Malaysia, Malaysia, beautiful Malaysia. Called the Truly Asia (or at least as its tourism board likes to call it as the new tourism campaign).
Due to its location and result of its geography, Malaysia is very warm but humid, a gorgeous tropical climate which results the most beautiful views: Rain forests, jungles, plant trees everywhere, all sort of plants, flowers and obviously, the animals. On top of that they have the greenest and bluest skies, seas and lakes.
Actually, in Malaysia, theres a thunder of colour that reminds Leonid Afremov paints.
I guess the fact that Malaysia is so multiethnic makes the country even more colourful. Malays, Chinese, Indians and numerous tribes call multicultural Malaysia home. And they all coexist so peacefully (humm well, sort of actually…).
The country is filled with mosques, Buddhist temples, Hindu temples and even churches. On top of that you still can feel the European vibes and the heritage from Portugal, England and Netherlands in numerous buildings, streets and architecture in general.
I have been writing you about this beautiful country for a while but now its time to finish it so here it is, my summary of Malaysia:
Timeline: 16th Dec until the 10th of Jan – 25 days
Where: Visit both Borneo where I was in Sundakan and Kota Kinabalu by the Ocean.
And also visit Mainland Malaysia where I spent some time in Kuala Lumpur, the capital and in Malacca, an ex Portuguese colony.
Temperature: Even tho it was very hot, always around the 30◦C + unfortunately was the rain season and it did rain a few times, and I mean tropical rain, where from one second to another would star pouring like it was the end of the world.
Touring: I have travelled Malaysia by myself, but was so lucky because I have met with 2 very special friends, one in Borneo and another in KL.
New additions in life: Definitely getting to know my friend Emma’s father, his lady and the entire family and friends. They were all so nice and was a pleasure to spend my Christmas with them 🙂 Also met the loveliest Malay lady and her family: Precilla! Thank you for everything. On top of that I also had a CS host that became a friend and I feel like will be meeting again. Also had the opportunity to meet other cool people while in KL. Actually, don’t even remember to be alone while in Malaysia.
Sickness: Didn’t get sick in Malaysia (unless you count extremely hungry) but spent the first 2 weeks literally recuperating from my burned leg (India’s accident) and had some hospital and pharmacy “exciting” visits.
Transports used: Plane, Bus, Metro etc etc, theres a post dedicated to this 🙂
Special nights and parties: Christmas eve without a doubt and so was NYE.
Cinema: I did go to the movies one of those days I felt lazy. End up watching Believer on the premier day. The ticket costed me less than ￡2 and was like a luxury theatre… wish I have gone more often, but there was no interesting movies on to be honest!
Singing: YES, with Corrine at all times: street, hostel (oh and I think all hostel heard us and hated us) but who doesn’t love a bit of Gaga and Beyonce???
Also while I was in Malacca, my friend took me to this really cool bar where the lovely owners had the best job in the world: running a beautiful bar while singing to the costumers. They invite me on stage and I sang a tune ahahah
Big surprise: Hummmm, didn’t have any really. I mean, maybe because I didn’t hold big or small expectations about the country. But there was nothing that really did shock me or that I wasn’t expecting..
However, theres a “funny” and surprising situation: I must say I have received a exemplar hospital treatment in Borneo, I am not saying I wasn’t expecting a great service, but was very glad the way I was seen and how efficient they were. However it was a bit of a surprise to find out I was been given morphine for the pain I was having. Funnily enough I though those pills were bullshit because I was still in pain, UNTIL those magic pills were gone… than I realise that I really needed them, and it wasn’t until I got to the pharmacy to request (read beg) for more, that I was told that it was morphine and they couldn’t sell it to me…. however I could go to a “special” pharmacy where they would sell it to me without making questions, I ask for the address and off I went… I have never bough drugs in my life, but I guess it must be the same “excitement” as I was going through.. the whole thing was so “under cover” and kinda dodgy…. well, the good news was that I did get the pills and I took them until I could handle the pain. I must say those were the days I was sleping 12hours and I was still tired :p
Money: I found it cheap, as overall! Had some great accommodation for a great price and the food was reasonable as so it was the bus and metro rides. Found taxis very expensive and goods such technology, clothing, beauty products were not cheap at all. Many things had London prices or even more expensive. Cinema was very cheap.
Food: Spoke about this in my previous post but highly disappointing for a Vegetarian.
