Monday, 21 May 2012

Peninsular Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur

Having alreadly been to KL years ago, I figured there was no real need to go seeing all the sights all over again, and rather, spend this time sampling all the delightful treats available around every street corner. China's food was delicious, but there's nothing like getting your mitts around all that cheap Malay/ Indian food. 

Luckily, I had some family friends living in the city and was fortunate enough to be able to stay with them in the Prince Hotel and Residence, finally, some decent accommodation and not a dorm room. The included breakfast was a treat in itself as well, not to mention the pool.

Poolside at the Prince

One place I hadn't been to before were the Batu Caves which are directly on KL's subway, easy to get to. Once there, you can immediately see the entrance to the caves, with the steps dominated by a Buddha statue. Inside there is a functional temple of sorts still in use and a silly number of monkeys running about trying to steal food and drinks. Clearly been at it a while given how adept one of them was with a can of juice.

Batu caves

Besides a little tourist distraction, I literally spent three days eating food and fitting in The Avengers. I needed my movie fix. Also, needed that obligatory photo of the Petronas Towers at night time, with all the lights shining from every level which I missed last time I was in the city. Last time there was a guy scaling the side of one of the buildings, sadly nothing as exciting as that this time, but there was a Buddhist Wesak parade through the streets with lots of singing and floats.

Petronas Twin Towers, KL

Perhentian Islands

Following a night bus through the heart of the country and two random bus transfers, I finally got to the jetty at around 5am, only a two hour wait until the first speed boat of the day then. Sometimes these buses could be timed/ planned out a little better.

Anyway, once on the boat with the wind in my face clearing the cob webs and feeling fresh, the boat soon arrived at Long Beach on the smaller of the two Perhentian Islands, Kecil. Cheekily, the speed boat doesn't actually go as far as the shore line, smaller long boats come up and collect you from 60m away and then charge you for the privilege, charming.

It was still super early which proved a pain while looking for a place to stay but eventually stumbled upon these outdoor bungalows a couple minutes from the beach, perfect. Hot, beautiful weather, white sand, turquoise water and nothing to do, my kind of place. Plenty of time to lounge around on the beach, chill in the water and get burnt even though I was applying factor 47. Pathetcic skin. All I needed was a deck chair in the shade.

Night time on the beach included beers and the inevitable fire shows, but they weren't advertised which I liked. The food was decent enough but a far cry from the fodder I was devouring in the capital and pretty soon I was craving proper lassis, thalis and more.

Long Beach, Kecil


Mozzie Heaven

Although the setting was paradise, I needed a change of location, sad to say. It's not like I won't be getting my fair share of beach action with both Bali and Thailand looming in the wings. However, I already knew where my next stop was, Penang, for, yes, you guessed it, I wanted to gorge.


I don't remember Malaysia being so jungly, or the roads being so windy. Once on the mainland to Penang, it's not so far as the crow flies, but in a minivan it took around six hours of continuous bends and curves through the dense forests.

Arriving in the heat of the afternoon, I settled for the first guesthouse I encountered off the minivan. Air-con, nice. Went for a random wander but I knew exactly what it was I wanted and it wasn't long before I was sitting in a dank looking Indian slop house chomping through some rice, tandoori chicken and naan.

I wish there was more that I could write about Penang, but apart from getting ripped off with foreign prices to go up a 10 minute train on Penang Hill, I just ate and finished off my book (third Game of Thrones one, it's getting intense). Oh, and I watched Battleship. Taylor Kitsch could be the worst actor ever.

Photos/ blog page dedicated to food to follow soon by the way.

Cameron Highlands

Another windy journey into the heart of the countryside brought the bus through to Tanah Rata, one of the many tourist friendly areas in the Cameron Highlands. The road was peppered with strawberry farms on the way following the road, more so than tea which was a little surprising. The guesthouse even had homemade scones with what I can only presume was homemade strawberry jam too, accommodation a no-brainer then.

Plenty of trails to walk along in the area ranging in difficulty but never any longer than 5/6 hours round trip. Decided to try the longest one but it was really coming down and when I nearly lost my boots in calf deep boggy mud I figured it was best to wait for the sun to come out, hopefully the following day. Needless to say that left me the remainder of the afternoon to pursue my new favourite hobby of scoffing. Went for the all you can eat 'thali' set which is always a bad idea considering I have absolutely no self control when it comes to food.

Managed to get one good day up in the hills so decided to attack trail 1 which leads up to the top of Gurung Brinchang (2000m). The trip is meant to be 13km and take up to six hours but I made good time and apart from a landslide near the peak which had butchered the track, it was fairly standard trekking. I was huffing and puffing pretty badly though, maybe a couple hours without eating would be a good idea.

Roots over the path

View from the top

So much tea

More tea

Last of the tea

Once at the top, there is a road that leads down to the bottom on the other side. It was about 9km long but it was a beautiful day and the scenery was nice, about halfway down there is a massive tea plantation which offered fine views. Taxi back to Tanah Rata and then packed things to move on south, next stop Singapore, if only for a day, before heading to Borneo Malaysia for orang-utans and diving.

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