Where to Go (and Where Not to Go) in Malaysia

25 April 2013

Visiting Malaysia

It seems many people tend to gloss over going to Malaysia as a holiday destination. Thailand is usually the preferred country in Southeast Asia, particularly among student backpackers and those keen to do a bit of ‘living’ before surrendering to the inevitable securities of middle age. But Malaysia has just as much to offer, so as a way of tipping the balance a little, here are some places to go and things to do if you're thinking of a Malaysia holiday. Or are packing something up for shipping to Malaysia and want to find out more about where your parcel is going. You know, so you can be sure it'll be happy when it gets there.

Firstly, we recommend Penang which is both a state in West Malaysia and a separate island on the northwest coast. Penang is home to a tropical rainforest climate all year round, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the form of George Town, cultural festivals and street food that's worth moving to Malaysia for alone (check out Gurney Drive).

Of course there’s the capital city of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with its magnificent Petronas Twin Towers - two giant, imposing symbols of Malaysia’s economic development, standing at the heart of the city like robot legs missing a body. The presence of Malay, Indian and Chinese communities ensures a healthy cultural scene and some exceptional cuisine too. However, the concentrated hub of affluence in Kuala Lumpur, surrounded by impoverished communities may leave a sour taste in the mouth for some.

Malacca in the Malay Peninsula is also a World Heritage site and boasts a rich variety of cultural and colonial landmarks such as the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum and St Paul’s Church. The old town in Malacca is a beautiful and undisturbed place to visit and counter-balance the extremes of the capital.

Perhaps an area of Kuala Lumpur to avoid is Petaling Street, a Chinatown notorious for its pirated merchandise and bootleg DVDs of films that haven’t stopped shooting yet. As you bargain with a market trader over a fake designer watch or an imitation handbag, remember that you will never get the upper hand. Every piece of junk is made in sweatshops for a pittance and whatever price the trader agrees, you will always be walking away with something you’ve paid far too much for. Plus, think about the extra baggage a spending spree will create (though, naturally, we'll be happy to help you with any excess luggage you may accumulate). If you do pass through Petaling Street, stop only for the hawker food.

As with many tourist destinations, you will find people driving around claiming to be taxi drivers. Hop into one of these without checking their validity and you could find yourself being charged ten times the original fare. It’s best to hail a cab rather than approach a man leaning against his vehicle, waiting for you to emerge from a bar or restaurant. The genuine cabs never park up unless they’re at a legitimate taxi rank.

So there you go. Have fun, stay safe and remember, if you find yourself with excess baggage travelling to or from Malaysia, have a chat with us.

Oh, despite what you may see in Petaling Street, Fast and Furious 12 hasn’t come out yet.

Posted in: Holidays, Travel

Early Summer Holiday Deals

12 April 2013

Early Summer Holiday Deals

According to someone in meteorology who presumably doesn’t have a window to look out of, summer is approaching, and there are a myriad of affordable holiday packages for those wishing to holiday abroad for a week or two to sunnier climes (or just sunny climes would be nice) so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most enticing offers currently available. We may work in international shipping but that doesn't mean we're all about logistics and boxes - we know a thing or two about the best places to visit too. (Though if you do have any future excess baggage concerns, you know who to chat to.)

Package Holidays is offering trips to Turkey with prices starting from £303pp. With a choice of 8 departure airports, a stay at the 4 star Manas Park Oludeniz Hotel and free shuttle bus transfers from the airport to the hotel and hotel to the beach, this is an unbeatable offer from Package Holidays.

For those looking for one of those typical ‘sunny beaches/tropical paradise’-type holidays, take a look at the offer from Tropical Sky, providing a 7 night break to Barbados from £749pp. It’s one of those places where you take a picture of the clear waters from your hammock and then use it as a screensaver back home to torture yourself with for the next few years. 

Package Holidays is also giving people the opportunity to escape to Majorca for a week at just £300pp making a saving of 38%. This deal comes with a 7 night stay at the Ola Club Maioris Hotel and an all inclusive board.

Our hot choice of the month is Tunisia. Yes, it’s our hot choice. Very hot. You shouldn’t even read this bit without wearing oven gloves. A1 Travel is offering 37% off a holiday package to Marhaba Beach Resort in Sousse at £308pp. But hurry, places available are flying off the imaginary shelf.

