Wednesday 23 April 2014

Malaysia ....... indeed...........Truly Asia !!!!

After sailing around the globe with my husband for almost 10years, we settled at home in 2005. Since then we were visiting different parts of India, mainly to show our daughter what India is.She started sailing with us when she was 18 months old and by 2005 she had been to almost 23 countries.

Now, after 7 years we have decided to venture out again and we selected Malaysia. I had first visited this country in 1997 and last was in 2003, all through ships of course!

Our Tour of Malaysia was mainly to explore the culture, food and History of the Peninsular Malaysia. Following are from our tour diary:
25th Apr 2013, Kochi - Melaka:
We Started from out home at 2020Hrs and reached Kochi International  Airport by 2105Hrs. As we have already checked-In Air Asia online and had our boarding pass in hand  so within an hour we completed all formalities. But our flight was late by half hour and we took off by 2350Hrs Indian Time.
26th Apr 2013, Melaka:
Flight landed at Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) at 0640Hrs Malaysian Time. Immigration was simple, collected baggage, took a local connection of DiGi Mobile Company and purchased 3 bus tickets of Transnasional Bus (belonging to Malaysian Government) to Melaka. Bus was at 0900Hrs so we had our very first bite, nothing special just some sandwiches. Bus departed sharp on time. It was 2.5 hours of drive and reached Melaka by 1130hrs.
Transnasional Bus at Airport

Inside the Transnasional Bus.

Roads were in excellent condition.We took taxi from Bus stop to the hotel. Taxi price has to be bargained and fixed. Its true for most of Malaysia. Our Heritage Hotel  on Heeran Street was right at the heart of China Town and walking distance to Dutch Melaka.

When we arrived at Hotel , our Room was not ready. Normal Check-In time at Malaysia is 1400Hrs. So left  our bags in  the reception and went out to for a walk.

 As it was noon we had our lunch at Nancy’s Kitchen.  We had  Nyonya Food.
Nancy's Kitchen
Interior of Nancy's Kitchen.

Rice, Peranakan Braised Pork & Ayam Buah Keras (Chicken Candlenut)

Long back when Chinese came to Malay peninsular for business they married local women and their children were  called Perenakan  (Strait Born) Chinese. Their boys were called Babas and girls were called Nyonyas. They  followed  the Chinese custom of their father and so the food was a mixture of Chinese & Malay….so formed a food cuisine called Nyonya Foods.
After lunch at Nancy’s Kitchen, we went back to our Hotel and checked-in. Without much delay we made our way to the  Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum. It’s a house of rich Baba-Nyonya which is now converted to a museum. The guide who took us explained the construction, life and heritage of the house. The house was indeed Great !!!!  It’s worth a visit. Here photography was banned , so I am posting only the photo of the exterior of this Heritage house. Infact the Heritage Hotel, where we are staying is also a Baba-Nyonya House converted now to an Hotel!
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum at Heeran Street

Heeran Street where our Hotel was Located.

After the Museum Visit we came back to our Hotel just to relax for sometime.

Then we went to explore the Chinatown of Melaka and for a walk through Jonker  Street. In Melaka on Friday & Saturday the Jonker Street will be closed for traffic in the evening. Around 6 o’clock onwards we can see stalls - mainly food stalls, will be put up on the street and people just roam through the street tasting different types of food. We have planned our tour in such a way that we will be at Melaka on Friday & Saturday just to enjoy the beauty of this Jonker Walk. This is also a catching sight to take back home.

Jonker Street.
Jonker street closed for Traffic-sight of the street market & food court.


Today as we were roaming around  Jonker Street  we came across a Shop which was selling some Deserts. We had heard a lot about Nyonya Food (Desert ) called Cendol,  everyone says that  this Desert is too good  so  we gave a try to taste this Sweet but  somehow my taste buds  didn’t like the taste of  it, but I don’t know about others, they may like it …….  Later   we had some Seafood Laksa and came back to the hotel to take rest.

