Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur has a recognizable skyline with its bridge-connected twin towers and its telecommunications tower. Although I wandered to this part of town so that I could take a few too many photos of these famous landmarks and so that I could walk through nightlife-heavy streets, I stayed near Chinatown, where the price of hostels decreased and the activity on the streets increased. I stayed in Palmmers Guest House, where the hosts were very accommodating and the rooms had A/C, both important criteria when picking a place to stay. My bed, unfortunately, suffered from Wobbly Table Syndrome (WTS). WTS occurs when only two or three legs of a four-legged table can touch the ground at the same time either because of a manufacturing error in the table or because the ground is uneven. My bed having WTS meant that each time I rolled over, the bed would rock and make a substantial noise on the ground below. And if that hadn’t woken me up, a little after 4am one night, the rain came on so strong the the metal awning just below my room window sounded like a hundred people were dancing on it. Most times, I love listening to the rain while warm and dry in bed; however, this particular time, I knew I would be having to find my way to the airport that morning. Spending time in airports and on planes with wet clothes, although bearable, was something I wanted to avoid. Luckily, when I ventured out the hostel, the rain was only a small drizzle and I dried quickly.

Petronas Towers
The Petronas Towers, the tallest buildings in the world between 1998 and 2004

These types of rain storms demonstrate how Kuala Lumpur is such a green and lush city. Any space unoccupied by a building or by road was full of tropical vegetation. The lookout point at the top of the Kuala Lumpur Tower highlighted the greenness of the city through not only the city’s several parks, but also through the greenery that existed interspersed in every nook and cranny.

kuala lumpur
Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers
Kuala Lumpur Tower
Kuala Lumpur Tower

My last quick comment about Kuala Lumpur is that everyone was friendly and helpful except for the taxi drivers, many of whom refused to use the meter and forced me to haggle. That said, I tried to avoid them as much as possible and use the monorail system instead, and if I did have to take one, I would not get in unless they agreed to go by the meter. Luckily, unlike China, almost everyone spoke English, so communication was much easier even if that meant using it to negotiate prices with taxi drivers..

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

In a setting that is cooler in temperature than most of Malaysia, the Cameron Highlands offer many a tourist activity. While there, I stayed at the very nice Father’s Guest House, just a couple minutes away from the center of town, where one night I witnessed a Hindu procession down the middle of the street. This procession was a reminder of Malaysia’s diverse history as I feel most cultures and religions are mutually respected throughout the country. Also during my stay, I toured the BOH Tea Plantation, a butterfly garden, a strawberry farm, a flower nursery, and a Buddhist Temple.

cameron highlands flower
Flower spotted after the rain at BOH Tea Plantation
BOH tea field
Tea Leaves from the BOH Plantation
View from Father's Guest House
View from Father's Guest House, Cameron Highlands
butterfly malaysia
Butterfly Garden in Cameron Highlands
Hindu procession
Hindu Procession through Town

Invest More in Chicken

While listening to the radio in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the same news story was repeated multiple times in an hour segment. The price of chicken in Malaysia has reached a 10-year high. Chicken now costs more than 6 ringgit ($2 USD) per kilogram, which surpasses the 1999 record price of more than 5 ringgit ($1.70 USD). Chicken supply is just not meeting the needs of the chicken demand. And as one of the largest fast food chains in Asia, KFC may be one of the culprits. Here’s an article from the Malaysian Star Newspaper explaining the issue in more detail:

Country’s chicken shortage to be overcome by next month

KUALA LUMPUR: The shortage of chicken in the country is expected to be overcome by next month, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar.

He said that the shortage was due to several factors, including the unexpected high demand that exceeded the supply of chicken after the Chinese New Year.

There is usually a drop in demand between April and June after the festive season.

This year, the high demand for chicken continued into the school holidays after the festive season,” he said, adding that the poultry industry had not been prepared for the continuous demand.

Commenting on the recent price increase for dressed chicken, he said that prices would stabilise by next month when the supply returned to normal.

Noh added that floods in several states, including Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor, early this year and the 60% surge in the price of chicken feed last year also contributed to the shortage.

The Veterinary Services Department (VSD) would take several immediate measures to ensure sufficient supply of chicken, he added.

A national buffer stock programme will be implemented to stabilise the price of dressed chicken,” he said, adding that excess supply of chicken would be frozen and stored for distribution to locations facing shortage.

He said 24 import permits were issued to private companies but none were used as the price in neighbouring countries was higher.

Currently, Malaysia imported only chicken parts while local poultry farmers produce adequate whole chicken to meet the demand.

Noh said that the shortage of chicken had nothing to do with the disaster in Japan as the country did not import meat from Japan.

