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Cameron Highlands, Penang, and Langkawi

MALAYSIA | Friday, 23 November 2007 | Views [3112] | Comments [2]

In the last 2 weeks…. We have traveled through Peninsular Malaysia, and were amazed by the different landscape and sights… from Kuala Lumpur; we saw the dynamic and metropolis city with the infamous Petronas Towers, from there we traveled by bus to the Cameron Highlands, an idyllic and serene mountainous area with beautiful tea plantations, to Penang, a quaint colonial town that at one time must have really been quite grand, to finally Langkawi… which can be simply described as sea, beach, and blue skies.

In KL, on our last night, I finally got to sample the infamous Durian… to some, you may think… “What the hell are you smoking!” But to me… nothing beats a fresh personal little Durian, with its buttery sweetness…. YUM! Felix took a bite, and yaked!  Just kidding… but he refused to eat anymore. I guess it’s an acquired taste, one which he has yet to acquire… (Karyanne, I ate extra for you… BTW I got you Durian chocolates!)


To those who are unfamiliar with durian it is a spiky shelled fruit that has a very strong stinky smell, and has the texture of avocado. If you ever go to Malaysia… you have to try it!

From KL we traveled on a rickety bus, for 4 hours, on a winding, nausea inducing road up to the mountains of Cameron Highlands. But it was worth it, we visited the renowned Boh Tea Plantations, did a mini trek in the Jungle, where we found out about the many uses of bamboo ie that if you touch the bamboo fibers and ingest it, you could die, and we saw our first pitcher plant, which is strangely delicate and feminine flower… but it EATS BUGS! Felix’s all time favorite stop was the butterfly farm, where they also had all kinds of bugs and snakes…  Definitely not my cup of tea! I swear… Felix’s eyes lit up when he saw all the critters, especially when the guide let him hold them. I am definitely not a bug fan… esp the long millipedes with hard bodies and hundreds of feet! Reminds me of ‘James and the Giant Peach.’

Here is a video of Felix holding a scorpion. Listen to the audio… it just proves how bossy Steph is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaNPD2QLuk8

*In hindsight… we shouldn’t have done it! We learned our lesson here! So don’t worry Mom… we won’t be doing this kind of stupid stuff anymore.

We also visited a local tribe and learned how to use a blow pipe to catch small animals… the funniest thing is, their hut was conveniently located right beside the main road, so that tourists can visit and meet them. But later on, we found out that the house that we visited was just for tourists, and that they lived in air conditioned houses with plasma TV’s. Figures! The guide told us that they really appreciated it when visitors gave them canned goods, so I asked if it was ok if I gave him a bar of chocolate, as a token of Thanks. The look on this man’s face was priceless… it was not a look a gratitude… but rather a look of “Hello! I live by the side the road… I can buy chocolate when I want… even though I am dressed in only a loin cloth.” His demeanor quickly changed when we gave him 10 Ringgits instead!

The next stop was Penang which was another 5 hour bumpy bus ride, and from there we explored Georgetown. The architecture was very Portuguese inspired with lots of soft yellows, and lilac blues, and little shutters for the windows. We stayed at a very simple and basic guest house, as basic as no hot water, no bed sheets and a shower over the toilet, for $10 CAD.  I am quite proud of myself for making do! =)  And believe me, this was already a luxurious room because we had air conditioning.  Despite the basic accommodations, the folks running the place were extremely friendly and extremely helpful.  If you ever stay in Penang though, we’d recommend you splurge and stay at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. It’s now a private estate that we took a tour of, and it has its own character with its quirky East meets West style. Indigo blue on the outside, and intricate carvings and mosaics within the building. A must see if you come here.

