A Travellerspoint blog

Langkawi

8th July
This morning we headed to the airport for our 35 minute flight to Langkawi. It was either this or a 3 hour ferry trip and from what I read it could get pretty rough. So it didn’t take me long to make the decision to fly.
Langkawi is officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah. It is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia separated by the Straits of Malacca.. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border. By far the largest of the islands is Langkawi Island where we have headed. Langkawi is a duty-free island and spans about 25 km from north to south and slightly more from east to west. Two-thirds of the island is dominated by forest-covered mountains, hills and natural vegetation.
Upon arrival we made our way to the Villa Molek. It is situated in an area called Pantai Cenang which is on the south west part of the island. It is a lovely little resort, nice and quiet and not far from the main drag.
Once we settled in, we went for a walk up the main street and found somewhere nice to have dinner.

9th July
Today we arranged to go snorkelling at the Pulau Payar Marine Park. The Payar Island Marine Park is situated in the northern part of the Straits of Melacca 35 km south of Langkawi. It took us an hour by boat to get there. The marine park teems with a diversity of marine life and vegetation. Many endangered species of fish and marine organisms live within the sanctuary. Measuring 2 km long and 1/4 km wide, Payar Island is the most popular of the islands as its sheltered waters are ideal are for snorkelling.
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Upon arrival we were pretty keen to get snorkelling. So down to the beach we headed. (oops forgot to put on sunscreen).
Here is Nic snorkelling.
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The variety of fish and coral was amazing. Apparently the coral has undergone bleaching over the last few years and this has impacted on the colours, however we still found the variety of life under the sea amazing. We snorkelled for about an hour and a half and then stopped for lunch. Shane's underwater camera stopped working again. No more underwater Panasonic Lumix camera's for us. This is the second one to break whilst using it in the water. After lunch we went back for another hour or so. There were also lots of clams and sea urchins down there.
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We had a great day and headed back with another hours boat trip. It was not until we got home that we realised how burnt we had got. Shane’s back from bright red and the back of my legs were bright red. We should have known better but got caught up in the moment.
Upon our return we had a nice shower and headed up the drag to find somewhere for dinner. It was happy hour when we arrived so I could get cocktails for 10 ringott which is about $3.50. I had a few before happy hour finished. I decided to go more western this evening and I had a chicken satay pizza. Shane continued to eat Malaysian and had Udon Oxtail Soup which he said was really nice. Another great day.

10th July
Today we visited the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, this 100 square kilometre area in Langkawi is a nature reserve. The scenery was beautiful.
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We took a motor boat from the Kilim jetty. Our first stop was at a floating fish farm. There were various species of fish and some of them we were able to feed. Shane enjoyed feeding the stingrays. They got pretty excited.
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The boat ride then took us along the Kilim river with dense green mangroves on one side and gigantic limestone rocks on the other rising from the river bed. Some of these limestone rocks that look like mountains, were formed some 500 million years ago. There are 2 types of birds that we had come to see. One was the brown kite and the other was the white bellied sea eagle. There was a feeding frenzy and both types of bird arrived at one.
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We continued along the river where we saw a family of long tailed macaques. We had seen a lot of these monkeys seeing they are nick named Malaysia’s rabbits. The difference with these is that we got to see them swimming. They threw out some fruit into the river and they swam out to get it. I had no idea they could swim.
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There were also lots of mothers and babies that were really cute.
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We continued on through the mangroves to some narrow parts.
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On our journey through the mangroves, we saw lots of different creatures including:
Snakes
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monitor lizards
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Mudskippers
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and crabs
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We returned to the fish farm for lunch before heading back to the villa.
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It had been another day of fun and adventure.

11th July
Today is our last full day in Langkawi so we decided to have more of a look around the island today. There were a couple of places in particular that we wanted to visit. There were:
Eagle Square
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Dataran Lang, also known as Eagle Square, is one of Langkawi’s best known manmade attractions, a large sculpture of an eagle poised to take flight. A sight that greets visitors to the island via ferry, the 12 metre-tall statue is one of the island’s most instantly recognizable monuments.

Cable Car
The Cable Car is also known as the SkyCab. The total length is 2.2 km with a journey time from the base to the top of around 15 minutes. The gradient between the Base Station and the Middle Station is said to be the steepest in the world at 42°. It also has the longest free span for a mono-cable car at 950 m. As Nicola doesn't like heights much it was pretty daunting, but she did it.
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When we arrived at the base station there was a bit of cloud at the top but by the time we arrived at the top the cloud had thinned and gradually disappeared. There were 2 parts to the cable car. You got off to see the views at the middle base and then hopped back on it to get right to the top base. There is also a sky bridge at the top.
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After these 2 places we had read about an interactive 3d museum. It was so colourful, clever and lots of fun. Here are some of the pictures.
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After quite a full day we headed back to the villa for a swim and a nice relax.

