Yes, I know that this blog is about a month overdue. I have finally written about my trip to Malaysia and have written it with quite a lot of detail. I apologize in advance for this. Trust me when I say that I will not be offended if no one wants to read my lengthy ramblings. Here it goes…
My co-worker Lani and I left our apartment building at 7:00am on Saturday the 24th of January. After about a 40-minute taxi ride we made it to the airport. While waiting at the airport we were freezing cold. Both of us were only wearing jeans and a light sweater knowing that we were about to be in extremely hot Malaysia. I was so cold waiting for the plane that I went and spent 40 kuai (6 dollars) on a cup of tea! It wasn’t cold outside, only inside.
After about a 4-hour flight, we made it to Malaysia. As soon as we stepped outside of the plane I knew I had underestimated the humidity and sun of Malaysia. I was already wishing I had a pair of shorts to change into. Right outside of the airport we hopped on a bus to take us to the bus stop in Kuala Lumpur. One hour later we were at the main bus station in KL. By this time it was about 3 o’clock and the last time we had eaten was at 8am. We bought our bus tickets to Lumut and grabbed lunch at a little hole in the wall place across the street.
At about 5 o’clock we once again boarded a bus. We were sitting in the very back row on a bus that had seen better days. As the bus pulled out of the station and headed down the road I knew that it was going to be a long ride. The shocks must have been broken because I felt as though the bus was jumping up and down the ENTIRE bus journey. And how long was this bus journey you might ask?... It was 6 hours long! We didn’t arrive in Lumut until 11pm! By this time we had been traveling for over 12 hours. Little did we know that we still had a 1-hour car ride before arriving at our final destination! We finally pulled into our resort at about midnight. It had been a very long day and I was just looking forward to getting some sleep.
The next morning I woke up at about 7:45 because I was so eager to see what our resort looked like and especially to see our view from our balcony! I was not disappointed when I opened up the curtain. I could actually see the ocean! I quietly found my book and read on the balcony while waiting for Lani to wake up. At about 9 o’clock we headed downstairs to eat breakfast. I was quite surprised at how I was the only Caucasian person in sight. There were many families who were Chinese and many families who were Indian. Because of the demographics of the visitors to the resort the selection of “Western” cuisine was pretty scarce.
After breakfast we decided to walk down to the beach and check it out. We were quite disappointed by the condition of the beach and water. It was dirty and not well kept at all. The water was not clear in the least and the sand was quite muddy feeling almost like you were stepping in a thick paste. Needless to say we knew we weren’t going to be spending much time on the beach of our resort. However, I did convince Lani to go kayaking with me in the ocean. We grabbed two kayaks and had a blast paddling around in the water! (Well at least I did.)
After our somewhat disappointing time at the beach we decided to go to the pool. We ended up jumping in on a game of water polo with a bunch of people who did not speak English. Even though there was a language barrier it was still a blast! Afterwards while floating in the water we met a man who could tell by our accents that we were from America and asked where we were from. We chatted with the man, Kupreet, for a little bit and then he invited us to go with him, his wife, and child into town for lunch. We of course were thrilled by the offer.
We met Kupreet’s wife Michele and son Christian, got into his car, and headed for Lumut. Upon arriving in Lumut we soon found out that because of Chinese New Year a lot of places were closed. Kupreet informed us that a huge population of Chinese live in Malaysia and are the ones who own a lot of the shops. Kupreet and his family reside in Malaysia, about 3 hours east of where we were. We ended up finding a little local hole in the wall place with authentic Malaysian food. Kupreet was even so kind to pay for our meal. Perhaps he felt as though we were two under-paid starving traveling teachers because he also gave us some oranges from the back of his car.
After lunch Kupreet was kind enough to drive us to the bus stop in Lumut where Lani and I made our plans for the following day. By this time it was already 2pm so we decided just to walk around Lumut to see what the city was all about. Quite honestly there wasn’t much to see at all. We ate dinner at KFC in Lumut and caught a shuttle back to our resort. (Yes, American fast food chains can now be found just about everywhere and yes, the foods at these American chains are always different and unique wherever you go!) By the time we got back it was a quick dip in the pool and time for bed.
Monday, day two in Malaysia was spent basically in a bus or taxi the entire day. This was probably one of the most frustrating things about our trip. The taxis were very expensive and in order to escape from the resort they were a necessary evil! Anyways, we rode a bus for 2 hours to a city called Ipoh. When we arrived in Ipoh we took a few taxis and visited Sam Poh Tong Temple and Kellie’s Castle.
We first stopped at Sam Poh Tong Temple, which ended up being a huge let down. The description for it read,
“Located within the huge limestone caves of Gunung Rapat, the Sam Poh Tong Temple is a famous cave temple with various statues of Buddha sitting among natural stalactites and stalagmites. There is also a vegetarian restaurant, a wishing well and a tortoise pond on site.”
It ended up being nothing but a crowded, smoky, ash covered shrine in which I didn’t really understand. There were so many incense sticks burning inside the cave that my eyes were on fire! Would I recommend this place to anyone? NO!
Our next stop was Kellie’s Castle, which ended up being WAY better than I expected! The description for it read,
“The incomplete dream of Scottish planter William Kellie Smith, Kellie’s Castle is believed to have secret rooms and underground tunnels. Building began in 1915 and stopped in 1926 with the sudden death of its owner.”
Now, please note that I am not a believer in ghosts, but it was definitely interesting walking through this never completed castle. I walked through it imaging how it would have looked if it were ever completed. I also couldn’t help wondering about the man who dreamed up the design of the castle. It was so amazing that I really didn’t want to leave. If I had millions (perhaps even billions) of dollars I would want to restore Kellie’s Castle and see William Kellie Smith’s dream realized.
