Malaysia Highlights September 2014; Langkawi, Penang & Kuala Lumpur

I was excited for our trip to Malaysia as it’s the first part of our trip that neither me nor my boyfriend had been too. We had a rough itinerary in mind which consisted of the following places; Langkawi, Penang, Perhentian Islands and Kuala Lumpur. Looking back now, it may have been a bit ambitious of us to plan a month’s stay but this is the beauty of travelling without too many concrete plans and just going with the flow. So if you want to know where I ended up going and what I did, then keep on reading.


Our first stop was Langkawi, an archipalego of some 99 islands on the West coast of Malaysia. Our home for the first week of our trip was at the Tanjung Rhu Resort, a luxurious haven with a huge stretch of white sandy beach, overlooking the Andaman sea. Little did we realise, our resort was a little out of the way, with the nearest town being around a 30 minute drive away. That’s ok for us though, as we like to mix up our travels with stays at a relaxing resort by the beach, alternating with stays in the midst of the hustle and bustle of city life, where we can easily stroll around the vicinity, absorbing in the culture, the people, the food and not to mention the chaotic roads (gotta love asia). One of my favourite days at the resort was witnessting a storm brewing over a sand bank that emerged as the tide was on it’s way out. It was both one of the most beautiful, yet surreal sights I’ve ever seen.

We did venture out on a couple of occasions during our week long stay in Langkawi (not much within the area itself so we dined exclusively at the resort, which may I add was not a bad thing). The first trip was supposed to be a cycle to the Seven Wells Waterfall near Telaga Harbour. I say ‘supposed to be’ because our cycle tour guide was not convinced of my (lack of) cycling abilities and quite frankly, neither was I. After I did 3 wobbly laps around the small, roundabout plant feature in front of the hotel, there was no doubt that we had to cancel the cycling plans. That didn’t dampen our enthusiasm though, as we decided it be much easier, quicker, not to mention much safer (for myself and everyone else on the road) to take a cab to our destination. After around a 20 minute ride, we arrived at the Seven Wells Waterfall where our cab driver was more than happy to sit around and wait for us. Nobody warned us about climbing the road with the most steepest incline I’ve ever seen though (you’ve been warned). Picture a wall and you’re pretty close! (damn I wish I had taken a picture of it). Thank god it was only about a 10 minute climb to where we needed to exit for the waterfall.

The waterfall was beautiful, if not, smaller than I had expected. There was only one other couple (who were climbing precariously up the rocks to the waterfall with their bare feet) and a father and his 3 small children who were lapping it up in the little pool below. Water shoes are a must (and I have to say such an inexpensive investment) if you really want to get stuck in and enjoy the waterfall and the pools as there are lots of rocks (obviously), big rocks to climb and navigate your way around and smaller rocks below the surface of the water which aren’t always visible. After wallowing in the cooling waters, we decided to embark on the 638 step hike up and through the forest to the top of the waterfall. 638 steps doesn’t sound like a lot, but trust me and take a bottle or two of water with you because you’ll need it! There are rest areas along the way if you want to take a pit stop to catch your breath or just to take in the aura of the peaceful forest. Once we got to the top (probably a 15-20 minute walk depending on your speed), I was glad that it had been worth the blood (not really), sweat (lots), tears (just mine). At the top, you have a beautiful, green landscape view of Burau Bay & Pantai Kok which seem to stretch for miles, and of course, the very top of the waterfall before it disappears from view off of the edge and down some 638 steps below. There were also natural rock slides leading to small pools of fresh, cold water which were really fun (and a little scary) and a good way to get the adrenaline going. I’d definitely recommend checking this out as it was the highlight of our stay in Langkawi.
On our other outing, and of which I’d recommend if you have the stomach for heights, we decided to check out Panorama Langkawi in the South West of the island, which is a 2.2 km cable car ride, 708 metres above sea level. Unfortunately for my boyfriend, it was probably 500 metres too high for him so he spent most of the time with his hands covering his face, and his head in his lap (props to him for trying though). Panorama Langkawi is set in an out of date amusement type park (sorry but it was hideous). The cable car ride starts at the foothill of Machinchang Mountain and goes all the way to mountain summit and to the Sky Bridge (which was closed due to construction). There are viewing platforms along the way up where you can hop out of the cable cars and take in the scenery but you also have an amazing view of the island below from inside the cable car. The whole tour is fairly organised if not busy, buzzing with tourists, flashing cameras, and of course, selfie poles.


