What better to dedicate my first blog to the country that has stolen my heart: Malaysia. A very relaxed country with good facilities, sometimes almost in western proportions. The country is predominantly Muslim and has an open and friendly culture. Going to Malaysia is mainly to relax, even though the country offers activities such as jungle trekking, diving and shopping. You’ll find some tips below.
Consider long commutes, but when you finnally arrive on one of the two islands – Kecil and Besar -, you will find yourself at one of the most beautiful places on earth. On this side of the peninsula it rains from October to March, make sure you seek another destination for these months. Pulau Kecil, the small island, has Long Beach: a beautiful beach with all kinds of hostels, bars and diving schools. Ideal for travelers on a tight budget looking for cozy evenings on the beach. I have chosen for the big island, Pulau Besar. A quieter environment with more expensive hotels. Kecil is easily reached by boat taxi, nice to go at night! Highly recommended is diving school Universal Diver, with instructors that embrace you like family. Dive Instructor Jay took me to Kecil, where the inauguration of two new instructors took place. The whole island was overturned! I’m definitely going back!
Jalan Alor is the street when it comes to street food restaurants. An incredibly atmospheric place, while you dine on plastic furniture in the middle of a crowded street. There is plenty to see and buy, I recommend to go for char siew. This is hog from the barbecue in a honey marinade. The cook of Meng Kee lets it slightly burn for a crunchy bite. Enjoy accompanied by a Tiger beer.
If you have time to explore the city I suggest you to take a look at Chinatown, as in virtually every town a real treat to walk around. Also the shopping malls are a must see, even though that might not be the reason why you’re there. End the day at Bijan, one of the best restaurants in the city. Local specialties are served, particularly the Opor Rusuk (braised beef with intense gravy) is worth it. Finish the evening (and night) into the Heli Lounge or the Skybar at Traders Hotel!
Make sure you visit the world’s oldest rainforest on earth. Again you have a choice of affordable hostels to more luxurious hotels, all located near the Tembeling river. You can be on your own in the jungle to walk on the elevated tracks, or opt for organized treks (with canopy walks). Make sure you do not leave windows and doors open, in the morning and at the end of the afternoon the present monkeys are all working hard to find food.
Langkawi is by far the most touristic spot in Malaysia. An island to stay for a few days on the beach, with a jet ski along the surrounding islands or to explore on a scooter. Many young expats stay here during the weekends to party on the beach Cenang. I met a group of guests who were drinking cans of beer all afternoon (alcohol is however not widely available there). As soon as there was an empty bottle, they opened a new one and fixed it with tape on the empty one. the cans of beer became a sort of rod to drink out of. The loser – the person who fell asleep first – must get the Whatsapp logo tattooed on his foot. You meet some people on such a journey…
I’ve been traveling for three weeks around Malaysia; public transport facilities are doing fine. The only comment I would like to make here though is that you will need a whole day for short distances sometimes. The arrival and departure of buses, boats, planes, trains and even taxis are not always well matched. While it may not always be fun to think ahead, it will be actually useful on your trip in Malaysia.