(Feb 7,8,9 & 10, 2011)
We arrived in Kuala Lumpur after a five hour bus ride from Singapore on a very comfortable luxury bus. By chance, the first stop in KL was our hotel, The Sheraton Imperial, which turned out to be rather grand.
The Sheraton Imperial Lobby and Bar
The hotel was a high rise and we were on the 28th floor, so we had a nice view of parts of the city.
Kuala Lumpur from our bedroom window
We went exploring and the next day and took a City Tour, here are some of the highlights.
The iconic Petronas Towers, at one time the highest buildings in the world and still the second tallest
A rather fine War Memorial, sculpted by the same man, Felix de Waldon who created the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington DC.
The main Government Offices, built by the British in Moorish style
The British Cricket Club building, no longer used for cricket, but 125 years old
The Royal Palace where the King lives. The King changes every five years and is chosen from the nine Sultans who are the nominal leaders of the nine states.
On our last day, we visited the Batu Caves just outside Kuala Lumpur. The caves have religious significance to Hindus, who make a pilgrimage to the caves. However, the day we visited most visitors were tourists like ourselves.
The impressive statue at the entrance to the caves with the steps (to the left of the statue) up to the caves
Batu Caves (there is another cave at the rear of this cave)
One of the many monkeys which live in the caves and are well fed by the tourists (the monkey is on the left !)
Another impressive statue looking a little like The Incredible Hulk and a nice display of luminous souvenirs
It was also the Chinese New Year, so rabbits were everywhere and from time to time, we would come across Lion Dances.
(Feb 8, 2011)
On our second day, we took a two hour bus ride to Malacca, which is a port city on the west coast of Malaysia. Malacca was a very important trading city even before the Europeans arrived in 1511 and large parts of Malaysia were called Malacca for a very long time.
The Church is Portuguese and the big attraction in the main square are the brightly decorated bicycle rickshaws
We took a boat ride on the river which runs through the middle of Malacca. At one time, these would have been trading wharves but with the introduction of containerization, are slowly becoming gentrified, although they still have a long way to go.
River Boat cruise
The banks of the Malacca (or Melaka) River - slowly being gentrified
Kris waiting for the tour to begin
We also went up a tower to see the city from the air:
The Menari Taming Sari Tower 110 metres high
The view from the top of the tower. In historic times, the bay would have been filled with sailing ships
At the bottom of the tower was a small play area where kids could drive small battery powered cars. Just too cute !
So after several hours in Malacca, we headed back to the bus station and after a lengthy and wet ride home (it was raining HARD when we arrived and we had trouble finding a taxi) we made it back to the hotel.
(Feb 11, 12 &13 2011)
Once again, we took a deluxe bus this time from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. The buses are very comfortable and cheap - much better than anything in the US.
Penang is another old British outpost and has some wonderful old buildings, although some of them are in desperate need of repair.
These buildings have both been renovated and the one the right (a school) has a high rise tower behind it, but because of the reflective glass, the tower virtually disappears. Clever !
The waterfront isn't very impressive. Like Malacca, the main port activity is now somwehere else.
We took the ferry across to Butterworth which is on the mainland (Penang is an island) but there was nothing to see, but we did enjoy the ferry ride.
Ferry from Penang to Butterworth
It was a hot day and during our walk, we stumbled across a famous hotel, The Eastern and Orient (E&O) - a bit like The Raffles in Singapore. We took a quick look around the lobby and then treated ourselves to a beer in the bar.
The Eastern & Oriental Hotel
The next day, we started by visiting a famous house, originally built and occupied by a wealthy and famous chinese trader, Cheong Fatt Tze, after whom the house is named.
No photography is allowed inside the house so here are some exterior details:
Exterior details of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Georgetown, Penang
Crossing a stream in Penang National Park
In the afternoon, we took a bus to Ferringhi Beach, but wanted to see where the bus would stop and it ended up at a National Park, actually known as Penang National Park. There were trails through the jungle and along the beach but the highlight for us, was a canopy walkway.
The jungle comes all the way down to the beach
About to step off onto the walkway
No looking back now - just press on forwards !
Almost across. Good thing the cables were strong !
On the way back to the hotel, we did stop at Ferringhi Beach, the main beach for Penang. It was crowded and dangerous (we were almost hit by a landing paraglider) and a cold drink was appreciated.
Ferringhi Beach, Penang
Watch out below ! and a cool drink after a long walk
Our last visit in Penang was to a large Buddhist Temple, the Kek Lok Si Temple on the outskirts of Penang. The approaches to the temple and the temple itself were full of shops, we actually bought three masks we rather liked.
The temple was constructed between 1893 and 1905 although there have been other notable additions since.
The Temple from below
Some rather splendid interiors - a Buddha and highly decorated ceiling
Kris tries to get lucky with a rabbit (it is the year of The Rabbit) and takes a break (note the sign !)
A splendid temple roof
And at the highest point of the temple an enormous Bronze statue, a 100 foot high figure of Avolakitesara, the Goddess of Mercy
completed in 2002
Feb 8, 2011
Next day, we left Penang for our last stop in Malaysia, Langkawi. But first we had to catch the ferry.
The Penang Ferry Terminal for Langkawi
The ferry to Langkawi
Crossing from Langkawi to the Rebak Island Resort
It was a three hour ferry journey then a taxi ride and then ANOTHER smaller ferry to our hotel, the Rebak Island Resort
Our first view of the resort
A picture of our room
A fisherman heads out in the early morning light
Sunrise and the beach chairs wait for their customers - one of them is already taken !
The Resort Beach and a warm shallow bay to swim in.
The pool was pretty impressive as well:
During the day - and at night
Feb 12 2011
After four days at the Rebak Island Resort, we moved to another hotel on the main island of Langkawi. The Rebak Island Resort was very nice but a bit isolated and we wanted to see more of the main island.
The Danna Hotel was a very smart hotel and our room overlooked the central garden.
Feb 13, 2011
The next day, we rented a car and headed out to see the island of Langkawi. Our first stop was the cable car, which took us to the top of a nearby hill with nice views of the coast. However, we found the cable car and a rather interesting suspension bridge to be as interesting as the view.
Waiting for the Cable Car and Off we go !
The view as we ascended the mountain - actually a little bit scary ! Note the way the cable loops down and then up !
The view from the top with the bridge in the background
And the suspension bridge itself
The view towards the ocean
Back on the ground (so to speak) we wanted to try having having our feet manicured by fish ! Hundreds of little fish nibble away at your feet and eat the dead skin. Gross, but it seems to work. The big problem is that they tickle until you get used to it.
Those fish nibbling away do tickle ! Fifteen minutes of nibbling was enough for both of us
Just outside the Spa with the fish was a beautiful pond filled with lotus flowers. Too pretty to ignore !
We spent the rest of the day touring the island and although we enjoyed the tour, none of the pictures were terribly interesting, as it was rather a misty day. After we returned to the hotel, we had dinner at a Russian Restaurant on the marina quay and then headed to bed.
Feb 14, 2011
The next day, we flew back to Subang, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. This was because we discovered we needed to enter Thailand by air in order to get a 30 day stay. If we entered by land (or by ferry) from Malaysia, they would only let us stay 15 days. Although this was a nuisance, we decided to fly to Ko Samui in Thailand and the only way we could do this was to first to return to Kuala Lumpur. We stayed in a very modern business hotel, The Empire, next to a brand new shopping mall.
The Empire Hotel lobby and a bowing figure - presumably welcoming their guests !
And (for now) that was the end of the Malaysian part of our trip. We will return to Malaysia after we have been to Thailand and Cambodia.