27th Apr 2013, Melaka:
Today morning  around 0830 we went for breakfast at our Hotel. Breakfast is served in an open garden and was buffet with Malay and European style food. Good variety to choose from. After breakfast we proceeded to see  the Admiral Cheng Ho Museum. Cheng Ho was the  Admiral of  the Treasure fleet during  the Ming Dynasty in China. He made 7 voyages from China to the  west upto east coast of Africa and Melaka was his stop over  for refreshing and replenishing. It’s a Good Museum ,  in it they even  show a film on him , it takes about 15minutes. Cheng Ho’s largest ship was 140 metre long with all it’s luxuries!!!! Compared  with that, all European explorer’s ship were like small boats. Interestingly, Admiral Cheng Ho visited Kollam, Kochi and Kozhikode in India before proceeding to Arabia. His greatest influence in Kochi was the introduction of Chinese Fishing nets, iconic picture of Kochi today!!!
Dutch Area.
After the museum we went to visit the Christ Church, Town Hall & other Dutch Heritage Buildings and then proceeded to see St. Paul’s Church at Bukit St. Paul (St.Paul’s hill). From St. Paul’s Hill we can clearly see the Malacca Strait. Many times I had sailed along with my husband through that strait and today I am standing on the hill and watching ships sailing through Malacca Strait. Time just flies !!! Next to the St. Paul’s Church there is an old Light house.
View of Malacca Strait from Bukit St. Paul
St. Francis Xavier frequently visited this Church on his way to China to preach Christianity. When he died at China his body was temporarily buried here before it was taken to Goa. His tomb is still here.
Melaka is a city with largest number of Museums, you can see museum in every nook & corner of this city ! Heat was taking its toll on us and so we decided to head to a nearby food court. The Food court were we went today was having two sections, first is Chinese and the second for Malay. Reason for this is certain foods like pork which is considered as delicacy by Chinese is “haram” ( forbidden) by Malay who are mainly Muslims. So there is a separate Malay section which sells on “Halal” food. After having food there we walked back to our hotel and had siesta.

By 1730Hrs we walked to Amy’s Restaurant where our friends Alfred Zheng and Shunting were waiting for us with their parents. They Drove all the way from Singapore to see us. Amy is Nyonya and a famous Nyonya Cook as well. Her Food was fantastic, we loved it. I would recommend everyone visiting Melaka and wish to have Authentic Nyonya food to try out her cooking. Advance booking is required.

With Amy

Amy's Food!!!

After food , we all walked together through Jonker Street  again.  When we reached the Southern end of Jonker Street , we saw Dr. Ho Eng Hui who does Coconut Kung Fu. He pummels his forefinger into coconut! If you have an idea how hard the coconut shell is then you will be surprised to see this performance. It’s worth watching. Though he shows this performance to entertain others , but his main aim is to sell  “Miracle Oil” which he says is good for aches and pains.After Jonker walk we tried a few more food on the street and  returned to the Hotel, tired as usual .  Melaka is a city were I am sure you won’t have any lack of food.

28th Apr 2013, Melaka:
Today morning after breakfast ( it contained some Malay, Chinese & Continental items) we went to walk in Jonker street then to the Maritime Museum. Maritime Museum is  set up along the bank of Melaka River and it  is to the size recreation of  the Portuguese sail ship ‘Flora de la Mar’ which sank of coast of Melaka in 16th century. Being a sailor’s  wife I found it more interesting.
Flora de la Mar.
  We had our Lunch at ‘Famosa Chicken Rice Ball’, it’s a huge Chinese/Nyonya restaurant in a characteristic old building. In this Restaurant we have to be in the queue for the seats and the seats were given as per turn.
Famosa Chicken Rice Ball.

29th Apr 2013, Melaka - Kuala Lumpur:
Around 0830Hrs we had our breakfast  and checked out of hotel at 0945Hrs. Took a taxi to Melaka Sentral Bus station. This station is very mordren, large and air conditioned . We  had enough time , as we had booked our bus before leaving home. Our bus was at 1100Hrs to Pudu Sentral (Old name Pudu Raya) bus station at Kuala Lumpur (KL). Our bus was operated by Konsortium Bus Company and it was  much better and spacious than the Government operated Transnasional Bus which we took from KLCC Airport to Melaka.
Konsortium Bus
Interior of Konsortium Bus.

It was 2 Hrs drive from Melaka to KL. Once we got into Singapore – KL Lebhu Raya (High Way), buses were running at 100 plus Km/Hr. By 1300Hrs we were at KL’s Pudu Sentral bus station. KL has lot of bus stations, but Pudu Sentral was the one which is closer to our B&B just 5 min by walk!  We checked into the B&B. It started to rain and then it was down pour! The sight of rain gave us the feeling of our Monsoon Season in Kerala.  By 1700Hrs it started to subside; we took our umbrellas and went out to the nearby  food street called Jalan Alor. Street was full of food court with Chinese, Malay and Thai foods; came back after dinner.
Jalan Alor the food Street.

30th Apr 2013, Kuala Lumpur:
Today at 0900Hrs we had breakfast and walked to Jalan (Road) Bukit Bintang at the end of this road is KL Pavilion, a big shopping mall. From this shopping mall to Kula Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) is an air-conditioned elevated walkway, it takes 15 minutes  to reach KLCC but very comfortable.
Jalan Bukit Bintang.

