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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 78: A bike ride and mosquito bites

MALAYSIA | Tuesday, 22 January 2008 | Views [2813]

Palm tree forest, Melaka

Palm tree forest, Melaka

Tuesday 22nd January

We were picked up by our guide for the day – a chap called Alias who had a more mysterious name than you might expect from someone who looked like Malaysia's answer to Penfold from the 'Dangermouse' cartoon – and he drove us to his house where we collected the bikes and set off into the forest of palm trees across the road to begin our tour.

There, we saw some Indonesian workers (read: cheap labour) harvest the palm trees, using long poles to cut down the bunches of fruit that are clumped together at the top of the tree like miniature coconuts. This fruit is then collected and processed into palm oil, and it is used in the production of cooking oil and fuels. Much of the Malaysian landscape is covered in these trees, including much of the countryside through which I had passed on my arrivial in the country, and noted how green the place was.

It was an interesting start, but I could feel myself getting itchier by the minute and discovered it was due to the feeding habits of the female mosquito who sucks blood during the day...the bitch! Nobody told me to bring repellent but I will know for the future.

The biking itself was very enjoyable, with a mixture of flat roads and paths and bumpier, steepier tracks that saw us zipping along at decent speeds and down inclines angled sufficiently to cause a serious accident if we were flung out and over the handle bars. It was good to go 'off road', leading me to think that I should really do more of this in the future (first wakeboarding, now mountain bikes, where will it all end?). Despite the intense heat, much of the route was shaded by the large canopy of trees, and the quicker sections provided a welcome breeze to cool us down.

We passed through many rubber plant forests, and saw how the sap is tapped from the trees and collected in little cups, with the still liquid sap dripping very slowly and gradually forming crude rubber in the container below the spout. Alias also showed us the various fruits and plants that are used in everyday cooking, similar to the trip of the spice plantation I did a few weeks earlier in Kumily, but more interesting as all of this was being produced on a variety of local working farms and gardens. Again, we were greeted by many of the local people with a nod and a wave whenever they past in their cars or on their trucks, people just being friendly for the sake of it.

The trip lasted for about four hours in total, and we got back to the hostel at about 13.00. Lene and Anna were moving on to Kuala Lumpur (KL) that afternoon, but I just wanted to relax, do some emailing, and plan my onward journey, both the immdediate- and short-term.

I had considered a trip to Bali (flying from KL and back, with a week on the Indonesion island in between), but felt that this would rush things too much, and leave my trip to Thailand even shorter. I chatted the Dutch guy I had met the night before – who had been in SE Asia, including Thailand and Bali, for the previous two months – and he advised me to make the most of Thailand. Although Bali would have been a cool place to visit, it didn't feel right, and not what I really wanted to do. I had promised to myself before I left on the trip that I would try not to do too much moving about at such a fast pace; I'd rather spend more time in fewer places than less time in more. With that decision taken, I got some sleep as I was tired after the bike ride and less sleep than I would have liked over the previous couple of nights.

I was also starting to itch like mad, those mosquito bites were starting to flare up, and I counted a total of about fifteen. That may not be a world record, but pretty bad for someone who doesn't usually have too mnay problems with mossies. It reminded me of the Monty Python sketch, where the stereotypical Aussie hunter is filmed in The Bush on a mosquito hunt: “The mosquito's a clever little bastard...First you hunt 'im, then you lerarn to respect 'im...then you kill 'im.” Man, how I wished I could kill every single on of those little bastards!

Tags: Adrenaline


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