Access Tibet Tour — A 12 day trip that only costs you $1262 per person

May 28th, 2010

Puteri Harbour Marina

Johor Malaysia

Hi All,

  Randal is back from his visit to see friends in the Philippines.  I have cleaned a good deal of the interior of our boat.  Now it’s time to be off again to do some overland travel.  Overland travel is defined as travel anywhere without the boat.  It could be a trip a few hours away or to another country.  Our trip in June is back to China to visit Tibet.  It’s something Randal really wants to do.  My theory is that if one of us really wants to do something, we should.  If one of us really hates the idea of doing something, we shouldn’t.  Everything else is negotiable.  Everything we’ve read told us that we could only enter Tibet as part of a tour, so we are.  I am posting the basic info sent to us by the Access Tour folks whose company we are using.  This Monday we will do an overnight trip to Singapore to visit our friend Marie Louise just returned from a trip to Vietnam.  We will visit the Commercial Straits Art Co. for paint; Bras Basah for used books, Sim Lin for a tiny travel computer, and Kinokushya Book Store because it has just about everything. 

  We have met several nice people here at Puteri and the staff is always friendly and helpful.  And the Red Sox are starting to play ball.  Little slip today against the Kansas City Royals, but I think they always have problems there.  Good thing the Yankees lost too.  Go Sox!  There is a shop at the Jusco Mall that sells socks which they cutely call Sox World so now I have a pair of red socks that say Sox World!  Perfect!

So finally, here is our itinerary for Tibet. The weather during June can range from highs in the mid 80s to lows in the mid 30s.  But I figure it can’t be worse than when we went to Beijing in December 2004 with only our summer clothes.  This time we’ll take some cold weather clothes too especially for our night stay near the Mt. Everest Base Camp. 

Ruth and I have finally booked our long talked about trip to Tibet. Below is our itinerary as described by our Chinese travel agent in Lhasa. I had asked for soft sleeper train tickets from Guangzhou, China to Lhasa, Tibet; our Tibet entry permit; some time off in Lhasa to acclimate to the altitude before starting our tours; tours of Lhasa; and an overland vehicle trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu, Nepal through the Himalayas stopping overnight at the Mt Everest base camp.
I must admit, the agent did a good job, even putting in a bicycle tour of Lhasa. He doesn’t know we’re cyclist, or were. The train ride is 56 hours and we will be sharing a four sleeper cabin with two strangers. The train goes over a pass that is 16,000 feet high which will be a record for Ruth and I. Lhasa is at 12,000 feet.
I’m looking forward to the overland travel through the Himalayas to Kathmandu. We will likely arrange a tour of that city as well. I still need to organize our flight from Kathmandu back to Singapore but will do that after we decide how long to stay there.

Suggested tour day by day:

June 17th: Board the train from Guangzhou to Lhasa, Tibet.

June 19th:

Arrving from Guangzhou to Lhasa, take a rest for a while. Get used to the climate.

Accommodation: Mandala Hotel  3*

June 20th: Rest for one day!

Have a rest for a day, you could hanging around the  city with the company of our guide.

Accommodation: Mandala Hotel  3*

June 21st: Lhasa city tour

Highlights: Norbulinka, Tibet Museum, and Tangka Factory

In the morning, we will first visit Norbulinka and Tibet Museum. Learn about Tibet architecture and Culture achievement, then in the afternoon, Let’s visit Tangka Factory.

Tangka—The most important art in Tibet, Tibet daily life is drawn on it along with their belief and their history.

Accommodation: Mandala Hotel  3*

June 22nd: Rest for one day!

Have a rest for a day, you could hanging around the  city with the company of our guide.

Accommodation: Mandala Hotel  3*

June 23rd: A biking tour along the city and a close touch with the local Tibetans.

Highlights: A biking tour along the Lhasa River and to be a Tibetan for one day!

First we will bike to The famous Lhasa River bridge, then biking along the Lhasa River for a few time. We will go to a local Tibet village and have lunch there, in the afternoon we could try to be a Tibetan for a while, learn how to make traditional butter tea, you could also help them with harvesting, cook some fried potato, learn about Tibet local people ordinary life things.

Lhasa River Bridge and Lhasa River ( the bridge is for train)

June 24th: Gandan Monastery, free time — Today you will explore yourself, group members are arriving from else where

Highlights: Gandan Monastery, Kora and hike a little

Today we will vist Gandan Monastery, which is among the most famous monastery in Tibet, it’s around a hill not far from Lhasa city, where we could do a Kora like local Tibetans do around the

monastery and we could enjoy the natural view and hiking a little around this place.

