Towards The Highlands

© 2011 Tiago Marques

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Journal, 13-14 December 2011. Pulau Pangkor to Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.


Funny how I still get butterflies in my stomach everytime I pack up and get ready to move on to a new place.

Pepe is leaving as well, so we share a taxi to the ferry. Talking about our travel plans, I tell him I was initially going to visit the Middle East but decided not to because “those guys keep blowing each other up”.

With a serious look, Pepe tells me his family is originally from Palestine and his parents migrated to Chile a long time ago. (He did not find my remark funny… At least now I know why he reminds me of a character from the TV series “Lost”.)

Once the ferry arrives in Lumut, he catches the bus to Kuala Lumpur and I make my way to Ipoh, towards the Cameron Highlands.

I wonder if I’ll get a bus today to the Highlands? Will I find accommodation there, or should I spend the night in Ipoh?… With the school holidays here in Malaysia it’s proving harder than I thought to find free beds – in Pangkor I literally got the last vacant bed on that side of the island.

I do my meditation and listen to some talks on my iPod to relax.


Arrive to iPoh around 4pm, the next bus to the Highlands is at 6pm. I enjoy a bowl of fried rice, egg and soup for RM4 – less than a pound. Gotta love that exchange rate.

Text the parents wishing them a nice week, and Paulo to wish him a happy birthday.

6pm, crowded bus. 7.30pm, still one hour to go but the air is already cooling down tremendously.

I start a chat with the Indian girl sitting next to me. Her name is Kana, always lived in Malaysia, never been to India. Has five brothers and sisters, works as a nurse, her father is a taxi driver and her mom is a farmer. Really friendly girl – even called her sister and asked her to check for hostels around the area with free beds without me asking her for it.

On arrival I notice a van from Father’s Guesthouse which gives me and this other fellow a ride to the hostel – they must’ve confused me with another traveller, but hey I’m not complaining, just got a free ride. I say farewell to Kana.


Awesome – I got the last free bed in the guesthouse. One of these days…

Drop my backpack in the dorm, make myself a cup of tea and head out to the lounge. Start a conversation with a couple, Matt from England and Violeta from Poland, on their honeymoon through Southeast Asia. Funny coincidence, they actually live in London near Battersea.

Another couple joins the conversation – Sandra, a Portuguese and Laurent, her Belgian boyfriend. Both living in Brussels, they’re in the middle of a six-month trip around the world. We decide to meet the next day to do some trekking together (cool, company).

Shower. Shave. Shleep. Tomorrow I’m going to need plenty of energy…


• Kana, for her spontaneous generosity.
• The last free bed at the guesthouse!
• Being healthy – my legs are going to be put to the test on the trekking tomorrow…

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