Cool weather in Malaysia

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
Trip End Jul 18, 2004

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Flag of Malaysia  ,
Saturday, September 27, 2003

Where to begin. We have been on the move since Bali so we decided to take a few days to "recharge" here in the Cameron Highlands.

After three weekes in Bali, Sarah and I thought we had adjusted to the heat, remembering that first day in hot, humid, Singapore. Well we were wrong. Back in Singapore it felt no different thatn the first time. However, we did get to experience the city in a not-so-jetlagged state of mind. Based on what we saw, Singapore seems to be the land of shopping malls so I'm glad we didn't stay long (even though the AC was nice). We did catch the "Night Safari" at the Singapore Zoo and that was well worth the trip. Among the highlights were the (hopefully I get these right) "Fox Head Bat" the largest bat in the world, a "Red Panda," Girraffes and "Fishing Cats" and "Mouse Deer" so close I really didn't see what was keeping them in. The best was the "Bat Cage" where they had some extremely large bats (not of the "Fox Head" variety though) which if someone was so inclined, he or she actually could touch them.

Onward from Singapore we headed off to Melacca, Malaysia. There was quite a mixture of architecture there as it was a colony of the Portugese, The Dutch (under the Dutch East India Company), and finally the British. On top of that there is a big movement in Melacca to clean up the riverfront and create pedestrian paths along it, clean up the river (which looked like pea soup), and to properly restore the buildngs and homes to their original grandeaur. We learned about alot of this on our boat tour of Melacca. Actually, the tour was quite amusing. Our narrator kept getting off on tangents like how we should eat Papaya to be healthy and "regular" and warned against eating too much. He also had names for many of the large lizards that basked along the river. Weird guy. Onec again I should've followed my neighbor Jeremy's tip of getting a saound recording device.

If anyone wants to get a glimpse of Melacca check out the Sean Connery movie, "Entrapment." Apparently some scenes were filmed there. Melacca also had a sweet Maritime Museaum built inside of a full scale replica of a Portugese ship. Inside were small scale models off all of the influencial ships of Melacca's history. We also took a stroll to Bukit St. Paul, the ruins of the first Catholic Church (I believe) in Malaysia. It sits atop a hill which overlooks all of Melacca. Along the ruins there are many artists selling their painting/drawings. We got to talking to one of these, a crotchity old man of Chinese heritage with excellent English. He was another "character" who oddly enough kept complaing about the continual stream of Chinese tourists (they were endless).

After a few days in Melacca we headed up to Taman Negara Nations Park to some of the oldest jungle in the world. It was a 3 hour riverboat ride to the park where we saw our first Water Buffalo. During our first full day there we hiked to the "Canopy Walkway," a series of suspended bridges that went from tree to tree around the jungle, 45 meters above the ground. After that we decided to hike to the "Ear Cave" aka "Bat Cave." After an hour of prety intense up and down hiking (in sweltering heat and humidity) we arrived upon the cave. There was no mistaking it. The smell was intense. Sarah and I both were unsure about going in, me because of the smell and her because of the tight entrance. After a few times of stopping and pondering turning back we were pretty committed to going through. There were many bats in there but they were small compared to the last ones we saw (in Singapore). There was a rope that we assumed that we had to follow to get out and after a few tight squeezes we made it out into the fresh air again! Wanting to get to a shower as soon as possible we went to the boat jetty that was within a few minutes of the cave and managed to cath a boat back to "town." No one got too close to us on our way back to our lodgings.

The next morning we opted for the "Two Day, One Night" jungle trek offered by the park. It consisted of hiking five hours into the jungle, sleeping in a cave (not smelly this time!) and then hiking back out to the river. We were told to not expect to see any animals, and with the exception of a small snake which Sarah grabbed (after the OK from our guide) and leeches waving at us from the ground we didn't see any. He did point out lots of tracks: mouse deer, panther, elephant, but we didn't see any other animals. I should mention that this trek was with three other travelers, two Brits and Irishman. They were great fun and I was glad we ran into them one more time after the trek. Anyway, the cave we stayed in was HUGE! Prbably three stories high with an opening at either end. After eating and learning a seriously difficult Irish card game Sarah had what she though was a small cat snuggle up to her for a moment. Only it wasn't a cat, it was a rat. That made going to sleep a little uneasy but I gues not that much since I managed a full nights sleep.

The next morning we hiked out, Sarah held her snake, and we caught the boat to the Orang Asli village. These are the last native people in the area and although their culteure is becoming eroded, they still spend much of their time living in the jungle. The visit was a little awkward because we were basically roaming around thier living space. We asked to leave for that reason. After a leisurely "tube" down the river we once again got cleaned up and packed for Kuala Lumpur(K.L.).

K.L. was alot like Singapore so we decided to take advantage of it. We caught two movies in two days and felt that the trip to K.L. was worth it just for that. We were both alittle fried from the moving about so we thought spending a few days in the more temperate Cameron Highlands would be a good break. So here we are and I must say it is very relaxing here. We are staying in one of a series converted WWII barriks, the view is nice, and the weather (did I mention this yet?) is cool. Ahhh...
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