Penang was also the first place where we were blatantly scammed right in front of our faces!  We bought tickets for the ferry from Georgetown to Langkawi island for 55 Ringgits which included transportation from our hostel to the ferry docks (actual cost of the ferry is 50 Ringgits so we’re only paying an extra 5 for the transport from hostel to docks).  There were 10 of us that got picked up at the hostel and we proceeded to what we thought was the ferry docks in Georgetown (5 min drive).  The driver announces that the ‘waves are too high’ for the ferry from Georgetown and said that he would drive us to Alor Setar and catch the ferry from there… ‘Better for you…’ he assured us.  The drive to Alor Setar took an hour and a half and when we got there, he went out and bought our ferry tickets for us.  To our surprise, when we got to the terminal, the ferry tickets were only 18 Ringgits. A nice profit of 370 Ringgit for the driver. Sweet deal!  But we did end up in Langkawi in one piece so that’s what mattered most.

Langkawi highlights:

-         1.Witnessing 3 beautiful yet different sunsets

Have you ever seen a sunset ‘really’ set into the horizon? I can truly say it was our first time… one second you see the top of the sun, and poof the next it’s gone… like literally in a second…  We were just bathed in this soft warm light, and then it was gone…

-         2. Meeting Toby the Swiss drummer

We met Toby on the bus, and bonded over the driver scam. We ended up spending the whole time with him during our stay, and we learned a lot about Switzerland. Namely, you can ‘lease’ a cow for 6 months, and get 2 kilos of butter and cheese, that cheese is a predominant part of Swiss cuisine, and  that there is two types of German, High German and Swiss German, and they are nothing alike. Plus for Swiss German, there is no such thing as a spelling mistake. There are no rules for this language. Interesting eh? And the last thing was that people in Switzerland have never eaten mangos… ok… maybe it was just Toby, but he loved it! =) We also introduced him to dragonfruit… so hopefully he will try that soon and like it too.

-         3.We toured around the island in a little rented car.

Our first choice was to actually go by motor cycle, but after Felix’s quick lesson, he thought better of it, and we decided to take a car instead. It was super cheap for the day… about $20 CAD. We covered so much more ground that way, and thankfully, Toby knew how to drive stick. We had a hard time with driving in the opposite direction, but we managed and saw a lot of Langkawi, right from the mountain tops, to the pristine white beaches.

-         4.We had the Best Indian food on the nicer part of Langkawi strip!

Indian Food by candle light, another first for our new friend Toby, and he loved every bite. We ate for hours, and really savoured this meal, from fresh garlic nan to butter chicken, mango lassi, and chicken tikka…. it was a smorgasbord of a feast! One of the few splurges we had in Malayisa… but it was well worth it…

-         5. First time we ever had mango that smelled like Durian… YUK!!

Felix and I bought some fresh fruit from the local market and bought some different types of mangos. I have no idea what we bought… but this mango was just not GOOD! It tasted and smelled like Durian. WEIRD!

-         6. Tollywood Filming at the peak of the mountain in Langkawi.

We were touring the top of one of the mountain peaks, and saw a film crew shooting a movie. After chatting with the crew, we found out they were filming a Tollywood movie.Not a spelling error…. Tollywood  is derived from the word Telugu. I think he mentioned Bollywood is more from Bombay, and that Tollywood is from a different region.

Check out the choreography: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3db2Qy9ALZU

We had that song stuck in our head for the rest of the day. The film crew even took a pic of me, and their audio guys.

Toby, it was a pleasure to have met you… and if you ever come to Canada, the offer still stands…  Good luck in your travels through Lao and Thailand, and I hope one day our paths will cross again

That’s all folks… how is that for LONG! Next stop … Singapore… the land where the merlion resides!


Tags: Adventures



OMG! u can lease a cow?? I'm buying a ticket to Switzerland right now!!!

  Bincy Dec 3, 2007 5:41 PM


How romantic, a candlelit Indian dinner. I guess the idea is things are more romantic when there is less light, so the next time i dine with my lady-friend I will do it in the dark. Miss you guys, and beware of guys named Mo.

  King Jan 10, 2008 10:23 AM

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