It’s been a while, but I should finish off our Malaysia trip…
It’s amazing how useful some people’s blogs are. When planning our journey from the Cameron Highlands to Pangkor Island, the Lonely Planet didn’t quite cut it. The Lonely Planet is structured in such a way that it details ‘Getting there and away’ as a point-to-point, and if you’re not starting or finishing at one of those points, you need to work a little harder to plan your route. Which isn’t really a problem, but there are easier ways. A bit of googling for ‘Cameron Highlands to Lumut’ (Lumut is where the boats to Pangkor island leave from) turns up full-blown accounts of exactly how to get there, which buses to take, which points you should expect to feel motion sickness etc.
So we figured out that we would need to get a bus from Tanah Rata to Ipoh and then another bus from Ipoh to Lumut. There are 2 bus stations in Ipoh, so be sure to mention your final destination when booking your bus tickets, to ensure that you get dropped off at the correct station. The journey from Tanah Rata to Ipoh is again in the fantastic, comfortable, VIP coaches. It took about 2.5 hours and wasn’t quite as windy as I had imagined after reading the aforementioned blog post.
What the Lonely Planet does include is information about any available transport system including, in Malaysia, “long distance taxis”. Taxi ranks for these vehicles are generally found in, or near bus stations and theoretically have a list of all their fares displayed clearly. I say ‘theoretically’ because in some places this IS the case and in others it’s NOT. In Tanah Rata they do display this information, in Ipoh they do not.
The reason I mention this… well, when we got to Ipoh, there wasn’t a bus leaving to Lumut for at least an hour. And by that time it would have been cutting it fine to get our boat transfer to Pangkor. On the short walk from the ‘big’ bus station to the local bus station, we passed a row of about 3 cream-coloured taxis accompanied by their drivers gossiping in the shade of a big tree. I had spied a couple of other travellers on the bus who I’d overheard mention Lumut. A plan started forming in my head… let’s go and find them, and all of 4 of us jump in a taxi to Lumut.
It turned out to be a good plan. It cost probably 2-3 times (120 Ringgit for 4 of us) what the bus would have cost us (still really cheap though), but we made it there with plenty of time to spare before the boat. And the 2 gentlemen we shared the taxi with were thoroughly entertaining and interesting. They turned out to be a Swiss father and son, who were away in South East Asia for 3-4 months. The son had recently given up his job as a teacher to pursue directions in music therapy for disenchanted youths. I was surprised that there were disenchanted youths in Switzerland, but he assured me that it’s like pretty much every other country in the world really. I did manage to pay some attention in between spotting signs for Tesco and almost jumping out the taxi with excitement!
From Lumut we boarded our boat across to Pangkor Island Beach Resort. I noticed quite a lot of plastic debris in the water, but I didn’t really think much of it. However, when we arrived at our resort, checked into our room and went for a walk along the beach, we noticed that it was strewn with plastic, rubber & styrofoam. In all sorts of forms – drinking straws, bottles, rope, flip flops etc. Our first thought was ‘what messy people stay at this resort’, but there was really too much rubbish there for it just to be from the guests. Our next thought was ‘why is this lovely resort not clearing up the beach?’. But they were. There was just so much crap washed up from the sea at high tide. It was really saddening to see such obvious pollution. I always ask for straws when I order fizzy drinks, but it’s really made me think twice about doing that. How much rubbish must be in the seas? And what damage is it doing? So sad.
Other than that, the resort was pleasant. It was busy, but then it was school holidays. We lay around, reading, having the odd drink and generally just chilling out. It was a good end to our trip to Malaysia.