Don’t Mess With Malacca

by Michael

Malacca is a two hour bus ride from Kuala Lumpur: True.

You can get from central Kuala Lumpur to old Malacca in two hours: False.

We took a train to the main bus station in Kuala Lumpur and then waited a half hour for a bus that dropped us at the main Malacca bus station, then waited for what seemed like an hour before taking a crowded city bus to the old city of Malacca. What was advertised as a two hour trip took more than four. Ah, the joys of travel.

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Your Guide to Kuala Lumpur

by Michael

We spent four nights in Kuala Lumpur, keeping us there into the new year. It worked for our schedule, though a bit of planning and avoiding accidents* could do the same sightseeing in two or three days. It’s a pleasant and functional city, so you could also stay longer.

We arrived with enough time in the afternoon to see the National Mosque (Masjid Negara), the Islamic Art Museum, and part of the Botanical Garden. Only the National Mosque had special outfits for us to wear.

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A Short Stop in the Cameron Highlands

by Michael

The Cameron Highlands in Malaysia are known for cooler weather, tea plantations, strawberry fields, and a great system of numbered hiking trails. We initially booked only two nights in the small town of Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. We thought we might stay longer if the weather was good enough for hiking. Well, the weather was good enough, but the authorities had closed most of the trails because of the rainy season. We made the most of our full day (we had arrived at night) but with the risk of getting a ticket for hiking, we moved on to Kuala Lumpur on the second morning.

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The path less traveled. Because it’s closed.

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Penang Part 2: Island of Art and History

by Michael

Sorry about the interruption; Penang has lots to talk about so I broke it into two parts — mostly because I knew I would be posting a lot of art pictures. You can read Part 1 here. This post continues with the Old City:

George Town Old City

The UNESCO-recognized old town in George Town, Penang, contains mostly “shophouse” buildings. For those not familiar, shophouse buildings are long and narrow with the narrow end on the street, an overhang above the first floor, and an open-air light well in the middle. The overhang often makes for a shaded area in front, though it is often used by vendors or to park motorbikes. In many places, the ground floor is a garage or shop with a residence above.

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Random shophouse front door.

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Penang Part 1: Eating our way through George Town

by Michael

Malaysia does not seem to be on the radar of most American tourists, at least not in the way that Thailand and Bali are. After an enjoyable two weeks, I think it should be. Malaysia has islands and beaches, great food and traditional architecture, history, culture, lots of English speakers, and outdoor opportunities. It’s also a developed economy (it felt just as affluent as Russia, if not more), which means you can find good grocery stores, familiar toiletries, air conditioning, functioning public buses, and well-maintained trails. But unlike many places with a similar level of development, Malaysia is also quite cheap.

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And did I mention the food?

We split our time in Malaysia roughly in half: first half on Penang Island (also spelled Pinang) and the second half split between the Cameron Highlands, Kuala Lumpur, and Malacca (also spelled Melaka).

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