Malaysia: Day 1

It was 2012 when I first went to Asia. It was because of work and since I was always drawn to this continent, I didn’t mind it the least. This first experience with China was a definite one, even in the last five years I’ve always wanted to go back, not necessarily to China but to Asia for sure. You might laugh but my relationship with China is more like a love-hate one, but this is another story.

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Photo by Zukiman Mohamad from Pexels, link: https://www.pexels.com/photo/landscape-sunset-twilight-park-22804/

This year I finally could manage to go back to this exotic continent, this time it was a short holiday packed with culture, history and travelling in Malaysia. Not many people know about this tropical heaven, most of the people go to Bali when it comes to having a holiday next to the sea, but Malaysia is a great destination. It has everything to top of the above mentioned attributes like ever growing and lively cities, bustling business life, nice seashores (I couldn’t even dream of managing this part within this short period of time, but let’s hope there is a next time  – there is always a next time, right?) and on top of that everybody speaks English. If you are worried about the heat, don’t be, locals are not shy to use their high tech AC-s like all the time.

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What to do before the trip?

  1. It is always good to visit your GP before a tropical trip and even if you are healthy, you can ask for advice and getting vaccinated, too. It is important if you want to eat street food to get an inoculation against typhus.
  2. Change money or you can do it on the spot since Malaysian Ringgit is not that common in Europe, it may be easier to take other widely used currency with you and change it there.
  3. Check the validity of your passport.
  4. Check if you need to apply for a visa or not, e.g. Hungarian citizens don’t need to apply for visa unless they stay for more than three months.

Advice from the doctor:

  1. Don’t buy drinks from outdoor vendors
  2. Don’t eat street food
  3. Use insect repellent spray to avoid mosquito bites
  4. Use sun lotion
  5. Don’t drink from the tap – this is very important, tap water is not safe to drink.

Getting off the plane in Kuala Lumpur the first thing you notice is the warm humid air that feels as heavy as being in a steam cabin. This is the kind of weather which propels you to the beach. An old friend of mine came to pick me up from the airport, he is a local and we’d met back in China. He was going to be my guide for most of the time, who else could show me the best places if not a local.

I must tell you in advance that most probably I broke all my promises to the doc while staying in Malaysia. You know it started as a nice evening stroll around the hotel after arriving and as part of it we visited the famous Jalan Alor street for local street food. My guide had no idea that Europeans are not supposed to eat from the street much less buy drinks from a street vendor who makes his products in the street in front of you, so he did the most sensible thing when you walk in the evening heat of a tropical country, he suggested to try out some local delicacies and we bought some sugarcane and coconut waters. They were delicious. Sin number one – completed. But I wasn’t stopping there, I actually ate street food.

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Truth to be said in Malaysia there is no way you can avoid eating street food. Locals traditionally eat in the street and it is not only a tourist attraction. I usually had my breakfast, lunch and dinner with them. And if locals go there to eat then the cooks won’t make such things that would harm their customers’ health or they would lose business very quickly. In fact they thrive to honor their traditional family recipes either to keep them in the way they are or to improve them in order to provide quality food. Besides what I realized is that eating in Malaysia is their national sport. Everybody loves eating and street vendors are essential part of this tradition.

Jalan Alor is one of the many street where you can buy fruit, juices, fried and cooked and steamed Korean and Chinese food in great diversity. We took our seats at a Chinese restaurant (where else?!) and as it is shown in the pictures, this food doesn’t look like the ones you can usually buy in Hungary. (Oh God, how I missed this!) What you need to know:

  1. All the food is served at once and everybody shares it.
  2. The ordering is done by the host and the guests are usually only subjected to it.
  3. We eat usually with chopsticks, but you can ask for spoon and fork, too.
  4. If you think you are finished, leave some food on your plate otherwise others might think you are still hungry and they will help you to more food to solve this problem.

Searching for special places

After the delicious lunch we hopped into the car and drove to China Town to discover a hidden local cocktail bar that looked exactly how you would imagine an opium den. The cocktails were delicious, I must say and PS150 looks awesome. This place is highly recommended.

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