Hitchhiking in Malaysia in my experience is a fun and safe way to interact with the locals and explore the area where you at.
Hitchhiking in Malaysia is one of the fun things to do and experience in Malaysia. I did it twice while I was traveling around the country and the second time was a hitchhike to remember.
Part of my Malaysia 2 weeks itinerary was the nice and quiet town of Tanah Rata. Tanah Rata is the getaway to the Cameron Highlands and also a great start point to numerous jungle treks in the surrounding area. That’s also the part of Malaysia where I hitchhiked.
At first, I wasn’t even considering sharing my story of hitchhiking in Malaysia, here, on the blog but then I spoke with my best friend she told me that I need to do so, and I thought why not actually? It’s a cool story and it’s also one of those little things that are happening to you on the road that is worth traveling for and why I love it so much.
So, this is my story of hitchhiking in Malaysia, a story that I love and a story that will last in my memory forever. In the end, the people we meet and the random decisions that we take while traveling that turn to great stories are the things to remember.
But first, I took the local bus…
Just so it can all make sense, let me start from the beginning. I arrived in Tanah Rata from Kuala Lumpur, just because like everyone else I wanted to visit and see the Cameron Highlands and also because I knew that is a more mountaineer area, and at that point, I really wanted to escape from the heat at least for a bit.
When I arrived in Tanah Rata and went to check-in at the hostel, I was introduced to a tour company that runs tours around the area. Of course, I was not interested in the tours as I wanted to explore the area by myself. My plan was to rent a motorbike for the next day and drive to the Cameron Highlands while stopping to check out some places on the way.
When I went out to look for a motorbike to rent for the next day, I went from one place to another without having any luck finding one. There are not many places in Tanah Rata from where you can rent a motorbike, so you don’t really have much of a choice. I visited all of the motorbike rental places and I didn’t like either a motorbike nor their stupid T&C.
First of all, most of the motorbikes were already rented, and the ones that were available were not in a good condition. The motorbikes were also pretty expensive for the time they were letting you rent them, which was a few hours. The deposit they wanted so you can rent a motorbike was ridiculous as well and their T&C was absolutely annoying and stupid.
In the end, I decided that I’m not renting a motorbike and I found out about some local bus, which goes to where I wanted to go – the BOH Centre and the tea plantations.
I got on the bus, where the driver promised me to let me know where I need to get off. He forgot about me. We were already passed when he remembered his promise and he said that he will leave me there on the way back. He did this time. When I got off, I asked him when I can take the bus back and he told me that the bus passes every one hour until (I don’t really remember until when).
From there, I walked about 2 km to get to the plantations and the center.
I explored the area, enjoyed the views from the BOH Center – didn’t order anything there as it was ridiculously expensive (for Malaysia) and the queue was insane as well. The atmosphere was also not nice to sit there, drink tea, and enjoy the views – too touristy. I took some shots and moved on.
I started walking back to the main road. As I was walking, there were people with cars passing by, smiling at me, waving at me, and shouting HELLO. None of them stopped though. Then a lovely Malaysian couple that was coming from Kuala Lumpur did. They offered me a ride back to the road. They were very nice and sweet, we had a lovely chat, but that’s not the story this post is all about.
They left me on the main road and by that time some clouds were starting to come up. I thought that it’s going to rain and decided that I’ll get back to the town. I looked at the time and realized that the bus must have just passed by and I need to wait for an hour for the next one. There was nothing else to do there, so I decided to hitchhike the way back.
I took a position and raised my thumb up. I didn’t wait long, maybe around 5 minutes, when a car stopped.
Before I go ahead, I just want to mention that because I think it’s inappropriate and out of respect, I won’t be mentioning any names of people and places.
There were 2 men sitting in the front – a younger one who was driving and an older one right next to him. On the back seat, there was another older man sitting. I sat there next to him.
As I got in the car, the man that was sitting in the back offered me a bottle of water and we started talking. He, of course, asked me where am I coming from, for how long I have been in Malaysia already, where am I going to next, and about my traveling in general. He also shared some traveling experience. He told me about his trips to Italy and Egypt and as we were talking I noticed that this man must be someone, I realize that the man in front is his driver and the other one someone else working for him. I got curious about who is he but I didn’t ask. Not long after, the man presented himself.
It turned out that I got picked up, hitchhiking in Malaysia, by the ex-senator of one of the Malaysian states. (The Parliament of Malaysia is based on the Westminster system. The Bicameral Parliament consists of the Dewan Rakyat /House of Representatives/ and the Dewan Negara /Senate/. The King as the Head of State is the third component of the Parliament. The Dewan Negara is the upper house of the Parliament, consisting of 70 senators, with two senators for each state.)
I instantly found it funny (I didn’t laugh) and thought about how this could happen only to me. Not so long ago, I was at the university where I was studying at and along with my brother and a friend from the university, we decided to visit one of the near villages. We, then, hitchhiking, got picked up by the mayor of the village – it was a fun day.
After he presented himself, we started talking a bit about that and his family. As they were planning to stop having lunch where they had a meeting with two of his sons, he asked me if I got lunch already and invited me to join them. Of course, I said yes.
We stopped at a place on the way to have lunch. They ordered the food, delicious food, I love Malaysian cuisine. They taught me how to eat Malaysian style. The senator’s sons arrived and they told me more about them. I told them more about me, we talked about the blog, etc – they even converted to followers, haha!
I was really having a great time – getting to know the locals and blending with them is always my favorite thing to do. And they were so nice, friendly and fun too, everything was wonderful.
Thinking about my story of hitchhiking in Malaysia now, I’m smiling. Nothing exciting really happened, but just how I ended up meeting those people, spending time with them, and sharing food with them, for me it’s a beautiful memory.
After we finished the food, it was time to continue the way back to Tanah Rata. They were actually going there for work and because they were going straight to the place they needed to be, I got back to the town with his sons. They left me right in front of the door of my hostel.
Earlier, when we were saying goodbye to each other, I also got invited to their town. Next time when I’m in Malaysia, you probably guessed it already, I’ll go. I also got amazing recommendations of what I need to try when I go to my next stop in Malaysia, Penang, the unofficial food capital of the country.
Hitchhiking in Malaysia was a great experience for me, but I think I already wrote this at least 5 times?!
I don’t know how to end this, so I’m just going to post a quote by Edith Wharton:
One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.
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