Location: Kuala Lumpur, Panang and Langkawi – Malaysia.
Highlight: Live music in Penang
Our Malaysian journey began at KUALA LUMPUR. Almost as soon as we arrived at the airport (which we will soon be very familiar with, as we’re going in and out of it 5 times on this trip) it felt like the city that was most ready to be a city – it had a really good tram system, although the roads were busy they were not busy like the mayhem of Thailand/Vietnam/Cambodia, it was clean, paving stones were straight… It’s the little things.
We enjoyed wandering around at night when it wasn’t raining, near the magnificent Petronas Towers in particular. There is a lovely garden area at the base with drinking water fountains for runners, and a shopping centre which was going BIG on Chirstmas (four thumbs up from Late20sCrisis) and an awesome food hall.
The first night in KL we were very disappointed by Petaling Street Food Market, we’re big fans of trying the local cuisine and loved the street food in the previous three countries on our trip so far, but up and down the street were thirty or so different restaurants, none of which offered local specialities. The Malaysian food was the thing we were both most excited about before arriving, we were thinking Laksa and Rendang in particular, but unfortunately it took a few days until we found something we enjoyed, and that was in Little India. We did finally get a great Rendang on the final night (#2 out of 4 Rendangs so far) so all was not lost.
Fortunately we’d already said goodbye to rainy season when we were in Phnom Penh at the Water Festival over two weeks ago, but The Rain Gods (who we respect, honour and praise) took no notice. Or perhaps The Rain Gods (who we respect, honour and praise) were angry with a perceived lack of dedication at the celebrations they saw and took out their wrath by opening the skies every day we were in KL. Serious rain too, not the windscreen cleaner spray showers we were brought up on back in London, more of the automatic car wash machine kind of levels, with an added blow dry to finish off.
Between blizzards we saw the lovely Lake Gardens, where they inexplicably kept blasting out the first ten bars of “Rumour Has It” by Adele over the speakers in five minute intervals. We also visited Batu Caves which had impressive temples built into them.
Overall, we had a good time in KL, but would advise anyone who may be considering it against visiting near rainy season.
Next stop after a six hour bus north was the island of PENANG – We stayed in the old town of Georgetown which had a proud street art scene. We kept finding different obscure pieces painted on walls, hidden unexpectedly around corners of some unexciting buildings. Georgetown had real character.
We spent an evening in the Red Garden food market, which had a central stage with entertainment. I guess the word ‘entertainment’ is subjective, it really depends on whether you think that a woman laughing on stage for 4 minutes counts as entertainment. We didn’t.
There was some cool live music on Love Lane though, a hippie/backpacker haven in Georgetown. We particularly enjoyed listening to the Malaysian threepiece smashing out Linkin Park covers.
We headed to a national park for a Jungle hike, highlights of which were seeing a dead puffer fish washed up on shore, and a massive crocodile like lizard which we later learned was a Water Monitor, here’s a picture we found of one online with some nutcase:
Once we got to Monkey Beach – our destination – we were ready to turn back, and then the aforementioned Rain Gods (who we respect, honour and praise) thought it best to remind us of their existence so came down on us with all that they had. Those Rain Gods (who we respect, honour and praise) were really testing our respect, honour and praiseworthiness.
Then back in Georgetown – the #1 Rendang of the trip so far! Plus “perfectly fried prawns” if the chef may say so himself which you could eat whole (including head and tail) which were crispy and delicious. One of the best meals of the trip, and there have been some crackers.
Final stop on our Malaysian leg was a short boat to LANGKAWI island – an island with beautiful beaches. The hotel we were staying in was soon to have 50 rooms, but at the time only had one. That’s not ‘available rooms’, that’s ‘rooms’, the other 49 were still being built. Which made for some early mornings of building noise and dust, but we were more than happy relaxing on the lovely beach.
… until… THE RAIN GODS (who we no longer respect, honour or praise) ruined our party again! This time they wanted to send us a message. They sent a TEMPEST down on us. Trees came crashing down, sand was whirled skyward from the beach, and oh how they must have laughed up in their kingdom watching us scuttle around below pointlessly for protection. Fortunately for Tom, he had purchased a £1 pair of goggles, which kept water out as well as a pair of sunglasses, but they did have a use as sand preventative glasses, much to the amusement of the locals (and I’m sure The Rain Gods too).
Once it all died down the next day, more relaxing beach time and a 4km swim to an uninhabited island and back with a proper snorkel.
Lots of restaurants and shops along the main strip, many of which didn’t have 70% of the things on the menu – in particular one Indian restaurant where we weren’t able to get a masala dosa or any bread for love nor money, having tried at three different times, even though it was on the menu and we had seen others eating it.
Overall, we found Malaysia decent but didn’t have as much about it as we had found in the other countries we had visited to date and it was more expensive too, though that could have been to do with the darn Rain Gods and the pesky games they were playing with us.
Next stop: the incredible Singapore
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