Sunday, 26 February 2012

From Terengganu towards Alor Star and Home

The last few days were lovely in Kuala Terengganu and now we are back on the road. Firstly we are driving further up the east coast towards Kota Bharu, a beautiful road along the shore of the South China Sea. (see the complete map of or tour below this post) The road is good and not too much traffic around, beaches and palm trees as far as you can see and nobody in sight. We stopped on several occasions and could not get over how nice these places are. If you are looking for hotels it might be difficult and forget about western food if this is what you are after. Eat local, that`s what we do. We left the coastal road and hit the 4 inland, driving close to the Thai boarder to Gerik, where we planned to stay a night. The lake Tasik Temengor (with extremely high water) was part of the journey and for the first time we saw warning signs of Elephants crossing...;) A negative point was to see all the lorries with timber, proving that the Rain forest is getting cut down. We do understand they need the revenue, but still find it a real shame, as we have become extremely fond of the fauna and flora with it`s sounds and smells. There is just nothing like it and definitely needs preserving. We arrived in Gerik, a town in the middle of nowhere, but good for fishing trips all round. The hotel cost us all of 40RM, basic but clean. The hunger set in, so off we went to an Indian restaurant, where a Chef who normally works in a top hotel in Singapore and just visiting his brother-in-law, prepared one of his specialities for us, which was rather nice. Thanks Gani.

The next day it was off to Butterworth via the Orang Utan Island about 35 minutes drive away from Butterworth
It is not nice to see wild animals in captivity, but if this is what it takes to help the Orang Utan population, so be it and apparently they really try... We did enjoy watching the antics of the baby Orang Utans! Part of the ticket included a little Zoo with local animals, again it all depends if you like this kind of thing. We were lucky enough though to see an angry spitting Cobra and film it. You can see it here
We stopped just before Butterworth to take some shots of the Penang sky line and then retired to a hotel in the middle of the town (omg) Nothing there at all, lol. At Alor Star Airport we had to hand the car in the following day and as a summary we can only say: This 10 day trip through Malaysia was well worth all the driving. We saw so much of the mainland and whether it was the Cameron Highlands with it`s lush green,  Fraser`s Hill so peaceful and quiet, the Genting with it`s crowds, or the whole of the East coast, with miles of untouched beaches. It was just great and we can definitely recommend it. (All photos here)

With our next Visa Run approaching fast, one of our next posts should be about Koh Lipe, a Thai Island just a couple of hours away from Langkawi.

Complete map of our 10 day trip across Malaysia by car:

View Malaysia by car for 10 days in a larger map

Saturday, 25 February 2012


 After not too long a drive (for a change) we arrived in Kuala Terengganu, which is situated on the East coast at the mouth of the Terengganu river. (All photos here) The first thing we saw was the Cristal Mosque when we crossed the bridge towards town. It looked rather nice in the light, with the river right in front of it. We found a good hotel, room with a water view, spacious, satellite TV and breakfast included in the price (what a treat) Terengganu has an old Chinese quarter with some really nice houses and is already recognised by the UNESCO. Apparently an American Credit Card firm supports Terengganu with $50.000 a year, helping with the upkeep of this picturesque part of town. Luckily this place was right on our doorstep, so no wonder we went out to explore the houses, streets and restaurants. We found a place to eat a freshly cooked Nasi Hainan costing all of 4RM, but the beer was 15RM (mind you it was a big bottle)
 The one thing we realised very quickly were the looks we received from a lot of the locals, not unfriendly, more.. kind of interested, but as soon as you caught their eyes there was this typical nice smile coming over, and sometimes even the question: "Where are you from?" It is understandable, because we were the only foreigners around, wherever we went. Even at breakfast in the hotel this happened on a couple of occasions.

When we looked out of our window we saw these lights at the waterfront and we found out, in the evenings there are artificial trees, all lit up in different colours and people gather on the square in front, chatting, eating something or go fishing in the Terengganu until late, all enjoying the coolness of the evening . A most picturesque scene, very peaceful and romantic, it just invited us to join them, so we did.
Because we really liked Terengganu we decided to stay here for 3 nights and went to see the Christal Mosque which is a very interesting building. The other place of interest was called the Monument, a collection of miniature buildings (mainly mosques) all of Islamic architectural interest. This was not as impressive as we thought it would be, but still worth a visit if you are in Terengganu. Most of the day we spent just walking around the town, looking at the markets and getting ready for the next part of our journey, more up the east coast, then close to the Thai boarder slowly towards home. We will have at least two more overnight stops and will keep you updated. If you do not want to miss any new posts, why not follow us?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Genting Highland and East Coast Malaysia

Next stop: Genting Highland.

