Malaysia Gap Year: Melaka and Kuala Lumpur
After a few hours on the coach, we arrived at Melaka (Malacca) which is a small historical town on the western coast of Malaysia. First impressions of Melaka were not favourable and made worse by people leaving Melaka who advised us to leave as soon as possible unless we wanted a few days of complete boredom.
We decided to stay and looked around for a hotel to stay in. The first hotel was a real fleapit which was barren and filled with old men
lounging around. We quickly escaped and found a modern hotel for a similar price just a few metres away. Melaka was quite a strange experience as many of the historical buildings had been rebuilt using new wood giving a cheap and tacky look reminiscent of a theme park.
The back streets of Melaka were much more rewarding and we found various temples with one street having a Hindu temple, a Muslim Mosque and a Christian Church all within a few metres of one another. Melaka has had quite a turbulent history with many groups influencing and controlling the area over the last 500 years including Hindus, Malays, the Portuguese and the Dutch. Some architectural remnants still remain. The old part of the city contains many of Melaka's main sights including the heritage area which has various churches, squares and museums. Other sights include the Portuguese settlement which is home to the descendants of the Portuguese and St.John's Hill and Fort which is located in the south of the city.
After two days of Melaka, we decided to move on and caught a coach to Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur was a lively and bustling city with heavy traffic and many buildings in disrepair. The air was thick with pollution and this was made worse by the hot and humid conditions. We walked around various markets selling everything from clothes to electronics until we noticed a group of hotels. After trying various hotels, we settled on a hotel that was clean and inexpensive. There was no shortage of places to eat with many Chinese and other restaurants to choose from as well as the customary fast food outlets.
In the evening we went to a the Golden Triangle area which was full of bars and restaurants. The bars were a pleasant surprise and became quite packed mid-evening. Live bands were playing at various bars and we did a mini bar crawl to try some of them. After a long hot sweltering day, it was great to just sit down and have a few drinks while listening to live music.
The next day we decided to do some sightseeing around Kuala Lumpur. Chinatown was pleasant enough but the views from the Petronas Towers at Jln Imbi were amazing. The Petronas Towers were built in 1998 and were the tallest building in the world at that time but other buildings have since taken the title.
After a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur I decided to go back to Koh Samui in Thailand for a few days of relaxation while my friend went to the beaches of Penang. It was bliss arriving in Koh Samui again after the heat and pollution of Kuala Lumpur. After a few relaxing days, I flew to Bangkok to catch my flight for the next destination on my gap year - Sydney in Australia.