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Showing posts with label Travel Experience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel Experience. Show all posts

A Day at Penang Hill

It was a lovely Sunday morning and we were in Penang. Shortly after breakfast at our hotel in Penang city center area, we head straight towards Penang Hill which is situated 15 minutes away. It was not my first time there but the last visit was 15 years back. Penang Hill or also known as Bukit Bendera in Malay, is a famous spot for both local and international tourists visiting the island. Most travel packages to Penang would include this place in their itinerary.












Penang Hill had just undergone a makeover in 2011 which saw the old red train being replaced by a new air-conditioned coach. Since it was still early, we managed to snap our tickets easily as there were not many visitors around. Our journey to the top took about 10 minutes from the lower station.The view at the top was absolutely stunning. Me & Mas managed to get a clear aerial view of the island and also the mainland. As we walked further, Mas saw a booth where they do henna art on your hands and she gave it a try. 


The service was similar to those available in some beauty salons.
 

We did bump into a few buggies which are available to take visitors for a ride around the hill.  


Also there was a mosque and temple nearby to each other.



 

One unique place that we visited while we were up there is the Owl Museum. The museum exhibits a collection of owl themed items ranging from sculptures, photos, souvenirs etc. The entrance fee was RM10 (prices are subject to change). More info about the museum, check out my old post about the.



 

Just before we left, we stopped by the stage area where a snake show was taking place. 3 snake charmers were playing with cobra and few other snakes. Lucky me I managed to get a good spot to take these photos. It was already noon by the time the show finishes. We head back down the hill and straight to our hotel. Overall it was a nice place to visit but if you’re going on weekends, make sure you get there early or you will be forced to line up the long queue.

by Danarif

Malaysia is the most under-rated country to travel in SouthEast Asia (By Nomadic Samuel)


I’m not going to lie – I’m absolutely in love with SE Asia.  I’ve spent over seven consecutive years abroad and I’ve covered a decent amount of territory as a backpacker and expat living overseas; however, there are a few things I’m embarrassed to admit.  I’ve yet to travel to Europe. I’ve never set foot in Africa.  Dido for Central America.  The Middle East?  I haven’t gone there yet either.  So what’s my excuse?  Southeast Asia.

Without a doubt, if I only had to travel in one region of the world for the rest of my life, I would almost certainly pick Asia. If forced to narrow it down even further I would likely select SE Asia. There is just so much that I absolutely love about this part of the world. I’ve had many friends ask me which country is my favorite in the region. I simply cannot say at this point in time. Three years ago it was clearly Thailand; however, my tastes have changed and on my latest trip I found myself spending more time in Cambodia and Laos than ever before.


One thing I absolutely can agree on though is which country in the region I think is the most under-rated. Here’s a hint:  It’s truly Asia.  For those who didn’t guess, the answer is Malaysia.  The official tourism slogan is Malaysia – Truly Asia.  I couldn’t agree more. It’s easily one of the most under-rated travel destinations in the world.  Although Malaysia has so much to offer it’s not nearly as popular for backpackers or travelers as countries such as Thailand, Malaysia or the region of Indochina.  However, it’s most certainly a place backpackers, tourists or those seeking luxury holidays can all equally enjoy.  From the top attractions in Kuala Lumpur to the culture hubs of Malacca and Penang it has something for everyone.  Here are 5 reasons why I think it rocks!

1)  Cultural Hubs

Malaysia has two of my favorite cultural HUBs in all of SE Asia – George Town (Penang) & Melaka.  Many backpackers and travellers are familiar with George Town in Penang.  It’s a popular destination for those looking to renew their Thai tourist Visa or to continue onward southbound to Singapore or Indonesia.  For those who take their time to explore this UNESCO heritage city a wonderful selection of colonial homes and diverse cuisine await them.  Even more under-rated, in my opinion, is Melaka.  Many tourists only take the time to check out Kuala Lumpur or head straight for Singapore.  That’s a big mistake in my opinion.  Melaka offers gorgeous riverside views, a rich colonial history and very distinct neighborhoods that a treat to explore on foot or by rickshaw.

2)  Melting Pot of Cultures and Cuisines


Nowhere in South East Asia have I found such a diverse melting pot of cultures and cuisine. For those who don’t know, Malaysia is ethnically diverse with a large Malay, Chinese, Indian and expat community.  Its rich colonial history combined with Indian, Chinese and SE Asian influences have resulted in some of the most diverse and satisfying cuisine I’ve ever tried in my entire life.