The rest of the day is free time, you could explore the city yourself.

Gandan Monastery

June 25th: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Bachkor Street – Group tour

This morning you’ ll wind your way up through the stunning, awe-inspiring Potala Palace. Built in 637 AD by Songtsen Gampo, it was the former winter residence for the Dalai Lamas and is truly a splendor of Eastern architecture. Next, visit the Johkang Temple, the center of Tibetan Buddhism, also built in the 7th century on the legendary pond, Finish the day by taking a Kora around the Barkhor. Test your bartering skills with the locals in this push-and-shove economy.

Potala Palace

June 26th: Ani Sangkhung Nunnery, Sera Monastery – Group tour

Highlights: enjoy Tibetan tea in Ani Sangkhung Nunnery tea house, a short hiking into Tibet nature, catch the famous debate sessions of the monks in Sera monastery.

Head past Muslim tea stalls and butcher shops, along part of the Lingkhor pilgrim circuit to the yellow walls of the Ani Sangkhung Nunnery. This small, friendly and active nunnery is the only one within the precincts of the old Tibetan quarter. The site of the nunnery probably dates back to the 7th century, but is housed a monastery until at least the 15th century. The principal image, upstairs on the 2nd floor, is a thousand-armed Chenresing. A small alley to the side of the main chapel heads down to the former meditation chamber of Songtsen Gampo, the 7th-century king of Tibet. The busy nuns run a great teahouse in the courtyard. Then drive to Sera Monastery, have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there, in the afternoon, visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called the court of wild rose. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Catch the famous debate session of the monks before returning back to Lhasa.

Sera Monastery

27th: Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse – Group tour

Highlights: Yamdrok Lake

Today we will drive from Lhasa thru Gyantse to Shigatse, along the road, we will enjoy the blue sky with far away Nianqing Tanggula Mountains. In a minute we will drive along the stunning turquoise like Yamdrok Lake. We will have a look at the stunning Korala Glacier too.

We will keep driving to the second largest city – Shigatse.

Stunning Yamdrok Lake

June 28th: Shigatse – Shegar-EBC – Group tour

Highlights: Tashilumpu Monatsery, Free market, spectacular scenery en route

Morning, have a tour to Tashilumpu Monastery, the most famous attraction in Shigatse, then wander in free market for a while in which you can buy some souvenir for you friends or families. Today we drive about 350Kms to Everest Base Camp. You must enjoy the spectacular scenery, if you are lucky enough, you may have a chance of a glimp of Tibetan antelope.

Tashilunpo Monastery

Accommodation: Sightseeing Hotel

June 29th: Everest Base Camp/ Zhangmu – Group tour

Highlights: Rongbuk Monastery and Everest Base Camp

We will explore Rongbuk Monastery first and then hike a little around Everest Base Camp where you could see the Mt. Everest clearly if you are lucky.

We will arrive in Zhangmu today.

Everest Base Camp

June 30th: Depart – Group tour.

Finish your tour in the border, you could rent a car to Katmandu, it’s only us$80 per car.

Price includes:

1) Comfortable class hotel twin-sharing room accommodation in Lhasa, Shigatse, 3 star standard. The best available hotel in EBC area, Sightseeing hotel.(Still very poor due to the remoteness)

2) One private comfortable mini van for your private tour and one experienced driver, group tour vehicle is decided by the size of the tour.

3) An experienced English speaking tour guide (a local Tibetan)

4) All necessary permits

5) All entrance fees of sightseeing place mentioned in itinerary

6) Service charge

7) Meals mentioned in the itinerary [B]: Breakfast

Still here at Puteri Harbour

May 17th,2010

Puteri Harbour Marian, Johor, Malaysia

Hi All,

  I haven’t written for a bit, but then I’ve not had much to write about.  We were here in Puteri last year about this time for the Malaysia Rally.  Things haven’t changed at the marina but there is more construction evident and now there is a Tesco near the Jusco for our Thursday shopping trip.  The marina provides transport on Tuesday evenings to Gelan Petah for the night market and on Thursday we go to the Jusco Mall for grocery store shopping.  The transportation is free and that’s a very nice service.

