Category: Malaysia

Mar 18 2010

Medan, Indonesia to Penang, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand

Got a cab (20,000 Ruppiah, 10 minutes ride) to the airport at 5.30am in the morning.

I was joking with the air ticket seller yesterday to give me a morning call and she really did, I never expected it and that gave me a good impression about Indonesians. There is an airport tax of 75,000 Ruppiah which must be paid in Ruppiah.

Sriwijaya Air

So far in my trip, this is my 10th flights. Usually I avoid flying, but because flying is inexpensive in Indonesia and the road transportation is bad, I flew 3 times in Indonesia and that saved a lot of time.

On the plane, noticed that many Indonesians were flying to Penang for medical treatment, Penang is trying to attract medical tourism money from Medan since it’s just 40 minutes flight away. Taxied down at Penang at 9.20am Malaysian time (an hour ahead of Indonesia time) and my parents picked me up. I just have a few hours to kill before the 2.20pm train to Bangkok.

It has been many years since I last took the ferry to the mainland.
Ferry

Leaving the port

There is a daily train from Butterworth to Bangkok at 2.20pm (112 Ringgit.~USD$33, 20 hours ride). The train station is located right beside the ferry terminal in Butterworth. The train was delayed for 30 minutes and departed at 3pm.

Inside the train

There were only 2 coaches, so the train was pretty short compared to those in China with at least 15 coaches.

The train moved pretty slowly. It was supposed to cross the Malaysian border to Hat Yai, Thailand at 6pm but the train only crossed the border at 9pm.

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Mar 04 2010

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Singapore

After spending slightly more than 2 weeks in Malaysia celebrating Chinese New Year with friends/relatives and doing some errands such as getting a new passport/applying for visas, it’s time to get back to the travel mode again.

Felt a little lazy after having a stable life for the past 2.5 weeks. Spent the past 3 days in Kuala Lumpur, getting back my new passport (RM300~USD$88) with a multiple entry Chinese visas (RM148~USD$44), US visa (RM492~USD$145), finally got on the 3pm Aeroline bus from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore (USD$79~USD$23, 5.5 hours bus ride). There are other buses to Singapore which is cheaper but got on theAeroline bus since it’s just across MCA building in KL city center and is more convenient for me.

Arrived at Singapore at 8.30pm. Today Singapore has a population of around 5 million but the city just had 3 million people 20 years ago. The government policy has been immigrant friendly to attract talented professionals to the workforce.

Singapore is a city state and the island is just around 700 square kilometers. The city is 45km from West to East and 25km north to south.

Singapore merged with Malaya in 1963 to become Malaysia but was explused from Malaysia in 1965 to become an Independent country because of disputes between Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party and Malaysia government then. Singapore is considered as the only country in the world that gained independence unwillingly.

Because of the competent government of the country, even without much natural resources, the country has been growing on a sustainable path and become the richest country in South East Asia. An example is to compare Singapore dollar to Malaysian ringgit which is exchangeable
at par until 1973 but today 1 Singapore dollar ~ 2.4 Malaysian Ringgit.
Since the country doesn’t have much natural resources, the country economy needs to diversify into different areas in manufacturing, services, biomedical, tourism and is also one of the biggest port in the world.

Singapore is considered a democratic country but with a strong government controlled by PAP party. Even though there is election but the PAP has been in power since independence and controlled around 90% of the parliment seats since independence.

Arrived at Harbour Front in Singapore at 8.30pm. Took the metro to Tanjung Pagar area and crashed at Jason’s place.

Inside the metro, I heard not only Singlish but also noticed that Singapore has a lot of immigrants from China, India and South East Asian countries from the way the people speak. There are also quite a lot of expatriates and tourists as well. Read that there were 10 million tourist visiting Singapore in 2007, twice the number of the country population.

Met up Sunny whom I have not seen for a while for dinner at Bugis area.

Had hotpot buffett for dinner, SD$20 per pax.

