Sadly, we left wonderful Singapore and got a bus to Melakka on the West coast of Malaysia, about 2 hours from Singapore. We stayed in traditional and atmospheric Chinatown in a very cool guesthouse (Jalan Jalan) that was on a street filled with lovely artsy shops (dangerous). We had a nice time wandering around the historic town centre, checking out Dutch Square, old Portugese churches and canals. We sampled the famous Melakka Pineapple Tarts (goood) and spent ages browsing the colourful night market in Chinatown. We went to the Museum of Malay People, Kites and Beauty (sounded curiously interesting) but it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment (you could get better information from wikipedia!!). We ended up buying some amazing and very reasonably priced art and pottery from a couple of local artists, which we'll have to send home (told you nice shops are dangerous!).
Next we got a 4 hour bus to Kuala Lumpur. We met up with our friends Jemma and Will in a nice Guest House in the Bukit Bintang area of the city (Attapsana Homestay) . Our first impressions of the city was that it was a poor
mans version of Hong Kong and Singapore as Bukit Bintang was a bit ropey. We witnessed a lady have her necklace ripped off her neck by theives on a scooter near our guest house. So we spent our time avoiding dark alleyways and eventually we did warm to the city after a while.
Holly shopped for fake designer handbags in Chinatown and got an amazin real leather Mulberry Bayswater......which she challenges anyone to find a difference between it and a real one. We applied for our Indonesian visas, which took an age. We visited the famous Petronas towers but decided not to queue to get the viewing bridge tickets as this involved an early start...and we're not very good at getting up uber-early. We did go up the Kuala Lumpur Tower. The night view from this 267m tall building was rubbish but the highlight was the little zoo they had downstairs. They had a small selection of huge snakes, reptiles, spiders, parrots and mammals being looked after by some very enthusiastic keepers. We spent ages chatting to a really friendly keeper about all the animals and he got some snakes out for us to hold (boas and pythons.....well Dee
did, Holly was chicken!). We saw first hand how dangerous these creatures are as after Dee, Jemma and Will had held the boa it bit the keeper, thank goodness it wasn't one of us. It was rather good though. The only gross thing was that they feed the small snakes and spiders with live day old baby mice, which seemed terribly cruel to us but no big deal to the keepers.
We went on a quick trip, with Will and Jemma, to the Cameron Highlands, which is about 5 hours inland from KL. The small town is at a high altitude (1500m fact!) so the climate is cooler (thank goodness!) and the area is famous for growing tea, vegetables and strawberries. We stayed in 'interesting' rooms at Fathers Guest House (we think ex-army accommodation or old air raid shelters!) and had to sleep with blankets and bed socks as the nights were cold (makes a change!). On the first day, we did a lovely long walk to the Boh Tea Plantation where we had a factory tour, saw how tea is made (!) and sampled their finest tea with carrot cake and strawberry tarts. The
scenery was beautiful with the rolling hills covered with shiny bright green tea bushes and misty clouds topped mountains. We hitched a lift back to town in the back of a truck as it started to rain and we were too full of cake to walk back! Second day we hired scooters and made our way through the busy weekend traffic to another of Boh's Tea Plantations (more stunning scenery), to a Butterfly and Insect Farm (Dee held a scorpion) and then for lunch at The Big Red Strawberry Farm where we enjoyed scones with strawberry jam and strawberry sundaes in their polytunnels next to the strawberry plants. It was the first time Jemma and Will had ever rode a scooter so after some coaching from Dee and a practise in the local car park they did very well in the heavy traffic. This place reminded us of Cornwall a bit. It was the prefect place to take your Grandma on a Sunday afternoon.......scenic drive followed by tea and scones. We loved it!
We said goodbye to Jemma and Will and headed back to KL and spent a few more days sightseeing and shopping. Dee went
to a couple of skate parks in the suburbs of KL, which meant we tried and tested all of their public transport to the limits. There was one very good concrete outdoor stakepark in Putra Jaya, a new city in the outskirts of KL which reminded us of Milton Keynes but with shiny new mosques. This huge park was part of a brand new Challenge Park so there was also BMX dirt tracks, mountain biking trails and climbing walls...all free for the local kids to use. We thought how wonderful this place was and how forward thinking the local Government was for funding such a place. Puts Northampton Council to shame a bit we think.
We spent our last days in KL sending our purchases home in boxes and visiting some interestnig buildings, including the colonial Merdeke Square and the beautiful Islamic buildings and mosques around Chinatown. They are very difficult to get to on foot as pedestrians have to navigate huge motorway-like roads and canals to get around the city but we managed. Holly was sad that Malaysia wasn't releasing Sex And The City 2 in the cinemas until June 17th (everywhere else in the world had it
at the end of May) and therefore couldn't take advantage of the wonderfully modern cinemas in KL. Boo.
Then we boarded our Air Asia flight bound for Yogyakarta in Java and kept our fingers crossed that we would find a suitable bar showing the football (COME ON ENGLAND!) and an English language cinema for Holly's S&TC2 viewing requirements. We'll let you know how we get on.......
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