When Lani finally pulled me away from the Castle we realized that we needed to somehow get back to Ipoh to catch a bus back to Lumut. After standing on the road for awhile and seeing no bus nor taxi I decided that perhaps what we needed to do was to make a sign saying “Ipoh” and basically try to hitch hike our way back to Ipoh. (Please note that we were two obviously foreign girls standing beside the road in what felt like 100+ degree weather.) Fortunately about 10 minutes later a man stopped and gave us a 15-minute ride back to Ipoh. We bought our tickets for Lumut, had an hour to spare, and decided to walk around to find a place to eat. We again, found a hole in the wall place and grabbed some rice and curry mush to eat. (Sounds delicious doesn’t it?)
After eating we had to walk back to the bus stop in a torrential down pour just to discover that our bus for our 2+-hour ride back to Lumut was a much smaller, more dilapidated version and had standing room only. We were not very happy campers. Some how we must have did something wrong because this smaller, more dilapidated bus went incredibly slow and stopped for people to get off every 10 miles or so. So our 2-hour bus ride turned into a 3-hour+-bus ride! We got to Lumut, caught a taxi, got to our resort, and went straight to bed.
On Tuesday, day two of our trip we decided to try out a snorkeling park that we had seen in a brochure we had picked up. After spending a pretty penny on a 1 and a half hour taxi ride there we were amazingly shocked by what we found. Again, let me just point out some things that the brochure said,
“Fun snorkeling, floating board, having good time, easy fishing, fun and excitement, Teluk Batik Golden Beach, Malaysia first inland snorkeling.”
Our first clue that it was bad was seeing no one in sight. Before we purchased tickets to get in we asked to walk in and take a look. Lucky for us that we did because all that we saw was a poorly kept up tourist attraction that perhaps at one point was pretty cool. We of course declined purchasing tickets and instead decided to head down to the beach. The beach fortunately turned out to be pretty fun. We rented two chairs and two inner tubes. I, once again, was the only Caucasian in sight. So, needless to say I got a lot of stares. Lani and I swam, floated, and swam some more. The beach was crowded, but still was a nice relaxing day filled with sun and beach just how a vacation to Malaysia should be spent.
Now, let me first start by saying that, yes, I did put on a lot of sunscreen and did reapply the sunscreen several times. With saying that, I got SO burnt that day at the beach. I got the worst sunburn that I have EVER gotten! The most interesting part is that I didn’t feel as though I was getting that much exposure to the sun. I felt as though my body was mostly in the water. The place that the burn most affected me was my back and legs. By that evening at the hotel I felt as though my legs and back were on fire. I was almost in tears I was hurting so bad. During dinner I had to wear a sweater because the sunburn was giving me the chills. Needless to say that night was a very sleepless night.
Wednesday, day three of our trip was spent with me trying not to move reading a book at our resort. My legs were so swollen and so red that it hurt to stand, hurt to move, and hurt to even wear any type of pants or shorts. I also was never able to find aloe vera gel because again, I was the only Caucasian in probably a 100-mile radius! I did find some type of Nevea cooling spray, but it definitely was not as affective as good ‘ol aloe vera gel. That night I enjoyed a pina colada at the outside bar with the cool breeze while listening to a live band sing karaoke.
On Thursday, day four of our trip I was feeling well enough to venture out on the boat to go snorkeling and island hopping. We jumped on a boat at our resort and headed to nearby Pangkor Island. Our first stop was a little spot called “snorkeling paradise.” Would I necessarily call it “paradise”… probably not, but it was decent. I was able to see quite a few fish and a little bit of coral. However, the water quality was nowhere near the snorkeling I did in the Bahamas!
After an hour snorkeling we were dropped off on Pangkor Island. During our entire trip we were continually told, “Go to Pangkor Island, you just have to go to Pangkor Island.” Sticking to the theme of the trip, it was kind of a let down. All Pangkor Island ended up being was a place of little shops trying to sell wandering tourists a bunch of useless stuff. Trying to stay positive I told Lani that we should just walk down the road until we found something interesting since we had about 4 hours to kill. We walked until we found a little side of the road restaurant where we grabbed two cold cokes and took a rest. Once we finished our cokes we decided to walk down the road a bit more until we found the temple someone had told us about. After about 10 minutes of walking we found it. It was a temple that closely resembled many of the other temples we had seen since being in Malaysia.
We then walked back to the pier that our boat was meeting us at and waited until our boat arrived. We got on the boat and headed back to our resort. By this time we were both pretty tired. I decided to order room service since the restaurant I wanted to eat at didn’t open until 9 and Lani decided to go dine at the Italian restaurant we had eaten at the night before. I ate, packed my bags up, and went to bed.
On Friday, day five of our trip it was an early wake up call for us. We woke up at 5:30 in order to give us enough time to catch a taxi into town and to catch our bus back to Kuala Lumpur. Fortunately, this time our bus was quite nice and we even got to have two seats to ourselves. After a 5 hour bus ride and 1 hour taxi ride, we had made it to Kuala Lumpur airport. Our plane arrived in Guangzhou at about 9pm. We then, once again, got on a bus, rode for about 40 minutes, then hailed a taxi, and finally made it home at about 10:15pm.
I am so glad that I went to Malaysia. It was definitely interesting, taught me a lot of lessons, and gave me just more life experiences. Would I recommend others to visit Malaysia?… umm probably not. Would I want to go back?… umm probably not. Did I enjoy my Chinese New Year holiday?… yes.