Malaysia

On to Penang

As our journey through Malaysia continues we find ourselves in Penang. Enroute from the Perhentian Islands we stopped for a few days at the Bali Beach Resort just outside of Kuala Besut. Nice place, but it certainly is a lesson in experiencing another culture. It just so happened we arrived there during the first day of Ramadan. As this area of Malaysia is predominately Muslim it made for a quiet stay. Quiet as in the only restaurant in the area open during the day was the one in the resort and they were definitely geared down for the month. Fortunately the pool is great and the rooms had fantastic views so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Lesson learned.

On to Penang.

Firefly Airline

We booked our flight on Malaysia Air but were flown to Penang on their budget airline, Firefly. Great airline, smooth landings and they served peanuts, I like peanuts! Quite enjoyable.

One of our new experiences we had in Penang is Uber. Wow! I understand it can be different in countries around the world, but here, it is awesome. I can see why taxi companies hate them. It would take an order of magnitude for any taxi company I have ever used to bring themselves up to the convenience, timelines, service, and price of what we have experienced with Uber in Penang. Love it.

Sunset from our apartment

The apartment we rented for the first ten days here is in an area that was described as lower middle class. I am not exactly sure what that means here, but I quite liked the area. I had a short conversation with a local in the restaurant, he was curious about where we were staying, as how he put it was “we don’t get many tourists around here”. The apartment was great, photo is of the sunset from our window, and the restaurants in the area were fantastic. And cheap.

It is hot here so casual walks around sightseeing can be a bit draining. We have gotten out to do a few and found the area safe, friendly, and interesting. Of course the most photogenic area we have been to is the UNESCO heritage site of Georgetown in the centre of Penang.

Pinang Fountain

This 4.8 metre high modern sculpture is meant to represent the betel nut, which is where the state derives its’ name from. Historical government building in the background.

Downing St.

The evidence and influence of 170+ years of British rule can be seen everywhere.

Little Children on a Bicycle

Ernest Zacharevic is a young Lithuania-born artist who did a series of murals on the walls in the streets of Penang. “Little Children on a Bicycle” is probably one of the most famous.

Boy on a Bike

A very popular activity for tourists is hunting down the location of all of the pieces of wall art around Georgetown.

Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur

Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur.

The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This

Not all the wall art is by Ernest Zacharevic. “The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This” mural is a sad example of how the climate is deteriorating the wall art all around Penang.

I look forward to returning several times over the next few weeks to explore more of the unique wall art here.

Poh Hock Seah Twa Peh Kong Temple

You never know what you will find around a corner in Georgetown. It lends itself to slow exploration.

We are super excited to be in Penang and get a feel for the pace of life here. Stay tuned for are further exploration of this great city.

Categories: Malaysia, Photography, transportation, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

#Perhentian #perhentianisland #boat #clouds #blue #Malaysia

Without a doubt the single most memorable thing for me about the Perhentian Islands was the intensity of the colour. When the sun was shining down on the rocks, water, or clouds everything was taken to extreme. I loved it.

The reason we travelled to the Perhentian Islands was for diving. During our time on Langkawi Island whenever we mentioned to someone we were looking for a place to possibly go diving, everyone suggested the Perhentian Islands. The embarrassing part for me is I had never heard of them. But after some frantic internet education we decided to check it out for ourselves.

Taking it in

Admittedly, we did not see much of the islands. Our main purpose was diving and quite frankly, it was so damn hot that going for a stroll was a bit punishing. However this little bay just down the beach from our place was heaven. After diving one day we spent the better part of an afternoon relaxing here.

Perhentian Mosque

Several times a day we were reminded where we were by the loudspeakers from the mosque on the other island broadcasting prayers. It is interesting how quickly you acclimatize to these things.

Malaysian Coastguard

On our last day the Coastguard (I believe) did a cruise between the two islands.

During our visit we stayed at Tuna Bay Island Resort, which is located on the larger of the two islands. The food was excellent and the rooms were simple but clean and comfortable. As well, probably the best shower we have experienced since coming to Asia.

Tuna Bay Island Resort Beach

The beach out front of the resort was very nice. A small coral reef has been fostered within the swimming area so snorkelling was excellent right off shore. You did have to watch for the little black and white reef fish as when you stopped moving they liked to bite your legs. Nothing serious, just a hell of a surprise.

Universal Diver

Universal Diver was right next door to the resort and handled their scuba package deals. I found it a little confusing the first day figuring out their routine. However once I had that down the diving was great.

Universal Diver Boat

The gear was first class and the dive masters helped solve the problem of ill fitting fins immediately which made the rest of my dives very comfortable.

The diving was great. Visibility was between 2 and 18 metres, most of the time in the 10 – 12 metre range. We visited a variety of sites which kept everything interesting.

Porcupine Fish

This porcupine fish did not have the most welcoming face, but it was cute the way he was tucked into his little hole.

Crown of Thorns Starfish

Crown of Thorns Starfish. Unfortunately these are best known for having a great appetite for coral.

