We love to take pictures. Pictures that capture moments of everyday life. It is these moments of colour and light, of the extraordinary as well as the common which remind us of the immense beauty we live in. Some pictures were taken at our guesthouse. Others in our neighbourhood or somewhere around Kuala Lumpur. We hope you like them and feel inspired to discover Malaysia on your own. If you feel like having more picturesque moments in life, just follow us on Instagram (orangepekoeguesthouse). See you there! Cheers!
During the last 12 months the world has seen considerable fluctuations of major currencies. Everybody knows about the newly gained strength of the US Dollar and the Euro weakness. What many people don’t know is that the Malaysian Ringgit has also depreciated in value which means that your Malaysia holiday has just become more affordable. Even travellers from Europe may rejoice because the Ringgit has fallen almost in tandem with the common currency. This means that Europeans won’t feel the pinch when they discover beautiful Malaysia. Enjoy local breakfast at a downtown restaurant for as little as 1 Euro 20 Cents, catch a movie for 3 Euro, use KL’s Monorail for 30-60 Euro Cents or take an air-conditioned coach (incl. infotainment) from KL to Singapore for very affordable 17 Euro. At our guesthouse you get an air-conditioned double room with ensuite bathroom, Wifi, breakfast etc for as little as 22 Euro. On top of that you may enjoy e.g. the super attractive airfares offered by AirAsia in case you want to explore the region. What these examples can’t tell you of course is that to discover Malaysia always means to discover an entire world. This is how diverse and colourful we are 🙂
Hot Air Balloons are one of those things that have fascinated us since childhood. In our imagination they are the thing that comes closest to a ride on the magic carpet. And we dream that one day we will cross the Alps and the Pyrenees, fly over the Lake District and Cappadocia. Even though the annual Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Putrajaya does not offer this possibility, nothing could stop us from getting up early, very early, to watch 19 hot air balloons take to the skies.
Coming from Kuala Lumpur it took us no more than 40 minutes to reach Putrajaya around 7am. With seven years of experience, things here are well organised and convenient. We instantly found parking just across the launch area and were able to identify a spot with great view. While the support crews were busy preparing the balloons for their morning flights (or rides, to be correct), we had our first coffee. Others brought a full breakfast and enjoyed an early picnic in the park. Above us a mini Zeppelin (we termed it “the support ship”) circled in the air. Why don’t we have wings? Finally, around 7.30am it was all “action” and the first hot air balloon took off. Perfect timing, beautiful light and striking colours. Soon all hot air balloons were up in the sky moving gently across Putrajaya lake in north-eastern direction.
We decided it was time for a proper breakfast. So we got into our car and drove over to Cyberjaya for Nasi Lemak and Nescafe Ice. Perfect morning. Mission accomplished. Of course we will be back next year. We still haven’t watched the “Night Glow” of the hot air balloons which is always accompanied by beautiful fireworks. This is an event not to be missed. Just google the Night Glow pictures and you will understand. We can’t wait to take you there 🙂
Has it ever happened to you that you miss out on a destination somewhere close by simply because you are telling yourself that you can go there any time anyway? Well, we had this experience before and it looked like eventually we would have to add Genting to our list of blank spots. The fact that things turned out differently is thanks to dear friends who helped us make “Project Genting” come true.
So on a recent Sunday afternoon we finally left Kuala Lumpur in north-eastern direction. Traffic was light and hence the city gave way to the rainforest in no time. A moment of bliss! After passing the “Genting Skyway” station (see TIP) we stopped at the Chin Swee Caves Temple.
The construction of this Taoist temple was initiated by Genting founder Lim Goh Tong who picked the most scenic spot of the Genting Highlands for this place of worship. It took 20 years to complete this project because of the steep and rocky terrain in this area. If you are not in a hurry, a stop is highly recommended. Don’t miss the beautiful view on clear days!
From Chin Swee Caves Temple it is another 10-minute drive before you reach Resorts World Genting. The name, we thought, may easily trigger too high expectations, especially with those who know Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore (both are operated by the Genting Group). Unfortunately, Genting’s age (the first hotel opened in 1971) shows and you wish that somebody came up with the idea to give the entire resort a facelift. We know, people do not come here for architectural beauty but for entertainment. But with big new entertainment resorts being currently developed all over Southeast Asia, an optical upgrade – especially of the facade of most buildings – seems mandatory.
To be fair, we understand that renovation works are on-going. It is also important to mention that Genting is in the process of building the world’s first 20th Century Fox World theme park which is scheduled to open in 2016. Undoubtedly, this new attraction will have a rejuvenating effect on the resort.
