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Malaysia Trip

  • Submitted by: Timothy Eyre, United Kingdom
  • Submission Date: 07th Feb 2005



INTRODUCTION




This document is the body of a letter I sent to Lonely Planet giving the technical details of my trip to Malaysia in July, August and September of 1994. I believe it is accurate about what actually happened to myself but this is no guarantee that it will be the same when you go there. The first paragraph gives the inaaccuracies and ommissions in the 1994 edition of 'Malaysia Singapore and Brunei - A Travel Survival Kit' that I spotted while using it. The second, longer paragraph consists of the details themselves. Finally there's some blurb. Do I recommend the LP guide? Yes, it saves lots of hassle trying to find decent hotels and there are loads of maps. Remeber, though, that no guidebook is a substitute for common sense, opportunism and a sense of adventure.

Tim Eyre
Department of Mathematics
University of Nottingham
Nottingham
UK
tmwe@maths.nott.ac.uk






ACTUAL INFO




National Library is incorrectly positioned on the map of KL, also Melaka Hotel squares and eating triangles are mixed up in Melaka map key box. Street name in Alor Setar needs to be added between Grand Continental Hotel and at least as far as express bus station is Jalan Sultan Badlishah. Before this is Lorong Selamat. On map of Kota Bharu your no.5 seems misplaced, should be north of no.7. South of KB map also seems inaccurate, Cultural Centre is on an alley directly opposite Jalan Bayam, Hotel Purdana is on corner of J. Bayam and J. Sultan Mahmud (which is signposted Jalan Mahmood) and all the shops along what is marked Jalan Hamzah and Jalan Pasir Puteh give their address as J. Sultan Yahaya Petra. J. Pasir Puteh doesn't seem to start until after J. Dusun Muda.

Istanbul airport is a madhouse. Turkish Airlines is OK but nothing special. To get from the airport in Singapore straight to MAlaysian border get bus #27 to Tampines (S$0.90) and get MRT to Bugis and then walk to Ban San bus station using an airport map. Bus is either S$0.90 (cheap, #140) or S$1.80 for air-con and more speed (about 40mins vs. 1hr). Shell petrol station is a good landmark for the Footloose Homestay, which is RM12 a night or rm24 for the double room. Friendly place indeed but the beds in the dorm are in a state of collapse. Brenda said to me 'you'll always get a bed' and that they're rarely full. No sign on gate and the dog won't bite. Can be noisy because of TV and kids. Kotaraya shopping centre has a bookshop with English books.

Posh bus to Kota Tinggi RM3. Lots of cheap hotels here. I paid RM16 for a noisy room with common bath and real walls at Hotel Upstairs. Bus 43 still goes to waterfalls. Post office is quite a way out of town. Has one good supermarket which might take S$. Ordinary bus to Mersing RM4.25, about 2 hrs. Sheikh Guesthouse still RM5 for decent dorm bed with lockless lockers. Food places close early here. ABC special at stall 6 is indeed good. Stall 1 sells usual traveller fare - French toast etc. Lots of places to change money, even on Sunday. Boat to Tioman was quoted to me at RM34 return. Instead walked 6km up the coast to the Farm Guest House which is RM12 for full board and a delightfully peaceful place to stay and see kampong life. In KG Tenglu Laut, ask at Shiekh Guest Hous for directions, taxi RM6 (though ask for more) or bus and 1km walk 45sen. Has free bikes and possibility of working for board. About 7kkm to Air Papan Bubble Bay Beach Resort which had just opened, RM15 for matress on floor and zillions of mosquitoes. was glad of net got in JB for RM15, light but bulky. Has teething troubles but friendly, great beach and quiet. Good English spoken. Lunch and dinner RM6 for the two, ordered in advance, b'fast RM2. Two AC chalets were being built while I was there so may have changed radically. Matahari huts are 1.5 hr walk or 20 min easy hitch from Batu Sembilan. Bus 90sen from Mersing. Dorm RM7, camp RM5, bungalow RM18, some with bath. Isolated and bleak location with good trails around. Run by a Californian. Beaches mediocre. I did a half day traill and a full day which included seeing rhino tracks, owner Tom has details. Can hitch from Matahari to nearby Penyabang which has some pleasant looking chalets called 'Cocnut Inn' RM25 but didn't stay there. Lots of cheap hotels in Endau and easy to get taxi for RM2 to Kuala Rompin which is an unpleasant place. No pick up for Watering Hole bungalows unless you phone (not easy- line poor) and if they pick you up outside of the pick up times of 2.30pm and 5pm you get charged RM5. I walked, it was easier and more scenic. RM18 for A frame hut including b'fast and dinner and free tea. More for the bungalows and bungalows with bath.