We drove from Fraser`s Hill On the 55 towards Gumut and Batang Kali an estimated 60miles to the Genting Hill resort (we call it "The hill of Horror"), not knowing what to expect, but with the plan to stay there a night. As usual the road was good and once going up even had 3 lanes. The first thing we saw was a pagoda in a Chinese style and right on top of the hill massive hotels in low clouds. It turned out the Pagoda was part of a Chinese temple (and Hotel) built by a Chinese industrialist who
founded the Genting Highland Resort, thanking the gods for his good fortune.  It was impressive in it`s own way and we thought it was worth seeing. After a stroll around we headed for the top to find a place to stay (what a nightmare) All you see when you get there are massive Hotels surrounding a theme park with all different attractions, all the parking leads to Hotel lobbies and the only parking outside we found was at the staff car park. Off to the 1st world Hotel to ask for a room (never seen anything like it) Inside the building was a roller coaster, all different restaurants, food stalls and shops, very interesting to see for a short while. At the reception of the Hotel you had to take a numbered ticket as there were hundreds of people waiting, I am not joking. Also, prices for hotels and entrance for the park were not cheap. We decided this was not for us, so grabbed a quick snack of deep fried Durian (stinky) fruit, went back to the car and drove off. This place was like a cheap copy of Disney world and had nothing to do with Malaysia. All we mentioned here is our own opinion and some others might like this kind of thing, especially families.

We left the "Hill of Horror" via the 68, then joined the 2 all the way to Kuantan at the East coast where we found a good hotel by the beach for the night. The beach Chempedak by Kuantan is nice, but due to the closeness of Kuantan it is a busy resort, with Mc Donalds and KFC right at the sea front. We liked it though, but travelled on the next day up the coast on the 3 towards Kuala Terengganu which we shall write about next. On our way Fiona suggested to visit the Turtle Sanctuary at Jabatan Parikanan a long beach where Turtles are being overseen laying their eggs and strongly protected. The beach is off limits from 6pm to 6am and the little sanctuary held some interesting facts about turtles. All the East Coast has lovely under developed beaches to offer. No big hotels, just a few places for homestay, no big supermarkets or anything like it. The road on both sides has the old Malay houses on stilts, Palm trees, some local stalls and you can see the odd fishing boat on the beach. To us it seemed, the only ones enjoying the area here are locals. We actually wanted to visit Pulau Kapas an Island just 15 minutes by speedboat off the coast from Marang. But no Ferries or boats were going there due to the monsoon season (we had read otherwise) hey, but we can say we had a paddle in the South China Sea ;) All Photos here

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Fraser`s Hill (Bukit Fraser)

Fraser`s Hill  in Malaysia, most probably the most tranquil place (Photos)
After we left the Cameron Highlands we headed on the 1 towards Kuala Lumpur, a road running parallel  to the Motorway (E1) The streets are in a good condition and driving is no problem at all. We stopped at some native stands where the road went right through the rainforest on the way, having a look at all the strange goods they were selling. It was quite an experience to see what they produce in the middle of nowhere. In Taman Sri Teratai we left the 1and joined the 55 towards Kuala Kubu Baru which leads all the way to Fraser`s Hill. Again in the late afternoon it started raining and it was so bad, there were actual little streams crossing the road, which of course slowed us down and sometimes even had to stop the car on a lay-by. So again, we were running late and it started to get dark, but we had to carry on to find a hotel. The 55, before a very much straight road became really winding and uphill. No village was anywhere to be seen and most strange....there were no other cars on the road, none oncoming and none following. This went on for about 20 Miles and eventually we saw a sign for Fraser`s Hill, a one way 8km street up, and it was forbidden to stop!?? Ok we thought, two choices: 1 to drive back for Miles, or 2: we take the plunge to go up with the chance that everything is closed and all we see is a car park. The drive up was extremely dark and spooky. We, by now, had not seen a car in about an hour.
When we finally reached the summit it was such a relief to see a street lantern and then, yes, a hotel smiling at us. We stopped, asked for a room and were very pleased it had ended in this way not just with a bed to sleep in, but finding out there was an actual old English pub right opposite with good food, cold drinks and nearly tame butterflies. The problem in Malaysia is, when you research places, hotels or attractions on the internet, it does not mean they are up to date or actually open. The one thing which struck us straight away was the silence and peacefulness up here, there was only the noise of the jungle. After a lovely morning with mist in the trees and the sun breaking through slowly we went on to explore this strange looking town. English style houses, a few hotels, a golf course, an old English looking post office and a clock tower. We went for a walk around a lake which used to be the old water reservoir for the people up here, surrounded by nothing but nature, followed by a 5 Mile walk to a water fall on a steep but not used road due to a land slide. How fantastic, just when we reached the falls, the heavens opened up and a proper monsoon downpour caught us.
We had to wait for about an hour in a shelter before we could walk back up the hill, accompanied by the noises of the jungle (listen to it at the end of this post) wild flowers and strange fruits, monkeys shouting and nearly stepping on a centipede. We concluded the day with a Malay meal served in our hotel as the Scott pub was unfortunately closed (No pre warning, when it`s closed, it is closed) We stayed another night enjoying the peace and quiet of this amazing place. Tomorrow we are off to the Genting Highlands, apparently the complete opposite, we shall see...

