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Published: January 7th 2008
Eastern Oriental Hotel
We didn't stay here but we did go here for their buffet lunch - yummy!
Leaving the beautiful beaches of Thailand behind, we headed towards Malaysia. In usual Asian style, the direct connection on a 42 seater luxury bus which would get us to Penang by 5pm was in fact a long series of overcrowded minivans with broken seats, and we arrived at around 10pm.
Penang was an eclectic mix of old buildings, drab modern ones and a sprinkling of original colonial buildings. We strolled around the old town looking at these old buildings while trying not to get flattened on the roads. Not sure what happened when they were doing the planning for some of the new roads, but they seemed to forget about pedestrians. There were not that many footpaths, and even fewer places to cross. But we had survived the chaos of the Vietnamese streets, so these were overcome as well.
We were keen to go to the Eastern Oriental Hotel, a grand old hotel on the water and designed by the same architect that designed raffles. We hoped to stay here, but after quickly looking at our finances we decided the rate (pretty reasonable really) was too much for us, so we checked into a cheap Chinese hotel. However
High in the trees above the trail, beautiful flowers can be seen
as we still wanted to sample the ritzy atmosphere, we found our most respectable clothes (quite a challenge actually), and went there for their signature lunch.
It was a feast like we had not had for months, so when we left with our stomachs bulging we both agreed that this meal would suffice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bit of a shame that we had to skip dinner really, as Malaysia has some really good Indian food, and very cheap too. From a busy canteen we could pick up a meal for both of us (with Iced Milo), for around about 1 pound each. Pretty good value really!
From Penang we headed inland to the heart of the Malaysian Peninsula. The Cameron highlands, as the name suggests are at an elevated altitude and are very unique for this part of Asia. Instead of the blistering heat that you often get, the temperature is almost temperate. This is perfect for growing all sorts of crops including strawberries and tea. Also because it doesn't get very cold in winter, they can grow things all year around. Surrounding various tea plantations and farms, are hills covered in rainforest all with a
Everyone always watches
huge range of flora including lots of flowers and orchids.
We based ourselves here for a few days and trekked the hills, forests, and plantations. We also happened to be in town over Diwali, so the whole place was busy as holiday makers rushed in for a break from the city rush of Kuala Lumpur.
The walking in the jungle was lovely, as it was full of more colour than you often see in the jungle. The reds, yellows and purples of flowers contrasted with the deep greens and browns of the lush giant trees. Despite looking (anxiously in some cases), we did not see any snakes, but in some places we moved very carefully and slowly, making sure to prod ahead with a stick and make our footfalls heavy as to scare any of the scaly bastards before we stood on them.
The tea plantations were a lot more beautiful than we expected, as the uniformed lines of plants spread over the undulating hills making lovely patterns. We spent a few hours walking along the roads of a plantation, taking photos in between showers (it is the rainy season after all).
On from the highlands we
Alongside the path in the Cameron Highlands
headed to Singapore, where we spent a night holed up in the four seasons hotel (thanks to a gift from our friends in London, Matt and Nicole). We certainly made the most of this as we relaxed in luxury that we seldom get anytime, let alone after 6 months of backpacking.
But the road was still pulling us, so after a brief respite in Singapore, we headed Kuala Lumpur where we checked out the Petronas Towers, and then on to the airport where we would start a new adventure, an excursion. In three and a half weeks we would fly back to Kuala Lumpur, but in the meantime the jungles of Borneo awaited!
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