Malaysia is very easy to drive around, people are extremely friendly, generous and helpful.
I almost forgot to mention it as it was such a non-issue: visas. We both received our visa on arrival at the land border (train from Singapore) for free, very easy.
Australian and Dutch citizens do not need a visa to visit Malaysia provided:
– Your passport is still valid for at least six (6) months on arrival
– Your visit is up to three (3) months only
– You have a confirmed return or onward international ticket.
If you explain you are leaving the country by road that is also sufficient (ie you don’t need to show return or onward ticket at boarding, ground staff won’t ask for this as you get visa on arrival.)
The roads are generally good, especially the motorways with regular petrol stations, clean toilets and food. Lots of unexpected and completely random potholes can be found on all roads, including the motorways.
The sad thing in Malaysia is that every forest and every paddock and field seems to be turned into a palm plantation for palm oil, hopefully international pressure will stop more jungle and forest being turned into this horrible mono-culture. It is really depressing and even some of the locals you talk to seem aware of the issue.
Although the motorways are great, they do come at a price. Tolls are everywhere, but luckily the amounts are only small each time (they do add up though!) Most of them seem to be between 2 and 4 ringgit (around $1) although sometimes go up to 10 ringgit.
This is the route we drove in Malaysia. If you are interested, you can click on this image below and it will take you to the actual Google Map online. You can then zoom in (or out) to have a more detailed look.
We might show our campsite locations on here too at some point if we have time to get that organised.
We bought a local sim card from Maxis which cost us 30 ringgit, including 250Mb data. It seems to be the biggest telecom provider in Malaysia with good 3G reception in most places, apart from Kuala Tahan. Our number is +601123243136 for a few more days until we buy are Thai sim card.
Some of the places we camped or visited:
|Selangor||03 23 11.51||101 16 44.9||Camp in a parking next to a nature park with a friendly night guard who let us into the park at night for a walk. Coordinates are for the fire flies nearby.|
|Kuala Tahan (kuala means confluence of two waters, could be a small river and a big river, or a river into an ocean)||04 23 00.4||102 24 03.6||65||Camp right next to the river, opposite the main entrance to the national park (which is across the river). We stayed here before and after our jungle walk.|
|Cherating||04 07 32.4||103 23 36.9||-11||Camp right on the beach, next to a soccer pitch, a beach bar and about 200m from an amazing local restaurant with fresh fish.|
GPS and maps are not always very accurate here, roads shown on maps aren’t open yet, sections of roads are missing and sometimes roads that exist don’t feature on the map. Nothing out of the ordinary, but good to be aware off.
Food and Shopping
What we write about food is of course utterly subjective, but we just want to give you our impression of Malay food and shopping. We’ll try to do this for every country we go to. As Jude is a vegetarian who does eat fish we’ll try to comment on the availability of vegetarian options or fishy dishes in restaurants too.
Malaysia was a country where we ate out nearly every night as the food is so good and cheap. With the country surrounded by the ocean there is never a problem to eat a fishy meal.
Don’t miss the Penang Laksa in Georgetown on Penang. It really is the world’s best laksa and will only cost you about $3 for a big bowl. Go to the boulevard to find the outdoor foodcourt near the amusement park for the best ones. They also do a killer Kwai Chow if you don’t like fishy things but eat meat. Oyster omelet are another specialty here.
Shopping for food is easy and you’ll be able to find pretty much anything western you want, with KL having some expat oriented supermarkets to stock up before you head out of the capital if you prefer cooking yourself.
Things like bread, cheese, feta, butter, pasta and sauce, muesli, milk and nesquick, canned vegetables, couscous and Tasty Bites can be found easily. These are some of our staples. Fresh fruit and vegetables can be bought in any market, small shop and supermarket, supplies depending of course on season.
To not put us off rice and noodles we prepare our own breakfast and lunch (muesli, porridge, sandwiches…) and as said before, in Malaysia we eat out every night.
Some animals we saw in Malaysia, hope you like them Niels & Jens!