It was time to head for the hills.
I left the glorious mayhem of Penang and spent three days in Ipoh. The city is surrounded by steep-sided hills, and temples hide in the caves. Huge gold Buddhas sit alongside Chinese gods. Thai gods are next to Hindu shrines. And I went from cave to cave, understanding little but marvelling at the colours that can shine in these dark places.
Then - two days in Cameron Highlands. I've been there before and so knew what to expect, though the town is better organised for its tourists now, with plenty of well-signed walking trails. But I took a tour - I needed a guide through the slipperiness of the mossy forest, named because it is so old and the trees so gnarled and covered with moss. The trees echoed with the chorus of monkeys from across the valley; and there was a damp smell from the moss and the mud and the trees.
But it's all been very active, and I need a few quiet days. So I've made it to Fraser's Hill - the journey was an event in itself. The narrow road winds uphill for mile after mile, the forest dense on each side, with occasional surprises like mudslides from the recent rains and temporary bridges that rattle as you cross them.
And now I'm here - in the clouds. There was a view from my balcony when I arrived, across a golf course and the valley beyond. But soon I could see nothing but ghostly trees. A growl of a car was muffled by mist. A solitary bird twittered. It was blissfully quiet - a lull before the deluge. Rain hammered on leaves and tarmac and tin roofs. The rain stopped. Night fell; I fell asleep to a chorus of rattling tree frogs, scratching insects, the cry of a solitary animal. I woke to bird song.
I have five days here. I shall walk - there are trails here, too. I shall look at birds, with little idea what I'm looking at but hey ho, the world is a better place for having birds in it. I shall read.
I shall gather myself for the pandemonium of Kuala Lumpur.