Malaysia, Truly Asia (part 2)

After a restless night of sleep while the rest of Kuala Lumpur celebrated the beginning of a new year, we packed up our bags and headed to the airport. This is our ‘leaving the hotel selfie’. 2015-01-01 10.36.25As I mentioned in the first part of this post Malaysia, Truly Asia (part 1), the AirAsia flight 8501 had just gone missing on the day we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. Now four days later, we were flying on AirAsia to get to Penang. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean obviously flights go on, but I wasn’t sure if things would be different. Different in what way I don’t know. Signs? News coverage? Announcements? But, nothing was different. In fact, I almost wonder if there was an intentional effort made not to have anything anywhere about the crash.

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Penang is an hour flight north of KL.  We decided that we would only go to two cities on this trip to avoid the endless moving around that we have done on past trips. map-malaysia600

We stayed at the Evergreen Laurel hotel in the Georgetown area, which was about a 30 minute taxi ride from the airport. In Penang, we were finally out of the rain. So, I thought it would be a good time for us to explore a bit more than we had in KL. Unfortunately it was about this same time that Kassandra came down with a cold. You know the kind of cold that forces you to fill the trash bin with tissues because you never seem to run out of mucus? Yep, that is the kind she had. She wasn’t in much of a mood to walk or explore anywhere.

We did walk to the nearby mall (us and our malls!) in search of food every day. It wasn’t a long walk. Just long enough that I felt like I was seeing a bit of the town and the people. Oh and it was nice to get out of the germ infested room that I was sharing with Kassandra. There are many local style restaurants along the way to the mall. We had dinner at one of the restaurants one night. It wasn’t fabulous but it was significantly cheaper than eating at the mall restaurants.

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In addition to gravitating towards malls on vacation, we also seem to be drawn to places that sell pork (her) and alcohol (me), go figure. It’s like we want what we can’t normally have even if we don’t really want it.

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Being that Jason didn’t travel to Penang on his vacation to Malaysia (actually I think he did – I vaguely recall him talking about a strawberry farm,  but that was in the previous iBook version of our textbook, so I can’t be sure. Maybe he was talking about the Cameron Highlands), I did zero research on things to do in Penang. After a few days of relaxing and just reading books (I managed to read 6.5 books on this trip), Kassandra was able to summon enough energy to go for a walk in the opposite direction of the mall. I think she did this just for my sake. Or maybe she didn’t want to hear later that I felt like it was a waste of time to have flown to Penang just to have walked to the mall a few times.

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2015-01-03 11.52.41 It was a warm, humid walk, and it involved stopping here and there for Kass (and me) to replenish stamina. I needed those precious moments to mentally trick myself into believing that I was just suffering from allergies and not coming down with her cold. Here are a couple of our ‘here and there’ stops. We eventually made it about 4km to Fort Cornwallis. We stopped again to rest for a bit and decide if we wanted to go into the Fort or not. While I was making up my mind, Kassandra distracted herself with a stray cat. Seriously. This kid always finds a stray animal on our trips, and it always entertains her more than any famous site I could show her. This time Kassandra was not alone in her fascination with the cat. There was an Asian woman who had us take multiple pictures of her holding the stray. I guess we aren’t the only tourists who get distracted outside of famous historical buildings.By the time the excitement of the cat died down, we decided that we didn’t need to actually go into the Fort. We were exhausted and just wanted to go back to our germy room. We took a taxi and paid ‘rip-off the tourist rates’ and decided that we had enough of exploring Penang for that trip.

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After 3 nights in Penang, we flew back to Kuala Lumpur. This time we stayed at the Renaissance Hotel. I figured it would give us a chance to get to know a different part of town. Humorously, as we pulled up to the hotel, I realized it was just one block away from Hotel Maya, where we had been staying at a few days earlier in KL. Not exactly a different part of town.  In fact, this was the view from our hotel room at the Renaissance.

2015-01-04 17.02.23 2015-01-04 17.02.19 Regardless, it was a very nice hotel and the plus side was that we were already pros at navigating Jalan Ampang (the main street we were on), so it was much easier to find good places to eat and shop. During breaks of sunshine – did I mention how much it was raining in KL while we were there?, we chilled at the hotel pool.

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One of the places that we stopped to eat at was offering a “buy one get one free” for Smirnoff Ice. Amusingly, when they brought it to our enormously gigantic table/booth, they began to pour a glass for myself AND Kassandra. Ummmm….. just how old does she look? I had to quickly Google the drinking age in Malaysia (it’s 18). With all of that plus the fact that our waiter kept obsessively straightening things on our table so they would all line up, we couldn’t stop laughing. I am sure they thought we were crazy, or maybe drunk off our asses. Either way, the food was terrible and the drinks ended up being “buy one get one half off”, but it was totally worth it just to laugh that hard. Another bonus, I offered to let Kassandra take a taste of the Smirnoff, secretly hoping that she would decline. At first she looked at me like I could be joking. Then she declined. Maybe she thought it was a test. Maybe it was. She passed! I smugly gave myself credit for being an awesome mom that raised a teenager that turns down alcohol. Then she told me she wants her first drink to be something that is going to taste better than a Smirnoff Ice. She wants it to be a margarita. Hmmm…. well I guess that makes it a partial pass.

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Our last days in Malaysia were spent getting massages, reading, getting rained on, and eating. There is something about a vacation that brings out the munchies in me! It was a nice trip. Nothing spectacular. Nothing bad. Just nice.

When we got home and I had more time to reflect on the trip, the more I realized how awesome of a trip Thailand was. Now I know that sounds weird , or like I am saying I had a bad time in Malaysia. That isn’t the case at all. It is just that the more places I travel to, the more I realize that the time spent in Thailand was exactly what we were looking for. It made me question my need to continually travel to new countries. Am I going for the experience? Or am I going for the passport stamp? I will have time to ponder this since our next vacation isn’t happening any time soon. Instead, for the spring break, I have family coming to visit me here! It will finally give me an excuse to do the touristy things in the UAE that I haven’t done yet. Getting to see my family will be better than any vacation of that I am sure!

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