  This past Thursday Randal left for the Philippines to visit our friend Dean who is vacationing there.  Dean helped us during our passage from Hong Kong to the Philippines in 2007.  He has a 382 Diesel Duck that he travels with along the East Coast of the US.  Randal and Dean are spending the week swapping stories.  Randal will be back this Friday.  I’ve spent the time cleaning the boat, reading, walking, painting and just relaxing without feeling that I should be out exploring.  Our friend Liz from Blue Tango is coming to visit me tomorrow for a few days and we’ll practice our painting together.  It’s really nice to have an art buddy.  Before we leave the area Randal and I hope to take a bus to Singapore to visit with Marie-Louise too and hear about her 3 week trip to Vietnam. 

  Not real sure what our plans are but we have to make them soon or there will be no time.  We’ve talked about Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos and also China and Tibet.  But so far we have no plan. 

  Each morning I go out and walk for about an hour around the whole complex as it exists now.  Randal and I have biked into Gelan Petah, the small town about 8 miles from here.  It’s nice to have our bikes and now I have the old-fashioned pedals again so I can wear my sneakers and not have to walk around in my bike shoes with the clips that slip on tile shop floors.  I used to ride in saddle shoes because of the stiffer soles so will have to get a pair when we next come home.  Anyway, here are some photos from my walk with some info describing the complex where the marina is located. 



Puteri Harbour

“Puteri Harbour is the jewel of Nusajaya. This waterfront precinct, is an integrated waterfront and marina development that spans 688 acres offering a panoramic view of the Straits of Johor. Puteri Harbour redefines luxury living and offers boundless real estate benefits to the astute investor. Located adjacent to Kota Iskandar (Johor state new administrative centre), Puteri Harbour will be a unique luxurious lifestyle community, offering the experience of exceptional waterfront living, dining, entertainment, the arts and culture in a safe and picture postcard natural setting.

It is an ideal location for global or regional commerce and events, with state-of-the-art facilities and a business-friendly environment that will create world-class personal or business investment opportunities.

Puteri Harbour’s development components comprise waterfront residential (prime waterfront properties), commercial development (offices and retail shops), FAME ( Food & beverage outlets, Arts, Music and Entertainment), transportation hub (water transport terminal for water taxis and ferry, bus terminal, tram and LRT station), a marina (berthing, chandlery and accommodation facilities for boaters, yachters, boat/yacht charter owners/operators and water sports owners/operators) and a Cultural Park initiated and owned by the Johor State Government” from Puteri’s website

Kota Iskandar

Kota Iskandar (Johor state new administrative centre) is a 320-acre integrated development comprising Johor State and Federal Government offices, set amidst landscaped gardens and parks. Kota Iskandar’s milieu of state and federal government complexes within one area will contribute to facilitate the government machinery’s efficiency befitting the status of a modern and progressive administration. With improved facilities, connectivity and efficiency, the public sector administration will offer enhanced support to existing business within Nusajaya and to attracting companies that have greater positive impact on the economy and quality of life.

The components that will establish Kota Iskandar as the seat of Johor’s government are the Johor State Assembly, Chief Minister & State Secretary Complex, Dataran Mahkota Plaza and the State Government Departments Complex that will be completed during Phase 1. The development of the Federal Government Department Complex is scheduled for completion during Phase 3.

Nusajaya – The World in One City

What it all looks like now as I walk around the complex.


What it looks like now.

I’m just starting out on my walk around the complex. It takes me about an hour to walk around perimeter of the complex with the buildings that exist now. Some are very modern looking structures and some remind me of Ali Baba stories. I like the Ali Baba ones better. With my shorts on I was allowed into the modern one to eat at the small cafeteria, but wasn’t allowed into the others. Fair enough. I do know the rules and didn’t expect to go in. Randal and I were out biking and that’s why I had shorts on when we stopped at the cafeteria to eat. It is for the government workers but they let us eat too. It was good and cheap.


This is one of the areas within the complex. I was told that the domed building is a mosque.


Across the circular drive from the mosque is this building.

There is some stadium seating here too; just a small area so outdoor events must take place here. Maybe flag raising and lowering ceremonies.

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A waterfall inside the mosque building and this is one of the domes. It was early in the morning and no one was around and at this point I didn’t know it was a mosque.


The domes from the outside.


Another building complex with gardens and fountains.


It’s quite lovely but too hot to enjoy during the heat of the day. I can’t imagine being dressed in all of those clothes and working in the heat but they all do.


Two vastly different types of architecture. If form follows function it would be interesting to know what types of activities goes on inside.


The hills across the way are actually Singapore across the Straits of Johor that looks like a narrow river separating the marina from Singapore.