Curiosity: Do you know that Malaysians are crazy about shopping and their shopping malls??? Well, guess I didn’t know that until I got into country and I have to say I was absolutely shocked. I have never seen anything like that… Literally there was a shopping mall in every corner in Malaysia…. And I don’t meant small shopping malls. Actually Malaysia has 3 shopping malls that are among the top 10 biggest in the world, in the WORLD. It was crazy that most of metro stations in KL were actually inside a shopping mall, and basically many of the shopping malls were connected to each other underground.
Later on I did some research and found out that there are 350,000 shopping malls in Malaysia today! INSANE. Actually Kuala Lumpur was considered the 4th best city in the world for shopping by CNN and I can see why!
Disappointment: I would have to say the food. As explained in my post “Eat, more, sleep” I did struggle and I actually starve myself a few times as there was no food for me, and I am just a vegetarian… would love to be vegan, but without eggs I literally would die of starvation!!!
Being Portuguese: Was awesome. It was refreshing to be in a country where I could answer the global question “Where you from?” without people doing a funny look when I give my answer, “I am from Portugal”. As a part of Malaysia was colonised by my country and there is some strong links still, people did know about Portugal and its location. Actually in Malacca I was very well received and people seemed very excited to meet a “real” Portuguese. I say this because apparently theres a lot of “Portuguese” in Malaysia but they are in fact Malay with some Portuguese blood and they don’t even speak the language but was still so exciting to be surrounded by other Portuguese and to see Portuguese words and architecture that reminds me of home.
Myth or not: That Malaysia is super muslim. NOT. I know that there is a big Muslim community and was easy to spot the burkas and the mosques but I didn’t really felt like in a very rigid Muslim environment if you know what I mean. Yes, I did receive some dirty looks from some ladies regarding my way of dressing – not that I was being extremely disrespectful (but it was hot if you know what I mean), but never felt threatened or in danger (some friends warn me I could easily be arrested in Malaysia due to my “openmindness” and the way I fight for equality, specially women rights, but guess what, good news: I wasn’t arrested neither got in serious trouble… maybe apart from a certain ride with the most idiot taxi driver ever (that funnily enough was Muslim … but coincidences perhaps.)
Big Lesson: Don’t go out without an umbrella or a rain coat if you are in a tropical country during the rainy season. I got seriously wet so many times that I am surprise I didn’t get super sick. Seriously, looking at the window and see a sunshiny day means nothing if you are in Malaysia during the rainy season… because 3 min later the sky might come down. So by the end I did learn my lesson and I would always carry a umbrella … or maybe not always ;p after all rain leaves my hair quite cool and more curly :p
Definitely the biggest highlight was hanging with 2 great friends.
- The first time I saw a familiar face on my trip was “just” one of my dearest friends, Emma, from “THE EMMAS”!!! She is a sort of lost sister to me so it was very special to spend my Christmas with her and her gorgeous family (which was also another highlight). Emma and I met many many many years ago and we have the most incredible stories and lived the most incredible adventures together… I think the highlight was when we had a rave (without electricity or any lights really) in the middle of the Sahara desert, dancing and singing Britney and Gaga in the middle of camel poo with toothless camel keepers… it can’t get much better than this! Even tho we never lived in the same country we would meet at least once per year and during that week we would have the best time of our lives… oh well, she kinda did live in London at mines when we decided to study together, we are both proudly “graduated’ in Music PR Management ahahah. Love you Ems and thank you for everything. Seeing you and being with you was not only the highlight in Malaysia but one of the highlights in the entire trip 🙂
- And also had my favourite neighbour ever: Corrine, coming to visit in KL. Corrine is one of the coolest people I ever met. We met in London as we were neighbours in Kings Cross. She literally lived above me and we were almost like flatmates as my door was always open for her and so was her door for me. We had so much fun… the countless parties and the get togethers to watch Sex and the City while we dispute the Samantha Jones role ahahah, the singing sessions and the bitching sessions aswell. But apart from all the walks in the parks nearby discussing life, men and the usual… I have to say that one of the best moments was when Corrine help me and my flatmates getting ride of the most horrible people that I have ever met, which were guests of one of our flatmate that was traveling… well, I can tell that the whole thing even involved the police … but Corrine got there and literally gave them 5min to leave the premisses… and they left ahahhaha I will never forget that moment ahahah
I know these highlights might not sound really connected to Malaysia but oh well, they happened in Malaysia and they are the best memories I have because friends come always first.
