Day 3: From Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh to Penang

It was a 4 hour car ride up to Penang from Kuala Lumpur. We only made two stops, one for the bathroom and the other in Ipoh which was 2 hours away. Ipoh is a city in northwest Malaysia and pretty much the middle point of our road trip up.

Ipoh

It was around 1 when we arrived at Ipoh and we were starving since we didn’t eat anything all morning besides some chips we picked up at the rest stop. First order of business, food. We stopped by a restaurant that was packed with people eating lunch called Restoran Ipoh Kong Heng. Ipoh is known for their bean sprouts so of course we had to get that as one of our dishes.

Our food from Restoran Ipoh Hong Keng

My favorite dish ended up being the Popiah. Fried popiah = spring roll but the Malaysian Popiah looks different than your typical spring roll. We got the non fried one where the wraps are stuffed with shredded turnip, jimaca, egg, peanuts and other veggies.

After lunch, we walked over to check out Concubine Lane, which is one of the touristy spots in Ipoh. History has it that it was where all the concubines and mistresses of British officers and wealthy Chinese had stayed.

Concubine Lane

Apparently after Malaysia has gained independence, all of the British officers abandoned the area and the buildings have been reclaimed by nature. Since then, the city has restored parts of the area as you can see. The abandoned buildings were my favorite part about Concubine Lane since you feel like you just traveled back in time.

Abandoned building

Loving the color

Concubine Lane was a good mix of the old and the new. There were lot of street art as well.

Street art in Concubine Lane

Colorful umbrellas

After walking through Concubine Lane, we did some light exploring around Ipoh before we got back on the road to Penang.

Can’t get enough of the architecture

Right before we got back on the road, I couldn’t help myself from stopping by a cafe called Plan B. It was just too beautiful to pass by. I ended up getting a refreshing elderflower drink for the road.

Refreshing elderflower cooler from Plan B

Penang

2 hours later, we have arrived in Penang. Right before we got on the bridge, I saw a building for Western Digital and HP – apparently they call Penang the Silicon Valley of East. Penang is one of Malaysia’s most urbanized states, the highest GDP per capita among the states and has the second largest city in Malaysia, Georgetown.

Our Airbnb was around Fortune Park, which was a close drive to George Town. Being in a car for so long is much more tiring than you think, so we relaxed in our Airbnb before we explored the neighborhood a little bit.

We didn’t explore much, just around the neighborhood to see what we were dealing with. We were blessed with a lot of food options, cafes and convenience stores.

Originally we were going to head to area where the Clan Jetties were before it was dark but we were too comfortable on the sofa and in the AC to make any moves. The Clan Jetties were unique Chinese settlements and were named after their surname. Tan Jetty and Chew Jetty are two examples. They are located along the waterfront of George Town and pretty much a floating village above water.

By the time we got there and found parking, it was pretty much night time and most of the shops at the Jetties were closed. After all, the shops weren’t stores but actual homes where they lived in. The entrance of Chew Jetty was pretty nice at night because of all the lights, but it was pretty much empty besides a couple of other tourists taking pictures.

Chew Jetty at night

We wanted to check out the Hean Boo Thean Kuan Yin Temple before grabbing dinner so we made our way through a lot of dark streets to get there. It was pretty much empty aside from the people who actually live in the area. It was very village-ly and kind of scary at night. Something I wouldn’t have walked through if it wasn’t for my parents being there with us. The only scenario where I wouldn’t have been nervous was if I was with a big group.

For dinner, we found a big food hall around the area where there were a bunch of different food stalls.

Not really sure what the place was called but we ended up getting a variety of dishes to share.

Assam Laksa
Popiah again!
Calamansi Juice – refreshing drink and it tastes like lime!
Seafood Fried Rice
Hor Fun

Nothing better than ending the night with a full stomach.

Day 2: Batu Caves, Central Market & Bandar Mahkota Cheras

We began our day around 10am which wasn’t exactly early but all the vendors near our Airbnb wasn’t open yet. We decided to start driving towards Batu Caves first and then find a spot for breakfast along the way. After an unsuccessful attempt at finding food, we decided to get McDonalds – super authentic lol.

