Our flight back to Malaysia was pretty uneventful, we even all managed to sleep on the plane. However we were keen to get back to the truck. As you may have read in the previous blog we had heard that there had been a fire at the hotel where we had left the truck and the hotel was currently not operating. We had been told the truck was fine but were keen to see it ourselves.
The trip to the hotel got off to an inauspicious start. The taxi we took had a clutch problem and just after the airport the clutch stopped working. Eventually the driver managed to get it into a gear and we drove all the way to the hotel in just the one gear, fortunately it was only a few kms. We were soon reunited with the truck and relieved to see it was fine. Now the issue was where to stay for the night. We had a booking at the hotel but had not paid. We could not stay there and did not want to drive to an alternate hotel as it was already dark so we asked if we could just sleep in the truck in the car park as no one was staying there anyway. The staff were very helpful but said we could not stay as they had “investigators” in. However they suggested we drive just outside the hotel and park on some grass less than 50 metres from their security gate. This seemed ideal so we settled in for the night.
Unfortunately jet lag kicked in and we were all awake at 2.30, so as soon as it was light we decided to head towards Kuala Lumpur. As it was early we decided to visit one of the sites on the way, the Batu Caves. These are caves in a limestone hill just outside Kuala Lumpur in which various Hindu shrines have been built.
We then headed into the concrete jungle of bustling Kuala Lumpur. We had heard that it may have been possible to park at the Malaysian Tourist Centre car park right in the middle of town only 500metres from the Petronas Towers. Again the people here were extremely helpful and found us a great secure free parking spot. We are quickly finding that people in Malaysia are so friendly and helpful.
This is where I think I have gone a bit soft. We could have slept in the truck in the parking place but with the heat, humidity, noise and jet lag I decided (supported by Alisha and Lucy) that we would check in to the nice hotel over the road for a few nights. Gilly was disgusted but came around that night when again we were all awake at 2.30am. It was much better doing this with a bit of space and some air conditioning.
We spent a pleasant few days checking out the sights of the city such as the Petronas Towers and eating in Chinatown. It is Malaysia National Day in a few days time and when we headed to Merdeka Square, school children were busy rehearsing their dances on the square. As we won’t be in Kuala Lumpur for the day itself and as the viewing seats would be reserved for VIPs anyway it was nice to watch our own private performance. We toured the old colonial architecture and popped into a few museums before heading back to the hotel for an afternoon nap. It was proving difficult to throw off the jet lag.
One evening we met up with a former student of Gilly’s from her time as a teacher in Moscow. We had a lovely dinner with Syafiqah, her father, brother and house mate. It was great for Gilly to meet up with one of her students and find out what she has been doing. She is now also a teacher.
It was time to get back to proper overlanding though and to get back in the truck. What with shipping from Perth and a trip back to the UK it seemed that we had been away from it for too long. So we headed out of the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur to one of the oldest jungles on the planet, Taman Negara National Park.
We had visited another jungle a few weeks ago which was wild and very untouristy. We knew Taman Negara was more developed and would be busier. One advantage of this was that the road access was much better. Arriving in the little town of Kuala Tuhan our first task was to find somewhere to camp. The easiest spot was in the corner of the coach park which was quiet (except for the teenage boys on motorbikes using it as a place to do wheelies in the night) on the edge of town. I think the car park attendant had had overlanders stay before as when we pulled in he immediately asked us how many nights we would like to stay. The National Park and jungle proper was across the river and the only way of accessing it was on a boat so there was no chance of parking the truck there.
The following day we headed across the river into the jungle. It is a dense jungle with ancient buttressed trees with vines all tangled around them. The trails near the town are well traveled and much of it is a boardwalk making for an easy walk. Whilst the jungle does contain tigers and elephants there was very little chance of seeing these. More likely were the leeches but fortunately we managed to avoid them. Along the way there was a large canopy walk that allowed us to get above the trees and stare into the dense undergrowth below. We also headed up a hill for for a view of the jungle. On the way back we took a short cut away from the boardwalk and had to slide down amongst the tree roots before coming to a lovely beach by the side of the river where we were able to enjoy our packed lunch picked up from one of the stalls before leaving the village.
We spent the afternoon fitting some of the spare parts we had brought back from England to the truck. Fortunately one of the gas adaptors fitted so we can now connect the kitchen to the gas bottle. Mind you I am not sure how much we are going to use it. As we keep saying the food is delicious and here it was so ridiculously cheap it made no sense cooking. In fact before we left we even went out for breakfast of rotis with egg or banana served with tea terek(sweetened boiled tea). As we had a long drive ahead of us we also decided to pick up a take away lunch of Nasi Goreng. How could we resist when combined breakfast and lunch was just $8 for all four of us!