Decent location and grounds well cared for. Management unfriendly and nast dogs around, but well kept. Air Papan is a place popular with locals and has Rm14-15 places to stay. Managed to hitch a lift from Watering Hole after 40 mins. A sign helps. Got to KL in posh car in 5 hrs. Meridian Int Youth Hostel RM8 for air con dorm with YH card, o/w RM10 (men only), women go in the cheaper no air con dorm. Mosquito net good for privacy in the huge dorm. Restaurant Yusoof underneath is good. Nearby cinema is plush and shows decent films for RM8 with cold air con. Got cheap imitation Rolex for RM16. Puduraya is the bus station for Kuala Selangor. Apparently there is a Blackjack scam in KL and one should avoid people who ask 'have you got a credit card' and talk of big business. RM3.50 to K. Selangor, Nature Park accomodation was full though they said that this doesn't happen very often. Government Rest House is about RM40 pax, and swarms with tourists looking at mediocre historical remains and overfed monkies. Stayed in smaller of the two smaller bus station hotels for RM20, room with bath, fan, two double beds but I was locked into the building. Hitching K. Selangor to KL easy. Bus to Melaka RM6.75 incl. air con and no one else on bus. Samudra Inn is closed now, but Robin's Nest is still open and good, single RM12. Tourist Office has walking tour hand out for old town. Hitching to Muar easy. Embassy Hotel and Nan Yang Hotel are both brothels and nothing below RM21 around. Muar not all that ninteresting anyway. Hitching didn't work, bus to JB RM8 3hrs.

At Why Not Homestay they have replaced the 4 bed dorms with 6 bed dorms. Was transported to Boon Wah Boarding House where RM8 for bed in 25+ dorm. Poor value but location god for Little India. National Library is air con with lots of English books that are interesting, easy to get in, crowded as day goes on, has travel guides, open 7 days a week 9 to 5 or 8. Holland Village walkable to with determination. Visit Marina Mandarin + Pueri Pan Pacific hotels before Raffles to see the contrast. To get to Changi Village boat service (S$5, 1st 7am, last 4pm, just round corner from bus terminal) from airport go to Tampines (#27) $1-30 (air con) $1 (non air con) and change to Changi Village (#29, 80c). From Changi Village take #2 to get to Golden Landmark Hotel etc. Terminal 2 at airport has a reading room. Science Centre is in Transit. Hotel JB ok, good value for JB, air con not powerful. There is a bus to Mersing at 1.45pm, 3 hours. Tell guy in charge of station if taxi drivers charge more than RM6 to Farm Guest House. Hitching on main road nr. Farm Guest House easy for two. The Government Hospital in Mersing gave us a course of Malaria tablets for East Malaysia for RM2 each (didn't use them), wait just 1.5hrs. Bus from Endau to Endau Rompin 40 mins RM1.60, pposh air con 3 seat across (as opposed to 4) Endau Rompin to Kuantan 2 hrs. RM7.10. New Meriah Hotel RM24 for twin with fan, bath, carpet and big room. Hotel Embassy now called Moonlight Hotel. Ferry to Kampung Tanjung Lumpar infrequent.

Found a flyer for a place called La Chaumiere Lot61 Kampong Pelindong, 26100 Kuantan tel. 09587662/5133026 RM15 per person b&b but didn't check it out. Cinem,a on J. Besar nr. info centre good at RM3.50, Western Films and air con. Bus to Maran RM3.50, dropped off at the turn off for Tasik Cini without having to ask. Bus to Belimbing came after 1 hr, a guy offered us a lift for RM10, bus only RM3 or so. Long wait for boat, RM40 for whole boat (up to 4 people) or RM80 for 12 people boat, actually good value as trip is amazing. Shopkeeper at Tasik Cini has two huts for RM15 incl. food as well as Jones place (RM15). All full so stayed at a local house (again RM15 inc. food). Good walks in Jungle. Go away from lake by village road, turn left at T junction then there is a turn off on the left after 1 mile or so which leads to miles of wonderous jungle tracks that are well defined. Roads here still not all sealed. To get out, Chinese shopkeeper takes people in his 4WD (only one in town) for between RM5 and RM10 to Cini. The taxi drivers in Kuantan were adament that it was RM60 to Kampung Gummum. >From Cini taxi share to Kuantan is Rm6, bus Rm4.70. Bus Kuantan to KL 6hrs RM 12.10, aircon. KL City Lodge attempted to give a double bed as a 'double' but backed down when we complained. Rm30 for double with aircon, RM25 without. Rooms tiny but fairly clean and actually quiet. Cafe next door downstairs good. 7-11 is nearby. Bus to Kuala Kubu Bharu leaves from Puduraya and Rm3.50, 2hrs. Bus from KKB to Frasers is 8.30, 12.30, 1hr. Can change money at Maybank in KKB (RM5 commission!)No obvious accomodation in KKB. Lots of building going on at Fraser's, but can get away from it.

