Best mate is getting married in Malaysia, somewhere in Penang to be exact. I’ve never traveled to Asia, what should I be sure to do? Keep in mind that I don’t have much cash, traveling with the wife who is somewhat cautious. We’ll be in KL a few days, then the wedding, then a few days over in Hong Kong.
What are the things I should absolutely do on the visit? (Eat, yes, I know!)
Will I feel inconspicuous? I’m an African American male, 6 feet tall.
How should I prep for the trip? Learn a little Malay?
Insight/advice from those of you who have visited/lived in either place would be appreciated!
Never been, but you may wanna ask someone to move this thread to IMHO
I’ve never been to Malaysia, but I’ve been to Hong Kong. The coolest thing I did was going to The Felix. It was the nicest, most interestingly-designed restaurant/bar I’ve ever seen. It’s on the south end of Kowloon Peninsula, and has a great view of HK Island. The men’s bathroom has several marble urinals right in front of the window (you’re 28 floors up, by the way) overlooking the island with a fantastic view at night. I didn’t eat there, just went in for a couple of drinks. I highly, highly recommend going there at least for a look around. Wear something kind of nice, but it doesn’t have to be a shirt and tie or sport coat or anything like that. Like the link I gave says, “smart casual.”
I also recommend going to Hong Kong Park. It’s beautiful, and it’s right in the middle of the city (on the island). The view from the top of HK Island is pretty sweet, too. But The Felix is not to be missed.
I doubt you’ll feel too out of place in Hong Kong. You’ll stick out a bit, being one of the only African Americans around. But the part of HK I was in (southern Kowloon Peninsula and Hong Kong Island) just felt like, say, New York City, with a lot more Chinese people and a lot more signs I can’t read. You should be fine. And seriously, don’t miss The Felix.
Penang is mainly a beach resort, but look around the old parts of Georgetown, the main town. Loads of old Indian and Chinese temples, businesses and architecture.
HK. Try to get out of the S Kowloon tourist area. Take the Star Ferry from there (just next to Peninsula Hotel) to Central and look around Soho, Sheung Wan areas - interesting mix of modern and traditional. I guess you should go up the Peak - amazing view of the harbour, if it’s clear.
You’re coming in the rainy season, so you might be indoors a bit.
English is spoken to varying degrees in both urban Malaysia and HK by at least half the people (rough guess).
In HK, if you get off the beaten track into poorer all-Chinese neighbourhoods, older/less educated people might stare at you or not sit next to you on the bus if you’re dark-skinned (from what I hear). But it’s pure ethnocentric ignorance, and not hostile. Otherwise, not a problem. Walk around day or night - it’s safe.
My warts-and-all HK guide may or may not be helpful.
But in a nutshell - food, food and food.
When shopping in Hong Kong, make darn sure that the item you’re walking out the door with is the one you actually wanted to buy. There’s a fair number of unscrupulous clerks who will pull a last-minute “switch” of your purchase, and then gleefully inform you afterwards that they don’t accept returns or exchanges.
Heck, shopping for anything in HK is a caveat emptor experience, IMO.
Hemlock is too pessimistic about shopping in HK. The US is cheaper than Australia, so you are coming off a lower base than me, but I bought some electronic stuff in HK a few weeks ago at very low prices. It was all perfect, no ripoff in any way. Get the concierge in your hotel to recommend some places. He recommended a number of malls to me in which many of the shops would fail Hemlock’s suggested criteria for not getting ripped off, but I was fine.
Second the recommendation of Georgetown, fascinating place.
Six foot African American? Inconspicuous? You are kidding, right? Not that I think you’ll have trouble.
I didn’t really find much to write home about in KL. Big, Asian-modern, dirty, humid and not much to see. The night markets are fun though. Wanna buy a watch?
Well, you happen to be going while Malaysia is heavily adversting itself, especially in Fortune and Fobes magazines. I don’t know what to expect in terms of tourism crowds.
A good sightseeing idea is the Petronas Towers, one of the largest building in the world. You might be able to get inside and maybe look out from the top stories.
If you have time, visit Signapore which is a nation at the Southern coast of Malaysia.
There’s not really that much to see, actually… it’s Just Another City[sup]TM[/sup]. 5 whole magnitudes more clean, but somewhat more sterile than you expect a city to be.
I loved Hong Kong. I really liked the Tour of the monastary on Lantau island which features the big buddha statue. Also you can go to the fishing villiage of Tai O there which was fun to see.
Walking the streets in the mornings is really interestintg if you want the cultural thing, go to the wet market and such. Also, if you want to see the biggest flea market on earth check out the night market at Mong Kok on the weekends. I was amazed.
I loved checking out the temples like the Man Mo temple in the Central district and the Wan Chai temple were really cool (then again i was there for Chinese New Year so it was packed with activity).
I would love to go back some day.
If you’re stopping off in Brunei, stay a night or two at the Empire Hotel and Country Club. Stay on the 4th floor or higher facing the sea. Sheer luxury.
If you visit the statue ("the “Big Buddha”), make sure to drop by the cafeteria for food. The all-vegetarian-menu-masquerading-as-meat is surprisingly good.
You bet it’s luxury! The Sultan of Brunei most likely frequents that resort.
Thread moved, for somewhat obvious reasons.
– Uke, mod