Posted by: Alicia Phillips | July 31, 2013

Alicia’s Malaysian Invasion!!

You know, you don’t really hear a lot about Malaysia. When it comes to Southeast Asian countries it kind of takes a back seat to countries like Thailand and Indonesia. What is it famous for? What sorts of things does it export? Is it a large touristy country? What sorts of people live here? How are the beaches? I kinda want to know these things. So I figured I would spend a week here, in route to Thailand, and get to know the country a little bit better.

I took an overnight sleeper train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. It was a long bumpy journey and I wasn’t able to get much sleep. I arrived at KL sentral train station at 7:30 am without a plan or a place to go.  I wasn’t sure what my next move was so- when in doubt, just get a coffee, sit down, and figure out a plan of action. Most hostels don’t let you check in until after 2 so I decided to store my bags and explore the city for a few hours.

I went to a bird park, saw tons of peacocks and parrots.

Peacocks!

Peacocks!

Next I went to the central market to see the local handicrafts and get a yummy lunch of Nasi Lemak and three layer tea. (Nasi Lemak is rice cooked in coconut milk, topped with a scrambeled egg and anchovey paste wrapped in a banana leaf, it’s good.)

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Nasi Lemak

Nasi Lemak

After lunch I decided to take the train to the business district to see the famous Petronas towers.

The Petronas Towers are HUGE!

The Petronas Towers are HUGE!

By the time I found a hostel and checked in I was exhausted, hadn’t slept in about 36 hours, dehydrated, sweaty and cranky. I took a nap and when I woke up I decided that I really didn’t like the feel of this city. I had trouble finding my groove and I was constantly getting disoriented. The city was dirty and loud, the streets were confusing, the rats here are twice the size of the rats in Fiji and they are running around everywhere! Things were more expensive than they should be and I constantly felt like I was getting ripped off. Needless to say….KL is not my favorite city.

I woke up early the next morning and decided to go visit some caves outside the city, batu caves. This is the largest Hindu temple outside of India. After climbing the 280 steps to the top and getting harassed by monkeys, I decided that it was time to get out of this city. I jumped on a bus that took me 5 hours north to a small town in the Cameron Highlands called Tanah Rata.

Batu CaVes

Batu CaVes

How many monkeys can you count?

How many monkeys can you count?

Tanah Rata was a great place to relax after running around in big cities for so long. It’s nice and cool and is surrounded by tea plantations and strawberry farms. The cool breezy climate is perfect for these crops. The roads going up there and around the area are so hilly and curvy and almost everyone drives motor bikes or scooters, sometimes 2-3 people pile onto one bike. During my visit I saw half a dozen wrecks-quite a few were pretty serious. I was originally playing around with the idea of renting a scooter for a few days but now I am much too scared. Anyways, I just took it easy there for a few days, took a tour of the surrounding area, ate some good food, got in a lot of good reading, and caught up on some sleep.

Strawberries fields forever and ever!

Strawberries fields forever and ever!

The BOH tea plantation I toured.

The BOH tea plantation I toured.

Tea Plantation

Tea Plantation

The next and final leg of my Malaysian adventure was Georgetown on the island of Penang. Penang is a small island off the west coast of Malaysia. Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its impressive collection of historic buildings representing the cultural heritage of all the different ethnicities that have  resided here over the last 200 years. It’s beautiful with all the colonial style buildings and different neighborhoods. There is also a ton of gorgeous street art all over the city. They give you a brochure and it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt through old alley ways and side roads until you stumble upon it. It’s a fun way to explore a city.

Fun street art

Fun street art

Penang is, by far, my favorite place in Malaysia. The best part about Penang? The food! It is said to have the best food in all of Asia. Malay, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian food is in abundance here. You can get fancy and go eat in the many restaurants on every corner or you can do what I did and eat from street side hawker stalls. Everything has been delicious. I would eat dinner, wait a while, then go and eat dinner again. And I was visiting during Ramadan, a Muslim holiday where you fast during the day and feast during the night. It was pretty awesome.

Nasi Kandaar anyone?

Nasi Kandaar anyone?

Street Food

Street Food

How I felt most of the time

I spent one full day at a beach called Batu Ferringhi. It’s one of the nicest beaches on the west side of Malaysia. It was super touristy though, the coast was lined with resorts and high-end shopping malls and restaurants. The beach was crowded with jet skis and parasailers- more than once I found myself closing my eyes and wishing I was on one of the secluded clean beaches of Fiji. Isa Fiji. Once the sun goes down there is a fun bustling night market with vendors trying to sell you knock off purses and watches, second-hand clothes, pirated dvd’s and costume jewellery.

My last day in Penang I visited Penang Hill. Penang hill is just a hill-top resort area about 4 miles outside the city. You take a train up to the top and are greeted with a nice cool breeze and a beautiful view of the city and surrounding ocean.

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Enjoying a cup of tea at the top

Enjoying a cup of tea at the top

My trip started off pretty rocky in Kuala Lumpur but Malaysia definitely redeemed itself with the Cameron Highlands and Penang. With Malaysia behind me I am ready for my adventures in Thailand! I booked a train to take me all the way from Penang to Bangkok, a 23 hour journey! (Stay tuned to find out why that was the worst idea ever).

Thailand, here I come!

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Responses

  1. Interesting and witty as usual! Waiting for next installment! 🙂


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