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Trip Report Trip Report - - Singapore and Malaysia

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First of all I'd like to say thank you again to all of you who gave me advice and support when my passport was stolen in Kuala Lumpur. I filed a police report the day it was stolen, obtained an emergency passport at the American Embassy the following day, and received new travel documents from Malaysian Immigration the day after that. All together, it took 12 hours over three days. It cost a few dollars too in unexpected expenses and a cancelled trip to Bali, but in the end, it all worked out fine.

My daughter and I began our trip with five days in Singapore. We stayed at the Royal Plaza on Scotts, just steps from Orchard Road. The location was ideal for my us, close to shopping, restaurants, transportation, etc. We walked the length of Orchard Road a couple times, visiting the Botanical Gardens at one end and the Marina Bay area at the other.

The weather was beautiful -- much cooler and breezier than we had expected. We were on the go from morning until night -- Little India, Chinatown, Burgis Street, Albert Mall, Night Safari, etc. We loved Singapore! And we found it very reasonable -- our hotel was only $115 a night on expedia, and we ate most of our meals at hawker stands and food courts.

We took a luxury bus from Singapore to KL -- what a nice, comfortable and easy way to travel, approx. $35 each and included a meal and a snack. We had expected only a short stay in KL, planning to leave after a day and a half to catch a flight to Bali. Well, that didn't work out and we didn't get to spend too much time sightseeing, but we did see the Petronas Towers, Chinatown, Colonial Square, the National Mosque, etc. We stayed at the Melia Hotel, and even though the price was very reasonable ($55) and the marble lobby gleamed, the hotel was badly in need of renovating. Our room was clean and adequate, but the carpets in the hallways were quite dirty. We figured it would be fine for our short stay, and the location was good -- right on the monorail.

Once I had the situation with my passport and traveling papers taken care of (part of which included a side trip to nearby Putrajaya), we hired a car and driver, and headed for five days in Penang at the Holiday Inn Batu Ferringhi. Our hotel choices were limited because of the Chinese New Year holiday, but it turned out to be lovely with a large clean room and a balcony overlooking the mountains beyond. At an average of only $90 a night, the price was good too. The hotel or the beach could in no way compare to the JW Marriott in Phuket, but we totally enjoyed our stay. The night market was right outside our door, and there was great inexpensive food everywhere.

We took a bus to the fishing village and National Forest at the end of the road one day, and took a short hike into the jungle. The monkeys were very aggressive, however, and we turned back before reaching our goal -- the canopy walk. We tried visiting Georgetown on New Years Eve, but because of horrendous traffic, crowds and closures, we ended up spending just a couple hours in the city. No problem -- we found enough to see and do at Batu Ferringhi to keep us busy, including a visit to a fish spa!

After Penang, we took another luxury bus back to KL, overnighted there at the Swiss Garden Inn (same price as the Melia but much nicer) and headed to Melaka the following morning. We took a pretty rickety bus to Melaka -- 2 1/2 hours and only $4.00 each. We stayed at the new Holiday Inn for two nights, again booking our hotel just one day in advance -- $67 a night. The tourist area of Melaka is small and charming, and we thoroughly enjoyed the multi-cultural aspects -- Malay, Chinese, Indian, Dutch, British and Portuguese. .

So back in Singapore for four more days -- we stayed at the Pan Pacific, booked at the last minute on expedia. We paid less than $100 a night for a top of the line hotel with a breathtaking view of the city from our 22nd floor balcony. We were in the city for the Chingay Parade and Street Festival, we took a river cruise, we lolled in a cafe on one of the quays, we spent an afternoon at Sentosa Island, we toured the Museum of Asian Civilizations, we met up with a friend in town on business, we browsed through the malls and markets, etc.

After three weeks of traveling, we were getting a little tired, the weather was getting a little hotter and more humid, and we were slowing down at bit. Instead of running around Singapore frantically like we did at the start of our trip, we took time to absorb the ambiance. We decided that we really did love Singapore! And yes, we liked Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Melaka too -- but we really loved Singapore!

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