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Malaysia, June 2006

All prices in Malaysia were in Ringgits, £ 1 was approximately MR7.
Photo Gallery from Malaysia

2.6. - 19.6. Flights & Arrival from Bali

All our flights were with Malaysia Airlines, this flight LHR - KL was a 747-400 seat configuration 3-4-3, (12 hrs); I have to say their service is quite exceptional! The seats are huge (34" = a lot of leg room), each seat has its own entertainment system & screen and you have a choice of approx 30 films (mixture of genres, new and "classics", eg King Kong, Firewall, Godfather, Joe Black, Pianist, animated, etc), 10 general TV channels (Friends, Planet Earth etc), radio and text news, flight information and approx. 50 games. The food was very tasty and drinks are free, including alc.

An hour before landing we enjoyed a beautiful sunrise above Malaysia and had wonderful views of the Phuket area, Langkawi, and the west coast of Malaysia. We landed ahead of time in torrential rain, it was only 7.15am but already 30 degrees! KLIA is superb, large and brand new.

We caught our connecting flight from KL to Denpesar for our 7-day stay in Bali returning to KL on 10.6. Our flight took just under 3 hours on A 330-300 (2-4-2), no TV but again plenty of leg room. We had a nice view of Bali on take off and the islands surrounding Bali . Arrived on time to KL in to torrential rain.


10.6. Kuala Lumpur - Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel

We arrived from sunny Bali in KL in the afternoon and into a heavy rain shower; the airport is very nicely designed, our pick up was waiting for us as promised. The airport and the road to KL is lined with never ending palm tree plantations which really gives you the feeling you arrived in a tropical country - lovely. It was a very comfortable ride from the airport which took just over an hour to get to our hotel Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel (Jalan Sultan Ismail) where we were staying for next 3 nights - in hindsight this proved to be far too long and if it wasn't for a pre-booked flight to Kuala Terrenganu we would have left after two nights. We found that we covered most of the attractions on day one and the second day was mainly filled with things to do that could have been easily missed out of our 'itinerary' and since we're not 'shopoholics' there was not that much to do for us.

The hotel is very nice. We were very pleasantly surprised. Situated in the heart of the city centre and within easy reach of restaurants, sights and shopping malls are on your doorstep if shopping is what you're after.

Taxi ranks and monorail station were conveniently located about one minute walk outside of the hotel. Our room was on the 11th floor, very nice and comfortable, with huge shower and very stylish bathroom and looked out onto Time Square. The hotel provided free newspaper every morning and a box of chocolates every night.

By the time we got checked in and unpacked few things there was only time left to explore the vicinity of the hotel and find a place for a dinner. We ended up at Secret Recipe (I think it's a chain restaurant/food bar) the food was very nice actually; they make delicious freshly squeezed fruit juices and serve fantastic cakes and cheesecakes. Yum! After our dinner we just walked around the city a bit and ventured to the shopping centre.

KL & Malaysia is very modern and from what we saw from Malaysia the roads are extremely good and I think we would feel comfortable to rent a car and drive, the signs are very clear and the fact that they drive on the left side helps tremendously. I wouldn't recommend driving in KL city centre though as it seemed totally manic but I guess it's just matter of getting used to it; outskirts and the rest of the country seemed normal to any country.

Weather - shower in the afternoon, clear night with high humidity and hot, big thunder storm in the night.





11.6. Kuala Lumpur - Petronas Twin Towers, Central Market, Chinese & Hindu Temples

The hotel's breakfast buffet was brilliant I think the best on our entire trip, vast selection of food, fruit, bread, eggs etc. We walked to see Petrona Twin towers, we missed the morning entry and unfortunately the towers are closed on Mondays so we didn't get a chance to go up on the top. Then we went on the elevated train to Masjid Jamek, we walked from there to Central Market and spent a little time in shops over there. For lunch we mistakenly chose to eat at convenient KFC but it was so horrible!

After that we visited the Chinese Temple and Sri Mahamariamman Temple, a short walk from here is the open air bazaar of Chinatown. We also visited Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It was very hot and we decided to go back to our hotel to cool down at the hotel's pool and visited spa for reflexology massage - after a full day of sightseeing it was well appreciated! ;-) We found a lovely Lebanese restaurant on Jalan Bukit Bintang, just East of Bukit Bintang Plaza. Weather - short shower early morning, sunny, hot and very humid rest of the day


12.6. Templer Park, Batu Caves, Butterfly Park, Bird Park, Shopping

Again we had a great breakfast at our hotel; it was a feast of choice and quality. After we went out and hired a taxi for 4 hours (RM30/hr) and visited Templer Park, there were no tourists at all only few locals, it could be a really lovely place to have picnic and just relax if the locals cleaned up the rubbish from the paths and the picnic areas. It's only 30 min drive from KL. It is a jungle-like park, with waterfall and a pool where you can swim. A lovely view from the top but it's a hike to get there. Lots of monkeys but they are quite tame and not aggressive.