Shane has put together one last video from the mangrove trip. So here it is.

Today we are flying to KL and then on to Adelaide so our trip is over. This is Shane and Nicola signing off for another trip.

Posted by shaneandnicola 04:03 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Penang

4th July – This morning we booked out of our hotel early as we had to take the trip back to KL to get our flight to Penang. Once again we had some rain on the way back to KL but again it was timely when it would not impact us.
The flight was 50 minutes from KL to Penang.

Penang is a state in Malaysia and is an island located on the northwest coast of Malaysia by the Strait of Malacca.
Penang is one of the most developed and economically important states in the country, as well as a thriving tourist destination. It has a highly diverse population in ethnicity, culture, language, and religion.(as we would find out). During World War II, Penang, then a British island garrison, suffered devastating aerial bombardments and finally fell to invading Japanese forces on 19 December 1941 as the British withdrew to Singapore. Penang under Japanese occupation was marked by widespread fear, hunger, and massacres which targeted the local Chinese population,.
Upon arrival we made our way to our hotel. As it was Saturday it took a while as a lot of people come over from the mainland on weekends. I selected a hotel in the historic part of Penang called Georgetown. Georgetown is the capital of the state of Penang and is named after Britain's King George III, George Town is located on the north-east corner of Penang Island.
The inner city of George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We settled into the hotel and Shane went for a swim. It is a lovely hotel I found when reading trip advisor. It is called Noordin Mews. Half a century ago, Noordin Street was home to Penangs famous Wembley Cinema which offered a diverse range of entertainment. The streets notorious dance halls and billiard parlours attracted throngs of Penangites each evening. The front of the hotel was a shophouse.
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5th July – This morning we decided to wander around Georgetown and see some of the historic sites. We started our day at Fort Cornwallis. Fort Cornwallis’ history dated back to the starting point when Sir Captain Francis Light from the British East India Company, first landed on the island with his crew in the year 1786. He was to take possession of the island from the Sultan of Kedah back then, to serve as a base or stop-over for the British company’s spice and silk trading route.

In order to protect the base from any foreign military forces, pirates and even Kedah itself, Francis Light decided to build a fort on the cape of the island’s north eastern coast, overlooking the sea -where he first set foot. The initial simple fort was made out of only ‘nibong’ palm trunks as stockades, without any concrete structures. Francis Light named the fort after the Governor General in Bengal at that time – Charles Cornwallis. The fort was only reinforced with bricks years later again by Francis Light but under a different Governor, designing it as a star-shape, covering approximately 418 square feet.
Francis Light was William Lights Father. Adelaide is the sister city to Penang so we have some connections with Penang.
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Whilst wandering around the fort we located the prison and there was someone there who looked identical to Shane.
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From the fort we could see the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. It is a 60 foot tower commemorating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It was built in 1902.
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The City Hall was completed in 1903 and looked really grand.
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We then moved onto the Town Hall. This was built for social functions and was declared open in 1880. It was restored in 2005.
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From the water front we headed along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. This is known as ‘The street of Harmony”. Part of what makes Penang unique is its established mixture of cultures and faiths. Penang’s 18th-century town planners drew together the town’s four main religions.
The bright white St George’s Church remains a lasting testimonial to Penang’s British colonial roots. It was built in 1816 and was the first Anglican church in Southeast Asia. The little building in front of the church is a memorial to Captain Francis Light, who founded Georgetown in 1786 under the auspices of the British East India Company. The church was an important focal point for the once-extensive British community.
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The Kapitan Keling Mosque appears above the rooftops to the west. Built by the Tamil Muslim community, it is named after Caudin Mydin Merican, who was the Kapitan Keling – literally, Captain of the South Indians – at the time. The building is a curious mix of styles, combining colonial architecture with traditional Moorish arches.
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Along with these 2 impressive buildings there are also Chinese Temples and Hindu Temples.
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After a long day we headed back to the hotel for our afternoon tea they provide. It was a lovely way to finish off the afternoon.

