A Travellerspoint blog

Malaysia

Malaysia

sunny 32 °C

We are nearing the end of our trip around Asia, currently in Melaka in Southern Malaysia before heading to Singapore in 2 days time for our flight out to Australia. We have had a fantastic couple of weeks travelling through Malaysia. Neither of us knew much about this country before we arrived so had few expectations, but we have both been impressed by the different mix of cultures, interesting places and fantastic food we have found here.

Penang (11th April -13th April)

Our Malaysian adventure started with a couple of days in Penang, a small island on the East coast. We spent our first day in the city of Georgetown, wandering around the old Fort, commercial district and Chinese areas. There is an interesting mix of cultures here, with Chinese and Hindu temples next to mosques and churches. The city in general had a fairly run down appearance, but it also has an authentic, charming atmosphere. We also found some cool street art around the city, thanks to a 'art walking tour' map we found in the tourist information. One highlight of the day was definitely when Duncan finally decided to get a beard trim...in a very old school barbers shop! We also had a fantastic evening meal in the Indian quarter, at a place called Kapitan's. The food was fantastic, and it was a really nice change to have an Indian curry!
Our second day in Penang we headed out of the city to the national park, and had an enjoyable (but very sweaty!) walk to Monkey beach - where there were monkeys. Then stopped at the spice garden on the way back, and were amazed by all the different plants there with medicinal uses. We ended the day back at Kapitan's for another delicious Indian meal.

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Cameron Highlands (14th April -16th April)

Next stop the Cameron Highlands, for some refreshingly cool weather. I even got my jeans and jumper out for the evening, it was bliss! The first day we followed one of the local trails from Tanah Rata (the town we stayed in) up a nearby hill. Unfortunately the view from the top was pretty poor as the cloud level was quite low, but there were lots of pretty orchids and plants to see on the way up. Next day we joined an organised tour to see more of the highlands. The tour started with a drive to the highest point in the highlands. Thankfully no cloud this morning, so we had fantastic views across the hills. Then a visit to the Boh tea plantation, one of the largest in Malaysia, and a strawberry farm. The amount of agriculture in the highlands was impressive, almost every scrap of land was covered in greenhouses growing veg, strawberries and flowers.

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Perhentian Islands (17th April -19th April)

After a long trip across the country and by minivan and ferry we arrived at Perhentian Besar. We were the only travellers going to Besar (as opposed to the smaller island Cecil), and arrived at a quiet white sandy beach with only a handful of other people there already, a true tropical paradise! We spent our 3 days in the Perhentians doing our advanced dive course, and are now certified to 30m deep. The water was really clear, and we had some good dives. The best ones were the 'wreck dive', around 3 sunken police boats, which were full of schools of barracuda, and had sting rays swimming beneath the bows, and our final dive, which we did not have to practice any skills on, so we just got to see the fish and corals, including a school of pipe-fish and a reef shark, very cool!

Taman Negara (20th April -22nd April)

Next stop, the jungle! Having picked up a map at the national park head quarters, we decided to go for a self-organised 2 day jungle trek, walking 12km to stay in a hide overnight. We have been doing a lot of walking while we are away and thought 12km would not be a problem for us...we completely underestimated the trek! We set out with 7 litres of water, several packets of curry and rice and samosas from the stalls in town, and a torch and roll-mat we had hired in town. The path started out as a board walk, but after about 1.5km the board walk ended at a sign saying 'do not pass this point without a guide', which we ignored, continuing on the path into the jungle proper. After the first hour we were soaked through with sweat and already feeling tired. We stopped for lunch after 3 hours, absolutely exhausted from the continuous up and down, climbing over and under trees, and constantly watching our feet as we stepped round tree roots and mud! Even at this point we were thinking we should have brought more food and water with us. After 6 hours we finally reached the hide, just as the rain started - a wooden hut on stilts, with 12 wooden benches for beds, no water and no electricity, not exactly the comfort we were looking for after a long day walking. We were sharing with a French family and their 2 guides, who looked a lot fresher than we did. It was also a little unnerving that the guides said they had heard a tiger twice just as we arrived at the hide!
After a change of clothes and some food we felt a lot more human, and settled down to a quiet evening, playing cards and staring out of the hide window looking for wildlife, in the rain. Didn't see much, a couple of glow-worms, and a civet cat, which was quite cool.
Up early in the morning for round 2 of trekking. Took a different route back, which thankfully turned out to be much easier, with far fewer ups and downs, although still a fairly tiring, very sweaty trek. Unfortunately though the rain had brought out the leeches, and our ankles were soon covered in them, by the time we got back to the park entrance I had 12 bites and Dunc had 9, eurgh! We both felt a sense of achievement from out jungle trek, but definitely not something we plan to repeat anytime soon. Bumped into the French family back in town, who told us their guides had found tiger footprints only 8m from the hide in the morning...shame we didn't see the tiger from the hide, but I'm glad we didn't bump into it walking back!

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Kuala Lumpur (23rd April - 26th April)

Back to civilisation in the fantastic city of KL. Spent a nice couple of days here, again doing a lot of walking around the city. Chinatown was particularly interesting, and we even got a free lunch from one of the Chinese temples. Also had a look around the National mosque, dressed in attractive purple robes, and had an interesting chat with a Muslim lady at the mosque about Islam in Malaysia. Lots of cool architecture in KL, with a mix of colonial buildings in the old centre, Chinese shop houses and modern buildings. The Petronas towers were impressive, although unfortunately our budget didn't stretch to a trip up to the sky-bridge.
We also did a couple of trips out of KL, first to the Batu caves, a selection of Hindu temples inside caves about 30min from downtown KL. Although this is meant to be a major tourist attraction, we found them a little disappointing, and they only kept us entertained for about 30min. Our other trip was an overnight stay in Kuala Selangor, North of KL, to see fire-flies. This area is one of only 2 in the world with such a large population of fire-flies, and they made an impressive sight. We took a boat trip along the river at night, and all the bushes along the banks were lit up and flashing like they were covered in Christmas tree lights, I thought it was amazing! In the morning we went for a walk in the nature park at Kuala Selangor, spotting macaques, sliver-leaf monkeys, a hawk, stork and monitor lizard before our bus at 10am...not a bad start to the day! I think I enjoyed it more than Duncan though, who was not very comfortable with our close proximity to the wildlife!

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Melaka (27th April - 29th April)

Which brings us to our final stop in Malaysia, Melaka. So far this city seems pretty cool, with a wide mix of Chinese, Indian, Muslim, Portuguese, Dutch and British history and culture. Spent this morning in the old colonial district and went to some interesting maritime and history museums, and the afternoon in the Chinese quarter over the river. Tried the infamous chicken and rice balls from Chop Chung Wah for lunch today. The food didn't look much, but tasted good, and seems to be the Melaka version of Nando's! Also was brave enough to have a taste of durian, the famous Malaysian fruit which smells awful and the taste is questionable (see photos below) but apparently gets better with repeated tasting!

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Only 3 days left in Asia now, so we are starting to plan our time in Aus. In the internet cafe writing this before updating my CV and starting to look for jobs, eek, back to reality!!!

Posted by duncan-alice 02:09 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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