Giant Clams

Several Giant Clams in the area.

Cartoon Clams

I have no idea what type of clam this is, but I loved the cartoon nature of the opening. The white worm just added to the effect.

Dark Wreck

Just so you don’t think we ever have so/so dives. This wreck needed more time for coral to grow and fish to move in. Due to a head cold Karen had to miss this dive, which she wasn’t that sorry about.

Check out the short video I did of our diving here:

 

Mixing Cultures

One of the interesting things to observe here is the mixture of cultures. The majority of guests here are either Asians or Europeans. Seeing a lady in her bikini walking by a group of girls in their hijabs snorkelling causes no excitement whatsoever. Everybody just does their own thing. Rather refreshing.

And did I mention the colours?

Karen by the Bay

Karen relaxing by the bay.

View From the Beach

Couldn’t help but get this shot as I was laying on the beach.

If you get the chance, come visit the Perhentian Islands. Beautiful, reasonable, and did I mention the colour? Love it here.

Categories: Malaysia, Photography, scuba, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Langkawi, Malaysia

Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah

This statue represents one of the interpretations of the name Langkawi (Reddish-brown eagle in Malay). It is located in the administrative centre of Kuah which is the largest town on the island.

We have settled into our housesit on Langkawi Island in northern Malaysia. Not to give you the wrong idea, but one of the most attractive things about the island is it is a duty free zone. As Malaysia has the 3rd highest tax on alcohol in the world, this is a wonderful perk. There are limits on how much you can purchase a month, but they are fairly reasonable.

Malindo Air

Another wonderful find for us has been the Malaysian/Indonesian airline Malindo Air. Good service and comfortably spaced seats. As well, unlike North American airlines they do not gouge you for baggage weight. For this 65 minute flight we paid $65CDN for both of us and that included 30kg of checked luggage each.

The heat here is pretty brutal. The coolest time of the day is about an hour before sunrise when it is just 25 – 26C. During the day it gets up to 31 – 33C, the killer is the 65 – 95% humidity which adds another 10C of perceived heat. Thank goodness for air conditioning. This may not have been the best place to decide to start increasing my running mileage.

Rice Paddies

This fellows red top grabbed my attention as we were having our morning coffee. This is just off our back patio. Acres of rice paddies which they work with tractors and hand held hoes.

Evening Rain Showers

Most evenings we get some sort of rainfall. This evening we were also treated to some colour at sunset.

Pagan

So fortunate to have these wonderful cats to look after.

Tootsie

As the home owners have been incredibly gracious in allowing us to use their vehicle we have also started exploring the island and look forward to seeing even more of it before we leave.

Tanjung Rhu Beach

Karen checking the water temperature on Tanjung Rhu Beach on the northeast corner of the island. It’s hot.

North Tanjung Rhu Beach

The clouds here are spectacular. This was on the north end of Tanjung Rhu Beach.

Stay tuned for more sights from Langkawi, as well as a report on the scuba diving here.

 

 

Categories: House Sitting, Malaysia, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Getting Acquainted With Kuala Lumpur

Flag of Malaysia

The Malaysian Flag at Merdeka (Independence) Square

So here we are; Malaysia. We have been looking forward to this leg of our journey for awhile. This is the 14th country so far in the last 3 and a half years and it is a bit different. Other countries in SE Asia have religions that we are unfamiliar with, however there is no dodging the fact that you have entered a country that is predominately Muslim. From the layout of the grocery stores, to the hajibs, burqas (ladies), taqiyahs (men) on peoples’ heads, to the calls to prayer periodically throughout the day. Only about half the population is Muslim but because it is different to what we are used to it comes across as very noticeable.

"Not in Kansas anymore"

You know things have changed when you glance up at the clock. To be fair, this was in the National Mosque. All the other clocks we have seen use what we would call conventional digits.

Ladies Only Coaches

On one of the train lines in Kuala Lumpur, two of the six cars in the train are designated for ladies only. One of those things that just catches your attention.

Before we arrived here we had made arrangements to rent an apartment for the two weeks of our stay in Kuala Lumpur. This has been a great decision as it places us in the middle of the city with easy access to shopping and transit. This apartment cost us $600CDN for 14 nights.

37th Floor Infinity Pool

We have been in this pool nearly every day we have been here. It is great cooling down and being able to look over the city and reminisce about the sights you have seen. Yes, those are the Petronas Towers in the background. The tallest twin towers in the world.

29th Anniversary

We were able to celebrate our 29th anniversary in the restaurant atop our tower. Fantastic.

We have eased into the sightseeing here. Partly because we are not under a time crunch, but also because of the heat. It is HOT here. I know, not a lot of sympathy from people and I am not looking for any. I am just stating a fact. A cool day here is 32C and that is before factoring in the “feels like” humidex which usually adds another 4 – 7C.

Hop On Hop Off KL

One of the Hop On Hop Off buses we took around the city. (79RM/$22CDN for 48 hours) In most cities we have used them it is always a challenge to get the seats in the open air on the top level. Not here, it is so hot everyone eventually comes inside.

