Ben Dougan blogs Malaysia and on...!

SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2010

Rest of adventure in India and Malaysia.


Just in an internet cafe in Kuala Lumpur as I write, listening to house music and reminiscing! Strange! First time listening to music of my preference in nearly three months! Anyways what's happened to me...

From my last post of chilling in Pondicherry cycling aimlessly around the French colonial town eating great South Indian food, quite a bit has happened... I kicked back in India big time for the last couple of weeks. Also reading my last post back to myself I sound like the biggest pot-head in India. I wasn't, and thought whilst in India chill the hell out and get high, also get in with the culture seeing as it's in the religion! From Pondicherry I took a bus to Mamallapuram and couldn't leave for five days, was only supposed to be there for three days! but that's what a great place does to you. I was the only person staying in the hotel and was served homemade food and coffee by the woman running it. It was a cool place Mamallapuram, a really chilled place was nice before I threw myself into India's fourth largest city Chennai. Mamallapuram was full of stone carvings from little pots to life-size statue's. The woman who owned the hotel had a son who I got on really well with, who had worked in Essex for five years and just returned home. He was a stone carver and used to bomb us around on his ancient, heavy Royal Enfield - was wicked! He took me one day to his shop hoping I'd buy a huge statue to take home and put in my garden. I said I didn't want to buy anything and passed him back this little pot he gave me to look at. It was beautiful, delicately carved and would've been a nice item to take back home. On handing it over I dropped it and it smashed into 4 pieces on the floor. "You clumsy fucking bastard" I said to myself in my head knowing I had to buy it now. I tried to plead with him and say it was an accident, but he wouldn't accept that. Looking pissed off I gave him a hundred ruppees (about one pound seventy, so not much at all but when traveling everything matters!) and stormed out looking pissed off. That evening I saw him back at the hotel, and he was so cool as if nothing had happened. Just to forget it like that was so cool and something I need to adopt into my personality. Just forget about shit that's happened-no big deal-it's sorted, type of attitude. Great guy. Next day it rained torrentially for about ten minutes, that monsoon coming in, and later I caught a bus out to Chennai. I arrived in Chennai to searing humidity and sadness, as this was my last place in India I would visit before jetting out to Penang Island just off Peninsular Malaysia. I had two days in Chennai dealing with crazy traffic, heat and Indian culture. I really liked Chennai, but they really need to invest in an underground train system there, when on a bus you would drip with sweat and not have to hold onto anything, they were so crowded. I went to a botanical garden outside Chennai and it was weird looking out at the city that that chaos was going on inside there and I'm surrounding by a twisting Banyan tree and tranquility. Next day I jetted off to Malaysia. I am still processing my trip through India after two weeks of leaving. I reckon I still will until I can really think about it when I get home. What an amazing country. I can't put it into words. It taught me so much and I found a lot of answers in India that I had no idea I would learn before getting there. I would love to go back in ten years or so and see how much the country has developed. I am quite sure that most of the places I visited will have changed beyond recognition in ten years. And the population levels... it's scary to think about.

I arrived in Penang airport and caught a bus to the main town there called Georgetown. I was so culture-shocked on the bus I almost choked on my tongue! The first two things I noticed of Penang was the cleanliness and noise of that compared to India. It was so apparent straightaway that it was going to be so different to traveling in Malaysia, and it is. It's just easier. Everything is so easy here and much more developed and aimed at tourists. I arrived in Penang staring at bars full of westerners drinking Carlsberg. I had a few days in Penang and they were great. It's a cool little place but a bit quiet for me! After leaving Penang I thought I'm going to treat my trip's in Malaysia and Thailand as a sort of holiday. Not budget as fiercely as in India and just enjoy and do whatever! From Penang I headed to Langkawi, a duty-free island just below the Thai border, cheap beer and cigarettes, beautiful white beaches that look out onto smaller islands covered in tropical looking rain forests. That's another thing actually, it rains almost everyday here, but it's great! Actually been missing rain, and after ten minutes of a downpour it's bright sunshine again! I would like that to be the way back home instead of days of persistent grey rainy days. I met a great couple in Langkawi who'd been traveling nearly a year around South America, Australia and New Zealand. We hired mopeds and darted around the island - one of my best days so far of the trip. We hiked up hills, then cooled off in mountain waterfalls. I love waterfalls, and I am such a sucker for them, and tea plantations. From Langkawi I headed to Perhentian Islands. These were beautiful, and I guy who I met in India at these tiny tea plantations in Kerala! He was staying at the same hotel as me! He'd been there for a month unable to leave! We chilled out with a group of us on the beach through the day dipping into the crystal clear sea and at night got drunk on this sort of rum they drink on the island called 'Monkey Juice'. On the last night there was a fancy dress toga party, as always I got too drunk and ended up cutting my little toe open on a glass bottle, so I've been limping here, there and everywhere recently. So frustrating! I went snorkelling in Perhentian which was incredible, looking over amazing coral, diving down and following colorful fish, swimming above turtles, sting rays and reef-sharks. It's the first time I've ever done anything like that, there's a whole different world down there! I wanna explore more of it! From Perhentian with a raging hangover and a sliced open toe from the toga party the night before, I headed off to Cameron Highlands escaping the heat and to drink tea. I went to Cameron Highlands with this great American couple I met on the way to Perhentian and we chilled out together with another mid-aged German lady we met on the mini-bus on the way up. Over the last three days we've just been hiking in the rainforest, drinking tea, eating scones, looking out over luscious tea plantations and ending the day with a few beers and games of Californian dominoes! A great place, very British colonial, and a glimpse at home before I go back in like three weeks! Gonna be weird settling back into life! I arrived in Kuala Lumpur today to a busy China town selling copy's of clothes, watches, sunglasses, you name it, and lots of Chinese food. And this is where I am guys! My Malaysia escapade coming to an end in two days before I jet off to a slightly shaky, slightly violent Bangkok. I've loved Malaysia and had a great time here experiencing the culture, eating great food, meeting great people and getting great weather! Malaysia, I'll miss you!

Thanks for reading guys, I hope you are all well and happy.


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