After the taxi driver took us to Batu Caves - a Hindu temple in limestone caves, on the entrance you can see lots of hand made statues with Hindu Gods. The entry with the huge statue and the cave are pretty impressive, the main chamber is huge but again we found a lot of garbage lying around and it stank of urine so badly we could hardly enjoy it… Considering it's a major tourist attraction it's quite a shame that nobody looks after it and cleans it up but I guess it's because there is no entrance fee… There were not that many people, I think we got there before the major tour operators - luckily! It was extremely hot climbing a few hundred stairs - 272 to be precise!, we were well prepared for the monkeys we heard so much about, but we didn't see any.

We wanted to visit the Orchid Park but it was closed so went to Butterfly Park which was quite nice and interesting, some lovely butterflies. Then we went to the Bird Park which in hindsight we would give a miss but it was ok especially for families with kids.

For lunch we went to Secret Recipe again… oh those damned cheesecakes…! ;-) and after we decided to go to the Chinese market - if you're looking for cheap 'designer' goods then that's the place for you. After that we popped back to Central Market where we did some final shopping.

For dinner we chose Kelantan Delights, a Malay restaurant on the top level of Suria KLCC Plaza (between the Petronas Towers). They served very nice food with fantastic fresh fruit juices. No alcohol served in any restaurant we went to apart from beer which we don't drink or wine but you had to buy a whole bottle so we stuck to the fruit juices.

Weather - very hot and sunny, storm in the evening


13.6. - 18..6. Berjaya Redang Beach Hotel, Redang Island

6am wake up call, quick breakfast at the hotel and we were on the way to catch our 10.45am flight to Kuala Terrenganu with Malaysian Airlines again. It took just under 50 min and they served water and juices. At the airport the staff from Berjaya didn't even have our names but took us anyway to the Shahbandar Jetty. What we didn't anticipate and were not informed about was the 3 hours wait for ferry transfer to Redang Island … Luckily there was a local restaurant which became our 'shelter' and also served fantastically cheap Malay food and the best fresh apple juice I've ever drank. It was very hot outside so we thought 'let's have some ice-cream'….hmmm didn't know that you can have ice-cream made of corn or yam … they even poured some yellow liquid with pieces of corn over the scopes - Yuk!!!!!

Finally the long awaited ferry turned up but it took so long to get everybody organized and on board… it took 1,5 hours to get to Redang, the crew turned on really loud 'funky' film during our journey - really could have done without it!

We arrived at 5.30pm in Redang Island, were transferred to Berjaya Redang Beach Resort where were offered a welcome drink. We got checked in and then they just gave us the key to our room and left the reception desk …. Nobody came to collect our luggage and although there were few members of the staff just standing around nobody came to help. We asked one of them where our room was actually located and she told us with such manner like we were supposed to know and what a stupid question we were asking… and just laughed while we were dragging our luggage all the way to the room, I couldn't believe their attitude - here is your key and find the room yourself… especially considering, and this I didn't know at first, my husband was in touch with the hotel for several weeks before our arrival trying to organise a surprise for me for our 1st wedding anniversary, but they didn't bother. At some point a cake and fruit basket turned up in our hotel room just randomly like they just remembered. He requested other things but they didn't do it/forgot/couldn't be bothered… the personnel at the reception were the most unhelpful bunch of people I have ever seen, no one spoke English, it was very frustrating at times I won't go into details but my husband fell ill with very high temperatures and I needed a doctor and nobody understood…. We would have probably been not bothered by everything had we not just returned from Bali where the people's attitude was totally the opposite of what we experienced in Malaysia. But to be fair the staff in the restaurants were very nice and always smiling.

Well anyway, we found our room eventually; it was quite nicely situated in the second row from the beach facing the beach with a partial view of the sea from our veranda. The room could do with major refurbishment but other than it was quite large and comfortable and was kept immaculate. The maid left cookies for us every other evening which were so tasty! The only thing that we didn't like about the rooms is that you can hear just about anything that goes on in the rooms next door. We had no problems on most nights apart from when the football was on wow we felt like they were watching the TV in our room! And also the hotel doesn't provide complimentary water. You have to buy it (MYR7 for big bottle - go outside to the little restaurant & shop it costs MYR2)

As it was quite late we just walked around the resort to get to know everything, the wooden chalets are very nice, and give the resort a real Malay feel with little wooden walkways and ponds everywhere. The beach is beautiful, the sea warm and very clean but then you turn you head to one of the hills surrounding the cove and here they are the giant blocks of rooms and the idyllic feeling is just gone… who the hell thought that they would look nice and add some charm to the resort??? This is beyond me… the new buildings whilst enjoying nice view of the cove in our opinion just ruin the whole resort.
I thought the pool was nice but quite small for the resort but we never used it so can't comment if it got crowded or not, we only spent our time on the beach, never had problems with getting a sun lounger and had enough privacy. The only downside is the building work in progress; it becomes quite noisy at times.

