A Travellerspoint blog

Malaysia

Melaka.

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Melaka is a new member of the 2012 world heritage sites. It is a really pretty town, with it's old colonial buildings and mazy streets filled with little galleries, boutique shops and trendy cafes. This is a place to enjoy a wander and have a chilled out time.

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We arrived at our accommodation, Ringo's Foyer after a while of searching to be greeted by a smiley Chinese man by the name of Howard. We initially chilled out and then he recommended that we check out the weekend Market and get some food from there. He said that the people staying at the guesthouse had had a heavy one the previous night and that we should join them on the roof for a tea party as everyone attempted to recover!

The following day we went for a wander around the local area and explored the town in the evening we went for a bike ride with Howard to the food quarter and around the town at night. it's a regular thing that he does with his guests, it's a nice touch, he is all for his guests bonding. Every now and again he would stop and tell us all about different sites of interest. Considering the price of the room Howard's service to his customers is second to none.  

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(Howard told us a story about how the local government decided to put about 40 ducks on this river, he said that after they were released with in a day or so they had vanished, he joked that the Chinese will eat anything and everything!)

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(The monitor lizards were a common sight around Melaka, and again, Howard said that Chinese tourists have asked if they are edible!)

The following day Howard informed us of an opportunity to get a free lunch. So a group of is from tue guesthouse followed through Melaka to go to a book launch. Howard's a bit like the pied piper, except he goes everywhere, on foot or bike with tourists following him. Melaka has just become a world heritage site and they were putting on a book launch and free food to celebrate this. That evening we ventured out on another Bike ride to the big night Market for snacks for the evening, we had asked Howard about getting some beers to have on the rooftop, and he offered to sorts us out with beer on the cheap from a friend. There was a nice group of us up on the Rooftop chatting and playing games. It actually resulted in a bit of an All nighter, Smith myself and a new friend Sumiyah chatting and chilling until the morning. The next day I didn't get up till the early afternoon and next day was a bit of a right off. Smith and Kailey had already been out and found a Pizza Hut, but Smith couldn't bring himself to eat. I was a bit jealous that I had missed out on Pizza Hut, so me and Sumiyah headed out to find it. That even was taken up with relaxing and watching films, much need!

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(at the book launch)

The following day we had almost said goodbye to all of our little group from Ringo's, we went and had a wander around a shopping centre during the day and in the evening we were chilling in the lounge area while Howard was out on his usual bike ride with some guests and some people turned up, later in the evening we had some beers with them, they were from Australia and kindly said we could crash at their house when we passed through which was kind. 

We were all sad to leave Melaka and the the little community that develops at Ringo's Foyer, all down to Howard!

Posted by Christian25 20:04 Archived in Malaysia Tagged travel malaysia melaka Comments (0)

Kuala Lumpur.

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Kuala  Lumpur, felt like we had walked back into that modernity of Shanghai or Hong Kong. One of the most prosperous and developed cities in South East Asia. We had been informed by a guy we met in the Cameron Highlands that the day of our arrival coincided with the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam. He recommended that we went to have a look at the Batu Caves a little way out of the city. After arriving at easily one of the nicest hostels we have stayed at so far, we arranged ourselves and headed off to locate the caves, there is a train after getting to central K.L. that takes you all the way there. It was packed with Hindus making their way to the holy site, but for a few tourists. 

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The scenes at the Batu caves were like what you can quite often see on the news where religious celebrations in foreign countries almost become out of hand. There were thousands of people. It was quite intimidating, Indian music was blaring out at a deafening volume and smells of different curries and snacks punched you in the face and tickled you taste-buds! The actual caves themselves were pretty incredible, packed with people praying, and at the foot of the steps that lead up to the caves people just discarded their shoes. I'm sure their intention was to collect them once leaving the cave, but the shear volume of people doing this would rend it impossible, it gave the experience a bizarre feeling, but a great experience. Some people almost appeared in a state of trance. Men, Women and Children had shaved their heads and covered their scalps with and Ochre coloured power. When we eventually decide we had had enough, we realised the train station was what appeared almost dangerously packed. We decided to get a Taxi, the driver proudly announcing that we visited during a point where the festival is at a relative calm, 'you wait till this evening' he chuckled!

