Tag: malaysia (Page 1 of 2)

Langkawi – Beautiful Beaches And Incredible Scenery

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By the time I arrived in Langkawi, I was ready for some beach time. I love exploring cities and the countryside, but the heat in South East Asia makes beach life ideal.

Getting to Langkawi

I was travelling from Penang to Langkawi so the easiest option is to get a boat direct from the pier in Georgetown to Langkawi for 70RM, which takes around 2 1/2 hours. Some guys in my hostel said that the cheapest way is to get the ferry to Butterworth, then a bus from Butterworth to Kuala Perlis, and finally a boat from Kuala Perlis to Langkawi. I’m not sure how much this costs or how long it takes, but the guys in my hostel reckoned it would be less than 50RM.

The ferry terminates in Kuah so from there it’s a taxi ride over to Pantai Cenang which is 30RM. If you’re travelling solo it’s best to share with other travellers heading that way.

There’s also an international airport on the island with regular flights to Kuala Lumpur.

Activities in Langkawi

I had already booked Langkawi Dormitorio through HostelWorld, which was the cheapest option at the time but was still 50RM per night! Double the price of accommodation in KL and Penang.

In August 2016 I returned to Langkawi and stayed in Tubotel, an amazing hostel just outside Pantai Cenang. It takes around 20 minutes to walk into town and around 5-10 minutes to walk to the beach. Tubotel has the best sunset views on the island!

Fortunately, I had 4 lovely roommates and we got on really well from the start. We hired a car for 24 hours between 5 of us after our hostel owner recommended that we did. he said that a car would be safer than a scooter and that the weather in Langkawi can change very quickly. This turned out to be very useful advice, as a rainstorm hit less than an hour after we hired the car.

We drove to Tanjung Rhu beach which truly is a stunning beach. There were very few people on the beach which made it even more beautiful.

Tahjung Rhu beach langkawi malaysia

tahjung rhu beach langkawi malaysia

The following day we drove to Panorama Langkawi to experience the steepest cable car in the world. Entry was 45RM and included the cable car plus a visit to the SkyDome. I’ll be honest, the SkyDome looked like a planetarium and I was disappointed when it wasn’t. Instead, it was a rollercoaster simulation on Mars. It actually made a couple of us feel a little motion sick.

We went to the SkyCab and stopped at the first lookout point. The views were impressive and there weren’t too many other tourists.

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We got back into the SkyCab and went to the highest lookout. Up here it’s possible to pay extra and go on the SkyBridge, the highest bridge in Langkawi.

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There’s also love locks for anyone who’s into that sort of thing

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Don’t be fooled by the clouds – it was scorching at the top.

What didn’t I do?

There are many other tours and activities in Langkawi including:

  • Underwater World – I was staying next door to this, it’s an aquarium.
  • Water sports on Cenang Beach – banana boat, jet skis
  • Waterfalls – the waterfalls were barely flowing when I was there due to lack to rainfall
Food in Langkawi

There’s a huge range of eating options in Langkawi to suit all budgets. It’s possible to get Malaysian food such as mee goreng and nasi goreng for around 6-7RM. There’s a lot of fast food options and cuisine from all over the world.

Final thoughts

I had a great time in Langkawi. It is very commercialised but wasn’t overrun with tourists. Some roads on the island weren’t surfaced properly, in particular, the one to Tanjung Rhu beach – something to bear in mind if you’re hiring a scooter.

 

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Penang – Street Art in Georgetown

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I’d wanted to visit Penang for a long time because of Georgetown’s reputation for having great food. I was looking forward to seeing the old colonial buildings and seeing the street art.

Getting to Penang

I was travelling from KL so  decided to get the train to Butterworth, then a ferry across to Penang. The train was quite slow moving but comfortable. The aircon was set to freezing, which seems to be the case on most public transport in South East Asia. My train was supposed to leave at 4pm so I was expecting to arrive in Butterworth around 9pm. The train was delayed so I arrived in Butterworth at 10.30pm, then waited for the ferry for around 30 minutes. It was midnight by the time I got to my hostel.

