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Reflections – Malaysia

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Considering I wasn’t even planning on going to Malaysia, I really enjoyed my time there. Melaka was a nice town to start my travels in Asia, since Singapore didn’t really count. If I had started in Kuala Lumpur I might have been a little overwhelmed. KL is a nice bustling city with plenty to do, though the pollution does get to you. What I really found wonderful was how the three major ethnic and religious groups, Malays, Chinese and Indian with their respective religions, all seemed to live in peaceful harmony together. It was common to see a Malay businesswomen in headscarf walking along with her Chinese colleague, or groups of Chinese eating at an Indian restaurant. I found that very refreshing, and hopefully my short time there gave me the correct impression. The Cameron Highlands were also beautiful, and it was nice to spend a cool few days among the forests and tea plantations. Taman Negara was okay, but if you are short on time I think it could be missed, unless you are doing an overnight hike to a hide to spot animals. The Perhentian Islands are spectacular, and hopefully they will continue to stay undeveloped and relatively inexpensive. Penang was disappointing, but I wonder if I had stayed away from Georgetown on the beaches, that my opinion might have changed. I’d really like to head to Sabah and Sarawak, into the Borneo jungle to see wildlife, and to climb Mt. Kinabalu. That will have to be on my next trip.

Here is a short list of some prices for you fellow travelers, or just the curious. The exchange rate while I was there was US$1= RM 3.67.

RM 17 Small private room with fan, no A/C with share bath in Melaka
RM 35 A/C single room with share bath in KL
RM 19 4 hour bus ride from KL to Cameron Highlands
RM 8 Dorm bed in Cameron Highlands
RM 85 Full day tour in Cameron Highlands
RM 9 Banana leaf meal in Indian restaurant.
RM 12 Beer in restaurant
RM 6 Simple Chinese meal (meat with rice)
RM 85 Chalet in Perhentian for two, no A/C with fan, bath and mosquito net
RM 27 8 Hour Overnight bus from Kota Bharu to Penang
RM 1.5 Local bus to Penang Hill

Paradise Found, and then Lost, and then Found Again.

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

The shuttle bus to the Perhentian Islands ended at a small jetty, where we were ushered out of the bus and brought into a small travel agency. Since it was the Malaysian school holidays, Ann and I were sort of concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find accomodation so late in the day, so the agent behind the desk called a few places to book a chalet for us. Only two islands make up the Perhentian Islands, called Besar and Kecil, or as most people call them, Big and Small island. Most backpackers stay on the small island as the accomodation is cheaper and there are more bars apparently, but Ann’s friends were staying on the Big island, so I decided that was fine for just the three days I would be there. I was told that the Big Island was “full of resorts” and “really expensive.” What backpackers consider resortlike and expensive is fairly laughable, as Besar was the most unspoiled beach area I have ever been on, and while some things were more expensive than mainland Malaysia, it was insanely cheap compared to any other island getaway. [read on]

We’re in the Jungle, Baby

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

I left Kuala Lumpur early in the morning, on a bus that would cost me RM18, or about US$5, for a 4 hour journey. I was heading inland to an area called the Cameron Highlands, a large tea plantation and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Wonderfully Lost

Thursday, June 1st, 2006
Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is a sprawling city of 1.5 million people. Huge skyscrapers, most seemingly with names of banks on them, loom in the center of the city, surrounded by endless neighborhoods of Malays, Chinese and Indians. ... [Continue reading this entry]

Asia, but not quite.

Saturday, May 27th, 2006
There is a Hooter's in Singapore. I walked past it my second night there, and stopped and did a double-take. Pushing aside the temptationĀ for spicy chicken wings, I passed theĀ girls in bright orange shorts spinning hoola-hoops to try and attract ... [Continue reading this entry]