Our first stop in Malaysia was Penang. We didn’t do a great deal of research about the country’s second largest city by population, and were expecting a small exotic island decorated with white shores and towering resorts. How wrong we were! Instead what we found was a charming cosmopolitan, a mountainous jungle, and palm fringed beaches.
The capital George Town, is full of rich and diverse history, after centuries of acting as a gateway between the Middle East and Europe and Asia’s most desirable exports. Similarly to Hanoi in Vietnam, Penang’s colonial past is stubbornly persevered. Once beautiful buildings are left to wither and crack, but venture two minutes outside the heritage sites and they’re given a new lease of life as chic cafes, bars and restaurants. It was once voted THE number 1 place in the world for its food by Lonely Planet so come hungry 👌
Our accommodation was about a 40 minute, £3 Uber ride away at the Park Royal Hotel, situated North of the island on a stretch of beach dotted with resorts. We don’t normally stay in swanky accommodation but as our friends were visiting we decided to splurge!
Here are our favourite photos and a video from our time there…
Cameron Highlands is where it’s always time for tea! On our way to Kuala Lumpur we broke up the 8 hour journey by stopping off in Malaysia’s largest hill-station. Tea plantations extend over vast valleys, creating a lush Emerald canvas.
Temperatures rarely push past 30°C, so it was quite a shock coming from 33°C in Penang to 20°C, with the occasional aggressive downpour. Great for agriculture, not great for shorts and tank tops. When the weather’s too much to bear in the cities, Malaysian’s often venture here for a few days to sip a brew and enjoy a delicious fruit scone (try the blueberry if you can!)
The towns often look like they’ve been plucked straight from the The Sound of Music intro, with Scandinavian-like black and white resorts. We were later enlightened by a very friendly taxi driver that this popular colour scheme is to pay homage to the area’s flag.
Don’t expect much in the way of international cuisine and electric night-life, as when the sun withdraws so do most of the locals. There are a few relaxed restaurants and bars for weary travellers to re-energize before a day of hiking through the lush landscape.
Here are our favourite photos from our short time in the Highlands…