Malaysia part II - Penang Island and Kuala Lumpur


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July 21st 2018
Published: November 21st 2018
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George Town historical city centreGeorge Town historical city centreGeorge Town historical city centre

George Town has a well preserved historical city centre of great importance.

A super-hot national park, a super-tall skyscraper, a super-big cave and some more things which really aren't super-anything





We didn’t spend more than a few days in Malaysia and we only went to two places, Penang Island and Kuala Lumpur. When we planned this trip we never included Malaysia in our plans at all. Laos, Vietnam and Thailand were the three main destinations. We wanted to visit Cambodia as well but we knew all along that we wouldn’t have the time. The idea of going to George Town in Malaysia came up while we were on the road. It seemed like an interesting place to visit so we went there. Since we then were in Malaysia we threw in Kuala Lumpur as well.



Ake has been to Malaysia before. That was a long time ago, back in the 1990-ies, and much has changed since then. Ake has more wrinkles and less hair now for instance and the hair he has left is now mostly grey. OK, that was a joke and it was one of the worst we've ever published...



When Ake visited Malaysia last time he never went to Penang. He
George Town - the Bologna of AsiaGeorge Town - the Bologna of AsiaGeorge Town - the Bologna of Asia

We heard someone call George Town the Bologna of Asia. That name comes from the fact that there in George Town are many porticoes.
can’t understand why because it is an interesting place to visit. So Penang is a new experience. Kuala Lumpur he did go to last time but he never went up in the Petronas Towers and he never travelled on the mono rail so there are new things for him to see there as well.



Let’s begin by going through what we did in Penang other than watching the street art in George Town which we wrote about in the previous blog entry .



Penang Island

George Town

George Town is the biggest city in Penang and also the main tourist destination on the island. It has a well preserved historical city centre of great importance. So great in fact that UNESCO has added it to the world heritage list.



We heard someone call George Town the Bologna of Asia. That name comes from the fact that there in George Town are many porticoes, more than you normally see in cities in Asia. Bologna in Italy is also famous for its porticoes. Bologna probably has more porticoes that any other city in the world.



Penang National Park

One day we
World heritage siteWorld heritage siteWorld heritage site

On this photo it doesn't look like much but UNESCO has added George Town historical city centre to the world heritage list.
went to Penang National Park because we wanted to go for a hike. Malaysia is very close to the Equator which makes it hot. We hoped that since the hike in Penang National Park was through a forest we would not suffer too much from the heat. It would make sense, right? You might think that the trees provide shade and once you are out of the direct sun the temperature would drop dramatically. It turns that in a rain forest it sort of works the other way around. It was hot to start with. The air has high humidity so sweating doesn’t help. On top of that there is absolutely no wind to cool you off. Fortunately the hike was not more than about four kilometres through the forest before we came to a beach where we could dry our sweaty clothes. Then we had to walk four kilometres back of course and we got all soaking wet again.



It was a nice national park with well maintained trails though and the hike was really good. Super-hot but good.



The Snake Temple

This is one of those places that end up in lists like 10
Penang National ParkPenang National ParkPenang National Park

One day we went to Penang National Park. We thought it could be nice to go for a hike.
Strange Places to Visit in Malaysia or The 25 Strangest Temples in the World. As the name indicates they have snakes in this temple. Why do they have snakes there you might ask. We want to know the same thing actually and obviously we don’t have the answer. Well, we only went there because we wanted to tick off one more from the list The 25 Strangest Temples in the World. We have already seen a Rat Temple once and one day we just have to visit the Kama Sutra Temple in India. By the way, could Snakes in a Temple be the name of a sequel to Snakes on a Plane? Maybe we should pitch that idea to some Hollywood people...



Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and the country’s most important economical centre. We could describe, no rather introduce, the city to you as an interesting blend of both colonial era architecture and of the very modern. Let us start with the very modern.



Petronas Towers

OK, Petronas Towers were built in the late 20th century so they are not brand new. They are super-tall though. For a short while they
Penang National ParkPenang National ParkPenang National Park

It was very hot. The air has high humidity so sweating doesn’t help. On top of that there is absolutely no wind to cool you off.
were actually the tallest buildings in the world. Now, or at least very soon, they won’t even qualify as the highest buildings in Kuala Lumpur. When we were there they were erecting two other buildings which are planned to be higher. However, they still hold one record. Supposedly they are still the highest twin tower in the world.



Even after they have been surpassed by the other two super-tall skyscrapers they are building in Kuala Lumpur we believe they will still draw plenty of visitors to their viewing deck because the Petronas Towers are very beautiful. See the pictures because we lack words to describe them.



In the shopping centre below the Petronas Towers they have a movie theatre. Just for the fun of it we watched the movie Skyscraper there. We are not movie critics but let’s say that there are plenty of other movies out there which are much better. Or less politely, it sucks beyond your wildest imagination. We recommend that you watch a better movie instead of spending time and money on watching Skyscraper. Unless you are in the movie theatre in Petronas Towers or somewhere else where you have
Penang National ParkPenang National ParkPenang National Park

The beach was nice though
a 400 meter+ skyscraper towering above you. Then you should totally see it!



Mono rail

The Mono Rail is again not super modern. It’s been around for well over 20 years. It is an elevated tram running on one big rail rather than two rails like ordinary trains do. It is probably not the first time we travel on a mono rail. We think we might have gone with one once before in an airport somewhere. However, we have never travelled in a mono rail train in a city. So in a way this was a first for us.



