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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Masia: Towers, Cliffs, Sunsets and Burqas

The final leg of my 2 months of free-wheeling across Asia was a stop in Malaysia.  We had a hard time leaving Bali, especially since we got picked up from our homestay at 5am, yikes, and I fell down a pretty steep and rain-soaked staircase that left me with a very sore and very purple back - awesome!

The first stop was a long layover in Kuala Lumpur that allowed us just enough time to head into the city, take a photo with the famous Petronas Twin Towers, eat some delicious roti canai (a curry crepe concoction), stroll through the market, and check out the architecture on some of the city's large mosques.
Petronas Towers in KL
After that it was back to the airport where we hopped on a flight bound for the island of Langkawi. Langkawi is actually so close to Thailand that if you look across the ocean from certain points on the island you can see it. In terms of landscape it closely resembles much of the islands in Thailand with its large limestone cliffs, bright blue water and beautiful sunsets - but the culture was definitely very different.
Langkawi is kind of an exception in Malaysia because the government granted it tax-free status in an attempt to lure tourists, and it's clearly in the early days of figuring out what type of tourists it wants to attract and how to entertain them, but we had a good few days on the beach.  It was really interesting to be in a Muslim country and see women on the beach in a full burqa - swimming, strolling, and even parasailing! Definitely easy to feel under dressed in a bathing suit when most of the locals are completely covered. Nell and I spent one day on a private beach when we unintentionally took a cab up to explore the island's northern beaches and got dropped off at the most exclusive hotel, the Tanjung Rhu Resort.  Luckily, it was low season so the resort was pretty much deserted and the staff were nice enough to not kick us out of their private beach.

On our last night in Langkawi we sampled the nightlife scene, met some locals at a cool reggae bar and ended up randomly meeting some fellow Bostonians- one a '10 BC grad and the other a Southie resident (of course we talked about our beloved and dearly missed Snickerdoodle Iced Coffee from Sidewalk!) It was one of those small world moments, and it was the perfect way to celebrate the end of our summer travels. It's been a fantastic two months on the road, in the air, on the sea - and it's been really hard to readjust and get back into teacher mode. Thank goodness I have some really cute, intelligent, funny and entertaining students!
Malaysia! Country #5

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