As suspected, I had an excellent start to my visit to Malaysia. Most of us from the bus from Krabi went out for dinner and a few beers in the evening, and we did the same the following evening.
The first day was filled by taking my camera for repairs, which wasn't the financial whack I was expecting. I thought it might be more cost effective to simply buy a new one but the model I wanted either only came as the display model or the wrong colour, so I decided to carry on with my old faithful Nikon point and shoot, for now. I had a good wander around the 'Core Zone' and 'Buffer Zone' of Georgetown, which is the main town on Penang island, or Pulau Pinang, to call it by it's Malaysian name. There was some interesting stuff, including the Cathederal of the Assumption, which was established by Father Garnault! The Queen Victoria clock tower, which was built in 1897 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee and Little India which is where the first Indians settled when they first came to Malaysia - there was loads of really good food. The core zone is the old city and
is a world heritage site, whilst the buffer zone is home to some of the more modern facilities, including the usual shopping malls and bus station. Overall, Penang is a really nice place to be.
A couple of us thought we would do some trekking through the Penang National Park. Malaysia has some of the most amazing landscape you will ever see, so in the short time I had here, a visit to a national park was a necessity... and only 45 minutes on the number 101 bus! I've done more trekking on my travels than I thought I would. However, I love walking and this is just an extension of that. There are some fiddly bits but the beaches and bays along the way make it all worth while. Towards the end of the 5kms is monkey beach. Asking people along the way what the monkeys are like, they said, they try and pinch your water bottles and steel your food. However, as far as I could see, as soon as I took a step towards them, they just ran away. But there were loads of them and they came back and carried on checking us out.
The weather was perfect, but half way back, I hammered it down with rain... and I mean hammered it down! We got completely soaked, and by the time we made it back, after about two hours of waiting for the rain to stop, we got the bus back. I've never seen an Ipswich Busses bus suddenly stop at the nearest filling station for diesel... but thats what this one did. The Petronas filling station was full of busses, full of passengers... I wish I owned that place, they must be raking it in! We eventually made it back, sorted ourselves out and went for some food, a couple of beers and some live music at a place around the corner, so finished up with a nice relaxing night :-) The next morning, there was no trace that it had ever rained and it was sunny and dry.
I stayed and extra night in Georgetown, Penang, so would have to have just one night in Kuala Lumpur (KL) if I was going to make my flight out of Singapore.
KL has been on my list of places to visit for years, and it fitted perfectly with my overland route
from Hanoi to Singapore. KL only has about 1.5 million people living in it but it has the feel of a much larger city. I stayed at Bukit Bintang, which is the shopping centre of the city. However, the real commercial centre these days is KLCC, the location of the Petronas twin towers... just a ten minutes walk away, the main reason for wanting visit the city. At 452 metres, they were the tallest buildings in the world until 2004 and their foundations go down 115 metres! Thats more than many tall buildings are tall! And they are joined half way up by a Skybridge.
I went to the Skybridge from tower two on the 41st floor and then on to the 86th floor, just two floors from the top. The view from up there is spectacular. I wondered how Petronas could afford such a prestigious headquarters, but they seem to provide fuel for all of the busses in malaysia, so question answered :-) When I asked if both towers were full, they said yes, tower one is Petronas' HQ and tower two is let to other companies... there is a loooong waiting list for space as well.
I think it would be a great idea to visit Malaysia again in the future, for longer, to see some other places and to do some more trekking in their national parks, including Malaysias Borneo...
I cut it really fine with trying to get to Singapore for my flight out. I arrived this morning from the night train (which was the best so far) ex KL and fly to Bali tonight...
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