Cameron Highlands, Batu Caves, Bali and Gili Trawangan
27.01.2013 - 10.02.2013 33 °C
Ok I'll get right to it.
The Cameron Highlands or Tanah Rata are located about in the middle of Malaysia. They are famous for their tea plantations, strawberries and cool weather. It reminded me of Jasper, Alberta with one main street on which most the businesses are on, mountains shrouded in cloud off in the distance and a slower pace. Malaysia to me is the "land of the giant house plants" and this is even truer in the Highlands, which can see up to 3 growing seasons a year. We stayed very cheaply in a decent hotel for $8 dollars Canadian per night. Breakfast was Roti Canai (I think that's what it's called) which is Naan Bread dipped in various curries and other sauces. Every morning for 5 days we ate at the same place and I order the same thing (Roti Canai) and everyday it was somehow different. Every morning for 5 days Jannelle, who is a little more adventurous tried ordering something different and no matter what she ordered first they would never have it, making her take a second choice. Moral of the story is that language barrier's can be a real pain in the neck, so take it easy on that new Canadian next time you order Chinese food.
We decided to go trekking on some of the 10 or so famous Cameron Highlands "walks." These not so clearly marked trails quickly turned into jungle safari trail blazing. I really wish we had a machete with us for our pleasant hike down the side of a mountain covered in jungle. After an hour maybe two, of slippery slopes, narrowing trails and climbing over fallen trees we found ourselves at the end of Trail 9 which was the back slope of a farmers field approximately 10 kms south of Tanah Rata. At this point I'm (excuse my French) pissed off thinking what if Jannelle twisted her ankle or something how would I get her out of the jungle. I decided to cool down by sitting and taking a water and smoke break beside the brownest river I've ever seen. Twenty minutes later we continued are "walk" to a little town along the highway thinking it would be wiser to walk up the highway then back though the jungle. Jannelle managed to walk a blister onto heel so she was whining pretty hard by the time we got back to the highway which lead to this conversation. "Should we get a taxi or something?" asked Jannelle to which I replied "what do you think we're rich or something?" "Well maybe we can hitchhike." Jannelle suggested. "We can try, hold out your thumb" I replied. "No you" said Jannelle, so I did and 30 seconds later we were on our way back to Tanah Rata. Five minutes later we were back in town, safe and sound. Thank you random generous Malaysian.
Look at the size of that millipede!
We laid low for awhile in the Cameron Highlands and made travel plans for the next couple of months booking flights for Indonesia, Thailand and Canada.
We made our way back to Kuala Lumpur for a few more days of shopping and dim sum. We also flew from KL to Bali so we had to catch a plane.
There was this great Hindu festival called Thaipusam taking place at the Batu Caves which is short train ride from the center of KL. We went and checked it out the afternoon before the really busy night parades started. It was estimated that around two million people would come and pay homage to Parvati who gave Murugan a spear so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. Both man and women carry jugs of milk upon there heads and climb 272 stairs to make an offering. Also respective Hindu temples travel as a gang beating drums and wearing (for lack of a better word and they wear them on there shoulders) giant head dresses decorated in peacock feathers and pictures. Our pictures will have to tell a thousand words cause I'm at a loss to summarize this spectacle.
Once you reach the top of the 272nd step you are in one of the biggest caves I've ever seen. There were rooster's up there and monkeys too. They kinda regroup inside the cave and walk up another 20 or so steps that lead them to the temple in the cave. Again I'll let the photos fill in the blanks for me.
I'm glad we went during the low time as it was crowded enough already for us and was getting busier by the hour.
We arrived in Bali around 11:30 at night and cleared customs shortly after midnight. I can finally say that I have been in the Southern Hemisphere!
If you ever wondered where these statues come from:
They can only be found in Bali!
Bali is it's own little unique paradise found somewhere in the middle of Indonesia's seventeen odd thousand islands. It is one of the top surfer spots in the whole world and every surfboard company has a big store somewhere here. Bali is also know as the island of gods because of the hundreds of temple's that dot the very bright green hillsides. The smell of incense fills the street as most people also have a little shrine at the entrance of their gates where they make offerings, say prayers and perform rituals. In fact most people make offerings in front of their stores and hotels as well. You are constantly stepping over these little bamboo plates filled with flower petals and rice, everywhere you go. To us this place feels like a whole other world. Everyone seems to live in these small to medium sized brick complexes that are essentially Zen gardens. I really wish my garden looked like these places.
We took a short ride in a taxi from the airport to Kuta Bali which is kinda the party place on the island. We got dropped off a little ways from the street on which we planned to stay and had to walk the rest of the way. The clubs were bumping and the music coming from them overfilled the streets with bass. Jannelle and I agreed that it was close to the craziest 300 meters of street that we have walked so far on this trip. We finally pulled into a quiet place down an alley and decided to ask for a room. It's was getting close too 2:00 in the morning at this point so when we walked up to reception and found it unattended we started saying "hello" and looking behind the desk. We eventually woke up the night guy who was sleeping on a foam mattress in the middle of the dark lobby. He showed us the room on the second floor and we checked in.