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Mar 01 2010

Penang to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Went back to Kuala Lumpur to get my passport and applied for visas.

View from the North South Express way

Malaysia is the second biggest exporter of Palm oil trees in the world after Indonesia

Dropped by the Kuala Lumpur twin tower skybridge. Finally managed to go up the skybridge after more than 10 years of waiting.
Skybridge

View from the bridge

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Feb 28 2010

Penang, Malaysia

Even though the financial crisis is affecting the western world quite seriously but it seems that Asia wasn’t hit that hard. Housing prices in some major Asian cities has been increasing pretty dramatically for the past 2 years, especially cities in China and South East Asia.

Noticed that there are a lot of constructions for residential properties in Penang currently and housing prices has increased quite a lot even during recession for the past 2 years.

Guess probably this might be caused by the MM2H program. Malaysian government is promoting the Malaysia my second home program, MM2H which allows foreigners to get 10 year long term visa to stay in the country.
MM2H Requirement
Property and Incentives

However, property prices in Penang is still cheaper than properties on other cities built on island such as Hainan, Hong Kong and Singapore so there might still be room for appreciation.

Hiking is a common pastime for Penangites. View of the northern part of Penang on a hill.

Today is the last day of Chinese New Year, day 15th. It’s called ChapGohMeh in MinNan/Hokkien dialect.

This also coincides with the Chinese Valentine’s day where single girls throw oranges in the water hoping to get some luck in marriage.

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Feb 22 2010

Kuala Lumpur, Taiping, Penang, Malaysia

Morning in KL

Weather in Penang and Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid especially in recent days. It’s around 34 C during the day. Just around a month ago I was in Ulan Bator, Mongolia and the weather there was -34 C.

Chinese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur looked completely different compared to the previous time I went there. The place is re-renovated and is quite efficient. It only took me 30 minutes to submit my application with 50 people in line before me.

This is how the visa application center looked like around 1.5 years ago, the last time I went.

For single entry visa, the visa fee for US citizen is 430 and for locals it’s just 30.

I am trying to apply for a 2 year multiple entry Chinese visa (120 Ringgit~USD$35) and hope to get it in 4 working days.

A typical breakfast meal at an Indian restaurant, Mee Goreng and Teh Tarik (5 Ringgit~USD$1.7).

Went back to KLCC. Even though I have been to Kuala Lumpur many times, but I have not get up the sky bridge before. Unfortunately, the sky bridge is close on Monday.

View from KLCC

Met up with a friend for lunch and found out that he is working at a Blogging advertising company. Just signed up with Nuffnang and the advertisement on the left bottom side of my blog is in partnership with Nuffnang.
NuffNang office

Chinese new year decoration at Pavillion mall

Goodbye Kuala Lumpur

Went to Taiping to visit some relatives. Taiping is around 200km from Kuala Lumpur and it was a mining town many years ago. It’s one of the wettest place in Malaysia with rains occasionally. Taiping is a very quiet place.

Taiping Lake Garden

Going north from Taipng towards Penang, will get out from the Juru Toll. Autocity is just beside the toll exit. Went to AutoCity to meet some friends. Autocity is located just right before the Penang bridge and has coffee shops, bars and clubs for those that don’t want to go all the way to Penang Island.

Crossed Penang bridge (7 Ringgit~USD$2) back to Penang Island.

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Feb 21 2010

Kuala Lumpur Day 2, Malaysia

Roads in Kuala Lumpur are confusing, it’s like Spaghetti

View Larger Map

Compared to other cities I visited, urban planning in Kuala Lumpur is quite poor, the roads and signs are not very well organized.

I planned to visit a friend and decided to take the commuter. Even though the distance from Subang Jaya to Cheras is only 20kms away but that took me more than 2 hours to get there.

In 2 hours, I can actually drive to Ipoh which is another city 200km away.

Nasi Rendang (10 Ringgit~USD$3), a typical Malay dish at Old Town coffee shop.
Old town is a Malaysian franchise which is doing surprising well with its laid back, 60’s coffee shop theme.

Malaysians favorite pastime is shopping and there are a lot of malls in Kuala Lumpur.

New wing at Mid Valley

Pavilion mall

Twin tower at night

Durians, considered as the King of fruits. Either you love it or hate it.

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Feb 20 2010

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Drove to Kuala Lumpur (4 hours drive, 350km) for a wedding, visiting relatives and friends, as well as applying for visas for my next few destinations.

Crossed Penang Bridge again

Some typical Malaysian Chinese wedding dishes

Baked piglet

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Feb 18 2010

Penang Day 7, Malaysia

Lion Dance

My passport is full with stamps and visas so I have to get a new passport before continuing my journey. Went to the state immigration office yesterday but there were too many people, so had to come back again today.

Again, there were still a lot of people. Probably that was because the office was close for Chinese new year for the past few days and people like me who came back for vacation were trying to renew their passport as well.

Compared to other government department, the state immigration office is more efficient and is possible to get back the passport on the same day.
While waiting, walked around Georgetown area. Georgetown is listed as a UNESCO heritage site with buildings from different architecture style.
Colonial buildings

Pre war buildings at the old district. These old buildings are still surviving and people are still living and doing business like it was during the 1960s.

Church

Buddhist temple

Mosque

Lion Dance

Little India

Old buildings

Fort Cornwallis built by the British

Sea view

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Feb 13 2010

Penang Day 2, Malaysia

I have lots of relatives and friends here and will be pretty busy visiting them for this week, especially since I have not spent a lot of time back home for the past 7 years. Tomorrow will be the first day of Chinese new year.

I will try to post some photos but it won’t be like my usual backpacking trip.

My bike from high school.
A typical Malaysian motorcycle, small but powerful. 0-80km in 6 seconds

Chung Ling High School, which has the same school anthem with Cornell.

Penang Bridge which connects the Island to the mainland, 13.5km. One of the longest bridge in the world.

Penang is famous for its food. In the 2004 edition of TIME magazine, Penang was voted as having the best street food in Asia. Penang has Chinese, Malay and Indian cuisine, as well as food from multiple types of influences.

Briyani Rice with tea (10 Ringgit~USD$3)

at an Indian place

Below are Penang street food.
Wan Tan noodles

Fried oyster

Coconut water

Hokkien Mee, Shrimp flavored noodles

Curry Noodles

Pancake

Koay Teow soup

Nasi Lemak, coconut rice on banana leaf

Char Koay Teow, Fried Noodles

Fried Stingray

A typical hawker centre

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Feb 12 2010

Penang, Malaysia

The flight was delayed and got to Kuala Lumpur at around 1.20am. It’s around 4 hours flight in the air.

Saw Reeses chocolate at the duty free shop. It’s selling for 27 Ringgit~USD$8 (USD$1~3.4 Ringgit). In US it only cost around USD$1.5. All the duty free stuffs in airports are not really duty free, except cigarettes.

Airasia is a low cost airline so it landed at LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) which is some distance away KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport).

Since I have another flight to Penang at 6.55am, I just waited at the airport until then.

Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Penang (108 Ringgit~USD$30).

It’s around 350km, an hour flight Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

View Larger Map

Flight was delayed again and got to Penang at 9am.

Penang has a big Chinese population and is the second biggest city in Malaysia with a population of around 1.5 million. Georgetown is a UNESCO heritage area and the city has the best food in Malaysia.
The Island looks just like a turtle.

View Larger Map

About Penang

This will be my first Chinese new year celebration at home after more than 7 years. After traveling around China for 1.5 months, it’s like I spent more time in China than Malaysia for the past 7 years.

In 2009, Penang was ranked number 2 in New York times under the readers’ popular vote category as one of the top places to visit.

Unpacked all my stuffs. I have lotsa maps, especially maps from China.

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