Langkawi

March 7, 2015

After spending a few days in Penang I decided to go to Langkawi. Langkawi is another Malay island close to Penang. I think the ferry from Penang takes 3-4 hours, but I decided to fly as I found a cheap ticket and the flight was only half an hour. I don’t think I’ve ever been on such a short flight, it was very weird, pretty much just up and down.

In Langkawi I stayed at a backpackers called Rainbow Lodge in the Cenang area, I’d read about it before and had some people recommend it to me. Luckily I had called them a couple of days in advance to reserve a bed (they have no online booking), cause when I got there it was fully booked along with many of the other hostels in the same area, probably because of Chinese new year holiday. I met a couple of people walking around looking for a room, they eventually found somewhere, and we decided to meet up the next day and maybe hire some scooters to explore the island.

The next morning I bumped into another person I’d met the other day, he was getting a group together to go on a boat tour to explore a river and some caves. It sounded like a great idea so we decided to join them. After waiting for ages trying to get everyone together and on the same page we set off in two big taxis to a river in northern Langkawi where the boat tour would start.

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At first we went to a spot to see eagles. The driver had brought some food he threw in the water to get the eagles close to the boat to that we could see them better. I’m not really a fan of this kind of “animal tourism”. I’d heard about this eagle feeding before and how it’s not only good as it can make the eagles dependent on handouts from humans. Anyways, it was too late to withdraw from it now and I enjoyed seeing the big birds up close.

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After eagles it was time for more animal feeding, this time monkeys! As we went into the mangrove forest they started appearing and we stopped for while to watch them while people were throwing them nuts that they would pick up from the water and sometimes dive for. One even got onto the boat which just scared most of us! After giving him what he wanted (food!) he took a short swim back to the trees.

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We continued down the river towards a tiny cave that the boat could just about enter and then back out of again. After that we went to a fish farm and restaurant. While we were waiting for the food some of the boys working there showed us the different kind of fish they were breading. The food was ok, we actually didn’t have fish, just noodles with chicken.

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After food it was off the the bat cave, a pretty common attraction in Langkawi. It’s basically a (pretty small) dark cave you can walk through by following a path. You get a torch and can see loads of bats in the ceiling of the caves. There were also monkeys around on the footpaths around the swampy bits.

The tour all in all was pretty good I think, I mostly enjoyed just being on a boat and the nature and good company.

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We finished on a nice, quite beach on the northern coast just before sunset. We went for a swim before we walked back to the river where the tour started, just across the road. The water was warm and it was so nice to go in since I hadn’t actually been to a beach since Sydney.

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The next day we had plans to get actually get the scooters and drive around the island, buuut, I got ill and was in bed feeling sick and with fever for two days. At least this cute cat joined me so I didn’t have to be completely alone. He scared me at first, I woke up in the night and felt something big and soft on my leg, but obviously when I realised it was a cat he was welcome to stay. I had seen him walking around the area earlier and he seemed clean and healthy (except for that cut on his leg..).

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I started recovering towards the end of the second day and decided to go to Jakarta the next day, or I wouldn’t get enough time in Indonesia. It’s a shame I didn’t get to see more of Langkawi, but I can always come back later if I want to.

 

 

Penang

February 27, 2015

From Kuala Lumpur I took a bus and ferry to Penang, an island in northwest Malaysia. I stayed at a hostel called Couzi Couji in Georgetown, the main town in Penang. When I got there I met some girls in my dorm (including two Swedish ones, there are so many Swedes travelling here) that I went for dinner with. In the evening we had drinks in the hostel. The hostel was pretty cool, they had a bar and some cats.

The next day we went to Penang Hill. We shared a taxi to the base and then took the funicular railway to the top. The view would have been great if it wasn’t so foggy.

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It was a bit cooler on the hill which was nice. There was also a small Hindu temple which we had a look at.

After going down the hill we went to the Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia.

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In the evening we had dinner at a night market with lots of different foods. Food in Penang was really good in general, it’s famous for the food and we tried a few different local dishes during the day. For breakfast we had Char Kway Teow, a noodle stir fry with seafood, and for dinner I had Chinese crispy pork rice and dumplings. Everything was great and the following days in Penang I continued to eat a lot of nice, cheap food.

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The next day me and Radhika, one of the girls from the hostel, went for Indian for breakfast and then we did a tour around the town to see the main sights and some street art. Central Georgetown is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so there were some historical buildings and interesting architecture to see. Georgetown is also famous for its street art.

