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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.
 

Yours laterally,
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. 

Picture of 1-01. Hotel Overview 1

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.


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