KL, Cameron Highlands and Penang
30.01.2013 - 08.02.2013 30 °C
We arrived in Malaysia early on 30th Jan, and initial impressions were that it couldn't be more different from India and Sri Lanka. We took a high speed train into Kuala Lumpur where we were greeted by about six versions of Westfield, and men walking around in skinny jeans! There is even an air conditioned glass walkway that takes you from the main shopping centre to the Petronas towers, about a 20 minute walk. We went up the towers (really good) took a trip out to the batau caves (average), went to central market and had a "feet eating fish" spa treatment (highly amusing), but we are really in Malaysia to eat and so far we haven't been disapointed by the food; although randomly it is quite difficult to get Malaysian food, with much more of it being Chinese and Indian.
On the first evening we wandered up to China Town and had the most amazing Assam Laksa (Laura - your idea of hell as it is a spicy, sour, mackerel soup) and then headed to Jalan Alor on night two which is where some of the best street food can be found. We did a food tour on our last day in KL where we were shown around Brickfields (little India) and went back to China Town and basically ate for 4 hours straight! Charles (our local guide) introduced us to Chendol which is crushed ice, palm suger, coconut milk and wierd green noodles which is what they all eat when it is hot (every day?!) but it is really good.
We loved KL, but the only problem was the price of booze as the first pint Rob ordered (in one of the shopping centres) cost £8! That was the one and only time he has let me order a cocktail as it was cheaper! We have managed to find it less expensive since then but it is a world away from the 50p a big bottle we were paying in Goa.
After KL we took a bus to the Cameron Highlands which looked on route to Penang for a one night stopover. They were actually about four hours out of the way as the roads to get there are so windy, and there really isn't much to do when you get there. We went on a "countryside tour" which was supposed to include a tea plantation, honey farm, strawberry farm etc, but we were just driven around to a few shops at the side of the road which happened to have a few strawberries growing out the back (and in the rain) - so not really worth the huge detour. Anyway the next day and another five hours on the bus we arrived in Penang and Batu Ferringhi, the Malaysian version of Tenerife! We were there as the SuperBowl was on early the next morning, and there was a Hard Rock Hotel. Unfortunately it turned out they weren't showing it, but our crazy homestay owner Annie let Rob watch it at her house next door. The beach at Batu Ferringhi was also pretty amazing, and we found a great local restaurant that served some of the best food yet, so our three nights there wasn't wasted.
The last three days we have been in George Town on the other side of Penang Island, which is Malaysia's second city and much more old school/ traditional. We are staying above a cookery school and have been taken out around all the markets and told the best places to eat by the owner, and spent this morning in a class with her making laksa and beef rendang - so good
Tomorrow we head to Langkawi for Chinese New year, and as a duty free island we have been told beer is only about £1 a bottle, so its going to be a boozy one!
Weather: mainly hot but it rains most afternoons for an hour or so
Bites: Malaysian mozzies seem to like Rob more than me
Food: we have eaten all of it, and all of it is amazing
People: really friendly
Overall: beautiful and a very easy place to travel