Malaysia - Magic Greater Asia
Our flight went from Hamburg via Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with KLM on left wing outside. We knew it before and it was endless. After arrival we checked in at a hotel close to the aiport as a stopp over. It was a nice big hotel and we could rest a bit. The Taxi next morning brought us to the domestic airport for the commuter flight to Langkawi. This was a crowded place as it covers i big part of the domestic traffic in Greater Asia. It was not easy to locate the gate of AirAsia. This is the biggest lowcost airline in this region. We saw almost 50 aircrafts moving arround.
After arrival in Langawi we collected the rental car, which was a Proton from malaysian production. In the near of the aiport is the 4-Point-Sheraton, which is a budget-hotel from the Starwood hotel group. The rooms are spacious and of basic comfort. Everything we need for this stay. Before our start to the entire trip we had purchased a lot of different liquids as protection against the malaysian mosquitos. Together with white long-sleeve-shirts and white trousers. So no shorts and no T-shirts. This was result of the study of various travel-guides and solcial platforms. Ok.. most people here went in shorts and T-Shirts. And i guess, they are still alive. However, safety first!! The cars are driving on the left side of the road. But even most more basic cars use automativ gears, so not a problem.
During first drive-around we could already get some south-sea-feeling. The major business on the Island is related to tourism and it is rarely hectic here. In the afternoon we enjoy a coffee and a snack like small skewer either with meet or something else and then sunset at the harbour. A type of animal which is very common here is the spectacled langur, they appear mostly in teams of 10+ and stroll around. They are not dangerous but we always kept distance.
One evening we arrive at the hotel and in the lobby we got into a birthday party of a big family. They were very friendly and invited us for cake and sparkling wine. And they had more then enough to share. For breakfast we went in most cases to a small village in the neighboorhood around the airport at the beach. We found here lots of small coffee-shops and bistros with a sufficient menue for breakfast. There was one coffee-shop which we liked special and they had the right food, service and atmosphere. It was relaxing and it we could take the mood for the day.
Back to nature and the langurs are not far away. At a small creek we felt nearly like in paradise, until we discovered an empty PEDT-Bottle. After a small bite we went to Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park. These mountians are the oldest in South East Asia and Malaysia and started to grow about 550 million years ago. There is cable-cabin which goes up to the mountain. The whole installation and setup is impressive and then you see the Sky-Bridge. Sky-Bridge has been built onto but into the mountains. The design respects the nature and does not disturb at all. Unfortunately the bridge was closed so we could not walk on it but could watch from distance. The panoramic view can reach out to Thailand or to South East Indonesia, depending on the weather.
The valley-station is part of a big leisure complex. They have setup an Oriental Village for tourists and families with a couple of attractions. One of it is the Anjung Spa with a Fish Spa Therapy. You sit on the sidewall of a flat pool and put the feet in the water. The fishes do the rest... I did not like it at all and rejected to take this service.
For the sunset we took different locations. We went to the village of the harbour Pantai Kok or to our "breakfast-village" in the near of our hotel. Here is a beach with restaurants. You sit there and enjoy the sunset when the sun is dropping into the ocean. It is a bit kitschy, but not for people from icy North Germany, who can not get enough from this opportunity.
From time to time we start without a tourplan and let it happen. For the food break we prefer to go in one of the good to excellent hotels. They are placed in exciting locations and offer reasonable priced snacks in their bar area mostly outside in a park or at the beach. This time the Westin Hotel had a very nice terasse with a wunderfull view.
For the dinner we went in the evening to The Dan Resort directly at the beach. Again fantastic location with a fancy restaurant. Very romantic sunset during the dinner.
After the relaxing day we had a plan in place for the new day and went to the Kilim Geo-Forest Park in the North of Langkawi. A fantastic peace of nature mit mangrove-forrests and caves. For the mangrove forrests we took a boat with a skipper, who brought us to the magic points. This slow ride through the mangroves is very impressive. I had seen this so far only in movies in TV. Nothing compared to the reality. We drove also in a bay, where couple of yachts were laying on moorings. Some of them were obviously not only anchoring but also "stranded" as the owner had lost the track and stopped the journey. The skipper had a few stories about this. The scenerey touched me very much. Next stop was the cave for the bats. We got handlamps and could watch them hanging under the ceiling. I am a bit scary about these animals with their ultra-sonic navigation capability. On the beach we met a saurian. To the end the guide took us to the fish-farm where we could see mantas (or stingray ?). Some of the guests touched them. This park gets our
Part of the tour is in an area where eagles are at home. The skipper baits them with some food and they come nearby. It looks a bit artificial but worth to see.
Last spot for us to see was the Gunung Raya, which is the highest mountian on the island. The 13 km long road takes you to the peak. Unfortunately the view was limited, as it was very foggy. For dinner we decided to take the kitschy session for the last night again.
Here another note for those who are interested in arts. On our way we stopped by the Pardana Gallery. This Gallery was initiated by Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammed, who was prime minister from 1981 to 2003. He got a lot of presents from visitors of foreign goverments during his period of service and these presents are exhibited. The origin and kind of the presents makes it a very different kind of exhibition.
Back to the capitol Kuala Lumpur. Our plan was to stay 2 days to discover this city and we had looked for a unique selection of hotel. That was the reason to choose the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Upon checkin they were so kind to us and offered a suite. This was a nice way to rejoin life in a monster busy city.
On this evening our stay got overshadowed by news, which we did not realize during our stay on Langkawi. Here we got directly faced with it. It was about the traceless missing of flight MH370 vom Kuala Lumpur to Bejing. This case has not been cleared up until today. We saw displays and messages all over the city. Most of electronic banners on streets and in malls showed messages like "We pray with MH370". The aircraft was the same type we used for our arrival and were suppoed to use for the return. There is a difference if you see the news in TV or if you are upfront. In Wikipedia is a big report about this case.
For next morning we planned to join a tour with the Hop-On-Hop-Off-Bus. When we boarded the bus we received a breathing mask but did not realize why. We liked the tour even if the sky was very grey. After a while we got tired. Jetlag could not be the reason. The air was strange. We decided to leave the bus and went for Sushi in a good restaurant. In this place the air was much better. After the lunch we wanted to visit the famous Petronas Towers. When we left the mall we stopped immediately. The air felt as we would run against a stonewall. From the Towers we could see only about 2/3 maximum. The top of the tower was covered by heavy smoke. Yes, smoke and it smelled like fire. We escaped back to the next mall and met 2 young female german students. They were shocked as well. Very slowly we started to understand: the Haze had reached Kuala Lumpur. If you have read our report from Singapore, you may remember that we were wondering about the foggy view from the platform of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The Haze comes from cut and burns from the forrests of Indonesia to make space for oilpalm-plantations. Anyhow it was impossible for us to stay on the street. We went back to our nice hotel and enjoyed the rest of the day including a nice dinner in the hotel's bistro. We are shocked and do not understand how the inhabitants are living with this circumstances.
Next day we took the taxi from the hotel to the airport. We could hardly see the street-lamps because of the Haze. During check-in and boarding we felt a bit bad, still no news about the missing flight MH370.
In the meantime the ASEAN countries have developed plans und put a strategy in place against the Haze. This phenomenon has negative influence and impact on quality of life for both inhabitants and visitors. Wir like to return because we believe that we did not meet the charme and details of this city as it would deserve.