We’re a bit behind on the blog, but are currently sheltering from the monsoon rain in Singapore so it’s a good time to catch up.
After an amazing Christmas on Langkawi, we caught the ferry to almost mainland Malaysia and spent a few days in Georgetown on Penang. Georgetown is renowned for its food, so we were very much looking forward to our time here! It was founded (because nothing existed before the Brits got there, obviously) in the 1780s as a trading port, and attracted a huge mix of peoples.
Nowadays, there are some really distinct and areas of Chinese, Indian and Malay culture, all thrown together with old colonial buildings and architecture and street names like Campbell, King and Buckingham Streets.
The main area is the old town, and it’s quite compact and easy to navigate on foot. We spent our days wandering around, eating in the food courts and on the street corners and generally enjoying the city. When the heat got too much, we would dive into a nice cafe or coffee shop to enjoy the wifi and a/c, and then head back out.
Malaysia is lot more expensive than we’ve been used to, but we managed to get by with staying in a pretty basic hotel and spending our time out and about.
The main highlight for me though was finally seeing the new Hobbit film (though during the Elvish and Orcish scenes there were no English subs, just Malay and Chinese!).
When curry for breakfast and the heat finally got to us, we caught the bus to Tanah a Rata in the Cameron Highlands on New Year’s Eve morning. It was a 4 hour journey, the last part spent winding up through the mountains and into the clouds. After the British settled, they used the Highlands to escape the heat, and due to the climate in the area, cleared masses of the forest to make tea plantations and strawberry farms. There was still a lot of curry in the town, but alongside were cafés with tea and scones for sale which was quite surreal.
Like proper colonials, we didn’t do a lot more than relax here. Tanah Rata is the backpacker hub of the area but is still super quiet – one street of restaurants and shops is about it. We stayed at a nice hostel, and spent our New Year’s Eve sat around the campfire, and for the next days chilled out.
We explored the nearby mossy forest (“it’s covered in all the mossy”, our hostel informed us), and visited a tea plantation and strawberry farm to sample the produce.
New Year’s Day made us realise we were about to spend the next 6 months in New Zealand, so the time in the highlands was actually quite useful to do a lot of planning. Law’s folks are currently in NZ, and whilst we have really enjoyed Asia, we can’t wait to get to Middle Earth!