That evening we went for a wander, deciding to walk toward the famous Petronas buildings. The tallest twin towers in the world. The city this particular night was a little unnerving, with many of the shops and people you would usually expect to see celebrating at the caves. The towers are an impressive sight on the skyline, once considered the tallest buildings in the world, the tops if them have an Asian style. they almost reminded me of a modern take on the architecture at different religious sights we have visited in South East Asia, particularly Angkor Wat. 

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(This is the K.L. tower)

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(Petronas Building)

The following day we decided to have a walk round the local area and in particular the China town area. We found a restaurant that is actually recommended in the lonely planet, it's not too pricey, but is well renowned for it's tasty food, so we decided to have lunch there, and it was particularly nice! That evening we went up the K.L. tower (one of the worlds tallest telecom towers) to have a look at the evening vistas of the city, they were impressive, especially looking across to the glowing Petronas towers.

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The following day was one of the highlights of my trip in it's own individual way. We had payed to go to an Elephant reserve about two hours out of K.L. We booked it with the hostel and they included lunch into it for us, which was brought along, almost like a picnic, as well as a cooler with plenty of drinks, which I thought was a nice touch. The driver and the guide from the hostel got involved too, having lunch and charting with us. It was only a small group, Smith, Kailey and myself and joining us was a girl from California called Jesse. She was on a long weekend away, renewing her visa as she is teaching English in Indonesia. We wandered round the museum first, then watched a video on how they are protecting Malaysian Elephants, and even using trained elephants to relocate troublesome wild elephants encountering humans. Then was the time we were looking forward to, we were loaded up with fruit, our guide even bringing extra watermelon with our packed lunch. We met the gentle giants, playfully feeling out with their nimble noses trying to pilfer fruit of the tourists. The keepers encouraging us to pop the food directly into thief mouths, I wasted no time fattening them up and attempting to win them over as the person who gave them the most treats. After this we looked at some of the recuperating elephants, one who had lost a foot, but was almost nonchalantly aware, and also one who lost his tail to a tiger attack in the wild. After having a little ride on the back of one of the elephants, some of the tourists got into swimwear and took to the river to get involved with bathing the elephants. It was a really special day with these magnificent creatures!

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The next day we went to one of the largest enclosed Bird parks in the world, it was cool to see all the birds quite natural and being able to fly about rather than caged up. Later in the day we went and did some window shopping at a shopping centre called Time Square. The place is that large it has a roller-coaster an a small theme park inside it. That evening we went up like most evening and had a beer on the rooftop bar overlooking the city, with K.L. Tower and The Petronas building lit up in the distance!

The following day we sorted out our bus to our next destination, Melaka, and just chilled out about the hostel which was nice, as we had been relatively busy in the stuffy heat of the city. However, it had proved to be one of my favourite modern cities we had visited so far!  

Posted by Christian25 21:54 Archived in Malaysia Tagged travel kuala lumpur k.l. Comments (0)

The Cameron Highlands!

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The Cameron highlands was the next destination on our trip through Malaysia. I hadn't heard a great deal about it before coming to Malaysia, apart from some information given to me by the guy who I cancelled my car insurance with before I embarked on my travels. 

The Highlands are home to some of Malaysia's highest points, as well as being home to perfect conditions for certain fruits and vegetables which would often not be suitable to grow in the stifling conditions of South East Asia. Obviously being high up results in greater precipitation and moisture in general, as well as a far more cooler environment.

