Malaysia, the peninsular overland


This journey took approximately two months and started off at the southern Thai border crossing of Sungai Kolok. From there I travelled to Kota Bharu on the Islamic east coast of the Malay peninsula. This town was a little frustrating at times, due to one religious festival or other most of it was closed and getting a feed and cold beer proved to be a challenge so it was time to journey onward to the idyllic Perhentian Islands.

True Robinson Crusoe stuff this was, the boat left us on the beach, pretty much stranded on the islands – no better place to be! There were around 12 foreigners in all staying in the only beach bungalows open, the weather closed in on day two and boats would no longer come out so we truly were stranded and went in search of coconuts and bananas since supplies at the bungalows was limited. By day five living off the jungle some were getting desperate and news came in that a boat was on the way to evacuate us!

A cold 8 hour bus journey took me across the peninsula to Penang where I got stuck into the banana leaf curries in Little India. Georgetown was a delightful place, a melting pot of cultures and religions and I could have stayed longer but the road beckoned.

Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands is like an English country village dropped into the tropics, at an elevation of around 1800 meters the tropical heat is replaced with a crisp, cool air. Quaint little shops, hill treks, butterflies the size of your hand, tea plantations and even an old red phone box can be found here.

It was time to get back into the heat of things so a bus back down to Ipoh then onto Pangkor Island with its long beaches, hidden temples and stunning sunsets. Unlike the more popular Malaysian islands such as Langkawi or Tioman, Pangkor was a hidden gem with very few tourists (at the time).

Kuala Lumpur is a ying yang of east and west with the old China Town and Muslim districts on one half and monumental skyscrapers, shopping malls and nightclubs on the other. Naturally I favoured the Asian half so spent a few days there exploring the markets and alleyways whilst dining on a huge variety of street food.

It was then time to head south again and on to Melaka with its Portuguese churches and bustling dockyards. Unlike other towns in Malaysia Melaka also had a number of huge seedy karaoke bars and more after dark drinking venues than I’d seen elsewhere. The final leg of the journey was down to Johor Bahru and across the causeway to Singapore.

Unfortunately all of my photos were shot with a Pentax MZ-50 film flavoured SLR and the 14 year old negatives did not convert so well so apologies for the quality.