Malaysia. Episode one.

The flight from Luang Prabang in Laos to Kuala Lumpur was more tan fine. With the only inconvenience that I couldn’t get to change my spare kips anywhere because the money exchanger was closed. I would have no idea by then of the trouble this would mean, but I didn’t give it any importance. And then, I arrived to Kuala Lumpur. The airport was like a mall and I was a bit lost. After asking in a few money exchanger and confirming that I couldn’t change my Laos kips in the airport, I went on the hunt for the cheapest bus to take me to the city and manage my own ways there, because I had nothing booked and little figured out.

As lost as I was, I saw a guy that was on my plane who seemed to know what he was doing and followed him straight away. When we got to a bus counter, I just asked him and that’s I became friends with Bobby who was curiously from Virginia. I shared the bus with him, the first food in the city (Indian food, which I was dying for) and went to the guest house he was coming back as I was all in to avoid bedbugs and was my only request. After checking in and settle a bit, we went for a walk around and I just realised that I already liked the city so much only because that familiarity it keeps with India.

On our walk, we tried to find a money exchanger, but pointless. This currency is completely worthless. And I have around 80€ in kips, which is a hell of a lot for me backpacking in Asia. I mean, I can live lots of days with that!!! And now that I am going to Australia and NZ, even worse, every penny counts!

Anyways, in our walk we also happened to meet a guy a met some time ago in India, while I was in Dharamsala. He didn’t really recognise me at the beginning, but then I got to tell him the whole story of when we met and he did remember me. We just said hello and all that and then everybody kept going but we actually met again and then he and his friend proposed us to go to the Petrona towers to get to see the lightening. Bobby and I didn’t really have anything else to do and we joined them. And although we didn’t make it on time for that, we got to enjoy the beauty of the towers. I couldn’t stop admiring them, they are truly beautiful.

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Three beauties 😉

We had dinner after; of course it had to be Indian food. I was delighted with getting back to this cuisine and we agreed we would visit Batu Caves next day. And so we did, we took a couple of trains and we got there. The caves were Hindu and kept bringing more nice memories. It was nice to be with the two of them and I enjoyed taking things easy and that nicely. When we arrived to the Central Station, I had been advised to change my kips there and I tried again, but my effort were in vain. There was no way I could get this done. At the end, Thomas went on his own way as he wanted to see more stuff of the city while I preferred to walk by and not to see everything because I knew I would be back and I wanted to leave some stuff to do for after. Bobby didn’t feel the need to see anything else and decided to walk as well, and as Indian food lovers that we were, we ended up eating again. Back in the hostel, I managed things here and there and said bye to my friend. I would be saying see you later to the city by next day.

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Entrance to the main cave in Batu Caves. 

Next day, after a couple of local buses, I got to Kuala Tahan, home of Taman Negara. Taman Negara is the oldest rainforest in the world and the place where I wanted to do some trekking around. The search of accommodation got difficult. But on my way I got to meet 3 random people in a group looking for the same and I just joined in. We all ended up sharing a family room in some guest house, which was nice. I only wanted the room for the night and after sharing dinner with them and spending the night there, I woke up early and hit my next adventure.

The first thing that I came across was the stuff I had to carry during the trekking. Everybody had to carry stuff: sleeping bag and mat, lots of water, rice, biscuits, tea and noodles. Slowly, I got to meet my adventure fellows. They were all in couples, couple of friends, couple of sisters… quite an international group. And our guide, called Aa. Funny guy.

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Supplies to be carried by one person.

Anyways, we started slow, in a boat and did the famous canopy walk. It is apparently the longest in the world. Somehow, now it is only half opened, so I wonder how that possibly can be true. It seems that there is always the longest, the longest in a forest, the longest in wood… These little hints that change depending on where you are so you are in the biggest something in the world.

