Hello from Malaysia!
We had a whole week off for Chinese New Year and wow we made the most of it! This blog post is about my last minute trip to the Cameron Highlands and George Town.
Seven of us went to the Cameron Highlands for three nights and stayed at a cute, clean hostel – The Father’s Guesthouse. I met some really interesting backpackers traveling on their own throughout SE Asia. However, sleeping in a room of backpackers is really difficult because they have to unpack everything anytime they want something and it is incredibly LOUD…shoutout to my NOLS family. Cameron Highlands has a cool climate and as a result is known for its tea plantations that produce 60% of the tea in Malaysia! It was around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and we were all freezing! I guess we have gotten used to the Malaysian heat.
The first full day we went to a bee farm and a hydroponic Strawberry facility. We waited way too long in line for Strawberries and cream and Cabbage juice but used the time to catch up and vent about our first weeks at school which were….ROUGH. We also drove into a trench at the hostel and left one of our cars at the bee farm only to come back to find the gate locked at 11pm. Anyway the Proton Saga is almost 100% plastic so we just lifted it out with the help of the hostel staff and no damage was done! As for the locked gate…the bee farm owners left their phone number and came and opened the gate for us! I love Malaysians. Driving in the Cameron Highlands was a major struggle – let’s just say I’m not sure if we will get any money back on our security deposit, but it was worth it!
We went hiking at the Mossy Forest and woke up to see the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen – I had actual tears. WOW nature is healing.
We visited Boh Tea Plantation where we had matcha scones and hiked through the tea fields. We basically drank tea and did yoga every day and it was a great time. The last day we ate Indian food and Sara, Zak, and Gabrielle had a pepper eating contest and let me tell you it was not pretty (but impressive)!
After three nights at the hostel we drove to George Town on the island of Penang. Roughly 50 other ETAs were in George Town as well which made the trip a super fun reunion! About twenty of us stayed in an Airbnb meant for ten people. We made it work…people slept in hammocks, on the floor, across three chairs blah blah blah. The place was an absolute PIT though. I walked 12 miles each day and stayed up until 3-4 am every night dancing with my people and had some of the best times of my life.
We got there and immediately went searching for Mexican food, and for the water. We met a wonderful woman named Shirley at a Buddhist temple who showed us how to light incense and pray to Buddha for good fortune. We got back and went to another Airbnb to watch the Bachelor and get ready for the night!
The next day we got dim sum, bought Batiks, and explored a floating temple. That night we went to Kek Loh Si Temple and it was a sensory overload! The whole temple was lit up and people were everywhere. It was a maze of buddhas and gardens and lights and Pagodas! Colleen, Andrew and I walked around for about an hour trying to find a Grab (~Uber) back to the Airbnb and we had the best time laughing about our struggles in Malaysia. We finally found a Grab back and made friends with our driver.
That night we had a talent show and went dancing and it was absolute magic. Everyone let their guard down and went WILD and it was pure joy. I feel so grateful to experience Malaysia with these people. Life here is really challenging and I am having a really hard time but having people to talk to who get it and who I can be real with has made a HUGE difference.
On our last day we got avocado toast and went to the beach because…why the heck not? We ate egg sandwiches, bought matching Garfield shirts, and took Tequila shots.
ClareAbouts is not an official U.S. Department of State publication, and the views and information presented in this blog are entirely my own, and do not represent the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or the U.S. Department of State or the Fulbright Commission or Malaysia.