Over the many travels I've realised I'm a bit of everything. Actually, aren't we all? An adventure seeker, a relaxed onlooker, a foodie, a heritage buff, a cultural sponge or maybe a nature reveller. That sums up the package I come in. Malaysia packs all of these with a resounding punch. When I came across this tantalising " five things to do in Malaysia", the wheels within the head started churning conjuring up a collage of images borrowed from the various shiny travel magazines, advertisements and friends' holiday captures. But five things? Unfair! Why does it always have to be made difficult to choose from the wide array of experiences at all those exotic locations?
From what I had seen , read in travelogues and blogs or heard from fellow travellers, Malaysia is truly the essence of Asia. The rich tapestry of cultural tableau, the splendour and lusciousness of tropical nature with it's plethora of exotic flora and fauna served in the backdrop of gracious heritage laced with adrenalin pumping adventure. This country offers a platter full of holiday options to choose from for all kinds of travellers in a style true to it's people. It is always better to arrive at a place without any presumptions and take each of them as it comes; letting it gradually unfold to reveal it's beauty just as the bud opens up gently to reveal the true beauty of the flower.Take this from someone who has been to and lived in far flung areas that only the Armed Forces can take you to. Believe me, the best places have been the ones without the trappings of urban temptations of malls, fast food chains et al. So here I go dreamily exploring Malaysia virtually hoping to discover bits and pieces of me via this exotic country!
1. Nourished By Nature
The Malaysian Tourism website had me completely intrigued and charmed with the promise of a virginal appeal of Belum Forest Reserve or the130 million years old prehistoric rain forest Tamang Negara. I mean, how often does one come across a piece of this earth that has been unaffected by Ice Age? If I could just watch tigers, Sumatran rhinos, Asian elephants, clouded leopard or the tapirs move around their natural habitat unhindered by human interference at the Belum Forest Reserve with a possibility of camping right there and maybe find myself sharing the sunrise with an elephant, what more could I have asked for! I could just let nature permeate the soul and probably rediscover what human being lost many centuries ago - oneness. Nestled in the state of Perak, a visit to Belum Forest Reserve would have the added advantage of cave hopping. Gua Gunung Runtun dating back to 540000 years with evidence of Paleolithic age life in the form of tools, food and the Man of Perak that help to draw a picture of life in those times! Then there are others like Gua Kajang, Gua Ngaum, Gua Teluk Kelawar to choose from.
Or picture this - a canopy walk in the prehistoric rain forest Tamang Negara, Pahang! Given it's antiquity, Tamang Negara is a naturalist's delight with its many butterflies, insects, animals, plants and trees that rise up to greet the sun and a dense undergrowth teeming with life. I can imagine walking through the dense foliage peering down at the world below, feeling blessed to be a part of this cosmos.
There are many national parks to choose from Mulu National Park, KL Bird Park, Kinabalu Park, Endau Rompin National Park, Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary, and the list continues.
2. Seeking Adventure
After that recharge amidst nature, I am ready for some adrenalin rush. Malaysia Tourism promised a variety of adventure experiences. Having snorkelled and skimmed the magic of underwater world in one of our vacations, I am ready for the next big leap with scuba diving. And what better place to explore than Pulau Redang in Terengganu where the midday sun brings out the colours of the corals in all their vibrancy! I can imagine losing myself in the depths of the marine park surrounded by the unfolding beautiful aqua life with shoals of multi-hued fish passing by, brilliant corals glowing in the dark. Add to it the enigmatic shipwrecks of HMS Prince Of Wales and HMS Repulse, relics of the the First World War.
Pulau Redang Marine Park
Sipadan island in Sabah, is one of the best dive sites of the world testified by Jaques Cousteau the world renowned oceanographer. So if I am in Malaysia and deep sea diving is what I have in mind, then Sipadan is where I must head to.
