How About Malaysia?

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Gunung Reng at the Kelantan/Perak border in northern Malaysia.

Gunung Reng at the Kelantan/Perak border in northern Malaysia.

Have you ever visited Malaysia? Thought about it, maybe?

I’ve talked to lots of Aussies at my food stalls over the years. (Contrary to perception I am occasionally approachable. It has been known to happen.)

More than a handful have been to Malaysia. They were there because of work. Or they were transiting elsewhere. Or they have family there – maybe they’re married to a Malaysian.

Some have been to Langkawi or Penang for short breaks. A few backpacked through Malaysia a loooong time ago, in the 70s even.

Still, nowadays when people think Asian holidays, they mostly think Bali or Thailand. Or Vietnam. I’ve yet to visit these places as I write, and am excited about doing so in the next 12 months. But I do know a bit about Malaysia.

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Gerik, Perak. Also known as Rest Town due to its location.

I spoke to Mel, the food blogger behind The Adventures of Miss Piggy recently. (Yes, despite my rants about food bloggers I am friendly with some.) She went to Langkawi for a break. While she was there, she visited a pasar malam (night market). She observed that most other holidaymakers never ventured outside the resort.

Baby Noah in my Executive Suite at Belum Rainforest Resort

Baby Noah in my Executive Suite at Belum Rainforest Resort

That seems strange to me. Why fly all the way to Malaysia and not explore?

I guess some just want to get away from it all, and just want to enjoy the luxurious, safe surrounds of their 5-star playgrounds. Maybe they only have a limited number of days and prefer to just relax by the pool.

Poolside at Belum Rainforest Resort

Poolside at Belum Rainforest Resort

I totally get that. I’ve been in that mindset. Yet, what would bring them back year after year, short of their total devotion to their favourite resort in Penang or Langkawi?

I’ve travelled to Malaysia four times this year. I’ve been lucky to explore parts of the country that most people never get to see. Tried some foods that I myself had never even heard of. That’s right, not even Malaysian-born-and-bred-ex-Malaysian-restaurateur me.

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Glutinous rice in monkey pots. Photo taken by my tour guide, Mr. Shaukani Abbas – http://instagram.com/shaukaniabbas

In the age of Instagram, I see lots of travel photos made up of scenic views and exotic foods. Nothing wrong with that. (Selfies are a different matter – don’t get me started.)

Heck, my trips have often revolved around the topic of food. And I have not been disappointed – Malaysia is right to be proud of her food.

Yet what has really stood out for me in these trips has been the people I’ve met along the way.

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Left to Right – Tony (my driver), Kak Intan (Bagasta Boutique Guesthouse), moi, Shaukani Abbas (my tour guide)

Long after all the good food and beautiful scenery are but distant memories, what will stay with me forever are the people I have met and continue to meet in my travels. I’ve realised more and more, that everybody has a story.

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Mak Asiah (left) and Pak Aziz (right) of Suka-Suka Lake Retreat, Perak.

But to put things into context, let me start with mine….

 (continues tomorrow…)

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Photos in this post are from my latest trip hosted by People Express Travel, Kuala Lumpur. All rights reserved.

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