Trip: I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Malaysia. It was beautiful place to visit and a great experience. The trip was divided in three parts. First – five days diving on/around the Tioman island. Second – jungle trekking in the Endau-Rompin National Park for another five days. Third – couple days in Kuala Lumpur before our departure. Planning the trip was an experience in itself. At the end it was our great friend Baskaran (check out his sublime retreat ishan-spa-langkawi.com) who helped us put everything in place. It is safe to say that without him this whole adventure wouldn’t be possible.
Tioman Island: We arrived on Tioman Island sooner then we anticipated and totally exhausted from the trip. Baskaran took great care of us so we had a great place to sleep even before our room was ready. Morning next day was spent snorkeling around the island. As we had our sunscreen buried in our bags which we had limited access to, we chose to ignore the sun for the morning (yep bad call). In the afternoon we took a boat out for first couple dives. Our first (and second) dive of the season were with Master diver Barbora (as luck would have it we traveled half way around the world to meet a Czech girl “running” local dive shop :)). We encountered couple turtles, shadow of a shark, countless Nemo-like fish and beautiful corals. As the day was nearing its end it started to be apparent that my back is pretty badly burned. As we did couple dives per day for the next four days, suiting up was an agonizing experience :). While diving we met very cool Aussie family, couple of “very German” guys and couple from Singapore getting their diving licence. Highlights from dives would include car wreck, some weird construction and whole lot of beautiful fish. Even got attacked by one eager Trigger fish. Not a great experience but fortunately it was my fins that were the immediate target of its rage so I got out of the engagement unscathed. While on the island we walked around a bit, got a massage in local Spa (experience one should not miss) and tried all sorts of local cuisine.
Endau-Rompin: Endau Rompin National Park was a good choice for my desired Tropical jungle experience. We entered the park from two separate entrances Peta and Selai. A guide picked us up at the Peta entrance and we took a local boat deeper inside the park and trekked the rest of the way. We encountered about five different camp sites. All of them build only four years ago, now abandoned and falling apart. It was a surreal experience, that felt like being thrown into a nature after a nuclear disaster. First day was intense. We trekked the jungle for about 11 hours, had to wade many rivers (including relatively big ones as the bridges were torn down by flood only six months after their initial construction) and had to deal with the omnipresent leeches. By the end of the next day we had every single clothing item wet and started ignoring leeches as our attempts to stay leech free were futile. Peta was tough so we decided to take it easy in Selai, hence we trekked only for couple hours to a waterfall, tubed down a river and tried shooting from a native weapon (blowpipe). While in Selai we met British couple of cyclists who have been cycling around the world for the past year and two months.
Kuala Lumpur: We took a train to KL where we were fortunate enough to stay in one of Paf’s apartments. While in KL we visited local Bird park, Orchid garden, Butterfly museum, Batu caves, China town, Central market and of course the Petronas towers. A bit of walking but every single step worth it. However the best experience by far was the vibrant nightlife (And no I dont mean taking girls upon their sincere offer of “very good massage”.). Also taking advantage of the plethora of dining places in KL is a must (We also tried a durian for the first time – not nearly as good/awful as it is said to be).
Photography: Without beating around the bush touristy photography in this part of the world sucks. Probably thanks to the humidity and the temperatures my camera developed a defect (which I have been unable to fix) hence every single one of my photos has number of blurred dots. Unless your camera is weather sealed you are constantly fighting the humidity while fearing for the camera.
Suggestions: All in all this was a great trip and even greater experience. If you are thinking of similar trip I can only recommend it. And if you plan to spend couple days in jungle let me know and I’ll send you couple things to think about/to pack because we quite frankly were ill prepared/outmatched by the jungle having our standard trekking equipment.