Last month writer Nic Ingram was invited to an epic 4-day whirlwind tour of Malaysia. Many thanks to Tourism Malaysia, Cititel Hotel Management (CHM) and Air Asia for the fabulous trip, it was an unforgettable experience!
Here is Nic’s Adventure.
I woke up to a faint yet insistent buzzing emanating from one of the corners of my room. I hadn’t been able to sleep properly all night – it felt like I was 8 years old again trying to catch out Santa on Christmas Eve.
I groggily turned off my alarm and fought the urge to go back to sleep. The reason for my insomnia? I was about to embark on a gastronomic journey to Malaysia; a nation well known for its culinary delights. We were leaving at 6:50 in the morning, so I jumped in the cab and headed to Perth International.
3 Hours of sleep had left me worse for wear: I was running on fumes and V (which tastes like industry-strength soap at 5am) but nothing could dampen my excitement on visiting one of Asia’s biggest and booming capitals. We boarded without any issues and were soon on our way.
Despite hearing plenty of horror stories regarding Air Asia from some of my snobby Malay friends, the flight was smooth and without issue. The Cabin Crew were helpful, polite and extremely professional. The seats were comfortable and the food was better than many national carriers I have flown (I’m talking to you, South African Airways). It really is no wonder Air Asia is regarded the world’s best low cost airline.
We arrived at around midday and started the 45 minute drive to Kuala Lumpur. The first thing you will notice about Malaysia (besides the humidity) is the beautiful, lush greenery of the countryside. Our first real look of the city absolutely stunned me: KL is massive! The sprawling skyline makes Perth look like a quiet little hamlet, and KL keeps developing at a phenomenal rate.
We arrived at Mid Valley City and went straight to our hotel, The Boulevard. Mid Valley City is basically a gigantic development project consisting of three hotels and two mammoth malls (Mid Valley Mega Mall and The Gardens).We unpacked and got ready for our first stop of the day.
Our first day trip was to Kuala Selangor, a small fishing village around 60kms North of KL.
On our way we stopped to check out some of the remnants from the days of the Selangor Civil War at Bukit Melawati.
Not much is left besides a couple of cannons, foundation stones and a rock supposedly used for executions by the Dutch. In saying that however the view is magnificent; you can see the entire delta as well as the mangrove swamps lining the banks of the river.
It is also one of the few places outside of captivity where you can get up close and personal with silver leaf monkeys.
Although you can feed the monkeys be wary; they can get vicious if they feel you’re holding onto any food! After taking in the magnificent site we continued our journey to the traditional Chinese fishing village of Kuala Selangor. We decide to stop in at the local fish market to get an idea how much fresh seafood costs. I was completely blown away by the price of things – for a kilo of fresh calamari it’ll cost you 12RM (around $3.50 in Aus)!
The village was fascinating, predominantly due to the fact that it is a complete polar opposite of KL. The houses are built above the waterline on stilts; there is no public transport and is a small, close-knit community.
By this point we were all starving, and were eagerly anticipating the feat waiting for us.
Despite the restaurant being packed (it is a popular place to eat) service was prompt. Our meal included satay prawns, fried rice, fried garlic with leek and spicy shelled crab. The food was excellent: fresh, wholesome and traditional. After our feast we went to go check out the Firefly Sanctuary at Kampung Kuatang.
This firefly sanctuary is home to one of the largest firefly colonies on earth thanks to the mangrove trees (berembang to the locals) found along the river’s banks. The site is so impressive due to the synchronised flashing of the male fireflies, which light up the trees like fairy lights. Due to the delicacy of this particular ecosystem no motorised boats are allowed – instead row boats with a carrying capacity of 4 people are used to try and preserve the fireflies habitat.
After a 20 minute ride down the river we started the drive back to our hotel to get some much needed sleep.