KL Pavilion Shopping Mall, Walkway starts from the mall.
AC Elevated Walkway.
First point at KLCC was aquaria, an underwater world were we can see underwater life including sharks. After aquaria we walked to Suria at KLCC a big shopping plaza which was at the base of the  Petronas Twin Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world. We had lunch at Suria KLCC food court, it was Malay food Nasi Lemak Chicken; its rice with a Malay type of Chicken curry. It was just OK. After visiting Twin tower we caught LRT (Metro) to Masjid Jamek  Station for walking around the Heritage area around Merdeka ( Independence ) Square of Kuala Lumpur including old Government Administrative Buildings prior to their shifting to Putrjaya a new capital city at the suburb of KL.
Petronas Tower & Suria KLCC

Merdeka Square.

It was 15 minutes past  3 pm and the sky was getting clouded, a good sign of thunderstorm to come. Very soon we made our way back to LRT station and took Metro back to our B&B. It was down pour when we were on LRT and while walking through the street  from LRT station to B&B we got completely wet, even with our umbrellas. 

Please note that in Malaysia you can’t predict the rain so it’s advisable to carry umbrellas if you are planning for a holiday in Malaysia. 

 01st May 2013, Kuala Lumpur:
Today we  went to KL Bird Park after breakfast. We had been to Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park before when our daughter Olivia was too small. Entrance fee  was Malaysian Ringgit (RM) 48/person. It’s the largest free  (non-caged) bird park in the world. We had a photo session with birds and the main attraction was the Bird show which takes place twice daily at 1230 & 1530Hrs. Olivia liked the bird show but I think, the show at Singapore’s Jurong  Bird Park was much better. By the time we finished the bird park visit  it was evening. We had our dinner again at Jalan Alor.
KL Bird Park

With Birds

02nd May 2013, Kuala Lumpur:
 Imbi Market was our destination for Breakfast today. It’s a wet market area of KL with food stalls on one side. Our hostess Christina came along. Tried different Chinese Items and the main  & interesting  one was the tasting of Chicken Feet!!! When our host ordered for Chicken feet, I was sitting in front of the table with fingers crossed. I have never imagined of tasting this in my life. Even during our sailing times we always make it a point of trying the local things, so it was fun & I tried it for the first time. It was soft and tasty ! We also had Cham, it’s a mixture of Coffee and tea, too strong for me . It’s popular among them. Later we had bread with Kaya ( coconut jam ) and cheese, Laksa etc. After food we went around the market, saw the vegetable, Fish, meat  and provision area. From Imbi Market we drove to China Town. We walked around China town, Central Market etc. In China Town we had to do a lot of Bargaining; brought few souvenirs. Walked back to our B&B. It was 1500Hrs and decided to rest for a while.
Imbi Market

Christina Trying to feed me Chicken feet!!!!


From Christina we came to know that their  Government is planning to shift the market else were and to build a huge shopping Mall, it’s really sad . Malaysia was getting ready for election and Christina’s  talk went about on how corrupt the present Government is….. how people wanted a change it  after 55 Years but government is trying to rig the poll. Anyway, the election is on 05th May. We will be at Georgetown, Penang by then.

China Town KL

03rd May 2013, Kuala Lumpur - Georgetown:
We checked out of B&B today at 0900Hrs and walked to the Pudu Sentral Bus station.Our Konsortium Bus to Penang was at 1015 Hrs but it was delayed by an hour and by the time we departed it was 1100 Hrs. Drive was smooth and roads were excellent. We had one stop for refreshments. We had to change the bus at Konsortium Base about 75 Kms from  Penang. By the time we crossed the bridge to Penang Island , it was 4 in the evening. By 1615 hrs we were at the Penang bus station. Took a taxi to Our Heritage Hotel in Georgetown . This was better Heritage Hotel than one we had at Melaka.  Well decorated rooms to the ambiance of Baba Nyonya heritage. Really gave us the Heritage feel.

04th May 2013, Georgetown:
0900Hrs we had our breakfast. It was barely ok….anyway after our breakfast we walked to the ‘core’ of Georgetown. There are free shuttle bus service by Rapid Penang for tourists but we decided to walk to experience the place, it was hot too.  On the way we saw clan jetties of different Chinese clans. We visited 2 of them, Lee Jetties and Chew Jetties. These are the houses built on pillars in water and people from same clans lived together but there are also mixed clan jetties.
Lee Jetty, one of the clan jetties.

