A Travellerspoint blog

Marvellous Malaysia.

Johor Bahru, Labuan, Kota Kinabalu, Langkawi and Penang.

sunny

Marvellous Malaysia, hibiscus in Kota Kinabalu.

Marvellous Malaysia, hibiscus in Kota Kinabalu.

Just as there were places in Thailand we visited long before I did travel blogs, there were also several places in Malaysia. We went to Malaysia for the first time in 1996 and have returned frequently since.

Our first ever visit to Malaysia was at Christmas time in 1996. We were on holiday in Singapore and we decided it would be a good idea to go across to Johor Bahru for the day. We did little or no preplanning and more or less messed up big time. We left from what is now known as Queen Street Bus Terminal and took a bus to Larkin Bus Station, Johor Bahru. Of course we had to exit the bus at the border and that was the problem. We noted the registration number of the bus so we could get back on it after immigration, but that's not what you do. You get on any bus going to the place you are going. We did not know this. We missed our bus so we walked. That was ok but we never got to the bus station. We did not know where it was. We could not find it for the way back. We did not have a ticket back. We walked to the border and tried to buy a ticket back but could find nowhere to buy it, so we ended up walking all the way back to Singapore. We had to cross the causeway bridge filled with almost stationary cars belching out fumes with little room for pedestrians in blazing heat and high humidity. By the time we reached Woodlands, Singapore we felt half dead. We boarded the MRT back to the Garden Hotel where we were staying, sunstruck, unable to eat anything and feeling terrible. We took it easy the next day and recovered, but it wasn't fun.

In Johor Bahru we visited our first ever Hindu temple, walked to the Istana Besar a former Sultan's palace which is now a museum and wandered its grounds without going in. We also visited the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. Later we went for a drink in Annie's Bar which looked like a converted garage but did a good beer. It would have been a good day if we hadn't had to walk all the way back to Singapore.

Hindu Temple.

Hindu Temple.

The Istana Besar was at one time the main palace used by the Johor royal family. It was built in 1866 by Sultan Abu Bakar. It's supposed to be very interesting inside, but we just visited the grounds.

Istana Besar.

Istana Besar.

Istana Besar.

Istana Besar.

We also visited the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. This is a very unusual looking mosque. It looks more like a town hall than a mosque. It was built between 1892 and 1900.

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque.

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque.

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque.

Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque.

Another part of Malaysia we visited very briefly is Labuan Island. We stayed in Bandar Labuan. We went here by ferry after staying in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei. Labuan is a duty free port which sells cheaper alcohol than other parts of Malaysia. People come here to buy alcohol. There are quite a few things to see on the island. Most of these are connected to World War II. During the war Labuan was occupied by the Japanese for 3 years. The Japanese forces who occupied Borneo surrendered here at the end of the war. The Japanese officers responsible for the death marches from Sandakan were put on trial here. There is a large war cemetery here.

Unfortunately, we had such a short time here it wasn't possible to go to them. We stayed in a hotel called the Waterfront, which is now called Billions Waterfront Hotel. Our room wasn't ready when we arrived and we had to spend a long time waiting for it to be ready. The hotel had a beautiful swimming pool so we went for a swim. We also walked along the seafront a bit, visited the Padang or village green, visited a Chinese temple and wandered around the duty free shops.

Hotel and Pool.

Hotel and Pool.

Hotel.

Hotel.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Padang.

Padang.

Padang.

Padang.

Chinese Temple.

Chinese Temple.

Chinese Temple.

Chinese Temple.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Labuan.

Labuan.

Labuan.

Labuan.

After Labuan we took a boat to Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, one of the two Malaysian parts of Borneo. We stayed in the Hyatt Regency Hotel and had access to the club lounge each evening where we could get free drinks and snacks. The Hyatt had a very nice pool. I remember we had paid extra for a sea view, but didn't get it. We did not complain though as we had not paid extra for the club class facilities, but were given them free.

Our Hotel.

Our Hotel.

Our Pool.

Our Pool.

