In March 2014 I travelled around some of the South East Asian hotspot, Malaysia, just days after Malaysian Airways flight MH370 went missing. Malaysia has a worthy blend of city, jungle and beach paradise. During the trip I spent most of my time in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and the underdeveloped Prehentian Islands. The concrete capital of Malaysia is a peculiar place. It has the attributes of other Asian cities but most people there speak English and the food is mainly Indian. Without sounding too critical of a place I personally enjoyed, I don’t feel Kuala Lumpur (or Malaysia, for that matter) has much of its own identity. Sure it has its own language, but it doesn’t differ too much from English: Bus – Bas; Taxi – Teksi. KL has 3 great highlights I would recommend anyone to experience:
The Batu Caves In 1920, 272 steps were built up to the 400 million year old limestone that forms the Batu Caves. Guarding the bottom of the stairs, stands a huge golden Hindu statue. Unlike most tourist attractions, the view from the bottom is actually better than the top. But the view inside the caves at is equally as amazing. If you make it to the top of the steps and past the hundreds of wild monkeys running around searching for food, then you will be greeted by a few naturally formed caves. The most impressive sight in them, in my opinion is the roofless areas where greenery and sunshine shoot in. The Skyscrapers (KL and the Petronas towers) KL has no shortage of tall buildings. The two most impressive being the KL tower and the Petronas towers. You can visit the top of both for an admission charge and experience a breathtaking view of the whole city. The Train Routes Intially a terrifying system to look at and experience; your first two train rides can be quite hectic but after a short while you will fall in love with the train systems of KL, they are literally the cheapest mode of transport I have ever been on and they cover most of the city. Underground, sky trains, monorails, a normal train route – it has it all connected!
The Prehentian Islands After a while, we endured a pleasant night bus journey (not 3 words that normally go together) to the Prehentian ferry jetty, were we had to pay a ridiculous price for a return ticket to and from the islands (70 RMB). However, I soon stopped moaning about the price when we were coming towards the lush green islands with waves splashing in my face, I was excited. There are two main Prehentian islands, we visited the smaller one, Kecil. There are two main places to stay: Coral Bay and Long Beach. Both are only a short walk through the jungle from one another and have several restaurants, bars, and places to stay. Long beach is more of a ‘beach’ if you get my drift. It has a few surfers, large waves and one of the bluest oceans I have ever seen, whereas Coral Bay has a small beach which is mainly occupied by boats. The hidden gem of the Kecil Island for me was a Malaysian man with a red box full of alcohol, who sells it to you for normal prices. It makes a pleasant change from the extreme prices of KL ( Malaysia is a Muslim country so all alcohol is highly taxed). I had a good time in Malaysia- it is a fascinating, picturesque and fun place. It does have everything but in my opinion if you are backpacking on a budget and have a limited choice, I would prioritize Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia over it.