After our passage through Hong Kong, we continued to Malaysia. Kim is an amazing researcher in her job, and that’s no different in our travel planning. She had found out what the best parts of Malaysia were in that time of year; apart from a few showers, we were able to avoid rain altogether.
Since we arrived in South East Asia via Kuala Lumpur, we used this city as our central hub. In total, we made three passages through this vibrant metropolis.
During our first visit, we stayed around Mashid Jamek, probably the best known mosque of the city. We went for some amazing Indian food in the neighbourhood, but only came back to visit the mosque properly during our second transit in KL.
During that second visit, we stayed around Bukit Bintang, which hosts more shopping malls than you can count. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more shopping malls in such a small amount of space. We did explore a few, just to soak in the vibe of the local Christmas shopping.
In this region, we also found a few cool things to do: we went to the amazing Alor Street Food Night Market, we had drinks at the Heli Lounge Bar (the only rooftop bar we’ve ever been to with a 360 view), we explored the Petronas Twin Towers and its park, and we enjoyed some jazz at No Black Tie. A bit further out of the city, we went to the Batu Caves, a temple complex in a cave just outside the city.
Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful city. We were happy that we chose that as our base for our travels and could’ve easily spent more than the four nights we were there. The express train from the airport to the centre is a tad expensive, but Grab (the equivalent of Uber) or taxis would’ve just not made sense given that we’ve been stuck in traffic with them on several occasions in KL. In the end, we only relied on Grab in the very early moments of the day, when traffic was still calm.
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Whenever we travel, we try to find a good balance between exploring cities and finding places to relax. Langkawi was by far the place we relaxed the most. We spent several days in a beautiful resort with probably the nicest beach I’ve every been to. We filled our days with swimming and sipping cocktails. (The island has no taxes on alcohol, so it’s a lot cheaper there than in the rest of Malaysia.
We did also rent a car to venture around a bit more. We drove to the SkyCab, one of the steepest cable cars in the world at 42º, and as they reminded us several times during the trip, “the longest free span for a mono-cable car.”
Further, we also went out of our way to have lunch at Siti Fatimah, which was highly recommended as a place to eat local food. The recommendations were correct: we tried a lot of great local flavours in one visit.
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From Langkawi, we continued our trip to Penang. We had heard that this was a place that other Malay people go for a holiday to taste the food, and we had also been inspired by watching the Penang episode of Ainsley Eats the Streets. As a result, in Penang, we ate a lot, with the food stalls at Lorong Baru being the place where we did most of the exploring.
We did also walk off most of that food while exploring the Old Town. The Lonely Planet for Penang had a great walking tour that includes a stop at several Chinese clan houses, called Kongsi. We stopped at the stunning Khoo Kongsi.
Finally, we explore the Malay music scene and attended a concert by Volatile. A fun vibe and a great evening.