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This day was also the start of the start of the celebrations for Chinese new year so there were a lot going on. We had dinner at a Malaysian hawker stall and while we were eating it started pouring down. We were stuck in the rain for quite some time, then we decided to run to a bar just down the road so we could have a drink while we waited. The food place was Muslim so they didn’t serve any alcohol. When the rain died down we started walking back home. On the way we walked passed a small temple and were invited to the new year celebration where we got to see a small lion dance.

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There were more celebrations going on near the hostel and we stopped there for a while here too to watch.

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My last day in Penang I spent resting which was really nice. I had an early night and flew to Langkawi the next day.

After Penang I went to Langkawi and I’m currently in Bandung in Indonesia. I left Langkawi for Jakarta a few days ago. Jakarta didn’t seem like a great place (and I don’t really like visiting big cities) and I decided to not stay long. My first morning in Jakarta I met another girl, Olivia, who had also just arrived and wanted to travel around Java. We found a tour we wanted to do and by the evening we had it all booked with a pickup at 5am the next morning. For the next 6 days we’re travelling around in a car with a driver/guide and seeing different volcanoes, some hot springs and temples.

 

Kuala Lumpur

February 20, 2015

I’ve just arrived in Langkawi this evening after spending four days in Penang. Malaysia has been great so far. It’s very hot and humid and I’m eating lots of great food.

I started Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. I got there Friday night last week after an 8 hour flight from Sydney. I had a small room for myself in a hostel with shared bathroom. It was nice to have my own room as I needed some time to plan and research where to go next.

After I arrived at to hostel I went out to see a friend from London, Vincent, who happened to be in KL. I met up with Vincent and Anand, the brother of my friend Mahen, and some of their mates. It was a good night, after the bar we ended up at a Japanese restaurant to see a Japanese magic show. It was a very random night, but good! The magic was very impressive but that could just have been for the drinks we had before.. In the end we went for some really good Chinese food in Chinatown, close to where I was staying.

The next day I walked around the city to see them main tourist attractions. I started with Central Market.

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Then I went to see the Merdeka Square (Independence Square), but it was so hot I kind of just walked there and took a quick look and then left to the National Textiles Museum across the road. The museum was pretty good, they showed different kinds of textiles, clothing and accessories used in Malaysia throughout history. It was also a good escape from the heat for a moment…

After the textile museum I walked down to the mosque and the Islamic Arts Museum. I went to the museum first, the mosque would open for tourists a bit later. The Islamic Arts Museum was really good. They had art from different muslim cultures and countries, there were models of different mosques, old Quran writings, paintings and more. After the museum I walked back to the National Mosque which was now open for visitors.

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The mosque was impressive. Tourists weren’t allowed into the prayer hall but we could look inside and walk around on the outside part of the building.

I ended the day with a walk around Chinatown. I went through a very busy market where vendors tried to sell me lots of fake bags, wallets and watches.

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I spent the rest of the evening in my hostel room just relaxing and trying to figure out where to go after KL. When I got hungry later I went out to the Chinese next door for some noodles.

The next day Vincent picked me up and we went on a tour around town to see different sights. We started with the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre. Royal Selangor is a pewter manufacturer and retailer. They’ve also made the worlds largest pewter tankard.

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At the visitor centre we got a free guided tour about the history of the company and pewter in general and then they showed us the different stages of creating pewter products. We also got to try to hammer a pattern into to a cup, is was very hard to get it right but looked so easy when done by the professional.

After that we drove to the Petronas twin towers so that I got to see them. We never went up in them cause the tickets were sold out at that time. I’m coming back to Malaysia in April though to meet up with Mahen, so maybe I’ll go up for the view then.

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We had some Malay food for lunch around the towers, it was really good! I had rice with some kind of lamb and beef. I’m loving the food over here, there’s a good mix of Chinese, Indian and Malaysian street food, so good!

After the towers we went to see the Batu Caves where we met up with Anand. The Batu Caves is a limestone hill with caves and Hindu shrines and temples. I climbed all the 272 steps in the heat, it almost killed me.

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There were lots of cute little monkeys running around.

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The next day I took the bus up to Penang where I had a really good time, I’ll write more about it later. I’m always so busy doing stuff this blog is starting to lag behind a bit, but I’ll try to keep it pretty up to date. I’ll at least be updating the map here with my current location since it’s a lot quicker to do than a whole post: http://hannahollstrom.se/travels/map/