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Malaysia and Cambodia


This is about my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Cambodia. The first part is pre-trip - information about flights, itineraries, accommodation and all the things that you need to do to plan an overseas holiday. This is my first trip to Asia and I hope it may help others. Comments are very welcome and anyone who has travelled to Malaysia and/or Cambodia, please feel free to comment and offer any advice or tips that you think would be helpful. As of today ( 28th February) , in exactly 11 days (minus 30 minutes) I will be in Kuala Lumpur.

I had the most amazing time and hope you enjoy reading about my trip. Each post is numbered and I'm doing them in order from start to finish - a little like a diary.



79. Kek Lok Si Temple

My driver/guide was a lovely man by the name of Zali and he told me his life story as we drove around. I have broken the tour into different sections as there is so much to see and cover. The first part is about Kek Lok Si temple.

Temple of Supreme Bliss
Construction of the temple began in 1890 and has become Penang’s most well-known landmark. It is the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia.

Above: Pagoda of Rama VI
Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, the signature emblem of Kek Lok Si Temple

In 1930 the seven storey main pagoda of the temple or the Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas was completed. This pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown; reflecting the temple's embrace of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism.

Above: Pagoda

Above: Lower level
The sunken garden in the foreground of Ban Po Thar pagoda.

Above: Shrine
Gazebo covering a large plaster Buddha image.

Above: Corridor of Kek Lok Si strung with new year lanterns

Above: The Ordination Hall at Kek Lok Si

Above: Kek Lok Si Temple - on the second level

Above: Traditional architecture at Kek Lok Si

Above: Pagoda entrance at the hilltop
A Chinese zodiac garden is located in front of the prayer hall.

Above: The Water Pavilion

Above: Cable car station
This is the view of the inclined lift station. It is the only access point to get here.

Above: The Liberation Pond (Sacred Turtle Pond)
Chinese tradition believes that a turtle is a symbol of longevity, strength and
endurance. It is an act of spiritual liberation when a turtle is captured and set free in this pond.

Above: Many Buddhas with a svastika

Kuan Yin
The Kuan Yin Goddess of Mercy Pavilion is an enormous pavilion and shelters the gigantic statue of the Kuan Yin, or Goddess of Mercy. The consecration of the pavilion was conducted on Sunday 6th December, 2009. The date was chosen as it coincided with the 118th anniversary of the founding of Kek Lok Si Temple.

Above: Kuan Yin's Rooftop
The Goddess of Mercy Pavilion is 82.7 meters tall, from its base to the tip, equivalent to the height of a 20-storey building. The roof is a three-tier pagoda supported by 16 granite pillars embellished with ornate carvings. Each of the pillars comprises 40 cylindrical blocks which are made of granite with a thickness of 45 centimeters. Each cylinder block has a circumference of 2.1 meters. The pavilion was built at a cost of RM40 million.

Above: Kuan Yin
The 30.2m bronze statue of the Avalokitesvara - Goddess of Mercy or Kuan Yin - on the hillside above the pagoda. This statue was completed and open to the public at the end of 2002

Above: Kuan Yin
The present Kuan Yin statue is the second for Kek Lok Si Temple. The idea for a statue was initiated back in 1976. The first statue was completed in 1977 at the cost of RM1.8 million. However heavy rain and a fire which broke out in 1993 damaged it.

Above: Kuan Yin

Above: Main prayer hall
The new prayer hall is quite opulent and intricately carved columns support the roof. Opposite the entry doors the wall is lined with three large Buddha images. The ceiling, pillars and walls hold wonderful paintings and carvings and there is a feeling of peacefullness.

Above: Shrine at upper level at Kek Lok Si

A funny thing happened on my way to the...
Ladies Loo! I had determined that I was not going to use an Asian toilet, and had made it my goal not too. The only loos were up here on the top level and as I ran to them as if my life depended on it (well it did in a way ~ it would never do to have an.....accident☺) on reaching them I saw to my disamy there were no Western toilets, only the Asian kind. I couldn't possible wait until the tour was finished so it was a quick dash to the souvenir shop, buy a packet of tissues and race back again. Needless to say, I really do not like the hole in the ground type and will always opt for the Western type. I did like the pictures on the wall though.

Above: Ladies Loo at Kek Lok Si

What goes up, must come down
Above: Incline lift - going up
The incline lift is more of a tram -- an elevator-sized glass box mounted on rails which goes up to the terrace above the existing temple where the goddess stands.
Use of the lift costs RM 2 each way, but this was included in the tour.

Above: Incline lift - going down

Above: An alternative to the lift at Kek Lok Si
Instead of using the cable car, you can always climb up the stairs ~ for the fit, the die-hards and the show-offs!☺

View from Air Itam
Above: View of Kek Lok Si temple from the 'main street' of Air Itam.

