Previously, I mentioned that we went to Ipoh for a day trip and will be planning a beach trip to Penang. And we did! As the lockdown measures eased up to allow interstate travel in Malaysia, I thought it is the best to stretched our legs and immerse ourselves into nature after being holed up in an apartment for 2.5 months.
First of all, I do not advocate reckless behaviour. So even when I reasoned why travel is the best thing to do now, all precautionary measures such as wearing masks in public places, keeping top notch hygiene and observation of social distancing at all times is a must.
Secondly, if your government do not advocate interstate travel, please don’t do it yet. As always, safety comes first. At any point if you are hesitant about travel, listen to your guts. We only travel when the numbers of community infection are down to near zero.
Trust me, even with these measures in place, you will still be able to enjoy travel as much as before (even more so if you are an introvert).
And here are the reasons why:
Support The Locals
This is one of the best ways to help the economy to recover in your own country: by spending money supporting local brands. We choose to eat in small local eateries and shop at domestic stores, forging big foreign brands as much as possible.
Going our way out to smaller townships and kampungs is the best way to explore the rural locations while contributing to their livelihoods. Many of the locals are very happy to see us and some share their hardship stories with me.
All of them are glad that Malaysia Government are encouraging interstate tourism, even if the sales or the crowds will never be back to pre-pandemic, some profits are better than none.
Plus, I bet they were as bored as we were stuck at home.
Low prices everywhere
With the Malaysia government removing the service tax on hotels in addition to the fantastic hotels and restaurants deals, it is too attractive to give it a miss.
Our Shangri-La hotel in Penang was at 50% discount! Even tickets to attractions are at a discounted rate. Restaurants are promoting set meals and bars are advertising their happy hours.
Friendly faces all around
Whether it is due to not able to mingle around people (remember, those who work in hospitality and tourism are people persons) or maybe it’s fear of losing their jobs (lockdown since 18 March, many have seen companies coming down like dominos), all we saw are friendly faces all around. Smiles, waves and cheerful greetings.
Of course, it makes us feel so much better, knowing that we are welcomed here because we are contributing to their economy and not turned away because we are from the big city hence may be bringing viruses in.
The usual drive from Kuala Lumpur to Penang will take us roughly 5 hours, in consideration to traffic jams and breaks. This time round, it only took us 3.5 hours to reach.
It sucks to be stuck in a traffic jam but what sucks even more is when you are stuck in the car with a small child. Luckily for us, our little one is a seasoned traveller. 5 hours in cars or flights no longer fazed her. Instead, she’ll sleep like a log, conserving energy to play once we reach our destination. Smart baby!
No human crowd
You can be safe and have fun too
All the hotels and restaurants have to follow strict SOP in maintaining hygiene and adequate social distancing. We were greeted first with temperature checking and hand sanitising before we are shown to our table.
It is the same everywhere in Malaysia. So much so, my daughter is furious if she is missed out (probably because she’s 3 years old and adults are afraid of upsetting her with the thermometer), she will keep reminding the Uncle or Auntie to take her temperature and give her the hand sanitiser.
Sometimes, she even reminds me to put on a mask before stepping out of the car or the door.
Without the humans around, the beaches and seas are so much cleaner. Many folks have warned us of broken glasses and leftover cigarette butts on Penang beaches, nope.. nada.. didn’t come across any. Not even stranded washed up jellyfishes on the sand.
The beach was so clean, there wasn’t a stray plastic in sight. The sea was cleaner than my previous visit some years ago.
The decision to jump at the chance of traveling interstate the moment the government allowed us (1 June) was the right one. There wasn’t any crowd, not even in tourist attractions. Everyone was being extremely careful, observing social distancing. That made me feel safe enough to bring my 3 year old daughter around.
Now we are hearing that resorts and hotels are fully booked and packed to the brim especially now it’s summer holidays for the international schools. Every parent is dying for a break away from the kids, a resort vacation will be the best place to contain everyone in one place yet in different activities. While everyone is rushing out to vacay, we are relaxing at home.
However, this is still the best moment to pack up a weekend bag and go explore your country. Without the travel borders opening up, you won’t get an influx of tourists. This may be status quo for some time.