May 18, 2017
For a year when I lived in Thailand the furthest south I got in Malaysia was Georgetown. Living in Bangkok, and with the islands in the south, perhaps it was somewhat understandable but it was also a missed opportunity.
Revisiting over a decade later with a young family in tow I approached this trip very differently. When I had travelled to Malaysia previously it was by train and with a backpack, and organised reasonably last minute. This time around it was planned relatively carefully in advance with the intention that the trip would be a lot more comfortable.
The itinerary was slightly ambitious given the timeframe: fly into Kuala Lumpur, and then onto Langkawi. After spending a few days there and taking in the sites, head back to the capital and fly east to Tioman. Having enjoyed a short break here, take the ferry and bus back to the capital and have a few days rest and relaxation, possibly squeezing in Malacca.
Fortunately, most of this happened as had been intended. Even more fortunately, the hotels booked via c-trip all turned out to be perfectly acceptable. The only catch, on a few occasions, was when we had to pay slightly over the odds to ensure we took in everything we wanted to. One example was a taxi from our base in Langkawi to the peak cable car. This was not a massive drive but it wasn’t exactly a cheap one either.
With respect to Tioman, which was stunningly beautiful in places, it also meant booking tickets well in advance for the plane that flew to the island and the ferry to depart, as the flights out were all sold out for the period we wished to leave. We knew in advance we might be slightly at the mercy of the weather, and any storms could potentially derail this part of the trip but it worked out well and was a calculated gamble.
The bus from the Mersing to Kuala Lumpur was also reasonably easy. The coach was spacious and comfortable and the journey effortless. The only catch was that, after such a busy week leading up to the return to the capital, and having a young child in tow, when it came to deciding whether we fancied a reasonably long day trip to Malacca we decided against it, opting instead to have a day sightseeing, eating out and by the pool.
On reflection, so many moments stand out from what was a very busy shortish break. The islands around Langkawi and the boat rides to get to them were fun, and the monkeys which inhabited them notable for their bravado, so much so we were warned not to display anything edible nearby. Tioman with its diving and aquatic life was also really impressive. And KL with its diversity of architecture and offerings was great. Obviously the Petronas Towers stand out, but there is so much more.
Shortly after leaving I made plans to return again. Not only would I have enjoyed taking in the same sights again, but we had not even made it to East Malaysia, or as it is also referred Malaysian Borneo. Put simply, it was a great trip and one I would highly recommend, albeit done in a slightly more leisurely manner.
About the Column
Gareth Morris is a university language teacher. He is also a part-time doctoral student. Gareth first moved to China in 2005 and, after spending a couple of years back in the UK studying for his PGCE and Masters, has now returned to the city he calls home. During his time in China Gareth has travelled extensively. His travels have taken him from Beijing and Xian to Kunming and Haikou. He has also spent time in Hong Kong and Macao. In addition to this, Gareth has lived in a number of countries across Europe, North and Central America and Asia. Closer to home, Gareth has enjoyed visiting numerous localities within Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. His Livingsu column will explore local places of interest found within walking distance of Metro line 1.