Our time in Malaysia was shorter than it otherwise would have been because we were in Malaysia a few years ago. If I were Tara, I would find old pictures of Kuala Lumpur and Borneo (both great), but I'm lazy, so you get what you get.
We remembered Malaysia as surprisingly well developed, and it was. Way more developed than most of the places we have visited. Here is the fancy train we took from the airport to the bus station when we arrived. You can also see the women in head scarves--Malaysia is mostly Muslim and seems more religious than Indonesia, its Muslim neighbor.
Our first stop was Melaka, or Malacca in the English spelling. This was a very important port on the Straits of Malacca, and one of what might be called the first free trade zones. The Dutch held it for a long time and built very Dutchy things like windmills and canals. Here is the town square with the Dutch City Hall in the back.
And a Dutch clock tower. Great weather while we were visiting.
The area has a mix of Chinese, Malay, and other cultures, which results in great boats like this one. This picture was taken at the exhaustive local history museum, which was great, but too much museum for even me.
We found this beetle outside the museum. What a great looking beetle! I award it first prize in the beetle beauty contest. My brother, Matt, gets second prize in the beauty contest and collects $10.
Like me, the early settlers of Malacca constantly lost the coins that they put in their pockets. So, they got these great croc coins instead. I will give you three crocodiles for a new pair of shoes!
Malacca was supposedly founded when a pirate (who is never directly referred to as such in Malacca) was sitting on a river bank and a tiny deer assaulted his dogs, kicking one into the river. He was so impressed by the little deer that he decided to stay and build a city. Here is a statue of the deer in the town center.
The oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia is also in Malacca, which I think dates back to around 1600. The best part of the temple is the angry hordes swarming out of the top.
But Tara was also a fan of the guardian dragons.
They have reconstructed the massive Dutch waterwheel that used to exist on the river. Waterwheels did not generate waterwheel cookies, though, which makes them inferior to windmills.
Doesn't this guy make you want to become Taoist? You could worship him, too! Keep your small kids away from him, though.
While walking through a mall in Malacca, we discovered an archery range. How could we pass up an opportunity to shoot arrows inside the mall? I saved Tara the embarrassment of taking a picture of both our targets at the end.
From Malacca, we went to Singapore and Indonesia, then back to Malaysia at Penang. Penang is an island, and we stayed in the main historic town of Geogetown. Tara really likes pictures of people jumping (I don't), so she ASKED to jump in this picture. It might be the last time she ever suggests a jumping picture. Notice that her tongue is actually out.
Penang is full of Chinese temples. One of them claims to be the most famous and charges a bunch of money to get in. The others all seem to look just as good in the pictures that we saw, so here are some free temple pictures of Penang.
The interiors are always impressive, but if you look around, they always seem to be using every extra space as a warehouse for goods. Must be that Chinese entrepreneurship in action.
While visiting the Fort in Penang, we saw this nice kingfisher.
This famous cannon was from around 1600, but sank in the Straits of Malacca and was recovered in the early 1800s. It supposedly floated to the top of the ocean by itself, making it a bit of a celebrity and leading to claims that infertile women could straddle the cannon to make themselves fertile. No women astride it when we visited.
To be completely touristy, we took our picture in the Fort's British costumes. Our official Valentine's Day photo.
We tried to go visit this Chinese mansion in Penang, but they wouldn't let us past the front gate. It is a bed and breakfast, but you have to have reservations to get in the door, so we took a picture and went to eat something instead.
From Penang, we went to visit the Cameron Highlands, famous for producing tea and for being cooler than the rest of Malaysia. Here is the tea on a machine that will finish drying it. Malaysia uses huge machines to harvest the tea, which seems less interesting than the hundreds of Sri Lankans that we saw harvesting by hand.
The Cameron Highlands have butterfly farms everywhere. We were too cheap to go to one, so you get this deadish butterfly that Tara found on the road. You're welcome.
Tara drank her nasty, overpriced cup of tea in this lovely tea plantation.
The Highlands are also famous for strawberries. Because it is a huge domestic and international tourism spot, strawberries cost about $200 a pint to pick. Maybe an exaggeration, but they are substantially more expensive than most places. I was reduced to eating this one that we found along the road. I always say quantity over quality when it comes to food...
That wraps up our time in Malaysia. We recommend a visit to anyone. People are friendly, transport is great, and not that many tourists go there despite a huge tourism marketing effort.