Once we arrived in the town of Tanah Rata, We were a little bit confused to where to stay, the towns we had passed through and Tanah Rata were all very busy due to the Muslim holiday which was being celebrated, Muhammed's Birthday. Luckily two travellers noticed us looking bemused and pointed us in the direction of a little guesthouse called Twin Pines. It wasn't much to look at, and once the room had been evaluated against the price we realised we shouldn't complain. It was £7 for a three person room per night, bargain, even if you couldn't stand properly because of the sloping roof!

We ventured straight out to wander round the small town, not a great deal to see, but we stopped at a curry house to get a late lunch. The Highlands look and feel what I can imagine Scotland might look like if it was relocated to the tropics, and it's population swapped for Asian people, primarily Indian. The buildings actually looked a little Scottish too, but it may have been my imagination. After we had eaten we decided to book a tour so that we could see some of what the highlands had to offer, particularly the tea plantations, and tea pavilion, I had my hopes set on having a cream tea!!!

The next day we were picked up in an ancient Land Rover, being driven wildly. The car, an antique of a vehicle screamed up the road and out popped an Indian chap in big 'wellies' with a bottom lip like the character Bubba from the film 'Forrest Gump'. After picking up the rest of the tour group he headed for the first stop, the butterfly farm. It was an interesting mix of wildlife and plants that could be found in and around the highlands. The butterfly's were the largest I had seen, not shy off dinner plate size some of them.
 
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After a look round the butterfly farm 'bubba' took us to the second highest point in Malaysia, or so he said, apparently it's the highest point accessible to a vehicle. There was a look out tower which offered amazing views of the surrounding countryside.    
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Coming down off the highest point in our roaring land-rover he stopped off at an area known as Mossy Forrest, we took a very short trek through the undergrowth, he explained that in the tropics forests can only be found at this sort of altitude due to the heat, hence why it's normally jungle in the tropical areas. He explained that there was little animal life found in a forest mainly just plants and fauna, which also meant no mozzies or leeches.

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The roads coming off the highest point were manic, tiny little mountain paths packed with cars because of the national holiday. While we were stuck in traffic our guide said we could wander along the road in the direction of the Tea pavilion and factory, walking the winding but clogged roads of the plantations. Eventually after stopping at an area which had a group of houses and only just constituting a village we waited at a children's playground for our guide to pick us up. Now comes the most important bit, the cream tea, I was particularly hungry so also had a tuna sandwich, like a true English gent, and scoffed it down like a true rabid animal. The factory was closed due to the public holiday, which was annoying, so we headed for the Bee farm and strawberry farm, located in separate areas I must add, otherwise it would be chaos!

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We were given the option to trek back ourselves from a neighbouring town, the Highlands also being a massive destination to those who enjoy a bit of a walking holiday. We set off on a long trek through the forest on our own, up and down muddy hillsides in dense foliage, across babbling brooks and over felled trees for a good couple of hours almost until we decided to take a different route back to civilisation, it was massively enjoyable bit harder than expected. In typical form we realise once back at our hotel we got dropped off at a different point to what we expected and had taken one of the most difficult treks!

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The following day we took a walk to see some water falls, which were close by, admittedly I wasn't that impressed, I think you can do others if you pay for an excursion to some of the more protected and impressive ones, but it still made for a pleasant walk, however, we were quite warn out after the pervious days activities.

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(an electrical storm rising up over the highlands, the pictures do not do it justice, it was like God was having a rave!)

The next day we boarded a bus for Kuala Lumpur, and waved goodbye to the beautiful highland landscape and the cooler climate to head to the hustle and bustle of the Malaysian Capital.

Posted by Christian25 00:48 Archived in Malaysia Tagged cameron highlands Comments (0)

George Town, the first step in Malaysia.

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Leaving behind Thailand from Samui involved a bus to the port, a ferry, then a coach journey to a pick up point before finally gettin on the bus that would take us to George Town in our next country of interest Malaysia. All three bus drivers were ex rally drivers, crazy speed freaks, but nothing new, arguably they are all like it. I think i was just about ready to leave Thailand by now i was excited and hoping Malaysia would be noticeably different. We were greeted once on the boarder to some really bad rain and layers of cloud. I hadn't really seen a sky that had reminded of the sky's you see in the U.K. 

