pond was full of these fish. He gave me a fist full of food and as soon as I stuck my fist in to the water the all aggressively crowded around my hand to eat the food. Hundreds of them! A unique experience! It was an honor for the bride to have an international guest, so they were really pleased with me signing the guestbook. Everybody seemed to know Inas. He really was the chief. We drank to the wedding screeming “Aramaiti” which means: “let’s party and cheers!”
When we got back I wanted to do another Jungle trekking. Inas was convinced I could do it on my own. “Just go down until you reach the river, we passed yesterday. Don’t pass the river and walk back. It will take you like half an hour. If you don’t come back in an hour I will come and find you” It now seems pretty dangerous, but somehow at that moment it sounded like a good plan. I walked the pad down with a stick I found along the way, feeling like Rambo. I quickly reach the river and was in such a nice modus that I decided to cross the river. Wrong decision! After a while everything started to look the same and I realized I was lost. Even the way back was impossible to find. I tried several routes but ended up coming back to he river crossing. Now and then a big fly flew by that makes a growling noise like animal. So each time it flew by, I thought a jaguar or another large animal was near. Damnz!! Panic! I even realized I didn’t have a mobile phone with me. Then I remembered Inas’ lessons. I sat down. Calmed myself and looked for broken twigs. This helped. I soon discovered my way back to the camp. What a relief!! I was all sweaty and out of breath. I told Inas what happened and saw a shimmer in his eyes.
I took the bus back to Kota Kinabalu where I arrived at the apartment in the night. I was tired, wanted a warm shower and something to eat. I found out the door of my room was locked. I called Precilla and soon discovered she had given away the room because of a miscommunication. She thought I only wanted to leave my backpack behind and would pick it up after the Jungle trekking. I had to find a place to stay now! Damn! I repacked myself, quickly found another place to stay and she arranged me a taxi. It is funny how your mind set can easily adjust during a trip around the world. I arrived in a real nice hotel.
In many countries I get compared with someone, but in Malaysia I got the most unique comparison of all. Michael Jordan! A guy stepped up to me, saying: “Wow! You really look like Michael Jordan” Really!?
Before I left Kota Kinabalu I wanted to post a letter. I tried to explain the cabdriver, who did not speak any English that I wanted to go to a post office to sent my letter. I made a gesture of a stamp on the envelope, then made a gesture of a flying plane to indicate that I would like to sent the letter. He understood and started driving. Underway I started seeing signs of an airport. Luckily I intervened on time. He almost drove me to the airport :( Hahaha
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, or K.L. as the locals call it, in the evening. I hadn’t had the time to do the research on this country and its culture. I only knew that the language is similar to Indonesian. Or actually the other way around. The Malay language has a funny way to deal with plural. You just say the same word twice. So to say boys, you just say: “boy boy”. Genius! Lol!
People were talking about the missing Malaysian airlines airplane. I didn’t catch the news, but now was surely aware of it.
I quickly found out that it’s an Islamic country. The airport staff wearing headscarfs, prayerrooms, mosques. Instead of a taxi I took a local bus to my hostel. The bus drivers where really rude, but I could laugh about it, because they were real rude, but their actions were really nice. For example the bus dropped us of in the center and then he would ask each one of us: “Where you go!?” When it was my turn I said the name of my hostel. Then he took his phone, called someone and arranged a friend of him to come pick us up and bring us to our hostels. No charge. I still don’t understand, but it was really nice… or maybe just part of the deal! ;-)
In the hostel I met Can, a Turkish guy. We both wanted to see the Petronas towers, so we decided to hang out the next day. But first I was going to the revolving restaurant and we would meet up after that. Revolving restaurant!? Yeaah bway!! ;-) Hahaha. In KL there is the KL tower and at the top of this tower there seemed to be a restaurant that revolves 360 degrees in the timespan of one hour and a half, giving you a ultimate panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur. It is called: “360 Atmosphere revolving Restaurant”. Because it was afternoon, I did a high tea. I was really hungry so all the sweets, mini-sandwiches and cake tasted delicious. From the restaurant you are able to see the famous Petronas towers, but only sideways. However contrary to what I expected not the whole restaurant was revolving. The windows and the center were stationary. Only a circulair plateau with the chairs and tables on it were rotating. Ah, well, at least I could scrape this of one of my bucket list ;-) Hahaha
During my stay in Malaysia it was Ramadan, so all the restaurants were quite empty during the day, except for a few Chinese tourists and Frans. I felt a bit guilty when I was hungry and ordered some food, knowing the man or woman serving the food is equally as hungry, but doesn’t get to eat until sunset. I also felt a little envy when they handed me the plate. I could hear them thinking: “Here is your food, I hope you enjoy it @$$hole!!” Hahaha. Sorry!
After the 360 Atmosphere I met up with Can. We went to a local market where we were told to try a famous local desert, consisting of a squid, filled with coconut and dipped in syrup. I tried it! Only one bite, but the best way to describe it is eating a piece of tire that has a real good taste but impossible to chew. After that I bought some satay. Satay Kamben which I remembered from Indonesia, but this had nothing to do with it. It was cold, though and tasteless. We didn’t finish it, and because we were still hungry we decided to go for a hamburger. Well… this one comes in the top 3 of worst hamburgers ever! I gave up after that. Hahaha. Can did try some Roti Chania which seemed to be pretty ok. It was getting a bit rainy. We went to the Petronas towers and made some pictures. Because there was not much more to do in that area, we made some more pictures. And because it became dark and the lights on the towers were now on, we made some more pictures. I think I have over a hundred pictures of me standing in front of the Petronas towers Lol! Haha A guy tipped us about the light show that would be starting at the back of the towers. We went there and watched it. Pretty amazing! But one of the main reasons for visiting Malaysia was it’s beautiful rainforest. And to see that I had to go to Sabah, Borneo, the eastern part of Malaysia on the other side of the China sea!
“Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near” ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph