Our Borneo and Malaysia specialist, Chloe met her parents in Malaysia and Borneo to spend three weeks visiting her favourite foodie destinations and authentic experiences. Check out the summary and highlights of her trip below, but warning – this contains mouth watering food shots and beautiful scenery!
A Wonderful Reunion!
Following a minor flight delay and lots of hugs to make up for the 1 and half years of not seeing each other, my parents and I were picked up and driven along the modern highways towards the historical Malacca where our Malaysia journey begun. Walking into the gorgeous hotel’s reception which smelt of Jasmine, the friendly staff greeted us and made us feel comfortable after our long journeys. The three of us were excited about the adventure that was about to begin.
First Stop – Malacca – A Warm Welcome on Wheels
Our stay in Malacca involved a tour with a local guide around the local villages and countryside, enjoying an ice cold beverage along the scenic river, and trying all weird and wonderful street food on the night market along Jonker Street. There was a particular cafe that our hotel staff recommended us called Nancy’s Kitchen, on a street located just off Jonker Street – which had a queue outside – it was obviously a popular place! We tried warm, soft spring rolls, ‘top hat’ (or pai tee), nyonya laksa, mixed veg (nyonya chap chai) and pork rib cooked in an aromatic sauce (bak buah keluak).
The cycling trip was fab too – it was lovely to get out of the city centre, and our guide was so knowledgeable and passionate about the area.
Food Highlights and Central Markets
A short bus journey took us to the capital of Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur. I had been a few times before so was able to show my parents around the highlights and our hotel was fantastic. It’s located right in the centre of Bukit Bintang behind the famous Jalan Alor – aka Food Street. Perched on stools on the busy street, we enjoyed stir fried shellfish, Chinese vegetables and incredible chicken wings that were slowly rotated over a hot BBQ. I also took them to the Central Market in China Town, which is perfect for picking up cheap, quality souvenirs, and the food court upstairs is very good too!
Culinary Delights, Lakes and Turtles
Next stop was Ipoh – which we took a comfortable train journey from the station near China Town and picked up a taxi on arrival that took us straight to our hotel. Ipoh is renowned for its tasty cuisine, colonial buildings and street art, and our guide Mr Raja certainly knew his way around.
After our scheduled tour he took us out to giant Buddha caves and fresh water lakes on the outskirts of Ipoh where there were lazy fresh water turtles in the lake, along with giant monitor lizards cooling off from the sun.
Green Tea Fields and Nature Walks
Rolling green tea fields, strawberry plantations and Colonial hotels are what you would expect to see in the Cameron Highlands. Our bus arrived in the evening, and the whole area was lit up with poly-tunnel lights – but it was actually rather beautiful!
After a delicious breakfast and a cup of tea while looking out over the hills, our guide drove us through the tea plantations and explained the history of tea production in the area. Another short drive to the top bought us to the mossy forest of Gunung Brinchang – at the highest point in the Cameron Highlands!
It was very interesting and beautiful. The tour finished up at the BOH tea plantation factory where the machines were working away processing the tea.
Food Capital of South East Asia
Penang was to follow, and our hotel was booked in Georgetown – also known as South East Asia’s food capital. Just a short walk from the bus station and we were greeted with air conditioning, friendly staff and a swimming pool – bliss.
The following day was spent on a cycling trip trying local delicacies and learning about the fascinating history – you can read more about this amazing experience on my recent Penang blog post. I absolutely love Georgetown, there are street food vendors on every corner, plenty of unique graffiti and the people are extremely friendly. I wish we had spent more than 2 nights there, but we ran out of time!
A cosy flight landed us safely in Kuching – the capital of Sarawak. During our stay here a minivan took us to the Semenggoh Orangutan Centre where Orangutans are rescued and rehabilitated before heading back into the wild. You can view them twice a day when they return from the wild when they are provided food by the rangers and during our visit we were lucky to see three baby Orangutans with their Mothers, as well as the great great Grandparents!
Our favourite spot in Kuching to eat was a tricky choice as there were so many – particularly around Carpenter Street which is the China Town area of the city. Sarawak Laksa was definitely a firm favourite, it’s a coconut broth packed with spices, glass noodles, bean sprouts, chicken and prawns, as well as Mee Kolok – a noodle dish that is tossed with soy and lard and topped with char siew pork – amazing. Our favourite bar was the Drunken Monkey, it had a quirky garden and very friendly staff!
Once in a lifetime experience!
One of the most memorable parts of our trip was definitely our long house stay where we stayed with the chief in his home, located up the windy rivers of the Batang Ai Reservoir.
You can read my full experience on my previous blog post, but our 3 days were spent learning about their indigenous history, eating homemade tasty food with ingredients that were bought from the market, and trekking through the gorgeous jungle in search of wild Orangutans. Our hosts were extremely friendly, and we didn’t want to leave!
Sunsets and Tropical Fish
No trip is complete without at least 3 nights at a beach at the end of your adventure to relax. Luckily, I had booked us 4, and my parents and I were very grateful.
Tioman Island was my island of choice, and my parents soon understood why. Arriving on the island, our first stop was to enjoy some snacks and watch the magical sunset, and our days were spent relaxing on the beach and snorkelling to hidden reefs off the shore to spot colourful coral and fish.