As I prepare for my first ever venture to Malaysia starting next week, I wanted to tell you what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be going and what you might be seeing from me (if I get good wifi 😉 )
My first 5 days will be spent in the Perhentian Islands, just off the east coast of the Malaysian mainland. We are stayining in the Bubbles resort, situated south of the larger of the two islands. Access to the Perhentian Islands is by ferry from Kuala Besut, and we have to pay a Marine Park Conservation Charge when we get there, this is to go towards conservation efforts on the island.
The Perhentians offer some great diving and excellent snorkeling. In addition to coral and fish, the Perhentians are home to sea turtles and many species of shark — none of them dangerous unless provoked
During our stay there we will be helping out with the Turtle and Reef Project at Bubbles Dive Resort. The island was once home to hundreds of nesting Green and Hawksbill turtles but now the islands only receives 300 nestings per year partly due to frequent oil spills from oil production platforms and oil tankers owned by Petronas located not too far away. This turtle project does a lot of amazing work to address the decline in turtle populations. They identify and monitor individual and nesting sea turtles around the islands, help patrol the nesting beaches for any signs of disturbance, and if any dead turtles are seen, they try and find the cause of their death through a necropsy. Their main goal throughout the communities and tourists is to create and increase turtle conservation awareness through out the islands.
We will take part in the snorkelling trips to help identify sea turtles, as well as patrols and if there are any nest ready to hatch, we will also be helping monitor them. I have never seen a wild sea turtles before so expect as many pictures as I can get 😉
After our stay on the islands we make our way to Penang, which is on the North West coast of the Peninsular Malaysia. This is one of Malaysia’s most diverse, cosmopolitan and exciting cultures. It culminates in George Town, Penang Island’s main city, where we’ll be based, an urban centre that delivers old-world Asia. George Town is listed as an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site due to its well-preserved heritage buildings. Long regarded as the food capital of Malaysia, Penang also attracts tourists with its beautiful coasts and delicious cuisines.
We aim to travel around across the short 4 days we have there. One place I am dying to visit is Penang National Park. At just 2300 hectares, it is the smallest in Malaysia; it’s also one of the newest, having attained national park status in 2003. Several guides and boats operate in and around it, so we will have no trouble finding it. It boasts of a lowland dipterocarp forest, mangroves, wetlands, a meromictic lake, mud flats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches in addition to a rich diversity of birdlife.
Another stop will definitely be the Tropical Spice Garden. According to The Lonely Planet guide, this beautifully landscaped oasis of tropical, fragrant fecundity offers trails past more than 500 species of flora, with an emphasis on edible herbs and spices. The garden offers well-regarded cooking courses and its restaurant is worth a visit. There’s also a good shop, and just across the road from the gardens there’s a beautiful white-sand beach. Plenty of places to dip our toes in Malaysia 😉
On our way back home, we are taking a 4 hour train ride to Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia’s Capital City. It is packed with historic monuments, steel-clad skyscrapers, lush parks, megasized shopping malls, bustling street markets and lively nightspots. We are planning to visit the famous Petronas Twin Towers, the tallest building in the world. It provides a bird’s-eye view across the city, which houses a multitude of shops and art galleries. Many people have said it is best explored on foot, despite the heat. This will give us a chance to take in the city and all it is has to offer in terms of food, history, modernity and culture.
I can’t wait to show and tell you what we come across. Keep your eyes peeled!!!