Cameron Highlands, 21-2-73 (Wednesday, I believe)
Dear all,

Since you are so concerned about my leg: it appears to be healing quite well, in spite of the weather, lack of care and the cockroaches in my Malacca hotel that woke me several times in the night tugging on the scabs. I have started taking penicillin again in an attempt to clear it up while I am still in a "healthy" country.

To bring you up to date on the travel side: after posting letter 5 on Monday I took a bus across the Causeway to Malaya, where I started hitching. I have been travelling on my own because most of the uni students I was with are heading back from Singapore for the start of the academic year. I was a little diffident at first about sticking my thumb out but I don't mind now. I picked up my first ride within one minute: an expatriate English geologist in a brand new Cortina station wagon who would have taken me straight through to KL. But being rather inflexible I told him I wanted to go to Malacca, so I let him buy me lunch of mee goreng (fried noodles) and two bottles of Carlsberg beer and leave me in Ayer Hitam. There I waited about 2 hours for the next lift to Batu Pahat with a Chinese economist. After another 90 minute wait (could it possibly be my dirty clothes and untrimmed beard?) I despaired and took a local bus to Muar and a taxi (for $1.40 - 27 miles) to Melaka. They use these Mercedes taxis (many are late models, mostly diesel) like buses, filling them up. They work out quite cheap and comfortable. Stayed in a Chinese hotel for $3 ($1 Malaysian = $1 Singapore - currency is interchangeable).

I really flipped my lid over Malacca: it has so many interesting connections with European history, being successively occupied by Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British. Visited excellent museum, Porta de Santiago, ruined church where St. Francis Xavier ("apostle of the East") preached and was buried for a time, biggest Chinese Taoist temple in Malaysia (v. impressive and interesting), biggest Chinese burial ground outside China and beautiful Dutch town centre with Stadthuys. Started hitching in late afternoon and after one hour decided to take a taxi to KL (new Mercedes 220D) for $5 - about 90 miles I think. I'd have gone to Port Dickson but there is only a beach and I can't swim anyway at the moment.

Stayed night (for $5) in Wisma Belia, reputedly the cheapest hotel in KL. Being without company and rather depressed by the whole situation in KL, I decided to get out this morning without even looking round. I noticed they have some very imposing mosques but mostly it is just another expensive (by Asian standards) soulless city from what I saw.

The GM of IBM Malaysia is Australian (I sat next to him in a class for a week or two) but I was unable to raise them on the phone: three misses in three countries! Aust. H. Comm. had no mail but I left an address just in case.

Took two local buses to Batu Caves where I climbed 283 steps to view an enormous limestone arch. Met a Kununurra (Ord River) pharmacist (with guide) who took me to see a (rather primitive) tin mine nearby. Tin is second only to rubber as a Malaysian export and constitutes about 42% of world supply. At 1 p.m. I started hitching again and at 1:10 was picked up by a very decent Chinese couple in a Mazda (could it be my brand new $6.90 Singaporean shirt?) who took me about 100 miles to Bidor, where I lunched on mee (noodles)/prawns/egg. Thence two local buses and a taxi up into the Cameron Highlands where I am staying in a ramshackle old youth hostel for $1/night and may even have a chance to try my new sleeping bag. The road was so narrow and winding the bus scraped the side negotiating some of the bends. People look different up here. There are lots of little Gigis around in Malaysia but I often have trouble distinguishing between Chinese and Malays. Perhaps there are a lot of half-castes.

I'll probably stay about a week in the Butterworth/Penang area, then into Thailand for 1 week +. Thai International only fly once a week (on Tuesdays) to Rangoon and Calcutta. Burmese visas are usually for 7 days. My current feeling is that this will probably be 13-20 March. For want of better information, I suppose you should allow about a week for mail to get to Bangers.