Taiping, Monday 19th January 2004

Tanah Rata, Monday 12th January 2004

My skin has lost its red colour. Any part protruding T-shirt and shorts is now brown, tropical sun resistant. My feet are bicolour, white where the slippers cover, brown elsewhere. My acclimatisation is a success.

Mr. Mogan, the local jungle guide says his last good-bye to me.

The road down is of a breathtaking beauty. The bus winds its way, along endless jungle. Malaysia seems virtually uninhabited in Dutch eyes.

In Ipoh my path departs from the beaten tourist track. The air con tourist bus continues on its way to Penang. A local bus takes me to Kuala Kangsar, the Royal town of he Sultan.

I like Kuala Kangsar, with a typical Malaysian centre, full of shops that sell just about everything. The very first watch shop sells a perfectly matching leather band for my Swatch.

Kuala Kangsar, Tuesday 12¾ January 2004

My e-mail box is full with new messages. The business year 2004 has started in the Netherlands. The first software requests are coming in. A few defaulters have yet to pay bills of 2003. It is as if the end of the holiday announces itself.

Just outside the city centre is the royal part of Kuala Kangsar. The mosque (.../mosques.html) is impressive and has a distinct beauty.

It is hot. Some trees around the most offer just enough shade to stay comfortable and read a newspaper at the hottest time of the day. A bit further up is the Sultan's palace, an impressive building. The best part for me are the surrounding kampung houses. People and Sultan next to each other, how nice to see such balance.

At the train station the schedules shows only a night train to Taiping. Hm shame, I enjoyed the day train so much before.

It is still hot. I had my hair cut short in Holland, but it is still too hot. It takes quite some persuasion to convince the Chinese hairdresser that my hear can be shortened to half its length. it works. After some initial cautious cutting, she finally uses the trimmer. A cool head, how nice!

Kuala Kangsar, Wednesday 14th January 2004

The bus leaves Kaula Kangsar. Malaysian busses have a special character. They grown, huff and puff, but still always reach their destination. the bus drivers are artists, who know exactly how to control their beast. The gear change is an interface to another world of which I prefer to have no knowledge.

My destination is Taiping, the city where I wrote the roster generator demo 3 years ago.

Kamariah, the lady at the Casuarina Inn (.../Casuarina+Inn)reception greets me with a giant smile. You are back! it is a warm welcome.

Taiping, Thursday 15th January 2004

Taiping is familiar, well known territory. Things haven't changed much. my regular restaurant for a roti canai is still there. The local Fajar supermarket still sells water and the Internet cafee still has two separate rooms: one noisy with gaming kids and a silent one for Internet usage. It was all I needed two years ago to work in peace and solitude.

Now the laptop is put to rest at home. I finally have time to visit the local zoo (zootiaping.gov.my). This zoo is a pleasant place, quiet, spacious, with mainly animals that feel comfortable in this tropical climate. The elephants entertain me for more than an hour, don't know why. Local Macaque monkeys have invaded the zoo to steal the fruit waiting for them as a gourmet meal.

Taiping, Friday 16th January 2004

Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut) is just a 20 minutes walk from the Cacuarina Inn. The trees along the road are full of monkeys. After just a few minutes Taiping feels like far away.

I've catered some crackers for lunch, but that turns out to be an unnecessary precaution. The one thing that is omni present in Malaysia is food. A few roti canai at the foot of the hill make an excellent breakfast. A few extra please as take away lunch for above.

The road up is very steep. Any normal car would probably give up halfway, but the Landrover is feeling at home, goes up without sweat, as if it is a highway. An Indian man happily concludes that things at the top have not changed in 30 years. It is a quiet place indeed. The Landrover returns to the foot and a wonderful day follows.

The view is fantastic. The lake garden and Taiping are far below. The coast and the sea are clearly visible. I get comfortable with a book, occasionally looking up to see the constantly changing view. Clouds come and go as flocks of fog.

Late afternoon a Landrover takes me down again, along the many steep curves, where the high and low side of the mountain swap places. At some point in the corner they must be at the same height.

Taiping, Saturday 17th January 2004

It's family day in the gardens. The day is filled with activities attracting Malay families as audience and participants.

In Kamunting I buy my ticket for the express bus to Kuala Lumpur. Just a few days to go and the holiday will be over.

Till next nut,