Discovering Asia: A Postcard from Malaysia

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Malaysia: a land of culture, creatures and amazing food. We’d never been to Asia before, so we decided to go for it and book an adventure getaway in Kuala Lumpur; Malaysia’s vibrant capital city. After a crazy-long flight (13 hours 30 mins from Heathrow, to be exact) we arrived at the luxurious Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur. It was a little slice of heaven just a few minutes’ walk from the astounding Petronas Towers, and with a pool, gym, several on-site restaurants and an extensive breakfast buffet to enjoy, we were well catered for!

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Day 1: After a looong sleep (and getting used to jetlag, horrible right?), we decided to explore the city at our own pace. Although cloudy, the temperatures soared to above 32°C! Our solution? Basking in the shade and enjoying some fresh green coconuts (think coconut water with a slightly huskier taste). We then explored Aquaria KLCC – fascinating but far too busy as it was a Bank Holiday! For food we went to the amazingly cheap and cheerful Hakka restaurant, where we ate a frankly astonishing amount of deep-fried dishes. Our first day was all about getting our bearings, and we were rewarded for our 27,000 steps that day (!) with a live light show at the water fountains outside Petronas.

Day 2: It sure can rain in Malaysia! We woke up to the sound of pretty persistent thunder and decided breakfast was on the cards. After a steaming bowl of chicken and potato curry with fresh roti bread and watermelon juice, we grabbed a taxi to KL Bird Park – “the world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary”. I’m a huge fan of birds (except Ostrich – they’re creepy) so I was in my element. The rest of the day consisted of a fish foot spa (in the words of my sister, ‘poor fish’), browsing the Islamic Arts Museum and tucking into delicious food in Chinatown.

Day 3: Today we travelled to Pahang to visit the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre – it was fantastic! Rata, our guide, picked us up promptly from our hotel and shared cheeky tales of checking out the ladies on Daytona Beach – what a lad! After a rather bizarre trip to a pewter factory and store (clearly a decoy so that Rata could have a smoke), we learnt about the extensive work they carry out to relocate the elephants and protect the species, then it was time to feed them. I’d like to think I made friends with all of them – especially the baby ones – and I loved seeing them walk down to the river for a well-deserved scrub. After a pleasant journey back to our hotel, we braved a ride on one of the largest indoor roller coasters in Asia! Let’s just say, my face was far greener than at the start of the day!

The elephant's fringe game was strong.
The elephant’s fringe game was strong.

Day 4: We certainly crashed today… after a long lie-in and leisurely breakfast (where we witnessed a guy demolish four doughnuts for breakfast – good going) we enjoyed a comprehensive city tour of KL (courtesy of Jack the lad – Rata). As previously mentioned , the Malaysians are obsessed with pewter so, yet again, we went to the pewter factory and store! We thought they’d never let us leave! We also saw skilled craftsmen creating ornate silk scarves – I was fascinated to learn that the detailing was all hand-painted! Once evening arrived, we headed to the trendy SkyBar for a sunset cocktail (or three) – they were delicious and the views were’t too shabby either!

Day 5: Time to get our walking boots on – we’re going to the Cameron Highlands! After a quick stop at Batu Caves, quite simply breathtaking in both senses of the word due to its calming aura and staggering staircase, it was time for the long journey up the mountains. Robert, our guide for the day, chatted away until I inevitably fell asleep. When I woke up we’d arrived at a small wooden hut; home to a man called Michael Jackson (I’m not sure it was him either) who taught us the art of blow darting. After several goes each, he then decided to tell us he was terribly ill with the flu. Rest assured that put a sharp end to our blow dart capers. The rest of the day consisted of marvelling at the impressive Cameron Highlands tea plantations, getting to know the animals at the Butterfly Farm and browsing the local markets. The best part? Seeing my partner FREAK OUT over a giant stick insect!

It was good to see Dan scared for once... usually I'm the scaredy-cat!
It was good to see Dan scared for once… usually I’m the scaredy-cat!

Day 6: Yay, it’s Thean Hua Temple day! What a place! As it’s the Year of the Rooster they had regular performances outside the temple – quite a spectacle as you weaved up the roads leading to it. I then faced my fear and looked out over the city from KL Tower. When the cashier asked whether I wanted to go on the glass floor level, I quickly said no! The evening brought the return of Rata (definitely deserved of living legend status by this point), alongside some street monkeys. Those guys ate EVERYTHING. One flew towards my face and I made a big fuss – I’ve always been a drama queen… After Rata composed himself from laughing at me, we had a sumptuous seafood feast with the other travellers before setting out on boats to see the incredible fireflies at night. You’ll have to imagine the sight as, rightly so, cameras were forbidden. I hear flash mode is quite off putting to mating fireflies…

Genuine fear right there...
Genuine fear right there…

Day 7: I can’t believe it’s home time already! The souvenirs barely fit in our suitcases but we made sure there were plenty of goodies to take home for loved ones. I also have a penchant for hotel toiletries (all encased in a special box at home) so I was sure to pack them away neatly! And I’m sure my colleagues will be thrilled with their complimentary dental kits…

Summary: We would definitely recommend a trip to Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding areas! Malaysia is a beautiful country with plenty to see and do, and the people are so friendly and welcoming. This trip was a 5* success!

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