Immediately on the heels of Kuala Lumpur these two days comprised our remaining two in Malaysia, a place which we have never previously visited but which we have loved. The different experiences of each of our three port visits emphasise its variation and its great value for money.
We were off the ship well before nine and got one of the first Cunard shuttles, which dropped us off at a shopping mall in the business centre of the town. We knew that there would be little open at this time but calculated, correctly, that we’d find somewhere with fast enough Wi Fi to download a fresh Google map, they having become the mainstay of our explorations. Sure enough we found a Starbuck’s. Rather guiltily, since we avoid the chain at home, we used their Wi Fi while enjoying excellent coffee. We may have to try them again in the UK.
We downloaded our map just in time as Starbucks began to fill with arrivals from subsequent shuttles and, as a consequence, the Wi-Fi all but slowed to a stop. As we left it was still before ten and shopkeepers were just beginning to open the shutters on their storefronts. We wandered along Penang Road, one of the main thoroughfares and soon found the main market, which, unlike the shops was already busy. It was very much a locals’ market albeit with one or two tourist stalls and we enjoyed a wander through it. I bought yet another T-shirt, this time depicting some attractive street art from Georgetown. It was about £3.
We liked Georgetown very much (with the exception, perhaps, of the mandatory skyscraper). Its full of pretty shopfronts, all rather more battered than the restored examples we saw in Singapore, but with a great deal of charm and in their original intended use, with families living above their businesses:
We wandered on toward the Little India area and gambled on buying a bit of old pewter. It was a gamble because it might, in reality, have been manufactured this week and carefully aged. But we didn’t think so – the shop seemed very respectable and long established – and it was very attractive anyway. We also bought an original and pretty watercolour of some of the Georgetown shopfronts. It was less than £20.
By this time it was incredibly hot and we began searching for a bar where we might have a cold drink, eventually finding the Kashmir Bar and Restaurant on a street corner at the top of Penang Street. Bravely, we sat outside, albeit in the shade, and were rewarded with a constant breeze as the wind blew around the street corner.
It was a great spot and with much to gaze at in the busy junction in front of us. I had Tiger beer and Jan some wine and we tried a couple of what proved to be excellent samosas. Later, we had half a tandoori chicken, which the owner claimed to be the best in Malaysia. He might be right. It was outstanding as were the additional samosas we enjoyed with more ice-cold beer. All in all it was a fantastic lunch and all for about £16.
We spent the afternoon meandering back to the ship on foot, pausing to look at one or two things, including a beautiful teashop. We were back on the ship by about three.
This is a stunningly beautiful place. This was the view as we opened our curtains this morning:
We had arranged an excursion which would drop us off for the day at one of Langkawi’s famed beaches. The coach was not leaving until 9.45 so we had a lazy start and enjoyed breakfast on the balcony:
The hotel was only a five-minute drive from the pier and we were there just after ten, which meant that most of us were able to get beds on the beach where there was lots of shade from both beach umbrellas and trees. It was lovely and the sea beautifully warm and with barely a ripple. The cost of spending the day here was very little, about £35 and for that we received vouchers for four complimentary drinks and a buffet lunch. Remarkable.
The hotel itself, The Holiday Villa, had seen better days, being a bit dated but it had two beautiful pools, one with a swim up bar as well as a private beach which is where we stayed all day. We decided to forego the buffet lunch, bridling somewhat at the call for us all to attend the dining room in a single group although, by all accounts, the food was very good. Instead we had lunch at the pretty beach bar:
Lunch was very modest: fried fish and chicken wings with chips and salad. But with a couple of drinks the cost was only £17. Malaysia provides astonishing value for money; food and drink, being, I would estimate, about half the cost in Thailand. That saving seems to apply to transport as well. We decided not to return on the coach with the other Cunarders and along with our table companions, Nick and Geraldine, got a taxi back to the ship at about five. That cost just 10 Ringits, about £1.90.
The end of three excellent days in Malaysia.