1. 2018 - 27. 2. 2018    994,5km

Thailand - Malaysia borders can be crossed in several places. We chose a quiet border crossing that is on the hill. The hill didn‘t look long or steep, there was no line of cars and the customs officer was surprisingly nice. The only thing that run through my head was where was the steep climb I was reading about. But because of the joy of entering the new country I put it behind me. After the first few kilometers, we finally saw the serpentines on a hill, it was clear that it would be hard. We heard a sound of gibbons in the forest and we saw the dusky langurs. It was hot and damp, we were not far from the equator at the top of the hill we were literally wet. We were looking forward beautiful view from the top, but there was nothing more except thick tropical "bushes“ so we couldn’t see anything.

After all we got a thirst. Unfortunately there were no ATM to withdraw Malaysian ringgit, but  we had couple of Thai bhats. We were hoping that they would accept that especially near the border. We were lucky the lady in the store didn‘t hesitate to accept that, she set exchange rate to her advantage and we enjoyed refreshing drinks and a pile of sweets.

We rode on a nice asphalt road, the road was lined with green rice fields, there was less garbage again, it was the cleanest country in SE asia so far. We were just surprised how many snakes we saw in a short time! Most of them, of course, were death, but neither was the sight of a dead two-meter-long snake much encouraging. And those who were alive were more scary. We also saw several old friends – monitor lizards. Fauna in Malaysia would be probably rich, we thought. We were also curious about the local people. Who would they like? We knew in advance that Malaysia is cosmopolitan, the Malaysians, the Chinese, and the Indians live here, and there are several religions with Islam in the first place. We won‘t lie that we had doubt about Islam due to the panic in the Czech Republic. The first experience, when Malay man was driving his motorbik closely to Kata for a couple of minutese and still repeated, "I am not a friend, I am not a friend!" only supported our fears. Within a few days the pleasant experiences with the unpleasant alternated. One day we met a gentleman who just paid our dinner for no reason. Then we wanted to stay in a hotel where the owner was arrogant, refused to show us the room until we paid him, constantly repeated to us that these were his rules, and his eyes was dark and scary as he showed us his male superiority. Then other man  gave us a melon. And we still faced one and the same question: "Are you two of us alone?" We were confused because all of this. Later we fell in love with a local people, and waved with them on the roads and took a picture in the restaurants.

Probably because Islam predominates here, we had met fewer wild dogs here; Muslims mustn‘t have the dogs because of their faith. Our calf were safe then. Altought cats were at each shop or restaurant. It was a day of my birthday and we planned to make a little celebration with a beer or wine. Unfortunately we forgot that it wouldn‘t be easy to buy the alcohol. The only ones who can sell it are the Chinese, and they were not in the town, where we stayed that night. There was no event at all, but at least we could get up early on the next day and head for a long and difficult trip to the Cameron Highlands. We were leading up since that morning. The only luck was that the temperature decreases with an increase in altitude, so we didn’t cycled at 40 ° C but only at 30 ° C. We underestimated food supplies, in fact we had only  mentos candy and we were already hungry around noon. Besides tea plantations Cameron Highlands is famous also for strawberries farm, we soon reached a stand with this fresh fruit and recharged our energy again. This area is widely used in agriculture. There were foil greenhouses side by side at the to, it almost seemed like they supply all Malaysia with fruits and vegetables from here. We arrived at the hotel exhausted, but happy that even after a long time, we were still able to cycle from 0 m a.s.l. to 1600 m a.s.l. without problems. In the afternoon the air temperature had dropped to a 20 ° C, we had to put on our sweatshirts, the tropical temperatures made us pretty spoiled. The next day, we set out for tea plantations, it was indeed a sight for sore eyes. Tea shrubs covered the rolling hills like green carpets and we could smell the beautiful scent. But because it was just a short walk, I devised a further trip to the Mossy Forest and the highest mountain in the area. Why relax when we can destroy ourselves, right? I didn‘t know that it would be so difficult and I went out just in jeans. At first the road was wide, the jungle spread out around us, but later the road followed the path through the forest.  When we went up , we had to overcome the high roots and the temperature significantly dropped. Our hands and noses were freezing and a dense fog added, so the view from Gunung Brinchang (2032 m) was really bad.  The way back, down the hill was even more adventurous. We struggled through dense bush, climbed down steep slopes with the help of ropes or crawled under the strong branches. Two and a half kilometers we went for an hour and we were tired. It was clear that we would take a break the next day and stay whole day in the hotel. But it was worth it!

