Category Archives: Malaysia

Melaka, Malaysia to Singapore

8/10 – Health update: remember the leech bites from Taman Negara?  Well, mine healed up nicely, but Jim’s got infected (probably from wading in the river to buy our bus tickets), and really started to hurt.  The bite area actually turned black and looked pretty awful, so before leaving Melaka, we decided to see a doctor and get some antibiotics.  We tried buying antibiotics at the pharmacy, but unlike some countries we’ve been to, you need a prescription here.  We found a clinic nearby, and the doctor saw Jim within 15 minutes.  He cleaned the wound, dug out the necrotic skin, applied antibiotic ointment and a bandaid, then gave us 5 days of antibiotic pills, disinfectant, a tube of ointment and a half dozen band aids.  We were on our way in 20 minutes, for about $25.00.  Americans really appreciate foreign health care!

8/11 – Took a cab across town to get back to the bus station.  We had been assured by a travel agent in Melaka that multiple bus companies ran buses to Singapore every hour, and there was no reason to purchase tickets in advance.  Well, that turns out not to be true after a holiday weekend.  We got to the station at 9am, but all the morning buses were booked, so we had to hang around the station until 1pm. Not so bad, and we had a nice lunch before we left.

There were signs at every seat on the bus that under no circumstances would the bus wait at Customs for more than 20 minutes. At the border, we hightailed it off the bus and jogged to the immigration line, then back outside to jump on the bus. We made it, but others didn’t, and the bus pulled away leaving people behind – Singapore doesn’t fool around!

The bus stopped on a busy street and let us out at the city center, just five minutes from our hotel. Singapore is a big, modern city, with the same cultures as Malaysia (it used to be part of Malaysia until it became independent in 1965). This time our hotel was in the Muslim area. There were so many shops with pretty headscarves, pins to keep the scarves in place, and colorful long dresses on display, I started looking at them longingly. I think I’ve been wearing my two tee shirts too long!

8/12 – We spent the day just walking around town. Lodging in Singapore is expensive, although the food is reasonable and delicious, and we will only be here a few days. Everything is very clean, and there are lots of rules here. This is the place where a person can get caned for spitting on the street. Don’t even think about stepping off the curb before the light turns green!image

We walked through a busy market.

We got some lunch. So did some pigeons that flew in.image

There was an employment agency on the corner near our hotel. Every time we walked by, we saw a row of identically dressed maids waiting for an assignment. We don’t know if the same women were there all day, or if there was a succession of them. Glad I’m not a maid…image

Tomorrow we will visit the Botanic Gardens!

Sunday in Melaka, Malaysia

8/9 – While we wandered around town yesterday, we came upon Christ Church, an historic building built by the Dutch, with an active Anglican congregation.   

They hold services for the English, Chinese, Malay and Indian (Tamil) populations that live here.

We decided to attend the English service a at 8:30.  The church isn’t fancy inside. 


We were greeted by several parishioners and a priest on our way in.  The priest asked about our home parish, and gave us a heads-up on how they do Communion (they intinct – dip the host into the wine).  Although there were lots of hymns I recognized in the English/Malay hymnal, the selections for this Sunday were all new tunes for me.  Just like at home, we had to juggle the hymnal, the prayer book and the week’s bulletin.  The teens gave us a rousing praise service on guitar and drums, with Amazing Grace sung to a different tune.  The homily was given by the bishop.  Then Amazing Grace again, the time to the familiar tune, but with a verse I was unfamiliar with, from the original 1779 version: “The earth will soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine, but God who called me here below, will be forever mine.”  In good Anglican fashion, we were invited to the coffee hour after the service.  Nice people of Malaysia!

There is also an RC church here: 

And the ruins of St Paul’s on the hill, which was built by the Portugese in the 1500s, repurposed as a Protestant church and then a fort by the Dutch: 


A little girl trying on the angel’s wings from a burial stone:

After the Dutch, Malaya (as it was known) was taken over by the British, then by the Japanese during WWII, then the British again, before gaining freedom and becoming Malaysia.  So much history here!

On our way to church, we passed a long queue of folks standing in front of a restaurant that wasn’t even open yet.  We had seen the same long queue yesterday.  We stopped and asked what the attraction was, and we were told that this place served the best chicken with rice balls in town – a “must have” for visitors to Melaka.  

