In Other News...
For some reason the Malaysians really like the British which is a bit strange considering we abandoned them during WWII and let the Japanese invade them unopposed! Not a single person was killed in the Japanese colonisation of Malaysia due to this and it was so easy for the Japanese that they conquered the whole country in 3 days using only bicycles!
So did you guess what BOH stands for? Something to do with British? That's what we thought. It actually means - Best of Highlands. They aren't lying either, the tea is splendid.
Penang is another town with UNESCO heritage status but was slightly different to what we had seen in the past as the majority of the buildings being protected were relatively young in age. There are also a lot of Chinese clan houses from differing periods which are really interesting and can be learnt about in the Georgetown Heritage Centre.
Do you know what makes Penang train station so unique? A train has never left from or arrived at the station! In a time when the only way to access Penang was by boat, it would seem strange to build a train station but that's what the British did. The main station was in Butterworth back on the main land and Penang station only sold ferry tickets to get across to the station!
Selamat datang (means more like welcome)
Really friendly and love the British!
State of WCs:
5/10... people still refuse to use the toilet properly
15*c - 40*c
Western, Indian or Chinese food ... as well as some very tasty stingray
No. Of bites:
Maryam 3 v 2 Andy
Tea plantations look like fields of green velvet, so splended
In the Highlands, don't opt for a tour, hire a taxi and do the tour your own way. Most of the time we had the landscape to ourselves unlike any touring experience
Monkeys at the temples
A meal can be bought for around £3, so pretty good
Tea, chinese clans, Islam
7 hours ahead of GMT
It only took 12 hours and 4 minivans but we made it across the border and into Malaysia!
On to Singapore which most definitely is not a part of Malaysia!
Buddhism has taken a new twist! The Nazi Buddha! We're only half joking. We were quite shocked to find Buddhas with the swastika symbol on their heads/chests/arms in certain temples in Penang and Cameron Highlands. We've since found out that the symbol means good luck in their culture and not what we are more commonly used to!
And finally, The metro system in Malaysia is pretty strict!! No funny business and no doggies.
We saw some lovely photographs of delicious looking food in Penang. They were only photographs though because everything we ordered ended up being grey! Rice - grey. Noodles - grey. Chicken - grey. Vegetables - grey.
Fort Cornwallis sits on the esplanade of Penang and was built by a British man named Francis Light. It was one of the first areas to be developed in Penang in order to act as a defence against attacks on the town. Inside the fort there is a statue in honour of Mr Light, but there's just one problem with it... the statue is actually of his son William! By the time they decided to build a statue of Francis, he had long passed away and there were no records of what he looked like. There was however paintings of his son. They decided, 'like father, like son' they must look the same and so erected a statue of William.
We timed our stay in Penang well as it coincided with a night waking tour and show at the Khoo Klong See, both of which occur the last weekend of every month. The show was highly entertaining, the drummers were incredible and the children performing Woo Shi (a bit like karate) were very talented (especially the girl who looked like she was wearing pyjamas). On the other end of the spectrum the Russian fire dancers were hilariously bad including the moment the flaming ball broke off the chain and sailed through the air, missing a small child by a matter of centimetres!
Beauty only your eyes can truly understand. The rolling hills of the tea plantations are one of the most stunning sceneries we have seen on this trip. Maryam described the hills as covered in soft velvet and the shades of green relative to the age of the leaves provide variation in the view.
It isn't surprising to know that most of the Cameron Highlands is actually owned by a Scotsman. During British Colonial times, J.A. Russell purchased land from the Government and set up the first Malaysia tea plantation - BOH (can you guess what BOH stands for? We'll tell you at the end). The two plantations now cover over 230 hectares and produce 820,000 cups of tea a day! As well as the tea plantations, Mr Russell also owns other land and property in the area and the business is now run by his daughter.
We enjoyed all the Cameron Highlands had to offer with our taxi driver/tour guide Selvam who by generally being just an all round nice guy knew every man and his dog and basically has unrestricted access to the Highlands because of this! We witnessed this first hand when visiting the main BOH plantation as he drove straight past the 'authorised vehicles only' sign, (waving to the security guard as he did) and parked up next to the manager's bay outside the factory. He then proceeded to take us on our own personal guided tour of the factory before anyone else had even gotten out their cars. We liked Selvam!
Nice guys don't finish last! Selvam was a superstar!
The Petronas towers were a lot cooler than we had expected. Although built in 1993 they have an Art Deco esq style to them on the inside and a very futuristic/technological style to the exterior. Another part of the towers is the Symphony Lake at the back with a spectacularly large water feature which becomes a light and sound show in the evening. Needless to say it was EPIC.
We found out some amusing things about the British on the Kuala Lumpur heritage walking tour, they just love clock towers and train stations! Once again, we were responsible for the building of these landmarks in the city and we were in fact responsible for a lot of the 'Islamic' architecture as well. So what happened was, an architect called S.E. Norman was commissioned to construct a series of new buildings in the city but was specifically asked to make them appropriate to the Islamic culture. 'Nay worries', he declared, 'I know all about Islamic architecture' and proceeded to design every building with domes on the roof as he had done in India!
The Royal Salangor Gentleman's club is the original saloon used by the British males during the colonial times and overlooks the former cricket pitch and city hall. There was a strict rule of no ladies being allowed inside the long bar but they could sit on the external terrace whilst their husbands talked 'business' inside. Of course, that's not what they were actually doing. They were in fact, sneaking out of the back door of the club and going to see their mistresses nearby whilst their wives were none the wiser! They eventually got busted.
Had stingray for dinner on our final night in KL and Malaysia