More Kuala Lumpur

I was originally going to visit the famous Batu caves temple on Sunday which is a Hindu holiday called Thaipusam. There is a big celebration that starts somewhere in Kuala Lumpur then a parade of people, estimated to be multi-millions of people, walk 13 km to the temple at Batu Caves. There are many things going on and chariots are carried up the colorful stairs. I have anxiety about crowds on a good day but I still feel under the weather. I decide it is a good idea to skip this celebration and visit another day.

Another day

It’s raining. I am supposed to go to Batu but don’t feel good and dont feel like dealing with the rain today. I decide to rest and then make myself do laundry instead. I get dinner and then walk around a bit. I see the lively Jalon Alor as it wakes up. It is supposed to be a great place to go get food at night. Wandering around there is one street I call massage row. As I walk by dozens of ladies ask me if I want a massage. For the first time in a while I don’t. I walk past an area where there is a bunch of bar restaurants. I think about getting a cocktail but I still don’t feel 100% so I forgo and call it an early night.

Batu caves last chance.

I have one last chance to visit the Batu Caves and temple. Luckily I don’t feel as terrible as I had previously. I was going to take the train but the train would take me over an hour and I had to switch lines whereas grab was less than 30 minutes. Grabs being so affordable it was a no brainer. I get there a little after 8 am. The crowds are thin. It is finally not raining but it is humid. I take some pictures out front before I get all sweaty. I ask a lady to help me with a photo, in return she wants to take a photo with me – the weird looking giant (I’m 5’3). I start up the stairs. I am sweating for sure but I am not as tired as I thought I would be. Either the steps are not as bad as I thought they were or my traveling stamina is kicking in. There are monkeys everywhere. They find food where they can. There was a large Hindu celebration two days ago and not much of the mess has been cleaned up; or maybe it has but there is still so much left. The monkeys pick through the garbage to see what meal they can make of it. There are piles of sandals everywhere. There are temples below and two more temples at the top. Chickens roam the place. Once I get inside the top is open like an open air cave. You can hear the birds fly above as well as the chickens below. People walk into the temples to get blessings. Some carry bowls up the stairs which I believe are milk. I think about how crazy crowded this place must have been just a couple days ago.

After my visit I walk to the nearby train station. I am told that the next train isn’t for two hours. This is obviously a commuter rail system and not a regular metro or subway system. There is nothing to do in the area so I don’t want to wait for two hours. I call grab. It is so cheap it again is a no-brainer. I ask to be dropped off at the Islamic Arts Museum. I want some culture … and air conditioning.

The Islamic Arts Museum is a good visit. One exhibit talks about the history of mosque architectures and the differences in the different countries of Islamic peoples. There are good dioramas displayed. There are various old Quran books on display. There are some other books and inventions used by people of Islam. Finally there is a large exhibit dedicated to this one type of sword. Weapons are’t really an interest of mine but I do spend some time here getting educated on it all.

After my visit to the museum I walk by the mosque nearby and other interesting buildings as I head back toward my hotel. There is also a market I walk through.

It’s time to eat so I seek out the other place on my radar to try, Lai Foong LaLa Noodles and their spicy clam soup (LaLa Noodles). It is very good.

In the building that houses that cool bookstore I noticed a weird ice cream shop. Today I am in the mood to try some. I get some cheesy boozy ice cream as dessert.

That pretty much finishes off my visit to Kuala Lumpur. I didn’t see all there is to see but I did a good amount considering I felt pretty bad most of my time here. This is also a good example why I always try to schedule extra down days while I am traveling. You never know when an illness or transportation or whatever is going to take you down. Having padding in the schedule relieves some stress of it all. I need to remember to keep doing it.

Tomorrow I head to Bali where I am spending a couple weeks. I again have a little anxiety about the vaccine entry requirements. The websites say I need to download this app and upload my proof of vaccine ahead of time but the feature to upload the proof has been down for maintenance for over a week. I guess we will see what happens when I get to Bali.

