My Trips: Malaysia 2009

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

He arrive in Kuala Lumpur.

After 2 months in Bali we are pleased by the cleanliness and efficiency of the city, but the pace is frantic and it takes a moment to adjust.

We grab cash and drinks and take the efficient bus to KL Sentral. Then take the monorail to the Tune hotel.

We are in KL for a few days. We are hoping to visit the Petronas Towers, which has eluded us so far, and to get some shopping.

In 1 week will be home in Cornwall, back in the house that I left 9 months ago. We are ready to go home. I am ready to go home. It will be cold and expensive, but it will be civilised, and organised, and cheap if I want it (actually cheaper than here if you’re clever), and ultimately it will be home.

I intend to make the most of being home. Going to the gym, makeing nice food, seeing my family and friends, working hard, enjoying quality items at cheap prices.

I love travelling in Asia. I love the cheapness and the variety of life. But it wares me down. I had thought about trying to live here for a time. But now I am worn out my Asia.

Maybe if I went back to live in the house in Thailand I would love it all again.

Dunno

But for now I am going home, and I will enjoy it.

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Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

After a casual day in the city we grab our bags from the hotel and take the Metro to the KL Sentral railway station.
The train, is of course, delayed. But only by about 30 minutes.

Once on the train we settle in, but some of our fellow passengers don’t. A big group of Indian travellers are spread along our carriage. But hey have been allocated the top bunks, rather than the bottom bunks. This is a huge problem for them it seems. They are all elderly and I guess the top bunk is not easy for all of them.

They spend the whole night complaining and shouting at various people. Eventually they end up bargaining and swapping bunks with people. Not before they’ve laid on, eaten on, and messed up other peoples lower bunks. Sad.

Indian passengers, making a lot of fuss

We have a great time enjoying our snacks, watching them argue, and eventually get some sleep, with the aid of earplugs.

In the morning we are woken by the immigration officers, and we cross in Singapore.

The customs is straight forward, and we watch with excitement as we roll across Singapore.

The landscape is new, modern, clean and dense, very different when compared to the rural Malaysia we have just left.

We get to Singapore station and head off on foot.

We ask several people for directions to the Metro, and find people to be so friendly and helpful.

We make it to the hotel, the Ibis. This hotel costs us £50 a night, compared to the £10 we normally spend. But it is really nice – a short of luxury we rarely see on our budget travels.

We enjoy every bit of staying in this hotel, especially the buffet breakfast. I have a big appetite and try just about everything on offer. Yum !

Singapore is expensive for almost everything, so shopping is kept to a minimum. We love walking around though.

We only have a few days, and cram the activities in. The zoo was great, and exploring the city in the evening provides great photo opportunities.

Singapore CBD skyline at night

After a few days we take the AirAsia flight to Bali.

Clouds between Singapore and Bali

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

We arrive in KL, at the Pudaraya bus terminal. We’re familiar with this bus station, and easily find our way to the Metro stop.

We have visited KL may times, always staying with our friends Cameron and Anna. Cameron now lives in Bali though, so we decide to stay in the Tune Hotel, downtown. Cameron and Anna lived an hour outside of the city, in the very un-atomspheric suburb of Puchong Prima.

We decided to stay downtown to get a feel for the city, and to do all of the things we haven’t done here.

After taking the Metro to the Tune Hotel, and checking in, we hit the streets. We’ve a love of shopping centres. Not that we buy much, but we like to walk, look and enjoy the air conditioning.

Inside the life – Kuala Lumpur Tune hotel

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Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

We’ve been staying in Georgetown for a few days now, at the Tune Hotel.

The Tune Hotel is good. Malaysia has the worst budget accommodation in Southeast Asia. Whilst in most countries £10 gets you a pretty good room (Aircon, TV, clean), in Malaysia is doesn’t (grubby).

The Tune Hotel is costing us £10 a night, but it’s modern clean, has AirCon and doesn’t have bugs!

We rarely stay in corporate run hotels, so it’s always nice to do something a bit different.

During this visit to Malaysia we have discovered the Old Town coffee and toast houses. A chain of stores that sell lots of different coffees, and lot of different toasts, and other rice-style dishes.

In Malacca we also found Old Taste, which is a rip-off. The colours, uniforms, menus, and just about everything else seems to have been copied.

Well, in Georgetown, they have Georgetown Coffee. Yet another rip-off of Old Town. There is not much to choose between them. Better coffee at one, better breakfast menu at another.