Well, here you go – chicken with rice balls!  This dish is sold all over town, so I asked what makes this restaurant so special.  The answer: other Chinese posted on social media that this is the best place, so this is where the Chinese will queue up to go.  It’s a Chinese thing…  

We walked down to the river, where boat rides are given: 

  There’s an old water wheel here:
…and a reconstruction of a Portugese galleon.   

There are reminders of WWII here: 

…and old trains and fire trucks: 

What a fun weekend!  If you get a chance to come here, we recommend the oyster omelet, and a Malay dish called Nyonya Laksa (below), after you’ve had the chicken rice balls, of course!



Kuala Tahan back to Kuala Lumpur, to Melaka, Malaysia

8/5 – Back to KL by bus today. Thank goodness we don’t have to go back by slow boat! Had lunch in the little town of Jerantut while waiting for the next bus.   

  Magazine rack in Jerantut.  Is this the Malaysian equivalent of Cosmo?

We were unable to book the nice hotel with the pool that we stayed in before our trek, but booked a very nice older hotel in Chinatown, the Mandarin Pacific, and the bus dropped us right at the door!  

When we were in KL a week ago, we ordered new glasses – both of ours were scratched, broken and superglued after fourteen months on the road.  We each got progressive bifocals, and a second pair of sunglasses for about a third of what we would pay back home.  Today we went to pick up our new glasses – what do you think? 

We’re singing, “I can see clearly now…”

8/8 – Time to bid farewell to KL.   

  They’ve got one of the nicest bus stations we’ve seen – sparkly clean and modern, and everyone queues politely.

When we were on our way to Georgetown several weeks ago, I sat next to a young man on Bus 101 who suggested that we stop in Melaka (Malay spelling = Melaka, English spelling = Malacca) on our way to Singapore. We’d never heard of Melaka, but it looked to be about halfway between KL and Singapore on the map, and the young man said there was lots to do there. So, as we have been doing throughout this trip, we modified our itinerary to spend four days in Melaka.  Jim had a hard time finding a hotel room, but we didn’t stop to wonder why. Turns out that August 9th is the 50th anniversary celebration of Singapore’s independence from Malaysia, and this was a four day weekend where Singapore folks come to holiday in Melaka. We picked the busiest weekend of the summer to visit!  Here is Dutch Square, at the center of town:


How do you get around Melaka? Lots of tricycle cabs decorated with Frozen characters, blaring out Let It Go as they roll down the street! 

Or maybe a horse-drawn buggy? 

There are lots of photo opportunities for tourists. Here’s a Malaysian Blue Man:


This guy said he was Captain Malaysia: 



Jim is bullish on America.

The main area is Jonker Street, where there are lots of things to buy, and lots of things to eat.  Below is the Malaysian equivalent of a Trader Joe’s, with folks lined up to purchase authentic Chinese (we think) delicacies. 

There’s a Hard Rock here.
   Texas isn’t the only place with this slogan: 


More from Melaka tomorrow.

Taman Negara, Malaysia – Move to Kuala Tahan

8/3 – This morning we bade farewell to Nusa Village, and moved to a bungalow in Kuala Tahan.  Here we have a window, wifi, a kettle, coffee, air con, and hot shower  – a wealth of riches for about $17 a night – less than half the price we were paying at Nusa.  Plus, we have our choice of any restaurant in town!  Here’s our yummy lunch – there’s nothing shrimpy about these prawns! 

While we were eating lunch, the local school let out, and we watched as the children lined up to buy snacks.  Sugary soda was the number one choice, followed by French fries – I guess kids are the same everywhere! 

Cutest kids ever: 

Durian puffs, anyone?  They were pretty smelly… 

 When we got back from our hike today, Jim pulled off his boot to find his sock drenched with blood, issuing from a hole on the top of his instep, right at the vein. He felt no pain, and didn’t recall getting bit by anything. We washed it and dressed it, but it continued to bleed. The only thing I know that causes non-stop bleeding like this is leeches, but we couldn’t fathom how one could get under Jim’s boot and sock. A bandaid and pressure stopped the bleeding eventually. Very strange.

