When we got to Penang we found somewhere to stay George town, which is the main city of Penang and then went to Little India for dinner. Over the next couple of days we explored the city and Alex was very interested in the architecture and was constantly saying how much of a shame it was that it was crumbling away and how we should buy them and do them up starting our own guesthouse as there is definitely a niche in the market for people looking for decent budget accommodation rather than the standard hostel. Having stayed in s many guest houses now we know that a nice hostel can be done!
From Penang we got an early mini van to the Cameron Highlands which was along windy mountain roads for most of it. The Cameron Highlands is a colonial hill station which was used for ex pats to escape the heat and humidity of coastal Malaysia. It was had a nice English feel to it with the cool weather (we wore trousers, jumpers, socks and shoes to the first time since England!) tea and scones and the greenery. It is also renowned for its tea plantations and strawberry farms. We got a taxi to the Boh tea plantation and once we’d got there our taxi driver turned into a guide and showed us around the plantation and explained the process of making tea (plant to bag, not add hot water and milk to cup!). We enjoyed a lovely cup of tea overlooking the vast plantation with people harvesting the tea leaves. On the way back to town we stopped at a strawberry farm and got some lovely strawberries for later. We found a café that did simple tasty food like a cheese sandwich which was just what I’d been missing and the portions were normal rather than the normal large portions most restaurants think westerners want. We went for a hike to a waterfall which was a disappointment as it was full of rubbish.
Alex’s friend Nick and his girlfriend Lena very kindly came to pick us up and drive us to Kuala Lumpur where they live. They took us to a local backstreet café and we had Chilli Pad Mee which was delicious. We then went to have a look around a Sunday night market and then went for dinner which was again a great choice by Nick! We stayed with him for four nights and it was so nice to be in someone’s home and we enjoyed relaxing and being shown around parts of KL that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. We went to the skyline bar which strangely had a swimming pool in the middle of the bar and had amazing views of the city. Lena also got us tickets for the preview of the Michael Jackson film which I really enjoyed as I fancied a trip to the cinema!
After KL we got a bus to Melaka which reminded us a little of Georgetown and was a much slower pace than KL! We went on a walking tour of the town which Alex was again looking at the run down properties, planning another Douglas establishment! We had some really nice food here, a tasty Chinese on the first night and had the local speciality of Chicken Rice ball which is chicken with steamed rice cooked in a broth and served in a (you guessed it) ball shape! We also got some pineapple cookies which Nick had got us hooked on! There was a night market that we went to and enjoyed grazing on the different foods they had to offer such as dim sum, wontons and shrimp crackers!
From Melaka we got a bus to Singapore and arrived in the evening of Halloween in a tremendous thunder storm which suited the date well. We searched for a good two hours before we found a place to stay as everywhere was booked up as it was Saturday night and we had to spend our daily budget just on the room which compared to many others places we’d stayed at was not worth that much and showed us how expensive Singapore was going to be. The next day we found a cheaper place to stay called the Inn crowd which mainly had dorms but they offered us a private room which turned out to be a dorm of five beds just for the two of us! It was a nice hostel with a communal area with a kitchen and sofas, bean bags and funky lighting which made it hard to see! We were based in Little India and walked to Orchard Road which was a mix between Oxford street and New York. As it was the 1st November they were putting up Christmas decorations which was very surreal as we were sweltering in the heat! We then went to China town by riding the MRT which was very smart, cool and clean. China town didn’t look like any of the other china towns we had visited as its had been cleaned up ‘Singapore style’. Singapore is very clean, so much so that chewing gum is banned. This is a fact that Alex had told me a few times before we had reached Singapore, however he was chewing a free trial gum that we had been given in the bus station in Melaka when we went through the passport control in Singapore! Luckily it went unnoticed.
On our final night in Singapore we got dressed up in our Hoi Ann tailored clothes and went to Raffles for a Singapore Sling. When we got there we found that we would have been ok in jeans but it was nice to dress up for a change! There was also monkey nuts on the tables and its tradition to throw the shells on the floor so it was covered! The Singapore sling was very tasty and we both said that we could not taste the alcohol but I’m sure it had some effect! It cost £22 pounds each and we were surprised to find out that it was pre mixed and you had to pay more to have it mixed behind the bar!
After Singapore we got a flight to Bali and stayed in a really nice place called Tanaya’s Bed and Breakfast which did not feel like a B&B . We both said we have had the best nights sleep there for a long time. We stayed in Kuta for a couple of nights, it was very lively at night with the battle of the bands between bars, each bar was louder than the next! As you walk along the street you also repeatedly get asked if you want transport or sunglasses, (which we both clearly had on our heads!) I am sure these people have transport tourettes, constantly shouting car….bike….TRANSPORT!
We have moved on Sanur which is a much nicer, quieter, calmer town but the beach is not as nice as Kuta. The hotel we are staying in does have a swimming pool just outside our door though so its not all bad! We rented bikes yesterday and explored the beach further and the town and had a nice lunch looking out to sea and then chilled by the pool and went to a really nice restaurant for dinner which had a blind man playing the glockenspiel.