From the clan jetties we went to Fort Cornwallis,  built by Francis Light. He was the first Englishman to come to Penang Island to make a settlement. The place where he came was closest from the mainland Malaysia (now called Butterworth) and named it after the then King of England George III. Francis Light build a fort there named it after the Governer General of India Lord Cornwallis. Malay Peninsula was then part of Bengal Presidency!
Entrance of Fort Cornwallis. 

Heritage area reminds of any British Raj Heritage Town. We walked around the Heritage area, there are few beautiful Heriatge houses of Chinese and Peranakan (Chinese & Malay Mix)people.  Some of them are museums now. After lunch at Chinese Restaurant we walked to Little India. Shops with names written in Tamil and you can even hear some Tamil songs coming through Loud speakers…. We thought as if we are in Tamilnadu. It was 1430Hrs by then and Sun was taking its toll on us, so we decided to do the remaining tomorrow and to get back to the Hotel. Took the Free CAT Shuttle Service Bus and felt  very nice to reach back and to have a cold shower.
Statue of Francis Light.

05th May 2013, Goergetown:
It was election here, also being Sunday shops were closed and roads empty but ventured out took CAT bus and got off at Chulia Street and walked,  came across Church of Assumption. It was one of the oldest Catholic Church in Penang built in 1786. When we reached there it was time for Mass so we  happily attended the Mass. After the service we met the priest Fr. Christopher Lim. The Parish Priest was off and hence Fr. Lim was conducting the service. He is from Penang but presently in Australia. Now Fr.Lim is in Penang for vacation. He asked us where we are from? Fr. Lim was very familiar and as he had been to Kerala with a Malayalee  Priest, who was working with him in Australia. He had been to Kannur and Kochi. We felt so nice to here from him about the beauty of Kochi.

With Fr. Christopher Lim.
From the Church we went to ferry station to catch ferry from Penang Island to Butterworth in mainland side of Malaysia. It was a Car cum Passenger Ferry and took 20 minutes to reach Butterworth. No charge for Passengers from Georgetown but there is Ringgit 1.20 from Butterworth to Georgetown. Its a double deck Ferry with Cars at the Bottom Deck and on upper deck Cars and Passengers.
Ferry Between Goergetown & Butterworth.
Inside the Ferry.
We caught the next ferry back to Georgetown. Ride was interesting !!

06th May 2013, Georgetown, Penang - Langkawi:
Today we said bye to Georgetown and the island of Penang. Afternoon was our flight to Langkawi, another beautiful Island in Malaysia. Our Air Asia flight from Penang to Langkawi was only  20 minutes. Though Langkawi is famous for beaches, we selected a Kampung (Village) Cottage away from beaches in the middle of the island. 

07th May 2013, Langkawi:
Today after breakfast we rented a car for self driving (Malaysian car Proton Viva) for 2 days for Ringgit 70/day and Ringgit 50/ as deposit.  As petrol is cheap and traffic is less, its better to rent a car rather than taking taxi in Langkawi. We drove around south of Langkawi Island, stopped where ever it looks better.
Langkawi, The Eagle Statue.

Car we Rented and drove around Langkawi.
Had lunch at southern beach of Pantai Cenang and then drove down to the only town of Langkawi  Kuah. Close to Kuah is the big Eagle Statue, it is the symbol of Langkawi. As Langkawi is duty free there are lots of duty free shops, but we didn’t find any item (except for liquors & cigarettes ) cheaper than main land.

08th May 2013, Langkawi:
Soon after breakfast we decided to drive around the island. First we  drove to Marina. Then to the crocodile Adventure Park. We some how lost our way and drove about 12 kms up and had to drive back. Crocodile Park  was good for Olivia. Then we drove to different beaches.Later back again to Kuah for shopping and having Dinner. After dinner we came back to cottage by 1930Hrs.

09th May 2013, Langkawi - Kuala Lumpur - Kochi:
Today is  our last day at Malaysia, morning we had breakfast. At around 1100Hrs we departed from our Kampung Cottage, drove to Airport. We didn’t take the direct route but went round so that we will have a drive around the island prior to saying bye to Langkawi . Around 1200Hrs we handed over the car at the airport. Our flight took off by 1430Hrs and by 1530 Hrs we were at Kuala Lumpur LCC Airport.  Our final flight back home was at 2115Hrs, so we spend our last few hours roaming through shops ……………………. And it was time to end our 15 days tour around Malaysia, we traveled extensively from south to North of Malaysia along the west coast without any trouble, so when we boarded our Air Asia flight to Kochi we had to thank our Lord for all the care and Protection He has given to us during this 15 Days trip.

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