In the Shade of Green and Grey, Taman Negara & Kuala Lumpur
Monday, 30 May 2011 20:39
DSC_0838The water vaporized from the ground made the weather more humid. Due to walking for hours we were both tired and soaked from sweating. I sat down for a while on the ground and slide up my trousers' down part. I noticed several leeches stuck on my legs. Some must stuck few minutes ago that they were small and some were got full and became fat even one of them was bursted and made some blood on my leg. It reminded me my deceased grandmother. She used to buy leeches sold in glass bottles from the town market, put them on her knees and let them suck her blood. She thought they cure her rheumatism sickness. I am not sure if these animals have these kind of ability or she just had a belief about this but those days this action used to make me scared. I took out the leeches from my leg, I raised my head and look upwards. While the gloomy light forcing to enter through the dense branches and leaves of the massive high trees, some tropical birds good at hiding themselves were keeping on singing with an unusual melody that I am not familiar. If I was in Istanbul I would be working in an air conditioned office with my clean clothes and probably take a warm shower in the evening after a good dinner. All these things are so far to me at this moment. Because I am in Malaysia, sitting in the middle of world's oldest rainforest, Taman Negara.

DSC_0882We departed from Kota Bharu by jungle express with our new friends James, Stephan and his girlfriend Julia. After leaving the city the train moved through the jungle which had a stunning scenery and we arrived in Jerantut city in 7 hours. We took a local minibus from here and in few hours we get to the 130 million year old rainforest Taman Negara. We have been to the rainforest when we were in South America but being the oldest rainforest in the world made this jungle special for us to visit. However we were also disappointed upon arrival into this humid, hot and muddy jungle because we were still thinking about the charming Perhentian beaches that we already left. We couldn't stop asking ourselves why we came here. After tiring train and bus journeys we had to look for accomodation in the town with our 20kg backpacks which made the situation more difficult. Anyway we could find a bed and after having some food in one of the floating restaurants on the brown river, we immediately forgot about this exhausting day. As we are very close to equator it becomes evening quite early here comparing to Turkey. The only thing we could do in the jungle is sleeping and that is what we did.

DSC_0859In the morning we got prepared with the same team to discover the jungle and we moved further inside. There are signs showing the way in the jungle otherwise it would not be difficult to get lost. The long and thick trunk trees, the ivies dangling from them, rubber trees and more species that we haven't met before. The rain and the hot weather disturbing us seems to be the most effective factor for this ecosistem to be formed. We started the trekking on the jungle's ground and after some time came to the artificial path constructed between the huge trees which is known as canopy walkway. It is quite exciting to walk on this path made from the ropes because it is around 30 metres high and it starts swinging as soon as you walk. It also gives people the opportunity to see the jungle from the top. We couldn't get rid of being attacked by the leeches although we put on our long clothes. After spending 5 hours in the jungle we got back to the town. There are many animals like panther, tiger, elephant and tapir living in this rainforest. It is possible to watch them in a night safari but in order to see them a floodlight is used to make the animals temporarily blind. Usage of this technic made us not to join in the safari because we don't support to disturb animals. Anyway I guess the people changed their mind about going for a safari at least for that night because there was a huge cloudburst.

We didn't mind our fatigue so the next day we left from Taman Negara by the sunrise and came back to Jerantut. Our itinerary was going to Cameron Highlands and run in the tea plantations. Unfortunately there was not any public transportation from this town instead there was only annoying "tourist" buses arranged by the travel agencies which charge more than required. We disagreed to take these buses, say good bye to our travel mates and changed our way towards capital, Kuala Lumpur.

DSC_0925During Kuala Lumpur journey the smoke covered inside of the bus for a moment. After the train fire in Thailand would it be another fire this time in a bus? Thus I warned the driver but he was already aware and calm. He stopped somewhere by the road and all passengers got down. Fortunately it was not something serious but anyway we had to wait for the next bus and change to it. As the name Kuala Lumpur is a long one and difficult to pronounce each time, residents of the city call it with its short form which is KL. As soon as we saw Petronas twin towers from distant we realized we were in KL soon. By the city metro we could easily get to China town where we wanted to stay. The hostel in this area was one of the most interesting hostels that we have stayed so far. Once we came here while the quite receptionist wearing a white cap was dealing with us at the background we could hear the religous song and the jazz music at the same time. The art paintings on the wall, the weird smell spreading around at night time and the people clothing in unusual style was making this hostel bohemian more than much. I asked the magic question to one of the young guys I saw at this hostel. "Are you Turkish?" Due to his behaviours it was easy to capture it. Mustafa was living and studying engineering in Malaysia last 5 years. He came to KL for traveling. When I meet these kind of people I always envy them and Mustafa was one of them for sure. Because when I was at his age I supposed even moving to İstanbul was a big deal, apparently it was not.