78. Penang Tours

You can ride around on trishaws in both Batu Ferringhi and Georgetown. The ones around GTown do a heritage tour and you can have English "high tea" at the E & O included.
The temples - Kek Lok Si of course, Wat Chayamangkalaram with the sleeping buddha, the Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple has beautiful gardens, Sri Mahamariamman Temple with it's colourful statues, also Khoo Kongsi Temple and don't miss Chew Jetty.
I did a couple of (private) tours organised by the hotel at their tour desk, Winnie was wonderful and organised it all in a matter of minutes. As I effectively had only one day to see everything, this was the best option.

Penang Hill and Temple Tour
My first was by car, my driver was also my guide and included a ride on the funicular train to Penang Hill, a visit to Kek Lok Si temple. As the railway was closed for renovations, Discovery Overland Tours altered the itinery and after seeing Kek Lok Si, we went driving along some lovely streets full of marvelous heritage buildings, then went to Wat Chaiyamangalaram Temple, the botanic gardens, (the, short train ride was incluided), Sri Mahamariamman Temple followed by a lovely drive along Gurney Drive where my driver stopped for me to have lunch (lunch not included). The tour started at 8.30am and went for five hours.
Although I was a little disappointed the funicular train was still not operating, it actually worked out well because I got to see all the temples I had ear-marked on my "must see" list.

Penang Heritage & Trishaw Tour
The second tour I did was the Penang Heritage & Trishaw tour which included Fort Cornwallis (outside view), Weld Quay ~ Chew Jetty, Khoo Kongsi, Street of Harmony, Little India (Mahamariamman Temple), the Penang Peranakan Mansion and English high tea at the E & O Hotel. This tour went for four hours and started at 2.00pm.

These tours are "private" tours and I can see the difference between doing a private tour which is one on one and doing a day tour with a driver and about 40 other people on a bus.
These tours were run by Discovery Overland Tours and they had a tour desk at the Bayview.
Above: Overland Discovery Tours
All their drivers and guides wear floral green shirts.

As there was so much to see, I will post about the places I visited in my next posts.


77. Night Scene at Batu Ferringhi

Above: Lights and Palms

This looked so pretty as I walked along to the Hard Rock Hotel, I just had to take a photo. These trishaws waiting outside the Park Royal are lit with lighting and cast a lovely coloured glow at night.


76. Hard Rock Cafe @ Hard Rock Hotel and a Rock Band

Hard Rock Cafe
I could hear the music rocking and the sounds emanating from the cafe were thrilling and inviting. And boy was it loud!
Above: Statue of the King Of Pop Michael Jackson in front of the Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Cafe is on the ground floor of the Hard Rock Hotel and I went there for a coffee while I waited for our driver. Live concerts are held here - Hard Rock and loud, the music was fantastic. There is priceless memorabilia from local, as well as international celebrities on display.

Above: Memorabilia
The cafe is adorned with pieces from Hard Rock’s world-famous memorabilia collection, including items representative of both contemporary stars and rock legends, such as Keith Richards, Stevie Nicks, Madonna and many more. Additional key memorabilia items on display include a grey felt Fedora hat worn by Prince when all live tracks for his smash hit “Purple Rain” were recorded, custom-made leather pants and Cruefest t-shirt worn by Vince Neil of Motley Crue on the “Cruefest” Tour, and an outfit by “Junker Designs” worn by Rob Nicholson of Rob Zombie fame during the 2005 OZZFEST Tour.

Above: Celebrity Items
On the wall are the custom-made leather pants and Cruefest t-shirt worn by Vince Neil of Motley Crue on the “Cruefest” Tour.

Above: The Cafe
It had been many years since I'd been to a live show and I'd forgotten how loud it was - you couldn't hear yourself speak, conversation was almost impossible and the coffee was expensive. But the atmosphere and aura of fun made up for it.

One Step Rock Band
There was a fantastic band playing and they were very good. They were amazing, playing classic rock, the oldest band member is 15 and the drummer is only 11.

Above: First Step

Above: The drummer
Only 11 years old, this lad plays the drums like he was born with a set of drumsticks in his hands.

Above: Vocalist
The boy, who I was told is of a similar age to the drummer, (he's actually 10) was absolutely wonderful - he was so professional for one so young. He really had the crowd rocking, and already he's a hearthrob with the girls!

Above: Guitarists
Their guitar work was amazing.

Interview with the Band

All the lads are from Penang and have been playing since around 2009. Members include Erwin (Vocalist), Iskandar (Lead Guitarist), Irwan (Bassist), and Faris (Rythm Guitarist).