We visit them on most days for coffee and breakfast.

It’s the start of Ramadan, the Islamic period of fasting during the day. Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, so there are a lot of celebrations and events.

We found a great Indian restaurant. During one meal, just before sundown we noticed a number of Muslims sitting at tables with food before them. They didn’t eat their meals though, they waited until the time was right. Interesting stuff.

Around the streets of Little India are a lot of celebrations, especially after dark.

Whilst in Georgetown we take a bus out to Bakinafaso. The beach is quite nice, but the surrounding areas are rough and poorly planned. In fact the area has a bad feel and is so disorganised that it’s not a great place to be. After a little lunch we head back to Georgetown.

We take a lot of buses whilst in Penang. It’s a good network that works well. It’s just as well, as Taxis in Malaysia are dreadful. Not only bad cars (clapped out Protons) but the drivers are rip-off merchants. Although they are reasonably priced in Malacca, and the Kuala Lumpur airport limousines are good value.

There are constant religious celebrations in Georgetown. The Muslims have their Friday prayer times, but the Chinese burn incense and paper all of the time. We see gigantic incense sticks all over town.

We do the heritage trail. A walk that takes in 30 or so historic buildings that formed Penang’s history. Some are most interesting than others.

We stop at an old Chinese clan house, and a friendly old Chinese man shows us around the old house. It’s an interesting stop, and we tip him nicely.

Friendly man at an old Chinese clan house

We try a few of the Indian sweets on offer, and fine some better than others.

Abs buying Indian sweets

One of the reasons we have visited Penang is to get visas for Indonesia. If we get visas in advance we can stay for 2 months, rather than 30 days. The visas are easier to get in Penang than Kuala Lumpur.

I read that one of the big guesthouses can get the visas for us, for only £5 more. We get the paperwork together and drop it off. They take our photos, on a red background. We think this is scan to get a few quid off us, but later read it is how the Indonesia embassy accept them.

We get out visas back in 24 hours, as they said. Good stuff!

After a great time in Penang we buy bus tickets to Kuala Lumpur. We normally travel by train when possible, and we can do so here. But the buses are quicker and they take the massive road bridge we’ve seen all week. We have the mispleasure of sitting with some constantly complaining Australians whilst waiting for the bus. They claim the Malaysian are constant time wasters. It’s not the case, and the bus service is well run.

Leaving Penang on the very long road bridge

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Siem Reap, Cambodia

We loved visiting Cambodia last year, and are looking forward to visiting it again.

We get up at 4am for a taxi ride to the airport for our 7am departure. The taxi driver is late and does the usual Malaysian thing of making out it us our fault, by insisting My Cam has not answered his phone. We ignore this and enjoy the traffic free ride to the airport.

We don’t have lots of time at the airport, so check in (where our bags are overweight) and head through to departures. We grab a snack there and get on the plane. We must trim our bags down a bit.

I sleep all of the flight and enjoy waking up as we land at Siem Reap. The airport there is lovely, and it feels great to be in the chilled land of Cambodia again. The tuk-tu ride to the guesthouse is very relaxed. The staff and room are great.

We take a walk around the town, stopping for iced coffee and a little shopping in the old market.

Whenever we arrive somewhere it takes a little time to find the base price for things, i.e. how much things really cost. We find the little supermarket we used before, and buy our basic goods, and realise the street prices are quite high.

After a heavy storm in the evening we head out for a snack and have an early night, as we are both shattered from the early start this monring.

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Where to go next?

So Abby and I have a good deal of time on this trip, and there are a number of countries we want to visit. Having visited them all last year, this trip is more of a top-up with the chance of exploring further.

We are now in Malaysia, we have done the exploring we want to do here, give or take a little island or two. Ideally we’d head down to Bali. We love it there, it is cheap, and I am very keen for a surf.

However, we are hoping to meet Abby’s Mum there near Christmas time, and do not want to use up our visa options before there.

Thailand is currently having a few problems, so that leaves Cambodia. We love Cambodia, and always wanted to return to explore a little deeper.

So we are planning to fly to Sieam Reap next week. Spend a week or so there, with a day inside the main Angkor temples, and some scooter time exploring the more remote ruins.

After SR we’ll head down to Phnom Phen and down to the beach towns, where we haven’t been yet.

After that we’ll decide where we want to spend some time, and rent an appartment there. This will probably be in Phnom Phen.