Travel Spotlight: Malaysia

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By June Ramli

I recently returned to my home country Malaysia after not doing so for five years. It was three weeks long and was filled with lots of fun-filled activities.
I explored Pangkor Laut Resort and also went to Sabah for a week.
I have already written about my sojourn to Pangkor Laut Resort here.
If you have time please check the article out.
The rest of the time, I spent it revisiting my past life in the city centre – Kuala Lumpur.
I was there during the much coveted 15th general elections and could not believe my eyes on how things had panned out.
As a former New Straits Times journalist with ten years of experience, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim being Prime Minister of Malaysia meant that things were about to change for the country in a big way. 
I was there when Malaysia was PM-less for five days.
Those were historic and interesting times for the country.
There was a large police presence throughout the city centre as some TikTokers had threatened to cause a ruckus but thankfully nothing of that sort had happened.
But what upset me the most was that the standards of food at the eateries that I normally frequent were no longer tasty and in some instances not edible at all.
In fact, I couldn’t finish any of my food at all my favourite makan spots.
The only food that I enjoyed eating was when my friend and relative had invited me to their home for some home cooked meals.

KLCC by June Ramli
KLCC. Picture by June Ramli

I also noticed that many eateries in Malaysia were either no longer in operation or no longer what it once used to be during its glory days.
Don’t want to name names here because according to the New York Times, if you are going to trash a restaurant for shoddy service, you will have to do so only after visiting the restaurant for three times in a row.
I never got to revisit these restaurants due to time constraints, so I will stop short from naming them openly here.
As for my trip to Sabah, it was spectacular as I got to visit many wonderful places that I would never have visited had I gone there on my own.
So, thank you Sabah Tourism for partially sponsoring the trip.
The trip had started out with a two day World Tourism Conference held at the swanky Sabah International Convention Centre in the city.
The two day event held from Nov 28 to 30 was jam packed with a myriad of activities and speakers from all over the world talking about the tourism industry.
I did gain a lot of knowledge from those sessions and made new friends and acquaintances from that event.

The writer at the World Tourism Conference.
The writer at the World Tourism Conference in Sabah, Malaysia.

After that we were taken on a media familiarisation trip to visit the Kinabalu National Park and Taman Budaya & Inovasi Kundasang, Sabah.
The next day we were flown to Sandakan where I finally managed to cross off one of the things that I wanted to do for the longest time which was to visit the Sepilok Rehabilitation Orang Utan Centre. 
Besides visiting the Orang Utan centre, I also visited the Tungog Eco Village Camp – Kopel, the Bilit Rainforest Lodge, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) and the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary within two days.
All in all, I really enjoyed my trip to Sabah, and hope to have a repeat of a similar experience to the island soon.
Malaysia has always been this great destination that many Australians tend to give a miss in favour of Thailand and Bali, Indonesia and I finally figured out why in my last trip there.
There is a connectivity issue when it comes to Australia.
There are either not enough direct flights or no flights at all that connects Australia to Malaysia’s Bornean states like Sabah and Sarawak.
To get to Sabah from Australia would require a traveller to head to KL first before taking another connecting flight to Sabah, for instance.
That itself can be a put off for many people.
Look, Malaysia is a great destination to visit.
We have cheap beer like Bali does and also have shopping spots but most importantly, we also have an affordable range of island resorts throughout the country that tourists can check out.
And our wildlife, its abundant and thriving just like Australia’s. 
I will be featuring several wildlife destinations in the following write-ups from my recent trip to Sabah last November and December.
Flying to Malaysia from Australia is rather easy.
You will just have to take your pick, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia or Batik Air (formerly known as Malindo Air).
The country can be cheap as chips or the other way round.
English is widely spoken and don’t worry, you will have a splendid time there. 
I hope that the preceding articles that I write on Malaysia would encourage you to want to visit the country soon. 

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