6th July – We headed out of Georgetown today to have a look around the island of Penang. It is only a fairly small island 24km x 13 km, but there was lots of contrast. On our way out of town we say the fanciest KFC outlet we have ever seen. They have taken over an old colonial house.
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There were lovely beaches at a place called Batu Ferringhi. It is only a 30 minute drive from Georgetown but a lot of tourists choose this area as their base.
We headed further on to a fishing township near the National Park.
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We stopped off a a batik factory and watched them making the batik by hand. This is a dying art as none of the younger generation are too interested in this when they can get jobs in IT.
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From there we headed into tropical fruit land. As we travelled around there were lots of Durian trees with fruit. They even have nets below the trees as they do not pick the fruit they wait for it to drop. The better fruit they even go up the trees and tie a string around it so when it drops off it just hangs there ready be lowered. It was quite funny seeing trees with lots of pink strings tied at the base. We stopped at a fruit stand to have a look around.
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So far we have 2 favourite tropical fruits. The Rambutan which is derived from the Malay language word for rambut or "hair" and is a reference to the numerous hairy protuberances of the fruit. The fruit is a round to oval. The leathery skin is reddish and covered with fleshy pliable spines, hence the name, which means 'hairs'. You remove the skin and inside is the flesh which is translucent and whitish. It is lovely.
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The other one is the Mangosteen. It looks a bit like a passionfruit but when you remove the outer skin it has segments like a citrus. We have bought these at the markets and stuffed our faces the last couple of evenings. Here is a picture so you can see what I mean.
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As we continued our journey we came across some traditional Malay houses. It is now cheaper to make them from bricks and concrete but this was still made of wood.
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We stopped to have a look at the bridge that goes from Penang across to Butterworth on the mainland. This bridge is about 13km long. They have just built a second bridge that is 24km long due to the volume of traffic.
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As we finished our trip around the island we visited the Taoist Chinese temple known as the Snake Temple. The Snake Temple has a variety of pit vipers. The temple was built about 1850 by a Buddhist monk. According to legend,he was also a healer and sometimes gave shelter to the snakes of jungle.
As you enter the temple the snakes are near the alter.
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Shane took the opportunity to have his photo taken with a viper on his head and a big python.
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We had a break for lunch and then visited Kek Lok Si Temple. This Buddhist temple is perched on a hill overlooking Georgetown and is massive. There are various tiers to the temple.
One of the areas is the turtle liberation pond. Releasing a captured turtle into this pond is an act of spiritual liberation as you are setting it free, If you feed them you are also helping them and it is meant to extend your life.
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We then wandered up the other levels.
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After our visit to the temple we headed for Penang Hill. Penang Hill is also known by the Malay name Bukit Bendera, which refers to Flagstaff Hill, the most developed peak. The hill stands out prominently from the lowlands as a hilly and forested area. It was used as a retreat during the British colonial period, and is now a popular tourist destination of Penang. The most convenient way up to Penang Hill is by means of the Penang Hill Railway, a funicular railway from Air Itam to the top of Flagstaff Hill. The 2,007 metres takes about 6 minutes to reach the top.
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The views from the top are amazing. On a good day you can see the bridge from Penang to Butterworth and also the Malaysian mainland. It was a bit hazy again today, but you can see the mainland.
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You can also see how big the Kek Lok Si Temple is too.
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We headed back to our hotel as it had been another full on day in the heat and humidty. We had another relaxing evening.

7th July – Happy Birthday Shane.
We decided to have a relaxing day today, so we had a sleep in and then relaxed around the hotel and pool catching up on some washing and photo editing. On our way out we had a chat to the friendly hotel staff and they wished Shane a happy birthday. We have really enjoyed staying here and the staff have been excellent. We headed out to a shopping mall that was not far from the hotel to have a wander around. I bought Shane a lovely handbag that I saw for his birthday. I needed a new one. Shane treated himself to a new pair of thongs. We had a lovely lunch once again chosing some local cuisine.
Upon return to the hotel we sat down to have our usual afternoon tea. To our surprise the girls bought out a birthday cake equivalent for Shane and a card signed by all the hotel staff. What a lovely thought. He even got a candle.
So the cake was made up of 5 longevity buns. Longevity buns are shaped into peaches and have lotus or red bean paste as the filling. Peaches are traditionally associated with long life and immortality.
Here are the buns.
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Shane with the girls
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Blowing out his candle.
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It ended up being a really relaxing day before we head off again for our final stop.

Posted by shaneandnicola 04:11 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Sepilok wildlife adventures

Hi everyone,
Here are some videos of our time at Sepilok.

The Proboscis Monkeys at their Sanctuary near Sepilok.

In 1994, while embarking on Oil Palm Plantation development near the mangrove swamps of the present sanctuary, the owner of the site came to know of the proboscis monkeys living there. He actually found out because his workers were coming home to their base each evening and their food was disappearing. After a few days of this occurring they kept watch to see who was stealing their food and to their amazement it was families of Proboscis Monkey's. Fascinated, he learned more about the monkeys and their predicament. Few people in their quest for commercial gain would have paid much attention to the plight of these monkeys in their struggle for survival. However, for this owner, although the 400 plus acres of mangrove forest were initially bought for commercial development, the plan was quickly dropped so that these monkeys could continue to survive there without fear of losing their natural habitat. As the sources of the food for these monkeys had much dwindled, efforts were made to supplement the monkeys’ diet with fruits and water daily to ensure the conservation of these animals.