Red Warning Sign.

Behind those trees is some kind of Singapore military base and you can hear live rounds being fired. When I started my walk the other day I left the marina parking lot and started up this road. More berthing areas are being built here. All of a sudden I heard a siren and then from a megaphone, Attention! Attention! Then came a warning in at least 5 languages, English the second, that live shooting would begin in the area and everyone needed to be away. Of course the shooting was on the other side of the river not aimed our way so there was nothing to fear. What I thought about was how diverse the population was so that the announcement needed to be made in so many languages. The official language of Singapore is English and children are taught in English. In Malaysia it depends where a student goes to school and what subject it is and it must cost a fortune to have a population that needs materials written in so many languages. I understand a bit of French from years of it at school and have a Spanish book that I am supposedly going to teach myself. Since we’re planning to stop in the Middle East I should try to refresh any bits of Hebrew I can dredge up.


This is the small marina complex. There is a small but pretty good restaurant, a small shop with things like peanut butter and other staples, boat stuff, and gifts too. Upstairs is a chart room with a paperback collection where cruisers bring what they’ve read and try to find something they want to read to take away. So far I’ve donated but haven’t found anything I want to read. Luckily I stocked up before we came.


This shot is from the bow of our boat looking at the marina office building.


From the back of the boat ongoing construction.

We really do seem to be in the middle of nowhere.


A bus trip to Johor Bahru

The marina drove us to the middle of the complex area where we caught a bus to Gelan Petah the small town about 8 miles from here where we go for the Tuesday Night Market. There we changed buses for Johor Bahru. Altogether it took almost 3 hours. It takes about 30 minutes by taxi. By boat along the river Strait it’s about 5 miles.


Ladies at lunch in the complex cafeteria.

It did occur to me that I was a bit under-dressed in my bike shorts and sleeveless top. Luckily they are the walking shorts kind of bike shorts rather than the lycra kind. But no one really took notice of me so that was good. But next time I’ll wear leggings too which I bought the other day just for the purpose of not offending anyone.


Red Sox on MLB on Astro satellite TV.

Thank goodness the Sox beat the Yankees that day. I have been spending half of each day cleaning the boat since there are no tempting places to walk to like in George Town. Everything needs to be cleaned because the entire interior is teak. I can honestly say I didn’t worry about washing walls at home but here, walls, ceiling, everything has to be cleaned because during a passage the whole boat is open and salty air and grit gets everywhere. It takes forever and It definitely isn’t my favorite thing to do. Randal does the outside and I do the inside. At least you don’t get sun burnt cleaning the inside.


We finally have put up our American flag convinced that most folks around SE Asia actually really like Americans. Interestingly the Malaysian flag also has red and white stripes, but 14, and a blue square though with a yellow crescent and sun on the blue square. There are 13 states but the federal government gets a stripe too. And the sun has 14 points too. Wikipedia calls it a star but it looks like a sun to me. The crescent represents Islam. Because we are guests in Malaysia we fly the Malaysian flag higher than any other.

A painting, a quest, and a digression

Puteri Harbor Marina, Johor, Malaysia

Hi All,

  Randal and I had a really good passage from George Town to Puteri with calm seas and calm anchorages and really good weather.  It isn’t always like that so we really enjoyed it.  Our Thailand trip had been intended to be the same way but we had bad anchorages and boat problems so we really deserved an easy time this time.  And the Sox won 4 games in a row.  I changed my hat so maybe that did it.  Not sure how long we’ll be here in Puteri or if we’ll head over to Sebana Cove.  We really do like the setting of Sebana but services to cruisers are being cut back with fewer trips to town and only halal food allowed on the van back to the marina.  We are thinking of doing some land travel to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam  and then later in June a trip to China and to Tibet.  We just have to sit down and make some plans. 

  Today Randal and I took the bus to Johor Bahru.  It took over 2 hours and cost about 14.40 ringgits for the two of us.  $4.50 US.  We stopped at just about every neighborhood between here and down town Johor Bahru.  In JB we ate lunch, went to the book store, found a bike shop we had visited over a year ago and then caught a taxi to go home.   We took a taxi back to the Jusco near the marina.  There are 4 Jusco shopping areas in JB but luckily our taxi driver knew where we wanted to go and he also used his meter.  That was 17.50 ringgits and then we took a taxi from Jusco to the marina which was 25 ringgits.  42.50 ringgits for a total of about 20 minutes.  $13.28 US.  Luckily we have all the time in the world even if maybe not the patience.  By the end of our bus ride I was wondering if we’d ever get there. 

