Malaysia truly Asia......
Trip Start May 11, 2004
13Trip End May 10, 2005
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A taxi shared with two Malaysian's and the rudest Chinese driver was our route across the border into Johor Bahru the southernmost city in Malaysia. Johor Bahru is not a place you want to spend any time, we headed straight for the bus station for our coach to Mersing, a port on the east coast, from there a boat would take us across to the Tioman Islands, our next destination.
Pulau Tioman sounded idyllic, the largest and seeming most spectacular of the east coast islands still untouched by tourism. Tioman made it's movie debut as the setting for the paradise island of Bali Hai in the film South Pacific and Time magazine considered it one of the world's ten most beautiful islands in the 70's.
Fast forward to 2004. Passing various other islands on our boat trip to Tioman I thought that we had once again found our little piece of paradise but every time the boat docked then left each island, we were still aboard. Oh well, maybe the next island.
When we finally arrived at ABC beach on Pulau Tioman, we were sorely disappointed. The beach was strewn with debris, burnt out "A frame" bungalows and a general air of neglect, worse of all it was raining! We had booked to stayed at Nasri's Place which has a I and II, one at each end of the beach about 1km apart, getting off the boat at the middle of the strip of beach, we couldn't remember which one we had book. You guessed it, weighed down with backpacks we went to the wrong one first which offered very basic wooden huts that had seen better days, thankfully the other one provided newly built air conditioned rooms.
The weather was overcast the following morning and having stayed on some proper paradise islands near Bali, we decided to move on the next day. That night we met up with a couple of Iranian girls from Germany, Linda & Neda who told us about a trip to a "Long House" they did in Sarawak a week before, it sounded amazing. Over dinner with the girls we discovered that one was a model and other is a hand model, Junaidy was in his element!
Waking up late, we nearly missed our return boat to Mersing, we had to be up at 8am (that's really early for us nowadays!) on the boat we saw Jo & Jo, two girls from England that we met on the boat going to Tioman (they were moving on too). Both had recently qualified as PE teachers and were taking 6 weeks to travel through Asia before starting their teaching career, they were also heading our way.
We took a coach from Mersing to Melaka and stayed at our cheapest accommodation yet, a youth hostel called Shraz's, very basic but cheap at £3 a night!
Melaka, was once the greatest British trading post in South East Asia. With its beautiful Peranaken (a person who is half Chinese, half Malay) shop houses, Portuguese and Dutch architecture and Islamic mosques, Melaka is a city full of history.
That night we went out exploring with the girls into Chinatown, having had enough of Asian food, we ended up at a little Italian restaurant. As we were the only people in there, we asked them to change the depressing music to something a bit more up beat and lively, with a straight face the waiter put on a CD of Christmas music. We ended up eating pizza listening to "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". Very bizarre!
Having read up on the Longhouse's in Sarawak using the trusty Lonely Planet we booked a couple of tickets on AirAsia (Asia's Easyjet) for £25 each return leaving from Kuala Lumpur a week later. Sarawak was not originally on our itinery but as we had left Indonesia a couple of weeks early we decided to fit it in.
Along with the fusion of European and Asian architecture, Melaka is famed for it's bicycle rickshaws which the owners have lovingly decorated with a passion to be "the most over the top", complete with stereo blaring out cheesy music and flashing fairy lights at night. Although we decided to walk, they seemed very popular, maybe this is one idea we can bring back to SOHO !!
I just want a black cab!
We spent the next day walking around the many old buildings that make up the old town of Melaka. After stocking up on a few more pirate DVD's we finished our last night back in Chinatown and sampled a local dish called Nasi Lemak. Rice cooked in coconut milk, served with dried anchovies, boiled egg, peanuts and cucumber slices. An odd mix, but very tasty.
Another coach ride brought us to Kuala Lumpur the capital of Malaysia, recently famed for the Petronas Towers, unfortunately since 9/11, now the worlds highest.
800 tickets are given away each day to go upto the bridge linking the two towers, these are normally all gone very early in the morning and as we're not the earliest of risers we were too late, a more impressive view is from the top of the Menara Tower which being built on a hill is actually taller than the Petronas Towers. It also offers a 360° view of Kuala Lumpur compared to the limited view offered by the Petronas Towers bridge.
We spent our first couple of nights in a 200 room tourist type hotel but decided to check out the hostel situation in the capital, luckily we came across the Rainforest B&B which had a "penthouse" room available with a large balcony and floor to ceiling windows, all for £10 a night!
We spent the rest of our time in Kuala Lumpur getting things done, organising travellers cheques from the bank, doing laundry, checking out the shopping malls.....see it's not all fun travelling !!!
As we were leaving KL and flying to Sarawak the next day, we decided to have a night out on the town and found a local bar that was having a drag show competition. Well, a few quiet drinks turned into a whole night out and getting very drunk watching a lousy drag contest, Kuala Lumpur needs you Gloria!
Where I stayed