- This might sound a bit sad but one of the highlights was definitely be in touch again with those familiar brands I was used to everyday. Shops such Body Shop, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Zara or places such Starbucks and even Nandos were a treat to my eyes. Not that I did a lot of shopping or anything, but was good to have that familiar feeling… that you understand things or recognise products. However, I did some shopping, after all I wasn’t expecting to go to China during Winter and didn’t have winter stuff with me, and was great to do it somewhere I recognise, was almost like being at home. Oh, and can’t forget Sephora, a portuguese treat that I can’t even get in the UK :p And I am not going to pretend I didn’t enjoy my Hot Chocolates and Chai Lattes at Starbucks … :p
- Another highlight was definitely the landscapes – Nature and all the animal life. It started really well when I was flying from KL to KK, the view was just so impressive, the blue water and the green of the jungle and rain forests… Borneo is just incredible. Everything is so green and the ocean is so blue that is like you are in the paradise. Being at the reforest by myself exploring it for hours was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The animal life is pretty amazing too, as I would see orangutan, snakes, the most exotic birds, etc… The bird park was fantastic and I advise everyone to visit.
- Being in Malacca was definitely one of the other highlights. One of the reasons I decide to do this trip was to follow my routes and my ancestors … so visiting places that were “discovered”, colonised or just highly influenced by the Portuguese is one of my goals in this trip, and Malacca is a great example where I’ve seen my routes and could identify with.
Not everything is perfect and I have to keep it real by sharing the bad experiences too.
- I must say that some people and attitudes were not the best… the constant staring by some was not very welcome. I felt like I had a lot of eyes on me, but once my friend Corrine joined me, it got worse…! I understand that we might be different and look different from the locals, but as a Multiracial and Multicultural nation, I wasn’t expecting some of the looks we got. There was situations where I had to “shout” at some men as they would be proper staring at us… good news is that most of the times they were not Malay.…..
- The stupid taxi driver. So there’s an episode I must tell you, as I also would like to give you an advice.
When you travel is natural that people will try to take advantage of you and a common scam is the taxi ride. So first advice I have for you (if you have a smartphone), before you leave you hotel/hostel to go anywhere, if you are taking the taxi, please check google maps and check your destination and the best routes to get there. Even without internet, the GPS on your smartphone will work.
When you get on the taxi request where you want to go but give a hint that you know the way, otherwise the taxi driver might take advantage of you.
Now, as usual I did the map thing, and got in the taxi, but was so tired that didn’t even bother to pretend I knew my destination. Now I had to go South East, and noticed that the taxi driver was going North and West. Now I could see on my map that he was not using any of the advised routes by google maps plus I stayed in that part of the town in KL for almost a week and knew which route he should take to go South. I just can tell you that I fight so much with that taxi driver that kept thinking I was some idiot tourist that he would milk away, that at some point he threaten me to leave me in the middle of the road, which I threatened back that not only I saved his licence plate, and I would go to the police, which he became even more angry…. Gladly Ive think quick and told him I took his pic and his licence number and sent to friends, in case he tried to do anything not nice to me. He kinda panicked and kept going. I told him I didn’t want to listen his voice anymore and he didn’t talk again. True is that I didn’t do any of that, you know, saving the license or take his picture …. but acted as I did, and decided that would start doing that from that moment on… I put a poker and serious face and only that moment I felt safe, because I looked very confident and I didn’t show any fear, but the way he screamed at me and the way he got mad and angry specially after I threaten him back, I know he could have done something bad to me. So be aware of those scams and have a plan.
- Another lowlight was the weather. Even tho it was hot, it was the rain season and I can tell you that tropical rain really is crazy and you never know when will start pouring like its the end of the world. I got wet a few times but I still blame Corrine from bring the rain with her :p
My bucket list: Yes, I had the opportunity to “tick” a few amazing items on my bucket list. Not going to expand much but here they are, the items I managed to cross while in Malaysia:
- Have an hot Christmas
- Have an international NYE
- To see the Petronas Towers
- Being on top of the KL Tower
- Being in the middle of a rainforest by myself – it wasn’t Amazons and didn’t sleep there, but was still exciting
- To visit the world’s largest free flight walk-in Aviary – KL Bird Park
- Visit Mallaca – the ex portuguese Colony
So well, this was Malaysia!!!!
Hope you enjoyed and are now curious to visit, as for me I will be telling you about a new country and new adventures very soon.