Arrived in Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur at night

After a late morning breakfast I take a bus to Kuala Lumpur from Melaka. It is approximately a 2 hour ride. I have a food tour booked this evening at 5:30 PM so I hope I gave myself enough time to check into my hotel, rest and get to the meet up point. I am not feeling the best. My sinuses are acting up but I decide to power through the evening.


My hotel is nice and new. The only problem is the plug is hidden in this compartment that doesn’t quite fit my adapter. I have to call the front desk for assistance and after 20 minutes we finally figure it out and I am finally able to plug in my gadgets, albeit awkwardly.

Chow Kit Food tour

I don’t feel great but I force myself out to the food tour. Doing a food tour first thing always gives me more confidence when I am out eating on my own.

We first stop at the market where we get to try some fruits. Many I have tried before but I am always happy to try them again.

We next stop for some roti and noodles. Some of the bread is filled with egg and accompanied by different sauces. We each get our try to make our own bread. It is harder than it looks so I leave it to the expert.

I learn about torch ginger which is an ingredient in many Malaysian dishes.

And we are to have cendol which I will not complain about. The guide uses this as an opportunity to get the group to try the durian. I am hesitant but partake anyway. It gets easier to handle each time I try it.

We stop next to get a Geeget burger. It is a beef burger that is halal and distributed to vendors who use interesting toppings.

We then try three different laksas (noodle soup). We are warned about the increasingly spicy of the choices but I find myself loving all of them and one of the spicier ones being my favorite. Have I developed a liking for spicy foods again?

I finally get to try Ikan Bakar (grilled fish). It is another dish I have been wanting to try but been too scared to order. This is a tasty mackerel.

My tour guide takes us to the last remaining village in the city. He doesn’t think it will be here long because it is getting forced out by new development. It is intact for now but the surrounding areas are all filled with luxury developments.

We try some satay. It is good but I feel myself start to get uncomfortably full so its hard to eat. We also try this fish paste in a banana leaf. I am not a fan.

Finally we try Nasi Lemak – fried chicken, rice, and sambal in a pandan leaf. I am excited about this because its been on my list. It is very good. We also have a mango shake and a dessert to finish it off. Everyone is very full after this so we take a walk and have a great view of the city.

Trying to figure out the buses

I still do not know the way around the city yet since I just arrived. I’m pretty tired but I brave taking the free bus back to my neighborhood with a couple who were also on the tour. I don’t know where it will stop but its got to be a shorter walk than if I walked from where I am at ~ 45 minutes. I watch on google maps as we travel. It seems to be going in the correct direction then makes a turn away from where I want to be. I get off at the next stop with an anticipated 10 minute walk. The area I am in is very lively and crowded and I still don’t know where I am going. It takes me about 20 minutes to find my hotel but I eventually get to where I need to be. The area I am in sort of reminds me of a mini-times square. There are street performers and crowds. I am exhausted but try to have my wits about me because if there is an area to be pick pocketed, this is it. Maybe I’ll return when I have a ounce of energy.

The next morning I still feel like garbage. There is no coughing and no fever. Just this lingering sinus issue. I take some meds, get a quick breakfast from downstairs and decide that my grand plans for today are definitely not happening. I force myself out after around noon to visit some temples and get lunch.

That’s a tall thing in the middle of nothing.

I visit the highy recommended Mee Tarik Restoran to try the beef ramen. They hand pull all their noodles locally. My visit didn’t start well. Line is very long but seems to move pretty quickly and when it comes time for me to be seating they keep passing me by and seating people in line behind me. Eventually I get directed inside where there are no empty tables but as soon as one opens up they put another party there. I make a big deal about being passed up again and eventually they tell me to sit at this round table with four other girls who don’t seem to mind. As a solo traveler you are often overlooked even sometimes seen as a nuisance. It can be annoying at times.

