|Colonial-era buildings, Kuala Lumpur|
Next up: Malaysia. I left Ao Nang for a little place called Hat Yai on the Thai side of the border, not strictly a border town but it was the largest in the area. The guidebook didn't list much to see here but I didn't fancy a 12 hour bus journey direct to Penang. As it turned out, there was absolutely nothing to do! I counted more travel agencies than restaurants (it's not a good sign when there's more appetite to leave than to stay and eat) and, I stress I didn't know this before I decided to visit, the area has been the scene of violent attacks and bombings by insurgents, which have largely gone unreported. I was warned not to stand near parked motorbikes in case they were wired up to explosives, which I thought was a bit of an over-reaction and anyway, avoiding motorbikes in Thailand is like trying to avoid cars in London.
|Masjid Jamek, Kuala Lumpur|
Penang was also voted one of the best places in the world to eat, with the mix of cultures resulting in a superb local cuisine (the British and Dutch influences aside, obviously). It was 5pm and I was hungry, having had nothing since breakfast. Nowhere was open.... on a Tuesday evening. Ok, it was Ramadan before sunset but given the cultural mix here I really expected somewhere to be serving. Some places just didn't open Tuesdays - is Tuesday the new sabbath? There were a couple of street food stalls but I'd had plenty of "chicken-rice" in China and wanted some of the cuisine for which Malaysia is famous. Eventually I found an Indian restaurant but only after I had wandered the streets for over an hour.
|Petronas Towers viewed from the KL Menara|
My hotel in KL had signs in the lobby saying "No durians allowed in the hotel". First I thought this was a joke, but posters were plastered in every hotel lobby). The durian fruit is notoriously large and stinky. I tried a durian pastry and had to throw it away after the first bite. It was sweet and soft but with an after-taste like the inside of my face was rotting, and it just wouldn't go away.
|Durian fruit (centre)|
|Pimped out trishaws, Melaka|