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Malaysia overview


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Malaysia dive site map

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Scuba Diving in Malaysia


Water temperature:

27 - 28°C (80 - 82°F) on average, up to 31°C (89°F) in summer months

Suit:

Skin to 3mm shortie

Visibility:

10 - 40 metres (30 - 130 feet)

Type of diving:

Wrecks, coral gardens, walls

Marine life:

Black-tip reef sharks, groupers, barracuda, parrotfish, pufferfish, angelfish, bannerfish

When to go:

It is possible to visit Malaysia at any time of year, but the rainy season that runs from June to September can cause rougher seas and lower visibility. The months of July and August suffer from the heaviest rainfall. Avoid east coast destinations between November and January

How to get there:

From the UK - Fly via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines from Heathrow or Manchester


Dugun, Terengganu Malaysia - courtesy of Tenggoldives dive centre

Malaysia is located in the tropics just north of the equator. The climate is hot and humid, averaging a temperature of 30°C (86°F). The wet season that runs from May to September sees a lot of heavy but brief showers. The Malaysian coastline is dotted with beautiful beaches and lined with warm blue seas and inland grows some of the world's oldest rainforest. There are also some cosmopolitan cities such as the capital of Kuala Lumpur, which is home to the Petronas Towers, the tallest building in the world. The walkway that joins the two towers is not to be crossed by people who suffer from vertigo!

The Malaysians are a diverse group of people with influences coming from many of the surrounding countries. This is reflected in the excellent Malayan, Indian and Chinese cuisine on offer - the curries taste great but watch out for stomach bugs that can be picked up in the food and water. Drink bottled water only and eat cooked food. The Malaysians are mostly Muslims, and there are also many Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. The language spoken is Malay, but English is also common. The currency used is the Malaysian dollar.

Malaysia is made up of three main regions covering over a thousand individual islands. There are 38 designated marine parks in the country as well as 19 on land. The regions are Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo in the east and Peninsular Malaysia in the west. The best diving in Malaysia is around Borneo where hundreds of turtles make the reefs and drop off their home. The Redang archipelago has good visibility and the healthiest reefs of the region. At Tioman you may experience some very spectacular and memorable dives such as at Chebeh, Labas, 7 sky or on the wreck of the HMS Repulse. The diving on Peninsular Malaysia is not up to the same standard as the diving around Borneo. It is degrades away from land into the Straights of Malacca where busy shipping channels cause the sea to suffer from pollution and bad visibility.


Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - courtesy of Tony Gilbert

Kuala Lumpur

It's likely that you've come in via Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and before or after your island adventure, it may be a good idea to see what the 'big city' offers. If you do so, make sure you take an approved taxi (from the kiosk) from KLIA to Kuala Lumpur, which is a good 45minutes drive down the Klang Highway, passing the 'silicone valley' of Cyberjaya, next door to which is Putrajaya. This area is a mixture of residential, commercial and government buildings.

Within the city itself, a 'Golden Triangle' of westernised buildings exists, outside of which the old Kuala Lumpur can be seen in places, with its street markets & downtown ramshackle village houses. As the British once governed Malaysia there are many colonial influences even today, the most noticeable of driving on the left side of the road! Kuala Lumpur's Golden Triangle encompasses a large area and there are masses of shopping malls, like Times Square and Sorya CC, and even a Sea Life Centre. Hotels abound, mainly 4-5 stars, and depending on the exchange rate can be quite cheap for western pockets. These hotels offer excellent accommodation, and if you feel the need to eat out do so. The surrounding districts offer traditional Malaysian cuisine, and the city never sleeps, so food is readily available! A China Town area exists, where street vendor restaurants (restoran) flow onto the street, but beware of the squalid conditions of the toilets, which are more than made up by the food here that is absolutely superb, some of the best Chinese cuisine you'll come across! A curiosity is that 3 vendors (1 for drinks, 1 for food and another for rice) may serve your table - and the bills are also split the same way.

Make sure you take some cash out with you, as credit cards will not be accepted in these places. Westernised shopping malls offer a great opportunity to purchase goods, but many of the western clothes are at western prices! Also in these shopping malls are many food courts and small café restaurants with Korean as a particular favourite. Las Vegas has come to KL in the form of the Sunway Pyramid, with its Sphinx and glittering lights. Here are many forms of entertainment, including upmarket clubs & karaoke. Alcohol can be expensive, so check prices beforehand. Also, many taxi drivers are quite pushy, so agree a price up front back to your hotel. The prices vary depending on time of night. Many of the taxis are running on gas, which is cheap. Also, it may include in the price the road tolls.

Although there is some crime, it pays to keep your valuables safe, and take only what you need on a night out. Lastly try one of the backstreet Malaysian/Chinese restaurants, which serve some interesting dishes, like steamboats (even cook your own), a mixture of boiled fish, meat and vegetables. Or try one of the more traditional seafood restaurants that serve freshly killed baked fish, whole crabs, shell fish in their shells and so on.

Tony Gilbert


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