Malaysia: Things to do, see and eat

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I didn’t know what to expect from Malaysia. It was my first time traveling to an Asian country, and my mind was open. I didn’t read up or research, but just prepared myself for whatever would come.

At first I was overwhelmed. I wanted to soak up everything, photograph everything and enjoy it all too. In the beginning I felt like the odd one out, the tall blonde Australian amongst a sea of others. It was a bit of cultural adjustment, but before long I found my feet. It was a beautiful country to visit, with friendly people, amazing food {oh my goodness!}, great shopping, lots of history and so much more.

Here’s a little round-up of my time in Malaysia – things I did, saw and enjoyed:

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DO: Enjoy the feast of colours and beauty. At times it overwhelmed me. There was so much to see and soak up. This was at a temple in Melaka. I was so in awe of the people, the feelings and the colour that I forgot to ask questions. People would pull petals from the flowers, light candles and pray.

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DO: Take a trishaw ride. On our day trip to Melaka {two hours out of Kuala Lumpur} we filled the day with a short river cruise, a trishaw ride, a browse through the stalls on Jonker Street and a cooking class. The trishaw ride was a fun way to see everything in a shorter period of time.

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DO: Shop. Kuala Lumpur is filled with flashy shopping malls. It was refreshing to step out of the humid weather and into the air conditioning for a spot of shopping. While I loved the shopping, being plus-size there wasn’t many options for me, so I much preferred our day in Melaka looking through the stalls on Jonker Street. The prices are cheap, the atmosphere is fun and it’s an opportunity to get to know the people of Malaysia.

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DO: Get to know the people. This guard was sitting outside the temple we visited in Melaka. I loved the character in his face, and I so desperately wanted him to smile at me. As soon as I put my camera down, he did.

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DO: Try not to freak out on the roads. I’ve never seen anything like the driving in Malaysia. Amazingly, there was no rage – even though people cut people off, drive across two lanes and speed around like crazy. Our van had no seat belts and I was so glad to arrive at each destination safe and in one piece.

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DO: Look up. You never know what beauty is waiting for you.

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DO: Visit the Petronas Towers. This was my favourite place to check out the shops, the beautiful buildings and to eat. On the first day I met up with Mei who I met on the Problogger trip to Queensland in June. She took us to Madam Kwans where I had my first taste of Malaysian food. So amazing. To see the towers at night, visit the Skybar and have a drink, it’s just magical.

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DO: Visit the Batu Caves. It’s a very spiritual place {you can read about the history here} with 272 steep stairs to the very top, lined with monkeys who seem to be very hungry.

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DO: Be in awe of the statues and temples at the Batu Cave. This is the smaller of the statues, but you won’t be able to miss the amazing gold statue standing 43m tall at the bottom of the stairs to the Batu Cave.

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DO: Prepare yourself for the toilets. While most toilets are your normal, everyday loo – some are squatting toilets that you have to pay money to visit. You can see outside the man at the table is taking coins and offering toilet paper. A good idea is to take some tissues with you for such occasions.

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DO: Avoid taking any food with you on the walk up the stairs to the Batu Cave. Otherwise the monkeys will grab it from your hands. I was scared they’d be jumping all over us, food or not, but they’re not bothered with people – unless you’ve got something to offer them!

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DO: Take a moment to take in the stunning gold statue at the Batu Caves. He’s a Hindu god and just amazing.

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DO: Take your camera. You’ll be glad you did.

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DO: Try the food. I already miss the food. It’s filled with flavour, a little bit spicy but a whole lot of yummy. Highlights for me were Nasi Bojari, buttered prawns, satay chicken, dumplings, chicken rice and the dessert cendol. Cendol looks like something I’d never want to eat, but it was delicious. It’s crushed ice, coconut milk, green starchy things and brown sugar. So delicious. Lot 10 in Kuala Lumpur is an underground food market that should be on everyone’s to-do list. The high tea at the Ritz Carlton is also very delicious with scrumptious teas. Are you getting the idea that we ate a lot on our trip?