Fancy flying to the Altinkaya Holiday Resort in Cyprus from just £299? That’s a whopping 33% off the brochure price at Cyprus Paradise. Enjoy the beauty of the Kyrenia mountain range (where the resort is located) and explore the fascinating ancient sites that North Cyprus is famous for.

Remember, should you find yourself with one suitcase too many, check out how we can solve any excess baggage problems today and save you a whole bunch of hassle and money at the airport.

Posted in: Holidays, Travel

Don't Buy This Stuff (4)

08 April 2013

Excess Baggage Ideas

It’s amazing how frequently we can write a blog post about new worthless yet purchasable gadget shop tat but here we are.

Of course, this blog post isn’t just about gadgets. We throw the net wider to incorporate all manner of items that you don’t need and shouldn’t buy. As a global shipping company, we believe that holidaymakers should be made aware of the junk thrown at them as a targeted demographic - shiny junk in nice packaging, but junk nonetheless.

Skyfall was not only a terrible James Bond film, it was also a terrible film in its own right – half-baked, badly-acted, illogical, sexist, dated nonsense. What signal did that lady give to James Bond that she wanted him to join her in the shower? None. But in he went – because he’s a presumptuous old lecher. Luckily, the one saving grace of this tedious film which somehow turned Javier Bardem into an ironing board in a wig, was the presence of a really nice rifle case which has inspired this limited edition suitcase from Globe Trotter. Only £5000!

For those going on holiday with their baby son or daughter, please don’t. A baby? What’s wrong with you? What do you expect them to do? They won’t remember anything. They just want milk and sleep, not hidden excess baggage fees and hotel bar entertainment.

If you haven’t just changed your mind however, you might be interested in the Guava Family GoCrib Portable Travel Crib from The Fancy. It’s a funky, portable, lightweight tent/crib that folds into a backpack. Sounds great, of course, but anyone who’s ever erected one of these things on the beach knows that a stiff wind will take it into a bordering country before you can say 'nap time'.

You know what it’s like when you go on a camping holiday. Well, I hope you do anyway, because I don’t. I like warmth and walls and bars that serve wine, so camping isn’t my thing.  But you know what it’s like when you go camping – so much equipment to carry, so much time wasted pitching the tent, so much…hmm, no I can’t think of a third thing. But anyway, if you’re plagued by these concerns, look no further than the Jakpak from Firebox – a tent, sleeping bag and mosquito net that folds into a jacket! It’s an ingenious idea, until you see the promotional pictures of a young man wrapped in what looks like an ill-fitting body bag. I know nothing about camping but even I can see the ‘tent’ in the JakPak looks like it’s been designed to accommodate half a ladybird. Only £150. 

That price again. One hundred and fifty pounds. Seriously. Put it in an ISA or something. Or, if you decide you really do need to take this along with every other gadget and widget you own on holiday with you, look at an excess baggage service like ours - it'll save you a bundle on those airline fees. Really.

Posted in: Travel, Packing

Don't Buy This Stuff (3)

08 April 2013

Excess Baggage Ideas

It’s that time again where we trawl through the top gift and gadget websites - normally the last port of call for the forgetful spouse who could have sworn their partner’s birthday was on the 12th - to bring you a rundown of the best (and worst) travel items around. This time we’ve got some items so useless, you may actually feel the question marks forming in your eyes, though as a responsible excess baggage company, we've also included some decent ideas in here too.

Now this sounds like a handy thing to have. A Suitcase Scale from I Want One of Those priced £4.99. Many a time shipping overseas I’ve plonked a suitcase on the conveyor belt at the check-in desk and watched anxiously as the digital reading of the weight rises higher and higher towards the maximum weight allowance. This little contraption will put an end to anguished passport squeezing.

A slightly more novel item is this nifty approach to hiding your valuables – the Tansafe! Available at Firebox, it’s like the spray can in Jurassic Park that has the dinosaur embryos in it. Only in this case, it’s a suntan lotion bottle and you can put your wallet and keys it in. On the face of it, this seems like a worthwhile travel aid, though one imagines that with time, thieves will recognise the Tansafe logo and swipe it within seconds. Plus, there’s the added bonus for thieves of everything you want to steal in one convenient case.

