(written by Nancy)
Travelling by bicycle is not always fun and glamorous…Our budget hotel last night was one of those budget nights that make you really wish for just a bit more luxury in your life. Not even luxury, just a clean place to lay your head. Actually, it wasn’t that bad though even Dave was saying ‘let’s just go to sleep because that way it will be morning sooner and we can leave…’. Given Dave’s tolerance level (much higher than mine) that is saying something.
We had a bit of an ant problem – actually more than a bit of a problem. We saw rumba lines of tiny ants coming into the room last night when we came back from dinner. We tried to stem the tide with wanton smashing and then got out our deadly Deet insect repellent and smeared some around the spots where it looked like they were coming in. It worked for a bit but this morning when we finally gave up and got up we discovered that our defensive moves with the Deet had not quite worked and the ants had had a field day in our bags. They even got into the peanut butter jar which had been pretty tightly closed. They are tiny ants and hard to see. We spent a bit of time trying to clean out our bags as best we could and then packed up and got out of there as fast as possible. Not a great morning so far….
We had planned to have peanut butter on walnut bread (which we bought in town yesterday) for breakfast but given the ant situation we gave up and headed to the Indian restaurant where we had dinner last night and had two roti canai for breakfast instead. That made us both feel better – good to get out of that room and get our stomachs filled.
We had another short day so after all the ant patrol and breakfast we did not get on the road until about 9. Pretty quiet day – flat roads and traffic was not too heavy until we got close to our final destination. We saw some more substantial banana plots today, though it still looks like palm plantations win out – they must generate better income or be easier to manage.
We crossed into another state today – Perak – as we crossed the Perak River. Unfortunately there was no ‘welcome to the state’ sign so you’ll have to take our word for it. Soon after Dave hit the motherlode for our perpetual ‘Slug a Bug’ contest – a yardful of old VW bugs, there must have been close to 20 in total. For those of you that didn’t play this game as a child, essentially the goal is to be the first to spot a VW bug (only the old ones, not the new ones), call out the colour and yell ‘Slug a bug’. The winner gets the right to slug the other player. We usually dispense with the slugging part but per Dave it is always ‘game on’. He spotted the bug yard first and yelled out every colour possible – there was nothing I could do. So, at least for the day he is ahead of me in Slug a Bug…
We pulled into our destination of Teluk Intan about noon. It seems like a pretty decent-sized city with lots of people about. We wandered a bit but found the hotel we were aiming for without too much trouble. From a bit of research we knew there were not too many hotels in this town and the quality of most was not too great. This hotel, the Anson Hotel, was said to be the best of the bunch. It is actually not too bad – right in town and so far no real ant problem (except those that came out of our bags…).
We got cleaned up and headed out to get some food and see the ‘famous’ leaning clock tower, the main tourist site in town. After lunch at a nearby coffee shop (noodles and iced coffee) we headed over to the tower in the heat. The 25.5m tower was designed by Leong Choong Cheong in 1885 as a potable water storage tank. It wasn’t designed to lean – an underwater river under the tower caused it to sink on one side. It looks like it has more stories than it does – it only has 3 but was designed to look like 8. It’s a bit run down and right now it is surrounded by market stalls so it’s pretty shonky but to each his own. We walked around a bit more to see the town – lots of old buildings and a couple of interesting temples. By that time we had reached our heat saturation point and had to take a break with a cold drink back at the hotel. We had a huge thunderstorm, with lots of lightning and rain – glad we were back under cover for that.
We had dinner in a little shop near the hotel recommended by the front desk. It was very busy when we walked in, we got the last table. It is Ramadan so the halal restaurants get quite busy just after sunset. I felt a little bit conspicuous as the only female without a headscarf on… Food was good though.
Tomorrow we had to Tapah – nothing special there but it puts us in a good spot to make the climb (55k) up to the main town in the Cameron Highlands, our intended destination for Friday. I for one am looking forward to experiencing some cooler temperatures up in the hills.
Happy birthday to my sister Gretchen – see you in a couple of weeks in Penang!