8/4 – Today was our last trekking day, and we hit the jackpot for wildlife. Early in the morning we spied a tiny moss deer, about the size of a rabbit. See the reflection of its eyes?      

Shortly after, some Dutch travelers pointed out a flying lizard resting on the trunk of a tree.   

Look close to see the feet and tail of a lizard  – his reflexes were quicker than my camera.  He was about a foot long. 

 We climbed into a hide – an elevated platform from which we could observe a meadow below, and watched a wild boar come out to graze, and a brown squirrel caper in the branches.    

As we walked back, we spied a family of monkeys feasting on jackfruit, high in a tree. We’ve come to understand that telling a Malaysian you want to see a monkey is like telling a New Yorker that you want to see a rat…  Oh well, I still think they’re cute.  Can you see the baby clinging onto the mother? 



Here’s another pretty big tree: 

 It rains mightily every night, and today we found that some of our floating restaurants had floated away!  Jim had to take off his boots and wade out to the place that sells the tickets for our bus ride back to KL tomorrow. 


When we got back to our bungalow, it was my turn to take off my boot and find a sock soaked with blood.  I had not felt anything crawl on my foot, but had the same leech-like round hole on my instep that Jim had yesterday.  How curious!

Taman Negara, Malaysia – the Canopy Walk And Elephant Poop

8/1 – Today we decided to do the canopy walk – a steep climb up for an opportunity to view the rain forest from another perspective.  

 There were lots of tour groups here, with guides lighting bits of tree bark on fire so their groups could smell sandalwood and sassafras.  Don’t we look eager to start?


The bridge looked sturdy enough…  

 We ascended to the suspended walkway, with cameras in hand. We soon discovered that both hands were needed to keep ourselves upright on the narrow walkway that swayed with every step. 


We were able to regroup at a rest station built around a big tree, and stowed our cameras away.  Here are some views of the jungle below.


There were half a dozen long walks before a final ladder that took us back down.  We were told that the walk used to be longer, but some sections were closed for safety.  It was long enough for me!


A look up at the folks who were behind us:


We didn’t see any exotic wildlife today, but a German hiker showed us a pic he took of a huge tapir that was sleeping on the porch of his resort. (There is a very posh resort here for rich folks – a meal at their restaurant costs more than our lodging!). A Google search showed dozens of similar pix – evidently, the tapir is a regular visitor to the resort!  


8/2 – This morning we did not take the boat to the park. Instead, we set out on a hike suggested by our camp’s resident guide, on our side of the river. Here there were no tourists at all, nor were there any platforms for easy trekking. We followed a path toward the Abai waterfall, which entailed crossing four rivers.  

 It had rained mightily last night, and the water level was higher than we’d experienced so far. If you know me, you know that skipping across rivers from slippery rock to slippery rock is not my thing – my balance is not great on a good day, and since my broken arm, I have an increased fear of falling. Nevertheless, off we went! 



On the narrow, wooded path, we saw big piles of what looked like elephant poop. How could this be? When we returned to camp, we were told that, indeed, a band of twenty elephants roams this jungle, running along the narrow paths. Sorry, all we saw was the cantaloupe-sized poop!  

   I successfully crossed three of the rivers, with much cajoling support from Jim, but the fourth proved too daunting, so we ended our trek before actually reaching the waterfall. 


Here’s a shiny fern I’ve never seen before: 

  And I lived to trek another day! 

Taman Negara National Park, Kuala Tahan, Malaysia

7/31 – After a poor night’s sleep (I won’t whine about the air con dripping on our heads and the fan that only worked on ‘hurricane’ setting – oops, just did!), we were ready for some jungle trekking. Nusa camp is so far from from town that we have to be ferried by long boat 15 minutes to and from the village of Kuala Tahan to the entrance of Taman Negara national park. We had a hard time with the communication of what time the boat would drop us off and, more importantly, pick us back up. The boat ride downriver went over three sets of rapids, and was pretty exciting. Whoever sat in the front seat got the wettest!       

The tiny village of Kuala Tahan exists for the park and the tourists. It consists of a series of hostels, tourist agents and small floating restaurants, with water taxis ferrying tourists across the Tembeling River for one ringgit (25 cents) each way. IMG_1524

Once we entered the park, we had a choice of several trails to follow.  