I'm interested in history so I wanted to see the old British colonial buildings which were built when Kota Kinabalu used to be known as Jesselton in the late nineteenth century. The British North Borneo Company (BNBC) was based here. Unfortunately there are not many old buildings as Jesselton was almost completely destroyed by the allied forces as they battled the Japanese in the second world war. When the town was rebuilt after the war, it was renamed Kota Kinabalu.

One of the few remaining old colonial buildings in Kota Kinabalu is Jesselton Post Office which was officially opened on March 16th, 1918. It is now the Sabah Tourism Board Building.

The old post office, now the Sabah Tourism Board.

The old post office, now the Sabah Tourism Board.

Another survivor is the Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower which is located on Signal Hill Road overlooking downtown Kota Kinabalu. This was built in memory of Jesselton’s first district officer, Francis George Atkinson, who died of Malaria at the age 28. The clock was constructed without the use of nails. It used to be used as a shipping navigation landmark.

Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower.

Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower.

Another survivor is the Jesselton Hotel. This was built after the war when Sir Herbert Ralph Hone, the Colonial Governor of Jesselton, encouraged Hong Kong Chinese businessmen to invest in and help rebuild the area. The Jesselton Hotel was constructed in 1954 and is located on Gaya Street. Chinatown is nearby.

The Jesselton Hotel.

The Jesselton Hotel.

Chinatown.

Chinatown.

We took a walk along the waterfront from our hotel and visited the market and handicraft centre.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Waterfront.

Kota Kinabalu.

Kota Kinabalu.

Market.

Market.

Market.

Market.

Market.

Market.

On one of our days we walked to The Sabah Museum. On the way we passed the Sabah State Mosque. The Sabah State Mosque was completed in 1975. It was designed by Arkitek Jurubina Bertiga and officially opened on 28 June 1977.

Sabah State Mosque.

Sabah State Mosque.

Sabah State Mosque.

Sabah State Mosque.

After the mosque we went to Sabah Museum. This is a large museum with a Main Building, a Science and Technology Centre, a Heritage Village, an Ethno-Botanical Garden and the Sabah Islamic Civilization. We just went to the main building and the Heritage Village. The Main Building is supposed to look like a Rungus longhouse. It has exhibits on Ethnography, Natural History, Ceramics, Archaeology and History.

The Heritage Village is in the Ethno Botanical Gardens. It has several traditional Sabah houses including a Bajau House, a Murut longhouse, a Chinese farmhouse, a Bamboo House and a House of Skulls.

The Sabah Museum.

The Sabah Museum.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

The Heritage Village.

Trains.

Trains.

Trains.

Trains.

Next day we took a boat trip to Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. This is a beautiful marine park off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. It is made up of five islands; Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik. The sea here was crystal clear and filled with multicoloured fish. It was wonderful to swim here. There were long sandy beaches and it was here we saw monitor lizards for the first time.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.

On the way back from the museum we passed the Padang. Every Malaysian city has one of these. It's a large grassy field used for sports and parades. It was Christmas Day and we had received several invitations under our hotel room door to celebrations in the Padang. We thought it'll just be lots of tourists milling about and we were not that interested, but since we were passing and it was free, we decided to go. Well, we were glad we did. It was brilliant. We were the only foreigners. It was full of Malaysians in Santa hats singing Christmas carols. It also had traditional Malaysian dancing. As foreigners we stood out a mile, so much so we were approached by journalists who interviewed us for the local paper.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

Celebrations on the Padang.

We also visited the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque which is a very beautiful building dating from 2000.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.

Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.

One part of Malaysia we visited for a decent amount of time was Langkawi. Langkawi refers to a group of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea. We stayed in a beautiful, peaceful resort on the main island. Like Labuan, Langkawi is a duty free zone. While here we enjoyed our resort with its beautiful pool and beach. We visited the island's main settlement. We took a half day tour round the main island's sights. We visited a crocodile farm and we went on a boat trip to some of the other islands in the Langkawi group. It's a wonderfully relaxing destination.