Gap Rest House recently renovated and now RM41 a double, good value as absolutely great place to stay. Western dishes poor but Malaysian food good. Chinese eatery at Gap nasty but Muslim place ok. There is a marked trail off left of the Fraser road near the top when ascending which seems to go down very steeply through beautiful jungle. Hitching from Gap to KKB easy when traffic is allowed down Fraser's Hill. Out of KKB harder as EVERYONE stopped whether going to KL or not. KL Butterfly park RM4 +RM1 for camera, is in Lake Gardens and worth the money. Paid RM2 to get there from Railway Station by taxi. wait at Mimibus stand to avaid coupon system and queue. KL City Lodge to Park is RM2 or RM3 by taxi. Also bird park at Lake Gardens, RM3 and very good, includes lots of Hornbills and flamingoes.

Taxis AWAY from bird park difficult to get, worth booking if not prepared to walk. Bus to Orang Asli museum from Lebu Ampang RM1 each way, pleasant journey and interesting museum, worth the effort. Exists bus to Lumut at 3pm rm12.40 4.5hrs. KL City Lodge is helpful, informative and friendly. Fan To Phui hotel in Lumut is RM16 a double, shared bath., good food downstairs. Bus to Lumut passes Kellies Castle so might be possible to be dropped there on way and hitch onwards. Ferries to Paulu Pankor frequent, the Yellow Red and Black Co. is RM2 (don't have to get return ticket) for air con one way. Taxi to Joe's Fisherman's Lodge RM10, huts RM20 and RM23 with two mattresses on the floor. Ewxpensive. No drinking water except mineral water at RM4 a bottle, take Puritabs or stock up in Lumut.

Beach ace, only good thing about the island really! Ablutions amongst the worst in Malaysia. Walk around island takes 4hrs if you don't stop to admire much. foodstalls on beach not overpriced and ok. There are buses from this place to Jeti from bus stop but are infrequent we got an impromptu taxi share for RM5 between two. Feri back only rm1.50, bus to Ipoh RM3.80, 2.5hrs at 2.45pm. Winner Hotel RM43.70 for aircon twin but was full. Cathay Hotel RM18.70 for grubby twin, noisy, ablutions poor but reasonable value and get plenty of furniature. Security poor, key obviously not cut. Aircon bus to B'worth at 10am from Ipoh. Bus connections poor here, book in advance. Was sold a ticket for RM9 when price is RM8 from tout. Takes 3.5 to 4 hrs, left at 10.30am. Ferry to Georgetown coin-op and 40c. D'Budget Hostel very good, clean, secure, RM7 for dorm, RM15 for room with double bed, RM14 for room with single bed, RM8 for bed in 3 or 4 bed dorm, rm22 for room with two single beds. Quiet and helpful. Buses 92,93,94,102 go to Wat Chayamangkalaramfrom jetty via a short walk. Also decent Bhuddist temple opposite, RM0.60 each way and buses as late as 7pm back to city.

Good and cheap roti canai place opposite PLaza Hostel. Penang seems relatively short on eateries. Get a long ride for RM4.05 on bus no.66 with good views. The Indian restuarant next to Plaza Hostel also does good food. To get to Kangsar get bus to Alor Setar from Butterworth (RM4.25) then walk 500m to Express bus station via McDonalds to catch bus to Kangsar (RM2.60). Prices in Kangsar seem to have gone up out of step with elsewhere in Malaysia. A dirty noisy twin without bath in Ben Cheong was RM22 and Hotel Malaysia RM32 for bath, twin and fan or RM38 with air con. Latter definately worth the extra. People at this place friendly. Getting to Grik from Kangsar takes all day and 4 buses. First to Alor Setar (RM2.90), then to B'worth(RM4.20), then there is a direwct bus at 1.45pm, but no later.

