It never came, but now it was so far. Malaysia, my first meeting with Asia, my first meeting with the great diversity of this country on the South China Sea.
My flight from Düsseldorf to Singapore with Singapore Airlines runs smoothly. With Wi-Fi on board, I was able to continue my work on my Macbook to slowly switch from work to travel mode.
Once arrived in Singapore it is morning. At 07:15 I arrive at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. An experience in itself, and with three towers and more than 2500 rooms and suites, this is a true village. The roof is in a boat shape with a giant infinity pool and several bars and restaurants. Everything is extremely well arranged and very well taken care of. What an experience to look out over Singapore City and Fullerton Bay Hotel from the infinty pool on the 57th floor.
The next day I take a look at China Town,with many shops and restaurants, to experience a completely different vibe of Singapore. For example, there is a small Temple to admire and a mix of styles and cultures to observe. Orchard Road gives a completely different view of Singapore, ‘shop till you drop’ is the motto here.
Take a photo from the Ion Building,drink a Singapore Sling at Raffles,or eat satay at Boon Tat Street where the street is cordoned off from 7pm and transformed into an open-air popup restaurant.
Singapore is clean, the people there are friendly and welcoming. The colonial character of the port and the hotels gives it a very special atmosphere.
The next destination is Kota Kinabalu in northwest Borneo. With a flight of 2.5 hours from Singapore I arrive in the afternoon in ‘KK’ as it is popularly called. The old fishermen’s market and countless streets give a good picture of nostalgic Borneo.
By evening, countless restaurants at the Filipino Night Market open their kitchens and store the fresh fish. Dinner @ South China Sea, and then another drink in a local pub, it’s all possible there.
The next day early from the feathers because then it is Sandakan’sturn. Located in the northeast of Borneo, Sandakan is a port city with transit of various products such as coffee, tobacco and oil, and from here they export a lot of fresh fish. I have experienced Sandakan as a quiet city and a base for trips to different locations. One of them is Sepilok where you can admire the orangutans and the Sun Bear. You can also do anightwalkunder the guidance of a guide to spot snakes, birds and insects.
Also visited the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary
where the nose monkeys live a natural existence and where they are easily spotted.
The third base was Turtle Island, a 40-minute boat ride from Sandakan. Just below the Philippines is a small island where a Turtle Rescue Resort is located with the possibility of ‘high class’ overnight stays. A special experience and with the strong ebb and flow it is possible to walk to the next island in the afternoon.
It’s a jungle out there!
From Sandakan I take a speedboat to the Kinabatangan River. After about an hour and a half of sailing I reach the lodge tucked away in the jungle. After the reception and check-in we go with a group up the river to see the flora and fauna.
Sea eagles, kingfishers, hornbills, flying foxes (species of bats), macaca monkeys and orangutans are frequently encountered. Snakes and dragons can also be found here. It’s great to experience the beautiful nature from the boat, and the palm and raffiabosses make it a real spectacle with the reflection in the water.
‘KL’ and Cameron Highlands
From the jungle “right back to the city”. On to Kuala Lumpur! With Malaysia Airlines from Sandakan to Kuala Lumpur. With a flight of just under 3 hours, I’ll stay at the Ritz Carlton. They proudly told me that this is President Obama’s favorite hotel, as he has stayed here several times during his visit to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is in growth and with the Petronas Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Tower a city with a face and recognition.
From KL by car a three hour trip to Cameron Highlands. The area is located north of ‘KL’ with the extensive tea plantations in the mountains. Cameron Highlands has a British past and that is evident. At about 1400 meters altitude is the Cameron Highlands Hotel where I will dine and spend the night. Overlooking the 18 hole golf course and the mountains in the background this is an oasis of calm. Another very different experience of Malaysia.
The last morning of my trip starts with a visit to the tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. With a 4X4 Jeep we drive on the winding roads up the mountain to about 2000 meters. From here you can shoot beautiful pictures when the landscape is still shrouded in fog. Tea and strawberries are the products grown here.
After breakfast at the Cameron Highlands Hotel I continue with driver to the island of Penang. We drive for quite some time through the mountains and behold the beautiful nature and come along the marble mountains out in Ipoh. Along the way there is a lot to see, and we stop at a beautiful temple hidden in a cave. Smaller than Batu Caves but no less impressive with the murals and the winding paths up.
In the early afternoon I arrive in Georgetown, the capital of Penang. The vibe is immediately clear: an artistic slant with a colonial character. Lots to see, and in Little India is the party with loud music, colorful images and flowers. Time to say goodbye to this fantastic country…