Kuala Lumpur Railway Station

In the city centre there are a few century old building fighting for space. One of them is the old railway station. It is a very beautiful building which is so jammed in between other buildings that it is almost impossible to take a good photo of it.



Merdeka Square

When we think of a square we think of it as a large open paved area. Perhaps we are narrow minded because most of Merdeka Square is a lawn. It is an important square in the older
Wildlife in Penang National ParkWildlife in Penang National ParkWildlife in Penang National Park

A monitor, well over a metre from head to tail.
part of Kuala Lumpur and it is a good place to start to explore the heart of Kuala Lumpur. One side of Merdeka Square is lined with one of the finest examples of colonial architecture you can find in this city. That building is called Sultan Abdul Samad Building. On one end they have an unusually tall flag pole. Supposedly it once was the tallest flag pole in the world but it has since then been surpassed by several other.



Batu Caves

Located outside of Kuala Lumpur are the huge Batu Caves. The main cavern is so large, it is not wrong to say that it is super-large, that when you are in it you don’t realise that you are in a cave at all unless you actually look up. Think of a very large cathedral rather than a cave and you get what we mean.



The entire Batu Caves and the surrounding area is a big religious shrine. We would say that it is a Hindu Shrine but after looking at the Wikipedia page we realise that it is somewhat more difficult than that. So let’s stick to “religious shrine” so we don’t
The Snake TempleThe Snake TempleThe Snake Temple

As the name indicates they have snakes in this temple
offend anyone.



Kuala Lumpur means…

The name Kuala Lumpur originates from a short river section just behind Merdeka Square. In that section two small rivers come together and becomes one. The water in both rivers contains plenty of sediment and the water in the rivers differs slightly in colour. When the water from the two rivers mix the colour difference is very obvious. They called this river section “Muddy Confluence” and in the Malay language that is Kuala Lumpur.


Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


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Night-time by the riverNight-time by the river
Night-time by the river

At night they light up the river which runs through Kuala Lumpur city centre.
Petronas Towers Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers

For a short while Petronas Towers were actually the highest buildings in the world
Petronas Towers Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers

Supposedly they are still the highest twin tower in the world.
Petronas Towers Petronas Towers
Petronas Towers

They look cool from any direction really
Tip of the Petronas Towers Tip of the Petronas Towers
Tip of the Petronas Towers

We can recommend a visit to the tower
The skybridgeThe skybridge
The skybridge

The skybridge which binds together the twin towers. Yes, another tunnel picture. Ake's trademark
Movie theatreMovie theatre
Movie theatre

To watch the movie Skyscraper makes perfect sense if you are in the mall below the Petronas Towers
Running in front of Petronas TowersRunning in front of Petronas Towers
Running in front of Petronas Towers

If you know us we couldn't pass on the opportunity to take a run in Kuala Lumpur. Running next to Petronas Towers is then a given thing to do.
Higher than Petronas TowersHigher than Petronas Towers
Higher than Petronas Towers

Very soon Petronas Towers won’t even qualify as the highest buildings in Kuala Lumpur. They are erecting two buildings designed to be even higher. Here is one of them
The mono rail The mono rail
The mono rail

The mono rail is an elevated tram running on one big rail rather than two rails like ordinary trains do. We had never travelled in a mono rail train in a city before. So this was a first for us
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is a very beautiful building which is so jammed in between other buildings that it is almost impossible to take a good photo of it.
Sultan Abdul Samad BuildingSultan Abdul Samad Building
Sultan Abdul Samad Building

One side of Merdeka Square is lined with one of the finest examples of colonial architecture you can find in this city, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
MosqueMosque
Mosque

The main mosque in Kuala Lumpur city centre
Batu CavesBatu Caves
Batu Caves

Located outside of Kuala Lumpur are the huge Batu Caves. The main cavern is so large that when you are in it you don’t realise that you are in a cave at all unless you actually look up
Batu CavesBatu Caves
Batu Caves

We would say that it is a Hindu Shrine but after looking at the Wikipedia page we realise that it is somewhat more difficult than that.
Batu CavesBatu Caves
Batu Caves

The entire Batu Caves and the surrounding area is a big religious shrine
SunsetSunset
Sunset

Just a pretty sunset
"Muddy Confluence""Muddy Confluence"
"Muddy Confluence"

The name Kuala Lumpur means "Muddy Confluence". It comes from this place where the muddy water from two small rivers come together and get mixed. When the water from the two rivers mix the colour difference is very obvious. They called this river section “Muddy Confluence” and in the Malay language that is Kuala Lumpur.


22nd November 2018

Snake Temple
Yikes. Are the snakes contained in a secure area away from people or do they slither around freely? From your photo they look to be vipers (!), so they have probably been de-fanged?
23rd November 2018

Not fenced off
The snakes weren't fenced off or otherwise secured. We could have cuddled with them if we wanted to. But they stayed on the racks you see in the photo so they weren't roaming around either. In the back they had half a dozen snakes in some trees. Again, they seemed pretty happy to hang in the trees and I was never afraid that they would drop from a branch on top my head. I have no idea what kind of snakes they were. I don't even know on a theoretical level what differs a viper from an adder. Btw. I kind of like snakes. I wouldn't want one as a pet but I want them around in the nature where they belong. /Ake
24th November 2018

I really like snakes too...
...but the thought of anything other than a 'domesticated' very well fed python being around humans makes my skin go cold :) I remember looking up the snakes in Malaysia before we travelled there (as we were doing hikes in forests and National Parks), and they have a lot of venomous vipers :( But luckily we didn't come across any!

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