There are no production plants in Japan that meet our halal standards,” he said, adding that the VSD would make an audit trip to Thailand next month to increase the import of chicken from the country.

Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin said that the daily demand for chicken in the country stood at 1.2 million.

The supply of chicken is usually more than enough with 1.3 million, but it has now dropped to below 1.2 million daily,” he said.

Destination: Rafflesia

The destination was Rafflesia, and the journey was wet. Rafflesia isn’t a town, it isn’t a historic site, and it isn’t the name of a river or peak. Rafflesia is a parasitic flowering plant found in southeast Asia on the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines, and the only part of the plant that is visible outside of its host is the five-petaled flower. I came to Malaysia looking for quality jungle time, and the opportunity to witness a rare flower presented a novel destination for a jungle hike.

With the sun still shining, I get picked up from Father’s Guest House in the Cameron Highlands. While most other trekkers leaving from my hostel are getting picked up by 10-seater mini-buses, coming up the hill to the hostel, I see a what looks like a military grade transport vehicle ready to go over any terrain. This presents two options: one is that the truck is for the effect, which it clearly had on me, and two is that we might actually need something so robust. I jump in the back and am greeted by who would end up being my Cameron Highlands family. There is such a strong group camaraderie from the very beginning that we only reluctantly take the front seat and leave the conversation happening in back.

After visiting an Orang Asli village and receiving a blowpipe demonstration, we pile back into our beast truck and soon learn why it is in fact such a beast. We begin to drive up a dirt road with bamboo obstacles, pot holes, and grooves so big that even this truck finds difficulty advancing from time to time. Because the back is set up as two sideways facing benches, there is a lot of sliding, bouncing, and nudging that happens. If the group hadn’t bonded before, this undoubtedly would have brought us both literally and figuratively closer together. We arrive at the trail head, are given headbands made from leaves, apply a little extra bug repellent, and naively start on our way with the driver’s departing words being to remember to smell the Rafflesia flower.

the truck

holding on in the truck

The weather is still comfortable although a little less sunny, and the path is relatively wide with the occasional puddle to hop and tree to duck under. Conversations remain vibrant as I learn worrying tips about my upcoming Himalayan Mountain Trek from a pair who just came from Nepal. Soon, it starts to drizzle, but because of the humidity and the exertion needed for the hike, the water feels great. We heard about a stream crossing that we would encounter, and pass over it relatively easily with a lot of assistance from our two guides. Afterwards, the rain starts to pick up a little, and our leaf headbands are replaced by ponchos and rain jackets. The views from the trail are stunning as they include dense rain forest, occasional waterfalls, and vast Malaysian landscapes. Meanwhile, the rain can no longer be called a drizzle as it continues to gain. The rhythm the rain creates hitting the top canopy of the forest and then eventually my head sets a beat for me as I walk. Just when I’m getting used to the rain, we learn that our first stream crossing was only practice for a later river crossing. The rocks through the river are only slightly visible above the rush of the current, and again with the help of the guides, I make it over with little issue. The group, however, did experience a couple slips and splashes. At this point, the beads of water falling down the side of my face may be sweat or rain.

river crossing

Not long after the river, the guides lead us off the trail and up a steep hill, which only feels steeper because the rain has made the mud challengingly slick. Always reaching for the next tree trunk, branch, or rock to hold on, we slowly transverse our way up while slipping more than occasionally. Finally, with our clothes wet and muddy, our hands soar from gripping on whatever was available, and our expectations about this flower growing, we see for what we traveled all this way. We find the famous Rafflesia flower, which blooms for only about 5 days and can be as large as a meter in diameter. We made it. We create an assembly line of walking up near the flower, taking a photo of it, asking the next person to take another photo of us with the flower, smelling the flower, and then grabbing our cameras back to take a close-up shot. I was glad the guide reminded us to smell, because the fragrance was that of rotting flesh, which I later learned is where the flower gets its local names.

me and rafflesia


For the return journey, the rain is letting up some, but everything including our clothes, the forest, and river crossings are wetter than they were before. We slip back down the hill, get to our big river crossing, and realize that the rain has angered the flow of water. Many of the rocks, although still there, are no longer visible underneath the water. On this crossing, I’m not as lucky and my waterproof shoes get attacked from above and my socks feel the wrath of the river. Then on the rest of the journey, I am not sure if I am listening to frogs or to the croak of my shoes as water sloshes around. The rain comes and goes a couple more times, and we eventually get back to our transport beast to navigate us down the rest of the road.

The ends may not have justified the means on this trek, but I was only using the ends as an excuse for the means. With this philosophy, the day and my Malaysian Jungle adventure were a success. And as a plus, my Cameron Highlands family and I spent the rest of the afternoon together, found dinner, and then grabbed a couple drinks before exhaustion got the best of us.

cameron highlands fam