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Published: February 17th 2019
I got into Kuala Lumpur around 5 in the afternoon and hopped on the efficient KLIA Express train to KL Central station, where I changed onto the Kelana Jaya Line two stops to Masjid Jamek station. From there it was a nice short walk to my home for the next 5 nights - Back Home Hostel. It wasn't the cheapest hostel in town, in fact it was one of the pricier places I stayed on my whole trip - a whopping 13 USD a night - but it was a very cool
hostel and very comfortable despite the ever-so-slight mould problem in the room!
This was my second time in Kuala Lumpur so I'm not going to write much about it this time! I reminisced and revisited a handful a places including the Old Market Square Clock Tower, Merdeka Square, Masjik Jamek, the Central Market, Petaling Street, Kasturi Walk, Suzie's Guesthouse where I stayed the first time and of course, a revisit of the Petronas Tours in all their glory! I also made sure I got my fill of local grub, probably my favourite thing of all about Malaysia, over on Changkat Bukit Bintang. The location of the
hostel combined with the excellent Metro system meant it was super easy to get around. However, there was one tiny issue. The 2015 forest fires in Indonesia had a massive impact not only on Indonesia, but also on Singapore, Malaysia and even Southern Thailand as I would later find out. The smoke and acrid haze from those fires - which were started by different people for different reasons depending on who you're listening to - covered Kuala Lumpur completely making the air, combined with the general humidity, difficult to stand for long periods. Looking back at my photos now, I realise that I never actually saw a blue sky during my time there. But still, before getting out of there, I copied what I'd done in Seoul and signed up for a 15 USD pub crawl just to try and meet some people and do something that I didn't do before. The meeting point was on Saturday at the Lobby Bar at Jalan Nagasari, only a stone's throw from Bukit Butang. I wouldn't say that I'm a big fan of these kind of events, but this one was great fun! The bars were decent, I had my first ever beer
pong experience and the crowd was great. The most surprising thing of all was that I actually finished in a semi-decent state at the end of the night.
Monday rolled around and I was up early for my short 10:10am flight up to Kota Bharu (20 USD), right up in the North-East corner of Malaysia. My eventual destination was Pulau Perhentian Kecil. To get there I first had to get to Kuala Besut just over an hour's drive heading south down the coast from Kota Bharu. I believe there's a bus from Kota Bharu town which takes roughly a week to arrive so landing at the airport I kept a look out for other backpacking folk to share a taxi with. I would say that any
traveller landing at Bharu is heading to the Perhentian Islands so it wasn't difficult finding people. In the end, I shared with a friendly couple so between the three of us it was nice and cheap! We didn't get to Besut on time for the 12:00 boat so had to mill around for a couple of hours until the 16:00 boat. We all bought return tickets and I bought a transfer
mini-bus over to Penang leaving 3 days later. I also stocked up on cash as, at least when I was there, there wasn't any ATM's on Kecil! After some lunch and a decent amount of milling we were on our way. While I was still in Kuala Lumpur I booked two nights (Tuesday 29th & Wednesday 30th) at the fancy-looking Ombak Resort at Coral Bay, on the west side of Perhentian Kecil. However, on the day I arrived (Monday) there were no rooms available at the same place. So, getting off at Coral Bay jetty, my first priority was finding a bed for the night! The problem was very few places on Kecil were advertised online and those that were seemed to be the super fancy honeymoon-type hotels that are clearly WELL out of a poor backpacker's budget. I didn't want to risk having nothing so I booked Ombak just for the piece of mind knowing that I had somewhere at least for the second and third nights. It was a "treat" though; it was about 40 USD a night - cheap by European standards, but definitely a treat by backpacking standards! The first night I ended up the
definition of a shithole staying in one of the random shacks on the beach front at Coral Bay. The only things I can say for it is that it was cheap and right next to Ombak so I didn't have to move much the next day! There was no mosquito net and there was stagnant water right outside so I was suitably murdered by mosquitoes and had an all-round terrible night. Still, things got WAY better over the next two days living it up in swanky Ombak, drinking coconut juice on Golden Beach, filling up at Ewan's Café, strolling down beautiful Long Beach and chilling in the evenings at the hotel film nights. It was essentially two days of beach chilling although I did muster the energy for a snorkel tour taking in Shark Point, Turtle Point, Coral Garden, Fisherman Village, Turtle Beach, the Light House and Romantic Beach to finish off! I enjoyed my stay on Kecil though it has to be said that it's a couples' island!
Thursday came along pretty quickly and I was back on the ferry to Kuala Besut and back to the same agency where I'd bought my tickets before. After
a short wait a minivan took me and a bunch of other people over to Georgetown on Pulau Penang right on the opposite side of the country. It was a smooth 6-hourish journey if I remember and when we arrived to Georgetown I headed straight to where I'd stayed once before - Reggae Hostel on Love Lane. It really hadn't changed at much! I spent the afternoon doing what I'd done in Kuala Lumpur just reminiscing and remembering the fun I had here on my 2012 trip. This time, however, I was there for only one night before jumping on a ferry from Penang Pier up to the Kuah Jetty on Lankawi Island, 3 hours north of Penang. A 30-minute taxi ride later and I was at my home for the next 4 nights - Zackry's Guest House on Pantai Tengah on the southwest of the island. For around 8 USD a night I got a comfy private room at a very friendly place. I spent the days basically exploring the island on a rented scooter and exploring Pulau Dayang Bunting on a tour booked through the hostel. The tour consisted of a visit to Beras Besah Island, some sea
eagle spotting and a spot of swimming in the fresh water lake of the pregnant maiden, so called due to a mountain formation. I pretty much covered the whole island on my scooter. The most interesting place was easily the cable car ride up to the glass Langkawi Sky Bridge, supposedly the longest curved bridge in the World! I've been on many cable cars but this one was genuinely
nerve-wracking! It's reaches an impressive height and goes on for quite some time. The view from the bridge and from the top station is regarded as one of the best views Southeast Asia has to offer. Unfortunately, due to that Indonesian smog, the visibility was reduced significantly and I felt slightly robbed of what would've been a great memory.
Despite that, Langkawi was a fun place to be for a few days and I can imagine that with the right group of friends it would be amazing. The whole island just seems like one big playground and if you want to try a bit of parasailing, jet-skiing, karting, bungee jumping or quad-biking etc then this is the place to be!
On Tuesday 6th October I went back to Kuah jetty for another ferry ride, this time to Satun, Thailand.
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