  Today we walked the route along the river, mostly on raised boardwalks that preserve the flora beneath.IMG_1543

Here’s a pretty big tree!image

We saw evidence of wild boar – soil churned up wherever they root for truffles and such – but didn’t see any wildlife today.

The jungle really is dark, so much so that my camera flash often went off. Lots of mushrooms and fungi grow here.

Lots of pretty flowers too.

We walked to the river, and watched some people frolicking in the brown, muddy water… We’ve read that there are leeches in the river. Maybe we’ll swim another day…image


Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Tahan, Taman Negara, Malaysia

7/30 – walked over to the Mandarin Hotel to have breakfast and catch our 8:30 bus to start our jungle adventure.  We are on our way to Taman Negara (translates as Country Garden), which is the Malasian National Park containing the oldest old growth rain forest in the world. 

Shades of British colonialism – the Full English breakfast was offered, with mushrooms, baked beans and tomatoes accompanying the eggs and toast.  Haven’t had that in a while!  Our bus left at 9:30, and was full of Italian and Dutch tourists. Off we go!

  We rode until noon, and were delivered to Jerantut, Pahang, where we queued up to pay for our entrance to Taman Negara  of 1 ringgit (25 cents) and our camera permit (5 ringgit) that will allow us to take pictures in the park. The man was very clear in communicating that this permit must be carried with us at all times and produced upon demand. Failure to have the camera permit results in a 5000 ringgit fine.

After a quick lunch, we hopped on another bus for the short ride to the jetty, where we were packed onto two long boats for the three hour ride up the Tembeling River to Kuala Tahan.   

   The brown water was opaque, but there were enough exposed trees and branches to show that the river was shallow. 

  We rode past a big clan of fat water buffalo snoozing in the sun, all piled up on one another.  


  We also saw some monkeys in the trees, and a big monitor lizard lumbering along the shore, but they were too far away to snap.

Halfway through the trip, the lead boat got stuck on a sandbar, and we watched with amusement as everybody jumped out and helped push the boat through the calf-deep water.  


As we should have expected, we got stuck a short time later, and all the guys couldn’t wait to jump out and help!  

A half hour before landing, the sky opened up for a typical tropical afternoon drenching. Unfortunately, our packs were all lashed to the front of the boat, and no one had thought, on a sunny afternoon, to put their pack covers on. We arrived at 5:30pm with wet packs, sore bottoms from sitting on the hard deck, and full bladders – no facilities on board the small boat of course, and we were all drinking water in the hot sun.  

We disembarked and walked over to the hut marked Nusa, where we expected to find a small boat that would take us to our camp, Nusa Holiday Village. All was dark and still – no one and no boat. We went to the floating restaurant next door, and were told to climb the hill and inquire about Nusa.  

 The travel agent at the top of the hill rolled his eyes and at first refused to help, but then thought better of it, and called Nusa on the phone. He apologized for his moment of pique, but said Nusa does this (leaving folks stranded) all the time. 45 minutes later, the Nusa truck rolled up to pick up the four of us who were waiting. We were wet and hot and hungry. Our adventure was not off to a good start.

Nusa Holiday Village was billed as a resort, and we had prepaid at a much higher rate than our normal budget allows, as it got high ratings online and was supposed to be ‘da bomb’. It’s the busy season for tourists here, and every budget place we had tried was booked solid. We talked ourselves into the high priced ‘resort’ as Jim was really eager to hike in this jungle. Imagine our surprise as we trudged up the steep hill, over the swinging bridge to find a dinky, musty cabin with no windows and no amenities whatsoever. Well! How about the restaurant, which also got rave reviews? We ordered chicken curry for supper, and got curry with chicken bones and skin. Ugh.  We’re captives here, with no other restaurant choices.  It’s going to be a long week! 


Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

7/29 – Today we had another chance to see the different cultures that make up Malaysia. We started by visiting a colorful Hindu temple.

Right across the street was a Chinese temple.

The Central Market had many Muslim shops.

In the evening, we were swimming in the rooftop pool, when it began to rain. We took shelter under an overhang, then watched with amazement as the Police headquarters building across the way belched smoke and flame from an upper story.image
A Malaysian man watching with us said it was probably arson, and the news later confirmed that the floor that was set on fire was the floor where confiscated drugs are stored. There’s lots of corruption in the Malaysian government these days.

