Ruby pretty much covered it in her previous post. We loved the Perhentian Islands, and it was relaxing having a vacation from our travels where we didn’t pack up and move every 2-3 days. The snorkeling was fantastic! We stayed at Coral View Resort on Perhentian Besar, which we’d recommend (as well as the local travel agent, Anjung Holidays).
I really wanted to take at least one train ride on this trip, so we chose the Jungle Train between Kota Bharu (near the Perhentians) and Kuala Lumpur. I loved the chance to sleep on a train! It feels a little magical and soothing and thrilling all at once, and I was personally glad we did it. I wish we had more long-distance train rides planned.
That said, there were several drawbacks overall and I would caution that it’s not for everyone. Grant didn’t sleep well on the train because the bunks were pretty short and there was nowhere else to put luggage. Also, in order to make the train schedule work, we ended up waiting 11 hours in non-air-conditioned train stations over two days. It took a huge amount of time in addition to the train ride itself. Finally, the overnight Jungle Train is, as I should have expected, at night and therefore it’s dark and we missed the supposedly dramatic mountain scenery.
On this trip, stopping in a big city feels a bit like a weekend at home. We relax ourselves and our rules, do errands and chores, and have downtime. We spent 3 nights in KL and only went out to see one thing: the Petro Sains Museum (a science museum sponsored by Petronas). The museum was a lot of fun and worth a visit, despite its pro-oil slant.
The rest of the time, we were either in our Airbnb apartment or the neighboring mall, where we spent a shocking amount of time. We bought things we needed (including these excellent travel pants for me), ate several meals, saw a movie, had pedicures (me and Ruby), and had a massage (Grant). One of the best parts was leaving town with 100% clean clothes thanks to the washer in our apartment.
Kate’s book recommendation: I like to read books set in the places I visit for additional context, history, and color. For the Malaysian peninsula, I recommend The Rice Mother by Rani Manicka. I also read Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan, which I thought was OK but not as good.