We spent several days in the Cameron Highlands area, where the main draw is the weather. The average high temperature is only 70 degrees and it can get down to the 50s at night.
It was very nice to have a break from the heat and humidity! We even had dig our jackets out from the bottom of our backpacks. While enjoying the weather, we went to the top of nearby Mount Brinchang. The road was under construction, so we could only go up so far before we had to get out and walk the rest of the way. After a steep twenty minute walk, we were rewarded with a view of absolutely nothing. It was all just fog and mist. Oh well! We also went for a hike through the aptly named Mossy Forest and took a tour of the Boh Tea factory. Tea plantations dominate the countryside, making the hills look like they’re covered in manicured English hedges. It was very beautiful.
For our Christmas weekend we went to Georgetown on the island of Penang. The city has been named a World Heritage Site because of the many colonial buildings. On Sundays they don’t allow cars in the historical district, so it’s easy to wander around and take some pictures. Unfortunately, many of the buildings are crumbling and in bad need of restoration. Culturally, the area has quite a mix of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian heritage, so there is a lot of yummy food and interesting temples around. We spent several hours exploring Kek Lok Si alone, a very large Buddhist temple a little ways out of town. I don’t know what was weirder about Kek Lok Si, the enormous statue of Kuan Yin or the multiple gift shops selling all sorts of religious tchotchke.
Christmas was pretty uneventful, really. The manager of our hotel, a kind old Chinese man, gave us each a present in the morning. It was just a little chocolate bar, but I was touched by his thoughtfulness and it was nice to unwrap something. A few random locals on the street wished us a Merry Christmas, but other than that, there weren’t many reminders that it was Christmas. We had picked out a restaurant to go to for dinner, but when we found out the cab ride would be about $20, we scrapped that plan and ate at a random caf?? that ended up having very good fish and chips.
Now we’re in Langkawi, staying at a nice place in the middle of nowhere. It’s very quiet and we’ve spent most of our time getting ready for our next stop: Thailand! I’m so excited! Since we got our visas in advance, we can spend up to sixty days in the country if we want. If we do that, we won’t get to see much of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, but at least we have the option to stay if we want. We’ll just have to see what we think of it!