Optical aspects apart, Resorts World Genting offers entertainment both for adults and children. It houses Malaysia’s only land-based casino which attracts both a local as well as an international crowd. And for kids and families there are attractions like SnowWorld, a Video Games Park, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and more.
As we are neither into gambling nor able to call ourselves kids any more, we are not in a position to report back to you on these things. But guess what, we still had a great time! There are many restaurants to choose from, it’s fun to just stroll around and watch things happen around you and then there is one thing you won’t find on Sentosa – the fresh, crisp air. When you are used to KL temperatures, 19C just feels sensational! All in all we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, not least because a visit to Genting Highlands means to do something of the extraordinary and to take a break from everyday life. We promise to be back in 2016 once the 20th Century Fox World theme park is open. And just in case, if you have wondered: the Bentley below is not ours. Well, not yet 🙂
Tip: If you go to Genting Highlands by car, you should calculate roughly one hour for the 55km journey. Alternatively, there is a convenient bus service between downtown KL and the resort. Coaches depart from Puduraya bus terminal. The cheap tickets include a ride on the Genting Skyway cable car. If you decide to go for a ride on the 3.5km long cable car (which is fun), the tradeoff is that you won’t get to visit the Chin Swee temple.
From 12-15 March the skies above Malaysia’s administrative capital Putrajaya will once again turn into magic with the return of the International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. For already 7 years this annual festival has been bringing together hot air balloon enthusiasts from all over the world. This year’s event promises to be no different: 19 hot air balloons, two daily flight shows, the famous night glow and loads of other activities such as helicopter joy rides or a paramotor exhibition. We will definitely not miss out on this spectacle nor should you, if you happen to be in KL. For more details and information go to http://www.myballoonfiesta.com. See you there!! 🙂
Finally we made good on a promise that we had given ourselves a long time ago and went to visit the Islamic Arts Museum or IAMM. Yours truly are not shying away from places of culture – on the contrary – it’s just that sometimes everyday life takes over. And we all know what that means. So it took a few attempts before we finally made it to IAMM on a sunny November morning.
We knew that we would love this place and were not disappointed. Moderate RM 12 (around US-$ 4) buy you access to some 30,000 square metres of exhibition space. The museum has a number of permanent galleries as well as temporary exhibitions.
Even though Islamic art comprises a huge field that reaches from architecture to jewellery and that stretches geographically from China to the Middle East and northern Africa, the IAMM curators refrained from over-loading the space with artifacts which is a good thing. So the 4 levels of the museum never feel over-whelming or even unmanageable. And even two short hours at the IAMM will be a rewarding experience for any visitor.
We particularly loved the collection of old Qur’ans with their beautifully gilded and painted pages. Interesting also the various models of mosques that represent the different types of mosque architecture all over the world. Another highlight is the Ottoman Room – the reconstructed interior of a traditional Ottoman house from today’s Syria.
At the end of our tour we stopped by at the museum shop which offers a nice collection of books, replicas and handicraft. For those who go hungry, the IAMM also has a restaurant (which we did not try) with local cuisine.
To sum up things: the IAMM is one of KL’s best (if not THE best) museums that is definitely worth a visit. If you have to limit yourself to one museum in KL, that’s the place to go. Don’t miss it while you stay with us at The Nest. We will be happy to advise you on special events and to assist you with organizing transportation from the guesthouse to the museum.
Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
Jalan Lembah Perdana
(behind the National Mosque)
Opening Hours: daily from 10am-6pm
Tip: combine your IAMM visit with a visit to the Botanical Gardens (Lake Gardens) or KL’s Bird Park. We recommend that you take a taxi to the Botanical Gardens/Bird Park from where you can walk down to the museum. At the museum you will easily find a cab that takes you back to the guesthouse.
Where to hang out. Once again, take a deep breath and shift into a lower gear. It’s all about relaxing and letting go. One place that we found particularly suitable for this exercise is The Baboon House (No. 89 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock). Run by artists, The Baboon House is all in one – a cafe/restaurant, a gallery, a studio and a home. Here is where young artists from near and afar hang out and exhibit their works. Everybody is super friendly. So it’s easy to mingle and to make new friends. But of course nobody will mind if you go there with your favorite book for an hour of me-time. Other places that we recommend are Limau-Limau Cafe on Jalan Hang Lekiu, Calanthe Artcafe (Jalan Hang Kasturi) and of course Geographer for drinks at night. If you are mobile and want to do it like the locals, you should also go for a Klebang Coconut Shake (on Jalan Klebang). This place has become an institution and is hugely popular. There are many more choices and its fun to discover these places.