So, back to the boat, we just kept going for a while and even got lunch in the boat. To be honest, going through the river, the rapids and in between the imposing jungle, I just felt like in the typical movie where the explorers and getting deep into the jungle to get whatever secret and weird ingredient for their experiment until somebody gets too adventurous and people start dying. I mean, I felt excited and I was singing the Jurassic Park song in my head all the time. When we got to the starting point, I could tell that everybody was very excited. The first person that went to the “toilet” (in the nature) came back with a leech in one of her hands and the expression of her face was: wtf is this, take me out of here! Aa was all relax and just pull the thing off and took it off his own hand. That was it.

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The beginning of the adventure: the jungle from the boat.

We started the trekking and you could see amazing trees and plants, bamboo, insects… you could hear the sounds of the jungle and you could even find elephant poo on the trail (fact that I found extremely interesting, as the indicator that this was an elephant active area). The trail was very muddy and sleepy. The first dramatic moment for me was when, after crossing one or two rivers (without getting wet yet, that would come later), I just looked my ankles to find first, a leech in my ankle, then, another one crawling up my runner and a third one in the other ankle. They were all there, I didn’t know which one I should attend to first and I freaked out, screamed and asked for help while trying to pull them out without much success. But I toughed up, I had to. And every time I was having one or two new one, I was pulling them off without much disgust and with more success.

We saw termites, a toucan, monkeys, giant ants the size of my thumb, a black frog, a thousand feet, a green viper that Aa identified as very poisonous and dangerous… Lots of elephant poo, as well! Small stuff, I suppose, but it is quite difficult to see more as the animals can hear us and also smell us. They would not come towards us, if so I would be a bit worried…

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I learnt that you can find drinkable water inside the bamboo. And it actually tasted good!!!

The day was tough, I crossed rivers, got my feet completely wet and fell several times because it was too sleepy. To put the cherry on top of the cake, it started raining like it rains here: tropically crazily heavy. We kept going. We had a cave to reach and it was getting late, the trek was taking us too long because it was so wet that it wasn’t easy to advance. One of the rivers we crossed while it was raining was super deep and covered half of my body. I feared for my stuff in the backpack and did my best. By the time we reached the cave, it was almost dark and for my surprise, my sleeping bag was wet. Very wet, like the kind of place you don’t want to sleep when you have been and still are wet the whole day. My clothes were wet. My underwear was wet. My runner was wet. Jesus Christ, everything was!!!! I put on my bikini on me and considered myself lucky enough I had that and a scarf to cover me up, plus a spare T-shirt and my flip flops. On top of that, the star of everything was my sleeping linen with me, thin but dry! That’s all I could ask for.

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This is the entrance of the cave where we were sleeping

Then, everybody was checking for leeches, as Aa didn’t want anybody to go to sleep with one of those. I discovered one of those fuckers next to my belly button. How long had it been there? No idea. But it was huge and left me bleeding for a little while. After cleaning myself of leeches and started feeling dry, I couldn’t think of going to the river to wash myself. I mean, it would make no difference and all I wanted was to feel dry, so it was settled I was taking no bath. Also, it was supposed to be good for getting rid of the bloodsuckers, but you could catch some on the way back, so… Was that making any difference? No. Did I care about my smell? No, I was in the jungle. There are no rules in the jungle!!!

After dinner, we went for a night walk. All the girls stayed in, I got to go with the guys, as usual. The walk was an amazing experience. We had flashlights, but Aa asked us to turn them off and that was scary! We were in the complete darkness, we could see nothing, not even shadows, or figures…it was complete absolute darkness, the moon light didn’t penetrate, nothing. And then, we got to see fireflies, “fire-worms” and some fungus or mushroom that grows in some plants and sticks and made them visible in the darkness, like you can see them white. Pretty cool stuff. We were looking for an scorpion, but that didn’t happen. And nothing else but more leeches to bring back…

We slept the best we could on the floor of the cave, a few porcupines were making noises all night but what really woke me up was somebody snoring. The sleep wasn’t good and at 6am it was cold and I had to use the still wet sleeping bag to cover a bit, considering that I was sleeping in my bikini and a thing linen cover I am not surprised.

