Our final thoughts are typically, at least in my opinion, fun and cute little snippets about our time in a country. This is not the typical “final thoughts.” Sorry in advance for the negativity…
- So…Malaysia…hmmm…to be frank, we really didn’t care for Malaysia and ultimately left sooner than planned. I think it is fair to say that Malaysia was our least favorite country so far. For a host of reasons.
- We may have judged Malaysia a little bit harshly and unfairly. We went round and round about whether to go to Malaysia or Indonesia and ultimately decided on Malaysia for two reasons: (1) flights in were cheaper and (2) we knew we had to get to Singapore for our flight to Sri Lanka. So, I spent quite a bit of time wondering if Indonesia would have been better. That said…
- The combination of food and drink was expensive. In most places, food was relatively cheap (if we ate at local places, which we prefer anyway) and alcohol bordered on prohibitively expensive. We can deal with that, but we missed having a glass of wine with dinner. On Langkawi, the alcohol was far cheaper (the entire island is a duty free zone) but the price of food was jacked up because the entire island is one big tourist zone. Granted, things were still cheaper than in the U.S., but after the prices we saw in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the food/drink prices here were a real shock to the system. In fact, one casual place in Georgetown was charging over $3 for a can of Sprite. (Note, Sprite/7-Up is available everywhere and costs about 60 cents at the 7-11 – this wasn’t a case of something being expensive because it was hard to get or something only tourists wanted).
- Hotels were also expensive and, for the same or more money we paid in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, we generally got far less. Think rooms barely big enough for a bed. Think rooms with no place to put luggage and no place to unpack. And I want to de-accredit (is that even a word?) the architecture school that turns out graduates who think it is acceptable to place a bathroom in the corner of an already too-small room and encase it in glass walls. Seriously? Who makes a bathroom out of glass walls? And, apparently, you get extra points if the glass door won’t shut all of the way. So much for privacy…
- Attractions/excursions were expensive, particularly in Langkawi. Starting prices for many things were far more expensive than U.S. prices. For example, Robert and I did a swamp tour in New Orleans for less than the starting price of a mangrove tour in Langkawi. The starting price for parasailing in Langkawi is far more expensive than parasailing in Key West. Same with sunset cruises. Presumably some of these prices could have been negotiated down, as we had read pretty much everything was negotiable, but we had no luck negotiating the price of a scooter – they wanted the same price per day for four days as for one day and didn’t budge even when we then only agreed to rent for one day. And, on our second to last night here when out walking around midnight (so too late to do anything about it since we were only here for one more day), we saw a bunch of lower prices – not sure if the price comes down as the day wears on or if the prices were coming down because low season is really here or what. The upshot was that we ultimately did only one of our “must-do’s” in Langkawi (the cable car) because we just couldn’t make ourselves pay the prices everyone was asking when we first arrived here.
- Robert would like to state for the record that the restaurants played far too much
BobJohn (duh) Denver. Then again, most days, one BobJohn Denver song is too many. And we would prefer to never hear the sounds of cool jazz ever again.
- I’m surprised we didn’t leave with fungal infections. It was so hot and humid; the hair at the nape of my neck was only dry in the middle of the night while sleeping. The minute we walked outside, regardless of the time of day, we broke into a sweat. Seriously, we would sweat just sitting on our patio, in the shade, reading a book.
- This is the only place I have ever been where a restaurant sat hard-core Muslims (I’m talking a woman in a full burka and her husband) behind a drapery. I’m not sure if the goal was to give the woman some privacy so she could eat without worrying about whether a man saw her face or whether the goal was to block out their sight of the infidels having a beer with dinner or to block out the man’s sight of the uncovered females in the restaurant. In any event, I wouldn’t have minded so much if the only air conditioner in the restaurant hadn’t been on their side of the curtain….
- We both miss pork (it was available in Georgetown, but we didn’t see any in Langkawi). I’m not even going to discuss “beef bacon.” Those two words do not belong together. And don’t get me started on “chicken ham.”
- I miss waiters and waitresses talking to me instead of asking Robert if he is ready to order. Seriously? While Robert might on occasion order for me (particularly if we are sharing everything), in no world does he decide what I am eating for dinner. And because he is polite and always lets me order first, he is getting tired of gesturing to me when the staff asks if he is ready to order.
- Langkawi stinks. Seriously, many days the island smells like an open sewer. Yuck.
- Kuala Lumpur needs a good architectural make-over. Everywhere we went, things had been built slightly “off” so one had to walk under staircases or doorways were too low or there was a random jut-out on the wall. I have to say, signs everywhere saying “mind your head” are no excuse for poor planning.
- It wasn’t all bad though. There were some aspects of Malaysia we really liked.
- The clouds here are absolutely beautiful. Big white puffy clouds. Dark, rolling storm clouds. It didn’t matter – nearly every day we stared at the clouds in awe.
- Watching the birds on Langkawi was pretty cool. We didn’t get to see a great hornbill, and only got a fleeting glimpse of smaller hornbills, but we saw a ton of eagles, a brilliant blue kingfisher and a ton of other birds.
- And the food. The food just about killed us. It didn’t matter where we ate – hawker stands or restaurants – the food in Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur was out of this world. (The food in Langkawi was ok, but nothing close to the amazing food in Georgetown).
- We loved the street art in Georgetown. It was so much fun to just wander down an alley and spot a cool painting on a wall.
- Plus, we had plenty of time to catch up on some of our favorite tv shows.