3)  Diversity in Landscape

I never realized how diverse Malaysia was until I first visited.  From gorgeous beaches such as Pulau Perhentian (Perhentian Islands) to hillside retreats such as the Cameron Highlands to exotic jungles such as Tamah Negara there is something for everyone.

4)  Best Breakfast Options in the World


I was recently conversing with a friend discussing our favorite options for breakfast.  It was then that I realized Malaysia has that corned. I’m a huge fan of dim sum which is readily available in Kuala Lumpur, Melaka and Penang.  Moreover, when I’m feeling like something else I can’t think of anything more delicious than roti canai - a type of Indian-influenced flatbread – that can be stuffed with fried bananas and dipped in curry sauce.

5)  The ability to use English when communicating with locals

Lastly, another reason I love Malaysia has to do with the fact that English can used with most locals.  Out of all the countries I’ve visited in SE Asia nowhere (aside from Singapore) can I easily communicate in English for day to day things.  Sometimes I like the challenges of not knowing or being forced to learn the local language, but in Malaysia I can get by in English and this makes travel so much convenient and easy.

How about you?  I’m curious to hear where you think the most under-rated country to travel is?

By Nomadic Samuel  http://www.nomadicsamuel.com

Malaysia: Our Return Journey to Kuala Lumpur (By Flashpacker John)

Kuala Lumpur is changing rapidly.  Or is it us?


This isn’t the first time we’ve visited Kuala Lumpur. We last spent some time here in December 2009. I don’t know whether its KL or us that has changed, but one thing that is definitely different is our budget.  If you want you can read about our 2009 Visit to Malaysia here, and see how our experience differs.

In 2009, we had a much more generous travel budget as we were both working.  We stayed in a deluxe room at Traders. We enjoyed fine dining in expensively decorated restaurants and gulped cocktails at sophisticated bars around city.  We spent our time on organised tour buses, exploring the main tourist attractions.  We ascended 3 towers, including the KL landmark Petronas Towers. This time round there are no ‘free’ golf carts to ferry us the 150m to the nearest mall, or hotel staff waiting at the entrance to greet us with bottled water and scented hand towels to mop our brows. Am I bothered?  Not in the slightest.


I wasn’t that keen on visiting Malaysia again.  Although I had enjoyed my previous stay; it was more of a desire to explore another country, a been there done that thing.  Craig made some compelling arguments about why we should return to Malaysia, he conveniently managed to omit the excellent diving on offer!  I’m glad he did, and I’m surprised to learn that we’ve spent well over a month touring around the country.

Flashpacking around KL

During this trip to Malaysia, we’ve stayed in KL on several occasions, as we’ve made use of the great transport connections available to see the rest of the country and visited Brunei. What I now know is that you can enjoy KL on a ‘flashpacking’ budget, and you don’t need to spend a lot to get around the city.  In fact, by not cocooning yourself with other tourists and just visiting the major tourist attractions you begin to understand that KL is an exciting city, with a bit of a soul!


What I love about KL is it’s so cosmopolitan. This cliché is often overused, but when you look at the diverse range of restaurants, entertainment, bars, museums and markets catering for locals and visitors from around the world, I think it’s quite appropriate.  As we’ve said before, food is of a very high standard and you can eat really cheaply here.  Like Singapore, KL is popular with visitors from all over Asia, and also has a fairly large expat community.

You can get a spacious clean room with private bathroom and air-con, tv etc for about US$20-25 in a great central location. I think you’d struggle in most major cities to get such a bargain.

Whilst visiting KL this time, we’ve relied on local buses, trains and even the monorail to transport us about the city.  The good thing about KL is walking around is one of the best ways to experience the gentle energy and friendliness of Malaysians.  Although you can’t easily walk around the entire city due to the road network, and it’s size, it’s very cheap and easy to navigate yourself to places of interest.


Our favourite places to chill are at the pavement cafes around China Town or Little India. The food is good and cheap and these places are bustling with people, so you’re never alone and will always find somebody to strike up a conversation with.

