- 9 days -
One of my favourite things about Georgetown is the street art by Lithuanian born artist Ernest Zacharevic. He has transformed many a forgotten wall with murals of children playing, as well as bicycle and motorcycle installations. His work lends the city a playful feel, and it’s nice turning the corner and unexpectedly discovering his pieces.
A few of the attractions worth checking out in Georgetown include the Clan Jetties, where the Chinese community lives in stilt houses above the water; the Botanic Gardens, which offer a nice place where to cool down under the thick foliage; and the Kek Lok Si Temple (also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss), which is located just a short bus ride away in Air Itam.
Much like Melaka, you can also take a trishaw tour around town. The driver will take you around the historic attractions and give you time to hop off and explore these places a bit further. Hiring a driver for 1 hour comes to a little over $10.
And lastly, one of the reasons to come to Georgetown, Penang and linger is the food! Little India is home to two of my favourite restaurants: Restoran Kapitan and Kassim Mustafa Nasi Kandar. If you are craving some tandoori chicken and palak paneer with a side of butter garlic naan, look no further than here! I was alternating between these two places every day.
Where I stayed: Armenian Street Heritage Hotel
I loved this property! The Armenian Street Heritage Hotel was located in a historic property, and it was 5 floors of luxury at an affordable rate. It was within walking distance to the historic centre and the mall, and there were also lots of great little cafes in the area.
Cameron Highlands / Tanah Rata
- 3 days -
While I only spent a few brief days in the town of Tanah Rata, I really enjoyed the laid back feel of the place. In the mornings I would walk into the town, grab a seat at one of the many little food stands set up along the main road, and order up a hot cup of spicy chai and a plate of roti canai. The air was cool, the morning fog was still lifting, and it was the perfect way to watch the town slowly come to life.
My visit to the Cameron Highlands was very low key and I was happy to hang out in the town and go on leisurely walks, but if you’re looking for a more active stay, there are plenty of tours to take. These include visits to the Mossy Forest, the Boh Tea Plantation, the Strawberry Farm, the Butterfly Garden, and if you happen to be in town at the right time of year, you can even go on a forest hike in search of the rafflesia – the largest flower in the world!
On another note, I do have to warn you that getting to Tanah Rata may make you a little queasy. It’s a long winding journey to make it up into the highlands; the roads are narrow, and sometimes it feels like you’re playing chicken with the oncoming buses. If you get motion-sickness (and even if you generally don’t!), you still may want to consider taking some Gravol before you board the bus.
Where I stayed:
The place I stayed in was pretty dumpy, so unfortunately I can’t give a first hand recommendation for Tanah Rata.
What would I change?
More beach time! When I was first planning my month in Malaysia, I had grand plans to make it over to the Perhentian Islands, which are located just off of the northeastern side of the mainland. However, in the end, my travels ended up concentrating on the west side of the mainland and getting all the way across felt like a bit of a hassle. I wish I had paid for a flight, but at that time I was still in backpacker mode thinking I couldn’t splurge on domestic flights…I missed out on some of Malaysia’s most pristine beaches. Womp, womp.
Not making time for the Taman Negara! What was I thinking not making time to go to the jungle?! Again, at the time it seemed like too long of a journey (2-3 hours each way) to go just for the day, and I thought there would be plenty of other opportunities to visit the jungle…so I put it off.
Not having enough time to visit Malaysian Borneo. While I would have loved to visit Malaysian Borneo, I thought hopping over would have been a bit rushed. If I come back to Malaysia again, this one is a high priority!
Less time in Kuala Lumpur. Yes, Kuala Lumpur has plenty to offer in terms of attractions, however, I think I overstayed in the city by spending 10 days there. In retrospect, 5 would have been plenty. If you’re not a big city person, I think it’s worth swapping a few days out of KL for more time in a quiet town like Tanah Rata or even beach time in Langkawi or the Perhentians.
Have you been to Malaysia? What destinations would you recommend and why?
By Audrey http://www.thatbackpacker.com