Resting up

Our room at the Belum Resort was just too nice to spend only one day, and our tired legs could certainly use the rest before tackling the second half of the hills, so we decided to spend two nights here. It’s a small but beautiful resort, with an expansion in progress. The expansion was further down the hill, so we barely noticed except when we went walking. It was a bit strange to be back where western food is offered – fortunately they also had a good selection of local dishes.

The resort was quite empty, seemingly with more staff than visitors at times. There was a group of six or seven journalists from Northern Europe, and we talked briefly to one of them. Daniel was from Sweden, and in Malaysia to report on the Formula 1 race for a Swedish racing magazine. He asked us whether we were planning to do any trekking while we were here, and was quite disappointed to learn that we were not. The resort specializes in jungle treks into the forest reserves and state parks in the area, which look quite interesting. This area was the centre of a communist insurgency until 1989, so much of the area remains old-growth forest, with very little human impact.

We knew we needed to pick up supplies for our next day, since there’s nothing between the resort and Gerik. We asked about a store, and one of the staff at the resort offered to take us back to the only store in the area. Becky went on a quick trip with one of the guys from the resort. Because Scott wasn’t coming, Eilia, one of the girls from reception, came with us – it would be improper for a female to travel alone in a vehicle with a strange man.

The store turned out to be at the back of a floating restaurant in a small marina, just off the island to the east. We would never have found it on our own. Walking out to the store was challenging, as the docks were narrow and bounced with each footstep – with three people navigating the dock at the same time, the bounces almost caused Becky to get wet! When we arrived, the store was closed. The store owner was in the restaurant and happily opened up so that she could get what I needed, and closed again immediately after we finished. Sadly, she had a pet baby monkey on a leash just outside the store. It was neat the way the leash allowed the monkey to climb, but it was sad seeing the poor thing tied up.

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