Have you ever travelled to a country you didn’t know at all and you weren’t interested in? It happened to me with Malaysia several years ago. I remember that, when my boyfriend Enrico suggested me this destination for our holidays, I was sceptical: Malaysia was not on top of my list of “places to visit at least once in a lifetime”, but at the end I let myself be persuaded because it would have been a new experience anyway and, after all, as they say, any chance you don’t take is lost forever.. right?
So here I am writing my Malaysia Travel Diary. I am ready to share all my misadventures with you and please, read it all with irony!
The first week of March, we took an Emirates flight from Venice, stopped off in Dubai for a couple of days and then headed to Singapore, before reaching the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia. The journey from Singapore to the islands was traumatic; in fact I had bought, for only 15 €, a Singapore – Kota Bharu flight with a local low-cost airline, FireFly. To be honest I didn’t know this airline company, but the internet reviews were good so I said to myself: “Ok come on let’s try it! It will be like Ryanair … “; obviously, I was wrong: once at the airport, we boarded in a small plane, an ATR with propellers. The plane could carry 70 people maximum, but we were just 8 (including the pilot and the hostess), which made scared me a lot. Immediately after the take-off, we encountered the first adversities, running into strong turbulence that lasted all the way long. I think I never prayed so much in my life!!
At least the landing was ok and the on-board staff gave me a muffin, a little way to sweeten such a terrible memory!
At the exit of the tiny airport of Kota Bharu, in a few minutes all the passengers disappeared while Enrico and I, a bit confused, turned to the only man with a car we found. The guy didn’t have the classic plaque “taxi” on the vehicle, and he didn’t speak English very well, however he offered to bring us to the port of Kuala Besut Terengannu; given the little alternatives we had, we trusted him. Quickly, the road became deserted and from the window I could only see a thick jungle and some small villages. All around there were only palms, palms and palm trees again. Arriving at our destination, after paying and greeting the “taxi driver”, I realized that we had been lucky anyway because he could have robbed us or hurt us along the way and if it had happened, nobody would have helped us.
But sometimes we have just to be optimist in life!
At this point I thought things were starting to turn in the right direction. We bought a ticket to Palau Perhentian by motorboat, but we arrived late at the boarding, so we were forced to take the last free seats at the bow. We were a dozen on board, sitting as tight as sardines, holding our suitcases down in the middle. The route lasted half an hour, but this time it seemed endless: the sea was agitated and everyone was shouting like crazy (myself included) trying to hold on to each others, hoping not to be thrown out of the waves. (Damn it when I agreed to go to Malaysia !!!)
It was a real joy to reach the mainland!
The beauty of the Perhentians Islands immediately fascinated me: white sand, emerald water, free animals, luxuriant and very warm jungle! We spent several days resting under the palm trees, snorkelling on the coral reef, experiencing nature and eating fresh fish for dinner. Finally, the dreamed holiday arrived!
One afternoon, a local boy, who organizes excursions, took us on a tour of the island, thus discovering the most beautiful beach ever: Turtle Beach, a little corner of paradise, reachable only by boat. Once arrived at there, he left us with the agreement he would have come back to pick us about an hour later. So we set off to explore that wonderful and pure place, taking some pictures, swimming in the crystal clear water and sunbathing. At the scheduled time, however, our friend did not arrive while all the other tourists were leaving. Suddenly we were ALONE on the beach, no one on the horizon … PANIC!
Obviously, the thoughts started flowing like rivers: “And now?” … “will we be stuck here until tomorrow?” … “Where are we going to sleep tonight? Up a tree? “” What if there are dangerous animals? “… After 40 minutes of delay we finally spot the red-black boat of our guide … what a relief! (Can you imagine a Malaysian fan of the Milan Football Team??? ahahah I was surprised when he told us he follows with interest the Italian soccer and that he painted the boat with the colours of his favourite team!)
From that moment on, the misadventures began (or they just continued?) which then deeply contributed to my opinion on Malaysia. Starting with our accommodation, listed as one of the best in the island, the Perhentian Island Resort, which did not satisfy me: during the day many monkeys played over the roofs of the bungalows and one of them also stole the sunscreen I left on the windowsill … oh well! they are wild animals and it can happen. But then one night, in the room, I heard strange noises coming from the air conditioning system (turned off) and I realized that they were lizards … OMG. During the day we weren’t able to find places to have lunch, so we were forced to buy industrial ice creams at the gift shop. There were no bars, no supermarkets and the resort’s restaurant opened only at night.
What worried me the most was that, one morning, Enrico woke up with three huge red spots on his leg; we ran to the reception to ask for help and only then we realized there were no doctors or pharmacies on the island. No one knew what could have caused them, and I, such a hypochondriac I am, immediately thought of a spider bite or poisonous insect. We decided to anticipate the departure for Kuala Lumpur and we booked a ticket for the next day with the iPhone. Meanwhile, searching on google, we realized that the bites were probably from “bedbugs” nested in our mattress (BLEAHHH); as soon as we reached the city, we bought a cortisone cream.
Closed the Perhentian Island chapter of our journey, we were able to spend peacefully the last days of our vacation in Kuala Lumpur in a clean hotel, the Pacific Regency, finding acceptable restaurants and visiting the most important attractions. At the top of my list of things to see, there were the famous Petronas Twin Towers, a true architectural show, where the Suria KLCC shopping center is located; inside there are many shops, from the most luxurious brands to the cheapest ones … a paradise for compulsive shopping addicts like me! Very nice also the KLCC Park where I spotted some squirrels running around in the trees, even if, honestly, they were pretty ugly because they looked like rats!
One evening we had dinner at the “Atmosphere 360 °” restaurant, located on the KL Tower and named like this because it slowly rotates showing, from top to bottom, Kuala Lumpur. I really liked the panoramic view of the city, the buffet food was definitely less pleasant, with mixed Asian / International menus; I still remember the tag “carbonara pasta” on a baking dish containing some pasta drowned in cheese …
In Kuala Lumpur I loved the Batu Caves, limestone caves considered sacred; in this site there are also Hindu temples. When we arrived we immediately noticed the golden statue of Murugan, a god of the war to which the caves were dedicated, 42 meters high and charming in its pride. To reach the caves, you have to climb up to 272 steps which have recently been repainted with the colours of the rainbow; Hindus go up barefoot, sometimes bringing fruit gifts.
I end my travel diary of Malaysia telling you the most exhilarating scene of my life, that I lived in this place (and that I won’t forget). Foreword: In Batu Caves, some religious services are daily celebrated and monkeys roam free in the cave; they are not very nice macaques, as they are often aggressive and they also steal from tourists. That said, while I was watching the beauty of the place I noticed that one of them was struggling ridiculously with a rooster (there were even roosters, don’t ask me why), so I tried to take a picture of them, but the macaque, annoyed by the flash, looked at me showing his teeth and without batting an eye he rushed towards me… Enrico laughed enjoying the scene, while I was desperately running away chased by the monkey, asking for help under the irritated glance of those present who were praying. Why do these things always happen to me ??!!
So friends, would I go back to Malaysia? NO. Am I happy to have been there? Obviously YES! It was an unexpected adventure and sometimes even tragic-comic, I still laugh thinking about what I experienced … I love coming back home from a trip with 1000 things to tell!
Goodbye see you soon!! ♥