Malaysia - Penang, Cameron Highlands, Melaka


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Asia » Malaysia » Penang » George Town
February 21st 2012
Published: March 25th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Krabi - Penang - Cameron Highlands - Kuala Lumpur - Melaka


Malaysia

21/02/12

Penang

We booked a minivan to take us all the way from Krabi to Penang in Malaysia via Hat Yai. It worked out cheaper then catching taxis to the local bus stations and getting the buses there. The two mini vans were not as cramped as we have been used to and the driving not as crazy so it was quite pleasant. We arrived in Penang which is a large island North East of Malaysia late in the afternoon. The island is connected by a very long bridge and we were dropped off in Georgetown. We found a cheap room at the banana hostel. There are around 5 banana hostels in Georgetown, all the same price rooms so we just picked the nicest one. Private room with shared bathroom, RM25, £5.

Panang is famous for its excellent street food. We sat across from our hotel where around 10 food stands had appeared for the evening. We sat down on the plastic chairs and tables that were scattered along the pavement and tried to order from one of the stalls but no one was listening. Terry decided to queue up at the food stand to give our order but was waiting around for ages and the cooks were not listening to him. In the end a local who was observing us and smirking said you just have to shout your order to the waiter guy who walks around. There is only one meal served at the stand, so you just shout large or small depending on your required portion size. Well this worked straight away and we sat down to await our food. We had ordered a dish called Wonton Mee that consisted of noodles, with thin slices of pork, crispy pork wontons, pork belly crackling, fresh chilli’s and soy sauce. It was delicious! Terry had the large portion and I the small and it only came to £1.50 – bargain.

Another waiter came around asking if we wanted drinks but we said no as was unsure of the price as he had no menu. We then found the drink stall that waiter had come from. It was only Rm1.50 (30p per drink) for freshly squeezed juice drinks so Terry had fresh pineapple and I watermelon. We were in heaven. With these cheap prices and great food and drink this was definitely a place to spend a few days!

Over the next 4 days we walked around the world heritage site of Georgetown itself taking in the sights of the old mosques, temples and churches. We walked as far as the water’s edge and visited Fort Cornwallis which is the historic landing point of the city’s founder Captain Francis Light in 1786.

One of the days we caught the bus North for 45min to the town of Bati Ferringhi which is where the nicest beaches are. The weather was not great and the beaches were nice but not amazing. We chilled out in the Hotel Inn reception area in front of their swimming pool. We never went in but nice to be surrounded in luxury for once.

We spent 5 nights here all together and had a nice relaxing time, especially with all the street food, even though we pretty much ate at the same noodle place most evenings.



26/02/12

Cameron Highlands

We caught a large coach from the local bus station to Cameron Highlands for RM34 (£7pp). It took around 3 hours all together with a 20min break, was very slow going. There was an American couple on board, both hippies. They walked onto the bus with no shoes and their feet were filthy, carrying their guitar and back packs. The locals were all staring at them, even I was staring at them, I mean why not wear any shoes? At the break half way they walked off the bus with no shoes on, even though it had been raining and it was muddy, they didn’t seem to care. I guess they were trying to be hippies? I mean real hippies do not have many processions, just the open road, but I noticed he had an i-phone amongst other expensive items so I had to google this as this is not the first shoeless young, traveller we have seen walking around since we started travelling. Wearing no shoes is meant to symbolise freedom but I also read an article about how many Americans are walking around shoeless in Asia and the locals think they are dirty and smelly (published article from an America newspaper) – haha, to be honest I thought that too!!

Cameron Highlands is 1300m to 1829m above sea level. It still has the remnants of the British colony here with the many places that serve cream teas – I am in heaven!! I really miss my tea and to be at a place where they just serve you tea with milk on the side is such a novelty. Normally tea is served black or full of sugar and too much milk. They know how to make a proper tea here!

The town is surrounded by tea plantations due to the perfect cooler climate and scattered around are strawberry and bee farms.

We stayed in the town Tanah Rata which is where the main bus stop is and is abundance with cheap guest houses. We stayed in a place called BB Inn which boasted the cheapest rooms in town. At RM25 (£5) a night with their own bathroom they definitely were. Terry had a look around the town but none of the rooms he saw were much better than this BB Inn. Terry said he had never seen so many foreigners then at a place called Daniel’s lodge. He said there was loads just all sitting around lounging on the chairs. It is in the guide book I guess but was full so we never got to see the rooms. I liked our little hotel anyway, not at all busy and free wifi – bonus. The first room we were given was on the bottom floor and was a little smelly but the main problem was the night staff were so noisy in the reception that Terry had to tell them off at 2.30am as we had still not fallen asleep. Next day I asked for a room on the second floor which was much better. A lot quieter and did not smell. As the climate is cooler here, the rooms do not come with fans like most of the hotels we stay in, so we hear every single noise...you do not realise how much the drone of the fan keeps out the noise from outside.