Malaysian Shopping Malls

Malaysia is shopping mall crazy. There are malls all over the country and they are very popular with Malaysians, who don’t just go there to shop or eat. It’s a place to socialise and be seen. I guess it beats sitting in a pub! However, the malls in KL are something else, stocking every brand imaginable and offering all manner of services from plastic surgery, a public exercise class or a spa massage. Our favourite mall was the Berjaya Times Square Shopping Mall, its enormous with loads of events and activities taking place.  Its  a great place to stroll and people watch.


Shopping in KL is great, and can be done cheaply at the many markets.  Most things have a price tag and negotiating is straightforward and easy.  If you don’t like bartering, then KL is the place to come and do your shopping. I’m just happy window shopping these days.

Some of the things we did in KL

We were in KL during Hari Raya, which meant that most of the museums were closed for about 3 days during part of the holiday period.  We decided to use this opportunity, to cure Craig of his ornithophobia and visit KL Bird Park.  It was a strange experience, but I think we did the trick and Craig is cured. The bad news is, I think I’m now frightened of birds.


We also visited the Batu caves, which are free to enter, it cost us 3(MYR) return to get there on the train from KL Sentral.  The caves are interesting but not amazing.  The monkeys, around the hindu temples, are hilarious stealing offerings and drinks from visitors.  There are some tasty market stalls selling all manner of sweet things – delicious!

We visited the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, which has a many artefacts from around the world and is worth a visit. The different galleries contain an eclectic mix of objects from jewellery, weapons and ceramics to architectural models of mosques.  The roof terrace was currently being renovated, and despite my best endeavours to secure access, it wasn’t possible.  However, when it does open it will offer an additional view of the KL skyline.

A journey to Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have to be a quick stopover 


Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is regularly announcing new flight schedules from different flight carriers, so will continue to be a gateway for travellers from around the world.  KL isn’t just an unwanted layover destination, while you wait for your connecting flight to somewhere else.  Just make sure you give yourself time to explore the creative, modern and energetic pulse of this rapidly growing city.  The next time our journey brings us back to KL, we’ll be heading to Chinatown for a slap up meal, a couple of beers, and then maybe a bar or two. Can’t wait!

I guess its us that are changing.

By Flash Packer John   http://flashpackatforty.com

A Day at Penang Hill (by Danarif)

It was a lovely Sunday morning and we were in Penang. Shortly after breakfast at our hotel in Penang city center area, we head straight towards Penang Hill which is situated 15 minutes away. It was not my first time there but the last visit was 15 years back. Penang Hill or also known as Bukit Bendera in Malay, is a famous spot for both local and international tourists visiting the island. Most travel packages to Penang would include this place in their itinerary.












Penang Hill had just undergone a makeover in 2011 which saw the old red train being replaced by a new air-conditioned coach. Since it was still early, we managed to snap our tickets easily as there were not many visitors around. Our journey to the top took about 10 minutes from the lower station.The view at the top was absolutely stunning. Me & Mas managed to get a clear aerial view of the island and also the mainland. As we walked further, Mas saw a booth where they do henna art on your hands and she gave it a try. 


The service was similar to those available in some beauty salons. 


We did bump into a few buggies which are available to take visitors for a ride around the hill. 


Also there was a mosque and temple nearby to each other. 



One unique place that we visited while we were up there is the Owl Museum. The museum exhibits a collection of owl themed items ranging from sculptures, photos, souvenirs etc. The entrance fee was RM10. More info about the museum, check out my old post about the. 



Just before we left, we stopped by the stage area where a snake show was taking place. 3 snake charmers were playing with cobra and few other snakes. Lucky me I managed to get a good spot to take these photos. It was already noon by the time the show finishes. We head back down the hill and straight to our hotel. Overall it was a nice place to visit but if you’re going on weekends, make sure you get there early or you will be forced to line up the long queue.

by Danarif
http://www.danarif.com/blog

My 1-Month Malaysia Travel Itinerary (By Audrey)

Over the course of my year backpacking around Southeast Asia, I went to Malaysia a total of 3 times! I think it’s fair to say that I really enjoyed my time in the country. For anyone planning a similar trip, I wanted to share with you my 1-month Malaysia travel itinerary which included stops in 4 destinations: Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown, and the Cameron Highlands.

Melaka / Malacca

Melaka / Malacca
- 9 days -

Melaka was my first destination in Malaysia and it completely took me by surprise! I came here not knowing what to expect and I found myself staying in the heart of Chinatown (the best area in my opinion!), soaking in the swaying red lanterns, burning incense, and morning call to prayer.