Getting the train is straightforward from KL because the train leaves from KL Sentral and it’s possible to book online. The train station is Butterworth is situated next to the ferry terminal which makes it very easy to get to Penang. I paid 35RM for the train and something like 1.50RM for the ferry (I can’t remember the exact price, I was pretty tired at this point).

Georgetown

Most people who visit Penang stay in Georgetown, an old British colonial town. Georgetown is easy to get around on foot. On my first day, I visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, a typical home of a rich Baba from a century ago. The mansion is painted light green so is easy to spot.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion Penang Malaysia Alex Explores the World

The mansion is laid out in the same way a traditional Baba house would have looked. The decor and furnishings were beautiful. There are tour guides who will give you a tour of the mansion, however, the tour I was put on had a lot of people so I walked around alone. (I should probably mention that I was in Penang over Labor Day weekend so everything was busy.)

Pinang Peranakan Mansion Penang georgetown malaysia Alex Explores the World

Next to the main living quarters was a temple:

Pinang Peranakan Mansion Penang Georgetown Malaysia Alex Explores the World

Street Art

One of the main attractions of Penang is the street art which is dotted around Georgetown. The hostel I stayed in had maps of where to find different pieces.

 

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There are wrought-iron caricatures on many streets in Penang, which provide a sort of description of the street they’re placed on. Here’s a couple of examples:

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Each of the caricatures is different and will often give an insight into the history of the area.

Food in Penang

Penang is famous for it’s currys – and rightly so! I was staying just outside Little India which is the perfect location to get a curry. 2 minutes away were a couple of street food vendors selling the most delicious curry. For less than 10RM, it was possible to get curry, rice and roti. Bargain!  One night I went to a place called Kapitan, which was slightly more expensive but had a variety of options and was delicious.

Another local food I tried was ice balls. It’s literally a large ball of ice with flavouring on it. They can be found on Armenian Street for 2.50RM – ideal for the hot weather.

Where to Stay

I stayed in Couzi Couji, a hostel just outside of Little India. It was clean and comfortable and the aircon in the rooms was good. There’s limited toilets and showers which I didn’t really find to be a problem.

There are a lot of hostels around Love Lane to stay in and guesthouses are dotted around the city.

Leaving Penang

My next stop was Langkawi which can be easily reached by boat from Penang. A ticket costs 70RM. It’s possible to get the night train from Butterworth to Bangkok although you have to go to a ticket office as it’s not possible to book online.

Have you been to a town/city with great street art? I’d love to hear about it, let me know in the comments!

Reasons tolive in themountains

 

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Mulu National Park

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Home to some of the world’s largest cave systems, Mulu National Park is a must see for anyone visiting Borneo. Mulu is situated in the Sarawak half of Malaysian Borneo. Here it is on a map of Borneo:

Arriving in Mulu

I flew to Mulu from Miri with MAS Wings as that seemed to be the fastest and easiest way to get there. The flight cost less than 100RM. Mulu airport is tiny. Our plane was the only one there so it only took 5 minutes to get our bags. Outside the airport, local people were waiting in their cars to take tourists to the entrance to the national park for 5RM per person. It’s actually not too far from the airport to the national park entrance, so it’s possible to walk, although it may be difficult with large bags and the heat to contend with.

Once at the national park, I checked into the hostel, paid park fees and looked at the tours available for the next few days. I ended up booking tours for all of the show caves plus the canopy walk.

Show Caves & Bat Observatory

There are 3 tours of show caves in the national park: Clearwater/Wind Cave, The Fast Lane and Deer/Lang Cave. The first one I did was the Clearwater/Wind Cave. For this one, we met the tour guide at the park HQ at 8.45am. We then took a boat to a local village where it was possible to buy handmade goods from the villagers. We then took the boat to the caves. To get to the caves we had to walk up a few steps. The first cave we arrived at was Wind Cave. I thought perhaps it would be a little bit cooler in the caves but nope, it was still very humid, hence the reason I’m very sweaty in the picture below.

