Time for a next trip… Where shall I go? What do I want to see or do? And, most of all, can I visit any of my far-away friends? Not in Malaysia, I thought. Having booked my ticket, I asked some of my friends who were in Asia at the time. I got lucky, and so I met up with one of my friends in Sarawak (Kuching to be precise).
To get to Sarawak, I flew to Singapore and spend the night over there before heading to Kuching. As soon as I dropped my luggage and changed my clothes, I got out to go see the Marina Bay Sands and get something to eat. Near the Marina Bay Sands, there is this street food market at Makansutra Gluttons Bay. Yes, they warned me for not eating street food, but I’m stubborn and do it anyway. Here’s where I got some proper Indian curry.
In Kuching, Sarawak
The next day it’s time to head on to Kuching, Sarawak which is in Borneo. After I’ve checked in (not knowing they’ve put me in a male dorm until 3 days later), I get to meet with Matthew, have a little chat with him before I’m off to meet with my friend from back home.
After catching up with Jenny we get some dinner with her group of (coworking) colleagues. It’s their last weekend together after spending one month in Kuching working on their projects/jobs. A great group of entrepreneurs and very open to meet new people. Within one day, I feel like I’m part of the group.
The day after, Matt, Laurie and I are off to Bako National Park for some hiking. We meet some locals and see beautiful nature, some stunning views and get to chill at some lovely beaches. Matt and Laurie are staying for the night, so I get back with Ron (a local) and his friends.
Culture in Georgetown
In Georgetown, I’m meeting up again with Laurie. As soon as we arrive, we get something to eat. After I go explore the city myself. Before we arrived at the hotel, we walked past a beautiful mosque. I’m curious to check it out. Not sure if I’m allowed to go in as I see men praying, I walk around the mosque and meet a lady who’s volunteering. She guides me around, tells me about their rituals and reads (she actually sings) the first paragraph of the Quran in Arab (it really sounds beautiful).
After we go to a little library where I meet another lady. Curious as they are about me and my religion, I tell them that I’m interested in other cultures and religions, that not growing up with any of them is an advantage for me to be open-minded and not judgemental about any cultures. They are really nice, and I end up getting a Quran (in English), where I eventually get to read a passage about Maria (my name is a derivative of Maria). To me, a beautiful experience, I will never forget.
The other days Laurie and I explore Georgetown. We visit the Khoo Kongsi Clan house, a place where Chinese families of the same surname gather to worship their ancestors. We also get to see some beautiful street art and end up in chaotic streets of Little India. Little India is an area I absolutely fell in love with.
Cooling down in Cameron Highlands
The next part of the trip, we decided to find some cooler vibes and go to one of the many must-sees in Malaysia. The Cameron Highlands are mountains full of tea plantations. Staying at Fathers Guesthouse (it was not on Booking.com) was probably one of the best choices we made. The lady of the owner got us some really good recommendations and even arranged a private taxi/tour guide for us. We did not only get to see the tea plantations but our taxi driver explained us everything, such as:
- how the tea plantation had started back in the days;
- how he and his family members grew up there;
- and got their education.
He also showed us plantations for bell peppers, flowers, tomatoes, strawberries and let us try to eat some leaves, which apparently are good for your health.
Kuala Lumpur is known as a chaotic city and so I was quite curious how I would like KL. Above all, I have been to Singapore and I liked that city. Will I be able to enjoy KL? When I arrived at the airport, I surely realized KL is not that organized as I’ve seen in Singapore, nor Georgetown or Cameron Highlands. It took me forever to find the way at the airport (not that I’m gonna bore you with that).
Soon after I got rid of my backpack, I went to see the Petronas Towers. Having a drink at Marina’s on 57 (thanks Tony for your recommendation) not only gives you a nice view of the Petronas Towers, but also the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. After this, I meet a German/Malay man and we decide to get some real Malaysian food. I have not a clue what I ate, but it was definitely great! Thanks Alex!
Okay, I can brag a lot about Perhentian Islands, but the truth is, I’ve barely done anything on the island. And that’s precisely why you should go there! Getting there by boat already gives you the laidback feel. Not much later I’m already on a snorkeling tour and having a swim with some beautiful sea turtles. When I return to the resort, my friend Laurie is waiting for me. We meet with some of the people she has met during her trip, get dinner and watch a fire show.
The days after, we stayed at the resort, enjoying the local food, reading a little bit, have a swim, and take a diving course. At the last night before Abel, Emiel, Job and I are leaving, we go out with Laurie, Jade and Adara. Have some dinner, get drunk on Captain Stanley (Morgan’s little brother) and we dance on the beach while lightning strikes.
Famous in Kuala Besut
The day after, It’s time to get going. Abel, Job, and Emiel have to get to the airport as well, so we decide to go together. Unfortunate, that did not work out. As soon as the boats arriving, I find out I need to get in another boat to get to Kuala Besut. And my boat is slow (I mean really slow), it takes forever and when I finally arrive, I find out that my friends had just left. They had kept waiting for a little and decided to leave thinking that I’d taken a different cab to the airport.
I get in contact with one of the taxi drivers and he tells me the 3 tall guys have been waiting for me, that they were looking for a tall blond girl, and that his colleague had just gotten them to the airport. Not having much choice, I decided to share the taxi with some others and get to the airport. That’s when the driver asks me if my name is Maaike. Like, are you kidding? You know my name? Apparently, they’ve been calling for me whenever people got off their boat. In just one hour, I’m reunited with Abel, Job and Emiel, we have breakfast together and take our flight to the next destination.
And then, I’m arriving at my last stop before heading home. Having taken the bus (which was supposed to take 5 hours), I arrive about 8 hours later… just at the border between Malaysia and Singapore. There is where I find out after I’ve been through customs, that my bus has not been waiting for us and so I jump onto another one.
The next days in Singapore, I check out the Botanic Garden, Little India and Chinatown (totally different from KL, Georgetown and in The Netherlands), and do some shopping. When it’s around sunset I get to the Gardens by the Bay and I find myself lost like Alice in Wonderland. The garden is beautifully designed. In every corner you look, you’ll find something unexpected. When I’m at the center, the light show starts so I sit down and let the magic do its work.