Highs and Lows

These trips always seem to be a pendulum swinging between extremes. If it’s too filthy and crazy, we head for organized and pristine. If it’s too packaged and easy, we head off the beaten path. If it’s too hot and sticky, we head for higher altitudes. Fortunately for us, Malaysia provides a little of everything.

The perfect foil for Kuala Lumpur was Cameron Highlands, a series of mock English hill towns set amid lush green tea and strawberry plantations. It was a bit odd to see Tudors in the jungle but the atmosphere and climate were perfect. Chelsea even woke up one morning convinced she was in Seattle.

We spent a leisurely day exploring rose gardens, butterfly farms, sampling fresh strawberries with chocolate and finally sipping hand picked tea amid hundreds of acres of rolling tea shrubs.

From there it made sense to get back down to sea level and spend a couple of days lounging on the beach. I consider myself a great connoisseur of beaches, or at least I like them very much, and Nipah Beach on Pangkor Island was one of the most stunning I’ve ever had the pleasure to float in.

We rented kayaks and paddled out to an uninhabited atoll where we rolled around in the shallow water not completely unlike beached sea otters. Looking perhaps a bit indecent in our normal American swimwear for a Muslim country, the locals took to taking our photos, first on the sly and then with permission.

The serenity was only spoiled for a moment when the great Long Island Guru (one of the many characters one meets while staying in accommodations of the backpacking variety) explained to us less experienced travelers that when it is completely overcast the sunset isn’t that fantastic. Duly noted.

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