Out in the sticks

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Tropicana

Flag of Malaysia  , Negeri Sembilan,
Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spent the morning in Melaka just chilling - I'm still fighting off a cold, so not rushing about too much, before heading off to Gemas. Hmm, Gemas, this isn't in the tourist books, this is barely on a map, so why am I going to Gemas? Because this will be the start of a very interesting journey tomorrow morning on a train. Oh, I've come to love trains - the comfort of being able to get up and walk about whilst trundling through countryside at fairly close proximity is an excellent way to see so much in a cheap way without exhausting yourself. I remember so many people wondering why on earth I wanted to go across Russia on a train, I still say that this is one of the highlights of my trip and rave about it to everyone. After all, I'm not sure I'd want to go across Russia any other way!
So I'm looking forward to tomorrows train journey, and then the next day I'll be on some gorgeous islands that everyone who has been has raved about so much.

15:41 So I caught the bus to the bus station then the next bus to Tampin and from there I'd need another bus or even the train to Gemas, and then I'd be able to check into my pretty pricey hotel for the night - it's 10!

Everything here is very very cheap, but the standards and quality are good. It's probably even better value than Thailand in fact. You can even stay in hostels in KL for 2 a night, which when compared to Bangkok, Singapore and many other capital cities I've been to, is astonishingly cheap, even in the poor countries you'd be paying nearly 10 a night for a dorm or room. So far I'm enjoying Malaysia, people are really friendly, I'm not being harassed by people out to relieve tourists of their cash, everyone speaks English, the roads and transport systems are easy and not congested unlike Indonesia and it's really cheap! Well done Malaysia!
16:12 As we drive through the countryside tree is clearly still Chinese influences around, with one or two of the big colourful temples and houses with a big Chinese bit of writing above the door. The other thing I like is that all the Malay houses are cute little bungalows, well tended and painted in bright colours (not one house in all colours but many houses all in one colour, but each one a different colour). Palm trees are planted in rows by the road, I imagine both for coconuts and palm oil perhaps. It seems a very Muslim country but in fact there are plenty of Indians with the Hindi religion and Christians too, so very multicultural.
16:49 Tampin is another colonial looking place with old wooden shuttered buildings built in the 1920's and 30's when Britain 'owned'(?) it (Malaysia got independence in 1957). For all that it's off the tourist track it has pizza hut and a shopping mall, and some swanky looking housing developments going on. Bus travel here is very cheap. The bus that brought me here that took an hour cost 90p and the bus onto Gemas also another longish distance also cost under 1. The train 8/9 hour train journey tomorrow is also going to be mega cheap - 6.90. Again, I find it really bad that train travel in england costs so damn much - it's not like the quality of the trains are actually any better! In fact the standards I've met so far in the trains are better than some of the UK trains (ok not the pendilinos that virgin have- but not far off!) and at a fraction of the price...even when you just turn up at the station!

Another almost comforting thing I'm seeing here is the houses on stilts- built off the ground, something I feel like I haven't seen in quite a while actually.
17:49 Haha! As we drove along, the driver started beeping, I looked out ahead and to the side at the crash barriers by the road and saw monkeys!!
18:12 I arrived at the hotel and said I'd made a reservation. They said they didn't get it, and only had a queen room left. Then they said wait a minute, so I sat in the lobby for 15mins waiting...

Magic, a local guy decided he didn't want the room anymore so I got it! I had a nice tepid shower (it could have been hot but it's so hot here I wanted something cooler than me!) and went off to the train station to buy my ticket, except that when I got there it was closed with a sign that said 21.30 open, which I took to mean it should be open until 9.30...it was only 6.45, so I wandered around the station asking why it wasn't open as it was 3 hours early to close. And then one of the guys explained to my stupid brain that it wasn't going to open until 930 because there were no trains until much later, so there was no point! Duh! Oh yes! Well, I didn't know that did I.
I went back to my room and watched tv with a nice big glass of water and then at 930 I went out bought my ticket. Hurrah, I'm all set.
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