Thursday, September 25, 2014

quick notes on the Malaysia trip: Singapore-Kuala Lumpur-Penang-Langkawi-Singapore in 6 days

So M&D were here for a visit and we finally made that trip to Malaysia, alhamdulillah. I never thought I'd get the chance to vacation with them again post-wedding but so happy we were able to. And while I was really stressed about the whole trip, it turned out pretty decently. I mean I was afraid that in all the bookings I'd made I'd screw up or pull a Zari, but two train bookings, four flight bookings and three hotel bookings later, I did pretty well. Of course I kinda did badly selecting the Chulia Heritage Hotel in Georgetown. It had 'shared bathrooms' which means bathrooms were outside the room! Ugh. Bad decision but because the hotel was pretty clean, I think it was okay.

So quickly... some highlights

1. The confusion at Woodlands. Oh yeah, major confusion at this point. We pass immigration and everything and then realize instead of reaching the train platform, we're at the coach platform! Alhamdulillah for some smooth action by the officials. Next time must keep my eyes peeled for the signs. All the drama just because of one wrong turn.
2. In the train Sarah has a lot of fun playing with an older boy, perhaps 6 years old. They giggled, she couldn't talk to him much but kept making noises and shared her crayons and colouring book. When the family left, the boy's mother put 15 SGD in Sarah's hand!
3. We reach KL late in the night. I really could have done a better job selecting hotels for the whole trip. But everything was so last minute, now I know you really have to comb through reviews on TripAdvisor, especially the room tips. And never, ever go by the hearts on So we get off the train, and reach Little India (or one of the three Little Indias in KL) and search for 'My Hotel'. While we're searching, a helpful young man tells us, there are three My Hotels in this area, so why don't you go to the nearest one over there and find out which you're booked at. Didn't need that confusion after the drama at Woodlands. 
4. We go on a KL tour with some highly reviewed private tour at TripAdvisor. Pretty decent. Loved KL. Had expected it to look like SGP but wasn't. Much more beautiful.
5. Catch a train to Penang. Parents are like hyperparanoid at this point. Everything goes okay, we reach Butterworth early in the morning, and catch a ferry to the island. Beautiful ride with the sky still dark. Reach the hotel, no checkin until 2. Get down at a mosque and realize Sarah's stroller's still in the cab that just left. Baba and I track down the stroller. Whew. Get to check in early thanks to some nice staff member. Sleep. Wake up and go to Penang Hill via the funicular train. Just amazing! A straight steep climb by train! Come back, walk a bit around Georgetown and have dinner at Danish. Amazing again.
6. Next day we take the Penang Round Island tour with Tour Incentive. Great value for money. Beautiful trip and learn a lot about Malaysia. Many thanks to Mr. Chua. Eat at Danish again, had 3 meals there in total. Also had Nasi Kandar.
7. Catch the flight to Langkawi. Husband arrives. Reach Bayview. Major shock there as husband tells me of some $250 charge on his card that was with me. (Now we know it was only an earlier transaction and the message was late). We go to Pantai Cenang beach after a visit to Geopark (awesome and awesome!). Husband urges me to parasail. I want to but am chickening out. Tell Baba to do it and he agrees. I go next. Ah, just unforgettable. Felt like a bird, buffeted by the wind over a beautiful blue-green sea. Sigh. It was so beautiful. Dinner at the nearby Thai restaurant. Great food.
8. Langkawi cable car. Huge lines that make everyone extremely pissed off. If you plan to go, DO NOT go late in the day, go early and get in the line asap. We wasted some time having Sarah feed rabbits. The ride was amazing though. We went up really, really high and it was actually scary to look down. Just like the funicular train, the pressure at that altitude made our ears pop? click? Whatever, too sleepy to think right now. Came back and husband left for airport. After some chai, we went to another beach finally with a driver who could speak English. Dinner again at the Thai restaurant -- amazing food!
9. Flight back to Singapore.

I hate that I'm not writing about Sarah. It's so much fun to be around her , most of the time. Some of the English words she's picked up since joining playschool on August 1st: no moar!, gothere, Lookathis, Whatisthisth, justaminit. All her classmates and teachers call her Serah, you know like the Christian pronunciation. Not bothered though, they're both the same person, just  different pronunciation. She loves going to school alhamdulillah and her enthusiasm is really appreciated by the teachers, alhamdulillah again. She's obsessed with rhymes so it's no wonder she enjoys going to school. Okay, I have a test tomorrow and I can't write anymore.