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Getting into the swing of it in Malaysia

Posted on 19 Mar 2013 | 7 comments

After Taman Negara, we headed East, passing endless palm plantations and Chinese-Malay petrochemical complexes, before hitting the East coast. We were a bit flat when we finally reached Cherating, a beautiful laid-back beach town.

fantastic campsite

fantastic campsite

push ups for the team that didn't score

push ups for the team that didn’t score

more palm trees needed, so they cut some more jungle down... :-(

more palm trees needed, so they cut some more jungle down… 🙁

We camped right on the beach, and set about, unsuccessfully, doing a few jobs on our ‘todo’ list. The problem was the friendly and inquisitive Malays, the first of which was Hani, a young guy who rolled-up in his Pajero 4WD. He excitedly talked about always wanting a Defender and insisted we have his model Defender, which took pride of place on his dash.  ‘Mini-Lara’ is now pride of place on our dash, along with our other mascots.  Shortly afterwards, Jon was enrolled into the local 6-a-side beach soccer team, and was luckily on the winning team as the opposition had to do push-ups every time we scored.

Next stop was Lake Kenyir, where we worked up an appetite kayaking round some of the many jungle-covered islands. Dinner here proved pretty challenging. We were now off the beaten track and fewer people spoke English. The girls working at the local restaurant appeared to draw straws as to who would have to try their English on us – but in the end we got our dinner and some pretty disgusting drinks (something looked like cola, but had bits floating in it).

first time we used our kayak

first time we used our kayak

A long drive back to the West took us to the Cameron Highlands. This was paradise, pleasantly cool at 1,500m, full of manicured tea plantations stretched over idyllic valleys and jungle walks. More important than all this though was the number of Land Rovers. Every second car was a beaten-up Land Rover pick-up (Land Rover would never make a ute) ferrying bags of tea or fruit about the place. For a brief period, Lara was in heaven.

sooooo many land rovers in the Cameron Highlands

sooooo many land rovers in the Cameron Highlands

tea, tea and more tea

tea, tea and more tea

Penang, on the west coast, claims to be the food capital of Malaysia. It was also the over-development capital and full of flash Malaysians showing off their sports cars. I think they call it ‘progress’. But if you look beyond that, the old colonial heart of Georgetown is a unique melting pot of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cultures and the food choices are endless. We chose Penang assam (fish) laksa and char kwey teow (substantially better, and cheaper, than you would get in a Brisbane food court) followed up with fried oysters.

best Malay food in the Penang street stalls

best Malay food in the Penang street stalls

We then met the only rude person in Malaysia. Whilst we were camping in the car park of the Penang National Park, the security guard, Mr Grumpy himself, woke us at midnight to tell us we had to leave before his boss came at 6am – even on a Sunday. We were then evicted at 5am, and moved next door to the smelly and noisy fishing docks, not so nice. But the park itself was great, we even saw some wildlife!

giant squirrel

giant squirrel

After Penang it was north to the Thai border. We covered 1,750km in Malaysia, and regarding breakdowns, I have proven my colleague Andy Way wrong. The Malays are wonderfully friendly and polite, if a little shy. Its just a a bit of a shame that the world has developed such an appetite for palm oil!

PS don’t forget to place your bet for the total number of kilometers you think we will drive from KL to London!!! You have until 1 April to place your bet! 🙂


  1. Reisverslag gelezen, prachtige natuur, maar ontbossing voor akkerbouw of waarvoor dan ook is met de toenemende wereld bevolking een steeds groter probleem aan het worden en verder zal je overal wel eens een hork tegenkomen.

    Groeten pa en ma

    PS: bedankt voor de mooie kaart

    • Fijn dat de kaart is aangekomen! Volgende post komt snel weer (waarschijnlijk), geen 3G hier in Thailand dus geen FaceTime… Hopelijk binnenkort in een café met wifi om het weer eens te proberen. Vandaag een rij-dag dus misschien tijd om de volgende post te schrijven. Dikke kus, jx

  2. Niet veel te zeggen, alleen dat ik het leuk vind om te lezen en jullie nog veel plezier toewens! Peter en ik gaan dit weekend ook met de auto op pad….naar het grote natuurgebied in Nederland, de Veluwe! Benieuwd welke dieren wij tegenkomen…;-)

    • Met zijn tweetjes? Lekker romantisch weekendje? Geniet ervan! Jx

  3. Sounds fabulous guys! Loving the updates!

    • Thanks Ange!! How is Germany and PhD going?

  4. Een prima schets van jullie belevenissen, aangenaam om te lezen! Ik denk dat je een land/bevolking niet in het algemeen kunt omschrijven als (on)aardig etc. Je bent als persoon toch ook betrokken bij het proces van ontmoeten en beleven. Een hele goede voortzetting!!

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