Food - on our first evening we decided to try out the hotel's buffet dinner - RM50 per person - that was our first and also our last time, let's just say it didn't taste nice and we ended up eating bread rolls only. My advice is to walk outside the hotel, and eat at the local eateries; I have to admit the restaurants don't look luxurious but all the food we ate tasted really very nice and they also make lovely fresh juices - the mixed fruit and apple and mango is yummy! And on top of that they are cheap! Bare with the staff they do take their time but once they get to know you they are always smiling and greeting you. We only tried the one right outside of our hotel but the other restaurant further down the hill looked also lovely but we were too lazy and too hungry so we always ended going just there… ;-)
Our breakfast was included in our stay so we ate this at the hotel, nothing great but we managed.
On one night the bars ran out of alcoholic drinks, drinks are very expensive. We had one lunch in the beach bar and burger was served with no chips just plain… weird. We started to go for lunches to the local eatery as well! We tried the Thai restaurant in the hotel and the food there is very nice, also the restaurant's setting is lovely but it's expensive compared to the local restaurant.

You can use internet but have to pay by cash as it can't be charged to your room (?)

There are big adverts for newly opened Spa and some discounts on treatments if you book more than once me & my husband wanted to take a couple's treatment so we went to the reception and enquired about the spa and were told that they closed…. So I tried to explain that there are adverts for it everywhere even in our room again she said it was closed. Later on we went for a walk around the resort and guess what we found - yes the spa!!! It's brand new and it's lovely, I highly recommend it to everyone. We booked 1.5 hr aromatherapy massage and deluxe foot spa - amazing and the place is so lovely and quiet.

We were trying to organise tours but the ladies at the tour desk couldn't understand so we gave up and thought we would try and do it later in the week, but as I mentioned we never got round to do that as my husband fell ill (sun stroke) so we couldn't do anything that we planned which is a shame. I'm sure the island is wonderful but in hindsight I would have given it a miss, perhaps a different hotel would have made for a totally different experience. Our friends visited Langkawi and Borneo and absolutely loved it. To be fair, I think our opinion of Berjaya is also slightly clouded by the outstanding service we received from much cheaper, smaller, and less-well-equipped family-run hotels in Bali .

However we made the best of it and had a good time despite the facts I described earlier. The weather made for a very pleasant stay; it was sunny every day, very hot with big storms every night. However it is clear that the only asset that Berjaya hotel has here is the beautiful cove, beach and crystal clear water. The hotel has the potential but doesn't deliver.


18.6. The Aryani Hotel

We were transferred in the morning from Redang to Shahbandar Jetty - our 'luck' was again on our side as the pick up 'organised' by Travelmood failed to show up. We eventually hired a local van for transfer to The Aryani Hotel (it took 1 hour and the charge was RM50) where we were staying for one night.

The Aryani Hotel is very beautiful; the lobby is furnished with lots of authentic furniture, flowers everywhere. You have a view of a wonderful infinity pool and lovely grounds. There are around 30 Malay chalets, the furnishing is minimalist, and there is a little private garden with an outdoor Jacuzzi bath. Each chalet has a little entrance gate and front garden with patio and seating area. Perhaps the only thing about it is that it is a little isolated and far from the main road.You are at the mercy of the hotel and its restaurant. We were welcomed with a cold ginger tea and a selection of snacks (nice touch after long journey).

We went to explore straight away and on our return we had a fruit basket in our room (huge amount of fresh fruit!), the hotel provides two complimentary bottles of water. In the evening there was a knock on the door and the maid brought us cookies again I was amazed how much effort they put into us since we were staying only 1 night.

The beach is just never ending, huge and vast white-ish sand beach almost empty. We had a very nice lunch and also dinner at Aryani (very spicy!).

The hotel organised transfer for us as we didn't want to rely on Travelmood and end up stranded in Aryani and missing our flight. The also organise an early breakfast (6.15am!) it was lovely, selection of breads and buns, jams, coffee and tea and fresh juices.

We would have loved to stay there for couple nights longer and I would definitely recommend this hotel especially for honeymooners.



19.6. Kuala Terrenganu - Kuala Lumpur - London Heathrow

Transfer to KT for flight to KL, flight was uneventful and took around 45 minutes; we had nice views of Cameron Highlands and lakes. Flight from KL to Heathrow was more or less on time, we enjoyed the views of Phuket again

That's it; our first holiday in SE Asia has come to an end, we loved it and we will be back soon for definite!