ASIA 2007 - Thailand | Nepal | Cambodia | Malaysia

We were greeted with “Visit Malaysia 2007 - Celebrating 50 years of Nationhood” banners at the airport and they were all over the country. This is obviously a very big deal for Malaysia but unfortunately this was our least favorite country of the trip.


The country was okay but it just didn’t captivate us like the other countries. The people were nice but not really outgoing like those in Thailand, Nepal, and Cambodia. It didn’t have the WOW factor that the other countries offered and the prices were quite a bit higher.

  If this had been the only country we visited we probably would have liked it more but if we had it to do over again we probably would either skip the Malaysia Peninsula altogether or just go straight away to Langkawi Island. Langkawi was great but more about that later.

Like the previous 3 countries we arrived without any prearranged travel plans but unlike the other countries we found Malaysia laboriously difficult to find a suitable travel option. The truth is, we never did. We simply settled on the least bad option. We hired a car and driver from Marine Discovery Holidays. Don’t use this company! The owner was exceptionally rude, the agent unresponsive, and the driver was, well, a real odd person. In all of our nearly 30 years of traveling this is only the second company that we have publicly stated DO NOT USE their services.

  In Malaysia we paid about twice what we paid in Thailand and Nepal and four times as much as in Cambodia for a car and driver. We were unceremoniously whisked out of the airport and driven into Kula Lumpur (which is NOT where we wanted to go) and checked into a flea bag hotel booked by Marine Discovery Holidays. The only positive about the hotel was that it had a good view of the city and the twin towers.

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The next morning we departed the city going north following the west coast. We soon found this part of Malaysia rather boring (we would have preferred to be on the east coast which is suppose to have the better beaches but the weather wasn’t cooperative). Our first stop was Kuala Selangor National Park. It was “okay” but nothing special. The one troop of sliver leaf monkeys that we saw was interesting but the park was otherwise unmemorable.

We continued further up the coast and found this region to be unchanging. No views or access to the Andaman Sea and just mile after mile of palm oil tree plantations. We wanted a change, something different, and so we wound up in the Cameron Highlands. We really enjoyed our time here. The mountains were beautiful, the views from the road delightful. It was pleasant break from the hot humid temperatures along the coast. It was in fact down right chilly.

The next morning we toured the Boh tea factory and found the tea to be wonderful. We bought lots to bring home but somewhere along our travels we misplaced every bit of it. The tea plantation its self is strikingly beautiful.

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We continued up the coast to Ipoh and stopping at Kellie’s Castle along the way. My lack of photographs pretty much states my lack of enthusiasms for what we saw. Geeze, the charcoal factory was one of the highlights of the coast. What does that say about this part of the country?

While heading towards Taiping we stopped at Ubundiah Mosque and found it to be beautiful and the people very friendly. Unfortunately, we were still left wanting more.

  Our driver didn’t pay any attention to our wants and needs, the company agent would not respond to our phone calls, and the country just wasn’t turning out to be what we’d hoped. It was time to call it quits! I finally made the decision and I told the driver to skip the rest of the “planned” trip and just take us straight away to Alor Setar. There we cut our tour short and said goodbye to Marine Discovery Holidays. The next morning we left the mainland and caught the ferry to Langkawi Island.
  That was the best decision made since landing in Malaysia. Langkawi turned out to be wonderful. However we had one final unpleasant experience. While catching the ferry to go to the island a Moslem man approached me and asked where I was from. I told him America. He then asked in a rather rude harsh tone, “Are you a Jew?” Even though I’m not that didn’t stop him from a constant barrage of statements that clearly showed that he was very anti-America. I didn’t really feel physically threatened but it was a very unpleasant experience none the less. This was an isolated event and the other Malaysians treated us well.

Finally something really good! Langkawi Island was the very best experience of our whole stay in Malaysia. It has beautiful beaches, great food, and it has an interesting mixture of things to see and do plus the people are nice. It’s almost like the island had a completely different mind set than what we’d experienced on the mainland.

We rented a car from Mahamas Travel & Tours at the ferry dock and self drove during our 4 day stay. The rental company allowed us to drop the off at the airport, when leaving, rather than the ferry dock without any extra fees. The island has less traffic than the mainland and I found driving to be quite easy.


Our first night we stayed at the Aseaian because we were unable to get into the Sunset Beach Resort until the next day. The Aseaian was okay but the Sunset Beach Resort was GREAT! It has very comfortable rooms surrounded with beautifully landscaped gardens, on a nice beach, and a very helpful and friendly staff.

Sis and I took a private boat cruise leaving out of Tanjung Rhu that made a big loop trip through the mangroves, where we watched the eagles feed on the fish thrown in by the boat driver, explored the bat cave, and then back to Tanjung Rhu via a coastal route.


Large monitor lizard climbing up onshore.

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Underwater World Langkawi was a fun experience. It’s a large aquarium and more. It cost 38 RM (~$12 USD) and was a nice way to spend the afternoon when the temperatures outside were at their hottest.

  The crocodile farm was a real hoot. They put on a great show and is well worth the 25 RM (~$8 USD). There are only two shows daily (11:15 AM and 12:45 PM) and they feed the crocodiles just before the first show that’s also entertaining. So show up a little early.
  The Langkawi cable car is definitely worth seeing. It goes from nearly sea level to the highest point on the island giving you beautiful panorama views. A short walkway takes you down to a very a sturdy suspension bridge to nowhere. It’s an odd deadened structure but beautiful.

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  Patti opted for more time in and on the water. She took a full day of snorkeling and a half day of island hopping to 4 islands.

It’s unfair to judge the part of Malaysia that we didn’t see but if I travel back to this part of the world I’d go straight away to Langkawi and avoid the Malaysia Peninsula all together. I’d still like to visit Eastern Malaysia some day but from what we saw, in my opinion, Thailand is a far better travel destination that is more diverse, interesting, beautiful, friendly and far less expensive.


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Last Revised: December 15, 2007