Posts Tagged With: Malaysia

The Colonials

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.

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown

Fort Cornwallis, Georgetown

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.

A mix of different building styles in Georgetown

A mix of different building styles in Georgetown

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.

We resisted the temptation for a man utd burger and stuck to curry and noodles!

We resisted the temptation for a man utd burger and stuck to curry and noodles!

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.

So much curry...

So much curry…

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.

The Cameron Highlands

The Cameron Highlands

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.

New Year's Eve in the highlands

New Year’s Eve in the highlands

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.

Mossy Forrest

Mossy Forest

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!

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An Island Christmas

Considering it felt like we had ages to spend to Asia, we ended going through Thailand and Laos at quite a pace. We had always planned on spending Christmas on a beach though, and we finally found some very cheap flights to Langkawi in Malaysia. So, we knew we had to get out of Laos by a certain date which was a shame, but we did have a nice last couple of days in Vientiane.

Vientiane's Paris-y bit

Vientiane’s Paris-y bit

It’s a very quiet capital city compared to others we’ve visited, but easy to wander around in with a few interesting places for a short stay. We visited the COPE centre, an NGO who work to make prosthetic limbs for the victims of bombs UXOs, and we climbed the fake arc d’triomphe thing in the city centre – another former French colonial influence. I also had my final cheap Beerlao for the foreseeable future.

The COPE centre

The COPE centre

On the 23rd of December, not feeling at all Christmassy yet, we spent the day in transit, flying first to KL and then on to Langkawi. I have to say, KL airport was a disappointment – I was hoping for more of a Hong Kong ultra modern experience, but we did battle through the crowds and ended up having a fast food chicken thing, still managing to avoid the Maccy D’s (haven’t had any yet on the gap yah). We finally got to Langkawi at about 9.30, and after we checked into our hotel we were pretty glad we’d splashed out over the normal budget!

Classy room

Classy room

We stayed at the Tropical Resort, on Pantai Tengah. Basically, the village we stayed in is a long strip of restaurants and hotels along the beach, and we were down at the quiet end. The room was amazing, the bed was actually comfy (an unusual thing in Asia so far) and there was a free breakfast included which we hadn’t realised. The beach was only about 2 minutes walk from our bungalow, and it was practically empty.

2 minute walk from the hotel

2 minute walk from the hotel

Lying on a white sand beach, swimming occasionally in the warm blue waters and not doing a lot else was a very surreal Christmas Eve experience. We did eventually wander into the town, having a cheap noodle soup for lunch, and then after watching the sunset into the sea we found a beachside restaurant and had a curry!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve


No turkeys in sight...

No turkeys in sight…

Christmas Day and Boxing Day passed in much the same way, beaching, swimming and sunbathing, punctuated by eating and drinking. On Christmas Day night we went and had an amazing seafood meal, and on Boxing Day had a huge Mexican feast. Throughout this we were speaking to home on skype and FaceTime, so watching them open presents and eat proper Christmas food whilst we were in the sun made for an amazing, albeit slightly weird Christmas. Not bad for our first as a married couple.

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