The beef ramen is good but I find myself jealous of the girl at the table who ordered the braised beef ramen. That looks really good. If I return I will get that and an order of dumplings.

I walk around Chinatown a bit, visit a temple, and find a cute bookstore made from a repurposed theatre. I also see a couple more Chinese new year dragon performances.

Some hidden artwork pictures such as this Yayoi Kusama portrait.

My energy does not last though. Though I have no fever I am visibly sweating more than everyone else and just overall feel run down. I might be legit sick. Back to the hotel to rest. Hopefully a little rest now will keep me from being out multiple days of travel.


Malacca River

Today I am visiting the city of Melaka (or Malacca is English spelling). It is a must see on the tour of Malaysia since it is so rich with history and has a large Dutch influence on its architecture. It is south of Kuala Lumpur and not too far from Singapore.

Luckily my calf issue seems to be on the mend and today is a travel day. I’d hate to lose a day of being out and about due to an injury. I already missed out on the hike yesterday.

It’s a very curvy first half of ride from Cameron Highlands. I forget to take my motion sickness medicine until the bus starts moving so at the start I feel queasy. Luckily it doesn’t take long for my medicine to kick in.

I waited until the last minute to book my transportation within Malaysia because typically with bus tickets you can get them a couple days or the day of travel. I don’t think it is a big concern to travel from Cameron Highlands to Melaka in my initial planning. When I finally go to book my ticket I realize there are no direct buses. I do a little bit of last minute research and I try to use the website that I used to get to the Cameron Highlands but it would not route me to Melaka even with a transfer. I see that there are buses direct from KLIA to Melaka, which is the international airport in Kuala Lumpur and then I realize they are buses from Cameron highlands to KLIA. I buy one ticket to the airport, making sure I have enough time in between the buses, and then book my ticket to the second bus separately. On my first bus to the airport there are multiple stops which is common. It isn’t until after the first stop that people in the front of the bus started acting a little strange and asking questions but I can’t quite hear what they were talking about. I think to myself it probably a good idea to stay alert. When we get to the second stop it’s at a station called TBS, which is also a Kuala Lumpur and the major bus station. The driver makes it known that this is the last stop. I get off the bus and I’m confused because my ticket says KLIA and there’s nothing that says a transfer in the ticket. I ask the driver and he tells me to follow him up the escalator. I’m waiting there because there’s two other guys that are confused and he’s helping them but in another language. He finally hands me a ticket for a transfer to another bus which leaves at 1:30 which is in about an hour from now. I go inside the station and I realize that this is a major bus station and maybe I could just book my bus to Melaka direct from here. The ticket counter lines are long but I see a self service machine. I book a ticket for the same time that I am to catch my transfer to KLIA. Why am I going to the airport to transfer when I can ride direct from here? So here I am waiting for my direct bus to Melaka.

First thing after checking into my hotel is to get something to eat. I’ve only been eating snack food all day. I settle on a Pernakan restaurant called Kocik Heritage Nyonya Restaurant. I walk in and there is no hostess. I looked confused and two nice men who are dining tell me I can sit anywhere. Eventually a waitress appears and I order a couple Peranakan dishes that look appetizing. I can’t possibly finish it all as a single diner but I want to sample a couple things. While I am waiting for my meal I have a nice chat with the men who are just in town for the weekend from Kuala Lumpur. One is a doctor I believe. My visit to this city is already off to a great start with meeting such friendly people. All the food is amazing. I drink the fish curry sauce like it’s a soup because it’s so good.

I wander around Melaka and decide to take a cruise on the river close to sunset. We just go up the river and back. You can tell at one time this boat had many stops and people could get on and off at different locations. Probably another casualty of covid. Like the other cities I’ve been many business that cater to tourists have been permanently closed.

