It seems silly to go on holiday and only blog about the bad stuff. So here’s the good bits I haven’t mentioned yet.
Accommodation: In Kuala Lumpur we stayed at the Classic Inn for a total of 6 or 7 nights. I definitely recommend it. The staff really make an effort to see that you’re happy. I actually stayed here two years ago too, but then I was in a single room. There was a slight misunderstanding on the first night when we got put in a musty-smelling twin-room with no window (avoid room 105 if possible) but once I kicked up a bit of a fuss (brought on by a distinct lack of sleep) we moved to a better room = ask for room 107; it’s a twin-room but you’re with your with your sweety you can just push the beds together. It’s got a window, is relatively quiet in that it’s down a separate hallway, but the window opens onto the front common area, so if the Inn is full then there will be people out there talking til late. That’s to be expected I guess, after all, it’s not a monastery. Also, the wireless node is on the ground floor so you get the best reception if you’re in the ground floor rooms (the rooms on the top floor don’t get any waves, I believe).
They give a free breakfast of coffee, (very grateful for that) fresh fruit, toast and Malaysian-style pancakes or cold noodles. They do laundry for a very reasonable rate and they’ll store luggage (again price is very reasonable) if you want to head off to other parts of the country. All the other features are on their website. The best thing about the place, I would say, is it’s location. It’s easy to get off to all the touristy places and all of the domestic stuff you might need (supermarket, reliable eateries) is literally just across the road.
Penang To be honest we really wanted to go to Langkawi Island but it was all booked up. Penang is a bit more urbanised, or to be more exact, suburbanised. There’s a ring road around Georgetown, the capital, that reminded me a bit of Melbourne or Sydney. Things are spread out across the island which mean you’ll be catching a lot of buses or taking taxis or renting a car. We stayed at the Hydro hotel, which, on the whole, was quite good. The room we stayed in was big, had a partial sea view, balcony and was quiet. They have a pool too, which is good because apparently the nearest beach, batu Ferringhi (not Ferengi) was too polluted to swim in.
The best place we went to in Penang was Tropical Spice Garden which had a whole bunch of spice and herb plants spread around some lovely little pathways. If, like me, plants don’t rock your boat then you might be more interested in the … monkeys!
There’s a bunch of little (I don’t know what kind) monkeys up in the trees and if you’re lucky (like if you go in the morning) you’ll see one or two come down out of the canopy to a lower level to eat flowers. It wasn’t crowded at TSG and it’s a good way to get away from the main road and its traffic noise.
Also while there we had the best meal of the whole two weeks, at their connected restaurant, called Monkey Tree. It’s actually Thai food and due to the spice gardens, they use all their own fresh lemongrass etc.