Travel Blog: Malaysia – Beaches, Butterflies and Bartering

Written 8th February, Satun, Thailand

The second we got out of the airport in Kuala Lumpur, I loved Malaysia – everywhere people smiled at us and were happy to help, and the place was beautiful!

A bus ride from the airport into KL central took around an hour and a half, costing 20 Ringitt (around £4) and meant we arrived to the city around 10pm. This bus ride gave us our first view of the Petronus Towers – a great sight all lit up and pretty.

Wandering around the city at night with our backpacks on (always fun!) led us to a McDonalds, after which point our backpack walking city wandering became far more manageable!

One thing we learned – BOOK IN ADVANCE! We went to about 4 places before we finally found somewhere with beds for us, Bunc (£8 per night – great value for a really good hostel with great facilities). We later realised half the reason this was so difficult was because we arrived on the night of the Chinese New Year – possibly their busiest accommodation night for the hotels and hostels of Chinatown in KL!

The next day was spent wandering around the city, we came to a nice fountain area, very clean, very touristy, very nice – we stayed here for a while taking photos and relaxing in the fountain spray – so refreshing in the 30 degree heat! From here we continued our wander through the city towards the lake gardens, past a business area, full of sky rises and fancy cars, before settling on heading to the Butterfly Park.

A beautiful sanctuary of foliage and flowers, a small stream, and some of the most stunning butterflies I’ve ever seen – some as big as my hand! We spent a good 2 hours here soaking up the beauty and peacefulness of it all, taking many photos along the way of course.

After a chilled out evening and eating Chinese food on the street back near Bunc, the next day I woke up ill. Again. A full day and night was then spent in bed 😦 NOT how I wanted to spend one of the few days I had in Malaysia!

The following day was much the same, but for a short wander to do some laundry, which cost around £6 to wash and dry all my clothes, and nipping to the shops to get snacks and water. Poonam and Debbie (from our dorm room) brought back some local fruit, which we all spent a good hour tasting, including Jackfruit, Lychees, Dragonfruit and local bananas (smaller and sweeter than UK bananas)

By the evening I was feeling much better, and so we headed to the local Reggae bar for a drink and a dance, and we had a great night getting involved in the part tourist/part local scene.

The next day I went to get my hair dyed as it had lost any trace of purple from the start of my trip. Bright pink was the colour and the cost was £30 – what I would spend on the dye alone at home, yet this was in a hairdressers, professionally done and curled after, I was a happy lady 🙂

Did a bit of market shopping – a taste of bartering in South Eat Asia, something I was starting to get the hang of – along the streets of Chinatown, buying some cheap perfume, a watch and some gifts for friends and family. Here was also where I was introduced to what would become one of the most-heard phrases, both by locals and tourists alike ‘Same Same, but Different’ – so well-known is this phrase that it is imprinted as slogans on tee-shirts, is the name of bars, restaurants, cafe’s, and even spawned a movie! After this I ate some safe food (veg noodles – no meat!) and headed back for an early night.

The next day we planned to go to the Petronus Towers, until we realised that the cost was incredibly high, around £15 to go up to the observation deck (not even at the top of the towers) for 15 minutes only, and would have involved getting up at 6 to get there in time to buy tickets and be told what time to come back for our viewing. We gave up on this plan when we woke up at 8 and realised it was already too late and too expensive to do. So we planned to go to the Batu Caves instead, caves a couple of hours outside the main city, of which one was a temple with an enormous golden Buddha outside. Unfortunately, guess what – I was ill AGAIN! And so Poonam and Debbie went on without me whilst I stayed in and slept 😦 Another waste of a day.

The next day, we headed to Langkawi, an island north of KL and parallel to the Malaysia/Thailand border. Because our bus arrived late, we had to stay the night in Georgetown on the island of Penang, just off the mainland. Here we wandered around and had food in the Little India area, a nice change from all the Chinese food we’d had in Chinatown. The next morning we grabbed an early ferry (£12) across to Langkawi, where we headed for the busy beach, Chenang – and booked into Sandy Beach Resort for a couple of nights.

Two beach-filled and relaxing days followed at this lovely place, Debbie joined us here and we loved the place, very calm and chilled out – though we did go out to have a few drinks on the Thursday night to find out it was the ‘quiet night’ in the area where not many places served alcohol, or were even open! Debbie and Poonam were incredibly happy to have fresh fish each night for 30 Ringitt (about £6 – £7), they appreciated the value for money and the excellent taste, something they would recommend as seafood eaters.

My last evening in Malaysia consisted of wandering down the main street parallel to Chenang beach, looking at the market stalls and stopping o grab some food, before wandering back and encountering a nightly street band, set up outside the 7/11 on the road, so of course we got stuck in, got on the rum and had a dance with the band and the crowd of tourists, getting down to reggae/pop mash up beats.

A couple of stunning sunsets, a poorly kitten we looked after, sea as warm as a bath, and white sandy beaches later, and I found myself leaving Poonam behind (she fell in love with the sick kitten and Langkawi) and heading back on a boat for a 30 hour trip, this time, to the Land of Smiles – Thailand, and the party island of Koh Samui…

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