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Getting around

Part 6: Pulau Kapas, Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar, Taiping

25-26.6: Munich -> Dubai -> KL
27.6: KL
28.6: KL
29.6: KL -> Miri
30.6: Miri -> Mulu
1.7: Mulu -> Camp 5
2.7: Pinnacles
3.7: Camp 5 -> Miri -> Kuching
4.7: Kuching -> Singapore
5.7: Singapore
6.7: Singapore
7.7: Singapore -> KL
8.7: KL -> Merang
9.7: Merang -> Lang Tengah
10.7: Lang Tengah
11.7: Lang Tengah -> Kuala Terengganu -> Pulau Kapas
12.7: Pulau Kapas -> KL -> Teluk Intan

13.7: Teluk Intan
14.7: Teluk Intan, Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar, Taiping
15.7: Teluk Intan -> KL -> Kuching
16.7: Kuching, Kubah NP, Matang wildlife reserve
17.7: Semenggoh, Kuching wetlands NP, Kota Kinabalu
18.7: Kota Kinabalu -> Labuan
19.7: Labuan -> Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei)
20.7: Ulu Temburong NP -> BSB
21.7: BSB -> Seria -> Tasek Merimbun -> KL
22.7: KL
23.7: KL
24.7: KL -> Dubai
25.7: Dubai -> Munich

11.7: Lang Tengah -> Merang -> Kuala Terengganu -> Marang -> Pulau Kapas
Qimi chalets, Pulau Kapas. RM 110 (reduced from the official RM 130 rate) for a chalet with attached bathroom on a slope overlooking the sea. The trees block the sea view, but provide shadow. The chalet has a veranda/balcony where you can stay and relax. No A/C, only fan. Door cannot be locked. Some furniture and finally a cupboard. What is good about this place is the nice setting on the hill in the middle of the rainforest. The problem is the toilet which is open towards the rainforest. I see a big rat in the evening next to the toilet. This rat (and any other jungle wildlife as well) could have easily walked into the toilet, so basically you cannot leave any stuff in the toilet because who knows which animal will pass by and mess up your stuff. The water in the toilet smells like mud. I don't dare to rinse my mouth with it after brushing the teeth. The door of the toilet does not close properly and later in the evening the lower part breaks off leaving a large, gaping hole in the door. The whole point of sleeping in a room is that you are able to prevent animals from walking into the woom while you are sleeping. Since the toilet is open, it cannot be clean, because all kind of stuff can get or fall into the toilet.
A/C would have helped, because it is extremely hot today. Still 30C at 10pm in the room.
Very friendly, nice and helpful staff, but I can't recommend this place (and I'm glad I'm only staying one night here).
In addition, at RM 110 this place is overpriced. In the nearby Kapas Coral Beach resort you can stay for the same price and get a room with A/C and full board (see below).

Weather: very hot sunny day. It starts in the morning with a spotless blue sky on Lang Tengah, which continues over the whole day. Very thin clouds layer late in the evening. No rain.

Early morning wake up at 7am. After breakfast I check out. The boat leaves at 8:40am, jam-packed with tourists and arrives at the Merang jetty at 10am. Then I get into a bus (with A/C, quite comfortable) which waits for 45 minutes before leaving, no idea why because it does not pick up other passengers.

The plan would be to get to a place with Internet acccess, so that I can book the flight to KL tomorrow and download my emails, then go to Marang and take the boat to Pulau Kapas.

The bus drops me off at the airport at 11:15am. The airport is in sort of a sleepy mode, because there are only very few flights per day and right now there hasn't been a flight for quite some time. No Internet cafe or other way to check the emails at the airport. No decent restaurant or place for eating something.

Luckily there are counters of Airasia, Malaysian Airlines (MAS) and Firefly. Airasia has only flights in the early morning and late evening. MAS has three flights, early morning, late evening and around 4pm. Problem is the ticket price of RM 359 - more than twice what Airasia costs.