One Step Jam Session

I really enjoyed listening to the boys. They were fantastic and the vocalist was so professional, you wouldn't have thought he was just a boy. Great band, great music. Well done boys.

Above: The band

75. Hard Rock Hotel at Batu Ferringhi

The Hard Rock Hotel
Out the front in large letters are the words, "Welcome back my friends, the show that never ends..." ELP
I had always wanted to go to a Hard Rock Hotel and now I was able to ~ and I wasn't disappointed, it was a great place.

Above: Hard Rock Hotel Penang
There are only three Hard Rock Hotels in Asia - Penang, Bali and Pattaya. The first Hard Rock Hotel in Malaysia, opened its doors on 19 September, 2009 at Batu Ferringhi, Penang and features a modern structural design with a rockin’ edge and memorabilia from rock stars around the world.

Above: Giant Hard Rock Guitar
This magnificent 18-foot guitar, a signature icon that can be found in most Hard Rocks around the world is located right in front of the lobby entrance. The giant guitar is what defines Hard Rock.
In addition to this predominant guitar feature, both the Hotel and Cafe are filled with over 500 pieces of rock memorabilia from all over the world, from contemporary to classic, as seen in all the Hard Rocks around the world.

The General Manager for Hard Rock Hotel Penang, Mr John Primmer said, “The Hard Rock culture is about being irreverent and living for the moment, so you can expect Hard Rock Hotel Penang to offer an experience that abounds with limitless energy, unparalleled creativity and quality service … very different from the typical sun, sand and sea vacation.”

Above: Entrance sign
The hotel boasts 249 rooms and suites with views of the hill and sea. There are five food and beverage outlets, including the famous Hard Rock Cafe which serves authentic American food, Starz Diner, an all-day dining restaurant featuring Asian and International Cuisine and the Pizzeria by the poolside.

Above: Gold disco lights
As I entered the hotel, I was fascinated with the ever-changing colour of this luminous beading.

Above: Disco lights collage
I tried to snap some photos of the different colours, sometimes they changed so quickly it was hard to hold the camera steady.

Above: The Fab Four ~ The Beatles
As you enter the trendy Hard Rock Hotel, you're greeted by music (loud and energetic) and four busts made of bronze, representing the Beatles.

Above: John, Paul, George and Ringo

Above: John Entwistle's guitar
This limited edition "Tommy" fender precision bass guitar is one of six designed by John Entwistle. He played this bass during many stage performances while on tour with The Who.

John Entwistle was the bass guitarist for the rock band The Who and has been described as "the greatest bassist in the history of rock". Born on the 9th October 1944 in Chiswick, a London suburb, he died on 27th June 2002 in room 658 at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Rock Shop
The Rock Shop at the Hard Rock has an assortment of souvenirs ~ city-specific merchandise ~ caps, t-shirts, keychains and pins. Tee shirts and collectible pins are hot commodities at the Rock Shop. One of a kind Rock T Shirts designed by artists like Jon Bon Jovi, Green Day and Shakira make Hard Rock tee shirts top shelf items. I would love to have bought a t-shirt with the words "Hard Rock Hotel Penang" emblazoned on the front, but alas, they don't come in my size.

Above: Souvenirs
I was considering purchasing a cap, but settled for a jewellery pin instead. Costing 45MYR and of a red guitar, I was pleased with my purchase. That said, I regret not buying a cap as well even though they were a bit pricey. However, I'll be in Thailand in four months, so I'll whizz down to Pattaya for a day trip and visit the Hard Rock Hotel there and buy me a hat.


74. Batu Ferringhi Night Markets

Batu Ferringhi
One of the places I really, really wanted to go to was the Batu Ferringhi night market - I'd heard, and read so much about it, it was one of the things I didn't want to miss. I noticed a tour desk in my hotel and when I went to enquire about doing a couple of day tours I asked about the price of taxis. Being by myself, I didn't much fancy travelling by myself at night on a bus, especially as I was unfamiliar with the area. (I wouldn't travle on public transport at night at home either). Winnie, the tour operator, said the hotel offered its guest a mini bus which takes them to the bus stop and collects guests at a designated time.

When I went to get picked up, there were only two other guests that night so the driver said he'd drive us there. He dropped us off at the start of the market and arranged to pick us up at the Hard Rock Hotel which is at the far end around 11.00pm.

Nightlife at Batu Ferringhi
The nightlife in Batu Ferringhi is centered on its 'Pasar Malam' or night market. Open from dusk until late, often past midnight, the night market is a sidewalk bazaar of makeshift stalls operated by local traders, selling an assortment of goods ranging from souvenirs to fake goods, toys, gifts - these even ice-cream stalls.