I didn’t want to get anything that I could’ve gotten back in the states so I tried the Nasi Lemak Burger and got an Iced Latte.

Nasi Lemak Burger from McDonalds

The chicken in the burger was crispy, tender and juicy. The Nasi Lemak sauce was a bit too fishy for my taste, but overall it was really good. The iced latte was meh, couldn’t really taste the espresso as the milk was really overwhelming. The fries weren’t as good as the McDonald fries back in the states. Later on the day, my aunt told me that KFC was way better so that’s next on my fast food list.

Batu Cave

Lord Murugan Statue by Batu Caves

My first impression was being amazed at how big the Lord Murugan Statue was. Looking straight at it from the bottom made the statue look as tall as the hills behind it. Unfortunately there was so much construction going on that it made the overall experience less majestic.

Before trekking up the stairs, there was a pile of bricks and buckets that you could voluntarily carry up to help the workers. Of course, I had to bring at least one brick up.

Trekking the stairs up to Batu Cave

From the bottom the stairs look overwhelming, but trekking up wasn’t too bad. It was way easier than I expected it would be. The main challenge was avoiding getting your stuff stolen from all the monkeys running around. Lucky for me I had a small bag to hide my sunglasses and anything else that may look tempting to steal.

Monkeying around

These monkeys may look cute but quite mischievous. One of them threw a plastic bottle at these two girls and I ended up being in the middle of it.

My favorite picture I took at Batu Cave

We got to the top fairly quickly and you don’t notice how massive it really is until you’re inside the cave.

Inside Batu Cave
It’s crazy how they carry supplies on their head up

There was so much construction being done that it made the whole experience feel less magical than it should’ve been.

I wanted to explore the dark caves but no one wanted to do the excursion with me. I would’ve done it alone but I would’ve felt bad making everyone wait 45 minutes for me. Definitely on my list next time I’m back.

After trekking back down, we got some refreshing coconuts to reward ourselves. Next stop, Central Market!

Central Market

If you thought LA traffic is bad, you haven’t experienced traffic in Southeast Asia. I would never want to drive here, it seems like there’s no rules besides the traffic lights. Everyone is too busy getting to point A to point B and no one is really sharing the road.

Central Market

I love visiting markets in other countries. There’s so many things to browse, from clothes to trinkets to a whole lot of souvenirs. Don’t even get me started on all the food you can get! I ended up getting a whole bunch of postcards and we tried a bunch of snacks.

Love the tiles and color
Central Market outdoor vendors
All these coconuts

Chinatown

A couple of blocks away was Chinatown, so it was natural that it was next on our itinerary. To my surprise, either it was too early or it was because of the weekday it wasn’t too crowded when we walked throu

Chinatown
Chinatown market
The best Chinese styled BBQ jerky I ever had.

We did some light browsing and stopped by this place called Lost in Chinatown. It was a store with a tacky gallery with pictures of celebrities and movie characters. The best part of it was a section with Malaysian history, slang and authentic dishes. Since it was free admission, it’s definitely worth checking out just for that part of the gallery.

After Chinatown, we explored the area surrounding us before heading back to the car. I love seeing all the vibrant colors, architecture and food everywhere we go.

I wanted to buy all of them!!
Burger ayam!

Amazing street art

After stumbling upon a burger ayam (ayam=chicken) stand, we went back to Central Market to use the bathrooms before we head back to the car.

Right as we were going to leave, it started pouring so hard, we had no chance but to wait until the storm passed. After killing a hour, it was clear that it wasn’t going to stop raining. We waited until it was raining lightly before making the move to buy some umbrellas and make the trek. Rain, humidity and sweat is not a fun mix.

We were going to head to Merdeka Square and the River of Life, but we had to save that for next time because of the rain. It was also pretty late since we waited for the rain to pass and we had dinner plans with my grandpa and some relatives from my mom’s side of the family.

