Travel is such a luxury. It takes us to new places to discover new and exciting things. Sometimes, dreaming of holidays – long holidays – is the only thing to get you through a long winter in Norfolk, and right now, Malaysia is at the top of the list.
Malaysia is a relatively young country, only gaining independence from the British in 1957. It’s borders have shifted somewhat over the last century with various agreements between the British and the Dutch and the declaration of independence made by Singapore. Now it sits on the Malay Peninsula in two parts as East and West Malaysia. The East shares an island with Borneo and the West sits with Thailand to the North and Singapore to the South.
So why spend a month here? Well, apart from the weather – which at sea level is between 22-32 degrees all year round – there is just so much to see! The Malaysian landscape ranges from clear blue waters and white sandy beaches to majestic mountains home to the remaining rainforests on the peninsula. There are tiny communities living on the tiny islands surrounding the country and the vast Kuala Lumpur, a metropolis at the heart of the rainforest.
To stay here for a month, you would need to find somewhere to call home for that time and to treat as a base for your activities. This list of the top 100 affordable condos in Malaysia shows that this method is certainly more affordable than you might think and is a little bit more flexible than spending time in a hotel. An apartment will also suit you best if you are travelling as a family or small group.
So with a month of travel to fill, this is a list of the things you could get up to.
Snorkelling and Diving
How could you possibly visit Malaysia, a nation made up of tiny white beaches luring you into the waters, and not go snorkelling? There are so many islands to choose from that you really can’t go wrong but the Perhentian Islands would be a very good choice. With calm waters and unspoilt beaches, they are the ideal location for snorkelling as well as getting a bit of SCUBA diving experience.
As you might expect, there is plenty of marine life to see off the shores of Malaysia, plenty of interest for hours of snorkelling. Look out for the mandarinfish with its bright colours and funky patterns and the flamboyant cuttlefish which pulsates a display of brown and white stripes when disturbed.
Don’t forget to sun cream your back thoroughly or wear a t-shirt in the water though as snorkelling can be so immersive you forget the power of the sun!
One of the fastest growing regions in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur is a massive city, towering above the rainforest around it. This is the home of the Petronas Twin Towers standing at 451.9m tall which offers fantastic views from the Skybridge, a link between the two towers at 170m above ground.
The city is also home to the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, originally built in 1873 but replaced with the current building in 1968. It is quite unlike anything you would find in Western culture with murals and frescos covering the front facade. It is a riot of colour and taken as a whole is quite an assault on the senses.
Like many Southeast Asian nations, Malaysia has been aggressively removing large area of rainforest to make way for palm plantations. Unfortunately palm oil is used in lots of Western food products which is driving this thriving market and destroying habitats that are millions of years old. However, Malaysia is home to two National Parks, Taman Negara and Kenong Rimba which provide a retreat for their native species.
Taman Negara could easily be a month long holiday in it’s own right there is so much to do and so much more to see. This park boasts the world’s longest canopy walk, 530m long and 40 meters up in the air. Perhaps not one for those afraid of heights, but once you are up there, the views are incredible.
If you are searching out a different kind of thrill, the rapids along Sungai Tembeling will certainly give you an adrenaline rush. Don’t expect to get any good photos of this experience, though, this is a case of ‘you had to be there’. A small wooden boat takes you right down the river through 7 sets of rapids promising an exhilarating if bumpy ride!
Whether you are religious or not, the Batu Caves, carved from 400 million year old limestone are a sight to behold. The 272 steps to reach the caves may be a stretch, especially in the summer heat, but take your time and make your way up gradually to get the full effect. The caves contain Hindu shrines and are particularly popular during the Hindu festival Thaipusam.
As well as the macaques who live by persuading tourists to part with their lunches, the caves are also home to liphistius batuensis. This trapdoor spider that lives exclusively in these caves and is found nowhere else in the world. There is a protection order on the caves as a result because if this habitat were to be lost, the species would likely go extinct.
Malaysia truly incorporates and relishes so many different aspects, it is difficult to pin down. On the one hand, there are rainforests teeming with life and endemic species protected within them; on the other hand a vast metropolis is reaching for the skies above and growing at a ridiculously fast pace. This is a land of highs and lows, lush greenery and urban growth, sandy white beaches and mountains. To take it all in will require time, space and an understanding of how these contrasts interact to form the cultural heritage so important to Malaysia.
Hopefully soon, this dream to spend a whole month revelling at these spectacles will come true.