(I should have written this around 2 months ago, but right now I’m considering it a success since I wrote it before 2014.)
In my last few months in Malaysia, I didn’t travel a lot outside of the country. But there were some interesting things to do in my state, so I explored those instead.
When I first got to Malaysia, I asked my students what I should see in Malaysia and everyone told me to go to the Cameron Highlands. They promised me that the Cameron Highlands had colder temperatures! And strawberries! And tea!
It’s not that they lied to me exactly. It was just that cold to my students was a few degrees cooler than burning hot. And the strawberries weren’t really comparable to going strawberry picking in fields in the US. If it sounds like I’m complaining, it’s just that my first trip to the Cameron Highlands was full of missteps and moldy chocolate. The tea plantations were beautiful though, and got better with every trip. I ended up going back to the Highlands two more times and enjoyed it more each time.
I’m not really sure how we ended up going to Deerland, but when a place promises you deer and sunbears, I guess the choice is made for you. Alas, there were no sunbears (and now I’ll never know what those are), but Deerland was actually a lot of fun. We didn’t expect to do much other than feed deer, but Deerland had a whole motley crew of animals to look at, hold and poop on you. Highlights included me getting to hold a hedgehog and seeing a Kancil, the mouse deer for which my Malaysian car was named.
On the same trip to Deerland, we went to Kuala Ganda, an elephant sanctuary in Malaysia. After signing up to bathe with the elephants, we watched a bizarre and slightly terrifying video of elephants being run out of the jungles in Malaysia. After the documentary and questioning my decision to bathe with these elephants, we saw the baby and adult elephants line up, do tricks and get fed. Luckily, the bathing part was just with the baby elephants and ended up being a lot of fun. Unluckily, but unsurprisingly, I smelled like an elephant after the fact.
One morning, I showed up at school and was told that I was going to the gold mine. Never one to turn down a field trip, and one to a gold mine no less, I hopped on the bus. After sitting through a lecture (about gold? mines? who knows, it was all in Malay), they passed around a gold bar worth $1 million USD. That’s the principal of my school holding the gold bar. He had a grand old time at the mine and it was a little difficult to tug that gold bar out of his hands.
After the lecture and gold bar photoshoot, we drove by the… ? I’m not exactly sure what this is, but there was some digging going on and it was pretty. And that’s really all I require from impromptu field trips.