Category Archives for Malaysia


Watching Skyfall in KL

Petronas Twin Towers-2

There are many good things about urban Malaysia. Most notably, the museums, the malls, the cinemas and the food. And, as I pick up the boy from KLIA on a day so grey and rainy that I shiver in the air-conditioning and wonder whether I’ll need a coat against the imagined cold, I’m figuring we […]


How To Climb Mount Kinabalu with Kids

How to do Mount Kinabalu with Kids

Mount Kinabalu, in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, is marketed as the highest mountain in South-East Asia, excluding the Himalayas and Puncak Jaya in Indonesian Papua. And scaling the 4095m peak provides dramatic views and a stunning lunar landscape that are rewarding for adults and kids alike. A Practical Guide on Climbing Mount Kinabalu with Kids Can […]


How Hard Is It To Get A Chinese Visa in Kuala Lumpur?

Chinese Visa Image

July 2014 update: This is an old post and detailed regulations have changed, but recent feedback from readers suggests that this is still a great embassy to try for longer China visas — even if you’re from the Philippines. And they are still happy to give 30+ day visas to people with a genuine, demonstrable […]


The Friday Photo: Kayan Woman, Borneo

longhouse borneo

I photographed this lady from the Kayan tribal minority in Sarawak, once an independent kingdom, now Malaysian Borneo, during our big trip upriver there last year. She’s chewing betel, the local stimulant of choice, in the longhouse where she lived, and her stretched ear lobes, like her arm tattoos and head dress, are traditional methods […]


What Happens When Your Kid Takes The Lead?

Ride at Berjaya Times Square Theme Park

Over the last couple of weeks, since Z returned from his overseas trip, I’ve largely been letting him choose what we do. Well, with the exception of hunting for a visa for our China trip, obviously… So, what exactly happens when a ten-year-old boy has his own choice of what to do in Penang, a […]


Will Madam Be Having Lard With That?


I really think I must have a food intolerance. After ten days in Singapore and a couple of weeks in Malaysia, I’m mysteriously bloated. My stomach’s the same size it was when I was four months pregnant. It bulges over the top of my pants in the manner of late-era Bukowski. It’s all most peculiar. […]


Mr. Confidence

Z, grinning, coming off slide with rubber ring. Poring Hot Springs, Kinabalu Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.

Sometimes, something happens which makes you look at your child with new eyes. This morning, Z and I were at Poring Hot Springs, the sulphurous waters which seethe out of the jungly lowlands in the shadow of Mount Kinabalu. They function, if not as a panacea, at least as a salve for muscles recovering from […]


Climbing Mount Kinabalu

sun bursts above peaks on the summit of mount kinabalu, borneo, malaysia

Dali would have loved the summit of Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak between the Himalayas and New Guinea. Granite towers, horns and cowslicks protrude improbably from a landscape of fractured moraines and curvaceous drops, polished clean by Pleistocene glaciers and decked with gleaming waterfalls. And watching the rising sun refract around these surrealist sculptures and […]


Ulp. It's an Alp.

The flag of Sabah state, with Mount Kinabalu shaded in blue on the top left.

When a mountain makes it onto the state flag, you know it’s a big old mountain. And Mount Kinabalu, which stands over 4000m above Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, is certainly that. The nine year old and I will be climbing it on Wednesday and Thursday. (Well, hiking, technically, albeit with the odd bit of rope […]


Of Canopies and Caves

Bright green chameleon perched on a branch amid leaves. Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia.

This is the view down over the lower storey of the rainforest canopy, in Mulu National Park, Sarawak, from the longest canopy skywalk in the world. Nigh-on 500m of suspension bridge rattles and sways above the tops of the lowest trees, pinned to the sleek trunks of emergent giants. It’s a place where I discovered […]