The Orangutans at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was founded in 1964, to rehabilitate orphan orangutans. The site is 43 sq km of protected land at the edge of Kabili Sepilok Forest Reserve. Today around 60 to 80 orangutans are living free in the reserve. Today around 25 young orphaned orangutans are housed in the nurseries, in addition to those free in the reserve.

The Sun Bears at the Sun Bear Conservation Centre,

The little-known sun bear is the smallest bear species and the best tree climber. Their fondness for honey means they are sometimes named ‘honey bear’. Once found throughout Asia, from India to Vietnam and China to Borneo, their numbers have decreased dramatically.
The mission of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is to rescue them from pet owners and deforestation and promote their conservation to return sun bears to the forest. There are currently 36 rescued bears living at the BSBCC.

Posted by shaneandnicola 05:45 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Malacca AKA Melaka

2nd July – Today we said farewell to KL and headed south 144km to Malacca or Melaka as the Malaysians say. This historical city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7 July 2008.
Once we had settled in we decided to have a wander and get our bearings. Our hotel is right on the river so we took a walk along the river. The river was once dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’ by European seafarers. These days, it is a popular tourist attraction primarily because of the river cruise. The river spans a distance of ten km. It is said to be the birthplace of Malacca because the Sumatran prince Parameswara founded Malacca sultanate here and built his palace on the east-bank of the river (at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill) in the 1400s.
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We then made our way to Jonker Street. The Jonker Walk is the Chinatown street of Malacca. The road is filled with historical houses along its left and right sides dating back to 17th century.
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Off Jonker Street is the Kampung Kling Mosque. The original structure was built by Indian Muslim traders in 1748 and was a wooden building and in 1872, it was rebuilt in brick. The mosque is one of the traditional mosques in Malacca, which still retains its original design. The architectural design of the mosque is a cross between Sumatran, Chinese, Hindu, and the Malaccans. The mosque is named based on the place where Indian traders dwelled in that place called Kampung Kling. The minaret resembles a pagoda. The mosque also has a blend of English and Portuguese glazed tiles.
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At the end of Jonker Street we crossed the bridge to the Christ Church. This was built by the Dutch when they took possession of Malacca from the Portuguese, it's one of Malacca’s most defining structures. Christ Church was built in 1753 to celebrate a century of Dutch occupation. The interior of the cathedral has 200 year-old handmade pews, decorative fanlights and plaques that honour Dutch soldiers and locals.
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The church is located at Dutch Square. A central fountain dominates the area, it is an ornate Victorian marble addition, erected in 1904 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and is one of the oldest surviving parts of Malacca.
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This is also a point for the trishaw drivers to try and get fares. They play loud music and have really bright trishaws.
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3rd July – At around 5am we awoke to the loudest thunder we had heard in a long time. Then down came the rain. We have been really lucky with the weather so far this trip and once again by the time we left the hotel the rain had cleared. So we were back exploring Malacca today. We visited:
A’Famosa Fort - Built in 1511, the settlement used to sprawl across a whole hillside but now only a lone gate (Porta de Santiago) remains. It was originally constructed by Alfonso de Albuquerque (who led the Portuguese invasion on the Malacca Sultanate).
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St. Paul's Church is a historic church building that was originally built in 1521. It is located at the summit of St. Paul’s Hill. Inside the remains of the church there are still some of the original tomb stones.
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Proclamation of Independence Memorial – this was set up and officiated by the first and former Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj on 31August 1985, exactly 38 years after the country achieved its independence. Housed in the former Malacca Club building built in 1912, this British colonial building was then used by the British upper class and the British administrator for various social activities, before it was opened to the public after independence.
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We then headed down to the river to do a trip along the river so we could get a different perspective of the town. It was quite interesting seeing old buildings in the foreground and new buildings being built around the old part of town. Some of the bridges were really beautiful.
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We visited the ruins of the Malacca Fort. This was built in the 15th century and was a prominent landmark during the time of the Malay Sultanate. This was where the administrative complex and royal residences were located. The complex, guarded by armed warriors also housed the palace, mosque and sentry towers.
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Alongside the fort was an old waterwheel.
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We then headed back along Jonker Street for lunch and after lunch made our way to the Hang Jebat Mausoleum where Hang Jebat is buried. The actual age of the grave is unknown but it predates back to Portugese Malacca in 1511. He was a high-ranking Malay warrior during the rule of Sultan Mansor Shah.
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Posted by shaneandnicola 00:24 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Kinabatangan River creatures

I'm a bit behind Nicola with my video posts, but here is a short compilation of some of the animals we encountered on the Kinabatangan River in Borneo.

Posted by shaneandnicola 05:16 Archived in Malaysia Tagged borneo Comments (0)

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