I booked Malaysia a little bit on a whim: I needed a new country that was ‘on the way’ back from New Zealand and Australia, and I looked for the cheapest flight combination. I’ll also admit that as the time drew nearer, I started to feel a little reluctant to leave behind the comfort and familiarity of those countries, where I had also been with friends, to fly on my own to Asia where as far as I could see on my weather app there was a tropical storm brewing. Silly billy. I had a fabulous time during my ten days in Malaysia, and I’m so glad I went there.
First up, the capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
My first day, I’m embarrassed to say, I didn’t do much at all. I arrived in the morning after my night-time flight from Melbourne and after checking in I lay down on my bed for a moment; I didn’t move until several hours later. At that time, I made the long and strenuous journey to the hotel restaurant to have something to eat and then all the way up to the spa where I had a very relaxing treatment involving a foot bath, an aromatherapy massage, and a facial. It’s a tough life, this travelling malarky…
I did eventually venture out of the hotel, however, and my first excursion was to take the train out to the Batu Caves in Selangor. Coincidentally I ended up in what turned out to be the Ladies’ Coach, intended to off women some privacy – I was surprised to see a man there but, indeed, a guard soon appeared and told him to leave.
After two nights in Kuala Lumpur, I decided to journey on into the Cameron Highlands where I was promised cooler temperatures and both tea and strawberry plantations. The bus system was similar to the one I had experienced in South America, with different companies operating out of the terminal and a very flexible system where you can just turn up and be on your way ten minutes later. The bus was comfortable, with seat belts and air conditioning, and I got a seat right at the front (in fact, there was a man with a huge neck wound sitting in my seat but I decided not to force the issue). A sign reassuringly declared, “Plastic bag is for vomit purpose only, not for rubbish.” Wonderful.
The practical bit:
Getting into town: The city centre is a good hour away from the airport. Once you’ve picked up your luggage, there’s a taxi counter where you can buy a coupon that you give to the official taxis that are waiting out in front. Taxi touts are illegal and the coupon system ensures that you get a safe driver and a fair price. It cost me 75 ringgit.
Traders Hotel: While I didn’t particularly enjoy the business feel of the hotel itself, my view of the Petronas Towers was impressive and the bar on the top floor wasn’t too shabby either. There was a buggy driving back and forth between the hotel and the KLCC in case you couldn’t walk those few metres in the heat, and the concierge was incredibly friendly and informative. Tip for the Sky Bar: arrive early and you’ll get a great table – as I was leaving, all the other tables were full or reserved.
Batu Caves: I took the Kelana Jaya (red) line from KLCC to KL Sentral for 1.60 ringgit and then changed to the KTM Commuter train from there on to the Batu Caves at 4 ringgit for a return ticket.
Bus to Cameron Highlands: The bus left from Puduraya bus station; the taxi from Traders Hotel cost 14 ringgit. One adult ticket was 35 ringgit. Ignore all the touts on your way up to the third floor where you will find the ticket counters for the various bus companies.