After being rather secluded for the past week in Langkawi, we were excited to embark on the next part of our Malaysian travels in Penang. We opted to stay in George Town in the North East of the state, and the capital of Penang (and apparently named after King George III of Britain, who knew?)
For some reason, and this is probably due to poor/ lack of research, I had visions of french colonial type buildings, quaint cobbled streets and a picturesque marina set with a backdrop of blue skies and a cool breeze. This was not the case. At all. Let’s just say that there is a lot to be desired. We were both surprised that with it being a UNESCO World Heritage City, most (not all) the buildings looked derelict, dire and in desperate need of some TLC, or at the very least, a lick of paint. There were only a handful of buildings that looked better maintained which is a shame. As for the so-called street art that is supposedly apparent all over George Town, we only saw a few and honestly, I didn’t really think they were anything to shout about.
It became quite apparent that we had arrived in what they call ‘low season’ because a lot of places such as shops and restaurants were all closed. We were convinced at the start that there had to be more to it and a whole lot we were missing out on but from our travel on foot with camera in hand, in and around the area, we discovered very little that caught our attention. We stumbled upon China Town. There was not much going on there. We came across a huge mall, again there was not much going on there either. Every so often, we’d stumble across a mosque and then a temple, due to the mixed religious beliefs, with Buddhism being the main religion in Penang but Islam being the official religion of the state.
The nearest beach was Batu Ferringhi but as we had spent a week prior on the beach in Langkawi, we didn’t think it was essential we go. Besides, it rained pretty much most of the time during our stay so a beach wasn’t the most practical place to be. It wasn’t all bad during our stay in George Town, except for maybe the breakfast at Chulia Mansion, which was the place we were staying at. Fortunately for us, there was a coffee shop with adjoining bakery literally across the road from us called the Mugshot Cafe which made very good coffee, if not slightly on the stronger side, and delicious thick yogurt with various fruit and nutty toppings. This was where we had breakfast everyday. On some afternoons, we’d pop in to grab a bagel with an afternoon coffee or one of the freshly made fruit juices. Another place we came across and thoroughly enjoyed was Il Bacaro, an Italian restaurant located within the Campbell House hotel. It was so good that we came back for dinner again. The lamb shank and tenderloin steak are both worth checking out. Five 27 is also worth noting even though it was quite confusing as to whether it was a bar, a club or a restaurant but it was the first place we stopped at for food after a long morning of travelling. If you’re into street food then wondering around after the sun has set is a must as you will find hawkers serving up various dishes, from noodles to meat and rice. I stopped by a couple, for some fresh vegetable juices and also fresh soya milk served straight up in a small, plastic bag, secured with a rubber band and served with a straw. Refreshing!

Kuala Lumpur

 Sadly, we cut short our stay and bypassed the Perhentian Islands completely as the monsoon would have ensured that our stay to be a completely wash out. That’s the thing about the monsoon, once it hits there’s not much you can do, especially if you’re on an island and even more so if you end up being in a rather secluded area, apart from sit around and wait it out. We decided to move north and go to Thailand instead where there was not a drop of rain in sight (or not much of it anyway). However, we did return to Kuala Lumpur for two nights (due to our next booked flight to the Philippines) and typically, we wished we had booked to stay there for longer. Kuala Lumpur is a far cry from what we had experienced back in Langkawi and Penang. We were back to more familiar, fast paced territory (despite neither of us being to Kuala Lumpur before) smack bang in the city centre. We stayed at the Traders Hotel which has the most amazing view of the Petronas Twin Towers (watching it light up as the sun goes down is jaw-droppingly beautiful), not to mention the Suria KLCC shopping mall. Despite only spending two nights there, we did venture out to the Bukit Bintang area (where I did some shopping and Carl drank some coffee, standard!) and ate out rather than what we’ve been inclined to do quite often and order in room service. We even made time to visit the Aquariam mainly because it was situated in the Convention Centre next door to the hotel. It’s the first time I’d ever been to an aquariam and despite some parts being renovated, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Who knew that fishes can be so ugly and yet so beautiful?



Well that sadly concludes my trip to Malaysia. I’ll try to put together a little post of my unplanned trip to Thailand so stay tuned for more travel highlights of Asia.

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