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Thursday, January 19, 2006

MALAYSIA: A Check List of Travel Preps

"Malaysia: A tropical paradise of immense charm."

The travel plans are rapidly taking shape now. Here's the checklist of things that were needed in preparation:
1) make sure the passports were in order. I had to renew mine as they need to be good six months after entry.

2) Immunizations: It appears we didn't need malaria shots, only Hep. A& B and upgrading of innocuations. I neglected to have my Hep A booster after my trip to Morocco a few years ago so I might need to start over. Have to check with the Travel Immunization Clinic.

3) Yesterday I paid for the extra 4 days at the hotel in Langkawi where we'll be staying. That's all done. And our flight itinerary has been issued.

It's a 20 hr 40 min flight via Taipei from L.A. Yikes. I find it hard to bear the 9 hrs flights to England I've made numerous times. Guess I'll see my doctor about some sleeping pills or tranqs.

4.) Travel Insurance. Found a good one that didn't cost an arm and a leg and covers everything for 13 days.

Now we're getting really excited! Besides all the other glowing things I hear, such as the amazing food, Malaysia is one of the worlds best international shopping destinations with a wide range of products, local and imported, available in the mega malls and markets. Note to myself: hone those bargaining skills! (Never was really good at it. When in Morocco opted to shop at the Artist's bazaar where prices were set.) And yes, ATMs are available.

First stop, glorious Kuala Lumpur. K. L. "The Garden City of Light" capital of the Federation of Malaysia, located centrally on the west coast.

Check out these hotels on google. com. In K.L. the Mandarin Oriental. Five star. Located in the Center of K.L. near the Petrona Twin Towers and the Philharmonic Concert Hall. Luxurious 643 room hotel situated on 50 acres of landscaped gardens. " Towering 452 m. above the city skyline, The Petronas Twin Towers, a gleaming architectural delight are currently the worlds' tallest free-standing towers, inspired by the Five Pillars of Islam and is the center piece of the ultra modern Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Situated within the towers is the Petronas Philharmonic Hall, home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and Petronas Performing Arts Group." Note: wouldn't it be great to see a concert there?

After our three days in K.L. we'll fly to the Island of Langkawi, a duty-free port situated at the crossroad of the Thai-Malay border within the Straits of Malacca and the Adaman Sea.
"Pulau Langkawi is the largest island in a cluster of 99 islands renowned for their legends. It's limestone hills and caves, rustic villages and scenic padi fields, abundant flora and fauna, as well as its enthralling legends make the island a truly idyllic tropical paradise."

We'll be staying at the Langkawi Lagoon Resort a five-star 162 room hotel built around a lagoon with traditional Malay villas built by the lagoon located by the Adaman Sea. The first three days of our stay are paid for and we extended our stay on the island an extra four days (our only cost).

Langkawi is the largest of an archepelago of 99 islands steeped in myth and legend with rainforests, ocean wonders, and exotic sandy white beaches. There's lots of local attractions including the Kuala Melaka River Park, a wet market, fisherman's jetty, sailing, canoing and island tours.

I was told today by a friend that the city of George Town on the island of Penang has some of most incredible colonial architecture. Penang is the "Pearl of the Orient", 112 kms south of Pulau Langkawi. The name comes from "pinang" the betel nut tree which grew in abundance here long before the British colonists arrived. Captain Francis Light discovered Penang in 1786 and it became the first British trading post in the Far East. It has one of the largest collections of 19th and early 20th century buildings in S.E. Asia. George Town is the state capital and the premier northern port of Malaysia. Hopefully we'll find a way to visit this old city for a day trip.

Now most of the important preps are done. I still have to buy a new bathings suit and hiking sandals and plan my tropical wardrobe. The next month and half is sure to go by very quickly!