Thanks to our host we also got an introduction to the Baba-Nyonya who used to play an important role in the old days. The term Baba-Nyonya (also Peranakan Chinese) refers to descendants of early Chinese immigrants (15./16. century) who mixed with locals and eventually formed an influential “cast” that had its own language, culture and cuisine. We already mentioned the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock. Excellent, authentic Nyonya food is prepared by aunty Amy at “Amy Heritage Nyonya Cuisine” (75 Jalan Melaka Raya 24). Check it out 🙂
How to get to Melaka. Coming from Kuala Lumpur it takes about 2 hours to reach Melaka. If you don’t have you own car, taking a coach might be the best option. Buses leaving from the southern bus terminal charge around RM 13 for a one-way ticket. If you like to depart from KL city center, you may want to opt for Nice ++ whose buses leave from the old railway station (tickets are RM 22 per adult). When you stay with us at The Nest, we will be happy to help you plan your onward trip to Melaka.
Tip: Melaka gets very busy on weekends. If you want to experience a more quiet, intimate place, visit during the week.
What to do. Many tourists go to Melaka just for a day trip. We believe that is a mistake because this town is all about affording the luxury of switching into a lower gear. Hang out, chill, read a good book, have a good conversation, meet interesting people from all over the world – these are all things we would associate with Melaka in addition to sightseeing in the traditional way. Of course Melaka with its long history offers plenty of things worth a visit. You will certainly end up on Jonker Street (night market on weekends) at some point, you will go for a stroll along the river and you will climb St. Paul’s Hill. You may also visit the Baba-Nyonya Heritage Museum (more on the Baba-Nyonya later), the replica of the Sultan’s Palace and the Flora del Mar (taking pictures of this old vessel from the outside is enough as the inside has little to offer). Further options are the Stadthuys (now a museum, in colonial times seat of the Dutch administration), the Red (or Dutch) Square or e.g. the old Kampung Kling Mosque in Chinese architecture. We recommend all these places but we believe that it’s equally important to spend time chilling out in some of Melaka’s popular hangouts.
After 4 long years we finally managed to revisit Melaka where we ended up having a great time. Melaka which together with Georgetown (Penang) was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, is conveniently located halfway between Singapore and KL. Its location makes it an ideal destination for travelers who visit the Malaysian Peninsula and who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a big city. This leads us already to one of the aspects of Melaka that gives this historic town its unmistakable charm: the pace of everything seems much slower (which does not necessarily mean sleepy), people know each other and above all there is a spirit of genuine friendliness wherever you go. While things have gotten much busier since Melaka reached World Heritage status, the new popularity has not changed the way the city and its inhabitants tick.
Where to stay. Here is the good news. Relative to its small size Melaka has a huge number of B&Bs, guesthouses, boutique hotels etc. So chances are high to find something that suits your pocket and personal preference. We opted for Tripadvisor’s no.1 amongst all B&Bs – Knocknock Home (www.knocknockhome.com). Knocknock Home is different from other places – we are talking about a 1-room establishment here. For RM 400/night (no weekend surcharge) you rent the entire 1st floor of an old Chinese shop house in excellent location (unfortunately we had a little problem with our camera – hence no pictures of the room. But pics on the Knocknock homepage are accurate). The place can fit 4-6 people and has an open space concept which is simple yet very comfortable – ideal for small families or a group of friends. Augustine (friends call him Gus) is a wonderful host who does things with love and passion. And so we felt like we were spending a weekend with an old friend rather than with the owner of a small business. Because of the special care and attention that Augustine offers his guests our weekend in Melaka got an entirely different quality.
Next: things to do in Melaka
Ramadan in Malaysia is unthinkable without the Ramadan Bazaar. These food bazaars (that’s what they are) are held annually during the holy month of Ramadan and can be found in many neighborhoods. Rows of stalls sell local delicacies and popular drinks, sometimes food that is hard to find in other places. Business is limited to a few hours daily and basically comes to an end with the breaking of fast. On busy days it can also happen that vendors are sold out earlier. The Ramadan Bazaar continues to be hugely popular not only with Muslims who do not cook their own food at home but also with non-Muslims and of course visitors of Malaysia. At the Nest we are blessed to have a really good Ramadan Bazaar just a few minutes away from our place. So if you happen to stay with us during Ramadan, do not miss out on this great food carnival. You will certainly love it! PS: Timing is important when visiting a food bazaar. Too early and stalls are not open yet, too late and all good things may be sold. Anytime around 5pm should be perfect. Enjoy 🙂