I decide to get roti canai for breakfast the next morning down the street but first a stop at the ATM. It gives me a 20RM instead of one of my 50’s. Basically shorting me the equivalent of 7USD. Not excited about this but the bank isn’t even open yet so I’ll have to deal with it later. I head over to Selvam Restaurant, an Indian restaurant. I order roti canai, a fried egg and a coffee without sugar (finally!). It seems like eating roti canai for breakfast is common so I am not doing something out of the ordinary for once. When my bread comes out the waiter gives me a metal canister with three different sauces for dipping. I am used to only one type in the USA so I am curious. I can tell he is leading me to the milder sauce but I want to try them all so I put all of them on my pate. The milder one, while good is watery. I prefer the other two: one slightly spicer curry that is thick and a white sauce that tastes like cucumber maybe and is slightly spicier than that. None of them is too spicy for me or my taste buds are toughing up.

I planned to go see the pretty mosque this morning but its pretty far out and I don’t feel like walking that far or taking a grab this morning so I stay local. I head over to the old Portuguese church on the hill, Church of Saint Paul. It is the oldest church in Southeast Asia. It’s been used by different Christian colonizers over the years but now it is roofless and hollowed out and holds some old very large tombstones.

I walk down stairs to the A Famousa, an old gate to the Portuguese city. It is all that is left from that wall that the British detonated at some time to prevent it to be taken over by Napoleon’s France. Wow just reading this stuff reminds me how lacking our US education system is. I never heard of this important city that I describe as “Melaka is to Malaysian kids what Saint Augustine is to the Florida kids”. Basically every kid here does a field trip to the town to learn its important history.

I start to begin my day of eating with a pineapple cookie and some sightseeing while I wait for this cafe to open.

I’ve been wanting to visit this highly recommended cafe called the Daily Fix. I get there early so there is no wait. It is very cute inside. I try some Gula Melaka coffee (palm sugar coffee a local specialty) and pandan pancakes. While the pancakes are good I hardly taste the pandan so there is a little disappointment there (I’m addicted.).

Baba and Nyonya museum.

I visit the Baba and Nyonya museum. The museum is in a Peranakan house that was in use by many generations. It is a good example on how life was like during the times. There is no tour guide but they provide a good guide in English that describes the rooms and life. I love the present day family photos of all the different generations.

I visit an old shoemaker that has foot binding shoes on display. He wants me to buy some binding shoes. What the heck am I going to do with these little shoes. I say no thank you and carry on.

The big news is that I tried durian again. I read that one of the local favorites is Cendol Durian ice cream. I get some courage and order it. It is actually not bad. The durian fruit is whole in the dish but when mixed with ice cream it isn’t too terrible. Maybe it is growing on me.

I finally try Putu Piring after being unsuccessful in Singapore. It’s an ok snack but they give you a very large portion for the price. I could only eat a little of it.

I am here on the weekend so I get to visit the famous Jonker Street night market. There are many stands to buy various things and a large food area. Of course I’m too full from my eating spree earlier to want to eat anything.

I am leaving soon. Not one of my proudest moments but I complained about my neighbors smoking this morning. Last night when I came back from being out my entire room smelled like cigarette smoke. It was gross. I thought about complaining then but the smell seemed to dissipate with time. When I was ready to go to sleep I heard noise from my neighbors and once again the smoke smell. I thought about once again getting dressed and going down to complain but I fell asleep anyway. I am not sure how since the smell is disgusting. After breakfast this morning I smell it again. Yes I am packing to leave in two hours but I’ve had enough. I finally complain. Besides being against hotel rules (I don’t really care about that) it is hella inconsiderate to your neighbors. So I am that person that complains about others now.

Besides the smoke I think the moisture in the air the past few days, and high sugar diet, are causing me to get some sort of sinus thing. I hope I can beat whatever this is quickly.

Now I’m off to Kuala Lumpur to hopefully a non-smoking, hot water, good WiFi hotel.

