Malaysia – Malacca, Penang & Langkawi
We made it to the town of Malacca (also Melaka) – our first destination after crossing the border from Singapore. It was a decent distance… not too long, not too short; and we had heard about its historic charm. In fact, the city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site, not too shabby. We were a little worn out from the journey so we spent our first night walking the famous Jonker Street. We were greeted by some seriously tricked out tuk-tuk’s at the beginning of the street, Fast and Furious Malacca style.
We ventured down the busy and vibrant street shoulder to shoulder with locals and a few fellow tourists. There were food stalls all around us so, of course, we had to stop and try a little of everything. One of our favourites was the cooked egg with choice of ham, crab, octopus, floss, and more. So delicious! The food alone in Malaysia is really something special. After our little late night adventure we went back to our hotel for some much needed shut eye.
In the morning we decided to walk around, despite the heat, and visit a few cafes and the local mall. We wandered through some of the historical sites; Dutch Square/Christ Church, Tan Kim Seng Bridge, Chinese Temple, St Peter’s Church, and a few others. Of course there was also time for some refreshing Durian Cendol.
We were happy to pop into a cute café called The Daily Fix and get a little reprieve from the sun. This café was through the doors of a small bookstore and a courtyard hidden in the back. Everything in Malacca is steeped in history and authenticity – this café was no exception.
That night we enjoyed some delicious Malay/Indian food and sat in our hotels restaurant to enjoy the vibe of the city and passersby. We noticed a little hawker stall set up serving just tea, but wow, was it ever busy! We asked a local what the fuss was about and they explained to us that this particular tea is an ancient tradition and the owner is carrying on a family custom by serving it the same way as his father and his grandfather did. It’s a kind of miracle tea that, if drank everyday, heals all ailments. It tasted terrible but the locals swear by it!
After Malacca we took an 8 hour coach bus up to Butterworth – where we jumped on a ferry that took us to George Town, Penang. On the ferry there was a Hindu Pilgrimage for the Thaipusam Celebration. We were in the midst of a sea of followers all dressed in Orange, excited for their celebration. As tired as we were, from the heat and the journey up to Penang, we could feel their happiness all around us.
We used Grab Car (like Uber but created for Southeast Asia) to drive us up to our hotel. It’s a great way to take a cab without getting ripped off because you are a tourist. In true Russell and Meghan fashion, we dropped our bags off and were out to explore. It was nighttime and our stomachs were empty so we were in search of food. We found a food night market close by with rows of delicious hawker stalls and feasted on some Malaysian fare.
In George Town there is a “tourist” bus that is free to ride and has a few different routes. In the morning we hopped on this bus and took it through the full circuit, so we knew where it stopped, and then hopped off in the historic centre. Here, we wandered around admiring the architecture and the monuments along the way.
Just when we thought we couldn’t bear the heat any longer we ducked inside a famous little café called Coffee On The Table. They make incredible 3D lattes and other creations. Meghan enjoyed a Dirty Chai before we were back out in the heat.
We found the second free bus route and it took us to the Gurney Paragon Mall (ahhhh air conditioning). Russell was in search of a good baseball hat so we were happy to find a lot of western stores. That night we took it easy and visited the amazing Red Garden Night Market. Another great place for food. Red Garden is known for its hawker stall that specializes in Oyster Omelets, of course we tried it and it was amazing!
The next day we relaxed indoors and away from the heat for a bit and then ventured out to book our ferry ride to Langkawi and explore a little more. We found a little park in the shade right on the water. We grabbed some refreshing Fanta’s and sat in the swings people watching the locals for a while. As the sun went down we walked over to Little India for some authentic Indian Curry at Sri Ananda Bahwan Restaurant.
George Town has a fantastic art scene and as you walk around you can see the street art all around. After our meal we explored some of the area’s we hadn’t seen yet by night. This included the street art hunt with some amazing mixed mode artwork. We had some trouble finding the last art piece on our list, Bruce Lee. So we asked a friendly tuk tuk biker riding by and he helped us mosey over to it, joking the whole way that “Bruce Lee kick the cat! Haha haha” – when we saw it we knew why, yup, Bruce Lee really was kicking a cat. After completing our hunt we went back to our hotel to pack for our next journey.
In the morning we caught our fast ferry to the island of Langkawi. It was nice to be back at a beach town after a lot of traveling around. We managed to find accommodation right across from the beach. Langkawi’s beachfront accommodation seemed like a bit of a rip off, the hotels were quite run down but charged way too much. We ended up using Airbnb after getting too frustrated looking for hotels online.
After settling in we went out to soak in the beach sunset. We were a bit hungry so we grabbed some fresh French fries and a few drinks at 7-11 and headed to the beach.
The next day we rented a scooter to explore the island a little bit. We started with the Langkawi Sky Cab exhibit and found lots of cool things to do here. We took the ride up the “steepest sky cab in the world” to the skywalk and breathtaking views of the island and sea. Beautiful!
At the foot of the sky cab there are a number of activities to explore. We visited the 3D Art Museum, Skyrex, bunnies(!!!!), and more. We then visited the local waterfalls and grabbed a bite to eat.
The rest of our time on Langkawi was spent at the beach soaking up the sun. We negotiated a deal for the Island Hopping tour and had a great time exploring some of the tiny islands and snorkeling. We visited the Island of the Pregnant Maiden, named after the shape of the mountain – apparently if you swim here you will be very fertile… The boat ride around the island’s was the craziest thing ever, we’re not sure how the boat made it to the end in one piece the way the guy was driving.
Meghan found a restaurant called the Red Tomato with a huge array of gluten free options, even pizza – she was in heaven. The owner is a former private chef who used to cook and bake gluten free.
After many spectacular sunsets and lazy days at the beach it was time to catch our ferry to our 10th country; Thailand! We were headed to the beautiful island of Koh Lipe. Just one thing… we hope there’s more Nasi Lemak in our future…