The Malays are a funny bunch. Faces can look a bit dour as they pass you on their scooters or when you walk into their restaurant, or pass them on the beach, but as soon as you smile and say hello they break out into the broadest of grins and want to stick around and chat about anything they can find the words for. In fact, I've been really embarassed in the last few days about how unprepared we are with language and directions; as most people who've gone to the trouble of speaking to us apologise profusely for not speaking good english, when joe and i can only speak a word or two of Malay. It's shameful really.

We had some cracking examples at the beach at Balok, where we rocked up to camp. It was a friday and no one else was camping, when Joe went in to the office to ask if we could camp there was a bit of a standoff, not because they didnt want us there, but just because he couldnt explain what he needed to - that tomorrow there'd be a swarm of people here to camp, and that we needed to go off in the back corner with our 'caravan' as he called it. We didnt really get it, but we pitched up where he pointed to, and soon after, a few tents popped up down the way - AHA - so people DO camp in Malaysia! I knew we weren't crazy! The guys who worked there came over to make conversation every couple of hours, and the next day even brought us over some sardine biscuits with chilli sauce to nibble on - in return Joe showed them photos of his shark wound (not sure Joe quite understands how this trading system works).

Me doing what I do best (Balok Beach)                                     Finally the gualos come in handy with kite pump and gaffer tape.

Balok Beach was a super chilled out, long beach with what we've come to expect in Malaysia - resorts that look half finished and litter everywhere (even nappies - eeerrrrr), but it was cool camping around the trees with a view of the beach, the humming of mosque-o'clock at bedtime and waking you up early.

We woke up the next day to find about 50 tents had been erected in the park around us - and we were about to be invaded by malaysian miliary family weekend! Sure enough, soon after the hordes arrived in team colour t-shirts and megaphones were announcing races and activities, and ladies (some with burkas, some without) were getting out massive pots, pans and gas bottles in preparation for catering to the masses.

We stayed another day, Joe did an oil change on the car, I sorted out some cupboards, chilled on the beach. Joe also had two stabs at kiting, but the wind just wasnt around, much to his disappointment and the amusement of onlookers.
After night two, we headed further up the coast to Cherating, another lazy beach resort town and found a little chalet to stay in not far from the beach, it seems to be a bit of tourist hub here - in fact its the most touristy place we've stumbled upon so far, but i like it. The shack has a little balcony with bougainvillea all around it, there's heaps of restaurants nearby and a little kitten scampering around being cute.

Looking wistfully past the rubbish, out to sea in Cherating                Outside our chalet, Joe asks what time is lunch.

Despite a minor tiff about me spending joint account money of Batik style MC Hammer pants (i need them for jungle trekking) all is going well. We head to Taman Negara tomorrow morning (Malaysia's biggest NP, home of elephants, Tigers and no doubt trillions of snakes and insects). I think the plan is to do an overnight hike-camp-hike, but we'll see what's going when we get there... in the meantime, my can of 100 PLUS is going warm and I'm ready to go Kayaking....