Food and fun with friends in Thailand and Malaysia

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July 2nd 2019
Published: July 2nd 2019
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The past month has been a fun, a bit food focused and social month for us. We traveled overland from Myanmar to Thailand where we would meet two friends for 48hrs in Bangkok and then we would fly to Kuala Lumpur to meet two other friends with whom we would spend almost three weeks exploring Malaysia. We had a great laugh, some tears were shed, we had plenty of drinks and enjoyed a lot of the best food ranging from Michelin star dumplings to the best Laksa of the world (according to the locals that is…).

From the border we first went to Kanchanaburi, a pleasant town in Thailand, where we could get used to this part of the world, being very touristy, modern and everything available in abundance. We adjusted quite well, we had great spicy Thai food for lunch, we visited the local night market where we got some great street food for dinner and we stepped into the first Thai 7-eleven and bought a new SIM card as well as some drinks we had not seen for a while and a few of the weird flavours of Lays chips available only in Thailand :-)

Kanchanaburi has a lot of history and we visited both the colonial part of town with some picturesque streets and buildings as the bridge across the river Kwae which has made this town famous. The bridge, the museum and the cemetery left huge impressions and we visited some graves of Dutch soldiers who died here as prisoners of war during the construction of the death railway.

A modern, convenient and rather quick mini van ride later we were in Bangkok where we stayed at the border of China town and were immediately overwhelmed by … well everything, the people, the produce at the markets, the food, the smells both good and bad. Our second day we met Monique and Lisette, our friends from the Netherlands who came to visit us.

We spent the next 48 hours mainly chatting, eating and drinking. And while we walked around Chinatown, had a drink at Khao San and found a roof top bar for a G&T we were just chatting, laughing and catching up. The second day we repeated more or less the same activities and added a few hours at the poolside. It was great to spend time together and way too soon we have to say goodbye again. After another few days in Bangkok we also leave and fly to Kuala Lumpur.

In KL we meet Wilco and Geesje, two friends who had decided to come and spend their three weeks holiday with us exploring Malaysia. For them it’s the first time in Asia and the first time travelling the way we travel. This means we travel without a plan, we decide only a few days before where we want to go, we travel with public transport, we don’t really do tours and guides, we choose the best value for money accommodation we can find while trying to keep our spending low, and we try and eat all the local food we can find in preferably local places that are owned and run by local people and families. And it worked out very well, we all really enjoyed to travel this way and Geesje and Wilco really got the hang of this very relaxed way of travelling without FOMO, just doing what feels good.

We started exploring KL and we dove straight into the famous, busy and a bit touristy food street where we got all sorts of barbecued stuff on skewers before we continued at a bar street where beer was sold in huge tubes. Next day we wandered around town, eating fantastic local food, admiring the architectonical buildings like Petronas Towers and the old mainly wooden kampung houses still standing strong between the concrete colossuses. We eat durian cendol at a street stall, Japanese cheese tarts at a hip place, Nasi Lemak at a kampung buffet restaurant, tasty noodles and duck in China Town and we have Michelin star awarded dumplings at Din Tai Fung in one of the super malls of this ultramodern shoppers and foodies paradise.

With a very convenient local bus we travel to Malakka which is one of the old colonial towns, where we visit the old Dutch ‘Stadthuys’ and Harmony street where all possible religions brotherly exist next to each other. Malakka is very touristy and the pink Hello Kitty rickshaws with loud music feel a bit weird, but most of the Asian tourists seem to love it all.

We take another bus back to KL and on to Georgetown, Penang. Georgetown is also a very old town but less tourist oriented, more a normal working city. We love it with all its street art, again huge variety of restaurants and street food and both colonial buildings and religious tempels. We find out that there is an international dragon boat race so we drive to the other side of Penang island to check it out.

We leave the cityscape and travel to Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands where we visit a tea plantation and hike through the lush jungle to a small summit and back to town through more jungle and past strawberry farms.

We have to push start the bus and after half an hour it stops completely so we have to change to another bus after an hour waiting but at the end we make it to Ipoh. From Ipoh we visit a buddhist cave temple where some relics from other religions or philosophies like a statue of Confucius share the space with a huge fat smiling Buddha.

Next we move to Mersing, the jump off point for Tioman Island, the last part of our trip with Geesje and Wilco. Tioman Island is beautiful and less developed and busy than we expected. Only a few small villages are scattered around the island and the rest of the island is impenetrable jungle with one road going straight through across. We spend our first night at Tekek and explore the rest of this part of the island and we find another place to stay at Air Batang.

In a comfortable wooden cabin with view ocean (and sunset) view we stay a few nights. During the day we go snorkelling and only after a few minutes of getting used to the water and gear Wilco is hooked. The water is clear, the temperature is perfect, we see lots of colourful fishes everywhere.

After two nights we move to Juara village at the other side of the island, where we find another cabin, with ocean (and sunrise) view, right at the sandy beach where we can go swimming, snorkelling and where Judith does her daily yoga routine. With Wilco, our new underwaterbuddy, we go snorkelling a few times a day every day and we see turtles and again beautiful corals and so many fishes. The only imperfection in this paradise is the sandflies and although we use plenty repellent and the bugs don’t bite us, at one moment of sitting at the beach ‘unprotected’ Judith finds her back full of red itchy bites.

Another two nights at this side of the island and Geesje and Wilco have to leave, back to the Netherlands, after a great three weeks. We stay another few nights in Juara and then move back to Air Batang where we find a cheap oceanview cabin for the remaining three nights. We spend the remaining time snorkelling, reading, relaxing and one day scuba diving.

Tomorrow, after ten days at this very relaxing island, it’s time for us to leave as well, looking forward to meet more friends in Singapore!

Additional photos below
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2nd July 2019

Off the beaten path
We loved our time in Kanchanaburi, our cooking class and massages. Looks like you are having a fine time.

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