Because I've always wanted to...
Having just returned from Brazil, it is over to Steve this month
for a lateral review of Malaysia, one of South East Asia's most
diverse and fascinating countries. You will hear more from me
and my travels later in the year and in the meantime, here's hoping
for an Indian summer as we approach Autumn.
Nick Matthews, LateralLife London, UK.
As the saying goes, Malaysia really is 'truly Asia'. Chinese,
South-East Asian and Indian influences (with a little colonial
charm thrown in for historical measure) blend harmoniously to offer
visitors a wonderful blend of architecture, cuisine and culture.
Our recent visit took us all over the peninsula and over to Sabah
and Sarawak - the two states in Malaysian Borneo. The climate is
tropical with temperatures varying little and rain falling
throughout the year. Travel is best during the summer months of
May-September. During this time, the West Coast receives short
afternoon downpours and the East Coast and Borneo will experience
less rainfall. Kuala Lumpur is a shoppers paradise with nearby
Malacca offering some of the best Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine - a
combination of Malay and Chinese. Little visited Ipoh and Taiping
take you off the beaten path for some cultural & historical
enrichment and Langkawi provides an easily accessible beach
retreat. In Borneo you'll find tribal villages, ancient railways,
hidden island resorts and incredible wildlife with orang-utans,
proboscis monkeys, pygmy elephants and sun bears, to name a few.
Our sample Malaysia itinerary takes you all over the country ending
with a few days on the beautiful East Coast.
Malacca is an ideal starting point and introduction to
Malaysia with the Majestic hotel located on the banks of the river
which in yesteryear teemed with Chinese junks and spice-laden
vessels from all over the world. From here you can walk around the
historic city centre, take a boat trip along the river, walk the
famous Jonker's Walk street-food stalls and dine on Peranakan
cuisine whilst learning about the colonial empire and Malacca's
colourful history. The original serene mansion dating back to the
1920s, remains at the heart of the hotel, whilst a new building has
been created, mirroring the original style and traditional feel to
house 54 spacious rooms and suites
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is nestled in a 16 acre
valley, cradled by 260 million year old limestone hills, lush
rainforest, rejuvenating geothermal hot springs, natural caves and
cascading waterfalls. Sumptuous Garden and Water villas, a lavish
Spa and Wellness Centre and a host of retreat experiences combine
for ultimate seclusion. Also of note is Jeff's Cellar, the owner's
wine collection and bar set within a limestone cave. Banajaran is a
luxurious base for exploring Ipoh & Taiping which were
prominent cities under British rule due to the boom in tin mining.
Take a hair-raising drive by post-war Land Rover up to the cooler
climes of Bukit Larut, formerly called Maxwell Hill.
Nestled on the riverbank, in Sabah's largest
protected lowland rainforest in the Danum Valley, Borneo Rainforest
Lodge is the most exclusive accommodation in Malaysian Borneo. This
pristine rainforest is home to more than 340 bird species, 124
different mammals, 72 types of reptile, 56 species of Amphibians
and a staggering 200 species of plants per hectare. Stays of 3
nights or more are suggested to take full advantage of experiencing
the canopy walkways, rainforest and nature trails and waterfall
viewpoints, bird-watching, safari night-drives, swimming in natural
Jacuzzi pools and river tubing.
Japamala is located in a private setting on
Tioman Island which is only accessible by speedboat. The 15
'Sarangs' (rooms) create a small, intimate atmosphere, ideal for
couples and honeymooners but also for families who prefer a more
low-key beach retreat with lodging in the two bedroom Penghulu
House. By day, relax on the beach or by the pool or head out on a
snorkelling or diving trip or a jungle hike. At night, dine over
the water at Mandi Mandi which stands on stilts built 100 metres
from the beach.