A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Eastern Malaysia 2018

Route: Kuala Lumpur – Kota Bharu – Kuala Besut – Pulau Perhentian Besar – Kuala Lumpur – Taman Negara – Kuala Lumpur – Singapore.

sunny 35 °C

FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018

Our eastern Malaysia adventure started in the far north east of the mainland, in a town called Kota Bharu. Not a popular tourist destination, so we were able to see more of normal Malaysian life. The town is very Muslim, more so than others that we have visited, almost with out exception you only see women with headscarves. During our two days there we self catered which gave us the opportunity to shop like locals, which is always a fascinating experience. We also did a bit of sightseeing, visiting the old quarters where the original Sultans Palace still stands.

Kota Bharu

Kota Bharu

Old Sultan Palace

Old Sultan Palace

Kota Bharu open market

Kota Bharu open market

Kota Bharu Supermarket, choice of Chilis

Kota Bharu Supermarket, choice of Chilis



Our next destination was completely different, the island of Pulau Perhentian Besar, still in the northeast but south of Kota Bharu. The island sits in a marine conservation area and can only be reached by boat from the mainland town of Kuala Besut. Our room had sea view and balcony, but was a bit basic other than that. The island though was idyllic, everything you would expect, with coconut palm fringed white sandy beaches that plunged into a turquoise sea. It also had good snorkelling, which was the main focus for our visit.
We managed to snorkel in a number of different locations around the island and never ceased to be amazed by the variety of fish we saw. The list of fish species on view would be far too long to display here, also our knowledge of fish is very limited, so we couldn’t do a list anyway. Suffice to say there were a lot of different fish of every colour combination you could think of, together with an amazing variety of other reef creatures, also brightly coloured. A couple of sighting worth a mention though was that of a Blue Spotted Stingray and two very large Green Turtles.
But on a less positive note, we were a little concerned of how the marine conservancy was being treated. We witnessed boatman throwing in anchors without concern for the coral below, snorkelers standing on coral instead of floating above them (sadly all the culprits were Asian) and fish feeding seems to be a bit of a problem here as well. Hopefully the marine authorities and more importantly the locals, who depend on the reef for their livelihood, will enforce some regulations and provide some guidance to tourists who seem to know no better. Otherwise this beautiful place could be ruined forever.

View from our room

View from our room

Perhentian Besar Island

Perhentian Besar Island

Another beach on PI

Another beach on PI

Cozy Resort

Cozy Resort

It was another complete change for our next destination, as we headed into the rainforest. After a stop over in Kuala Lumpur we took a minibus northeast to the Taman Negara (literally “National Park”), see “Interesting Facts” below.
To be as close to the National Park as possible, and still have a bit of comfort, we stayed in the Mutiara Taman Negara Resort. Situated just across the Tembelling River, which forms the boundary of the National Park, the resort consists of a number of chalets, a restaurant and an information centre right on the edge of the rainforest.
Access into the rainforest is limited to a few trails and couple of navigable rivers; this has aided the survival of its wildlife. Close to the resort the rainforest access is on boardwalks, to protect the ground from the bulk of the foot traffic, but deeper in you are on mud paths crisscrossed by vines and tree roots. On each of our four days, we ventured into the forests, three on foot and one via the river. As with all rainforests, wildlife spotting is difficult, due to the thick foliage. However, we did manage to see a few mammals and colourful birds, plus many butterflies of all sizes and colours. But the sounds are what you remember most, and are a reminder that the forest inhabitants are close by but well hidden. The Gibbons in particular are a good example, you could regularly hear their haunting cries but we never even got a glimpse of them. The Long-tailed Macaques were the opposite though, they appeared around the chalets most afternoons, using the roofs as a play area and looking for any food they can steal. An interesting extension to the boardwalk is a canopy walkway, which was our destination on the last day. The walkway takes you high up into the canopy, where you traverse from tree to tree by means of wooden planks suspended by rope supports. Only four people at a time are allowed on each section and they have to be 10 meters apart. Even then the structure sways quite a bit so you have to be comfortable with heights.
And that was it for our rainforest adventure, a very enjoyable four days. The only thing we won’t miss is the heat and humidity, every time we got back to the cabin all our cloth were drenched, it was as though they had just been taken out of a washing machine but hadn’t gone though the spin cycle.