There was no accommodation on route back to the hot lowlands, so we had to cycle 137 km. But it would be downhill, we thought. And it was, but only the first 50km. Then the road was rolling and it was really challenge to reach Kuala Lipis. The next day the road to the town of Jerantut was no better, still uphill and dowhill. Probably preparing for New Zealand, it run through our brain. In Jerantut, we first time tried Indian roti-flatbread- served with curry sauce and chickpeas. We went to the restaurant before sunset and thanks to that, we were able to watch birds from a wide area as they came to sleep on the power lines. It was literally a black cloud circling the city. Before we ate, almost all the birds were sitting. And at that moment I realized they were not so cute. The power lines were running across whole city and also to our hotel. We had to go back to the hotel under them. And you can definitely imagine what a birdie does before bedtime. We were lucky to be clean but our bicycles in front of the hotel were covered by birds shit in the morning.

Taman Negara National Park is the oldest rainforest in the world. And that's where we were heading. The road profile did not fail, it was again like a roller coaster. At first we went through the forest and saw many monkeys, among them the pig-tailed masque. We also encountered an alert sign for elephants, but unfortunately we did not have such luck. Soon the forest was replaced by oil palm plantations. They were everywhere and were vast tens of kilometers, some of them had to be there for a long time other were only small trees. It is the fruit of this tree that produces known palm oil. Forests are cut down to be replaced by this plant. It was a sad look. How many animals lost their home?

The village of Kuala Tahan is a kind of base for entry into the National Park that’s why we stayed there in a hotel. We noticed that some tourists had ugly spots on their calves and we also heard that they often talk about leeches. Kata immediately started searching for information on the Internet. Well, the leeches are there! We sprayed the repellent, pulled the socks on to the knees, put on long trousers and went to the forest. We made a short track in the park. We walked the canopy walk, which is a footbridge between trees up to 50m high. We went out on the prospect and the river. We didn‘t saw any animal, not even the leeches, we heard only gibbons there. Even so, we enjoyed the forest and understood why it is called rain, the humidity in was incredible. From Kuala Tahan there is only one road, the rolling one we came to. Although we aren‘t a big fan of riding the same way, we didn‘t have a choice. We went back to Jerantut and all the time thinking about the delicious roti. But that time we went during the daylight to avoid the birds poo.

The date we had to fly to New Zealand was close enough. It was clear to that we wouldn’t be able to visit the rest of Malaysia and Indonesia this year. Kuala Lumpur International Airport, in the capital of Malaysia, offer a good connection to NZ, so we were heading there. We were surprised that another forest full of monkeys was so close to the capital. It was a beautiful farewell to the wilderness.

The muddy confluence, the meaning of the name of the capital, was very modern. There is even an automatically controlled metro (no driver). The symbol of Kuala Lumpur is Petronas towers, skyscrapers  which were the highest in the world until 2004. Beside skyscrapers there are temples and churches of various religion in the city. The Chinese, who comprise almost half of population in KL, have their own district, Chinatown, where we stayed for few days. They respekt their nature in New Zealand, that’s why they check on arrival all the equipment that came into contact with the soil in another country. For us it meant scrubbing tyres, shoes and a tent. In the meantime we did some sightseeing and enjoyed cheap and delicious food. Eventually we didn’t want to leave South Asia, but on the other hand we were looking forward to change.

What did we like?

excellent cuisine, tolerant drivers, nature

What we didn‘t like?

more expensive accommodation than previous countries, too many oil palm trees

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