  This email is about an adventure I had back in George Town.  Elizabeth would have come too, but she and Patrick had already left on their way to Langkawi.



39 Lebuh Kimberley

There is a print in the Penang State Art Gallery Permanent Collection that I really like. The artist is Victor Chin and the work was acquired by the museum in 1995. The title of the print is 39 Lebuh Kimberley which is an actual street address on Kimberley Road in George Town. I went on a quest to find the real building. It took me 3 tries but on our last full day in George Town I was successful.


39 Lebuh Kimberley by Victor Chin

This is a photo of the picture of the print in a book called Penang State Art Gallery Permanent Collection 1965-1996 that I bought at the museum. The actual print seemed much bluer than red but photos weren’t allowed in the museum though no one would have known since the guard was snoozing by the door. He was a pleasant enough fellow; just didn’t seem to be interested in art. I hope neither Mr. Chin nor the museum mind that I posted this photo. I did ask Mr. Chin in an email but never heard so here it is.


39 Lebuh Kimberley today: Saw Joo Aun Antiques

I think the gate and pillars are new and that really changes the look of the building. Also, the artist made it detached on one side rather than attached on both though it looks pretty permanent.


You can see an archway on the right and there is one on the left too which does resemble the print somewhat. But in the print you can definitely see the entire left side of the building up past the top windows.


This is 35 Kimberley. It doesn’t match either, but does have a side view.

I had been by the address twice before but hadn’t seen any lights on inside and the gate was always locked. My final visit, I noticed a light on so I banged on the gate and yelled hello. I was quite determined to learn about the building and this was my last chance so as rude as it sounds, I persisted until the man inside noticed me and came out to see what all the commotion was about


Apparently I had caught my host soon after he had awaken and come down into the business area of the building. It was after 10 am, but perhaps he is a night person. He was happy for me to take photos of the building, but not of him. He wasn’t familiar with the print but seemed to believe that it was his shop which had always been numbered 39 Lebuh Kimberley. I thanked him and started my way back to the marina.


George Town World Heritage Office

George Town is a UNESCO designated World Heritage City. I happened to pass by the World Heritage office so decided to stop in. I am very glad that I did because I met a very helpful gentleman who worked there and took an interest in my question.


Osman bin Said

World Heritage Office

116 & 116 Lebuh Acheh

10200 Pulau Pinang

Mr. bin Said listened to my story and looked at my art book and immediately went into action. The World Heritage Office has books showing all of the streets and buildings of historic George Town. He pulled out the one that included Kimberley and flipped to the page that showed 39 Lebuh Kimberley convinced that it was the same building because the street had never been renumbered and that the artist had simply taken some artistic license. (Mr. bin Said is holding the book in the photo and standing in front of a map of George Town.) I tried to talk him into my feeling that the print was really the building a few doors down at # 35. He wouldn’t agree and he is the expert. We talked about how I was lucky to have the time for such interesting quests. He said that I had all the time in the world. Maybe yes, maybe no; since we were leaving George Town the next day and how was I to learn more? I wish I’d had more time just to talk with Mr. bin Said who was able to integrate a discussion of how my life allowed me to study any issue that intrigued me since I had no job that demanded my time and no one to tell me what to do. Hearing my life described that way, I was a bit startled and even somewhat embarrassed translating his comments into the Epicurean philosophy that my life is the pursuit of pleasure. (What about saving the world?) And I still feel a bit discomforted by the fact that Randal and I don’t have to work when most people still do. (Considering I don’t want to work and I follow the Red Sox rather than world news, Mr. bin Said was totally correct!) However, studying anything that piques my interest sounds great in theory, but in practice it doesn’t really feel that way. With no library available to pursue my interests, so often learning is an exercise in frustration. Wish I hadn’t wasted all those years when I could have been learning and wasn’t interested or paying attention. All of this and our conversation only lasted about 15 minutes at most. I hope Mr. bin Said spends some of his time as a teacher because he certainly can make one think.

So, after all of this leg work I finally thought about emailing Victor Chin, the print artist. (I’ve obviously been away from reference work too long! But also, I thought everyone in George Town would know the print and everyone in George Town would know 39 Lebuh Kimberley so someone would have the answer to my question with lots of info about the shop itself. ) I found his website and he is quite an interesting man. His interests have changed but one write up perhaps explains the shophouse print.

