My first station in this amazing country was Butterworth. It’s located just next to the border of Thailand. How did i get there did you ask? Night train is the answer, especially if you’re keen for an adventure and don’t want to spend too much money on transport. As i am from Germany, traveling at home by train is quite annoying (we all love those unexpected delays and overpriced tickets – not…) So i assumed it must be the same in Asia. Nope. It’s really not! If you choose to go by night train, you will have your very own and comfortable bed – and also a curtain which ensures you’ve got a bit privacy and also darkness for a good sleep. You can book tickets in advance here. It’s also advisable to bring your own food for the train ride since the meals you can buy on board might not cater all your wishes. I decided to go for a Nasi Lemak, which is a very common rice based dish. As the friendly vendor passed it to me, she smiled and told me to enjoy my stay in Malaysia. What a warm welcome to a foreign country.
It was very hot as i arrived in Butterworth. The sun was blazing – we’re talking 35 degrees and higher! I definately needed to stay hydrated, the best and healthy way to do so is to buy a fresh and young coconut. As these are local products, they’re very cheap and also refreshing. My destination for the first day was the island of Langkawi. Means, you have to take a ferry. Wohoo, that’s fun! The ferry ride itself is a bit boring, but you can entertain yourself by watching those really really violent movies (nobody cares about the fact childen are also watching) if that tickles your fancy. After a extensive nap on the ferry i woke up and finally saw it in front of me: Langkawi! YASS– i am excited! Langkawi is known for its tax laws and nice beaches. You can shop there duty free, pair it with cruising around the island and visit some of those sweet beaches. The nature is just stunning. The best way to do so is renting a motorbike. Just next to the ferry terminal there are a bunch of car and motorbike rental agencies where you can get your vehicle from. Networking is beneficial here – if you know some local people they make sure you won’t pay the tourist price. I tried couchsurfing there for the first time. It’s an experience i will never forget. Trust me, that’s one of the greatest things you can do to get in touch with the country and the people. In my opinion this makes a huge difference.
Two days before i arrived in Langkawi, i sent a Couchsurfing request to a guy called Windi – he’s originally from Indonesia and works for a big hotel in Langkawi. Not even six hours after my request i got a reply. Did he click “accept” or “decline”? *This is where you can hear the drum roll*
He accepted! YASS! Oh man, i am such a lucky guy! Windi picked me up from the ferry and we rent a motorbike for me to be more flexible. After that we went to his appartment where his flatmates already waited for us. Again, they welcomed me with some delicious food – Mie Goreng (a typical asian noodle dish, yum!) – and i felt very grateful for their hospitality. Unfortunately Windi and his flatmate Gary had to work on my arrival day. But hey – i’ve got a motorcycle and with their recommendations my day is already full of interesting places to visit.
Far off the tourist beaches there are some spots where you can just lie down and relax. Listen to the waves, birds and talk to the local people which are always curious about your origin. To be honest, i spent most of the day cruising around the island because the nature was just stunning! In the evening we met again and went out for some malay food.
Oh. My. God. I never ate with bare fingers, so it was quite difficult for me to get some of that super delicious and freshly cooked food into my mouth. Windi and Gary had the best time watching me eating, if you can say so. They taught me the proper way to eat with hands, which is even more difficult as i am left handed (don’t even think about using your left hand. A big no-no!). We had some grilled chicken, spicy fried rice (Nasi Goreng) and also Teh Tarik – a hot tea mixed with milk, it literally means “pulled tea”. Soo good. After this amazing dinner in the food stall next to our condo we were heading home. It was a great night, not a single cloud in the sky. As we stood in front of the House Windi pointed towards this tall and massive water tower and said “Let’s climb it!”.
Hm. I am not entirely sure about this. It looks old. I am afraid of heights. Really, it doesn’t look safe at all. Windi saw i was a bit concerned. He started to smile and said: “Dont worry, it’s all safe here in Langkawi. We can see the whole from city from there!” Ok. Lets see what happens. As the place is located on top of a hill its even more elevated and higher than any building in the area. There was no banister. The stairs were really old and made weird squeaking noises when you step on them. Don’t look down. Just go. Puh, finally we are on the top of this damn tower. I sat down and turned around to face the city. Just wow. Keep in mind, this was my first day in Malaysia.
I wanted to stay with Windi and his mates for two days. But no. I ended up staying almost one week. Those guys showed me around and we had the best time ever! Since they are working in a hotel i was introduced to their friends and co workers, we also spend some time at the hotel beach and enjoyed the benefits of the fivestar facility. Plus free drinks (bling bling) and some of the most hilarious hospitality stories i have ever heard.
My next stop was the island of Penang. It’s the bigger and better known brother of Langkawi. The drawcards here were clearly food, street art and culture. If you intend to stay there for a couple of nights its advisable to stay around the so called “Love Lane”. It’s just gorgeous. Also try the not so well known Nyonya food there, you will love it (still craving for some of those dishes). After spending a couple of days there i met some dudes from Canada. Luckily they had the same plan like me – Cameroon Highlands is the destination of choice. It’s well known for great hikes around the tea plantations and the mild but slightly colder climate. A change which i really appreciated after almost two weeks exaggerated humidity!
What do you think could be the next place i visited? A look on the map makes it obvious, i reckon. Yes – it’s Kuala Lumpur. Known as THE business and travel hub in Asia it’s a must go destination when in Malaysia. You can spend hours over hours strolling through the streets watching local people sell food, fruits, coffee and also lots of faked clothes and accessories. This is one of the first times i really recognised how much plastic the use to individually wrap their goods. It’s incredible. Back home the mayority of people would try to avoid using too much plastic. Hm. I felt like the local people there are not really aware of their plastic consumption. I try to do my best and avoid too much plastic at all cost. As i bought some fruits the vendor started to wrap them individually into cling wrap and asked me “Plastik?!” – nope. I don’t need a bag since i brought one. “Tidak, terima kasih!” means “No, thank you” – and he looked at me very confused. Maybe its because of my attempt to speak Malay, or it’s because of declining his offer of another plastic bag. Who knows!
When in Kuala Lumpur, you really have to visit the Petrona Towers. Everybody knows them. You can go up there and have a look from the skydeck. But nah. I spent exactly the same amount of money in a rooftop bar called “HeliBar” – and had an amazing view…
After a couple of days more I decided to go to Tioman Island for a diving trip. It’s well known for the ship wreck dives and for good water quality. On top of that you can go hiking around the island. Watch out for cheeky monkeys – they´re really curious and hungry. So make sure you’re not bringing any food as they will smell it from a mile away!
This was just a brief extract from my travel experience in Malaysia. Have you been to Malaysia? Which country in Asia would you like to travel in? Tell me about it in the comment section!