I've forgotten what our hotel was called. It was away from the main town. Our accommodation was in individual chalets. They were clean and comfortable. I remember being disturbed in our sleep one night by an extremely loud bird that perched on our roof. I had to get up and chase it, it was so noisy. Our accommodation had a beautiful pool and it was located on a wonderful sandy palm fringed beach. We took photos of the beach one day in perfect sunshine, then went for a walk. As we returned a storm was blowing in transforming the earlier beach scene. Our hotel had a main restaurant which we used, but we also had a romantic sunset meal where we were seated at a viewpoint next to the water. It was lovely.

Room.

Room.

Balcony.

Balcony.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Grounds.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach before the storm.

Beach before the storm.

Beach during the storm.

Beach during the storm.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Dinner.

Dinner.

The main town on Langkawi's main island is called Kuah. It is in the southeast corner of the island. If you come here by ferry, this is where you will arrive. Kuah has lots of duty-free shops. We came here twice. Once by free shuttle from our hotel to have a look round and eat dinner and once on our tour of the island.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

Kuah and surroundings.

On the tour of the island we went to Eagle Square or Dataran Lang. There is a 12 metre tall sculpture of an eagle about to fly here.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

Langkawi's Eagle.

We also went to Mahsuri's Tomb. The legend of Mahsuri has different versions. Some versions say she was a farmer's daughter. Other versions say she was a princess. All versions say Mahsuri was a very beautiful woman who was born on Langkawi in the late eighteenth century. The chief of her village fell in love with her and wanted to marry her, but he already had a wife and she felt extremely jealous of Mahsuri. Mahsuri herself married a soldier, but he had to leave her to fight in a war. During this time a storyteller came to the village and Mahsuri gave him a place to stay. The village chief's wife took this as an opportunity to accuse Mahsuri of committing adultery with the storyteller. Her case was taken to the village elders. They found her guilty and sentenced her to death in the year 1819. She was tied to an wooden pole and repeatedly stabbed. With her dying breath, she cursed Langkawi for seven generations. As she died white blood began to flow out of her body, proving her innocence. Soon after her death, the Siamese attacked and conquered Langkawi. The villagers burnt their rice fields and poisoned their wells to drive the invaders away. After this Langkawi was a barren land for a long time. District Officer Abdul Rahman later built a modest tomb for Mahsuri. On the site of Mahsuri's Tomb there is also a traditional Malay wooden house on stilts.

Mahsuri's Tomb.

Mahsuri's Tomb.

Mahsuri's Tomb.

Mahsuri's Tomb.

Traditional House.

Traditional House.

We also went to a craft workshop.

Traditional Crafts.

Traditional Crafts.

Traditional Crafts.

Traditional Crafts.

We also did a day trip on a speed boat to some of Langkawi's other islands. We visited Dayang Bunting Island, which is shaped like a pregnant woman lying down. This island has a beautiful freshwater lake called Tasik Dayang Bunting or Lake of the Pregnant Maiden. We went swimming here. According to legend, the lake has special powers including inducing pregnancy after bathing in its waters. It did not work for me though.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

Dayang Bunting Island.

We also visited Pulau Singa Besar or Giant Lion Island which is an island with a wildlife sanctuary. It also has unique rock formations, mangrove plants, and tranquil beaches. This island is home to eagles, monkeys, mousedeer, hornbills, snakes, monitor lizards and peacocks. These can all roam freely on the island. The deer were very tame. We could stroke them.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.

Pulau Singa Besar.



We also visited Langkawi Crocodile Farm. This caused some tension. I wanted to go, Peter didn't. He didn't like crocodiles. By the end of our visit he'd changed to finding crocodiles fascinating and I'd changed to being terrified of them.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Langkawi Crocodile Farm.

Finally, we have been to Penang twice. I already wrote a blog on our second visit, but it was short and we only visited Georgetown, so I'll write our first visit up here.

It was our second ever holiday from Hong Kong. It was Chinese New Year, 1997. We stayed in the Holiday Inn Hotel in Batu Ferringhi. Batu Ferringhi is a resort area consisting of lots of hotels stretching along a long white sandy beach. The beach is beautiful, but the water is quite murky and has quite a lot of jellyfish. We did swim in it, but the pool was better. Along the other side of the road from the hotels there are lots of restaurants and shops.

