January 21st 2018
Many of our friends and family have asked how we manage to spend so much time in close proximity and remain constantly on good terms. The truth of the matter is that we don’t! But more of that later.
On leaving Penang, we stopped briefly (and harmoniously) in the Cameron Highlands (tea plantations, colonial buildings, mossy forest, strawberries and cool climate). We enjoyed our lunchtime visits to popular local restaurants including the very tatty but appropriately named ‘Delicious and happiness kitchen’.
We then we headed off travelling through windy roads weaving through tea terraces, strawberry fields stopping only to have an essential cream tea with fab views over the hilly Cameron Plantation tea terraces.
On arrival in Kuala Lumpur, we were amazed at the over passes, the ring roads and the fine modern city buildings, including their Petronus Towers.
After a long drive we arrived at a garage recommended to us for our troubled gears. We have seen some garages on our trip and this was probably the worst bar none! There were discarded vehicles, mosquitos, engines lying around everywhere and a selection of broken chairs and stools and guys lying on the oily black ground, shimmying under vehicles with no pit or functionning hoist. We both felt we needed to get Landy out fast.
Interestingly the owner, who turned up shortly after we had arrived, turned out to be a commited overlander himself. Thankfully he quickly diagnosed that our new gear box was faulty and that more parts were required💁🏻♀️🙅🏻♀️ which were not available in Malaysia. He suggested waiting till Australia! We heaved a sigh of relief and fled.
We took ourselves back to a recommended park which we had passed earlier in the day, on the otherside of town (via a garage to find some new tyres). But having stopped also to buy replacement pillows, we got caught up in rush hour traffic.
Then, at 7pm on arrival, Jim decided we should not set up camp, but go and find a restaurant. This involved an impossibly long drive back into the rush hour traffic. (Sonia getting grumpy). We then took a wrong turn and instead of travelling 10kms max, we doubled the distance and quadrupled the time. (Sonia getting very grumpy). This short trip to find a restaurant a couple of miles away took over an hour.
By the time we had arrived at the Trip Advisor recommended destination, Jim discovered that it did not exist and was located a two hour drive away! So the race was on to placate a very stroppy Sonia.
Luckily Jim found another fab popular restaurant nearby, specialising in Rawing Steamed fish. This did the trick and happily, we both ate swiftly and got back to our camping spot next to the Temple International School, in no time at all.
The following day neither of us were at our best and thanks to Mandy Sturrock’s rrcommendstion, Jim decided he wanted to drive Landy to Epoh for the day. (This is a reversal of the norm). This meant that Sonia was bad tempered and navigating - also not the best combination.
Those of you who know us well will realise that this could be trouble as Jim doesn't like taking directions and Sonia is not great at navigation!
Having taken a wrong turning, again at Rawing, we were on the slow road to Epoh rather than a super duper motorway. After about 40 minutes of this, Jim veered off on a side road supposedly taking us back to the motorway. It did, but actually took us back to Rawing where we had started out! It was now 1pm and we were no closer to Epoh.
A spat over filling up with fuel, led first to Jim announcing the abandonment of our joint trip to Epoh and Sonia storming off to the pump where she promptly filled it with the wrong fuel. By the time we had pulled out of the gas station, Jim had found a coffee and an English language newspaper and the trip to Epoh was back on. (This time with Sonia driving and Jim navigating - better for the nerves).
It was not long before the car stuttered to a halt on the motorway and Jim pointed out that I must have filled up with petrol and not diesel. I had.
Well we had to be towed off to a garage (ouch), lost a tank full of fuel (ouch) and had to pay handsomely for the labour (ouch, ouch, ouch).
In truth, Jim was very forgiving about my incompetence and the trip to Epoh was now going to be for dinner and not for lunch!
We found Epoh before dark and were delighted to find a thriving town, bearing the landmark vestiges of its colonial past. Our first stop was next to a very lush cricket ground in the centre of town.
We were a bit late for the planned self-guided walking tour and we found ourselves in a massive thunderstorm. The only thing to do was dive into a coffee shop opposite the cricket pitch and plan dinner!
After a noisy night camping in a back street hotel car park, as our destination for the day was now Malaka, we took ourselves off on a curtailed walking tour. This included the fabulous railway station building and the former town hall.
We also stopped at the monument to the many thousands of people who lost their lives building ‘the death railway’ for the Japanese. We felt this little town had more to offer, but Malaka now beckoned.
And the motorway journey gives us peaceful time to firm up our illusive car sailings to Australia and sort out boring things like car insurance for Singapore and replacement carnets. Skype and 4G make mobile communications with London, Singapore and Sydney so much easier! Sonia drives and Jim emails and phones.