Alor Setar or Alor Star is the state capital and the largest city in Kedah. It is nice, quiet town with 400,000 residents. Numerous rice fields, rubber tree groves, and oil palm tree plantations span across the state. Sometimes, prospectors mine for tin illegally.
Alor Setar does not attract many tourists. If tourists do visit, they head to the jetty to ride the ferry to Langkawi or take a bus or taxi to the Southern Thai border. However, the city houses several museums with the tallest tower, Menara Alor Setar, in the downtown area. Residents and tourists can spot the Menara tower anywhere within the city or ride up in an elevator to the observation deck. The tower is 165.5 meters tall.
- Area of the country spans 127,355 square miles, making Malaysia the 67th largest country in the world.
- The currency is the Ringgits.
- The capital is Kuala Lumpur, which has approximately 1.4 million residents. The capital is the second largest city in Malaysia.
- In 2010, the population was estimated at 28.3 million, making Malaysia the 43rd populous country in the world.
- Malaysia is a newly industrialized country with consistent GDP growth of 6.5% over the last 50 years.
- Malaysia is fulled with canopies of jungles supporting a diverse array of wildlife. Malaysia is estimated to have 20% of the species of the world.
- The largest ethnic group is Malays (50.4%), while the second is Chinese (23.7%).
- The Malays are Muslim, while the Chinese are predominately Buddhist.
The Cameron Highlands refer to the mountainous area in central Malaysia. Although Malaysia is a tropical country teeming with humid jungles and elevated temperatures, the Cameron Highlands is located high up along the mountains. The mountains are so high up; the clouds caress the mountains' peaks. It feels like an eternal spring with cool moderate temperatures.
The Cameron Highlands does not refer to a town. It is spread along the curved winding roads that snake along the mountains. The farmers grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, making the Cameron Highlands the fruit and vegetable basket of Malaysia. The farmers even grow strawberries in the moderate temperatures.
The Cameron Highlands is the major tea producer for Malaysia. It was nice to enjoy a fresh cup of tea at cafes that bordered the tea plantations where the tea was picked. I am not a fun of sweet tea, but Malays brew a sweet hot tea that has hints of a chocolate flavor that is quite good.
Changlun is a small town in the middle of the jungle in the State of Kedah, Malaysia. If you blink your eyes while approaching the town, you are liable to miss it. Nothing happens in this town, except watching the monkeys dig through the garbage. So, I walked around and snapped some pictures, while waiting for the bus.
I found it strange that people would stare and gawk at me, when I strolled through the shopping mall. They act like they never seen a white person before. Apparently, Changlun is not a major tourist destination.
Georgetown, located on an island, is the largest city in Penang. Tourists can cross by ferry that costs less than a U.S. dollar to cross from Butterworth to Georgetown but free for the other direction.
Georgetown is not my favorite city. City bus drivers rush by the bus stops without stopping. Many residents are not friendly, and the abandoned buildings litter the neighborhoods in the downtown. Unfortunately, Georgetown is the closest city. I come every two months to drink at Starbucks, grab some sushi at Sushi King, and woof down a whopper from Burger King.
If the residents fixed and renovated the abandoned buildings in the historic downtown, it would be a stunning city that shares the similar architecture to historic neighborhoods in Singapore.
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia and has many attractions. Malaysians call Kuala Lumpur KL for short. Unfortunately, I live over 500 kilometers away and rarely visit this city. I always ride the night bus to downtown Kuala Lumpur and then a shuttle bus to the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) to fly on my favorite airlines, Air Asia. The other main airport is the KL International Airport.
Kuala Lumpur is the largest city in Malaysia with 1.6 million residents. The city is the financial center of Malaysia and contains the stock market, Bursa Malaysia, and Malaysia's Central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia. Most offices of the federal government moved to Putrajaya, a city 37 kilometers south of KL. However, the Malaysian Parliament and foreign embassies are headquartered in Kuala Lumpur.
Langkawi Island is a resort island in northern Malaysia. The island has scenic beaches and beautiful shores that are perfect for a family. No lady boys, prostitutes, or old white males chasing after young Asian women. (Tourists must go to Thailand for that). A ferry ride is about an hour from Kaula Perlis to Langkawi. The main city is Kuah, but hotels and resorts are scattered across the island. The Malaysian government has granted duty-free status to Langkawi to foster economic development. Tourists buy suitcases of liquor, chocolates, and cigarettes. I visited several duty free shops in Malaysia and was quite surprise to see how cheap merchandise was in Langkawi.
Malacca is one of the oldest cities in Malaysia that Europeans had influenced. The Portuguese conquered Malacca in 1511. Then the Dutch captured it in 1641 until the British took possession of it in 1824.
For a tiny town, it has a few attractions. A river cuts through the old section of Malacca, dividing Chinatown from the historic downtown. Tourists and residents can stroll along the river along sidewalks and piers filled with cafes and small beautiful parks. Tourists can visit the fort ruins, restored Portuguese ship, church, and museum in the historic downtown.
Around the corner within walking distance, the residents and tourists can visit the new malls and restaurants.
Sintok is not a town or city but a university campus, located in the middle of the jungle. Sintok is home to the Northern University of Malaysia (UUM). I made the mistake that UUM was a suburb of Alor Setar, but Alor Setar is 45 kilometers southwest.
I love how the jungle life creeps across campus. I came across a family of wild boars, walked around snakes slithering along a path, and how could I forget the monkeys. The monkeys acquired a taste for student junk food, and they loot the trashcans and garbage bins for food remnants.