Victor Chin is a multi-media artist. His early watercolours of

Malaysian shophouses drew attention to the need for a more humane

urban conservation policy for those pre-war buildings in our towns and cities.”

I did email him to verify that he was indeed the creator of the museum print. He responded immediately that he was but emphasized that his goals had changed. He asked me about my interest in the print and I emailed him back with my answer and question about the actual address. He never did respond to that question. But maybe I shouldn’t have asked. It didn’t really matter did it if the point was to show people the charm of the old shophouses and to preserve them. While in high school I wrote a letter to Norman Mailer asking him about one of his books and what he had intended because I’d read reviews saying opposite things and I was writing a term paper. My question and the reviews concerned his book Deer Park. Very kindly he took the time to write back to me and I remember his answer since it was so short. “Dear Miss Lipnik, When one writes a book one hopes the book speaks for itself. But thank you for writing.” I can’t remember if it was hand written but he did sign it. Pathetically I have no idea whatever happened to it. So Victor Chin maybe didn’t owe me an answer either and I liked his print much more than I liked the book Deer Park.

Cameron Highlands final email

Anchored off Besar Island, Malaysia


Hi All,

  It was a lovely cruising day and we made great time averaging close to 7 knots.  And amazingly as we were cruising along again we heard, “DoraMac” on the VHF radio.  This time it was our friends from Four Star on their way north towards Rebak Island.  We had met them on the West Malaysia Rally ( I think it was that rally) and had last seen them in Kota Kinabalu on Borneo.  Here they were again.  Cruising friends from Milliways were also on Four Star returning to their own boat berthed in Rebak Island.  Yesterday it was Amir and today Four Star.  Wonder who we’ll see tomorrow?

  So GM Theo told the Sox, Win Or Else!  So they won.  I also wore my different Sox hat.  Hopefully they didn’t use up all of the runs they’ll get in the series with the Angeles today:  17 runs and they needed 9 of them to win the game. 

This is the final email about Cameron Highlands.  We really did enjoy it there and recommend it if you want a lovely vacation half way around the world.



Tanah Rata and Robinson Falls

Tanah Rata is the small town where Randal and I (and most tourists) stayed in the Cameron Highlands. You could walk from one end to the other in no time. It seemed to be mostly eating places, tour desks, an internet café, ATM machines, money changers and souvenir shops. There was a lovely small botanical park and a huge school as well as hospital. Along with agriculture, Agro-tourism is the main industry. And though we came for the cool weather, many people told us that once upon a time they could remember the highlands as being much cooler than they are now. Hmmm.

“Cameron Highlands is made up of 3 main townships at different elevations. The first town you’ll see coming from the south is Ringlet followed by Tanah Rata and Brinchang. Tanah Rata is the administrative hub of Cameron Highlands where most of the government offices are located”


The park was very well maintained and we saw several workers each time we passed through during the day.


There was a play area, colorful shrubs, lots of flowers and a clock tower.


The main street of town with a covered walkway probably because it rains quite a bit and restaurant seating is outside.


One of the souvenir shops selling pink strawberry related items.


Robinson Falls

Randal didn’t want to do the hike past the falls to the Jalan Boh Estate but I did. We were both right. When we started out the hike we were just going to the Falls which were about a mile out of town. But when we got there Randal changed his mind so off we went..with drinking water but no snacks. You could take path 9 which involved some bushwhacking or 9A which was just a walk through the woods. We took path 9A. At first it was a lovely well maintained path like you would find on the Blue Ridge Parkway or many trails along the Appalachian Trail It was slick though and we wanted to move along to avoid the afternoon rain. I have no photos because by the end of the “walk” I needed both hands to hold onto whatever I could grab to keep me from sliding down the side of the mountain. Something Randal grabbed had thorns and I also kept thinking of all of the bugs we’d seen the day before. The lovely path had just about disappeared and was muck from the prior day’s rain and there were several huge downed trees blocking the path. At one point I truly was scared to go on for fear of really sliding off the mountain but Randal had noticed the darkening sky and pointed out that as bad as it was, the coming rain would make it much worse. That got me going. That and the fact that the end was in sight. The hike had taken an hour and 45 minutes but seemed longer and shorter since we had started about 11 am and were finished with our hike before 1pm. But we weren’t done yet.


Here is where we were; wet and dirty.


