MALAYSIA

Trip Start Jul 31, 2005
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Trip End Feb 18, 2007


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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"Malaysia's truly Asia!"
Anybody who has watched BBC World over the last few months will be familiar with this song which is from an advertisement for Malaysia. It has played over and over so many times in our head that we couldn't wait to get here. I see what they mean. Malaysia is certainly the crossing point of several distinct Asian cultures. There are huge communities of Chinese, Indian and original Malay people spread throughout most of the country.

Our arrival point was the colonial city of Georgetown.
Georgetown is a pleasant city, with mixtures of Dutch and British colonial architecture. Very modern in some parts, and very traditional in others. Marc, not having had a proper Indian style curry since leaving the UK, couldn't wait to trek up to Little India and pig out. Verdict, not bad, but still not up to the standard of the food in some of London's Indian enclaves.

One thing we'll definitely remember about Georgetown is almost getting hit by a lightening bolt whilst sightseeing around the centre. When it's dry, the sun is shinning, there's blue sky above and the only dark clouds are miles away, you think you'd be safe from a lightening storm, right? Well wrong, not here in Malaysia. With deep blue sky in the background, a crack of thunder and a bolt of lightening seem to come from nowhere and hit a road bollard a few metres away from us. It definitely freaked us out and we decided to sit in a bar until the dark clouds were completely out of view.

After Georgetown we bused it up to the Cameron Highlands, almost 2000 metres above sea level (mum that's about 6,500 feet!). Now, anybody traveling around South East Asia and missing blighty can pop up here. Complete with it's cool damp English style Climate and rural English architecture, it even has Cream Teas on the menu at most of the cafes and restaurants.
We visited the largest tea plantation in Malaysia which was started by a Scottish family, and afterwards took a look around a Strawberry farm. The scenery was lovely, and Marc said that Strawberry farm reminded him of his childhood days when his mum used to take him Strawberry picking in Wales, how sweet!
In the evening we have positively the worst Indian meal of our lives. Ok it was cheap, but when the Tandoori Chicken Kebab is full of bones and completely raw in the middle, and the Paneer Butter Masala is actually microwaved tofu topped with chili oil, it can be as cheap as it likes but it's not going down our throats:-). After a discussion with the Indian chef about what constitutes proper Indian food, we've been to India you know, the chef could only agree with us and let us off without paying.

Next stop,Kuala Lumpur. We could see those Gigantic Petronas Twin Towers from a fair distance outside of KL. They really are the defining symbol here.
As we are a bit fed up of crummy hotels and are slightly under budget, we decide to slash out on a 4 star hotel in the centre. It was so nice to be able to sleep without earplugs:-).
KL has the big city buzz to it that you would expect from a place of it's size.
On the first day we went up the Menara Telecommunications tower for a great view over the city. In the evening we went over to see the Petronas twin towers which until recently were the world's tallest. They are a truly amazing sight and are so tall that the tops keep disappearing into the clouds. Tip, make sure you exercise your neck before visiting as ours were a bit sore afterwards!

The next day we took a look around the colonial parts of the city. English architects were brought over to design the main railway station and the administrative centre buildings which are built around a Cricket Pitch.
Finally, as it was a Saturday night, we decided to check out the KL nightlife. We realize that Malaysia has the highest alcohol prices we have come across since Swizerland. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country so alcohol is taxed to the hilt. Despite these high prices, about 3 UK pounds for a bottle of beer, there is certainly a lively bar and club scene around KL and we had great fun partying with the locals.

Our last stop in Malaysia was Melaka. It's a port town which has had the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the British ruling here. All three types of colonial architecture are present making an interesting mix. Our highlights here were the visit to China town which has to be one of the quaintest we've ever seen and the decorative cycle-taxis which ride around town adorned with an array of colourful flowers.

Next stop: Singapore!
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