Our next stop in Malaysia was the Cameron Highlands. Driving up into the Highlands, the temperature and humidity dropped - a large factor as to why this is such a popular destination for Malaysians and foreign tourists alike.
The next morning, we drove to Butterworth train station to collect my (Charlie's) parents, Moirag and Mike. They had flown into Kuala Lumpar the previous day to spend the next 11 days with us in Malaysia and Singapore.
We left Plodd Stop on the 26th December, and for the next few days followed the coast south, beach hopping from one wild camping spot to another. This was the style of overlanding we had been dreaming of since we left the UK all those months ago. We pitched up a few hundred metres from luxury beach-side hotel resorts, spending our afternoons reading, swimming, sunbathing and walking.
The sun rising over the Taj Mahal was not quite as I imagined - for a start it is west facing, so the sun was behind us, and the pollution in the sky was so thick, that everything was an dull orange hazy colour. The reflecting pool, a long narrow pond in line with the Taj Mahal was reflecting nothing as it was completely empty. Nonetheless we could still appreciate the magnificence and beauty of the place and we sat on a bench at the far end of the walkway, soaking up the view before walking over and getting a closer look.
Our route began in Uzbekistan's capital city, Tashkent, and then followed the old silk road to three infamous cities: Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva.
Suddenly Chris (who is not one to jump or easily scare when it comes to critters) leapt off the ground, grabbed me and pointed down. A huge bright yellow and green, part scorpion part spider, horns poised, ready to kill, was making its way towards us at the speed of light.
Our morning was spent with Alan (who was also staying at our hostel) at Pechersk Lavra, also known as the Monastery of the Caves. We bought candles to light our way through the narrow labyrinthian underground passages in which dead monks have been laid to rest in glass topped coffins.
Prior to leaving the UK Chernobyl was already on our bucket list. Leaving the hostel at 7:15 in the morning, we, with another person from the hostel (Alan), got a taxi to the meeting point in Kiev. From there we were put into a group of 12 and loaded onto a small bus for the two hour drive to the exclusion zone.
The flat landscapes of Romania, and with them, (we hoped) less rain and hotter temperatures, were calling us.