Island Hopping!

Trip Start Jan 29, 2003
Trip End Feb 01, 2004

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Sunday, March 9, 2003

4th March 2003:
Been almost a week, so I'll have to try and remember what's happened the last few days:
At this point I was still in the Cameron Highlands. This evening I found out that my half day tour was to be with 2 French Canadian girls from Quebec. On introduction, it appears that they know little English, and so I may have to wipe the dust off my GCSE French phrase book! This evening was good. Met Richard, an English bloke who has lived here, there and everywhere, but currently resides near Salisbury on the Aymesbury road, in walking distance of the infamous club, Enzo's which myself, Trig, Mooner, and Snick used to visit occasionally.
I got some Royal Stout in, (which if I haven't told you is rocket fuel at over 8% a can) and sat round the camp fire, listening to Jungle Gill, the town compere, entertainer, tour organiser and everything else sing along to his guitar to many well known tunes, which was surprisingly good. Richard tells me that he has recently done the Thai-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos circuit on his own and highly reccomends it! He did it the other way round as me, but says it is highly rewarding!
After watching Birmingham City beat Villa (again due to Enckelmans mistakes) I had a game of scrabble with Leah, Richard and Zachi. The first game went alright, but on the second attempt, I got beat by a Malaysian at an English game. I tried to hide my shame and dissapointment without losing face, made my excuses and went to bed!

5th March 2003:
After an 8 'o' clock early morning call, I had breakfast, then jumped into the 4 X 4 with our driver, (who was an Indian guy who I'm sure told me his name was Tithead) and the two French Canadian girls, Sarah and Ashaya. It soon became abundantly clear that their knowledge in English undoubtedly exceeded my French skills, and therefore for the remainder of the journey, I spoke in English with a French accent, and they did the same. Some topics of discussion proved impossible and resulted in a stalemate, but we managed to get across the basics to each other.
Right, first port of call was the highest point in the Cameron Highlands, and maybe Peninsular Malaysia, but I may have made that bit up. It is called Gunung Brinchang Rendezvous or Devils Point as I like to call it being that it is at a height of 6,666 feet above sea level. Oh, what a comedic genius I am! This was great, the views were spectacular, and it was lovely and cool. Tithead then took us a bit further down the road where we got out and went for a short jungle trek. This only lasted about an hour, but was great fun, and made me insistent that I definitely do at least a 3 day trek in North Thailand! The forest was millions and millions of years old, at least thats what we were told, and has a spongy feel to it as the moss has fallen on top of more moss over the years leaving this amazing texture.
We then visited a tea plantation, which was run by a Scottish family, and only employed Indian workers. In fact I don't think any Malaysians had anything to do with it at all. After a short tour round the factory, where you get to see the whole process, including the drying of the tea leaves which is operated my machines first used in 1935!!!!
We then had the option to sample all the different teas in a very touristy American looking tea cafe, which had every tea under the sun, though not being particularly adventurous, I had a normal tea with milk, a green tea and a very nice butter-lemon sponge cake. I don't know what the fuss is about green tea, its absolutely minging! I know its supposed to be good for you, but so is drinking your own piss!?!
We then visited a butterfly farm, which strangely had more other insects than butterflys including spiders, snakes, beatles, scorpions, and lizards! It also had butterflys, believe it or not, some of which were the size of small aircrafts.
To complete the tour, we were taken to a strawberry farm, which was the only dissappointing thing. Some people there looked like they were really enjoying it, but I don't get it. You weren't allowed to pick your own and I mean, who wants to see Strawberrys grow? Some people hey?
Bought the bus tickets for tomorrow heading to Ipoh, returned to Twin Pines, had a quick sleep, then sat outside with other travellers awaiting the return of my day-tripping friends. It was at this point that I was introduced to Oliver, a mid 20's looking bloke who must have been taught at private school, spoke with a lisp, and made we want to hit him from the moment I met him. What a drip. He even admitted sleeping with a Bangkok chick boy, which he didn't find out she was a fella until 3 days later????? How?????
This could be a good story, but he told it like a school boy tells his father that he has been kicked off the school football team! Twat!
I picked up a bottle of Thai whiskey called Thai Song, which I quite enjoyed and cost less than a pound for a bottle!
Spoke to nice couple from Sheffield, Cameron and Jess who have just come down from Thailand, and rave about some places including Ko Pha Ngang much to my surprise but say that Phuket is not worth bothering with!. After jungle Gill made me down my whiskey, we went to the local pub for a game of pool where I almost beat the local hero, and Steve got chatted up by a very unconvincing looking transvestite!
Swopped e-mails with Richard as he knows of a good place to say for the full moon party!
Tomorrow we leave for Pangkor!

6th March 2003:
Today has consisted of little else but travel. After waking at 8, had brekky then said our goodbyes to Zachi and Gill at what has undoubtedly been the best hostel I have stayed at so far on my travels in terms of friendliness, atmosphere and amount of travellers!
We took the bus to Ipoh, leaving at 9am and arriving at 1pm. This cost 15 Ringett, then from Ipoh to Lumut (5 Ringett), then the ferry to Pangkor jetty, and then a ridiculously pink mini-bus from the jetty to the resort Teluk Nipah, and the hostel (recommended by Jungle Gill) Nazri Nipahh Camp which I sadly worked out to be an anagram of 'HRH Nazi Pain Camp'. Though it has similarities to a concentration camp, it has a slightly more laid back approach to things in that the Chef always seems to be asleep, and all the other people who work here (work in the loosest sense of the word) are always in their hammocks! Still, it was good to finally remove the 4 stone back-pack from my sun-burnt shoulders after lugging it around Malaysia for 7 hours non-stop! I am putting down my sun-burn to the Malaria tablets as this is a common side effect ie. sensitivity to sun. It would not be so bad, but I had a vest on when I managed to get burnt, and so I now look like Rab C Nesbitt after a month in Benidorm!
This does seem like a nice little island, probably about the same size as the Isle of Wight, though with marginally better weather. The only problem is, once again the extremity of the humidity and the heat. Still not as unbearable as KL, but very hot all the same. This afternoon we went for a bite to eat, and took a wander. I was very tired so slept in the early evening. Though without air-con we are reliant on a small fan attached to the wall, which barely does enough to make any difference to the temperature, but even then I have to wait for the oscillation od the fan to aim in my direction, which is about one in every ten seconds. There are a lot of what appear to be German guests at this hostel (who must have found the name appealing?) though only 1 other Brit, a physio called Jim. No alcohol today!
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