Sipadan Island- one of the best
diving sites in the world
Duly humbled by the marine wonders I await my next dose of adrenalin charge. So what should it be? Do I have it in me to push beyond my limits? If so, only a stint at the via ferrata in Mount Kinabalu will decide. I believe they do have a beginners route of 2-3 hours along the granite surface of Mount Ki nabalu. Well! I could start with that! There are certain requirements though like, being at least ten years of age, being able to hike 3200 m in six hours, of 1.3 m minimum in height and lastly having a fearlessness of height. The last one is what I need to overcome and via ferrata on Mount Kinabalu could be the starting point.
Via Ferrata on Mount Kinabalu
3. Soaking in the cultural heritage
It is the culture of a nation that lends it it's unique charm. In Malaysia, it's individuality stems from the multi cultural ethos- the harmonious braiding of the Chinese, Indian and Malay strands. The British, French and Portugese influences, remnants of the colonial past have further added to the allure.That's my third to do on the list - absorbing the rich cultural heritage of Malaysia. The moment I saw this heritage building with a blue facade in one of my friend's travel photos, it made me scurry to Google to search for more of this aesthetic structure's history. A perfect setting to amble around and fade into it's rich past Cheong Fat Tze in Penang.
The Blue Mansion Of Cheong Fat Tze
This place is a must visit on my list not merely to vicariously partake in it's opulence but marvel at the artistic bench marks of the craftsmen. The Wood carvings, stained glass, porcelain decorative cut and paste shard works, tapestries and other antiques are every man's delight.
Then there is Melaka. A quaint charm of the yester years is best savoured with the river cruise that takes one along the river that was once the artery for trade. On the banks stand the old buildings, a graceful reminder of the rich past that Melaka has to offer. The Portugese Square here still holds on to the Portugese past although these European settlers have long mingled with the local to emerge with a unique culture true to the roots. Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum is a testimony to the rich Chinese traditions of noble descent that have further enriched the Malaysian culture.
Melaka River Cruise
4. Savouring The Cuisines
Isn't a journey incomplete without a taste of it's cuisine? Malaysian bursts with gastronomical adventures having merged the traditional cuisines of all the contributing parent culture with inter marriages between the people of different origins. I believe that Penang is the food capital of Malaysia and so this is the best place to savour the different tastes with the tantalising aromas. Gurney Drive is further considered to be offering Penang on a platter. So that makes my task simpler. All I have to do is head to Gurney Drive in Penang and let the Satays, Malay Laksa, Char Kway Teow, Nasi Lemak, Rendang and all others take over my senses. I can choose from the street hawkers or proper restaurants to experiment with the palate. It is these tales of wonder at finding familiar dishes on foreign shores, maybe their new incarnation or exotic tastes that I hope to bring back. I've always tried to bring back a new lesson in cooking from my various trips. I am very sure Malaysia is not going to disappoint me. The charm of talking to the food hawkers, discovering new ways of eating as suggested by them, gulping down the morsels as they bemusedly look on with indulgence. Yes, that is one of favourite ways of discovering a new place.
Courtesy Malaysia Tourism
I was saving the best of my to do list for the last. Having marvelled at nature, culture , gulped down tanatalising dishes and having some heart thumping adventures now is the time to sit on the powdery sands of Langkawi, or Tioman Islands in Pahang. It is time to let all of my experiences seep in. Longing around on the beaches of Batu Ferringhi in Penang, evenings would teem with people in the Ferringhi Walk through the open air bazaar. Browsing through the curios and interesting artifacts, picking up souvenirs. How interesting it would be to walk by as the people of Teluk Nipah in Pangkor Island get on with life! Wiser everyday by what the sea has to teach this fishermen's community. I can visualise myself striking off a conversation with one of them as they unload their catch of the day, face shining with a hard day's work So many stories they hold, waiting to be told . Then there is Teluk Ketapang to stroll by, the Turtle Bay. The salty breeze caressing the face as I watch the turtles moving in to lay their eggs - a promise to the future.
This post was written for Tourism Malaysia with Blogadda
I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon