Very few countries are truly blessed with the amalgamation of such rich and diverse cultures and landscapes as Malaysia. Unlike so many other nations in today’s world, Malaysia has always embraced its diversity and even celebrated it via its “Truly Asia” catch phrase. That welcoming nature which it has preserved across generations has always made it a personal favourite among my dream destinations. Of course, there is another more personal reason behind it but I’ll come to that later.

Let’s be clear on some things at the very beginning. When I go for a holiday, I want to relax and enjoy the place. You will not find me indulging in anything akin to rock-climbing or chasing after wild animals! Nope, take me to your beaches, my dear friend, for I must find me a hammock to lie down and sip my pina coladas.

That's what you call 'crystal clear'
For this purpose, I would definitely rate Palau Langkawi as a spot to tick on my itinerary. A duty free island, “the Jewel of Kedah” is a favourite for many because it has everything you want. Mystery lovers would do well to read up or hear from locals about the history behind “the mysterious island” while wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the three geoforest parks where you can see animals as diverse as the last of the dinosaurs (the monitor lizards) or just have some fun with the swimming macaque monkeys (Any resemblance to me is purely coincidental.) 
Of course, Langkawi’s many crystal clear beaches and pristine white sand are the main destination area for a romantic evening with Pantai Cenang and Pantai Tengah considered the best in terms of a combination of privacy and fun with hotels and bars.

While I’m a fan of fine dining, I never miss the opportunity to try street food while traveling and Malaysia has always been famous for serving some of the best flavours in that regard, haven’t they? Walk down the stalls of Georgetown in Penang and you will something truly heartening. Oh, I’m not referring to the yummy dishes alone, I’m referring to that amazing mix of all ethnicities that is so visible in the influences of the food on display. Malay, Thai, Indian, Chinese… all those wonderful food cultures and the flavours specific to them meet here and by God, it is heavenly. Cooked fresh and served to lakhs of people everyday, it’s easy to get confused as you walk down the array of stalls and your stomach starts demanding his pound(s) of food. Dishes I have on my personal agenda include:
  • Char koay teow - authentic stir-fried rice noodles, street food style.
  • Har gow  - shrimp dumplings. 
  • Chee cheong fun - rice flour rolls filled with barbecued pork.
  • Mai gai - Rice with chicken, black mushroom and savoury Chinese sausage.
  • Bak-kut-teh. A breakfast meal, it consists of a rich pork and herbal broth brewed for hours, then served with pork ribs, mushrooms, tofu and fried dough.
  • Satay.
  • Malay nasi campur - mixed rice topped with various meats, vegetables, peanuts, eggs and fried-shrimp.

Penang Street Food. Stop talking, start eating!

Jalan Alor in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is another alternative for awesome street food in case Georgetown doesn't fit your schedule.

Scuba diving in Tioman. I'm pretty sure
that's Nemo and his dad, Marlin!
While flying from China to visit her prince, legend has it that a beautiful dragon princess was enamoured by the crystal clear waters of the South China sea and so discontinued her journey, taking the form of an island to provide comfort to travellers. In the 70s’, that island was chosen by Time’s magazine as one of the most beautiful islands in the world.  Accessible by ferries or by plane, Tioman is considered a scuba divers paradise due to its many coral reefs. 
In addition to marine life, Pulau Tioman Wildlife Reserve also provides sanctuary for some of the world’s endangered species of mammals including the red giant flying squirrel, the mouse deer, the long tailed macaque (I repeat, any resemblance to me is purely coincidental),  the slow loris (Slow, eh? Hmmm… I’m not sure about any familial connections with this guy. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.) and binturong (bet you didn’t know such an animal existed!)
Scuba diving and walking around wildlife reserves filled with slow predominantly vegetarian animals who won’t chase me… yup, that sounds like my kind of place.

To really see the heritage of the country, you have to move away from the twin towers of Kuala Lumpur and come to the keeper of its past, Malacca. The influence of previously occupied European nations upon the original proud culture makes for a fascinating mixture in the architectural and cultural sights today. 
Various places I have bookmarked to visit include:
  • Cheng Hoon Teng Temple – The oldest Chinese temple in Malaysia. Do read up on the industry that developed in Malacca to provide goods exclusively for the dead as per Chinese traditions. It’s really fascinating.
  • Saint Peter’s Church – The oldest Catholic church in Malaysia.
  • Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple – The oldest Hindu (Lord Ganesha) temple in Malaysia. The temple is located in what is known as "Harmony Street" because of its proximity to the Kampung Kling Mosque and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple.
  • Jonker Street – to buy awesome antiques.

Something very Venetian about the architecture, don't you think?

Malacca is always up to something or the other with festivals galore throughout the year. So make sure you know which one you want to experience before deciding when to visit.

Fun fact: In addition to all the major Hindu deities, you
also find statues of Jesus Christ and Buddha here.
The last place which I would like to visit is a place that holds significant value for me. Easily accessible via Singapore, Johor reinvented itself over the years and now attracts a sizeable amount of Malaysia’s tourist population today. If you were ever going to get me to run around a place, it would have to be an amusement park and Johor has some of the most wonderful theme parks in the world, including Asia’s first Legoland theme park. It also has the First Glass temple in the World in the Arulmigu Sri Rajakaliamman Hindu Temple which again sounds so mystical and intriguing.

Of course, there was another reason I chose Johor. Two people who mean a lot to me were born there, years apart. One of them was there when the city was invaded during World War II. A small child then, he survived against terrible odds and came to India. He would go on to marry a woman who by a strange coincidence, had also been born in Johor in the 50s’ before relocating back to India. You won’t read about them in any history books, of course. But I know them well… and I am hoping to take my parents back there someday to see the city they were born in.
(P.S. Any resemblance between my parents and me is purely familial... even if they repeatedly claim that they found me near a macaque habitat and were forced to adopt me by the exasperated monkeys.)

Author's note: All pictures are sourced from Google. 
I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with

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