We have had a month in Malaysia, such an amazing place full of wonderful sights, friendly people and such delicious food.
We started in Kuala Lumpur which immediately impressed us with its wide open spaces and its abundance of trees. They have a policy of ‘no roads without trees’ and they also have a series of free commuter buses around the centre of town. While we were impressed with the greenery we were also wowed by the spectacle of the Petronas Towers and followed the advice not to go up the towers as the best view is outside looking up. We spent hours walking around KL enjoying the local sights and beautiful buildings. We also had a great morning at the bird park, almost no-one there and slightly cooler temperatures. KL was searingly hot in the afternoons and we were truly grateful for the aircon found in the local malls! No shopping, just cooling down.
From KL we went to the cooler climate of the Cameron Highlands, arriving on Good Friday. Our accommodation was about 200m from the Catholic Church so we wondered on down to check out the Easter service times only to find that a Good Friday liturgy had just started, so in we went. This rather lively liturgy involved 3 languages and lots of participation, well worth attending. After this we went down into the town for dinner, a meal eaten at sidewalk table when suddenly the two priests appeared by our table, they had noticed us at the service and wanted to say hello and welcome! How nice was that? We talked about our travels and discovered that they had a school for Burmese children and would we like to stay for a while and help? Think it over…..
SO after the Easter vigil we shared pizza and red wine with the priests. What can I say? We are Catholic so of course food and wine is shared! We decided to continue with our plans to go to Penang but after that we would come back and spend a week at the school, after all this is the year of ‘Yes’. While staying in Tanah Rata we also visited a tea plantation and the Mossy Forest. Well worth the visit but the narrow winding roads were full of tourists which bought its own special flavour! The Camerons seem to be the home of the Land Rover and they are here in abundance ranging (pun) from the very old to the very new.
Off to Georgetown, Penang we went. What a place! Beautiful old buildings, heavily influenced by the Chinese settlers. Georgetown has a surprise around every corner and we certainly walked our feet of while we were there. Our accommodation was in a heritage building and we had the best beds and the best showers since we left home! We also had some amazing food here. We spent one day on the Hop On Hop Off bus which was a great idea, we went up Penang Hill and rode out to the beaches. This is a beautiful place and we are so glad we visited. As in KL the temps were very high and tropical rain fell in the afternoons. When the locals talk about the heat you know it is hot!
From here it was back to the Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands, we spent a night at what is known as The Fathers’ House and then went out to the school where we stayed for a week. There are 15 children here, 4 girls and 11 boys who range in age from 4-13. They stay here all week as their parents work on near-by farms. These families are all refugees and the school, while being part of the Catholic Church, is also supported by the UNHR. The children are cared for by a young couple, Joseph and Mary (seriously) and a young teacher called Anna, they all live here as well so this teaching post is 24/7. These children are tough and tenacious, they are also healthy and happy. Mike and I spent the week working with four older boys helping them with their English. Local parishioners were very welcoming and one took us out to visit her vegetable farm. Another took us home one night for dinner with ten of the local parishioners. This area is intensively farmed and the steepness of the terrain seems to in no way hinder the desire to grow things. Sadly, there is lots of erosion around and this is an issue that will need to be addressed due to the high rainfall in this area. We are so glad we said yes to this experience. We will miss out on some other parts of Malaysia but we have thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Cameron Highlands.
From here we went caught a bus back to KL and then flew to Kuching in Sarawak. We came here for two reasons, one to see Lillian Law who I had met in Auckland and also to see the wild life. Kuching is a small city that is laid back and friendly. We had a fabulous trip to a cultural village visiting Long Houses and seeing a dance show, we walked around the old town and up and down alley ways and had a visit to the Orangatan park. Sadly only one of the orangatan came out to visit. Mike was philosophical but I was SERIOUSLY disappointed. Maybe we will just have to visit again. We shall do another post about Sarawak before we leave Malaysia, internet willing!
We leave Kuching on Friday for 2 days in KL and then on Monday April 27th we fly to the UK. South East Asia has given us some amazing experiences and will be hard to forget.