Luckily Firefly has a flight at 4:10pm for RM 220 and what is even better, it lands in Subang airport, and not in KLIA which is 70km away from KL. This means no expensive and time consuming taxi ride, since Subang is quite close to KL.

So I buy a ticket to KL for tomorrow 4:10pm. I call Shirley and ask her if she can arrange a car to pick me up at the airport and bring me to Teluk Intan. That is possible for the modest (!) amount of RM 170, RM 40 more than what I paid last time.

It's now close to 12pm noon and I start getting hungry. I take a taxi to Kuala Terengganu (RM 25) and ask the driver to drop me off at a KFC restaurant. There I have a meal and at the same time download all emails and check the news. Germany-Uruguay 3:2, we won 3rd place, not bad.

I also call a couple of places on Pulau Kapas. Qimi chalets have rooms for RM 130.

At 1pm I get ouf of the KFC restaurant and slowly walk towards the taxi station. On the way I take some pictures of the city and top up the Maxis phone card. Kuala Terengganu is a colourful city, in which the women wear fashionable full-body dresses.

I take a taxi to the Marang jetty (RM 25), arriving att 1:45pm. The next boat to Pulau Kapas leaves at 2pm (RM 20 one way, 30 two-way). In less than 15 minutes we reach the island. The boatman drops me off on a large beach, from which I walk with all my stuff to the next beach.

I spend the rest of the day exploring Pulau Kapas. There are a few beaches, all on the west side, some with resorts or places to stay.  Quite nice and laid back setup, but not as beautiful as Perhentian for instance. Near Kapas lies the small island of Gemia, with just one resort on it.

Strong sun and very hot. Even the SPF 20 sun tan lotion is not strong enough to protect against the tropical sun.

In the evening I run into the Norwegian couple who did the Mulu Pinnacles trek with me. They are staying in the nearby Kapas Coral Beach resort and paid only RM 300 for the first two nights (total for two people) for a room with A/C and full board. Additional nights after the first two cost only RM 110. And they also stayed in the Four Points hotel in Kuching, paying only RM 200 something (I paid RM 345).

Evening spent not doing much. The world cup final is at 2:30am, so I think I'll skip it.

12.7: Pulau Kapas -> Kuala Terengganu -> KL -> Teluk Intan
Home of Shirley's parents, Teluk Intan

Weather: in Pulau Kapas overcast in the morning, the sky opens up around 10-11am. More fresh than yesterday. Thin clouds layer every now and then.

I wake up at 8am, but stay in bed until after 10am. Only fell asleep at 3-4am last night due to the heat (30C at night). Besides outside it's overcast so why would I get up early.

After taking a shower and packing my stuff it's 11:30am. I have some lunch in the restaurant of Qimi chalets, then ask about boats to Marang. There is one at 1:30pm coming to Qimi chalets.

I spend the next hour walking on the beaches then head back to Qimi chalets. Ben tells me that there is no boat at 1:30pm, the next one at 2pm from the main jetty. Quite far away, but he can bring my bags by boat to the jetty. Shortly after that another brief update. A boat is coming at 1:30pm to Qimi.

At 1:40pm the boat leaves Kapas and arrives in Marang about 10 minutes later. I pay RM 20 for the boat at the Suria counter, then take a taxi which just arrived. For RM 50 he'll bring me to the airport.

The taxi has no A/C and is hot like an oven. At 2:30pm it arrives at the Kuala Terengganu airport where I finally get some fresh air.

The flight takes off with some delay and lands in the Subang airport (KL) 10 minutes late at 5:20pm. Subang is the old airport quite close to town.

Outside is the taxi driver which Shirley arranged for me is already waiting. I buy some food, the get into the taxi. It's 5:40pm when we leave and we arrive in Teluk Intan by 8pm.

13.7: Teluk Intan
Home of Shirley's parents, Teluk Intan

Weather: sunny in the morning, then gradual clouds build-up in the afternoon and mostly overcast. No rain.

Day spent relaxing with the family in the house of Shirley's parents. I arrange with Shirley a car+driver to bring me around tomorrow in Perak. Cost will be RM 300 and the round trip will cover Ipoh, Kuala Kangsar and Taiping.

