In keeping with my promise to travel more, I decided to revisit Malaysia with my family after 12 years. The 6 days we spent were split between the hustle and bustle of the KL city life, the tea plantations and vegetable farms of the Cameron Highlands and the ever so inviting waves and crisp sunny days at Pangkor. Here are my highlights from the trip:
The Mossy Forest and the Boh Tea Plantation:
The two days I spent in the Cameron Highlands was the highlight of the trip for me. Standing at 1100 metres above sea level, the Cameron Highlands provided a much-needed escape from the humid and high temperatures of KL The Mossy Forest and the Boh Tea Plantation are part of a half day tour we did. The lush green trees of the plantation, coupled with the cool breeze after the light afternoon shower meant we could take in the view with a sense of calm and serenity that was unmatched. Our tour also included a trip to the museum and the factory at the plantation. Although, we did not get a chance to partake in those activities. Not too far from the Boh plantation is Mt Brinchang, the highest mountain in the Cameron Highlands that is accessible by car. Standing at 2032m above sea-level, we were at a touching distance from the clouds. As we climbed to the top, we began to get a sense of what the Mossy Forest at the summit would be like. The low-level clouds in the sky trap the mist and moisture in the air and keep the sun away. This creates a surreal environment for the evergreen forest. In fact, the damp, low-light and unnatural look to the forest almost makes it seems like something out of a horror film.
The Milkyway from Bala’s Chalet:
Bala’s Chalet is an Edwardian style former schoolhouse located just outside the small town of Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. Located at the top of a small hill, with a view of the mountain range and a lovely garden in the front, Bala’s Chalet was the perfect place to sit down and unwind. If you haven’t been there, I would urge you to check it out.
At night, once the clouds had cleared up and the moon was out of the way, we climbed to the top of the hill. With clear skies and only a little bit of light from the town, we were able to drink in the view of the starry night. The Milkyway was right on top of us, almost smiling down. The only thing I love more than a vibrant sunset is a pitch black night with the stars shining brightly!
Banana Leaf Meal:
Malaysian food is a mixture of three different cuisine – Malay, Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indian. Each with their own authentic dishes. I love South Asian food, and even before we landed in KL, I was looking up places to go to for a good banana leaf meal. My prayers were finally answered in Tanah Rata, where I was served an array of delicious vegetables and curry platter on a vibrant banana leaf. My recommendation would be to skip the meat item and go full vegetarian to truly enjoy this dish. Also, get your hands dirty.
Sunset from Daddy’s Cafe:
Our time at Pangkor was limited, but we made the most of it – drinks by the beach, fresh seafood, and sunset over the horizon. All that was done in the span of 3 hours at Daddy’s Cafe. After a day in the water, it was nice to sip some fresh juice as the sunset over the sea. The perfect way to sit down, relax and unwind. As the sky turned dark, the lights at the cafe came on and together with the candles on the table created a really pleasant ambience. For dinner, I was craving something spicy and ordered the flower crab which was served with a garden salad, rice and some crackers. Had to get my hands dirty once again, but it was worth it.
Street food at Jalan Alor:
Hidden between the skyscrapers of KL is Jalan Alor, a whole street dedicated to street food. Packed with stalls and restaurants from one end to the other, Jalan Alor provided a range of cuisines from Chinese, Thai, Mongolian, South Indian and Malay. Half of the street was covered with a sitting area for restaurants and hawkers and the other half was jam packed with people trying to decide where to go for dinner. We decided to go to the Meng Kee Grill and ordered Chinese seafood – freshly grilled fish, spicy prawn, squid satay, fried rice and assorted vegetables. Everything we had was on point. Complimenting the food was some fresh fruit juice to wash down everything. My only regret with Jalan Alor is I did not find the place sooner.
Buy a book or two from Kinokuniya:
The Japanese retail bookstore has a store located in the heart of KL inside the Suriya Mall. Kinokuniya came heavily recommended from my cousin and it did not disappoint. It was easily one of the bigger, if not the biggest bookstore that I have been to. We spent close to two hours just browsing through the vast collection of books and manga that were available. My brother and I ended up buying 8 books in total. This place was gold. The average book retails for 45 RM and is significantly cheaper than what I am used to paying in Australia.