Super Friendly Malaysia

 

Greetings from Taman Negara, Malaysia’s oldest national park.

After a bit of a false start, I’ve finally managed to cover a few kilometres and am really enjoying riding again. The body isn’t as lean as it was before the whole messing up the hand business in Thailand, but I’m getting back into the groove of things. Helped along by the amazing support of just about everyone met along the road. The locals here wave and smile so much that I can barely muster a wave back by the end of the day. The drivers are also amazingly good when they see a cyclist and give more than enough room. In fact, if they don’t think there is enough room, such as on narrow bridges or through road works, they will slow down and only pass when the road widens again. A sensational effort, compared with the attitude of other drivers elsewhere in Asia, or Australia for that matter. Another bonus is the fact that most speak functional English, so communication is a breeze. The Commonwealth is good for something, not just the medals Australia bags at the Games!

One of the super friendly drivers that I met on the road. This chap gave me a bottle of water and a sports drink. Awesome stuff on a very hot day. Cheers mate.

One of the super friendly drivers that I met on the road. This chap gave me a bottle of water and a sports drink. Awesome stuff on a very hot day. Cheers mate.

Some of you have heard me speak of my Personal Best effort at injuring myself, namely managing to severely hurt my back turning myself over on the treatment table in my physio’s rooms – hurting yourself inside a medical practitioner’s office is a pretty special effort indeed, hold the applause. I was doing some minor work on my bike in Kuala Terengganu, when I managed to repeat the effort and couldn’t walk for a couple of days without shedding a tear. I was feeling foolish and pathetic, but it eventually came good and I was able to get back on the road again. Hopefully that is the end of it and I’ll be injury free until I make it to Melbourne (pray for me if it feels right for you, I can use all the positive energy I can get!).

Zen, Laundry and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance. Fixing my bike and getting things organised, not sure the hotel would have approved.

Zen, Laundry and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance. Fixing my bike and getting things organised, not sure the hotel would have approved.

The road down the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is pretty good, not too many pot holes or rough patches, which made it easier on my poor sore hand. It’s school holidays at the moment, and there are lots of families touring around and having a wonderful time. Unfortunately, most accommodation along the coast has a surcharge for the holidays which made things a bit expensive at times. The food here is sensational, all my favourites are represented: char kuey teow (thick rice noodles with dark soy, spices and prawns); roti channai (flat flakey bread served with curry, a dippers delight), nasi goreng (the Malay version of fried rice but with less oil than elsewhere in Asia which makes it easier to consume). I haven’t had to have noodle-soup-with-mystery-meat for ages, which makes a nice change.

My trip into Taman Negara is a little salute to being a tourist, and has given my slightly sore body a couple of days to recuperate. There are a number of points of entry into the park, but I chose to enter via the Tembeling River, which was a deightful three hour cruise upriver through the jungle – Indiana Janey was in her element. I spotted some kingfishers (my fave bird), some gibbons, a water monitor (big lizard that looks like a goanna), and some wild boar. In fact, I saw more wildlife on the river cruise than I did in the national park itself. If you are thinking of heading this way, the boat is definitely the way to go.

Enjoying the cruise up the river to Taman Negara

Enjoying the cruise up the river to Taman Negara

I visited an indigenous village (Batek people) on the first day here, and as usual with these things, it was a bit awkward. A bunch of outsiders walk into a village and stare at the inhabitants while they stare back. We were all sat down in what is likely their village meeting tent and our guide told us about their life on the river, their hunting practices and their relationship with the Malaysian government – they are the only people allowed to hunt in the national park and the government only provides material assistance rather than financial (in keeping with the wishes of the Batek people). We had a go at starting a fire using a strip of rattan, a block of wood and a lot of muscle power. A man from the village showed us how they make the darts for their blow guns and we had a crack at the using the gun (trust me when I say the wildlife is in no danger from me, and that I’m unlikely to be invited along to join a hunting party any time soon). Then our guide suggested we go and look inside their huts, which was too weird for me… imagine sitting in your house and strange people poke their heads in unbidden. No thanks.

Duck and Cover! I made sure everyone moved back before I fired off my dart.

Duck and Cover! I made sure everyone moved back before I fired off my dart.

In the evening, I joined a (too large) group for a night walk in the jungle. We saw lots of insects, but the highlights were a gigantic bird-eating spider and catching sight of the arse-end of a flying lemur sitting high on a tree. This morning I took a hike through the jungle and traversed the Canopy Walkway which takes you 45m above the jungle floor, but alas there was no wildlife to be spotted. My guess is that the interesting animals are somewhere in the other 4,000 square kilometres of the park, well away from the noise and dangers of civilisation – fair play I say.

The impressive and arachnaphobia-inducing Bird-Eating Spider (wouldn't fit on a dinner plate)

The impressive and arachnaphobia-inducing Bird-Eating Spider (wouldn’t fit on a dinner plate)

The plan from here is to head back to the main road to Kuala Lumpur, ride to the outskirts of the city and jump a train past the craziness and stay with my ‘sister’ Echo, who we last saw in Cambodia for her birthday. Whilst in KL I have a bit of shopping to do and have to apply for an Indonesia visa. I’ll then head down to Melaka and grab a ferry over to Sumatra. I’ve not been to Indonesia before, aside from a little trip to Bali when I was a teenager, which doesn’t really count, so I’m excited by the prospect of seeing more of the country than the beach resorts of Kuta.

I’d like to wish my dear Mummy a very happy 70th birthday, she’s been over in South America hiking the Inca Trail and hanging out in the Amazon jungle, where there was plenty of wildlife to see. Go Mummy!

Also a happy birthday to Jo M – see you when I finally get to Sydney!

