Saturday, 17 September 2011

CINTA MALAYSIA

Our flight back to Kuala Lumpur was long (over 30 hours) and exhausting, but the very exciting prospect of placing our feet on Asian soil again was a great motivator to fight the fatigue. It is amazing how much we missed being here, and how we have come to think of it as our "home". As soon as we alighted the plane, the smells, temperature, humidity, people and sights felt so welcoming and delicious.

We now have a true "home away from home" in KL. As we are here so often, it's hugely advantageous to us to have found the wonderful Birdnest Guesthouse in Chinatown.
http://www.birdnestghouse.com/
It one of our bases around South-east Asia that we use to recharge the batteries, catch up on all things Internet, and exchange travel news about visas/prices/guesthouses etc. with fellow travellers. Will, the owner, is a wonderful and knowledgeable host, and Yatti, the cleaner, is delightful and welcoming when we arrive back in town again and again (10 times in two years!)

Richard in the Birdnest

We got caught out unexpectedly arriving back in Malaysia during Ramadan. We were here for Ramadan last year, and it isn't really a big deal here, in terms of eating, as there are so many Chinese and Indians, there are still many places to dine during the day. Our problem was we needed to get a visa for Indonesia, and that embassy closed for the entire week we arrived. So, we made the most of the extra time in KL and did some more exploring. We have heard people saying there's nothing to do in KL, but we make it a challenge to find funny little museums, and little visited parks, and visit different parts of the city and suburbs.


Chinese Temple in KL

The unfriendly, but beautiful Jamek Mosque KL
Temple candles KL

Guard at the Istana Negara (Royal Palace) KL

Now that's what I call a train station, KL

Sal at Lantern Festival, KL
Richard on the bus KL
Street art, KL

A sad point to our stay in KL was the news that the government is planning a monorail extension through Chinatown, which will mean pulling down many of the lovely old heritage buildings (we're fans of heritage buildings, if you hadn't gathered yet!). The local community is fighting the move, so hopefully it won't go ahead.


Chinatown buildings, KL

Heritage buildings in Chinatown, KL

We headed up to Ipoh for a few days to kill some time before a flight. Ipoh is a huge unappealing town, with lots of rich Chinese people, that used to be famous for tin mining. There are next to no travellers there, and our hotel was basic to say the least. Doesn't sounds too charming??!! Well, we did, actually, discover some fantastic sights to see within day trips of the town.

Hotel, Ipoh

The first was a folly built by an eccentric Scotsman at the start of the 20th century. It's named Kelly's Castle after him. He was in love with all things Indian, and imported all his workers from southern India to work on the magnificent mansion. It was never finished, as Kelly died, but it is still a wonderfully atmospheric place with whimsical Indian styled windows and doors, hidden stairways and tunnels, and was to have a roof top tennis court and the first elevator in Malaysia. Due to bad public transport, we hitched hiked there, and then to a set of very Chinese cave temples. These are every bit as good as (if not better) than the famous Batu Caves close to KL. The steps near killed us, though!


Kelly's Castle, Ipoh
Kelly's Castle, Ipoh

Chinese cave temple, Ipoh
Chinese Buddha- so different form the South East-asian variety

The best day we had was at the once royal city of Kuala Kangsar.The architecture here is amazing- my all time favorite style- kind of a mix of Islam and Art Deco. And what a great combination these make! There are palaces, royal buildings, museums, but our favourite building was the Ubudiah Mosque- it just looks like something out of the Wizard of Oz!


The beautiful Ubudiah Mosque, KK

So, we bussed it in a typical ice-cold temperature coach back to KL. This a very Malaysian thing. The temperate outside can be 30 degrees, but the inside of any long distance bus will always be so freezing the passengers and driver have to rug up in blankets and coats. We enjoyed our one day catching up in KL, before taking off on our next adventure..... Sulawesi.

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