14.7: Teluk Intan -> Ipoh -> Kuala Kangsar -> Taiping -> Teluk Intan
Home of Shirley's parents, Teluk Intan

Weather: sunny in the morning, then gradual clouds build-up in the afternoon. Almost no rain. The sky opens up again in the evening, nice sunset.

At 8:40am the driver arrives. It's the same guy (an old Indian guy in a very old Mercedes) who picked me up at the Subang airport the day before yesterday.

We drive towards Ipoh making a first stop at Kellie's castle at 10am (entry ticket: RM 5). Kellie's castle is a ruin of a mansion built by a rich Scotsman at the turn of the 20th century in Moorish style. It's not too interesting and in fact I'm only stopping here because this lies on the way to Ipoh.

After about 20 minutes in this place we drive to the next place, the Sam Poh Tong temple, arriving at 10:50am. This is a Chinese temple set up in a cave in the rock. Quite cool setting, with the vertical rock wall and the garden and buildings on the outside, and the decorations and statues in the inside. Near this temple are two additional, more modern Chinese temples, all set up in caves. One of them is the Ling Sen Tong temple.

By the time I finish visiting the temples it's already 11:30am. I tell the driver to go to Ipoh, but no, he has a better idea. He brings me to the Gua Kek Look Tong temple, another Chinese temple set up in a cave in the mountain. This is very close to the Sam Poh Tong temple, in fact you only have to drive to the other side of the mountain.

This Gua temple is not mentioned in my guide (the Rough guide) but it's very nice. It's inside a large cave which is open on both sides. You walk from one side and continue walking until you reach the other side in which there is a large hall with an altar and a nice view of the countryside. I have to say that I'm positively surprised by Perak - wasn't aware that there are so many interesting sights.

It's 12:05pm when we finally leave and drive towards the railway station of Ipoh. It takes over half an hour to arrive there because there is some traffic jam. The idea would now be to walk a bit in the centre of Ipoh to get a feeling for it.

There is not too much to see in the centre of Ipoh. The railway station is nice, there are some mosques and temples and colonial era buildings. But nothing overly impressive.

I continue walking around, until around 1:30pm I arrive at the Ipoh Parade shopping mall where I have some lunch. In the mall there is a beauty contest going on, Miss Malaysia Earth 2010.

Shortly after 2pm I'm ready and call the taxi driver on the phone. His English is not good but somehow I manage to explain that I'm in this mall and that he should come and pick me up. Some waiting, additional phone calls and explanations and finally 40 minutes later the driver manages to find the place. I guess he is not too familiar with Ipoh.

We then drive to what probably is the Perak Tong temple, again a Chinese temple set up in a  cave in the mountain. Nice temple with statues, altars and wall frescoes in the cave.

It's 3:25pm when we leave for Kuala Kangsar. It's getting later than I had expected. Or perhaps I have underestimated the time it takes to visit all these places.

Anyway at 4:10pm, i.e. 35 minutes later, we arrive at the Ubudiah mosque near the royal palace. The sultans of Perak are residing in the city of Kuala Kangsar, i.e. Kuala Kangsar is a royal city in Malaysia. You can see at all those golden colour decorations everywhere, the street lampposts for instance.

The Ubudiah mosque is stunningly beautiful, especially when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. This mosque alone is worth the trip to Kuala Kangsar.

Near the mosque lies the royal palace, which you can only watch from outside the fence, because you may not enter the park surrounding the palace. Adjacent to the palace compound is a the Royal Perak museum, with nicely decorated walls, very photogenic.

At 4:45pm we drive back to the centre of Kuala Kangsar, where I briefly stop buying some drinks and taking some photos. The city is sort of cute, but not too impressive.

It's 5pm when we start driving to Taiping, arriving at 6pm. Since it is already quite late I only spend 40 minutes in Taiping, visiting a few places, then we start driving back to Teluk Intain. We arrive after 9pm.

Copyright 2010 Alfred Molon