Malaysia is one of the most visited countries in Asia, even after accounting for the wholesale manipulation of official statistics. And most of the millions of tourists who come every year seem happy with the mix of attractions on offer, from picture perfect tropical beaches, to ever greater shopping opportunities. Overall, Malaysia is a good all round performer, rather than a star in any particular area. Malaysia ranked third in our 2015 ethical travel guide to South East Asia.
A breath of fresh air: Malaysia’s colonial hill stations
Malaya, as befitted one of Britain’s steamiest overseas dominions, had several hill stations, which offered colonials some respite from the tropical heat of the lowlands. They included Maxwell Hill (Bukit Larut), Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera), Fraser’s Hill (Bukit Fraser), and last but not least, the Cameron Highlands. Read more.
A Malaysian year in festivals (2015)
Malaysia’s reputation as a tolerant, multi-cultural nation has taken somewhat of a battering over recent years, thanks to the rising persecution of religious and ethnic minorities. For the time being though, there are still sizeable communities of non-Malays and non-Muslims, each of which marks a number of festivals every year. What follows is a selection of some of the most important religious and/or cultural celebrations which visitors can expect to see in 2015. Read more.
Oktoberfest 2014 and the rise of intolerance in Malaysia
When Carlsberg Malaysia organised its Oktoberfest 2014 events, culminating in a three night party (October 10-12) at One Utama shopping centre, it cannot have predicted the huge political storm which would erupt. After all, it, and the country’s other large brewer, GAB (Guinness Anchor Berhad), have been organising these annual homages to the German beer festival for years. Read more.
Ambitious plan to turn round Malaysia Airlines, but will it work?
Malaysia Airlines is to undergo a six billion ringgit (approximately 1.9 billion US dollars) restructuring programme, in a last-ditch bid to save the beleaguered carrier. It is the company’s fifth – and most radical – restructuring exercise so far. Read more.
Malaysia’s unsung heroes: Captain Francis Light
Without Captain Francis Light there would be no George Town. But his legacy is much more than just one city. When Light took possession of Penang in 1786, on behalf of the East India Company (EIC), he set in train a process of colonisation which resulted in all of present-day Malaysia, as well as Singapore and Brunei, coming under British rule. Read more.
Goodbye LCCT, hello KLIA2: Kuala Lumpur’s new budget Airport
Strange as it may seem, we at Itchy Feet, Itchy Mind grew rather fond of LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal), Kuala Lumpur’s much-maligned budget air hub. Sure, in the early years it felt more like an Indonesian bus station than a modern airport. And its location was amongst the least convenient in the world. Read more.
Introducing Malaya and Borneo (1948-1950)
We at itchy feet, itchy mind love old photos, particularly ones which give glimpses of what life was like in pre-independence Malaysia. So imagine our excitement when we found this beautiful collection of pictures from the UK National Archives, called Introducing Malaya and Borneo. Read more.
Art Deco with a Malayan twist
In its Jazz Age heyday, Art Deco influenced everything from jewellery to ocean liners, from graphic design to architecture. Rather than a set of hard and fast rules however, it was an eclectic mix of parts, which somehow came together to form a beautiful whole. Art Deco was the first truly global style, but ironically, for such an influential movement, its name was not coined until decades after it had fallen out of fashion. Read more.
Suffolk House: the first and last of Penang’s “great houses”
Unique is much overused word, but there is no other way to describe Suffolk House, the finest example of Anglo-Indian architecture outside of India. Built more than two hundred years ago, the “First Great House” of Penang, is not just visually stunning, it is a living link to the early days of British colonial rule in Malaysia. Read more.
A train journey of delight into Sabah’s interior
The North Borneo Railway was constructed between 1896 to 1906, in an effort to link the tobacco and coffee plantations of the interior with the coast. The railway not only still exists – the only one on the island of Borneo – it’s a great way to see the interior of Sabah, and forms part of a pleasant loop round some of the state’s most attractive scenery. Read more.