Pretty pix of the evening skyline.image



The Petronus Twin Towers are just to the right of the green tower.




Penang to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

7/27 – Time to leave the island of Penang, the same way we arrived.

We took an early morning ferry from Georgetown back to Butterworth Station on the Malay peninsula mainland.

There, we waited for our Very Nice bus, which would take us for the six hour ride to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, or, as the locals call it, KL.image

The bus really lived up to its name, with BarcaLounger seats, and a driver who called out every hour to see if anyone needed a rest stop. Very Nice!

As we approached the tall buildings of this modern city, I turned on my phone to check the GPS. There are several bus terminals in KL, and we were not sure which one this bus would take us to. I was heartened to see that we were progressing nicely toward the bus terminal that was nearest to our hotel. Closer, closer…. Oh no! The bus kept rolling along, even though we could see our hotel out the window! Now we were getting farther away, and, wouldn’t you know, it was starting to rain. By the time the bus stopped, we were 10 miles away, with no idea how to get back to KL Sentral.

Two university students saw us hunched over my phone looking for a metro or bus to get us back across town, and they asked how they could help. Nice People of Malaysia! They walked us over to the metro station, helped us buy tickets from the machine, and showed us on the metro map how many stations and where to change trains. Although we thanked them profusely, I neglected to get a photo. They were beautiful people. In a half hour, we were back at KL Sentral, walking the two blocks to our hotel. We have a rooftop pool! image

7/28 – Last year when we were in Istanbul, we shared breakfast with two brothers on holiday from KL. The younger brother Rool, who had the better English, invited us to look him up when we got to KL. Today, we did just that!

Rool picked us up and drove us to an authentic Malay buffet for lunch. Here we are with Rool and his six year old daughter Alicia.image

So many delicious choices! We really love Malay food. I even had some fermented durian (the orange stuff on the right).image

After lunch, Rool took us on a tour of KL. Here are the famous Petronus Twin Towers, which were the tallest buildings in the world for several years (not anymore). There is a walkway that connects the towers at the 42nd floor, which telescopes to compensate for the swaying of the buildings in the wind.image

There were shiny malls and designer shops, and government buildings.imageimage


A wonderful day – thanks Rool, we had a great time! Another Nice Person of Malaysia!image

Teluk Bahang to Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

7/25 – Time to get back to the city. We watched Bus 101 rumble through town every 15 minutes the whole time we were in Teluk Bahang, but as we stood at the bus stop in the sweltering heat with packs on our backs, no Bus 101 was forthcoming.  After 45 minutes, we wondered what could possibly explain the lack of buses, when four Bus 101s came rolling down the street, one after the other!  An hour later, we were back in the city, to stay for a day in Georgetown, before making our way south to the capital.  Our trendy hotel: 

With an additional fruit that is not allowed:  

We asked what is wrong with mangosteen – is it another smelly fruit?  We were told that the red juice of mangosteen skin permanently stains whatever it comes in contact with, and that is why it is not permitted.  

Our hotel is in the Chinese part of the city.  


There is a Sam’s here! 

A Chinese temple:


Traveling by tricycle rickshaw: 

 We asked our hotel clerk, who is of Chinese descent, how to get to Little India.  “Walk down the street” he said.  “When you see Indian people, hear Indian music and smell Indian food, you are in Little India.”  Easy enough! 


Ganesha, son of the goddess Parvati.   Lord Shiva cut off the boy’s head, which angered Parvati, so he replaced it with an elephant’s head.   

Hanuman is the monkey god.

Our yummy lunch – spicy chicken, vegetables, rice and ginger tea – we love Indian food!  The Malay and Indians eat with their right hands only – no utensils – but we were offered spoons and forks.


 The Kapitan Kling Mosque, the oldest in Penang, dating from the seventeenth century:  

Reminders of when Malay was a British colony.   St. George The Martyr Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia:


The Light Street Convent:   

Fort Cornwallis:

The 60 foot tall Jubilee Clock Tower, built in 1897 to commemorate 60 years of Queen Victoria’s reign.  The tower tilts slightly, but withstood being bombed during WWII:   

A lovely town, with new delights around every corner!