DSC_0989Since the district is Chinese town everything resembles to China. The most famous street of area is Petaling street. The restaurants around this street, Chinese writings , Chinese products took us back to China for a while. On the other hand the Indian taxi drivers' insistence to get on their cars reminded us India again. Malaysia used to be a British colony and got its independence around 50 years ago. For me the most interesting thing about Malaysia is number of ethnic people living together. Most common ethnic groups are Malays, Chinese and Indians. It is possible to see a hindu shrine, a buddhist temple or a mosque at the same area. Each ethnic group mostly speak their own language among each other and they use English and Malay to communicate between the groups. The story of these people's gathering is basicly comes from the history. Malaysia land used to be a marketplace for trading. Apart from China town the region called as golden triangle can be considered as city's modern face. This triangle also includes KLCC (KL City Centre) and Bukit Bintang areas. Around here there are many plazas, shopping malls, bars and luxury restaurants unlike the other parts of the city. We were surprised with the continual advertisement of Istanbul on the big screen in Bukit Bintang square. KLCC's best known attraction is Petronas twin towers. These towers used to get the reputation of Empire state building in US for a while about being the highest structure in the world. For now none of them are leading in this competition but twin towers are still high and they are third in this ranking.

DSC_0004Batu Caves which is out of the city centre is an interesting Hindu temple. A huge Lord Murugan statue is welcoming people at the entrance of this natural temple. It is mostly visited by many Hindu people during their Thaipusam festival. People are supposed to climb up the long steps of this temple to get inside which is tiring. There are residents of the temple who are monkeys. These residents might be quite dangerous sometimes because they always watch for people's food and steal them from people in an agressive way. After visiting this temple we headed back to city and visited Jamek Masjid which is known as one of the oldest mosques in KL. The mosque architeture in China had surprised us which was similar with a temple architecture. Malaysian mosques have also different architecture, most of them don't have any doors and the sides of the building are open. Because Malaysia is a warm country at any time of the year.

DSC_0112After few days spending in KL we again looked for a new destination so we got to KL central train station. The train we got from this station took us to Singapore which is at the most end of peninsula. We will be visiting this small country later because we wanted to get to Indonesia at once. As soon as we arrived in Singapore airport in the check-in counter we were told to prove our return ticket from Indonesia which we didn't have. For the first time visitors of Indoneisa passengers have to show this return ticket otherwise they are not allowed to get in the plane, just like us. While we were dealing with return ticket we missed the flight so we had to wait for the next flight which was the following day. Previous day we didn't have any chance to sleep in order to make an itinerary for South America and that day we spend the night at the airport. Anyway after our train station experiences in India, airport benches can be considered as five star hotel. In the morning with the first flight we finally got to Indonesia's capital city Jakarta which is on the Java island. The plan is spending few days in Jakarta and heading to Bali through Yogyakarta overland. We will meet our precious friend Kurtuluş in Bali and finish the Asia leg of this trip together. I don't know why but I like pronouncing the name Jakarta. Jakarta, Jakarta, Jakarta...
Hand Made Bracelet, Penang & Perhentian Islands
Friday, 20 May 2011 18:06
DSC_0683- Hi, would you like to buy bracelets ? They are hand made.
* No, thanks...

- Good evening, do you want to buy hand made bracelets ? Just 10 Ringgits.
* ...
- I am sure it will suit you, would you like to try ?
* OK.
- It really looks good.
* How much is it ?
- Just 10 Ringgit.
* OK, here it is.
- Thanks, good night.

- Hello, would you like to check bracelets ? We also have earrings and necklaces.
* No, no...

- Hi, would you like to buy hand made bracelets ?
* I will buy if you sing.
- We are not singing, we are just selling bracelets.Yell

- Good night, would you like to buy bracelets for your girlfriend ? They are hand made.
- May be ...