Instead went to Keloh (RM2.60) which looks like a pleasant place to stay with lots of hotels and right on Thai border. Bus from here leaves at 5.40pm to Grik with brilliant views (RM2.60). Sin Wah Hotel only RM9 for twin, bit grubby but adequate. Well stocked supermarket nearby which even has 186 metre reels of dental floss. Lots of places to eat. A bus to Kota Bharu stops here at about 1 pm and leaves about 2.30pm but hitching is easy - the resort on the nearby artificial lake charges from RM75 for a standard room. It claims to have RM20.00 accomodation for 'budget travellers' but not in evidence, camping also claimed but not in evidence either. Beautiful place. Rebana in KB RM13 for twin, RM16 for triple RM6 for dorm. Looking its age and full of draconian notices. Becak maybe RM3 from bus station. After one night moved to the light, airy Maryland Hotel (Chinese) on Jalan Tok Hazim (RM25 for spacious twin with fan and bath) RM35 with aircon. Near the handicrafts museum there is a WWII museum which is RM2 but has few artifacts but lots of photos. Night market ace. McDonald's is at bus station and on J. Tok Hazim, bus no. 10 to PCB from Pasar Buluh Kubu 70sen every 20mins until almost midnight. Loads of handicraft joints. Walking by the river is interesting in KB and there is a floating homestay amongst the houses which should be checked out. Saw a bird singing competition near bus station on J. Hamzah, but might have been a one off. No good English bookshops in KB. Bus from KB to Kuala Terenganu RM7.50, good idea to book 2-3hrs ahead or better, day before. Leave at 12noon, 1.30pm, they put on extra if fully booked, 3.5hrs. Buses to Merang and Marang from KT are from the local bus station, a new one is being built near old one. Seri Pantai hotel is RM17 for a twin with fan and no bath, not bad and lots of other places were full on Sunday afternoon - booking ahead might have been prudent.

New Maryland Hotel comes vey highly recommended from me in Kota Bharu. KT to Marang RM1, bus also stops at long distance bus station but was packed out by this time. Soon reverted to being nearly empty. Marang Inn good, double bed room RM10, single bed room RM8, ablutions not too great. Good batik about. To get photocopying done, turn right onto main road and try at the shopping complex on the right about 1km away, if not try photo shop on other side of road behind bus stop a bit further on. Getting out of Marang is a haphazard affair, we had an empty aircon bus stop for us and charge RM9 each to Cherating, 3hrs. Tanjong Inn has upped price, double with fan and bath RM50 for 1 night, RM40 a night for 2 nights or RM30 a night if you stay 3 or more nights. Without bath RM20 a night for 3 or more nights. There is a good path up hill from northern end of beach. Food stalls best place to eat. Mimi's is hopelessly disorganised, waited 45mins before being told they couldn't do our order. AVOID. Bus to Kuantan at about 10am, RM2.60, 1.5hrs 'cos of traffic. Bomb of a bus. Bookshop moneychanger in Kuantan gives poor rates esp. for TCs. Good idea to get bus tickets out of Kuantan day before departure, buses to Pekan frequent and RM2.60.

Pekan Hotel OK and friendly, RM12 for single with all the peep holes in the walls repaired. Museum RM1 and get a good map of Pekan. Bus station unimpressive, poor connections. Post office right in middle of town. Polo field is marked on map and surrounded by very traditional Malay houses and village life. Polo matches are held in season and Price Charles has played there, rest house is nearby. To get anywhere from Pekan you really have to go to Kuantan first (RM2.60, loads of local buses). There is a book place with some English books at bus station. To Temerloh from Kuantan not so full on weekdays, RM5.20 2.5hrs, in Temerloh don't go to place promnently signposted from J. Tenglu Bakat down an alley, it's the worst place I stayed in Malaysia. Night market good and tape vendor will play casettes to you. Loads of shopping centres around. There are lots of pleasant out of town walks. Town itself of little interest. Couldn't find District Office for permit to Tasik Bera, directions would be helpful. Jerantut RM3.30, 1.5hrs, Hotel Chett Fatt charges RM15 for large clean single with fan,towels,basin,soap,chairs, two beds and double glazing. Good value, friendly and helpful. Cinema in Jerantut is cheap at Rm2.50. Morning bus to Kuala Tembling broke down (times of buses 8.15am, 11am, 1.30pm, 5.15pm). Taxi RM15 for whole taxi. Hitching to K.Lipis didn't work after an hour, bus to Benta rm3.30, no hotels here but not of interest anyway (beyond a 1hr look around).