Cameron Highlands

Cameron Highlands

It is interesting to see how much easier it is to plan travel in advance these days, in fact it is almost required because things sell out ahead of time so many times. When I first started traveling internationally I had a plane ticket and a guide book. When I arrived somewhere I would find whatever housing was available (hostel or whatnot) and plan all my day tours last minute. There is so much FOMO now (fear of missing out) and international travel is popular (mostly due to influencers) that popular things get sold out. I don’t plan things months in advance unless I am traveling with someone with limited time but I do usually have a good idea how things are going to go before I arrive in a country.

Planning for Cameron Highlands coming up is throwing me for a loop. There is very little information available about booking things in advance online. I know all the major attractions, I just don’t know how I am going to get to them. I talk to a couple on a tour group a couple days ago that just visited the highlands and they told me they hired a motorbike (something I’ve never done before, mostly due to fear) and a day tour. I wish I would have asked them how they booked the tour because the only tours I find online are the day tours from kuala lumpor and nearby cities. Those will not work for me because I plan to stay a couple nights in the region. I have also read many people rent cars and drive there themselves but I am not signing up for a 4 hour car ride in a country I have never driven in before, especially for what I read are very curvy roads.

So I have my bus ticket and hotel booked at Cameron Highlands but I have no idea how I am getting around or even how I am leaving at this point. Should be a interesting adventure like the old days of traveling.

The next morning my grab driver drops me off where the long distance buses are. I am correct that is not the same place as I walked by last night but it is close by. I still don’t know which one is my bus because the buses have no signs posted to wear they are going but after going down the travel offices I finally find the waiting point for my bus.

It is over a four hour ride. I didn’t make time for breakfast before so I am pretty hungry. Luckily i have some dried mango and the orange I got the other night to get me through the ride. We stop to pick up other passengers in other towns but we really only make one official bathroom stop. I should have gotten snacks then.

I arrive in Tanah Rata, the town in the Cameron Highlands that I booked my guesthouse. It is a ten minute walk from the bus station so I grab my heavy bags and walk in the same direction as other backpackers. They are heading to hostels with shared rooms. If I was twenty or even maybe ten years younger I might be doing that too. But I need a private room now. Without privacy and good rest I am not a nice person while I travel. It really stinks though because I miss the camaraderie of shared housing. I will occasionally stay in a hostel if they have private rooms or I share with a friend, just to have a place to speak to others during my down time.

As I walk there is a misty drizzle and it is noticeably cooler than where I’ve come from. I am very pleased. I need the break from the heat. I question why I keep traveling in hot places when it is way out of my comfort zone.

My guesthouse has a charming garden. My room is simple but clean. There is no AC but I find I don’t need it, in fact at times it gets chilly for my taste. I wear long pants to bed instead shorts as normal. My only complaint is the shower. It is one of those bathrooms that when you take a shower the whole entire bathroom gets wet, and remains wet for hours. It is more of an annoyance than anything.

Guesthouse at night

After check-in I grab tea and scones at a cute place called The Lord’s Cafe.

For dinner I just grab something simple and easy around the corner. I decide to have a margarita as well. As I am finishing my drink the entire town loses power. I saw this frequently in Cambodia but this is the first time I’ve seen this in Malaysia. It is still daylight when the power goes out but the outage ends up lasting over an hour so it grows dark, Some dogs rest behind me. I thinking about paying my tab in cash and walking back to my hotel but the power is out there too probably. I ask for a beer and wait it out. At some point I lose cell service too but luckily that does not last long. Not long after the power is restored I see fireworks over the hill a little ways away. Still celebrating the new year I see?

Outage friends

The next morning I have a tour booked. Not many attractions are in walking distance so you need to either rent a car or scooter or book group tours. I still haven’t decided if I am renting a motorbike for my second day but I pre-booked a tour for my first full day. I could only find one acceptable tour and it had a two person minimum. I ended up paying for two people just to make sure I could be on a tour. The total for two people is still only 30USD and I feel I got more than my money’s worth on the tour. If I knew better I would have discovered I could have just waited until I arrived in town to book my tour. Fortunately my choice was wonderful so not sure i could have chosen better. The only thing I wanted to see that is not covered by the tour is the Lavender farm. I read recent reviews and it doesn’t seem like it is worth the trouble to visit. I might just do a local hike instead.

