Matt and Joanne’s Page

March 6, 2007

Notes from Malaysia

Filed under: Malaysia — joannestamplis @ 4:48 pm

This is where I’ll be putting all the details from our trip so this may be a bit long and boring. Read on as you wish.

We left Oregon on Thursday night 2/15 and got to KL at noon 2/17. By the time we got our luggage and cleared customs, it was already 1pm. I was hoping that we might find a cheap bus to go back to Sri Manjung, my hometown, but unfortunately there was only one ticket left. So we ended up getting a cab which cost us RM350 (US $100). The traffic that day was awful since it was Chinese New Year’s Eve and many people were rushing home for reunion dinner.

Our cab driver was a crazy driver. Actually all cab drivers in SE Asia seem a little nuts. When we first got on, he told me that it normally takes him 2.5 hour to get to Sri Manjung from KL and I was a little skeptical because that seems really fast. Well, when he started driving, it was pretty obvious how he got to places quickly. Instead of following traffic laws and speed limits, he chose to just pass everyone and drive in the lane intended for opposing traffic. Only when oncoming traffic refused to yield would he leave this lane, swerving back to the correct lane only moments before we all met our ends in a head-on collision. I had chosen to sit in the front seat because I get motion sickness very easily but suddenly Matt’s seat in the back seemed much more inviting.
Even though he was driving as fast as humanly possible and had somehow created 4 lanes of traffic out of 2 lanes, there were still too many cars on the road and we didn’t get home until 7.30pm. So I think that’s something like 30-hours of travelling since we left our house in Hillsboro. Yay. We’re already looking forward to the return trip.

We spent the next three and a half days with my family; mostly just eating, sleeping and gambling. Chinese New Year has a much different atmosphere from what I remember when I was young. We used to live in the seaside town of Lumut at my grandparents old shophouse. There would be many fire crackers and chinese drums followed by a lion dance. Well, those days are mostly over. The government banned fire crackers due to the fire hazard :(. And all my close cousins are grown up and they all have their own families to visit to so it’s more difficult to get everyone together. But not everything has changed: the gambling tradition still continues.

Since Matt doesn’t speak Chinese, I told him that he should be happy because gambling is a universal language and everybody speaks the same here :). I taught my family how to play Texas Hold Em poker and I think everybody enjoyed the chance to win a big pot. I also taught Matt how to play mahjong using the real tiles. I’m not sure if he could remember all the rules and keep track of all the tiles, though.

The other BIG part of Chinese New Year is the great food. Picture Thanksgiving dinner in America. Now eat that for lunch. Then dinner. Then lunch the next day. And dinner again. In 2 days there were probably 20 or so dishes served. Even Matt who eats a lot had trouble handling all the food. It felt like there was hardly enough time to digest the heavy food before the next meal was being served.

Aside from all that we also went to the Karaoke lounge one night and sang our hearts out. It was quite fun but I don’t know if Matt likes it or not. Too bad for him.

We left my hometown for KL on Wednesday 2/21. I felt bad because I didn’t spend too much time with my mum. Next time I go home I will spend more time, I promise. We stayed the next few days at my 5th aunt’s place in a small town called Jinjang. My aunt is so nice: she let us sleep in the master bedroom. Maybe she was worried that Matt was shocked at the new environment.

We spent the next 2 days climbing at Batu Caves, spending our time at the Nyamuk Wall (nyamuk means Mosquito in Malay). Well, there’s a lot in a name. I had to light many mosquito coils to keep them from attacking me. I originally thought that climbing in Malaysia would be a piece of cake but boy was I so wrong. Everything seemed steep and sandbagged. We met 2 guys who were from Canada and one of them was kind enough to let us top rope the 5.12 he was working on. I didn’t even make it up 1/3 of the route. Even he felt that many of the moderate routes there were extremely stiff for the grade.

Taking a break at the base of the Nyamuk wall. This is not a wilderness experience: you have to walk through a small garbage dump to get here. The black streak that goes up the wall behind Joanne marks the start of Foreign Investment, the 7a that we flailed away on. It’s quite steep.

Fumakilla : Joanne’s attempt to keep mosquitos away. Matt is not convinced of their effectiveness. But he really likes the way the word rolls off his tongue: Fumakilla

It’s really weird climbing on limestone. All the rocks have weird features on them. This is a picture of Matt climbing a 5.10c

Another interesting thing when we were in KL happened when we went to go buy the Climb Malaysia guidebook from the Camp 5 climbing gym in the 1 Utama Mall. When we were there, the girl who worked there told us that a number of the top finishers from some World Cup climbing competition were there in Malaysia and were holding a press conference later that evening. Apparently they were making a video and had just completed 30-some new routes in Perak. Well, maybe we’ll check it out in our next trip. It’s nice to see some more attention being given to the climbing in Malaysia (and there’s potential for a lot more).

Did I mention I was pretty impressed with Camp 5? They have a pretty realistic crack wall that you can lead on gear. They even have a loose chockstone wedged into one of the cracks. Aside from climbing, my cousin took us to a dance club one night and her friends were pretty wild. One of them kept joking with Matt and said she wants to marry his brother 🙂 Well, I drank quite a bit and have had to bear the consequences for the next few weeks. I’m allergic to alcohol and get rashes all over my body when I breakout. Oh well…a price to pay for the fun we had I guess.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Thailand

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