Bandar Mahkota Cheras

Next stop was Bandar Mahkota Cheras which was southeast of Kuala Lumpur. It was roughly 30 to 45 minutes away and it was where my relatives live. Outside their house they had two cute guard dogs and one house poodle that was really excited when they saw us. I haven’t seen my grandpa in years and it was my first time meeting everyone.

We ate at a place called Legend Seafood Restaurant and got a bunch of different dishes. The only picture I took was a tofu dish since I didn’t bring my camera out to dinner.

A really good tofu dish

After dinner we went durian shopping at a spot that my grandpa likes. Durian is pretty big in Malaysia and it’s considered a luxury. Most people can’t stand the smell of the fruit and it’s banned in a lot of places. My grandpa ended up selecting a musang durian and another popular one.

Durian for sale

Afterwards they ate it back at my grandpa’s house along with some satay. We had one more stop before heading back to the Airbnb and it was seeing the Petronas Twin Towers at night.

KLCC

Suria KLCC and the Petronas Twin Towers was breathtaking at night. There was a water show by the Suria shopping mall and the Petronas Twin Towers were so tall that you had to look so far up and you can feel it in your neck.

Suria KLCC with the Petronas Twin Towers behind it
Petronas Twin Towers

There’s so much more in Kuala Lumpur to see, but we’ll save it when we’re back. Tomorrow we’re heading to Penang!

Day 1: Finally landed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

It took about 6 movies, 2 layovers and around 20 hours to get to Malaysia from New York City. Aside from the long flight, everything went pretty smooth – Cathay Pacific is AWESOME.

When we arrived, we could already feel the stickiness in the air. Even more so once we got out of the airport. Lucky for us, my dad and my cousin picked us up from the airport which made our lives so much easier. For some context of this trip, my parents wanted me to come to Malaysia to visit relatives and so they can show me around since they grew up here. It’s also my first time visiting Malaysia since I didn’t have the time to visit when the rest of my family went previously.

The ride from the airport to Sentul was roughly around a hour due to traffic. Sentul is a large town north of Kuala Lumpur where my dad’s niece lives. My parents were stayed there for the night after coming back from Bali. It was nice seeing all my cousins that haven’t met before and my grandma from my dad’s side who is ~95 years old.

We were going to grab lunch with my dads niece and her family but we weren’t hungry yet. Jacqueline and I just wanted to shower and food wasn’t even top of mind after sitting on a plane for so long. We decided to head to Airbnb first, which was 15 minutes away from Sentul.

The building where our Airbnb was.

After showering, I ended up falling asleep for a hour or two. It felt great to just lay down on a comfy bed and stretch my body after a long flight. Jet lag hit me pretty hard and I would’ve opted in to sleep for the rest of the day if I was by myself.

It was time for dinner and a couple of restaurants that my relatives wanted to bring us were closed which was unfortunate since I heard amazing things about the food. We ended up going to Lake Village Restaurant and sat inside. Overall the food was decent, but there were a couple of dishes that stood out.

Fried calamari, they ran out of the salted egg fried calamari 😦
Steamed tilapia with ginger
3 layer egg – century egg, salted egg and egg

Not pictured above was a salted egg string bean dish that was amazing. Salted egg dishes are pretty common and it’s when a dish is coated with that flavor or salted egg oil. Two of my other favorite dishes that I didn’t get a picture of was the buttermilk chicken chop that had a nice spicy kick to it and a bean curd/ tofu dish.

After dinner, there was a light drizzle so we decided to chill a bit before heading to one of the night markets nearby. The night market we went to was the Pasar Malam Kepong Baru. It wasn’t too packed since it was pouring when we got there. There were also fewer vendors due to the rain. Walking through a narrow street surrounded by vendors holding an umbrella is not as easy as it looks. Especially when you have to avoid getting poked in the eye by other people holding their umbrellas.

Walking through the night market
Lots of different shumai

Crispy pancake with different flavor fillings

We ended up getting a whole bunch of street food and eating it back at the house in Sentul. I was able to get my hands on stinky tofu at the market, but it wasn’t as good as the one I got in China. I couldn’t help myself from keeping my eyes open for the rest of the night, so I was glad we were calling it a night.