We have spent the past 2 weeks on mainland Malaysia and have had a very enjoyable time. It is one of the first countries we've been to where you don't have to travel too far to see several different landscapes. The people have been incredibly friendly too.
We spent a few days in KL, visiting the tourist sites in the sweltering heat, catching up with things we always seem to do in big cities (shopping) and seeing a friend who we both used to work with back in the evil days of TNS.
Next, we took a bus to Kuala Lipis, towards the interior of the country, with the aim of catching the jungle train the next day. The cab driver in KL was convinced we were a bit lacking, assuring us there was nothing to see in KL mark 2. In some ways, he turned out to be right, but we found ourselves in a small town, with no other tourists. It was good to see a town completely untouched by tourism. Our perfectly decent hotel room cost 8 quid for the night, and we had lunch for all of 50p. We weren't complaining!
The Jungle train
The Petronas Towers, KL
they were very tall, and very shiny
well... went through the jungle. The middle of Malaysia really is just one big rainforest, with some interesting large limestone outcrops every now and then. It took us to Kota Bharu, on the north east coast, one of the most strongly muslim areas of the country. The opposition party in Malaysia has a strong presence here, with flags flying everywhere, and shops with often flouted seperate queues for men and women. We took an amble around the local market where people were looking at us as much as we were looking at what they were up to.
Then after 9 months on holiday, it was time to really start relaxing. We went to the Perhentian Islands, 2 small tropical islands just off the east coast. They were truly stunning with the clearest and warmest water I have ever experienced. We reminded ourselves just how much we dislike canoeing with the idea of finding a beautiful beach for ourselves. It was worth it (just).
We cut across the top of the country to Georgetown, Penang, where it all started for the East India Company when the Brits first arrived in Malaysia. Malaysia's second city is a real melting pot
for all the ethnicities here. The city is mainly made up of old chinese shop houses, but also has every kind of place or worship you can think of, many dating back at least 100 years.
And finally to the Cameron Highlands, just a few hours north of KL. We've been here for a few days. It is 1500m up, so pleasantly cool for Malaysia (you need a blanket at night!), with a very British colonial feel to lots of the buildings. There's also a lot of rain, strawberry farms, rose gardens and forest walking trails, so we could almost be at home. It's mainly renowned for tea though and we took a look around a plantation this morning.
It's back to KL tomorrow and on to Thailand the following day. Time isn't marching at the moment, it is sprinting!
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