Long Tailed Macaque

Long Tailed Macaque

Spider Lily

Spider Lily

King Fisher

King Fisher

Fungus

Fungus

Tree Lizard

Tree Lizard

Prevost Squirrel

Prevost Squirrel

Broadbill

Broadbill

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Pheasant Peacock

Pheasant Peacock

Fungi

Fungi

River trip in Taman Negara NP

River trip in Taman Negara NP

Early reflection on the river in the rain forest

Early reflection on the river in the rain forest

Spiny Tree

Spiny Tree

Wild Boar

Wild Boar

Strangler vine

Strangler vine

Highest point in Taman Negara NP

Highest point in Taman Negara NP

Giant Roots

Giant Roots

Our cabin in Taman Negara NP

Our cabin in Taman Negara NP

Arriving at Taman Negara NP

Arriving at Taman Negara NP

Hiking in the rain forest

Hiking in the rain forest

Giant Tree

Giant Tree

Looking down from the canopy walk

Looking down from the canopy walk

Canopy walk (450 meters long)

Canopy walk (450 meters long)

Canopy Walk view from below

Canopy Walk view from below

over 1000 steps hike in the rain forest

over 1000 steps hike in the rain forest

Our final location in Malaysia was back in the capital Kuala Lumpur, and right in the heart of its modern centre. We had another very comfortable hotel, the Impiana, located amongst the skyscrapers and only a stone’s throw away from the famous Petronas Twin Towers. We had two goals for our two-day stay in Kuala Lumpur; one was to visit the craft complex (which had a fair on) and the other to go up the Petronas Twin Towers, both of which were achieved.
Although not the world highest building anymore, the Petronas Twin Towers are still pretty spectacular. The view from the bridge and the observation tower allows you to see to the outer limits of Kuala Lumpur and puts into prospective how the city sits within its environment. It was also interesting for me, as the last time I was in Kuala Lumpur they were in an early stage of construction.
Kuala Lumpur has a permanent craft complex, but our visit during these two days was a bit special, as there was a craft fair on. Traders from all over the country had gathered here to sell their products; each very proud of their unique style and the region they were from. As it would be rude not to, we spent a few Ringgits to support these local producers.

KL by night

KL by night

KL by night

KL by night

KL by night

KL by night

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers

Monorail in KL

Monorail in KL

View from Petronas Twin Towers

View from Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Tower

Petronas Tower

View from Petronas Towers

View from Petronas Towers

comic style view

comic style view

Aerial View of KL

Aerial View of KL

And that was it, the end of our Malaysian adventure. A beautiful country, and possibly the friendliest people we have come across anywhere in the world.

From Kuala Lumpur we flew back to Singapore for our third and final visit; before heading back to the UK. This Singapore visit was a chance to take in a few sights that we had missed the first and second time around, always a fascinating city to visit.
But one thing we hadn’t expected was to meet a robot coming out of the hotel lift. About the size of a minibar fridge, it communicated by means of text displayed on a screen on its top. It appeared to be the future for room service, but for the moment needed three humans and a laptop to accompany it.

Garden by the Bay

Garden by the Bay

Buddha Tooth Relic temple

Buddha Tooth Relic temple

Buddha Tooth Relic temple

Buddha Tooth Relic temple

Buddha Tooth Relic temple

Buddha Tooth Relic temple

Japanese restaurant

Japanese restaurant

Indian Temple

Indian Temple



Personal Observations & Interesting Facts

Taman Negara
Taman Negara was Malaysia’s first national park (created in 1925) and is the largest tract of rainforest in Peninsular Malaysia, covering 4,343 square kilometres. It is also one of the oldest rainforest in the world, evolving over the past 130 million years. In addition, it is home to a healthy wildlife population, including a small number (circa 300) of the critically endangered and highly elusive Malayan Tiger (a slightly smaller sub-species of the Bengal Tiger).

The Muslim Faith
Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, but still has a good proportion of other faiths amongst its population, all seemingly getting on fine. The Muslim faith means that a large proportion of women and girls wear a headscarf when they are out, mostly creating a fashionable appendage rather than any religious statement. The Muslim faith also means that there are many mosques throughout the country, with every settlement having at least one. The mosques come in all shapes and sizes, from the grand to the modest, and all have a tower where prayers are sung out several times a day. One of the prayer times is early in the morning, and would wake us up during the first few days of our visit. But we soon got used to it, and slept through.
Also, every room we had in Malaysia would have a green arrow, usually on the ceiling, with the word “Kiblat” written on it. At first we didn’t know what it meant, but soon realised it translated as direction, and more importantly the direction of Mecca for the Muslim prayers.

City Centre Walkways
Although not as bad as the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, walking in the city centre is not easy or straight forward, so the overhead walkways are a major bonus. They don’t go everywhere in the city centre but do connect a few major hubs, and they are undercover with air-conditioning. Very handy when it is over 30 degrees most of the time and tropical downpours are common. And to make it even better, one of the walkways was connected to our hotel.

Unusual Byelaw in Singapore
Singapore has a number of unusual Byelaw’s, but this one is stranger than most. As part of the cities noise abatement laws, it is a requirement that men do not stand up to urinate after 11:00pm. They are required to sit down to do their business, the same as women.

Posted by MAd4travel 01:29 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

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