Long Beach food court
My  companions from the Bayview were Margaret and Ivor (think that was her husband's name, I can't read my own writing from my travel journal), an English couple who live six months of the year in England and the other six at Langkawi where they have a property. Margaret said you can't buy bacon on Langkawi, but you can from Penang, so they pop over every now and then for a few days of shopping, markets, tours and of course, bacon.  She said they usually eat at the food court when coming to the night market here.

The Long Beach is on the 'strip' west of the Lone Pine resort. About two thirds of the customers are tourists and a third are locals although that can vary, especially during Chinese New Year when you'll find there are a lot more locals. It's very popular with the expats who live in the area, and the tourists staying not only in the local hotels here, but those staying in Georgetown. If you're on a tight budget, this is the place to come for the food's good, it's cheap, and so is the beer.

Above: Price List
Prices are written in both Malay and English and are easy to read as the writing is quite large. You can see the red decorations hanging from the ceiling - it was the tail end of Chinese New Year when I was here.

Above: The Diners
This being my first time here, I was unsure of the procedure, but Margaret said you find a table, flag down the drink servers, give them your order (alcoholic or soft drinks etc) pay them for your drinks and your drinks will be along soon. Sometimes you may have to wait some time when it is especially busy. You take a note of your table number, go to a food stall and order your food, tell them your table number. You pay when they deliver it. Simple! My food came before my drink did.

I had Chinese for tea - cost was 5MYR, spring roll for 3MYR and a glass of wine which was 11MYR. The wine was like lolly water. I heard that the owner of the food court makes his money on the drinks and I can well believe it too. The drinks flowed like a river!

Friendly Conversation
When I was walking back to our table after having ordered my dinner, I heard someone greet me by name and looked around but didn't know who had spoken. A good-looking young Malaysian chap spoke to me and asked, "You don't recognise me do you?" I must confess I didn't - he was dressed in white t-shirt and jeans. He said, "From the Bayview". It was Daniel, who had spoken to me in the lounge lobby. I thought that was so nice of him, I clearly hadn't seen him (let alone recognised him), but he had seen me and came and chatted with me. How many hotels have staff who speak to you away from their place of work?

It is true what is said at the Bayview ~ "Where guests become friends."

Above: Food court scene
The food stalls run along all sides of the food court with the tables and chairs in the center. It starts getting really busy by 8.00pm, when the weather has cooled down a bit. During Chinese New Year, you need to come even earlier as it gets very busy then.

Batu Ferringhi Shopping
When people mention Batu Ferringhi, two things come to mind: beach & night market. The Batu Ferringhi night market, otherwise known as the sidewalk bazaar, is one of the area’s major attractions.

Stretching along Jalan Batu Ferringhi from Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa all the way to Shangri-La’s Golden Sands Resort, the place comes alive every night as vendors set up hundreds of stalls all along the road after dusk. Offering everything from fake designer bags to dirt-cheap pirated DVDs and home deco items to souvenirs, Batu Ferringhi’s night market is Batu Ferringhi’s main tourist attraction - something not to be missed when visiting Penang. Best of all, you can still bargain for the best prices.

Above: Footwear
Thongs and sandals of every colour and style imaginable.

Above: Bags and Gifts
There are just so many things on offer here - plates, artwork, wall-hangings, jewellery and the inevitable genuine, fake designer label handbags! I swear I had never seen so many hand bags in my life. This is just a very small section - there was row upon row upon row. I couldn't even count the number of stalls there were so many of them.

Above: Trishaw
One of the most popular things with tourists is having a ride in a trishaw. The three-wheeled trishaw used to be a common sight on the island, but modern times have nearly phased them out. Today, they exist as a novelty for tourists to enjoy.

Restaurants, or Restorans as they are called, are dotted all along the Batu Ferringhi strip. Below are some that I liked.
Above: The Ship
I just loved this and thought it was a fantastic design. Serving so its tagline proudly proclaims – “The Best Steaks in Town”, The Ship’s eye-catching exterior and interior are a great attraction. It is shaped like a large wooden vessel, and serves a wide range of Western food and features a maritime theme complete with captains and crews in charming uniforms.

Above: Eden Seafood Village
Another one that caught my eye was the Eden Seafood Village which is marked by sharp, pointed roofs reminiscent of traditional Malay houses over a reddish-brown wooden exterior. They serve seafood of every imaginable variety straight from the tanks, from fish to crustaceans, and have an extensive a la carte menu with a variety of cooking styles. There’s also a stage for cultural shows to accompany your dinner. The place is usually packed to the rafters with hoards of tourists.
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