National Mosque

Islam is the national religion of Malaysia so a trip would not be complete without a visit to the National Mosque.

Prayer Hall

The Mosque apparently has a capacity of 15,000 people. Thankfully it was nearly empty when we were there. The people were very welcoming and open in letting us wander about. They did ask that we didn’t go into the main prayer hall, which I thought was more than reasonable.

Bank Negara Museum and Art Gallery

A hidden gem was the Bank Negara Museum. A history of currency in Malaysia as well as an excellent art gallery focused on Malaysia. And it is free!

Central Staircase

Couldn’t resist getting artsy with the staircase in the Bank Negara Museum.

In addition to the Bank Negara Museum we also visited the National and Police Museums. All three are definitely worth the time and are either free or cost 5RM.

After taking in the Botanical Gardens we started focusing more on attractions where we could enjoy air conditioning. These two Canadians were starting to have challenges coping with the consistent high temperatures.

Batu Caves

Though the Batu Caves didn’t have air-conditioning they are caves. As well, we visited them first thing in the morning so we avoided the high temperatures and the crowds.

Entrance to Batu Caves

At the base of the Batu Caves you are greeted by a 42.7 metre tall statue of Lord Murugan and 272 steps before you can gain access to the caves. It is one of the most important Hindu shrines outside of India.

There are plenty of monkeys on and around the stairs as you climb up. They make a great excuse to stop and catch your breath as you watch their antics. As well there are an abundance of colourful figures to check out.

Main Cave

The main cave is huge, with a number of smaller alcoves off of it with shrines and altars. We were fortunate to be there when a service was being performed.

Batu Caves

Looking into the caves from just to the right of the entrance.

Batu Caves

The shrine at the inner most portion of the caves. There is a hole in the ceiling which allows for natural light to come in.

Pigeons

There was no wondering why there was an abundance of pigeons here. As we arrived we watched this fellow feeding them on a large scale.

KL Tower

On the observation deck in the KL Tower. Incredible views.

KL Tower at Sunset

The KL Tower appears to glow as the sun sets and the lighting is turned on. It was very nice being able to relax in our rooftop pool and wait for the light to be just right before hopping out and getting the photo.

Night Markets

It was fun watching this street transform everyday from a normal roadway to an all encompassing street market every night

Towers at Sunset

We never had much of a light show from Mother Nature at sunset, but the city provided it’s own show for us.

Petronas Twin Towers

The tallest twin towers in the world and the symbol of Kuala Lumpur. They truly are breathtaking structures.

View from the Sky Bridge

Looking NW from the Sky Bridge on the 41st floor. If you follow the double line of blue away from the building, where it ends is where the previous photo was taken from, just for some perspective.

SE View from Sky Bridge

Looking SE from the Sky Bridge you can see the Lake Symphony Fountains and some of the construction going on in the city.

41st Floor Sky Bridge

In the reviews of the Petronas Towers you see a fair bit about your time being limited on the Sky Bridge, but seriously people, yes the view is spectacular but do you need more than 10 minutes here. It isn’t that big. They do an excellent job of orchestrating the flow of people through here. At no time did I feel rushed.

Level 86

After the visit to the Sky Bridge you head up to the 86th floor Observation Level.

Panorama

The one thing you start to see as you get higher up and can see further is the pollution. Still an amazing view though. The cost of accessing the Towers is 85RM ($25CDN) and booking ahead is highly recommended.

A Different View

From the Observation level you get a different perspective of the KL Tower and Tower 1 of the Petronas Towers.

We have certainly enjoyed our time in Kuala Lumpur and would recommend it to others without hesitation. The pace, for us, was a little slower and less chaotic than most other major Asian cities we have visited. It actually reminded me a bit of the pace of things back home in Calgary. We’ll leave you with a short video of the colourful fountain display at the base of the Petronas Towers. This takes place every night of the year.

Categories: Malaysia, Photography, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

RalieTravels

Travel and sightseeing wherever the road leads

thetravelmind

...everything happens for a reason...

Reymon de Real Photography

Amateur photography by a professional Physical Therapist!

Through Open Lens

Home of Lukas Kondraciuk Photography

Belize- building a new life . A Belize blog.

Chronicles of an ex pat building a new life in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.

Pilgrim Strong

Rewriting My Story on the Way of St. James

Divers Who Want To Learn More

Exploring the little known facts of underwater technique, history and life

indahs: dive, travel & photography

cities - cultures - ocean - marine life

Attenti al Lupo

www.attentiallupo2012.com

Vanessa Runs

Author. Nomad. Trail geek. Empath.

Mahesh Patil

Digital & Mobile Marketer, Design Thinker & Travel Photographer.

Checking In.

Posts from our worldwide adventure!

Photofocus

education and inspiration for visual storytellers

Life Out of the Box

Buy a product, help a person in need + see your impact.

Costa Rica Travel Blog .com

Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything costa rica. Information, stories, news, advice - written by the Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated team - costa rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.