Holiday Inn Hotel.

Holiday Inn Hotel.

Our Room.

Our Room.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Pool.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Beach.

Typical Wooden House.

Typical Wooden House.

Batik for sale.

Batik for sale.

Walking around Bathu Ferringhi.

Walking around Bathu Ferringhi.

On one of our days we walked along the beach to the Penang Butterfly Farm. This was a beautiful colourful place filled with ponds, flowers and, of course, butterflies.

The Butterfly Farm.

The Butterfly Farm.

The Butterfly Farm.

The Butterfly Farm.

On another we travelled up Penang Hill by funicular. There are beautiful, scenic views from the top.

Penang Hill.

Penang Hill.

The Funicular.

The Funicular.

At the top of the hill.

At the top of the hill.

View from the hill.

View from the hill.

View from the hill.

View from the hill.

View from the hill.

View from the hill.

Penang Hill.

Penang Hill.

Bukit Penang Mosque.

Bukit Penang Mosque.

We also took the ferry from Georgetown to Butterworth, though we were short of time so just came straight back rather than exploring there. In Georgetown itself we visited Fort Cornwallis, Saint George's Church, Kapitan Keeling Mosque and the Temple of Kuan Yin.

Ferry to Butterworth.

Ferry to Butterworth.

Eastern and Oriental Hotel.

Eastern and Oriental Hotel.

Fort Cornwallis.

Fort Cornwallis.

Padang.

Padang.

Graveyard.

Graveyard.

Saint George's Church.

Saint George's Church.

Kapitan Keling Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque.

Kapitan Keling Mosque.

Kuan Yin Temple.

Kuan Yin Temple.

Kuan Yin Temple.

Kuan Yin Temple.

Incense Sticks.

Incense Sticks.

Temple Lion.

Temple Lion.

Chinese New Year Decorations.

Chinese New Year Decorations.

Flower Sellers.

Flower Sellers.

Street in Georgetown.

Street in Georgetown.

Posted by irenevt 06:55 Archived in Malaysia

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Comments

Those crododiles look scary, hubby must have strong nerves getting so close to them.

Nice pictures as usual, but you missed the Colonial-era railway station in Kuala Lumpur, the architecture was stunning, I've still got an old picture of it, maybe it has been demolished to make way for "progress?"

by Bennytheball

Hi Benny, We were at the colonial railway station in Kuala Lumpur at Christmas time. It's still used as a railway station, but not that many trains go there.It's not that easy to get to as it's next to lots of very busy roads with nowhere to cross. On our first visit to it, it had a great cafe but sadly that has closed down. I felt the building was looking a bit neglected overall but at least it's still there.If you want to see an updated picture of it look at my Christmas in Malaysia blog. I'll put the link below. Cheers, Irene

by irenevt

Here's the link

https://malaychristmas2019.travellerspoint.com

It's under Exploring old Kuala Lumpur.

by irenevt

Hello again Irene..... I can't find your picture of the KL railway station, probably looking in the wrong place, anyway this is how it looked in 1974, there were lots of British cars around then, you can see the grey Morris Minor in the foreground, I had around six of these, I wish I still had one, they are worth big money today!

https://www.travellerspoint.com/photos/stream/photoID/5702827/users/Bennytheball/

by Bennytheball

Hi Irene. You had a rough start to the trip having to walk from Johor Bahru to Singapore. That's quite a hike. You certainly got your exercise that day!

We love Heritage Villages and always search them out. It's like walking through a little piece of history. Must admit it's a bit scary when I see things from my childhood exhibited as "history." I'm sure that says something . . .

by Beausoleil

Hi Sally,

Yes it was a horrendous walk. It would probably kill us nowadays.

I know what you mean about things from our childhoods. Once I was getting my class of 7 year olds to do a role play based on 'Charlotte's Web'. I said one of you pretends to be Fern and dials Uncle Homer and I did circular ringing actions with my finger. I heard one of the kids whisper 'What's Miss McKay doing?' and another answered' I think she's using a phone from a museum.'

by irenevt

love the old photos...

by joffre

Thank you and thanks for visiting.

by irenevt

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