Malaysia is a country that I never had high up on my travel bucket list for some strange reason and I really found myself struggling to get excited about it, but when the time came for me to leave Sri Lanka and the cheapest flights into South East Asia all went via Kuala Lumpur, I thought I’d give it a try and see what the country had to offer. It’s safe to say that not only was I pleasantly surprised at this incredible country but I was also left completely mind blown at its sheer beauty and diversity that has now turned Malaysia in to one of my favourite countries yet.
I started my trip by flying into Langkawi a beautiful island on the North West coast of Malaysia engulfed in turquoise blue water and smothered in towering palms. I didn’t spend much time here as I was catching up to a friend from home, but I loved that this is a tax free island so booze and cigarettes are superrrrr cheap! There is so much to do on the island….. or so I’ve been told anyway but with all the excitement of cheap beer I only managed to make it to the night food market which is on every Tuesday. Here they serve a variety of local cuisine and Western variations of food and we found ourselves hoping from stool to stool to try a bit of everything. Definitely worth a visit!
From Langkawi there is a boat that took us directly back to the mainland stopping in Georgetown, Penang. This is where my true love for Malaysia started. Georgetown is in my opinion a backpacker mecca, it has a bit of everything for everyone and it’s home to my favourite hostel EVER, Tipsy Tiger Party Hostel. This hostel has the best vibe I have ever experienced during my travels, I met so many amazing people here and the social atmosphere is through the roof. I spent most of my time here nursing a hangover which I’m definitely getting too old for but that didn’t stop me from venturing out and exploring. Penang is famous for it’s quirky street art that is spread across a small area of the town, the art work is all pretty close together so you can visit by foot OR you could do what we did and rent out a really really big bike and cycle round in matching hostel shirts!
Penang also found another way to win my heart which is the food! After being stuck with Kottu almost every single day in Sri Lanka my god I was in food heaven. Just down the road from the hostel is Chinatown which at night time explodes into a bustling maze of food stalls with mouth watering aromas hitting you from every direction, just like with the night market in Langkawi you turn glutenous and want a piece of everything you can get your hands on. Little India also isn’t too far from the hostel and although the food here wasn’t a scratch on the Indian food in India (go figure!) it still worked it’s magic on the taste buds.
Food that tastes fantastic but isn’t too great for the waistband aside we also found a quirky cafe called Safe Room and ended up eating here daily. They serve a range of amazing food that caterers to everyone with some healthy options which I was definitely beginning to crave! Safe Room are also well known for their nitrogen ice cream and ‘dragons breath’ (nitrogen popcorn to you and me) and again even with the ice creams they have healthy options which include ice cream made out of banana instead of cream. Yum!
Next up were The Perhentian Islands. The Perhentian’s are located on the North East Coast of Malaysia where there are two main islands, Big Perhentain and Little Perhentian. I stayed on Long beach on Little Perhentian. Most accommodation on the islands can’t be found online so most people don’t pre-book, they just turn up by boat and then the hunt for somewhere to stay begins! There isn’t much wifi or reception on the island so this is perfect place to shut off from the outside world and to sit back, relax and enjoy the stunning scenery. A lot of people come here to do scuba diving or to get PADI certified but me being the wimp that I am I stuck to lounging on the beach and snorkelling around the colourful coral reefs near the shore.
After the sun has set the middle part of the beach is turned into and bar and stage which is illuminated with fire shows, small tables and mats were planted on the sand for us to sit and enjoy the entertainment whilst smoking shisha and guzzling the famous monkey juice Orangutan (Vanilla Rum). Another show stopper for me during my time on the island was the stars, they looked like millions of twinkling fairylights in the night sky and we even saw a handful of shooting stars! The last time I could see the stars this clear I was in the outback in Australia with absolutely no light pollution at all. A few drinks plus the calm clear ocean at night time can only equate to one thing, the whole group stripping off and running into the sea for a skinny dip.
When it came time for me to leave the islands I was truly gutted to be going but I had my flight to Thailand booked and wanted to take a few days to explore Kuala Lumpur (and find the H&M!) I remember thinking before I had visited Malaysia that Kuala Lumpur would be nothing more than a hectic, noisy concrete jungle and that if I could avoid it at all costs, I would. I have never been more wrong in my whole life, Kuala Lumpar seems to have mastered the perfect balance of business, the cosmopolitan life style, it’s Asian roots and everything else in between.
The Petronus Tower’s at night time are breath taking and look like they’ve been painted into the sky. The Food Night Market has a wide variety of weird and wonderful foods including ice cream that they make from scratch on a cold plate in front of you. The city is so incredibly well kept and clean I struggled to even see a cigarette butt or a piece of chewing gum on the floor. There is not one thing in particular that makes this city so amazing rather than the hundreds of little things that make it. If I could choose one country that I would love to live in, it would now be Malaysia every single time.