We travelled in a group of 18, led by Paul Raj, from Penang to Singapore in June/July 2004. In Penang we were based in the 1926 hotel, Georgetown, (so named as it was built in that year) and walked around Chinatown, Little India and visited the fascinating Chinese clan jetties which are built on stilts over the water to avoid payment of land taxes (now there’s an idea...). As you can see from the photos there was much sampling of hawker food from street stalls, including rather potent ginger tea and rambutan (with additional biting ants!). We sampled durian at the market at the foot of the Kek Lok Si temple before ascending the steps into the enormous Buddhist site.
We left Penang island over the 13.5 km long road bridge and drove to the Cameron Highlands along a twisty-turny, stomach churning road. Enroute we stopped at an orang-utan sanctuary (we were in the cages) and walked through a local village dwarfed by the Ubudiah mosque. In the Highlands we visited the beautiful BOH (Best of the Highlands) tea plantation and watched the processing of the leaves picked earlier that morning.
Onwards to the breathtaking Taman Negara national park. We entered the immense virgin rainforest by motor boat spotting monitor lizards, eagles, otters and ‘indigenous’ on the 60km journey. Probably one of the most memorable moments of this trip for me was drifting downstream with fine rain falling from a clear blue sky creating rainbows against the incredible trees, bamboos and vines hanging over the water. We all completed the fabled canopy walk - 30 metres up in the treetops walking over boarded ladders lying in the bottom of rope nets and many walked to the viewpoints up on Teresik Hill to look out over the expansive rainforest.
Kuala Lumpur was vibrant and noisy by contrast and we spent the evening in Chinatown checking out the vast array of ‘designer’ merchandise on offer (Gucci shades for £2, DVDs for £2..... It’s all genuine, honest) and sampling yet more amazing Chinese food. We had sizzling beef thrown on a hotplate in front of us. The following day we saw the Padang and viewed the Petronas twin towers from the observation deck of the KL tower.
In Malacca we stayed at the historic and atmospheric Hotel Purina (complete with birds building the raw ingredients for birds nest soup in a room stuffed with antiques). We walked through the red-buildings of the Dutch area to Harmony Road, so named as it houses a mosque, Chinese temple (Buddhist and Taoist!) and a church - religious harmony indeed. At last we were near to some well earned relaxation and Tioman Island. Wonderful snorkelling at Coral Island and lobster, crabs and prawns on the menu.... A strong contender for paradise in my book.
Leaving some of the group behind to suffer more duty free beer and fine white sand, we headed to Singapore. Careful not to chew gum, smoke in air conditioned buildings and cross the road in the wrong place we had the obligatory Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. A fitting end to a varied and interesting trip.
We travelled with the following people, some of whom have contributed photos to this site (where indicated): Pat (PC), Louise (LF), Chris & Keith (CK), Hilary & Chris (HC), Matt & Anna (MA), Chris & Kate (KC), Ian & Katy (IK), Paul (P), George & Stephanie (GS)and Will (W).
(Click on The word Malaysia above to see pictures)