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Goway Asia Product Manager, Belinda MacNeil, recently returned from a trip to Malaysia and had the opportunity to explore this fascinating nation, including the capital Kuala Lumpur and the Cameron Highlands. In the following interview, Belinda shares with you some of her experiences, tips, and reasons why you should consider selling Malaysia to your clients.
What was the thing that surprised you the most about Malaysia?
This may sound kind of obvious, but I was surprised by how much Chinese influence there is and how far back it really goes. I knew there was Chinese food and culture mixed into the Malaysia lifestyle, but I didn’t realise to what extent. Chinese food and religion can be found everywhere. Adding this to the fusion of Malay and Indian makes it all the better for the tourist to experience all of these cultures in one place.
You did a lot of hotel inspections. What was your favourite and why?
My favourite was the Cameron Highlands Resort in the Cameron Highlands. It was so stylish from a bygone era. All the staff were dressed in white coats and it felt like I stepped back to England in the 1930s. Also, it does help that their spa services were outstanding as I had a massage during my stay by a therapist from Bali. The High Tea here is a well-sought-after experience and totally decadent.
What area would you recommend if clients wanted to extend into another country?
Due to the location of Malaysia, it is so easy to extend into other countries. On your way to or from this wonderful country, a stop in Singapore is an easy option to enjoy the great food, city life, and a Singapore sling, of course. Indonesia and Thailand are another two countries that are super easy to extend to or start with. We have many clients doing extended journeys including two to three countries at a time. Plus, with the access to so many choices for Asian airlines, it is so simple and not too expensive to add those stamps to your passport.
Are there any tips about travelling to Malaysia that agents might share with their clients to make their trip even more enjoyable?
I would suggest that clients do the city tours in Penang and Kuala Lumpur as walking experiences. I found that walking was the best way to enjoy the city with all your senses, instead of driving around. Yes, it can be hot and of course stopping on the way for water breaks in the shade or an air-conditioned store is a must. I also don’t think you have experienced Malaysia to its fullest unless you have had some of the hawker food. I was astounded by the quality that we had and how cheap it was for the amount of food you received. You can get a full meal for only $1 to $4.
Do you have a favorite local dish?
I had many favourites, but I did love the chicken satay that you can get anywhere.
What’s your absolute favourite photo of your entire trip?
Originally, I wanted to say the one I took of the beautiful rolling hills in the Cameron Highlands. But I have to say the one shown below of the young-at-heart 85-year-old gentleman who has his banana pancake stand on the main street in Penang. He goes by “Uncle” and patrons will stand for two hours in line to get their sweet tooth taken care of at his stand. While I waited for my pancakes, he sang a love song to me and I am sure I got engaged! He was so lovely.
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