Once we arrived in George Town on the island of Penang on the west coast of Malaysia it was noticeable the influence of many varying cultures that have left their mark on the town with it's colonial houses and winding little streets. After dropping off our bags at our nice hostel we were pointed in the direction of the food quarter. Once arriving we walked into a covered area with as many as twenty small canteens selling a variety of different Asian tucker. Everybody sits in the middle of the food stands in the square where entertainment in the form of karaoke is being performed (Throughout Asia they love a spot of karaoke). 

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(an example of the hawker food stands)

The next day we went for a wonder to get our bearings and explore the town by the day. We went to the George Town museum and learnt about how the different cultures that live in the town came to be situated there as well as the the colonialism that took place by the Dutch and English, lending a look to many of the buildings.

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(St. George's Church)

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We also had a brief wonder round fort Cornwallis a British fort left over from Malaysia's colonial past. Something intriguing about the different people living in George Town, Malaysia being a Muslim country. Round one corner and be confronted by a Chinese temple, a few doors down a large gleaming White mosque and a few paces round the block and you will see either an old or space age modern church. A cake mix of cultures treading on each others toes but creating a delicious blend of sensory experiences. That evening the hostel were celebrating the Chinese new year, there were games of killer pool, which had some bizarre rules from what I was used to but we embraced them. There was also a traditional Chinese lion dance with people beating drums and cymbals as the guys in the costumes weaved in and out of the crowd bobbing to the beat. Strangely all day due to someone reading the list of the evenings activities wrong we had though that it was going to be a line dance! Nobody took the blame for this faux pas, I expect I looked bizarre sitting there in my leather chaps, waistcoat, Stetson and cowboy boots! We met a group of Swedish lads and the evening promptly descended into chaos once hitting the town. I can recall a scene in which I ordered a Fillet O' Fish from MacDonald's at about four in the morning to an uproar of laughter, due to me ranting about 'who in their right mind' would eat one. You had to be there... so did I really to understand exactly what happened either, it made for a funny story.

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Need i say more than the next day was spent relaxing and contemplating our actions.

Feeling fresh and revitalised the following day we took the 101 bus to it's last stop, the national park. Once there you have to sign in and you can trek along the coastline, it was a really fun walk, made more interesting by doing it in flip-flops, essential trekking wear! We saw massive monitor lizards sunbathing on the beach, butterflies, monkeys and other insects. We eventually made it to what was called Monkey Beach, although ironically seeing few monkeys. We got a boat taxi back from that beach, dropped at a jetty where we had started out, once on our way home we remembered we hadn't signed out, hopefully there aren't search parties still looking for us, oblivious to the international news headlines we have made 'ENGLISH TRAVELLERS STILL MISSING, PRESUMED DEAD, MOSTLY LIKLY CONSUMED BY MONITOR LIZARDS!'

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(the picture doesn't do it justice, plus this wasn't the largest one anyway!)

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(how good is that camouflage?)

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The next day we decide to go up Penang Hill, as we had been informed of the excellent panoramic views that were attainable up there. We had to get on a little train ride up the side of the hill, and it was worth going for the views, from up there too, we noticed a massive temple and once down the hill we walked to have a look, it is Buddhist and called Kek Lok Si. While at the impressive temple, because of the chinese new year, people were hanging up prayer ribbons. Their definition being in English too, I picked two and hung them up, hopefully someone's watching my back this year! 

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Throughout George Town there are large iron pictures up against the walls of the buildings explaining the history of the town which is a world heritage site.

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(this one is for the girls, Jimmy Choo's first apprenticeship as a shoe maker!)

The following day we headed off to tue Cameron highlands, me salivating at the prospect of a cream tea, or so I had heard. See I can almost be civilised! 

Posted by Christian25 00:02 Archived in Malaysia Tagged town malaysia penang george travel. Comments (0)

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