The Cameron Highlands Tour

I get a WhatsApp message the night before telling me Mr. Ahmad will be picking me up in the morning. When he arrives I am a party of one but he doesn’t seem to care. I am the first pickup of about three stops. Soon we are on our way. Our first stop is to look at tea plantation. One of the large reasons this area is famous is for its tea production. The tea from this region is called BOH. I’ve seen that term for many days but had no idea what it meant; I thought it was an abbreviation of some dude’s name, probably British (side note: the region is actually named after a British dude William Cameron in the 1885. It was later surveyed and developed into farmlands and such and also a tourist area). As you know the old British had their hands in just about everywhere and Malaysia included since it had a great location in the spice trade route. What BOH stands for is Best of Highland. At some point it was realized that tea grows really well here so what you see today is large areas growing plants for teas. What I did not know before today is the actually plants grown are a type of camellia that is grown in a shrub form and harvested and pruned to stay a shrub (for taste and ease of harvesting). My tour guide is a wealth of knowledge from everything on how its produced here and elsewhere and the types of workers that work on the plantation. We are given beautiful views of the plants. We can see harvesters in the background.

We stop to try the teas at the tasting room. I try a local favorite on ice BOH Teh Tarik, the national drink of Malaysia. It is made from pulling the drink during preparation and adding a sweet milk like condensed milk. I also tried a local strawberry tart and tried for the first time half-boiled eggs. I thought I would be disgusted by it but I was surprisingly not. The only fear now if it I get a food borne illness from undercooked eggs. My toast also came with a topping to make kaya toast but I saved the container for later . Hopefully I’ll remember to bring it up again but it ended up being pandan flavored….still one of my favs from south East Asia.

After tea we head to the mossy forest. We have gotten lucky. The forest has been closed for almost a year dude to dangerous road conditions and destruction due to overtourism. It had just reopened a couple weeks prior. Long story short but because all this mountain region had at one time existed under the sea there is the right conditions for moss to thrive here. So what you see is a romantic moss all over the place. There is a boardwalk to help protect the area somewhat but not sure it’s enough. What I saw today is one of the oldest forests in existence. At one time Malaysia contemplating getting UNESCO status on the area. It decide to forgo that quest when the government realized how much environmental damage has happened to the region already, without all the publicity. Making it a designated area will draw unnecessary attention. I am glad I got to visit and I will tell my friends to visit but I feel bad contributing to the environmental decline of the area. It is beautiful though.

Our driver gives us more history and even some science lessons. He has us walk down the hill where he will pick us up. A family of dogs happily follow us down, maybe thinking we have some treats.

We next head to the butterfly farm, everything at this point starts to feel rushed because one guy on the tour has a bus leaving town at 2:30 that we have to get back for. I feel for him but it is a shame we can’t take our time because of his planning. I’m not too upset about rushing the butterfly farm though. The butterfly portion is cool but the rest of the attraction is a zoo like facility. I am not a fan of animals that are confined in small cages for paid entertainment. This might be a rehab facility which I am ok with but I would not knowingly visit a zoo in this format.

Strawberry farm

We visit a strawberry farm. Strawberries are not native to the region. I cannot recall how or why but strawberries were brought to the region. They are grown differently here with white overhangs protecting them from the UV rays and elements. Drip irrigation is used to water the crops. The introduction of strawberry farming is changing the climate of the region due to the way they reflect the UV rays. I walk along some crops but I do no harvesting on my own. I do buy my own supply to snack on later.

We head back to town. The tour is money well spent.

For dinner I try the highly recommended Indian restaurant since it was closed last night. I have been craving paneer and it seems to be popular on the menu. I order butter paneer, mango lassi and some naan. Service is very slow and the wait for a table gets long if you don’t arrive early. I wouldn’t say it was a life changing meal but it is satisfying.