A reminder to all Aussie tax-payers: the financial year is almost at an end, so if you’d like to minimise your taxation payments and donate to a very worthy cause, feel free to click and donate to my melanoma research fund. All donations over $2.00 are tax-deductible for Australian residents: Donate directly to the Cancer Council and help me to reach my target!

 

These lads waved me in to their tyre repair shop and provided snacks and coffee. Bless you gentlemen!

These lads waved me in to their tyre repair shop and provided snacks and coffee. Bless you gentlemen!

While I was recuperating in Thailand, I made a new cargo net and sign for the back of the bike. Not sure why the load looks so unbalanced in this pic...

While I was recuperating in Thailand, I made a new cargo net and sign for the back of the bike. Not sure why the load looks so unbalanced in this pic…

One of many spectacular beaches along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the South China Sea

One of many spectacular beaches along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the South China Sea

These signs are everywhere along the coast. The water looked fine to me, not sure if it's more a statment about swimming ability in this part of the world.

No Swimming. These signs are everywhere along the coast. The water looked fine to me, not sure if it’s more a statment about swimming ability in this part of the world.

Mr Darly (of the Batek tribe we visited) got the fire started in no time

Mr Darly (of the Batek tribe I visited in Taman Negara) got the fire started in no time

Mr Darly demonstrating how to use the blow gun

Mr Darly demonstrating how to use the blow gun

The Target. Not sure what this teddy had done to deserve is lot in life, but he took a few hits from the blow gun (I missed by a good metre or so)

The Target. Not sure what this teddy had done to deserve his lot in life, but he took a few hits from the blow gun (I missed by a good metre or so)

A male (smaller) and female stick insect "inflagrante" on the night hike through the jungle. I apologised for the interruption.

A male (smaller) and female stick insect “inflagrante” on the night hike through the jungle. I apologised for the interruption.

This lizard was too terrified by all the lights and noises to move so he made a good photographic subject

This lizard was too terrified by all the lights and noises to move so he made a good photographic subject

This colony of termites were very busy clearing the jungle floor of detritus. Sort of like nature's night maintenance crew.

This colony of termites were very busy clearing the jungle floor of detritus. Sort of like nature’s night maintenance crew.

A tiny little frog, no bigger than a ten cent piece. I woke in the morning to find his much bigger brother had taken up residence in my room.

A tiny little frog, no bigger than a ten cent piece. I woke in the morning to find his much bigger brother had taken up residence in my room.

This warp spider is chowing down on a moth it captured in its web.

This warp spider is chowing down on a moth it captured in its web.

The arse-end of a flying lemur, one of very few furry creatures spotted whilst in the park.

The arse-end of a flying lemur, one of very few furry creatures spotted whilst in the park.

On the Canopy Walkway in Taman Negara.

On the Canopy Walkway in Taman Negara.

Vertigo! Looking down from the walkway to the jungle floor far, far away

Vertigo! Looking down from the walkway to the jungle floor far, far away

Looking out from one of the well constructed hides in the Taman Negara park. Not an animal to be seen, unfortunately.

Looking out from one of the well constructed hides in the Taman Negara park. Not an animal to be seen, unfortunately.

While I didn't see all that much wildlife, the flora made up for it a bit. This is a small orchid flower, complete with ant companions that I spotted off the boardwalk.

While I didn’t see all that much wildlife, the flora made up for it a bit. This is a small orchid flower, complete with ant companions that I spotted off the boardwalk.

These bright red flowery plants were popping up from the jungle floor, adding some wonderful colour to the landscape

These bright red flowery plants were popping up from the jungle floor, adding some wonderful colour to the landscape

These magnificently shaped flowers reminded me of parachutes

These magnificently shaped flowers reminded me of parachutes

This tiny bird's nest was about the size of a tennis ball, no birds or eggs inside, perhaps the spider got to it first.

This tiny bird’s nest was about the size of a tennis ball, no birds or eggs inside, perhaps the spider got to it first.

The view from the park entrance to Kuala Tehan, where most accommodation is located for those visiting the park. To get to the park entrance, you catch a little boat over for the measly price of 1 Ringgit (about 35 cents).

The view from the park entrance to Kuala Tehan, where most accommodation is located for those visiting the park. To get to the park entrance, you catch a little boat over for the measly price of 1 Ringgit (about 35 cents).

Slipped in the mud and landed on my bum traying to get on the river boat. It's a true talent I tell you!

Slipped in the mud and landed on my bum trying to get on the river boat. It’s a true talent I tell you!

Sometimes, a business name just doesn't work when translated

Sometimes, a business name just doesn’t work when translated

Kickapoo Joy Juice. I had to give it a go... sickly sweet and not a whole lotta joy.

Kickapoo Joy Juice. I had to give it a go… sickly sweet and not a whole lotta joy.

 

PS. Thanks to everyone for their wonderful comments and emails, your support is humbling and very much appreciated.


Comments

Super Friendly Malaysia — 8 Comments

  1. Three point landings were always one of your best acts – good to see you are still practising, but keep the hands in the pocket and the wrist out of harms way. Another great blog and wonderful photos and captions. Malaya gave us rubber before the Michelin man arrived so good to see the locals at work in their tyre shop and to hear that the drivers are so well skilled now – in the old days on the Pan Malaysia H’way it was play dodgems with the timber jinkers! I guess (hope!) the bike load limit will control your shopping spree in KL! Safe pedaling and look forward to the next installment.

  2. Glad to see you are up and pedalling again my love. Take it easy with that back of yours. Malaysia sounds and looks wonderful – enjoy. xx

  3. Hey Jane ! It s Nice to see us in yr blog we were in Taman Negara in the boat with you ! Swiss people sylvie and jean-Paul ! I hope you ll come to visit us by bike in switzerland ! We enjoy to follow you in the blog ! Have a Nice trip!

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