Summary of Malaysia

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What we did: 20 days in Malaysia traveling overland by bus and train

Where we went: 4 nights in Malacca, 6 nights on the small island in the Perhentians, 3 nights in Kota Bharu, 6 nights in Penang, and one night lost on a cramped bus ride.

About Costs: Daily expenses differed dramatically from city to city. Kota Bharu and Malacca were the most inexpensive and were easy to get by on $30 a day (our guesthouses were $10-$15/nt and were of exceptional quality). Travel to the Perhentians was pricey, as the service on the slow (and cheap) boat had been discontinued. Without this, the only option was the smaller, faster boat costing twice as much. However, we planned ahead for higher food costs on the island and brought groceries with us. Luckily, the Perhentians have some of the cheapest diving we’ve ever seen, and we were happy to be paying only about $20 for each dive. Penang also turned out to be a bit more expensive, but only for accommodations. Food is inexpensive and generally was of very good quality. Museums and other area attractions were all very inexpensive- often running between 1-5 ringits for entry ($0.33-$1.60).

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Our Impressions: Mainland Malaysia is still working on it’s tourism, and in some locations we found ourselves experiencing a lot of challenges with communication, finding guesthouses, and with traveling overland. With that said, Malaysia is a great place to travel for the fact that so much of it is off the well beaten travel roads. When coming to Malaysia, you will find a real experience free of typical tourist traps found in other countries. The people are very respectful- we did not once have the problems with touts that we experienced in Indonesia. All in all, we really enjoyed traveling here and can’t wait to return one day to experience the better known part of the country- Malaysian Borneo.

What we’ll miss: We will miss the simplicity of this place- there is an ease to life here that made even the complicated travel days seem nonchalant. We will miss the coffee, fresh nutmeg juice, the beautifully clean and friendly guesthouses, and the crisp tiny fish that are used to garnish almost everything. The stands that sell glasses of kool-aid style beverages in flavors like ‘jelly’ and ‘corn’. Malaysian fried chicken is better than any American fried chicken we’ve ever tried and we are beside ourselves for not finding the secret ingredient. And Penang. We will miss Penang.

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What we won’t miss: The trash floating in every waterway, laying on the street side, and never seeming to make it into a trash can. The population of stray chickens wandering around, sitting in the streets, and causing us to rethink what the term ‘rodent’ should be defined as. And Rojak- a salad of sorts involving fruit, fish sauce, and peanuts. We wanted to like it, but it was almost impossible to eat enough of it to not offend the cook.

On Deck: At long await, Thailand is in our immediate future…

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