The hike that wasn’t

Woke up at 7 am this morning and it is wonderful. I want to do a hike this morning but the cool temps in the region means I don’t have to schedule that hike at the crack of dawn. I am getting myself a hardy breakfast – something I haven’t had in a while.

I head out to the hike which is supposed to start 15 minutes from my hotel but when I get to where the trailhead is there is a monstrosity of a construction site in its place. I stand there for a few minutes then walk up a very steep hill thinking there is another way around. I am about to give up and go get tea when a nice gentlemen tells me that yes in fact the entrance is closed but sometimes the construction workers will let you pass through or I can try through some carnation named place. I stand around looking stupid for a minute or two and then I see a worker waving. I walk over to him and he shows me on a map where to catch the trail, 2 km away. So I head toward the new trail head. I do my good deed and warn a couple walking my way like I wish the couple I saw earlier would have done for me (I caught them later). This is already taking longer to start than anticipated so I stop to get a snack for the hike because I already feel hunger coming on. I walk by a pretty nice residential area. The houses seem large and newer and right across the street from an apartment complex where the trailhead exists behind. I follow along the edge of the brush and there is no visible area to start the trail. The only thing I see is what looks like a private garden like area. After about three people instruct me I hop over a gutter and shimmy behind a fence post and follow a trail that looks worn along the edge of the garden. I eventually get to some stairs and then what looks like some makeshift steep stairs that go up. I see the couple from earlier. They tell me there are two ways to start the trail: the steep stairs and a not so stable road. They aren’t a fan of either option and are probably calling it quits. I came here to do a hike so darn-gone-it I am going to do a hike … except two steps into my ascent I feel a sharp pain in my right calf. NOT ANOTHER NEW PROBLEM! Last time I tried to do a double hike in Sedona it was my knee giving me issues, another new injury. This time my calf is angry in pain. I try a couple more steps without success of being pain free. I decide to sit down and stretch and see if a little rest will help. Nothing helps. I feel defeated and take the 20 minute walk back to town. I get some afternoon tea and now I am sitting in bed hoping this is a temporary setback. Getting old sucks.

More afternoon tea. I guess I am British now.

I am partly to blame for this injury since I have not done my stretches in two days because the floor is hard and cold. But to be fair I’ve never had this kind of injury before so I didn’t know to expect it.

I spend the rest of the afternoon and evening resting my calf and doing trip planning. Have to make good use of the down time. Dinner is unremarkable. There are steamboat restaurants everywhere but they are a minimum of two people and I have not made any friends in this part of my trip.

Tomorrow I leave for Melaka.

Chew Jetties and more Chinese New Year

Chinese jetties

I woke up early today, not on purpose but because that is what I do. I used the opportunity to chat with a friend back home about future travel (13 hours difference).

I read somewhere to go watch sunrise at the Clan jetties of Penang is a thing to do and since I am already awake I head down there. The Clan Jetties are this 19th century Chinese immigrant community that build their homes on stilts over the water. It is pretty unique. They open their community to visitors during the day (and sometimes nights since there is supposed to be a large Chinese New Year Party there Sunday night).

The jetty area does not open until 9 am to visitors so I am still too early. Luckily the char koay teow place that my tour guide recommended is open (Xen Teck) so seems like a good time to get breakfast and some of that extra strong coffee. There is a whole way to order coffee in Malaysia, kopi or kopi O or ??. I can’t remember the correct way. The default way comes with sweetened condensed milk that I was happy to try the first time (Do like the locals). But now I want it my way with unsweetened with just milk over ice. I thought I ordered it correctly but I got the sweetened one again. Good thing I do lots of walking to walk off all this sugar. The char koay teow is good; it is different from the one I had before since this has thinly sliced pork sausage in it (you don’t see it in pork in the other tourists areas out of respect of the Muslim community). It also had these little button like things that were slimy. I first thought they were mushrooms but they could be oysters? Sometimes it is better to not know. Anyway, the dish is good and satisfying, It is the breakfast I never knew I wanted.

