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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Jump straight to our wedding in Penang.