The Lord has always provided us with good friends in Malaysia during our time here. None of them have stayed very long, as most of them have commitments elsewhere, and that is entirely understandable. But we have treasured each of their unique qualities and tried our best to keep up with their interests. Our friends for the last year have been Pete and Joan from out West. They knew each other as teenagers growing up in Tanzania as the children of expats there, met again in later life and not all that long ago got married. They are a neat couple who share with us a love of travel and adventure. They are also serious hikers, and Pete has even worked as a guide in the Rockies, so they know their way around the bush.

A month or so ago we drove up into the Cameron Highlands and spent a day hiking through the hills. Yesterday we went again, this time up to Fraser Hill, another outpost on the rocky row of hills that forms the spine of peninsular Malaysia. Fraser is a lot closer than Cameron, and a lot less crowded. We were there in just over two hours and found the place practically deserted. Despite our early start, we were too late to take on the big trek up to Pine Tree, but we got the phone number of a local guide to book for our next excursion and had a nice pot of tea while we plotted out how we were going to tackle that day’s hike.

We started out just south of town, and must confess that the first couple of trails were a little too tame for our liking; too close to town with little wildlife and less adventure. The next two trails were a little more demanding, taking us through some wilder parts of the area with steep gorges just off the trail and plenty of vantage points from which to observe the variety of birds, butterflies and majestic trees with their garlands of lianas. With two decent pairs of binoculars we were able to see dozens of birds: long-tailed drongos and silly wagtails, beautiful blue niltavas, and tiny red flycatchers, but no hornbills, much to my disappointment. After three hours of pretty well-maintained trails we came to a final two kilometre stretch that hadn’t been looked after for some time. Rather than cut back to the road, we forged ahead and were treated to some spectacular views and some really dense jungle. Pete lead the way through this stretch clearing bush as he went and picking out the safest route along the sometimes totally obscured trail. We were all grateful for his careful expertise.

We arrived back at our starting point after about six hours of steady walking to find that two of us had picked up leeches; not an uncommon occurrence for this part of the world. We cleaned ourselves off and clambered back in the car for a leisurely drive through a Malaysian sunset back to KL. Once again we are grateful to the Lord for allowing us the luxury of a vehicle this year, and the opportunities it affords us to see a little more of this lovely country. We are also grateful for active friends that push us out of our comfort zone into interesting adventures that expand our knowledge and appreciation for the beauty of God’s creation. We readily confess that we are a little stiff this morning, but that will pass. The pleasure of all that we were able to do yesterday will linger for some time.