31/10/2017 – 05/11/2017
Between changing jobs we had to go on a visa run to renew our visa, which I will have to do every three months unless I pay a ridiculous amount for a residency card, but such is Vietnam expat life. Anyway, we decided on Malaysia. We wanted a mix of nature and city. We decided to spend the first half of our trip in one of the oldest rainforests in the world: Taman Negara, and the second half in Kuala Lumpur.
We had a long journey ahead of us to get to the rainforest. After our flight to Kuala Lumpur we got an uber to Pekeliling bus station, waited about an hour for a bus to Jerantut (which took three and a half hours), waited about four hours for a bus to Kuala Tahan (which took about an hour and a half). It was a long day of travelling. Especially as we had set off from Ho Chi Minh City the night before! But we were on a tight budget and it was a fraction of the price it would have cost to do it on a direct bus so it was worth it. The first evening in Kuala Tahan we went to one of the floating restaurants and enjoyed how quiet and peaceful it was compared to our last few months in the busy city.
Armed with the hiking gear I bought in Ho Chi Minh City, the next day we set off to go on the world’s longest canopy walk which is 530 metres long and 40 meters above ground level. It’s not for the faint-hearted, it’s pretty high! But it’s really amazing to be above a rain forest so old.
The days have merged into one so I can’t remember what order we did things in but one day we went on a rapid shooting and Orang Asli settlement tour. We went on a boat over the rapids on our way to the Orang Asli settlement. I don’t know who’s idea it was to do the rapids before the tour, because we got so wet and then it rained so we got even more wet!
The Orang Asli are a group of indigenous people that live a nomadic lifestyle, have their own language and live a life completely separate from the rest of Malaysia. They showed us how to make a fire and how to use a bamboo blow pipe to hunt with. It was really interesting to see but I’m not sure how much I enjoy things like that because I feel a bit like I’m intruding on other people’s lives.
One night we went on a guided night walk, because most of the wildlife is nocturnal. The jungle is incredibly noisy at night with all the insects and frogs. Our guide was really good and although we didn’t see any animals (which was to be expected as we weren’t very far into the jungle) we saw scorpions, insects, spiders and snakes.
One of my favouite days is when we did a long hike on our own. I can’t remember exactly the trail we went on but I know we hiked on the Bukit Teresek trail. It was all uphill and had a couple of look out points. On the way back down we wanted to take a different route instead of doubling back on ourselves. We went back a different way, but I don’t know which trail and a lot of it wasn’t tracked like before. It was quite the way down and we even saw elephant tracks (allegedly). We ended up at Lubok Simpon beach, which didn’t have much of a beach because of the rain.
On one of our last days we took a boat trip to Lata Berkoh Waterfall, which was really beautiful, but the water was too high for us to go in because it had been raining a lot. Speaking of rain, I experienced leeches for the first time on this trip and they are harmless but gross.
After an easier journey back to Kuala Lumpur we arrived in desperate need for food. We accidentally stumbled across the Petronas Towers but I was too hangry to take photos. Our airbnb had an infinity pool with city views so we went for a late night swim. The view was amazing but it was pretty cold! We also woke up early in hope of having the pool to ourselves but it was raining so again we had a pretty chilly time.
The next day we went shopping for some winter clothes for our upcoming move to Thai Nguyen. This was the first time I’d let myself shop since I’d been away! I was really indecisive and didn’t end up getting any winter clothes! Unfortunately, we had a lot of life admin to do. With business visas, bank and homework for our training week a lot of our time was spent on that.
However, we still had time to shop! In central market where we found an amazing shop selling things made from coconuts; I bought some earrings that I subsequently lost the very same day in true Holly fashion. The same night we also went to the night market on Alor Street. I thought the street vendors were nice but the people at the restaurants were far too pushy.
We also managed to make it to Batu Caves, a Hindu shrine home to the tallest statue in Malaysia. Climbing the steps was a challenge but worth it to see the caves at the top… and the baby monkeys!
Our time in Malaysia was over way too soon, a week is not enough time to explore this beautiful country! It’s so easy to travel around as everyone is really friendly and most people speak English. It’s so diverse and there’s so much more to see. Our next trip will be Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue during our winter break.
Have you ever been to Malaysia? Do you have to go on visa runs?
If you want to see more photos of my travels you can go look at my Flickr