“Is that” and they point to my 34-Liter “Weekender” Deuter pack, “your ONLY bag?” They’re always a bit incredulous. ”And you’ve been traveling for FIVE MONTHS??”
It is. It’s a lesson every traveler will learn - you don’t need all the crap you’re planning on bringing. I anticipated my overeagerness and so bought a bag that would physically limit the amount of things I could carry. It’s currently filled, but if I needed to, I probably could eliminate about half of it.
Last night I was up late in Melaka trying to figure out what I would be doing today and someone who had found me via this blog started chatting with me. We talked a bit, I told her I didn’t know where I was going next in Malaysia, and she threw out a few suggestions. I had been to the ones she suggested until she mentioned Ipoh, and I asked her what was there. She sent me a link to its Wikitravel page, which mentioned it was a gateway to the Cameron Highlands about 85km away, which was a place I had maintained an interest in seeing. I decided to sleep on it and figure it out the next day.
also known as the destination where Michelle and my paths separated.
After the serene calm and unbelievable beauty of the Perhentians and Pulau Kapas, it was time for a change of pace. Onward to Kuala Lumpur, the busy capital of Malaysia, where Michelle and I stayed in the never-a-dull-moment Chinatown district.
The boys just returned from their trek to the supermarket, bearing bags of meat, vegetables, and sauces. The guy in charge, a former sous chef, is giving directions to everyone who is participating in the BBQ tonight. People chop, clean, and slice, getting ready for a gourmet feast that will be cooked in front of our eyes. Another contingent nominated themselves to purchase alcohol and has set off on that journey, effectively avoiding cooking prep but providing a much-needed service. Across the pool from the kitchen is the open-air TV space, where the rest of my hostel-mates are watching The Simpsons. Later, we’ll all get cleaned up, order taxis, and head to the other side of Bali to Kuta, the party beach, where we’ll dance, drink too much or not enough, take care of each other, and stumble home hopefully more or less in one piece.
In a week none of us will see each other, maybe ever again, and we know that. But it doesn’t matter. For now we’re each others’ best friends and tonight we’re having a party, and it’s going to be epic.
when you know the number and expiration date of your passport by heart.
On the tiny, undeveloped island of Pulau Kapas, some of the beaches are connected by these stairways built into the rock. The rest you would have to climb over rocks or take a boat to visit. During this time I was the only one using them, and they were too good not to photograph.
I tried to think of somewhere to compare Pulau Kapas to, but there wasn’t a recognizable enough place which would be a fitting analogy. I think that’s appropriate.
I needed to have a departure ticket in hand in order to enter Indonesia and I was headed there in less than 2 days, so I’d been seriously putting it off, mainly due to general indecision and flakiness: in the past 36 hours my post-Indonesia plans had changed from Borneo, to the Philippines, to India, to Northern Thailand.
But with no time to spare I figured out what my next step will be, and I couldn’t be more happy with how it shaped up: I’ll be flying into Singapore, then taking a long, long train ride all the way up to Chiang Mai. I had totally forgotten that trains were an option for international travel over long distances, but once I remembered they were I knew I had to do it. I’ll be covering all of peninsular Malaysia and pretty much all of Thailand on the way up, and the journey will take 4 days at the very least, though most likely I’ll take longer. I’ve never done a long train ride like that before, and I’ll get to see some ridiculous landscapes and eat some terrible train food. It’s a month away but I’m really, really excited.
So for the first time this trip, I’ve reluctantly pre-committed to a departure date for somewhere I’ll be visiting (although what I’m doing in Indonesia between that time is totally undecided). As it stands now though, I’m leaving for the island of Bali tomorrow, June 17, and I have a flight booked from there to Singapore on July 16. We’ll see what happens in that month…