The perfect trip: Singapore and Malaysia
'The fruit of that tree is poison,' he says, pointing to a short, leafy tree that's loaded with dull purple berries, some of which are lying rotting on the ground. 'A good rule of thumb,' advises Mohd. 'If birds and bugs aren't eating the fallen fruit, then neither should people.'
Mohd often brings groups of trekkers deeper into the jungle, teaching them survival techniques, such as getting water from vines, foraging and building shelter. 'If you know where to look, the jungle will provide for all of your needs,' he says.
Where to stay and eat
Taking up much of the far bank of the Tahan River, Mutiara Taman Negara has rustic-style wooden chalets and larger bungalows that blend in elegantly with the surrounding jungle. The open-air restaurant overlooks the river and serves Malaysian and Western dishes. The hotel has a number of guides who lead trips throughout the area, and the range of activities on offer includes a nighttime jungle walk, shooting the rapids and visiting an evening market in a nearby village (chalets from £97; mutiarahotels.com).
Georgetown, Penang: Best for culture
Georgetown, on the island of Penang, is an appropriate place to finish a journey that began in Singapore; the town is often referred to as 'the place where Singapore goes to recall its past'.
To visit Georgetown's heart is to walk through history. Chinese apothecaries still hang signs over their doors advertising cures. Indian and Malay merchants sell clothing suited to the era when the spice trade, on which Georgetown was built, was roaring. And the spices! While the warehouses that line the wharves are now mostly empty, the air still smells of cloves, nutmeg and chilli powder. Though the fragrance is current (Georgetown is considered one of the finest cities for food in Asia), it's not hard to imagine these scents belonging to another time.
Georgetown's 2008 listing - a joint affair with the Malaysian city of Malacca - as a Unesco World Heritage Site ensures that the city's heart will retain its cultural heritage. One of the primary movers behind the Unesco listing is Rebecca Duckett. Born in Malaysia in 1962 to a British planter and his Malaysian-Chinese wife, Duckett has lived in Georgetown for 11 years.
'I never planned to get this passionate about Georgetown,' she says, 'but once I moved here, and realised what a unique and beautiful melting pot of commerce, culture and history the area was, I became committed to helping preserve it.'
Duckett believes that the Unesco listing has been crucial to the revival of the city she loves. 'Georgetown is rough around the edges, and this is part of the attraction,' she says. 'It feels like a film set waiting for an amazing filmmaker.'
It's an understandable sentiment. From the Victorian-era clock tower on Beach Street and the temples and mosques of Pitt Street to the morning wet market on Armenian Street and hawker stalls of Chulia street, Georgetown resembles something out of a Somerset Maugham novel. Duckett and many other Georgetown residents would have it no other way. 'If you forget your past, your future becomes soulless,' she says. 'If you lose that, you've lost something precious, something you may never get back.'
See penanggeorgetown.com for the low-down on things to do in the city.
Where to eat
Penang is a main centre of Peranakan culture, so no visit to Georgetown is complete without sampling some of its distinctive cuisine - a blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian. Mama's Nyonya Cuisine is one of the most popular Peranakan places in town, and with good reason. A family-run establishment, the recipes at Mama's have been passed down for six generations. Favourite dishes include prawn cooked with coconut milk and lemongrass, and fatty pork cooked in black bean sauce (from £3; 31-D Abu Siti Lane, Georgetown).