Hello Malaysia!

Thursday, April 07, 2016
Tanah Rata, Pahang, Malaysia
As always it was sad to leave Bali. I hate leaving that place, the land of happy smiling people and for a small island it has such a wealth of diversity and things to do. It's not all Kuta and clubs, there is so much more to it. But that said I know we will return again, maybe later in this trip maybe another time. Despite the development and increase in tourism it still draws me back everytime and makes me want more of Bali life.

The last couple of days in Sanur were spent very leiusurely at the beach and enjoying the last of the great food at the night market and Anna's warung, the best place around for a good tuna curry and beef rendang . Sanur is so very very quiet at the moment and I do feel bad for the hawkers and sellers around the beach, they must really struggle when it's like this. We passed armies of massage ladies, all in their uniform and not a single punter in sight to massage. We also spent some time trying to research our next moves as well as looking at what work/volunteer opportunties there are in Malaysia. We had wanted to work in Bali but all the programmes/opportunties were full for the month we were there which is a shame. We use the Workaway website which is great and I guess it has dual benefits. We are traveling on a massively small budget this time. Just £20 a day for everything including transport between places, flights etc. Being able to work and help out in return for accomodation and food can massively relieve the cash burden and at the same time let's us give something back to the world as the one thing we can give is our time and energy. It also allows us to integrate more into local communities which provides a much richer experience to our trip . Getting to know the locals a lot better and being involved in their lives in a positive way as well as providing valuable support.

Before we left we had been in touch with a lady via Workaway in a small village just outside Kuala Lumpur who does a lot a lot of work in the local community. Particularly with the local homeless people. Providing meals, cutting and washing hair etc as well as work with local animals and pets there, neutering the local cat and dog population and also teaching and sensory work with the local disabled children. It sounded like a great opportunity and something we really wanted to get involved with. As time crept by towards us leaving we still hadn't heard back from her. Dani had her added on Facebook but she hadn't responded to my Skype invite yet as she likes to have a chat with volunteers prior to accepting them which I thought was understandable and gave me confidence in the project she was running. However having researched further we found a lot of bad reviews about the place . $10 a time to take part in the cat and dog neutering programme, additional costs involved in every aspect of her volunteer programme. I can understand this may be fed back into the local community but it didn't feel right. It felt more like a money making scheme under the guise of volunteer work. That's the kind of work/programme I don't like to associate myself with. You see it all the time. Hundreds or thousands of pounds to volunteer at the Orangutan sanctuary in Sepilok, Borneo. People doing sponsered walks along the great wall of China but they need to raise £2,500 before a single penny goes to a worthy cause. They are designed to make money and profit for those running the programme and also seem to be a way of people funding their experiences and travel at the expense of others under the flag of 'Charity'. I like to give my time as that is what I have a lot of so we declined to go any further with that option and given some of the lady's comments on her Facebook page I think she had a lot of issues going on personally which I wouldn't want to get involved with .

So we have returned to Malaysia as we planned to. Our return flight was already paid up and our Visa ran out the day we left Indonesia. We arrived in KL as expected around midnight with no plans or accomodation in place whatsoever. We spent the night in the airport using their wifi for a couple of reasons. One to save on accomodation for the night as the KLIA express train had stopped running into the centre of the city for the day meaning we would have to pay double rate in a taxi to get to any accomodation and it also gave us time to plot our next move. Originally I really wanted to experience the trains around Malaysia, in particular the East coast jungle line which is world renowned as one of the best scenic train journeys you can take. However we could find of nothing of interest whatsoever along that line for places to stop off at and it felt it would have been a train journey and expense for the sake of it. We looked into spending a couple days at Ipoh, renowned for it's coffee, food and street art however the only accomodation we could find seemed too expensive and above our budget. The fairly slow Airport internet didn't help our research so we decided we should either head to KL first thing in the morning to rest up and do more research or head on somewhere else to give ourselves more time to rest up and investigate our options. By early morning we were seriously flagging from no sleep and still hadn't made a decision. People think traveling is one long
holiday and I guess maybe if you have a good sized budget it can be.
Traveling on a small budget and having to make decisions on the fly can
be tiring and stressful at times but it's something I love doing in some
sort of sadistic way. Not always easy and not everyones cup of tea but I
love the challenge of it all and that sense of adventure and unknown
that lies ahead.

With around 10 minutes to spare we made a last minute choice to hop on a bus to the TBS bus station at KL and hunt down another bus up to Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. It's a place we have visited before but somewhere we always wished we had spent a bit longer as we only had 3 days there the last time. Combined with the fact we had found several Workaway opportunities at guesthouses and farms and the fact it was a little closer to Taman Negara national park clinched the deal for us in the end. There are a lot of jungle treks we want to do around these parts so we are looking forward spending as long as we want here. You get a 3 month free visa on arrival for Malaysia so don't have to feel rushed about anything. It's also cheap as well. A 14p packet of noodles does us for breakfast and we can get a great indian meal, tandoori chicken or curry with a roti or rice for about £1. We are back in the land of cheap alcohol again as well. The Chinese shops generally cater for alcoholics of all budgets in these parts. We grabbed a big bottle of Thai rum and a big bottle of Fruit flavoured vodka yesterday for the price of a couple of pints back home. Unfortunately I'm paying for that this morning as I type this. I'm not really sure what happened last night but I must have fell or smashed my face on something as I woke up with a chipped tooth and quite a bit of pain! We haven't managed to get out on any of the treks yet as the first day was spent catching up on sleep that we desparetly needed. I've also had a blister that I'm waiting for to settle down and today Dani has woke up and isn't very well either, maybe a chest infection by the look of it.

Let's see what the next few days bring. We are waiting to hear back about the Workaway jobs we have put in for but nothing back yet. I guess that will decide how long we stay here and what we end up doing.

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