The Portable Mosquito Repeller from Presents for Men, is mounted on an adjustable strap and looks like a funky watch. However, instead of telling the time, it emits a high-frequency sound that most mosquitoes agree is not cool. Priced at £14.99, this appears to be a clean and efficient solution to warning off the little blighters. There are no chemicals contained within and it does not release any unpleasant smells. Providing this does actually work, I recommend it. If you have one, let me know.

Now you can have a tasty hot beverage wherever you go with the Travel Cup Boiler! Oh and make sure you have a tea bag, milk and some packets of sugar in your pocket too by the way! Okay, maybe you don’t want to make a cup of tea with this device. In the advertising, the primary reason for purchasing this contraption from Presents for Men is to warm up your baby’s bottle. Fair enough. Twenty quid though. Bit steep. Might just carry on living my life on the edge instead.

Leaving the most pointless till last, Gap Year Travel Store present Cash Pocket Tissues. Make people on the train think you’re blowing your nose on £50 notes! First of all, who wants to appear mad wherever they go? Secondly, no one would jump to the conclusion that you’re blowing your nose on a £50 note. They’re more likely to squint, identify them as novelty tissues and go back to reading The Guardian. Still, it’s all a bit of fun, eh?

Don't forget to check out our shipping services for a free excess baggage quote should you be in a pickle at the airport with too much luggage, having forgotten what I just said about the Suitcase Scale...and who can blame you?

Posted in: Travel, Packing

Brussels Buddies by Travis Monk

28 March 2013

Travels in Brussels

Our own Travis Monk, holiday and travel writer extraordinaire, takes a tour of Brussels with a helpful buddy who helps him get a taste of the area.

There is no way I would have discovered this sumptuous view of St. Catherine’s Square were it not for my ‘Brussels Buddy’, a short, energetic lady by the name of Terrine, who accompanied me on the next leg of my tour for international shipping company, Seven Seas Worldwide. The ‘Brussels Buddy’ programme was introduced by the Belgium Tourist Board in 2004 as a way of increasing the number of visitors to the capital and to give Belgians something to do. In fact, by 2006, the programme was so popular with the Belgian public that each tourist was assigned to three ‘Brussels Buddies’ each, whether they wanted them or not.

Terrine had guided me several floors up inside a particular building from where I could take in the beauty of St. Catherine’s Square – a square named after a saint called Catherine - without losing myself in the throng of aimless sightseers. Unfortunately, the vantage point in question was a single man’s apartment who didn’t know we were there. ‘You’re fine. He always has a long bath about now. He’s obsessed with hygiene. That’s why we broke up.’

Terrine offered a side of Brussels I’d not seen before. That’s mainly because it was Picardy. Soon however, Terrine bought a map and we were back in the capital. The most attractive thing about Brussels is how walkable it is. You can walk anywhere. Unlike most European cities, there are pavements virtually everywhere you go in Brussels, allowing you to put one foot in front of the other and get to places you want to go. Of course, in some cases, the places you want to go could be miles away, so get a cab.

The locals are friendly too. As Terrine and I were partaking in the classic Brussels café brunch of ‘flaming waffles’ (waffles brought by a waiter who sets your table on fire), we were approached by one of the resident Smurfs. Smurfs make up about 2% of the population here and regrettably the number continues to dwindle due to Smurfette’s decision in the late 1990s to become a nun. Our little blue friend was adamant that we should swing by the Belgian Comic Strip Center and check out the Smurf memorabilia on display which we agreed to do but only if he ceased his rant about how Avatar was ‘essentially Dances with Wolves - with Smurfs’.

Later, Terrine took me to an area near St Catherine’s that used to be a series of boutique shops and trendy eateries but was bulldozed to make way for an old fish market. The fish is fresh and cheap but I think I rather would have perused the shops and experienced some fine dining at the hands of celebrated Belgian artisans - instead of buying 200 pounds-worth of halibut. They confiscated it at Customs anyway.

7/10, Brussels Buddy.

If you need a hand with excess baggage or you've decided to move to Brussels on the strength of this blog (and who can blame you) then take a look at our international shipping services for some help moving your possessions. Only not your fish, please. It makes our vans and containers smell funny.

Posted in: Travel, Holidays