Friday, 25 March 2011

Malaysian Adventure: Many Delights

As promised, I will tell you of the delights of our Malaysian vacation. I will do so by location, going in temporal order.

We ate a delicious dim sum breakfast! The tea was amazing. Om nom nom. Then, since it was so early, we enjoyed the lights on the river running through the town:

The view was stunning whether you looked to the left...
...or to the right.
There were so many birds in the trees, that when they flew away, their exodus seemed to go on forever! Much of Malacca is painted in brick red, including an excellent church and bell tower in the central square. We got to see a cool Chinese Temple, too. Later, we explored an informative museum about the history of Malaysia. We stayed at Emily’s, a hostel whose highlight was a sweet shower filled with plants.

Kuala Lumpur, or KL:
KL's skyline from near the end of one of the subway lines
One highlight of KL was that it was the only city at which we arrived at a reasonable hour without difficulty. Our first evening there, we explored the bustling Chinatown with all of its foods and merchandise.
The next day, we got to go to the marvelous Batu Caves, one of the highlights of the whole trip.

We climbed a lot of steps to get up there, but it was worth it! The cave housed Hindu shrines and lots of monkeys and pigeons. The monkeys were particularly great, as usual:

We took a few trains and ended up at an awesome vegan restaurant for lunch. Yeah, vegan Malaysian food.
this character was prominent on the storefront.
It was pretty good, and the restaurant had by far the best bathroom of the trip, with all the luxuries: Western-style seat, toilet paper, sink with soap. It even had a nice ambience. What an indulgence!
Finally, we explored the orchid and hibiscus gardens, as well as the park in that area.

It was here that I performed the amazing feat of getting bit by mosquitos shortly after applying bus spray. But the flowers were truly beautiful, and Jason had lots of fun taking pictures.
Our last day in KL was spent mostly in the mall. The mall, housed at the base of the Petronas Towers, was really lovely, and I enjoyed walking through it so much that I even volunteered to carry Jason’s heavier backpack for a bit of it. We saw two movies, as the movies were cheap cheap cheap, and we had lots of time to kill before our train. These movies were: Unknown and Merong Mahawangsa. The first was a Hollywood film that I enjoyed much more than Jason did, though we both liked the second, which was a Malaysian film telling the largely mythical history of one of the provinces of Malaysia.

It involved a Roman prince, Chinese Princess, and a protagonist who makes a funny mirror device to burn up enemy ships. Too bad for him one of his enemies was also a weather wizard, so the clouds came in and some hand-to-hand combat was necessary, such as that featured on the poster.

We took a night train to Penang, on which I got more mosquito bites despite the air conditioning. I also got some sleep, but not enough, so after a lovely ferry ride, we traveled around the island by bus.

Jason got to see the island and take pictures, and I got to do a little seeing and lots of sleeping. We saw the usual mix of temples, churches, and mosques on Penang, as well as a few Chinese clan houses. We stayed at a place called Stardust which the guidebook said was much cleaner than the other choices. If this was true, I am incredibly glad we did not stay at one of the other places :p
Penang offered us the best nature experiences of the trip, as we got to see some totally awesome bioluminescence as well as go to the world’s smallest national park. The park boasted some nice beach views as well as a very fun canopy walk. I almost bathed in bug spray while here, and am happy to say the mosquitos did not touch me.
I also got to try Georgetown’s “white coffee.” It was ok, but not what I was expecting. It looked like coffee with all the fixings- there was certainly plenty of cream and sugar in the cup. But somehow, it still tasted like rather strong, black coffee. I shudder to think what white coffee tastes like black!

Kota Bharu:
Getting to Kota Bharu was an adventure, but Jason’s writing about that, so I’ll just say that we arrived in the afternoon. We had an ice cream waffle and I had a root beer float shortly after we arrived, and these two items were delicious enough that I remember that afternoon with fondness. We stayed at a place called Zeck’s where the owners were very friendly.
I slept most of the afternoon.
We had tasty Indian food for dinner. We had lots of tasty Indian food on this trip. I neglected to mention it in its due time, but really the various breads, mango lassis, and curries were absolutely delicious.
We left Kota Bharu the following morning on the jungle train. Just 15 hours later, we arrived safely in Singapore. Upon arriving at my dorm, I took what may be the best shower of my life up to this point. This, too, I count as a highlight of my trip. Really a delightful finish.

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