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Qun Kwa’s, Songket’s and Kawan in Malaysia

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The next few days in Kuala Lumpur were a whirlwind, we ate and drank ourselves merry with Caroline and her beautiful family. I finally got to meet James and Leila who I had heard so much about and Sayan, who I felt I knew a little already having spoken to Caro throughout her pregnancy. We had so much to talk about even after talking already for over a year!

The next day nursing sore heads we met with Sherly and Agnes who were going to be our planners extraordinaire for our Malaysian wedding. My sore head was soon forgotten as Caroline dropped me off with them and we all talked without drawing breath for the next solid hour while I had my hair chopped.

lots of mechanics crowd around Boris the campervan in Kuala Lumpur. They had never seen anything like it before

Sherly and Agnes had their work cut out for them as our guides in KL, Boris had a fuel leak, a loose fan belt and needed a service (luckily there is a Cheverolet garage in KL) and once we had fought off 25 intrigued mechanics there (none of them had ever seen anything like Boris) they were tasked with getting us to the hotel that had been arranged for us during rush hour traffic.

Once at the hotel we met with Nigel and his wife Kel-Li, we have been chatting with Nigel (who is an awesome wedding videographer ) for years about coming to Malaysia and finally here we were, all face to face!

Now, for all of you Brits out there reading this…are you thinking the same as we were? Nigel, Sherly, Agnes, Kel-Li (and Harry who we are yet to meet)…not very Malaysian names right!! we had the most English named Malaysian team ever and we love them every one.

We all piled into our AMAZING room (Caroline couldn’t make it) at the Maya Hotel KL to check out the view of the Petronas towers and to jump on the bed and oooh and aaaah at the scattered rose petals everywhere! We moved in with our shopping bags of belongings and hit the pool, the bar, the rooftop lounge…you name it, we had a go. The hotel location was fantastic and we could literally walk across the street to the towers, great restaurants and huge malls. The breakfast buffet made me want to stay there all day, the service was just wonderful and the shower…I can spend hours telling you how wonderful a good shower is (especially when you normally shower on a hill in a campervan) but I will refrain.

a collage of pictures of food and the view at the hotel in Kuala Lumpur

A hotel Bath and bed is sprinkled with rose petals. The whole wedding team clamber on the bed for a pictures

In between loving our hotel room we basically hung out for a few days with all the team, making excitable plans for the wedding, eating LOTS of Malaysian food, drinking lots of wine and trying on ALL the outfits for the up coming wedding. Sherly and Agnes had arranged for us to experience two of the most prominent ceremonies from two of the many cultures of Malaysia.

A Chinese tea ceremony, which is classed as more important than the wedding itself in Chinese culture and also a Merenjis ceremony which is a blessing from the elders in a traditional Malaysian wedding. Of course that meant at least one outfit change and we all made the most of trying everything on we could manage thanks to the lovely Zarena pictured with us here.

Alex and Lisa try on traditional Malaysian wedding attire

The colours are just amazing. The red Qun Kwa heavily embroidered with symbolic motifs in gold, green and silver threads and the turquoise blue Songket again, all hand stitched with beautifully delicate silver and gold threads…and all of this before I even mention the JEWELS and the HEADPIECES! I was in seventh heaven until I realised Alex would get to wear more bling than me!

Anyway, outfits chosen and friendships bonded over food and wine we all had to part ways. The wedding was to be held in Penang in the north of Malaysia and we had a looong 10 days to wait until we would all meet again.

We drove away from KL and initially aimed for higher ground, looking for somewhere cooler.

eating at the hawker stalls in Malaysia with friends

the view of the Petronas towers and the sky needle in Kuala Lumpur from Maya Hotel

The view from the Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur

the petronas towers and sky needle lit up at night in Kuala Lumpur

Life in the van in the humid heat had become unbearable. It is impossible to explain how debilitating the wet heat is. Sleeping is a nightmare, everything feels damp and food that isn’t normally refrigerated becomes impossible to keep. Clothes definitely need to be washed after every single wear due to being so sweaty and the bedding…I don’t even want to talk about it.

So, on leaving KL we decided to treat ourselves to some air conditioned accommodation for a few days…admittedly we didn’t HAVE to stay where we did but we are SO glad we did. We went from ‘Maya Hotel City Treat’ to ‘spa retreat’ and loved every single second of it.

For the first time in 4 years we did what we wanted to do. We didn’t scrimp and save or beat ourselves up about going where we wanted, we just did it (Well, Alex did. I had secret palpitations but that’s perfectly normal).

We booked 5 days in The Banjaran hotsprings retreat and it was pretty awesome.

poolside relaxation with a book in The Banjaran Hotelsteam rises off a natural hotpool in The Banjaran hotel Malaysia

After 5 days of relaxing and being wet constantly (from the swimming pool to the hotpool to the steam room to the cool pool to the Dr Fish pool to the room pool to the shower) we considered moving in but sadly due to lack of funds had to move back into the van.

This time we headed into the Cameron Highlands and literally found that ALL Malaysians had done the same thing. It was a holiday weekend and let me tell you, you have never seen traffic like it…especially not up a mountain in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE! For two days straight we sat in bumper to bumper traffic. We passed (slowly) strawberry plantations, tea plantations, street stalls…everything, but we daren’t leave the queue of traffic for fear of never getting back in it. We spent our first night in a layby (meters from the traffic) and the second night in a hospital carpark (as respite from the traffic), the third day we slowly wound our way back down the mountain and stayed in an abandoned carpark which turned out to be underneath a monkey highway.

farmers pick tea leaves in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and a map snippit shows the windy road up the mountain side

We watched the families moving along like we had in the traffic for the past 3 days, seemingly never ending. Tails in hands, babies on backs, every one connected somehow as they moved slowly and effortlessly through the maze of branches that for them formed a perfect route.

We counted down the remaining hot restless nights until the wedding moving slowly like the monkeys, conserving energy, lounging and trying to stay hydrated in-between Boris breakdowns and working our way slowly towards Penang which we had been warned was even hotter than the rest of Malaysia!

Alex holds a new alternator for Boris the campervan
the Malaysian wedding team enjoy wine at a wine bar


Jump straight to our wedding in Penang.


  1. looks amazing. poor Boris and you

    1. peopleli says:

      Hahah don’t let Alex hear you saying poor Boris 😉 We get through it as always Christine, can’t wait to be back in Boston enjoying a rum and coke though!!! <3

  2. Jacquie says:

    Oh how uncomfortable you must have been in all that slow .. moving traffic! Your booking in at the hotel with all the choice of water relaxation sounds like welcome relief from the heat! Another great blog post and your lush green photos are gorgeous!

    1. peopleli says:

      It was SUCH a wonderful treat Jacquie. The best thing we could have done! It truly was a tropical paradise, the pictures just can’t do it enough justice.

  3. Hannah says:

    such a shame you didnt get to go get out and see/hike around the cameron highlands. It sounds like you had the opposite experience from when i was there. The Spa Retreat sounds amazing! Love reading your blog.
    hannah x

    1. peopleli says:

      Thanks Hannah,

      So glad you are enjoying the blog! The Cameron Highlands was SUCH a shame but was also a real experience getting to see everyone else enjoying their holidays…no-one seemed to mind the traffic and all had big smiles for us in our weird looking American campervan which was just lovely really!
      Truly, the Banjaran was AMAZING!

      Lovely to have you along for the adventure Hannah, keep us posted on things we need to do in this neck of the woods!

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