DSC_0705We took the minibus to Had Yai in the south of Thailand after leaving Phi Phi Island and taking the ferry to Krabi. We headed to Malaysian border without wasting time. The process in the border didn't take so much time. It was time to meet a new culture after we spent much time in Thailand. We were expecting to meet a new life considering what we heard about Malaysia before. After a few hours crossing the border, We arrived to Butterworth to take the ferry to Penang which is settled on a big island. We climbed up to the upper floor of the ferry and started to watch around. The people on the ferry was a way to understand Malaysian culture. Most of the people are muslim Malay's, except Malay's there are many Chinese and Indian people. It is possible to see people with different look and beliefs all together. The official religion of the country is Islam but anyone with any religion can live freely. I remembered about Çanakkale while watching outside from the ferry. The words ferry, Eceabat, Gelibolu and Çanakkale caused a smile on my face. But the longest bridge on Asia and third longest one in the world Penang Bridge returned me back to the east coast of Malaysia.

DSC_0747It was around 9 PM when our ferry aprroached Georgetown, the Chinese town of the city ve that meant we spent all the day again on the road. After looking for a place to stay for some town, we found a convenient hostel and went out to eat after leaving our stuff. The night market signed by bright neon lamps was attractive. A little scene, a woman singing on it and tens of tables around, a good place to eat. We started to walk around after eating something which was relatively cheap. We weren't expecting a lively night life actually. But we realized that we were wrong after we noticed the bars and clubs closeby. A lot of people were there to have fun and we were staring around dazzled. Suddenly we noticed two girls, one European and one Asian who were sitting on the banks. They were trying to sell the bracelets and necklaces that were on a cloth between them.

DSC_0818Terhi is Finnish, at the age of 30, left Helsinki to travel around Portugal for three weeks and she is still traveling since then, in other words for the last 3 years. Nowadays she is still traveling by earning money selling the bracelets she made. She met Sky who sits next to her. Sky is a Chinese girl, who studies in Malaysia. She came to Penang for a few days and met Terhi here. She decided to help her afterwards. Our conversation got londer as they learnt we have been traveling for a long time and we decided to help Terhi after learning her story. After 2 Turkish guys joined the sales team and converting into the customer focused dynamic sales model (!), in other words after we started to ask people who may be into if they want to buy bracelets personally, we started to sell more. At the end of the night we earned around 150 Ringgit which is nearly around 35 Euros, Terhi seemed to be really happy.
We spent the two days we had in Penang walking around but it seems 2 days were much for it. There wasn't so special. The most interesting part of the city was the neighbourhood known as Little India. 4 different temples belonging to 4 different religions are located so close to each other in this neighbourhood. The Indian songs we heard in the neighbourhood made us feel like in India but we are still antipathetic to India so that was not a good feeling. Something to notice; some of the buildings in the city do not have walls, they only have colons. The climate is tropical which means the weather is always warm so that is the reason for such a structure. Who needs the walls anyway...
DSC_0766After Penang, next was Perhentian Islands, we hit on the road by minibus early in the morning and arrived to Kuala Besut around noon. We learnt that there is no ATM on the islands so we spent some time to find one around and then headed to the islands by speed boat. After 45 minutes trip, we arrived to Long Beach which is next to Turquoise, bright water. The boat didn't approach to a port, instead it approached to the beach where people were swimming. We transfered to a smaller boat here and reached the beach. The idea of 2 backpackers coming through the sea is nice actually. Perhentian islands are formed of 2 islands, one bige and one relatively small. We chosed Long Beach on the small one which is more visited by backpackers. There are no paved roads, there are even no roads on the islands. All the settlement is composed of a few hostels, a few guesthouses and some restaurants. A 10 minutes walk among the trees is enough to go to the other beach on the other side of the island but this duration may get longer if you meet a komodo dragon on the way.

P5180116We spent much time swimming and resting in Perhentian Islands. Swimming in the clear bright sea was just like a theraphy but we had the best moments during the snorkelling trip. Swimming among different type of fishes, giant sea turtles and even sharks were very special. Ok, ok, they were not like Jaws', they were vegeterian and harmless ones. It was nice to watch the sea and moon on the beach while listening to music, to walk on the sands which appeared after the sea drawed back because of the tide and to watch the turtle going back to sea after leaving her eggs. It took 30 minutes for her to go back so we watched her for a long time.

There are two more places that we want to see before going to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. One of them is Taman Negara which is the oldest rainforest in the world and the other one is Cameron Highlands. We missed the bus to Taman Negara since we decided to sleep again after waking up in the morning and we found ourselves in Kota Bharu with the people we met on the road again. We will head to Taman Negara by the train which is known as the Jungle Express.

- İso, I think we should ask the couples, the guys will probably buy for their girlfriends.
- Yes, yes, we can also tell them that it looked good.
- Why are all the guys same everywhere ?