After reading tales from the first part of Emily’s trip to Southeast Asia, we can’t wait to hear where she went next…

i-escape blog / Emily McDonnellAfter a week of playing castaway, I zoomed cross-country towards Malaysia’s magnificent capital, Kuala Lumpur. My car passed palm-tree groves, colourful kampungs and signs that warned of elephants crossing the road (which I was assured happened frequently!).

My first base in the city was Anggun, a cosy boutique bolthole filled with eclectic antiques and perfectly positioned for exploring.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang /Anggun

After shedding my bags, I ventured to the Batu Caves, just a 20-minute metro ride away. The iconic caves are home to a number of Hindu shrines, a 42m-tall statue of Lord Murugan and dozens of monkeys.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Batu Cavesi-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Monkey at Batu Cavesi-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Emily at Batu Caves

I then spent the afternoon exploring the numerous markets in Kuala Lumpur: the central market is full of textiles, jewellery and crafts, while Chinatown is packed with clothes. My favourite, however, was Jalan Alor, the street-food market just around the corner from Anggun. There, I feasted on Mongolian noodles, satay barbecue, Chinese dumplings and crisp Indian dosas, all washed down with coconut water straight from the source.

marketi-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang

A visit to Kuala Lumpur wouldn’t be complete without an ascent up one of its iconic skyscrapers. I opted for the KL Tower, where I was treated to a panoramic view of the twin towers.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang

My final stop in KL was Villa Samadhi. I felt I’d earned a break after a few non-stop days of exploring the bustling city, and Japamala’s sister hotel certainly delivered. My room came complete with two outdoor rainfall showers and a huge Jacuzzi.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Villa Samhadii-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Villa Samhadii-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Villa Samhadi

The only things that could tempt me out of my city oasis were the chance to try out one of Villa Samadhi’s motorbikes (you can take tours to countryside villages, elephant sanctuaries and paddy fields) and the opportunity to eat at one of its sister restaurants. I opted for Tamarind Springs, nestled in the jungle outside the city, where I feasted on Malaysian steamboat (hot pot) and fragrant curries.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Villa Samhadi

Before I knew it, it was time to head north to the island of Pangkor, popular with Malaysian tourists, and family-run jungle escape Tiger Rock.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Tiger Rock

Property caretaker Mohan is impossibly welcoming and gave me a tour of the island. I loved watching ships being built by hand and being shown secluded white-sand beaches. His wife, Bavanni, then made plate after plate of the best food I have ever tasted.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Tiger Rocki-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Tiger Rock

Tiger Rock belongs to David and Rebecca, and the property is decorated with Rebecca’s bright paintings, swathes of patterned materials, and old family knick-knacks. I pottered between the library and pool, reading, snacking and watching for wildlife.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Tiger Rock

The final stop on my Asian adventure was Penang and the beautiful Clove Hall, located right next door to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Georgetown. Owners Jo and Jim have maintained this colonial bolthole beautifully and make you feel completely at home (if only my actual home was this elegant, with a garden pool and G&Ts on tap!). They’re both also impossibly knowledgeable, and they gave me a huge list of recommendations tailored to my interests.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Clove Halli-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Clove Halli-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang / Clove Hall

I feasted on thali at Sri Ananda Bahwan, indulged my sweet tooth at China House, and drank cocktails in the Ruins of Victoria. Particular highlights were hunting for street art and exploring the pop-up market at Art Deco Hin Bus Co.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang /i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang /

My final day in Malaysia rolled around before I knew it, and I ventured out determined to get my last hit of local culture. I hiked from the botanic gardens up Penang Hill and was afforded incredible vistas. I marvelled at the Kek Lok Si Temple (the ‘temple of supreme bliss’), which is one of the largest temples in the country, and I got purposefully lost in Georgetown’s historic centre.

i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang /i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang /i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang /

I genuinely fell head-over-heels in love with this corner of the world, but I only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. I can’t wait to plan my next adventure!

See our whole collection of boutique hotels in Malaysia.

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i-escape blog / Exploring Kuala Lumpur, Pangkor and Penang

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