Bus to K.Lipis from Benta RM1.55. Gin Loke hotel good value at RM10 for single. No supermarkets here. Walking along railway track eastwards is a very rewarding experience and is recommended, places to drink tea are 2km and 8km out, learn to balance on the lines. Trekking is RM30 a day but have to hang around for a group to form. Cinema RM2 or RM3 with English films off video disc. Night market good, as is cafe opposite. Can take boats out of town for RM5 along the river, can get out at Batu Sembilan and get train or walk back. Train passes to go north at 6 or 7 pm, RM4 to Gua Musang, 3.5hrs. Arriving late may mean that the large supply of hotels there might be full. Owner of Rest House was away but I shared with a long term resident. Pretty run down. Gua Musang has no atmosphere and poor bus connections. A train starts from here at 12noon to go north, Dabong is RM2.70 and 2hrs. DAbong has a pleasant and friendly RM20/night resthouse inc. bath and carpet. Good atmosphere and lovely village. Boat to Kuala Krai leaves at 6am except Fridays and there is a train northat 6.39pm (arrived 7.15pm). Nearby is Gua Ikan which is worth the walk out - cross the railway line, turn left on the decomposing road a bit up the hill and it's 3km, great walking there and beyond and little traffic. Beautiful limestone hills and jungle. Cave not all that impressive, though there is a river nearby good for swimming complete with a water slide. Jelawan Jungle place is now shut becasue of a horrific accident, but still possible to get the boat over the river (rm0.50) from Dabong, get a taxi/hitch/walk to Jelawang and sleep rough in the huts that are still there or make a long day trip. Cold at night here.
Two stream crossings are needed on the way up. I was lucky as a local guide who lives up there happened to be home and let me stay,but this was a concession, RM20 full board. Trails still well marked. Was told of possibility of paying for a 'qualified guide' certificate in Malaysia without actually doing any training. Jelawan Jungle has hornbills,gibbons and some leeches. Worth visiting just for the spectacular waterfall which can even be seen from the traion the way into Dabong. Way up a rough, steep trail. Heard that there's a proper resort at the bottom of the waterfall. Road 66 through Jelawang goes to Jeli. Third class to Tanah Merah from Dabong RM3.40, no seat but not like Chinese hard seat. Hitching out of Tanah Merah is poor, bus to Jeli RM2.50, lots of departures, but only bus to Grik is at 9am. Rest house in Jeli is RM30 but was full and Jeli has few redeeming features. Hitching west from the main road was easy (walk about 2km from station to get there). In Gerik the Golden City Hotel is RM16 for a single and is of good standard if you don't mind climbing stairs. Costs about RM5 to get from Grik to Kuala Kangsar, there are direct buses but easier to go on a 0.5hrly bus to Lengong and change. KK is ace place, Mei Lai hotel is RM16 with air con off. Bit inconvenient location but good place. Lots of other hotels around. Cinema here RM2.50, good food and vast tracts of park area. Can cross river for 20sen and see traditional pottery and water buffaloes in village. Loads of buses to Taiping, RM2.05, 1hr. Peace Hotel has lots of character and good location but is basic and noisy, good value at RM12. War cemetary in Taiping worth a look, on way to Maxwell Hill. Walked up Bukit Maxwell, quite an undertaking 2.75 hrs and worthwhile. Can only book hotels from 9am to 12noon and they booked me into a closed hotel! Still got a room for RM15 with large bathroom at Rumah Rehat Bukit Larut, excellant view. Food up there not so good, canteen is best place to go. There is a jungle walk off left near the very top of the hill, but prepare for loads of leeches. There was a shrine of some kind in the jungle here that I found on this walk, it had lots of tridents in it so looked a bit scary! Walk down Bukit Maxwell is hard on the knees and took 2.25hrs, Indian Restaurant on Jalan Pasar 'Siharya Vilas' (or something) in Taiping is great - I even got a meal paid for me.