The road to the right goes up to the tea station. We came from behind the truck on the left down a path from the mountain along the tree line. The road straight ahead went to a farm. The road to the left took us back to the main road where we could catch a bus to town. We were pretty dirty and one of us was a bit disgruntled at this point. But oddly, we weren’t hungry. We’d had a large western breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon and beans back at the Fathers Guest House Café. Beans and toast is a big thing where the British have been and western tourist congregate. I asked the man working at the truck on the left where we were and how to get back to town. Walk was the only obvious answer… There was a taxi parked there too but no one around who seemed to drive it. Later the man at the truck passed us driving the taxi but when I tried to flag him down, he waved and seemed to indicate he had to go somewhere. Oh well.


So we started walking and made it about as far as those white farm sheds when it started to rain. We sat under the cover and waited it out.


Actually it was green and lush and lovely and would have been great for biking and looked like some of the back roads near Lexington or Catawba. At the main road there was a bus stop where you could catch the bus going to town. But in just a few minutes a taxi came by and we flagged him down and he drove us back to Tanah Rata for a total of 8 ringgits. That might have been the best taxi ride in Malaysia.

After a hot shower in our big expensive room at the Century Pines Resort, we went off for lunch. All in all, a good day. It made me sorry we had to leave the next day since there was so much more to see. And we could do another hike!


The safe, pleasant bus ride back to George Town

Our van trip up to Cameron Highlands took over an hour less time than the bus trip back. The bus driver went around these curves slowly. Our van driver sped around them and passed cars even with the double white lines. Randal and I sat in the front seat with the view. The seats were comfortable, we had AC and we made the promised scheduled stop in Ipoh half way back. The bus stopped in Butterworth, the town across the bridge from George Town. We left the bus and caught the ferry back because that would take us to the ferry terminal next to the marina and the bus would have taken us to the bus terminal where we would have had to take a taxi or a local bus back to the marina.


The ferry from Butterworth to George Town; the same ferry that makes for rolling conditions in the marina since it is just next door and generates large waves.


These boys had wind toys and were standing at the front rail with their dad.


Two arms full!

The dad had picked up the smaller boy in his right arm and the older son felt left out so asked to be picked up. The dad didn’t tell him he was too big, but just hoisted him up too. Great memories for the brothers!

Randal and I left the ferry and walked back to the marina instantly being reminded that we had left the cool Cameron Highland far behind. We spent about 5 more days in George Town. I wonder when in our travels we’ll be longing for the hot weather of coastal Malaysia?



Boh Tea Plantaion Cameron Highlands

Admiral Marina, Port Dixon, Malaysia

Hi All,

  It’s a bright and sunny day here in Port Dixon but it must be very stormy in Boston with the Red Sox 7 games out of first place and just having lost 3 games to Baltimore.  It’s far too early to give up hope but it does make it difficult to check the scores each day.  We’re off to Port Dixon town today for food supplies, a shave for Randal, and maybe a new tire for my bike.  As we were cruising along the other day we heard a loud pop.  I knew right off that it was a bike tire and sadly it was.  (Though in the scheme of things you really don’t want anything on a diesel boat going pop!) The wall of my tire had given up the ghost so that put an end to our plans for riding here in Port Dixon.  Maybe in town there will be a bike shop.  But the last time I needed a new tire, the bike shop in Sungei Rengit had to order it from Singapore.  Port Dixon is sort of a resort area so maybe they will have a bike shop though I don’t remember seeing one the last time we were here. 

  Not far from Port Dixon we heard someone calling DoraMac on our VHF.  It was our new friend Amir who had bought our old friend Ben Ben’s 382 Diesel Duck.  Amir lives in Kuala Lumpur with his family but last month had been in George Town on business and had come to visit since he follows our blog.  He also kindly drove Elizabeth and me to the Gurnsey Mall on his way to lunch and then home.   Amir had just left Port Dixon and I’m not sure exactly where he was heading yesterday, but it was quite a fun experience.  I wish our timing had been better and we could have visited with him here in Port Dixon.

  When we arrived here mid-afternoon yesterday three marina workers came to catch our lines and one of them learned that a diesel trawler weighs more than a sail boat.  He didn’t realize how hard he had to pull the line with the wind blowing us away from the dock towards a sailboat on the other side of the slip.  But luckily our old friend Rizal was in charge and soon had things under control.  He said, “Welcome back,” and that was nice to hear.  It is one of the nice parts of returning to a port; like going into “Cheers” and everyone knows your name. 

  I still have photos from the Cameron Highlands to share and then some last stories of George Town. 




