Dated: March 18th - 25th
After Bali, I spent about 2 weeks traveling around Malaysia. Overall, not my favorite country; nothing really stood out (food, natural beauty, culture, activities, etc.) it was all okay, and interesting to see, but for me, I wouldn't go back.
I'm not a big city person, so I didn't spend much time in KL, just long enough to see a few things, try the food and catch my bus to Melaka.
I don't even know why I bother going to big cities, the first thing I always do is find a green space and chill out there.
I went to the botanical gardens, and got a nice view of the tower
Next day I went to Melaka, a cute town on the west coast, with a nice Chinatown and (supposedly) good food.
I rented a bike and meandered around the old town. It seems that all Malaysian towns follow the same pattern: Chinatown, Little India, and a shopping district with strip malls and western stores.
Chinatown was cute and I tried the local specialty, Laksa, a coconut milk curry with noodles, fish and seafood. Good, but not spectacular.
Found some nice deity statues and good flowers for my altar
and Melaka does have the most pimped out rikshaws
The coolest park of Melaka was the guesthouse I stayed in: Emily Traveler's Home
It had a very homey, community feel (I was introduced to everyone staying there within 5 minutes of arriving) and my first night we had a barbeque all together using the (amazing) table/barbeque that the owners (two cool brothers) had made.
It's a stone and wood table that turns into a grill! so cool!
Penang is famous for it's fusion cuisine and culture, mixing Chinese, Indian, and local Malay flavors.
I found this not to be the case. I found that the cultures (and food) were very segregated; each had it's own area of town, very separate from the others.
I think the segregation leads to a feeling of disharmony in the country. Overall, I felt a bit ill at ease in Malaysia; it distinctly lacked the feeling of community and harmony that I felt in Bali and Thailand.
There's a lot to be said for multiculturalism, and I grew up thinking that was the best way for a country to be (this is sort of assumed in Canada) but I'm beginning to appreciate the peaceful sense of calm that seems to come from having a single cohesive culture/religion in a country.
As elsewhere in Malaysia, there was a "modern" part of town, where I felt like I could have been in suburban Miami: big boulevards, half-hearted landscaping with palm trees, lots of concrete, subdivisions, and strip malls with western stores (Starbucks, Borders, Toys'R'Us, etc.) - lame.
I stayed in Chinatown at this dingy (but so cheap!) guesthouse where the (very large) Indian owner decided he loved me (buying me food, flowers, tea...) and that he needed to bless me (by touching my face and hugging me and massaging my shoulders) several times a day... awkward? yes.
I thought Penang was pretty ugly, concrete-y, and uninteresting , and the food not so great. I ate Indian most of the time, and it was okay.
Oh well. There was a cool temple (whoa, haven't seen one of those before...)
and a big hill you could take a funicular up and was supposed to be "nature" but was totally paved and boring though it had a nice view
and a cool Hindu temple
There were two cool "touristy" things about the Penang area:
Butterfly Garden (outside of Penang):
feeding on a vanilla plant
for my mom
and Batu Ferringhi, a beach (also not in Penang..haha)
Maybe I was just spoiled by Bali... ;)