To get to Cameron Highlands from here in half a day is feasible but not staightforward. Bus to Ipoh, air con rm3.80, lots of departures. Ipoh to Kampar rm2.20, Kampar to Tapah RM1.25, then last bus to Tanah Rata is a 5pm, RM3.50. Father's Guest House still good, room with shower RM24, dorm RM6. Paths not as bad as many people make out, main problem is finding the trailhead. All the walks are worthwhile. Rain is the main problem in September. No leeches. I was told that there hadn't been malaria in Cameron for about a year. Bus down to Tapah is sick-making and RM3.70 for video bus, 2hrs. To KL from Tapah RM9.50, book tickets at the Chinese bookshop on corner if you turn right when leaving bus station. Could also get train from Tapah road station nearby (lots of buses to there), hitching didn't work.

Meridian YH in KL has free locker service. Muzium Negara now RM1 and most of it was closed because of rennovations. British Council library great.There is an Albanian business promotion centre in KL! Apparently Albania and Malaysia are getting chummy. There is an impressive and brand spanking new Telekom Museum on corner between J. Raja Chulan and J. Gereja, free, Classic building style and Hi Tech. Definately worth a visit. Handicraft Museum appears to have moved recently. Tourist Info Centre opposite Railway station gave me false info on my visa - they said I could legally leave Malaysia on 25th Sept having a 2 month visa dated 25th July but at checkpoint I was hassled for a days overstay (no fine, just condoned by a guy with lots of stripes on his shoulders). Getting to Shah Alam is very easy from Kelang Bus Station, takes about an hour, less than RM2 air con. Taxi might be RM20 according to local. Muzium still free and very impressive. Giant mosque also amazing but rest of town has nothing of interest except the park between the mosque and museum. In KL Lebuh Ampang has some well stocked casette shops.

The Science Centre near the national museum is on all the city maps and is within walking distance, though the traffic is a disincentive. Would need a genuine interest in Science (or schoolchildren, who abound there) to make the trip worthwhile, admission is free. They claimed a giant science centre was opening in1994 but no signs of it yet. Flat pink bus fare now RM0.60, bus 11 to Gua Batu leaves from same side of Central Market as Meridian YH, not overcroded and takes 1hr. The cave is now free to enter but there is some kind of fish park and art gallery that costs RM1. Monkies here amusing. The Twin Happiness Hotel near the Puduraya McDonalds is a good place to stay and around RM20 a room. Bus ticket to JB RM16.40, loads of departures, takes 5 to 6 hrs. Air con dorm at Bencoolen Street Lee's Travellers Club (now legalised and called Lee's Boarding House) is S$8, 6 beds in the room and the air con is effective. Non air con is S$7. B'fast S$1, extra slice of toast 25c. Was given a Brunei note as part of my change, not sure wheter they're legal tender or not. Bus #16 goes to the airport now, S$1 non air con, S$1.30 air con, get on Stanford Street or Orchard road. A large swathe of Chinatown has been condemmed and all the shops were shut up saying where they were moving to, so some major changes in this area. Beware of full buses to airport at about 6pm.

I travelled comfortably with a 20litre day sack which still held all my gear at the end of my trip, including mosquito net and souvenirs. Mosquitoes were an annoyance in Malaysia more than anywhere else I've been. Average daily expenditure was about UKP6 to live reasonably well. Malaysians very friendly, worth learning some Malay, my small efforts paid off massively. Three months was enough to cover the country fairly well.Cheaper to fly London S'pore than London KL and not inconvenient. No good maps of Malaysia are available in the country - Nelles map is the best. Hitching is a great way to get around but different towns have different success rates, some places are absurdly easy, you just need to stroll by the side of the road looking vaguely as if you might want a lift and get a ride, other places are hopeless even if you put on a tie, write a big sign etc. Hitching is a great way to meet locals and they buy you food and invite to their houses, I even slept over once and shared a hotel room on another occassion. Meet interesing people and comfortable if you don't get a lorry! Saving money is way down the list for advantages. Even two of us (my mother and I) got lifts easily.

Carrying a tie and wearing a proper shirt and jogging trousers formed a good set of travelling attire. I found I was very welcome at Christian Churches, which provided a good means of insight into the local life, even if your Christian faith is vestigial. Travelling in Malaysia is absurdly easy and the restaurants are almost always scrupulously clean. People tend to overlook the place and just pass through, but it was well worth three months of my life. Traditional Malay music is difficult to find, but loads of Indian stuff is available. Indian restaurants are the only suspect ones normally.

Thanks for a good trip - guidebooks make life so much easier!

Yours, Timothy Eyre