Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Malaysian Part

The First Surprise!

Journey was difficult in this uncomfortable bus
“Penang! Penang! Penang!”, the bus driver started screaming at the same moment when I could see the board reading “Ferry to Butterworth”. It was 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning when we were at the highway, were supposed to get off on the same highway and catch a ferry to Butterworth, a famous town in Penang.
Bus stop in Surat Thani. Buses to Thailand and Malaysia
Our decision, after a meaningful suggestion by Wasim, to get off at Kuala Lumpur instead of Penang as it was too late and we’d find it a little difficult to find an accommodation and waste a day before we could move to Cameron Highland, our ultimate destination and reason to come visit Malaysia, made the bus driver expectedly very angry. All he meant to say that we should have informed him earlier about getting off at Kuala Lumpur as we booked the tickets for Penang and he had to take a long turn on highway just for three of us. We had no choice but to unwillingly listen to his bitter words as we were out of nowhere on a highway, at least for us, in a new country.
Having streetfood on the way
Several travel agencies on the bus stop

The Initial Plan

It all started when we finally decided to cross the Thailand-Malaysia border by road and after a lot of combined efforts and brainstorming, we found a bus at Surat Thani bus station. After arriving at the Surat Thani station at 4 in the evening, the time when the last bus to Malaysia leaves, we were lucky to find a very comfortable bus from the station and booked the tickets for Penang. It was my plan to go to Penang and after resting for a night move to Cameron highland first and then to Taman Negara after spending a couple of days in Cameron Highlands.


The Itinerary

Penang to Cameron Highlands – 2 days
Cameron Highlands to Taman Negara – 2 days
Taman Negara – Kuala Lumpur – 1 day
Kuala Lumpur to Home

 Somewhere in Kuala Lumpur

So the above itinerary couldn’t be followed as the plan was suddenly changed in the bus. It was 4:00 in the morning when we were ordered to get off the bus somewhere in Kuala Lumpur.

Again, a situation to go with the flow! We asked a couple of people about the hostels and were told about the China town which was close with lots to options of accommodation. Instead, we decided to fill our long time empty stomach as there was a total freedom to eat whatever we wanted. There was a hotel and after we saw the menu, there was not a chance of sleeping without eating.

It was too much of an appetite! We ate a lot, especially me, after 25 days of surviving on unusual food in China and Thailand. Then we decided to think about the upcoming adventures. The luck favored us as we were informed that the bus station was just adjacent to the hotel and we could catch the bus to Cameron Highland exactly from the same bus station. It was 6 in the morning but the city woke up and activities started on, a quite unusual fact for us in Pakistan.

It took me less than half an hour to grab the tickets to Cameron highlands costing MYR 30. The bus was expectedly very comfortable as they are in Malaysia and took almost 4 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands. 

In Cameron Highlands

As we didn’t book the accommodation in advance and, as usual, I was worried a little about the accommodation which turned out to be a piece of cake at the end. As soon as we got off the bus we were approached by different guys offering us to visit and see their hotels on the condition to drive us back if we didn’t like the place. It didn’t take much time to reach the first place, Dew Drop Inn, and book a room costing RM 70/night for 3 persons. Again, it was an awesome deal for us, as we expected an expensive accommodation in Malaysia.
Tea plantation in Cameron Highland
Cameron Highland

The guest house/hotel was on a small hill and provided very beautiful atmosphere and scenery all the time. There’s a main road in Cameron Highlands with Indian and local restaurants, famous fast food and offering much to the tourists interested in shopping.  
The guest house, Dew Drop Inn
View from the guest house
Weather was mostly that much beautiful

Day tours in Cameron Highlands

After adventurous day tours on the islands we expected too much from the day tours offered by hotel management and we didn’t think twice before booking a half way tour. What we wanted was something adventurous but contrary to that it was a kind of family stuff. The tour included jungle trekking for 20 minutes, tea plantations and factories, strawberry farms and bee farms which we were definitely not interested in. Indian and Malaysian food is generally cheap and easily affordable on a place like Cameron highland. 
Jungle trekking

Beautiful scenery of tea plantations

Things to see

What we liked in Cameron Highland was just its calm weather, relaxing environment  and our hotel which was located up on a hill providing us the quite nights to let us sit, chat and exchange gossips outside for hours till morning. However, tea plantations and the beautiful scenery was another reason for us to stay for unintended duration. 

Street market for cheap shopping

Main road and market

 Leaving Cameron Highland

Bus tickets to different places are easily available from the bus station on the main road. We were supposed to get back to Kuala Lumpur and catch the flight back to our final destinations the same night. We left Cameron Highlands at 12 in the noon and were dropped off at KL central, sort of a station to catch buses to airport and other location, metro and airport link, in Kuala Lumpur after 4 hours.

A little bit of shopping was still remaining and we had to get a locker for half day till mid night to put our bags safely.

To the Airport

Contrary to the fact that airport link should be the cheapest way to get to the airports, it turned out to be expensive one for us. One way ticket cost MYR 30 which made me think about another mode of journey to the airport and the bus turned out to be the cheapest choice (MYR 10). The buses to both the airports run from the underground station and the buses are very comfortable.
KL Central

A shopping mall, metro and airport link station

Cheap buses to the airport