As we were leaving Borneo, the headline of local newspaper read ‘The proverbial has hit the beach’. My heart sank as I read the sewage pipes in Penang had burst, and now raw waste was flowing into the sea. The report mentioned a possibility of e-coli on the beach. I quickly looked at the map – yep, exactly where Shaun and me were staying! In fact, the plant is practically next to the hotel. Although there wasn’t a major smell thank goodness, the beach is closed unless you want to walk on it – at your own risk. Lucky I’m more of a swimming pool person.
We spent nine nights in Penang, just chilling and eating. The beach was off limits but it was so hot in the day, it was perfect just be next to the pool. We walked down the town in the evenings to find a happy hour and there was loads of hawker stalls selling different cuisines. The Indian population is quite prominent in Malaysia and the Indian food was amazing.
One day we took the bus into Georgetown too. It was a toasty 36C but still lovely to see the sights. There is a colonial quarter with beautiful crumbling old buildings, a vibrant Little India and a bustling Chinatown. We popped into the best preserved Chinese clanhouse in the town, Khoo Kongsi, saw loads of street art on the walls (it’s all made in cast iron and nailed onto whitewashed walls) as part of the Unesco heritage project and strolled through the brand new mall for a welcome air-con cool down.
Rather than fly back down on Monday, we took the train from Butterworth to KL for an amazing £7. As well as palm oil plantations, the scenery was surprisingly mountainous with lush rainforest-looking greenery along the way. It took 6 hours and was brilliantly punctual. For most of the journey we sat in the buffet car playing cards and drinking coffee, but by the time we arrived in KL it was uncomfortably hot and sweaty. We lugged everything on to the tube or the LRT as it’s called here and eventually made it to our hotel. It was a bit far out but completely do-able once we found our way on the train.
This week has been hardcore sightseeing. There is quite a lot to see in Kuala Lumpur and you can tell they are making an effort to welcome tourists. One area of the city is a mini park with lots of attractions in it – we went to the butterfly park, which was amazing, the Islamic Arts Museum and the National Textile Museum, which I also really enjoyed. We walked miles.
Yesterday we went up the Petronas Towers (my second visit this month) and unfortunately a volcano had erupted 2 hours prior to our arrival, leaving the whole city covered in a hazy cloud. It was a shame but you could still see quite a lot.
Later it rained heavily and cleared so there are no worries about flights for tomorrow. Shaun is heading back to London and I’m off to Lombok 🙂 I decided to cut out Singapore (too expensive) and Java (volcano eruptions galore), to head straight to an island/beach.
I enjoyed Malaysia but the food was really disappointing. I think I was spoilt in Cambodia, where every meal was amazing. Here it has been hit and miss.
While the Indian food and the satay has been fantastic, everything else has been just ok. Being here has also made me realise how much I love pork – turkey bacon just doesn’t cut it!