It is still too early for the jetty so I do a tour of the street art nearby. One I believe is a Dutch artist and the others are local artists. The famous ones are from the Dutch artist.

Clan jetty

It is 9 am so I head over to the Jetties. I am glad I am there early before the crowds. Not everything is open yet but it is pretty in the morning light. It feels a little weird walking close to people’s houses. It feels intrusive seeing laundry hanging and watching people inside their houses (many doors were wide open to the outside). This is open to tourists so they expect this I guess, still feels weird. There seems to be a boat tour at the end of the pier but is not running. Not sure if it no longer runs or if I’m just too early. It is a small pier so not sure how there will be a big party here tomorrow.


I tour the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, the 19th century mansion that is a good example of the Peranakan lifestyle. Peranakan are a distinct type of Malay. When Chinese immigrants, mostly rich, arrived in Penang they were often offered a bride of native Malay heritage, often very young. The resulting offspring are the Nyonyas (women) and Babas that you still see to referred to in the culture today. The marriages were almost always arranged and the groom could not see the bride (and vice versa) until they are to be married. The brides often wore this very heavy metal thing on their head that masked their appearance. I am glad I made it time for the tour because the guide was very descriptive on how life was back then. He even commented that polygamy was common a while ago because often the groom would not be happy with the bride chosen for him. Many native Malays are of this heritage.

One very interesting piece from this museum is a piece of blue jewelry. It is actually created from someone painstakingly attaching blue bird feathers. Birds were not killed for it but I am sure it was painful for them. It is not allowed anymore.

Thought about visiting another mansion, blue mansion, but I was tired and hot – big surprise. Besides I think it is pretty similar to the mansion I just visited. I go back to rest and cleanup for the night celebration.

Blue Mansion

Street party

They are still celebrating the Chinese New Year and there is a large street party in Chinatown. There are dragons, dancing, music, crafts and food. I brave it out for a little bit. I get some snacks and watch some entertainment. Eventually the crowd is too much for me so I search out a bar.

Speak Easy

I don’t like to drink much lately but for some reason I decide I want to visit all the speak easies I can in town due to my recently discovered sweet tooth. The tour guide from the other day suggests two in town. One he suggests never seems to be open when I try (or I don’t know the secret password). The other speakeasy he suggests is further away so it takes me a while to get up the motivation to go visit. Backdoor Bodega, hidden behind a store, requires reservations but I arrived around opening so they took me as a walk in. They have very inventive drinks and the staff at the bar took the time to converse with me.

Another night I happen upon a newer speak easy when I was trying to the other place suggested by my tour. Birds Nest is in a residential neighborhood. In fact you would never know it is a bar. The only reason I found it is because I followed some people who appeared to be going into someone’s house. Come to find out it sort of is. The owners, a couple, live upstairs. They’ve converted, and are still converting, the downstairs into a craft cocktail bar. They were very nice and offered me an orange and some new years crackers.

Nasi Kandar

I finally try Nasi Kandar at the very popular Hameediyah Restaurant. It has an odd setup where you order your food from one store front but then you go a couple store fronts over to eat. I had a nice gentleman help me with the process except I almost walked out of the first building without paying. This Malay/Indian fusion cuisine is a a signature dish of Penang: a plate of hot rice, some fried chicken, beef curry, some turmeric-laced cabbage, or what you choose. There is a short line but I went shortly after opening time in the mid-morning.

It wouldn’t be Chinese New Year without fireworks. I skip the evening celebrations at the the jetty but I get to participate anyway via the fireworks that are going most of the night. Good thing I have a long bus ride tomorrow because no sleep is happening tonight.

Fireworks from my mansion

At some point I ended up by this McDonald’s that looked very interesting. I didn’t go inside but I caught a grab around here.