Sunday, July 6, 2008

Day 147 (Sunday July 6). North along the coast

Alas, no Malaysian rhinos for me :( I found out that the access to the park requires a long 4-wheel drive along a poor road, so I had to can that portion of the trip. Instead I drove north along the coast, enjoying stretches of beautiful beach, and stopping in small towns to enjoy the atmosphere. The highlight was the marketplace of a small town, where several streets were taken by the merchants, and where all sorts of interesting foods were being offered to the buyers.

Did I mention that this is a Muslim country? They have in fact freedom of cult, and I have seen beautiful Hindu and Buddhist temples, as well as sober Catholic churches from the time of the Portuguese. Still, I have the impression that there is a majority of Muslims, so there is a lot of women wearing head scarves, men wearing bonnets, and mosques everywhere (and they are building bigger and better ones all over the place).

After the beach I figured it was time to see the highlands, so I cut across 75 km of palm trees (I am not sure what they plant so many palm trees for, but plant them they do) to reach the base of the mountains. Then I discovered I was low in gas and low in money (my ATM is not working here), so I tried to stay there. No luck; there was no hotel anywhere. Either go back to the coast or head up the mountain. So I put a few liters of gas in the tank, and at dusk started my windy way up the mountain. I got to the town of Jerantut about 8:30 pm, dead tired, but was lucky enough to find a cheap hotel without much trouble.

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