Malaysia, a country that instantly evokes the signature phrase ‘Truly Asia’, is an amalgamation of diverse cultures that have come into existence along the trail of time, conferred on it by its long and rich history. A melting pot of various races who bring to the table their own traditions, customs, conventions, ceremonies, practices and cuisines, this is truly a showcase of Asia right from the days of colonial domination to the present day stamp of modernity and advancement.
Sleek, stylish and savvy coexist with the earthy, ancient and historical and the visitor can revel in the harmony of its melange of myriad facets.
It was my utter pleasure to return yet again to this land rich in culture, heritage and natural beauty, barely 9 months after having the opportunity to attend their Rainforest World Music Festival in July 2018.
‘Come hungry, leave satisfied’ was the theme of this experience … and we were urged on with those lines as we wove our way through the South West coast and Southern most parts of the country, imbibing the essence of the many destinations in various ways, not the least of which, was the gastronomical !!!
Well with the seemingly infinite delights which played a big role (in turning us into Big Rolls), ‘satisfied’ took on a whole new definition as we rolled our way through the various cuisines and flavors of the region. ‘Satiated beyond belief’ would definitely have been a more apt replacement for ‘satisfied’.
So come with me on this 6 part series, as I virtually feed your senses with the enchanting pleasures of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Melaka, Muar, Johor Bahru and Desaru, in my whirlwind tour of 5 days.
Part 1 – Malaysia Food Trail – Introduction
A glimpse of what Malaysia is about –
This country in Southeast Asia, is a federal constitutional monarchy, where the royals are the heads of state but the elected parliament holds the power to pass legislation.
Malaysia is made up of 13 states and 3 federal territories and occupies 2 regions namely peninsular Malaysia and Malaysian Borneo to the east, with the South China sea separating them.
9 of the states have monarchs as heads and they are mostly referred to as Sultans.
Kuala Lumpur is the national capital and largest city and Putrajaya 25 km to its south, is the federal administrative center. These ultra modern cities with their signature skyscraper skylines, co exist harmoniously with ancient monuments that also lie in quiet dignity within their precincts.
Peninsular Malaysia has Johor as its Southern most state, and this sits like a cap on the country of Singapore, cushioned by a body of water known as the Straits of Johor.
Our tour –
As I mentioned, this was an opportunity for me to explore parts of Malaysia that I had not visited before and our destinations were mainly on the South West and South of the country, covering well trodden tourist places like Melaka and Johor Bahru, as well as uncovering some little known gems like the coastal and riverside town of Muar and the seaside resort town of Desaru.
Our route took root from the city of Kuala Lumpur and proceeded towards the federal territory of Putrajaya, to the city of Melaka in the state of Melaka, then onto the town of Muar in the state of Johor, the city of Johor Bahru in Johor, the town of Desaru in Johor and finally back to Kuala Lumpur via the city of Seremban in Negeri Sembilan.
The diverse group was made up of 21 guests from 9 countries namely Thailand, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Philippines and India and it was a wonderful experience to travel together and learn about each other.
We were accompanied by our tour guides Jean and Alan who with their interesting narrations, excellent management skills and great sense of humor, did a great job of herding 21 guests through the intricacies of the hectic but very interesting itinerary 😀
Our destinations –
As mentioned, we covered many interesting places en route and gleaned a wealth of information that is best divided into several destination specific posts, to avoid an information overload here 😀
The guests who arrived from various countries, were to meet at the inaugural dinner at the Le Meridien Hotel at Putrajaya, which was also the place of stay for the first night. However, my flight was a late one and I landed at Kuala Lumpur only at 11 pm, reaching the hotel at midnight and thus missing the first dinner.
However, the main part of the tour was only to begin the next day and I really did not miss anything much other than a nice meal at the Latest Recipe restaurant of the hotel which my co-guests enjoyed, while I managed with a cheese bread from the airport supermarket 😀
I did have the pleasure though, of experiencing the luxury of my room for that night and also breakfast at the same restaurant the next morning.
Le Méridien Putrajaya is a sleek and stylish hotel that is set in the IOI Resort City, Putrajaya and is interconnected to offices at IOI City Towers and IOI City Mall.
The hotel boasts of 353 well appointed rooms which include 43 luxurious executive suites and expansive views of the surroundings.
The rooms feature the signature Le Méridien hypoallergenic bedding, luxurious marble bathrooms and free wi fi.
The 2 dining options are the brand’s signature restaurant, the all day dining Latest Recipe where traditional dishes are given a modern twist and the contemporary Chinese restaurant the Le Mei.
The hotel also features a 24 hour gym, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool.
In the limited time, I had the pleasure of enjoying the sumptuous breakfast at the Latest Recipe, which was the first of my many meals across Malaysia on this trip. The buffet breakfast is obviously multi cuisine but as always, I made a beeline for the local foods. The Pandan kaya pau (steamed pandan infused coconut filled bun) was my first victim from the traditional section 😀 apart from a few other items.
2) Part 2 – Melaka city (click here for the story)
3) Part 3 – Muar town (click here for the story)
4) Part 4 – Johor Bahru (click here for the story)
5) Part 5 – Desaru – (click here for the story)
6) Part 6 – Back to Kuala Lumpur via Seremban – click here for the story
Best time to visit Malaysia –
Hot and wet … is how they describe their country 😀
Malaysia has a tropical climate and mainly has a warm and humid climate all year round. The rainy seasons occur alternately on the east and west coast and hence there is always some part of the country that one can visit through the year. The west has greater rainfall than usual during the months of April to October and the monsoons of the east occur from November to February. The coastal areas also have cooler evenings due to the sea breeze that helps to dispel some of the humidity.
Such weather notwithstanding, Malaysia has an constant influx of tourists throughout and there is always something to do and see or somewhere to go, anytime of the year.
Of course if one is attending specific festivals or events of which there are plenty in the country, then one has to plan accordingly based on those fixed dates.
Getting there –
Kuala Lumpur is well connected to several international destinations by air and is also a hub from where one can travel onward to the other parts of Malaysia.
More information about Tourism Malaysia is available at –
Please Note – I visited Malaysia and embarked on the food trail, on the invitation of the Tourism Malaysia, which sponsored my flights, stay and related activities and I thank them for the same. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
Apr 15th-20th, 2019