If you enjoy markets, I would suggest you plan your visit so that it overlaps with the Jonker Street Night Market. Friday and Saturday night draw in the crowds and it’s quite the sensory overload. While I didn’t necessarily buy any souvenirs, I really enjoyed the street food available. From durian ice cream to fried carrot cake (which is actually made with radishes and not carrots!), there were plenty of new and interesting dishes to try.

Also, if you can muster the early wake-up call, it’s really worth getting dim sum for breakfast. Located on Jalan Tukang Besi, there is a little dim sum restaurant that sits directly across from the Kampung Kling Mosque. The place opens long before the sun comes up, and I was always surprised by the number of locals up at 6 in the morning drinking tea and enjoying everything from har gow (shrimp dumplings) to char siu baau (fluffy steamed buns filled with barbecued pork).

Melaka also has a lot to offer in terms of culture seeing as the city itself is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the best ways to get an overview of the historic centre is by hiring a trishaw driver to take you around for an hour. Drivers are parked around the Dutch Square and 40 ringgits is the standard rate for a 1 hour ride. Their loop will generally take you around Stadthuys, Christ Church, Saint Paul’s Church, Porta de Santiago, and the Maritime Museum. From there they’ll swing through Chinatown with visits to Jonker Street, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Masjid Kampung Kling (Mosque), and a few other historical buildings along the way. You’ll have time to hop off the trishaw and visit any of these spots, but do keep in mind that the clock is ticking and your driver will only take you around for 1 hour. I would recommend using the trishaw ride as a way to get a better overview of the city, and you can then revisit these places at your own leisure.

I would also suggest taking a boat tour down the Malacca River. I took the trip twice – once in the evening and then again during the daytime – and it was a nice way to see the colourful buildings that line the promenade. If you’re up for a morning stroll, you can wander this same area on foot.

And if you’re craving Indian food, you can’t miss Little India for a thali set served on a banana leaf! My go-to spot was Selvam Banana Leaf Restaurant.

Where I stayed: Kawan Kawan Guest House

This was a cute family run guesthouse in a great location in Chinatown. They had a mix of private rooms with en suite bathrooms, as well as private rooms with shared bathrooms. The latter were a more budget friendly option, but even the shared bathrooms were kept incredibly clean a tidy!

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
- 10 days -

While in retrospect I would have spent far less time in Kuala Lumpur (10 days felt a bit too long in this big urban sprawl!), I did enjoy the abundant supply of Indian restaurants in this city. I couldn’t walk more than a few meters without bumping into a little spot serving up roti canai and hot cups of spicy chai. A few favourites included Restoran Anuja (located by the Puduraya Bus Station) and Restoran Yusoof dan Zakhir (located in the Central Market). I’d also recommend checking out the hawker style food courts found along Petaling Street for a bit of a different flavour; you’ll find some cheap and tasty eats there.

When it came to sightseeing, my first order of business in Kuala Lumpur was to swing by the Petronas Towers. I first caught a glimpse of them twinkling at night, and I returned again the following day for a look at them in the daylight. Equally impressive!

I also enjoyed visiting the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park, which is an enclosed free-flight aviary – this means the majority of the birds roam free in an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat. The park is home to more than 3000 birds which are represented by more than 200 species. There were hornbills, peacocks, flamingos, parrots, storks, rainbow lorikeets, and countless others whose names I do not know.

And of course, no visit to Kuala Lumpur would have been complete without taking the train to the outskirts of town for a look at the Batu Caves. These impressive limestone caves which are home to a popular Hindu shrine are located 13 kilometres north of the city.  Reaching the top involves climbing 272 steps where cheeky monkeys lurk in search of food and cans of Coca-Cola – do not make eye contact and do not try to pet them! I went there early in the morning (to avoid the heat and the tour groups) and the place was virtually desolate. I watched the morning prayers take place at one of the shrines inside the cave and then came down for a bite at one of the many vegetarian restaurants located at the base of the cave.

Where I stayed: Hotel A-One

I stayed at the Hotel A-One several times when passing through KL because it was a good location - close to Chinatown, the Central Market, and nearby transportation. They key to getting an extra spacious room here is to upgrade to the Deluxe for just a couple more dollars. Also, their Wi-fi was incredibly fast, and they had an excellent restaurant serving up roti and chai right across the hotel. 

 
Georgetown

Georgetown
- 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

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

Copyright © 2013 Malaysia Track
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