Wednesday night was a final final farewell dinner and party. Fifteen of us went for delicious dalkgalbi, ten of us went for round two beers, and five of us ended up at my apartment with pitchers and bottles of soju until the early morning. The final goodbyes that morning to Joyoung, Jerry, Alex and Krista were the hardest. Certainly the alcohol helped.
Day 1 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Thursday morning it was bright and early off to the airport. Flight to KL was great; 6 hours direct. Caught a bus into town from the KL airport and the trip began. From Sentral Station we caught the subway to chinatown where we found a place to stay. Of course, we were initially cautious of people approaching us on the streets with room offers. We are all accustomed to the tenacity of SE Asian touts; we have also read the Malaysia is different. Well, how right the reading was; the people trying to sell you rooms are very friendly and not pushy at all. "Come to my place, its ....blah..." Does it have airconditioning? "No, it doesn't, sorry. Try that one tho!" And they walk away. "Come have a bite to eat" Is it Chinese? "No it's Indian, the best Chinese is down the street, turn right... It's great!" Really? Free and helpful advice... quite a change.
So Thursday evening was Chinese dinner (delicious), some beers and a walk through Chinatown. Then it was off to visit the Petronas Towers at night (beautiful) and the Golden Triange. Some beers, some Indian food, and that was day one.
Day 2 - Georgetown, Penang - Friday we caught a city bus to the express bus station and found a bus to Penang. In true SE Asian fashion the departure time for the bus was when the bus filled. We were the first three to get on this bus, so we waited over an hour for it to finally fill and depart. Gorgeous bus tho... only 3 seats across and plenty of leg room; we all got a pretty good sleep. Five hours later and we were in Penang, the food capital of SE Asia. Caught a taxi into Georgetown, found ourselves a decent guesthouse to stay in Chinatown, and we were all set. We spent the evening exploring little India where we ate an amazing chicken meal with our hand (right hand). Also had a nice feast of skewers with different foods on the end, priced according to the color of the stick. Friday evening was beers at the Espanalde Food Court and exploring the bars along Penang Rd before bed.
Day 3 - Georgetown, Penang - Today we decided to visit Penang Hill. Lo-and-behold, the railway was closed for renovation and we were left to explore LekLok Si Temple. It was stunning, largest buddhist temple in Malaysia. After returning to town, Matt and I visited a couple more Buddhist temples, a Christian church and a couple Muslim mosques. In the evening, back in town, we found ourselves back at the food court drinking beer and eating the best food in SE Asia. Great dinner, each of us picked a different plate to try and we sat for hours eating plate after plate of delicious food with our beer.
The best parts of Malaysia thus far: the friendliness of the people. It is so friendly, so safe and so easy to get along here. It sure contrasts other parts of Asia. The second best part of Malaysia is that EVERYONE speaks English. While English doesn't make traveling very cultural, it makes visiting and exploring very easy.
Another amazing aspect of Malaysia is the cultural integration. Today the Buddhist temple was several Europeans (presumably Christian), many Indians (presumably Hindu), several Malays' covered with headdresses (Muslims), and of course Chinese Buddhists. Seeing four of the main religious groups harmoniously visiting a Buddhist temple in Malaysia, wow. We could learn a thing or two from the multi-culturalism of Malaysia. I am traveling with a little Buddha on my bag and Matt was dotted on his forehead at a Hindu temple today... makes me smile.
The worst parts of Malaysia thus far: expensive beer. Paying 7ringits for a small beer ($2.33) or 12 ringits for a big beer ($4) makes night fun expensive. I spent $27 my first day and $33 the second day. Both days beers accounted for close to half the budget. The second worst part of Malaysia is that I am missing Korean girls. They are the most beautiful girls in the world. Daehanminguk saranghaeyo ^^
Tomorrow we have a bus booked at 6am to the Cameroon Highlands. After that its off to Taman Negra. From there, who knows. We need to be back in KL on the 28th to pick up Beth, other than that we are very flexible!