Penang (the most northwestern corner of Malaysia) was by far my favorite part of the trip. We spent the most time there, landed ourselves in a very accommodating hotel, and really got to know the area. We also had our biggest adventures in Penang.
One day we took a day trip up to Langkawi (an island 2 hours north of Georgetown) and went snorkeling for a day. I've never been snorkeling, so this was quite exciting for me. I donned a life jacket, goggles, flippers, and a snorkeling mask and ventured out into the water.
It was a bit scary getting in (mostly because the silly Asian tourists on our ship were feeding the fish bread from the boat, so there was a HOARD of fish right on the platform), but once I was in the water- I quickly became accustomed to the idea. It was an amazing feeling to be floating around with the fishes, submersed into their habitat. I saw lots of pretty little fishies, but never did lay eyes on the barracuda that was hanging out beneath our ship.
[When we got on the ship, our guide took us to the bottom of the boat where we could look out the windows and see all of the different kinds of fish that were in the area. There were some BIG fish, and a few barracuda..... ]
After a few hours of snorkeling, we had a buffet style lunch on the ship, and then took a boat ride to another area where we got to feed sharks and more barracuda. I was glad that I had already gone snorkeling by this time, because seeing the sharks didn't make me eager to go back in the water.
Another day in Penang was spent taking a bus over to the national park. Once there, we had the option of doing a number of different hikes through the jungle. We decided to go with a more strenuous (up and down hill) 2 hour hike, that would put us out on a lovely beach. The hike was absolutely wonderful, but didn't exactly make me feel like I was in a jungle. I didn't see any wild animals (though we did hear noises), didn't swing from any vines, nor did I bump into George or Jane. Instead I walked into tons of spiderwebs, and broke a sweat early on... but all of that was forgotten as soon as we reached our destination.
The jungle hike led us to our own private little beach. The water was gorgeous and I couldn't help but go for a swim. A couple of locals came by with their boat service, trying to get us to catch a ride back home- but I insisted that we hike back through the jungle. After a week of delicious Indian food, I definitely needed the exercise.
In addition to the above activities, we also visited a famous temple Kek Lok Si, took in the view of the Ferringhi beaches, went to yet another Chinese market, and through yet another Little India, and had numerous chats and long breakfasts with the hotel staff. They were very kind and super accommodating.
We ran our itinerary by them each morning, and they were always eager to hear how things had gone when we returned at night. Before heading up to our room the woman at the front desk would always wish us goodnight, and tell us that she'd see us the next morning at breakfast.
On the day that we went snorkeling she came in early to arrange an early breakfast for us so that we could eat before our long trip out to the island. On our final morning she sent us off with a bag of candy to enjoy on our bus ride. Even if we had had a terrible time in Penang, I think her hospitality alone would have made this the best part of the trip.