It’s been a while since I had a good break way back in August last year, so I’ve finally taken a cheap & quickie holiday back in Malaysia. It’s ridiculously cheap to fly around Asia these days, thanks to Airasia. So why not!? And besides, it’s the first time ever since I migrated to Australia about 20 years ago, that I came back for Chinese New Year! I know, that’s sad!! So, off I went, with a near-empty suitcase, and plenty of curious anticipation for some fun.
Here’s a summary of my little trip:
Coming back to a country like Malaysia, I actually prepared myself for some serious weight increase, because of the overwhelming variety of food to try. Believe me, I gained exactly 2.5kg after 2 weeks over here. Here’s just a sample of what I ate while I was back here. Can’t blame anyone really. How can you resist so much cheap and delicious food here!?
Oh… and good old Shandy! Now that’s a drink I don’t remember having for YEARS!! It is essentially beer mixed with lots of lemonade. I know I can make it myself, but hey, it taste better cold from a can! 😉 Highly recommended!
I certainly have never seen it in Australia!
Ask any South-east Asian if they know ‘Langkawi Island’, and most would certainly say ‘yes’. If I ask what it’s famous for, you would think the answer is something along the lines of pristine beaches, crystal clear water, and beautiful natural mountains etc etc. You know what? I certainly don’t agree. Instead it is all about duty free shopping, cheap food & alcohol, delicious Thai food, great spa & massages and lots of scooter fun! At least that’s what it was all about for me!!
Cheap food & alcohol –> As if food in Malaysia is not cheap enough already! It’s even cheaper in Langkawi! I had a can of beer for RM2.00 (~AUD$0.70). And a little Nasi Lemak for RM1.50 (~AUD$0.50).
Delicious Thai Food –> Wait a minute.. Thai food? Aren’t you in Malaysia? That’s exactly what I thought. Then I realised, Thailand is only a short hop away! Apparently most of the chefs on the island are Thais! So no matter what you eat, whether it is Malaysian, Mexican, Japanese, western or whatever you fancy.. do expect it to taste like Tom Yum and Pad Thai. Believe me, if you want to taste Malay rendang curry that taste like Tom Yum, do it in Langkawi.
Great Spa & Massages –> From that last statement about ‘Thai’ food, you probably could see this one coming. There’s plenty of fantastic spas & massages here all over the island. As you would expect, it’s dirt cheap as well. Can’t say it’s my thing, but I ended up trying out foot massages and spas anyway. Do I feel any more relaxed? Err.. no..
Scooter Fun –> This isn’t what typical locals would come here to do. But I did that anyway, given I miss riding a motorbike. I can tell ya, the rental shop that rented me the scooter were amused that I enjoyed riding the little 150cc Scooter for a day.
Oh.. of course, i did swim a little at the beaches, and even snorkelled off a remote island nearby. But I didn’t think these were highlights at all compared to all the other points above. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong.. snorkelling at Pulau Payar was great, but I wouldn’t consider it a highlight!
Chinese New Year
As mentioned earlier, the last time I celebrated Chinese New Year in Asia, was when I was a kid over 20 years ago. As a kid, I looked forward to receiving heaps of red packets and playing with fireworks. But guess what? Fireworks have been banned in Malaysia for years! That certainly dampened my excitement a little. But what probably cheered me up a little was that as an unmarried 30-something years old, you are still eligible to receive red packets! (meaning $$$$) It’s a little embarrassing, given there were 20-something married couple that gave me red packets as well. But hey.. it’s rude to refuse. 🙂
I did get pay a visit to a major temple though…
And enjoyed some pretty impressive night lights..
It’s just not the same without fireworks 🙁
Ask any locals, what they think of Sunway lagoon, one of the answers you may get are, ‘Great fun for the kids!’ or ‘Not bad!’ or ‘It’s soooo crowded’. What I probably didn’t expect was, “Don’t go there, you’ll be swimming in pee!’ Not exactly the answer I wanted to hear, but I guess I went there with that thought in my head. Putting all that aside, Sunway Lagoon was fun enough to spend RM60 (~AUD$20) for. You actually get a lot more than a water theme park. Think a zoo, a thrill-ride theme park, and a water fun park all combined in one. And there’s even a massive shopping centre right next to it! Not bad eh?
About 3.5 hours drive away, lies a much smaller, less congested town called Kuantan. I certainly wouldn’t have normally come here if it weren’t for Kwongy’s relatives. This little trip to Kuantan was more about discovering my natural talent to entertain little kids than sight-seeing. Here’s a little proof…
Trust me.. 4 years old come chase me down to play with them, 8 years old want me to play Nintendo DS with him, and 6 years old want me to hold her hand wherever I’m go. For the 3 days I was in Kuantain, I was constantly called, “Anthony Goh Goh” (哥哥), until I was sick of hearing it. It’s a lot to handle, when you have so many kids demanding your attention at the same time!! Now, I certainly didn’t expect to be THAT popular with kids! What’s worse was, 2 of the kids cried when we left ‘cause they missed us.. 🙁
Of course, we did do some sight-seeing too, namely at a nearby ex-mining town of Lembing (林明). We started with a bit of moutain climbing at Mt. Panaroma (林明山)
Followed by a little adventure bridge walk at a nearby ex-mining town.
It’s not a town full of sights, but I certainly love the super laid-back feel. None of the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur.
This isn’t something I would normally go out of the way to ‘try’. It’s just one of those things that kept showing up in my peripheral vision since I arrived in Malaysia. Must be the ‘in’ thing at the moment. Why would anyone want to stick their foot in a bath with hundreds of tiny fishes that come attacking your feet?! Well.. apparently it is good for your skin!! For RM38 (~AUD$16) for 30 minutes, I thought why not.
Being a fish spa ‘virgin’.. I probably did not expect this experience to be so much to ‘laugh’ about. Not because it’s funny, but because these little fish tickles the crap out of you which forces you to laugh involuntarily, every time you stick your feet into the water!
And that’s not the end of it. This place was fancy enough to have multiple baths that features different sized fishes. Not happy with the tiny pricks that the smallest fishes offer? Well, upgrade to the next size up until you are happy. But it does come with this warning:
If these fishes were any bigger, I suppose they would be piranhas, wouldn’t they? Thankfully I survived the bites from the largest fish on offer, only wanting more! After this experience, I learnt that you can actually get whole body fish spas. Now that is my next challenge when I get around to it!!
This little trip has certainly been fun. It only reinforced my lingering thoughts of wanting to living here, given the low cost of living, and the variety of ‘fun’ on offer. For now, it’s back to reality, and I can’t wait to get back here again. Watching out for those AirAsia deals!