Cameron Highlands Boh Tea Plantation


The center had a coffee shop, gift shop, an educational/advertising video and a short factory tour.


The “tea shop” dining area.


It looks like the hills are covered with kudzu but it’s tea.


Postcards show people “hand plucking “ tea but that’s just for postcards.

“BOH workers harvest, or ‘pluck’, the tea bushes approximately every 3 weeks when the new shoots grow or ‘flush’.

Tea used to be plucked by hand as the workers move laboriously through the long rows of low tea bushes. Today, innovation and research within the Company has led to a mechanization and upgrading of its operations with the development of several labour and time-saving methods.

In the highland gardens, the most common plucking method used is the two-man hand-held machine which is assisted by winches. These machines can harvest up to 300 kgs of green leaf per man per day, 10 times more than traditional hand plucking.

On the steepest slopes where access is limited, shears are used and can bring in about 120kgs per man per day.

In the evacuation of the plucked leaf from the field, zipwires are used.

In the lowland garden at Bukit Cheeding where the land is flatter and more accessible, BOH uses specially-designed vehicular harvesters which pluck 9000 kgs of green leaf a day!

After the harvest day is over, the leaf is first checked for quality, packed into sacks and weighed before being transported to the factory for processing.”


During the factory tour we saw “tons” of tea being processed.


Our “tea factory “tour guide answering Randal’s question.


Bags of tea; the larger the leaf the better and more expensive the tea.


At the end of the tour Randal had more questions and our guide was quite knowledgeable.


The blue buildings are workers’ housing we were told.


The winding road up to the tea plantation took skill and patience.

During our half-day tour we made a partial trip up the mountain to see the tea fields but the factory was closed because it was Monday. When we booked the tour in George Town, no one told us that would be the case or we would have gone on Tuesday. So on Tuesday afternoon after a rather difficult, dirty, and wet hike we cleaned up and took a taxi back to the tea plantation for the tour. The taxi fare was 50 ringgits, almost $16 US. For 40 ringgits we could have rented a Mr. Din Langkawi car for a whole day. It seemed like an outrageous amount of money as taxi fares go until we started driving up the tea plantation road. The taxi fare also included the hour we would be at the plantation and the ride back .

But it was all worth it. The Boh website is actually pretty interesting. I bought some caramel tea concoction and Randal bought a book called Planter’s Tales for our souvenirs.

One last email about our hike and Tanah Rata itself and that should finish things up.

Hi From Port Klang

Anchored up the river near Port Klang, Malaysia

Hi All,

  Our passage today was 72.3 nautical miles; a long day. We pulled up anchor just as it got light about 6:41 am.  We had a favorable current in the morning and then again in the late afternoon so we made it in at 6:15 pm before dark.  The passage was calm and the weather was good.  Can’t complain.  Yesterday we saw a gigantic tortoise floating along.  Tomorrow we’ll go on to the marina at Port Dixon. 

  I still have some photos to share from our time in the cool Cameron Highlands.  Wish we could have captured some of the weather to take along the way.



Cameron Highlands Strawberries

“Cameron Highlands is the nation’s prime producer of fresh vegetables and flowers. The vast acreage of vegetation has earned Cameron Highlands the name ‘Salad Bowl of Malaysia.’ With its fertile soil, the highlands is also found to be conducive for commercial cultivation of strawberries and oranges.”

Randal’s favorite parts of our Cameron Highlands visit were the strawberry farm and the Boh Tea Plantation. The strawberries were wonderful and we had some with sugar and whipped cream. I have no photos of the berries that we ate because I was racing Randal to see who could have the most and I wasn’t about to lose out while I took photos.


Before we could even get there we had to go through this nightmare traffic mess but our driver did just fine.


Our tour driver in the bandanna explains to the Irishman who hates bugs and Randal how the strawberries are grown.


Randal was fascinated that the strawberries were grown hydroponically and that the growing compound surrounding the plant was ground up palm oil kernel husks.


There were rows and rows of strawberries.


The strawberry shelters went all the way up the mountain which was much more impressive than I captured in this photo.


Strawberry treats!


Even Mickey Mouse was eating strawberries.


Strawberry related products were sold everywhere.


I think it’s cute! We wish that we could have loaded up on fresh corn and broccoli to take back to the boat. By the time it’s sold in George Town it doesn’t look half as fresh. There were probably hundreds of these vegetable and fruit stalls through the Highlands.


This was part of a display at the Tea Plantation.

Next email our visit to the Boh Tea Plantation.