The journey to Penang took a long time but the crossing to Malaysia was very easy. We arrived at about 9pm and checked into our hostel which was very nice; Jess described it as 'an ikea show room'.
The following day we were picked up at 11am by a lovely lady called Jennifer. Jennifer and her family lived in Singapore with my Dad's family between 1966 and 1969 and my Grandparents kept in contact with her parents. She very kindly took us on a mini tour of the main sites and areas in Penang and told us a bit about it's history. We stopped off at the bungalow that was my Dad's first home to take some pictures and then went to the swimming club that I have seen as the setting of cine films where my dad and Aunty jump off diving boards. We then drove to her house for lunch and met her gorgeous dogs. It is a beautiful house with dark brown wood floors and white walls, open windows and a lovely garden. Both Jess and I piled cheese onto our pasta for lunch much to Jennifer's amusement. It was so nice to be in a house! After lunch she took us to the north of the island, where we saw the beach town and little fishing villages, before dropping us back in Georgetown. She gave us a recommendation for dinner at a restaurant in Little India where Jess and I had a couple of delicious curries and then went to China Cafe, another recommendation. There were sooooo many cakes to choose from and after about 5 minutes I eventually settled on a passion fruit and coconut cream cake. I had not had cake in so long and Mum kept taunting me on Skype with comments like 'I've just sent Jess back to uni with a cake..." Etc.
On Tuesday we got the winding bus up to the Cameron highlands. It started spitting when we arrived so we put on our raincoats and went for lunch in town. We can't have been gone for more than 2 hours but in that time the road that lead to our hostel flooded and there was a fully submerged van that men were attempting to pull out. After standing still for a few minutes wondering how we would get back, we followed a local around the edge and walked through waist deep rainwater! Admittedly it must be a very badly designed road, but I have never seen anything like that before and it happened SO quickly!!
For the rest of the afternoon we couldn't go outside and so we read our books and watched a lot of Desperate Housewives episodes on my iPod.
The next day we were booked onto a tour which included a short trek so Jess and I kitted up in trekking trousers (its only about 20 degrees in the highlands so this wasn't as uncomfortable as it sounds) and were pleased to finally have a use for the walking shoes that we had carried around for the past few months. We started with a visit to the Boh Tea Plantation which looked stunning with the vivid green against the blue sky (with all the rain they has its no wonder its so green!). Our guide told us a bit about the plantation's history and about the process of making tea and the different types. We then travelled in a 4by 4 up to the top point in Cameron highlands for a view before a short trek through the mossy forest. I wasn't really looking forward to the trek and feared being attacked by the same leeches that were in the Boreo forests but was assured that there were no leeches in the Cameron Highlands. Our guide was great again and pointed out lots of fauna and told us about the medicinal uses of many plants.
Up next was a visit to the tea factory where we had a quick look at different stages of the tea making process and then Jess and I practically ran to the cafe after being warned that we couldn't spend long there. I enjoyed a piece of carrot cake and a cup of boh tea whilst overlooking the plantation on the viewing platform.
Our second to last stop was the butterfly farm which also houses many other insects and reptiles. Our guide came up trumps again and was able to handle the insects and allowed us to hold them and take pictures. The highlight was when I held a couple of scorpions (2 of the men in our group were too scared). The final stop on our tour was the strawberry farm where we had a look around and then had the option to buy a strawberry treat...You probably wont be surprised to hear that Jess and I just couldn't miss the opportunity for more cake/sweets. I had a piece of strawberry cake and Jess had a strawberry float. It was a very good tour and great value although with all the cake that i was forced to consume it wasn't very healthy!
We were pleasantly surprised when we got on a luxurious coach down to Kuala Lumpur the following day! We ate at a cheap food court in the evening and then explored China Town. Jess and I really liked the people in Malaysia and that was ascertained again in Chinatown because we were able to barter and joke with the sellers there but in markets that we have been to elsewhere we were aggressively pestered and could not simply chat to them in the same way.
On Friday we decided to save the pennies and take the mrt tram to KLCC rather than a taxi. We must have looked a little lost as we struggled to get through the barriers and so an elderly Malaysian couple took us under their wing and directed us to KLCC. Jess and I felt that even we could find our way to the Petronas Towers once exiting the station!! We took all the usual photos at the bottom of the towers and also agreed to pose for a lot of pictures with men who were visiting from the Far East and who clearly thought that we were as impressive as the towers!
After spending a few hours in the mall we still had a couple of hours to kill so went to see Iron Man 3 at the cinema. It was very good and definitely worth watching but probably not in the top 10 things to do in KL!
Once it got dark we took the shuttle to the traders hotel and went up to the Sky Bar. It had a great view of the Petronas towers which look spectacular when lit up at night! There was a big pool in the middle of the bar and I had a very embarrassing moment when I somehow managed to kick my flip flop into the pool and scrambled around the edge for a while trying to reach it before it came back to the side. Jess just stood laughing while I made a fool of myself in this classy establishment!
On Saturday we made our way to the Batu Caves. Dad had warned me that there were a lot of steps and suggested that Jess might have to carry me up some of the way because of my lack of fitness! There were a lot of steps but I'm proud to say that I made it to the top without too much bother but was very pleased for the cool temperature in the caves. It was a nice Hindu temple within the caves and Jess and I enjoyed watching the younger girls in their sarees chatting to each other whilst waiting for their parents. At the bottom there were lots of wild monkeys and Jess bought a few bananas from a stall to feed to them. They were actually very cute but I held tightly on to my purse after hearing stories of the monkeys running off with people's valuables!
On our last evening in KL we returned to Chinatown and spent the remainder of our ringit. Tomorrow we travel down to Singapore by bus where Jess and I go our separate ways for good this time.
Lots of love xxx