We payed 19 dollars Canadian for a large double room with a nice clean pool in the courtyard. Over the next couple of days we starting making new friends down by the pool and ended up going on a group scooter ride with our new buddies. There was a French man, two Slovenia's, a Dutch girl, a Dutch guy and us two Canadians. If you intend on renting a scooter in the Kuta area you better have game face on and your thumb on the horn because it's pandemonium.
The last photo is Absolute Vodka bottles filled with gasoline...so that's technically a gas station.
We all decided to ride to a temple on the southwestern tip of the island that is apparently quite famous. The views were stunning and the temple was, well not that great in my opinion. The most interesting part was arriving at the temple where we we're greeted by the "Monkeys." Dirty little thieves might be a more just description. We had barely gotten the scooters parked and our helmets off before the "monkey gang" started to roll us in the parking lot. Ok so picture this -the French guy gets off his scooter and a monkey jumps on his seat and starts urinating on the seat and down the side of his scooter. While I'm watching this happen, I'm busily trying to zip up my pockets and hide anything shiny or loose on me. This had to have been a diversion as I had backed under a tree and didn't see the monkey hiding above me. I felt a little tickle on my shoulder then felt my sunglasses being pulled off the top of my head and watched in horror as a monkey quickly scrambled off with my $120 dollar Oakley's. I gave chase after that little s**t but he was quick as lightning and it was futile as he was already 20 feet up a tree nibbling on my shades. Then I heard some yelling back at the scooters so I turned around to see one of the Solvenia's trying to shew off a monkey that had already taken a bite out of the seat of his scooter and was working on another. This all happened in about a minute and I wish I could have seen it from across the parking lot. While at the temple Jannelle and I watched a monkey steal a flip-flop right off a girls foot as she was walking....I'm not kidding!
I eventually got back my sunglasses after the gate people radioed the monkey police (guys with bags of peanuts) who tossed a bag up to the monkey in the tree which occupied his paws thus dropping my shades. Us guys all carried around sticks for the rest of the tour of the temple.
I eventually made up with one of the gang and we played around a little...
After the temple we decided to go and checkout some of Bali's beautiful beaches. I think we are here at the wrong time or something as the beaches and water were anything but spectacular. It was cool though, zipping around on the scooter looking for the perfect beach and seeing some of Bali's coastline.
To get to Pedang Beach you have to walk down these steps threw a small fissure in the rock.
I really like the statues around the this island because they are so intense!
We stayed at the same place for a couple of days and got to know our new friends better then decided to make our way to a small island to the East of Bali called Gili Trawangan.
We caught a bus first thing in the morning so we could catch a boat out to Gili Trawangan.
We seen a pod of dolphins on the way over but they were too elusive to capture on film that morning.
There are three very small islands between Bali and Lombok but closer to Lombok. Gili Air, Gili Meno and the largest of the small is Gili Trawangan.
Now having been disappointed by Bali's beaches, Gili Trawangan made up for it tenfold. Water so clear and blue it boggle's the mind.
We checked into a traditional little hut and went for a walk to go buy some snorkeling gear.
Picture the nicest aquarium with the most colorful tropical fish you've ever seen, now that almost comes close to the fish we seen snorkeling no more than 30 feet off the beach. I can't exaggerate enough the color of the fish we seen and just how clear the water was. We saw Sea Turtle's and neon Squid, little Clown fish (Finding Nemo) we seen fish so bright, well I'm at a loss for words. The best part was you just had put on a snorkel and a mask (you can rent then for $5 dollars) and walk 30 feet to the beach and Wham-O underwater sea world! Please Google "Gili Trawangan scuba diving" and it will give you some idea of just what I mean.
This was such a neat little island there are no cars or motorbike's on it. The taxi's are horse drawn and people use peddle bikes if your in a hurry to get somewhere. You can peddle completely around it in about an hour or less. It is a little touristy on one side for about a kilometer but that about it, the rest is pretty a much tropical island paradise.
Things are a little pricey there for instance.
Can of Coke $1.03
Large bottle of beer (642ml) $3.11
The double bed hut with breakfast $15.58
A good plate of Nacho's $4.36 Large plate $7.79
All price's in Canadian dollars and current as of last week.
We did sign up for our PADI certification and did go on one dive to 10 meters for 50 minutes. I ended up having lots of problems equalizing the pressure in my left ear and even now a week later my ear is still bugging me. Dylan would know what I mean as we have bad ears in our family.
I didn't care too much for our diving instructor as he was pulling me down and adding weights to my belt as I was hyperventilating underwater trying to swim to the top. Jannelle really enjoyed diving and was keen to continue but since I wasn't she opted out with me. We'll see though how I feel once we get to Thialand cause the more the experience settled in for me the more I wanted to try again.
Well anyways we are back on Bali now in Ubud getting ready to meet up with our friend Cam in Sri Lanka. Hope the weather isn't too bad for all our family and friends at home!