During our 4 night stay we had tea with scones most days. Our favourite place was a restaurant called the Lords cafe and was the cheapest price in town. You get a mug of English breakfast tea, one warm freshly baked scone with a side helping of fresh strawberry jam and cream – delicious.

We did not find a great restaurant to eat at on the evenings; the worse was an Indian cafe where the cooks are outside with their BBQ’s. The chicken curry was so salty I could not eat it, was gross. I ate the rice and the side veg though so was not a total loss.

There are many paths through the surrounding jungle you can walk through so we visited one of the waterfalls close by which was a nice stroll. The other major attraction is the tea plantations. We decided to walk to the main plantation called Sungai Palas Boh Tea Estate which we thought was only 5 miles away as we felt we needed some exercise and the bus only runs ¾ of the way there before you have to walk the last mile and it goes at very irregular times. In fact it took us 3 hours to get there and we were knackered after walking up and down hills and getting totally soaked in the rainfall. We made it though and enjoyed a nice mug of hot tea out on the balcony of the tea plantation with stunning views over the plantations. As we walked up to the plantation we went passed many tea pickers working in the paddy fields, was incredible to see the speed in which they picked the leaves. We had a quick tour around the plantation itself where they make the tea and headed back on our 3 hour walk home. All in all it was 20 miles we walked that day so really felt it the next day.

On our last day we had a cream tea for breakfast and set off to check out one of the strawberry farms. They were pretty expensive and not very interesting, not sure what I was expecting really.

The next day we caught the bus to Kuala Lumper where we had arranged to meet a couchsurfer at 2pm in front of the central market. We are staying with them for 2 nights in KL.

01/03/12

Kuala Lumpur

O the 1st we caught the bus from the Highlands to Kuala Lumpur for 29RMpp (£6). It took us around 4.5 hours and dropped us off in the city centre. We were only a few minutes stroll over to the City market where we were to meet Kelvin and his girlfriend Lee who we were couchsurfing with.

They were such a nice couple, took us straight for lunch at a typical Malaysian food place, cheap tasty food, sat on plastic chairs and insisted on paying for us. We then drove back to their home just outside the city centre where they had a spare room in their apartment for us. It was early evening so we sat and watched a couple of films, was nice to be in a normal household environment sat on a sofa watching films in HD. On the evening they took us to the local market stalls where we had chicken and beef satay with a spicy peanut sauce, plus rice with chicken. Terry and I paid for this meal and it only came to around £8 with drinks.

Next day Terry and I caught the train into the city centre to go to the Petronas towers to see the city skyline from the top. The tickets are on a first come first serve basis so we had to get up early to ensure we got their by 9am. We thought the views from the top were free but once we got there we realised they had recently introduced a charge of RM50pp (£10PP) we were very disappointed and the only times they had left was at 4pm so obviously still popular amongst tourists. We decided to not bother. We spent the whole day walking around the city. It was nice just mostly shopping centres but still great to walk around.

That evening we went to Zouk's nightclub as Kelvin DJ’s here every Friday night. It’s downtown Kuala Lumpur and has around 6 rooms. Kelvin plays Indie/Rock/dub step and electro music in his room and there are 4 of them who DJ this room all night. The other rooms play electronic, dance, house etc. Had a really good night and a hangover the next day what with all the free shots Kelvin kept bringing us. After the club finished around 3am we met some of Kelvin’s friends who are all expats working as DJ’s at the local radio station. They asked if we needed a ride home but was going to grab food on the way. Of course we said yes and stopped at a huge outdoor eating place that had several food carts surrounding a seating area. We chose the Indian cart and we had a huge Rotti with curry sauce to dip our bread into, was delicious snack and the DJ friends paid for our meals to welcome us here, how kind!

We had a great time in Kuala Lumpur and definitely the couchsurfing experience made this time more memorable! We were leaving the next day to go to Melaka for one night before spending two nights in Singapore.

03/03/12

Melaka

Unfortunately as we were a bit hung-over we did not arrive here until the evening, so it was already dark. Melaka was a great town and whilst we were there they had the weekend market open. We could not find any decent budget accommodation so had to spend around £12 for a very average room. Oh well only one night. We had a look around town and found it funny to see bicycle taxis all pimped up. They were all covered in fairy lights, pumping out loud techno music and offering people lifts around the centre. We politely declined and walked around the market. Little bit disappointing as there was hardly any food stalls, just tourist tat. We headed back to our hotel after a couple of hours as we were so tired.


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