Malaysia really is a fascinating country for me. It offers virtually everything for everyone. Steeped in history and culture, everyone will find something to tempt them, guaranteed. My journey began in Kuala Lumpur – from a distance it looks like a Space Age City covered in towering building dwarfed the by famous Petronas Towers but start to explore at street level and this is where you will find the gems of Kuala Lumpur. Centuries old buildings housing an array of shops, little temples and food stops tempting you with delicious smelling (and very tasty) cuisine. From Kuala Lumpur it was time to head of to the Cameron Highlands. High up, with the air cool and clean, this green world could put you somewhere in England and in fact the english influences of the past appear everywhere – a real welcome break from the heat of Kuala Lumpur. From there we headed back to Kuala Lumpur where a short flight took us the Island of Langkawi – a duty free island on the North West coast almost bordering Thailand. Langkawi is the home to world class hotels and great beaches. It was lovely to just relax in the sparkling sea and allow all my cares to float away.
From Langkawi, a fast ferry to us to Penang. I love Penang. If you are looking for pristine beaches and clear seas, this is definitely not the place for you! The beaches are fine but the sea is murky with the Island being so close to the mainland. But, if like me you love food, food and more food, fantastic hotels, being pampered and have a fascination with culture, history, temples and buildings then Penang is your place. So modern, yet so ancient. Parts of George Town are now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Gorgeous colonial and Chinese Buildings line the busy streets. Food is everywhere. A highlight for me was taking a rickshaw ride through Old China Town and Little India at night. The Khoo Kongsi Clan – House Temple is amazing and just watching life go by whilst being peddled around watching the locals busy with their daily life eating and worshipping was just amazing. There is so much to do in Penang – the Snake Temple, the Temples at Burma Lane, Botanical Gardens, Kek Lok Si Temple, The Spice Garden, The Butterfly Farm, Penang Hill and the list goes on! Afternoon tea at The Eastern and Oriental Hotel was superb! – A Hotel dating back to British Colonial days gone by.
At night it seems that the whole of Penang goes to Gurney Drive to eat – hundreds of food stalls serving the most delicious cuisine for next to nothing. You would find it hard to spend more than £5 per person.
Goodbye Penang and hello Pangkor Laut! A gem of an Island that sits South of Penang, about 3 hours by road and then a fast speedboat across. One hotel, one Island covered in rich ancient rainforest. This is THE place to relax. This luxury resort comprises of accommodation in villas both on the hillside and on stilts over the water. The Spa is one of the best I have ever been to. They make your treatment into a complete ‘experience’ – too much said already or I will give it away! Emerald Bay lies on the other side of the Island. A good choice of resort restaurants ensures you are well catered for and the staff are truly fantastic. Watching the sunset on your private deck over the sea with a pre-dinner drink was just lovely. The nature of the Island is fantastic with Monitor Lizards, Monkeys and Hundreds of Toucans who are little cheeky sometimes. Farewell to Pangkor Laut.
Two and a half hours by air from Kuala Lumpur is Kota Kinabalu – Borneo – home to a fragile ecosystem and jungle. To combine Borneo with Kuala Lumpur and/or Penang and Langkawi is a great way to experience just about everything Malaysia offers. The Hotels in Borneo are once again World Class – Shangri-la have two properties there and there is a luxury Resort on Gaya Island – a marine eco-reserve when you can see turtles and snorkel over coral reef. We took a trip to down river by boat to see the indigenous people of the area and were lucky enough to encounter the Probiscus Monkeys. This is also the place for Orang Utans………although I was not lucky enough to see one in the Wild I did visit a Orang Utan rehabilitation centre. As I cuddled the baby Orang Utan it was one of those moments that I cannot describe and it will always stay in my memory.