Malaysia Summary


We took the train from Singapore to Malaysia, intending to continue on to Bangkok, Thailand.  We left in the morning and our first leg was six hours in very comfortable first class.  We arrived Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, in good spirits.  Kuala Lumpur had a very modern train station with Internet cafés, restaurants, book stores and a Kentucky Fried Chicken, which we visited right away.  We bought tickets for the next two legs: to Butterworth in Malaysia and then on to Bangkok.  Unfortunately, there were no first class berths available on the overnight train so we went with second class, which is an open compartment with bunks and curtains.  Security for ourselves and our luggage was an issue as the train stopped many times during the night to load and unload passengers.  As a result, we got almost no sleep that night.  At 5am we arrived at Butterworth station, a sleepy outpost and we decided to stop and visit nearby Penang Island.  The Sheraton Hotel provided us with a much needed rest and we hired a car and guide for a tour of the island, which was terrific.  We went to a Buddhist temple known as the "Snake Temple", played with baby Bengal tigers at a reptile park (?) and visited another Buddhist temple, this time a huge one on the side of a mountain.  On a sad note, this island was hit by the tsunami of December 26, 2004 and fifty school children died at a beach picnic with their parents looking on.  The beach was still closed with plans for it to be turned into a park.  Lauren and Katie were thrilled with the black market Gameboy games, some of which worked and some which did not.

Kona Moment:  The Korean restaurant at the hotel reminded us of the Manna BBQ restaurant at Crossroads in Kona.  Also, there were many orchid farms on the island.

Starbucks:  Yes, at the Kuala Lumpur train station.  We chose to use the local coffee shop with Internet access, which served ginseng lattes…

Weird McDonalds Menu Item:  Did not go.

Cultural Moment:  ATM for "Islam Bank".  Malaysia is an moderate Islamic nation and many women wear head scarves of fashionable fabrics and colors.