 

wind cave mulu national park malaysia borneo

A picture of a very sweaty me standing in the entrance to Wind Cave

We then went to Ckearwater Cave, where there is an underground river.

In the afternoon, we did the canopy walk. We’d booked it for 2pm and in all honesty it was far too hot at this time of day to fully appreciate it. I met people who did it near sunrise/sunset and they had a much better time.

In the late afternoon, I went to the bat observatory, in hope of seeing the bat exodus which occurs every evening from Deer Cave. I was lucky enough to see it and it was incredible. Over 3 million bats fly out of the cave taking around 30 minutes.

bats mulu deer cave borneo malaysia

Bats leaving Deer Cave

The following day, I went to the Fast Lane in the afternoon. Out of all the show caves I visited, this was the quietest as we were the only tour group there. It was possible to get close to bats in this cave. Our guide pointed out creatures in the cave like crickets, centipedes, spiders, crabs and swiftlets.

On my last day in Mulu, I went to Deer and Lang Caves, home to between 3-4 million bats. Deer Cave is huge and has a high ceiling, whereas Lang Cave has some interesting rock formations.

Tips for Mulu

  • If you’re on a budget (like me) stay in one of the homestay’s just outside of the national park. They’re cheaper and the facilities are nicer than the hostel in the national park.
  • Wifi can be purchased for 5RM/day at the park HQ. It’s not great wifi but will allow you to check emails/social media.
  • if you want to do any adventure caving, it’s recommended that you book in advance.
  • Restaurants outside of park HQ are a bit cheaper, although in general everything in Mulu is more expensive than the rest of Sarawak.
  • Don’t miss the Bat Exodus!

 

 

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In Pictures: Borneo

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Someone once said that a picture says 1000 words, so based on that quote, here’s my favourite parts of Borneo.

1. The Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

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2. The Kinabatangan River

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3. Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

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4. Mulu National Park

5. Kuching

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When I return to Borneo I’d like to climb Mt Kinabalu, visit Bako National Park and scuba dive on the east coast.

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Kuching Cat Museum – An Odd Place

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As soon as I heard about the Kuching Cat Museum, I knew I had to go. Here’s what other travellers had told me about it:

“It’s a bit niche”

“Only go if you really love cats”

“A little bit bizarre”

It sounded perfect.

The Cat Museum is not within walking distance of the other tourist attractions in Kuching, so I took a taxi there. It’s home is in a weird UFO shaped building.

I walked into the UFO building, to find the entrance to the cat museum through the mouth of a giant cat head.

entrance kuching cat museum borneo

Entrance to the Kuching Cat Museum

Entry to the museum is free but there is a fee of 3RM to take pictures on a mobile phone, or 4RM to take pictures on a digital camera.

The first thing I noticed was the giant statues of cats. They’re actually a bit creepy.

statues kuching cat museum

I moved onto the section about cats in Borneo. It was a goldmine of bad taxidermy.

bad taxidermy kuching cat museum

bad taxidermy kuching cat museum

 

bad taxidermy kuching cat museum

Next up, was the wall of 3D pictures of cats.

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All around was cat memorabilia in glass display cases. It was actually quite impressive how much cat memorabilia had been collected. Here’s one example of a display case. Notice Grumpy Cat in the bottom right corner.

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Other areas of the museum include; cats in literature, cats in theatre; cats in art and a cat food display (seriously).

You’d be mistaken for thinking that this museum was just a collection of cat memorabila; a few parts were educational. Like, for example, this poster which shows that you can tell the temperature of a room purely based on the way a cat is sleeping:

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The final part of the museum consisted of pictures of people with cat tattoos. Alongside this were the different kinds of cat tattoos available and their meanings.

Other notable mentions include: a room dedicated to a lady who collected cat memorabilia, the section about cat funerals and the wall of cat themed greetings cards and postcards.

The Kuching Cat Museum is probably the weirdest place I’ve visited so far on this trip. It’s a great way to spend 45 minutes in Kuching.

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THE KUCHING

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