The next morning was rough. I mean, to put on dirty wet clothes is something I don’t even want for anybody I dislike. Everything was smelly, muddy and still wet, which was the worst of all of them. I couldn’t even fit myself in my leggings! But the trail was there, waiting for us and we started walking after some breakfast. We first headed to a cave, where we saw lots and lots of bats. And there, with the bats, there was a snake, feeding itself with…actually with bats!

When I was approaching the snake and Aa, who was there pointing it out, to take a picture of it eating a bat in that very moment, Aa had the gracious idea of playing around with it and the snake jumped towards us and I shitted my pants, jumped back and, as it was sleepy, fell on my butt, getting up very quickly because I had my eyes still on the snake and it was still moving towards me. All this was accompanied with a scream, of course. I had a very bad time, and although the snake was not supposed to be dangerous and it even had the mouth full with a bat, was scary, truly scary. The day kept going with more or less the same routine than the previous one, but we had more trunks for crossing the rivers and not getting too wet, and although we still got our feet wet, we didn’t get soaked because it didn’t rain. Every single step, the backpack was a nightmare and it started rubbing against my skin, because everything was wet. Even my underwear was rubbing against my thighs and every single step was painful. There was no way anything was going to get dry ever in an environment of 90-100% of humidity.

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I was “attacked” by a snake exactly like this. I think I am rightful to be scared

Bu the time we got to our boat to get out of there, it felt like a victory. And when got in the boat, it was like a rescue boat, taking us back to the civilization. But the rescue boat decided to take us on the rapids and get us wet, and so we did. It was fun, though. I screamed like I usually do in every attraction, just for the sake of it, because I am having fun!

The feeling of having a shower was something like touching Heaven and I actually got in with my clothes on first, because there was so much mud everywhere… And like that, I spent around 40 minutes or more. Heaven after completed a challenge!

Some dinner and my decision of getting some well deserved dessert brought me to come across all the group of the trekking and I sat down with them for a while. Plus, the guys I shared my accommodation on the first day also joined up. Kuala Tahan was excessively small…

Next morning, I caught my bus on the opposite way I arrived, which I usually don’t do. I usually don’t come back to a place the same way I left it, so it felt familiar and quite boring. But I got to Kuala Lumpur, back to this city I was liking so much from the very first day and I was happy to. Unfortunately, the lovely guest house I had been lodged before was full and took me a while to find a place to stay. I ended in one of the hostels were I was thinking of working away for a while, funnily. I took the female dorm, thinking it would be a good decision. It wasn’t. That night, the old lady that was staying in a 3 dorm person was getting drunk and snoring like a bear. I have never heard a woman snoring like that. I will never be able to say again that women don’t snore as men do. You never know when you are going to be safe and have a good rest.

The next day passed by looking into stuff, buying food for the airplane and the airport and getting things ready, basically. Also, getting lovely food, of course! God, how much I love the Indian food, I haven’t eaten anything else in KL!!!! I actually got to have a lovely chat with a Malaysian guy while he was having some tea and I started feeling the warmth and how open people is here. I love that. I love this. And I found myself in the bus towards the airport thinking about how cool KL is to live here, and how much I love this city and its landscape and its life. Even the fact that rains every day, I find it and attractive way to remind me of my beloved Dublin and its rainy weather, but in a warm way because here is always hot.

Now, I am on my way to a new continent. I feel that a change is coming and I am actually super excited about it. I managed to arrange come couchsurfing and I have nothing but lose plans that I can’t even call plans. All I know is that I will be spending the night at the airport because I still have the bloody kips from Laos that I will try to exchange in the queue of the check in counter for the flight to Luang Prabang, which is extremely early and earlier than my flight to Sydney. Wish me good luck, hopefully I find nice people that help me out here. As for Sydney, I am heading North as soon as I land to meet my host there. Can’t wait anymoreeeee!!!

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