Listen to what we heard on our walk:

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Cameron Highlands

Beautiful Cameron Highlands

February 13th and 14th in the Cameron Highlands.

Another fine mess I got myself into
Day 1 This is about a day where I had two shaves, one of which, a "close" one. After our first night in Brinchang we decided to go to Bukit Brinchang the highest peak in the Cameron Highlands 2031 meters above sea level. The road to the top is extremely windy, narrow and steep but the scenery is absolutely beautiful and worth the stress you go through when cars are oncoming and you are constantly hooting your horn before every bend. It was a rainy day with low clouds, but we still stopped here and there, wherever there was a
Cultivated mushrooms in a Chinese shop

chance to do so. You just have to, as there are so many views well worth a picture. (see all here) We once stopped in a little parking place when it started to rain a little more and I thought to reverse, making it easier for Fiona to get into the car (bad decision) because I totally overlooked a ditch on the side of the path in which I drove. Well, I got my front right wheel hanging in the air and the car was actually resting on the path. (Ok, you can stop laughing now) I tried all I could to get us out, with sticks, mats etc., but there was nothing doing, so I really thought we are in big trouble. Out of the blue, two Malays with their family in the cars, wife kids and all, stopped and asked if they could help. As I said, it was raining and these guys dug stones out of the ground, got their hands filthy (on a day out) and eventually, after about half an hour, managed to push us back on the road. I wrote before about the friendliness of the Malayan people and this is another example to prove it! We had another break at a strawberry farm before we reached the top, but as it was completely covered in clouds, started our decent after a rest and a walk on the hill top. On the way down we asked a girl walking in this miserable weather if she wanted a lift and she was very happy to accept. It turned out she was from Copenhagen, her name was Mette and it was her 34th birthday that day. We dropped her off on the bottom of Bukit Brinchang (she planned to eat lots of cakes!) so it was nice to have had the chance to (have met 'er) give her a birthday present by saving her the walk.Being back on a proper street our travels took us to a tea house (Any time is tea time) where we had to call in to have scones with jam and cream complimented by a proper cup of Cameron Highland tea, as this is a must while you are in the area. We went back to Brinchang after an eventful day and enjoyed a nice Chinese meal and obviously a couple of beers.

Day 2 After a good nights rest with all our pets in the room (see previous post) we packed our bags and got in the car for our next tour towards Fraser`s Hill. We went for a nice breakfast in Tanah Rata a much busier tourist town then Brinchang, but more pleasant to the eye.
We searched for a jungle walk and ended up walking towards a water fall on a little path right in the midst of the rain forest. It was humid and hot but great. The funny thing was, when a guy just dressed with a pair of shorts appeared out of nowhere and gave us the creeps for a couple of minutes. It turned out he was harmless, just looking a bit strange....After this more than tiring walk we visited the "Old Smoke House" a relict from the Colonial days which is kept nicely, including an old English Phone Box. On the way we spotted the sign for the Boh Tea Plantation, the biggest or one of the biggest tea producers in Malaysia. Again  a walk on top of a hill overlooking miles of tea, growing on unbelievable steep hills.  Enough walking for one day, now it is off to Fraser´s Hill, stay tuned.....

