Claudia, Peter, Lasse & Sil discovering the world


With the very relaxing experience of the Mekong Delta home-stay still lingering in our minds, we were picked up by Air Asia and thrown into the heat of Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. As always, but more so when you travel by air, we had to get adjusted to our new surroundings. We were not very well prepared for Malaysia and we ended up ‘enjoying' our first breakfast at McDonalds - We're lovin' it! We climbed Menara TV-tower, offering great views of Kuala Lumpur and visited the Petronas Towers - unfortunately all tickets were sold out for the day. Whether we would like to come back tomorrow at 7 am? Thanks, but no thanks.

From Kuala Lumpur we took the bus to Ipoh, up north, famous for its tin mining. Bus transport in Malaysia proved something special. At the bus station we were awaited by various bus operators, all shouting for our attention and demanding where we wanted to go. We went with one of them - not knowing how to pick the best or cheapest one - and bought our tickets there. Then one guy brought us to our bus, on the way picking up other passengers who booked tickets with other tour operators. We had to overcome some second thoughts, but it worked out fine. Ipoh showed another face of Malaysia: very run-down and poor(er) people, not the nice skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur.

In search of some nature we headed further north, to the Island of Penang and spent some days in Batu Ferringhi, with its nice beaches and relaxed atmosphere. We had to get used to the more western prices for living, but enjoyed the sea and our time there (despite the stinging jellyfish). Highlight being our spontaneous trip together with a Malaysian family that stayed at our guesthouse. We met in the morning, our children played in the sea together and they invited us for a tour around the island in their car in (4 adults and 5 children in one car!). They took us to a tropical fruit farm where we ate 'king fruit', typical for Malaysia and traditional food to eat on this public holiday (in the honour of the prophet Mohammed). Altogether a very nice experience.

Next stop Georgetown, which we skipped earlier (on our way from Ipoh), because it was a big city with many skyscrapers. This time we ended up in the old city centre and found out that Georgetown had a very nice side as well. We stayed in Chinatown, walked through the Indian quarter and visited an old English fort called Fort Cornwallis.

After Georgetown we took the bus to Kota Baru, at the far north-west of Malaysia. We did not stay long in Kota Baru, yet another city, and went on to Kuala Tahan, in the middle of Malaysia and one of the entrances of the Tama Negara national park. We took the ‘jungle train' from Kota Baru that indeed took us through beautiful jungle. But, unfortunately, also here extended signs of deforestation with the gaps filled in with endless rubber and palm oil plantations. Kuala Tahan was a small village with a couple of floating restaurants that doubled as trek organizers. As Peter fell ill with a throat and ear infection, we had to limit ourselves to smaller walks and trips, and not one of the multiple day hikes that were on offer. We did a nice canopy walk and went swimming several times in a beautiful spot in the park. We met up again with a Dutch/German couple we met in Kuala Lumpur: Jeroen and Andrea, much to the joy of our kids.

From Kuala Tahan we travelled by boat to Jerantut and further by bus to Temerloh. We were on our way to Melakka, an old, historic coastal town south of Kuala Lumpur. As it happened, Temerloh was crowded due to elections and all hotels were fully booked. Luckily, we managed to get a small room in the back of a Chinese hotel - it was certainly not a high light, but we could not afford to be picky. Still tired the next morning, we got up and continued our trip to Melakka. Melakka was a funny town, like a living museum. Lot's of history around, ruled by the Portugese, who were defeated by the Dutch, who, in turn, were defeated by the British. VOC everywhere and the old church hosted many old Dutch gravestones. A very local manner of entertaining the tourists was to peddle them around in a very colourful decorated Trisha while playing very loud music. We did not do it ourselves, but loved watching them go by.

Next stop would be Singapore, from where our flight to New Zealand would depart.

Malaysia failed to really touch us in the manner that the other southeast Asian countries did. The people were friendly, the nature often beautiful, but it was all too much of a mix, too little of an own identity. Hard to explain, but the country simply did not really jive with us. Perhaps because it is really a discovered holiday destination, and the country has many places and opportunities to enjoy your holiday - it seemed less geared for backpackers, however beautiful it was. Still, we were happy to have seen it and were treated very well by its people.


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