STAY: We stayed at the Park Royal which was in the Golden Triangle of Kuala Lumpur. It was in the centre of town with access to everything. I loved that it had free wi-fi on every floor, a nice bar, a yummy restaurant and breakfast buffet and a day spa too. The bed was bigger than a king. I had no idea it was possible, but it turns out it is. The hotel seemed popular with Australian guests.

DO: Indulge in a few beauty treatments. I had a massage {OK, two}, a little reflexology {only AUD$12 for 45 minutes}, and the best manicure/pedicure I’ve ever had. You’ll see little places around as you go about.

FLY: We flew with Air Asia. It’s a budget airline that flies daily from the Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur {as well as other cities in Australia and beyond}. Prices start from around AUD$500 return. Be warned that this only covers your flight, if you want extras you’ll have to pay for them. That includes food, entertainment, blankets and anything else you might need. And don’t take just coins. On my flight home I was cold so tried to buy a blanket {AUD$17} with gold coins and they wouldn’t accept it. So make sure you have some notes for those extras. If you want to upgrade to a flat bed it works out to only be around AUD$250 and it’s something I’d definitely get if I was flying Air Asia again. A friend tried it on the way there and said she loved it.

What’s your favourite thing about visiting new places? Is it the food, the people, the culture, the sights or something else?

Note: I traveled as a guest of Air Asia and Tourism Malaysia. I was also gifted the lens for my Canon that I used to take these shots by the kind people at Canon. It is a 24-70mm 2.8 {I usually use a 50mm 1.8 but it doesn’t offer as much focus or clarity}.

Comments

  1. Liz says

    Oh, I love Malaysia. I went there on a whirlwind trip with Nuffnang for the awards last year… in fact, it was so short and sweet, I don’t know if I’m qualified to say ‘I love Malaysia’ at all! Would love to go back and do a thorough trip like yours sometime. Looks like you had an awesome time!

      • Liz says

        We stayed at the Marriott in Putrajaya. Very lovely, but out of the way. We didn’t see much at all — the awards night was hosted at the hotel, and the next day we went on an all-day bus trip around Malaysia, but it was focused on the city. We saw the Towers, did a bit of shopping and a couple of other very touristy stops.

        Would have loved to delve deeper!

  2. coralie says

    Your post makes me nostalgic for Asia, Chantal. We lived in Singapore for a few years, and often ventured to Malaysia for weekends. I love the colours and vibrancy! We’re currently living in Moscow, and it feels as though we are living in black and white here.
    Great images, glad you had a super time. And as for the food….. yum!!

  3. taniamccartney says

    Loved hearing about your trip and so happy you had a glorious time. I’m very fortunate to have seen and/or lived in many Asian countries and I can’t get enough. The sights, sounds, flavours, colors, people, FOOD!!! I take photos almost literally non-stop – I drive my family nuts. Your next stop simply has to be Vietnam. X

  4. Barbarb Neubeck says

    Hi Chantal…your photos are beautiful…Malaysia is amazing…….I would love to visit. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip

  5. Martie @ Spunkyrella says

    This is great! Reminds me a lot of my backpacking trip to India years ago! The temples are amazing and the Hindu statues were breathtaking. I like to take it all in while traveling. I like to get to eat new food, spices and flavours, I like to talk to the locals and really soak up the culture and be part of it.

    I don´t like to shop at those very touristy locations but I am always up for supporting the locals with a little purchase.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. samstone76 says

    It looks like you had a wonderful time!
    I love everything about visiting new places, the food, people, culture and sights!

  7. says

    Glad you loved your trip to Malaysia. We visited the Batu Caves when we went to KL too. We really loved rural peninsular Malaysia on the East coast – paradise. Also loved the lens – would love a blog post explaining the difference with some comparison shots

  8. Tracey says

    I’m so glad you liked Malaysia! If you go back one day, do head up north to Penang, I love the Kek Lok Si Temple, the shopping is again awesome there, the beaches are pretty :) xx

    • Tracey says

      Oh, I forgot to ask whether they took you to a pasar malam? It’s the night market – fun trinkets and good food and atmosphere

      • says

        They didn’t. Some girls went to Chinatown during the day. I saw the food night markets near where we stayed, but I was exhausted and we just drove through.

        I thinking there’s loads I didn’t see in my time there, unfortunately. Would you recommend Pasar Malam?

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