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Malaysia by Car

On the road to the Cameron Highlands
We have finally started our trip through Malaysia. It will be a round trip with quite a few places to cover. The plan is to make it firstly to the Cameron Highlands, followed by going to the east coast of Malaysia, down the costal road, then back to Alor Setar via the Genting Highlands and if possible an Elephant Sanctuary amongst other plans.
We started with the ferry crossing from Kuah to Kuala Kedah Port on the mainland. Then by taxi to Alor Setar Airport where we picked our rental car up, which we had reserved before we left Langkawi.
Strange lights at night
Well, to cut a long story short, after we got acquainted with our new motor we hit the road and drove the North - South Route E1 passed Penang, Butterworth towards Ipoh, where we turned off at exit 137 towards the Cameron Highlands. Before you go on this curvy uphill road, remember to fill your tank up, as for quite some miles there is no more chance. It started getting later and later and soon it was dark and we had no hotel booked....
rain started, thunder and lightning, then mist, and the traffic became less and less. We stopped a couple of times in little villages asking for a hotel or guest house, but no joy. Ok, 9°clock came...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Bananas, Crampers (Campers) and Ns and Ms

Tracey, Martyn and us. 

This post is dedicated to Life`s mysterious ways! A few days ago, Fiona and I went shopping in our regular Supermarket called "Billion" situated in the Fair Mall, Kuah. After I had paid, I was waiting for Fiona whilst she was having a look around the shop. Then this European lady, out of nowhere, came up to me, smiled and asked in a friendly manner: " Excuse me, does 4everasia mean anything to you?" Completely baffled and thinking I am famous now (naaaahh) I said: "Yes??" So she explained she had been reading our blog for quite some time and was just wondering whether it was us she had spotted, as she was shopping for bananas.(Yes, we have no bananas!)  After some small talk, first Fiona turned up followed by the lady's  husband. It turned out that the couple were English, but living in Spain, and are currently on holiday in Langkawi, staying at a nice resort on the Island. We introduced each other and found out their names were Martyn and Tracey. After half an hour of conversation, we parted, saying we should meet again.
So yesterday I had an email suggesting to meet for Lunch, and as we needed to go to Cenang anyway, we decided to meet up there. We went on for some food in a sea front restaurant. It was really great to be able to meet such a nice couple, have some good laughs and get along, so we exchanged promises to meet again. I'm sure we will and  next time we shall pick up the tab (Fiona will bake a cake ;))
I mean, how big are the chances someone reads your blog, or are in the same place as you (10 000km away from home), or actually have the guts to approach you when they see you??? Well, Tracey and Martin did. We hope to see you next year in January 2013 if not sooner!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Feeling hot, hot hot

The weather here on Langkawi is, how shall I say it.......fantastic, but hot. Blue sky for the last few days, which is rather unusual. Normally there are always some clouds, but at the moment it`s just great. With it being so nice we decided to go for a day to the beach. It is on the North of the Island called: Pasir Tengkorak Beach (Skull Beach)
The water on the North side is much clearer and the sand is golden and smooth. This beach is very quiet on week-days, but full of locals and some tourists on bank holidays. So off we went to the shops to buy a nice Melon to have in the fridge when we get back and bought one called Shark Fin Melon. We had never seen one like it before and thought it was a good idea to try it. What a surprise when we cut it. It turned out to be a massive type of fruit /veg, which tasted like a cucumber, but not bad, one slice makes a cucumber sandwich :) This fruit is used in Asia against Diabetes and they make "Shark Fin" melon soup out of it, named after the vegetable . So next time you order Shark Fin melon soup, you might not find any dorsal fins in it!
Our upcoming entries will be from a 10 day trip to the Cameron Highlands, followed by our next visa run which is a month in Thailand, starting in Bangkok and will include several Islands.
If you want to see more photos click here.
Cucumber Sandwich anyone?
No Comment :)

Fairly clear water

This Macaque monkey found a bottle but could not open it, so he climbed up a tree with it and dropped it, I wont be trying this!  Here he is enjoying  some Maggi Sauce.

Beautiful flora at the edge of the jungle
Great Hornbill, first one we spotted on Langkawi. He was big and when he flew you could here the noise of the wings, making a loud whoosh,whoosh sound.

Not a bad view towards Thailand ( Koh Tarutau) which is 5 km away.

This monkey was going for the swimmer`s rucksack, but luckily was spotted before he could snatch anything.

Butterflies the size of a hand

We call this a cucumber tree, no idea what it is...

...the fruit produces something like wool

NO.. I am not drunk, the jetty was weird to walk on.
Told you.

Lovely coast line

Fishing boats

One of 3 roundabouts on the Island

Typical house in the country

Coming into Kuah

Kuah Stadium (what is it used for??)

Towards home, our condo in the distance.

Nice final display of the sun after a good day out. Sunset over Kuah, seen from our apartment.