Editor's Note: When we heard Walter's pitch for this story we didn't believe him. Malaysia's R&Rs can't possibly be better than the ones America. No way. We will be appearing more in this story to refute his claims.
Malaysia Beats America!
Through a lifetime of traveling the roads and interstates of the United States and years of cruising the highways and byways of Malaysia, there is simply no comparison between American R&R’s (what are called rest areas in the States) and their Malaysian counterparts. Malaysia has got America beat! And by a long shot!
Editor's Note: Yeah, right.
Not Much Resting At An American Rest Area
Most American rest areas are for quick toilet breaks and maybe trying to get a drink or snack out of a vending machine and nothing else. Problem is, the toilets themselves are usually in just one very small building housing barely usable, very institutionalised-looking toilets. You might be lucky to have two or three vending machines but in many instances, they will either not be working or be completely out of whatever product you are craving at the moment.
American rest areas are more like places for creepy American truckers; those of the eighteen-wheeler kind; where they rest, sleep and for lack of a better description, act creepy. Even Wikipedia warns in its page, Rest Area
, “Many (American) rest areas have the reputation for being unsafe with regard to crime” and “California’s policy is to maintain existing public rest areas, but no longer build new ones due to the cost of keeping them safe.” Both scary and sad.
Editor's Note: Okay, you got us at Wikipedia. But cannot be-lah. This is a photo he sent us of one of the rest areas he used to frequent on his trips. Quite nice what.
The Sad State Of American Rest Areas
I have spent way more time in Malaysian R&R’s (because there’s good reason to) in the years I have lived here than I spent at American rest areas (because there’s good reason not to) throughout my entire life. And it looks like that trend will never change.
According to an online article from USAToday.com
, “It’s a matter of federal and state governments not having any money to keep them open…In Connecticut…the (state) legislature eliminated funding to operate, staff and maintain them” and “are now open only seven hours during the day. Portable toilets remain available outside.” Just what this driver wants to see after consuming two or three Coke Zero’s on a long journey: a portable toilet with no one around to keep it clean!
Editor's Note: ... okay so we don't force people to use portable toilets. But our toilets are so smelly! Hah. By the way, look at all these rest areas in America compiled on Flickr.
In Malaysian R&R’s you get, so, so, so much more, including what you sometimes don’t get in American rest areas: cleanliness! According to the PLUS Malaysia Bhd website, there are 24 R&R’s on the PLUS highways, not including the two Overhead Bridge Restaurants, also known as OBR stops.
In all of those dynamic places, your senses will be on overload from all the things that are there: humungous food courts selling everything from nasi
and noodles to hot curry and curry puffs, fresh fruit stands, with their pick-of-crop produce, stalls offering those very Malaysian snacks of corn-in-a-cup and kacang rebus
and usually plenty of cats and kittens to keep you company as you feast (Editor's Note: Cats...
With rest rooms that are the size of large houses, some with gardens of palms and other tropical plants in the middle of them, to sellers with enough fresh rojak
to eat daily, playgrounds for the kids (or the kid in all of us), ATM’s and petrol stations, the idea of ever having to step back in an American rest area horrifies me.
Editor's Note: Rojak! Though we have to send a rojak authenticator to make sure it's the proper Penang-style rojak not the ones from KL.
Your Own “Kampung” At The Bukit Gantang R&R
Literally, two of the greatest R&R’s in the world, are the Bukit Gantang R&Rs and the Tapah R&Rs, each having both north and south-bound locations on the North-South Expressway.
Editor's Note: Actually, the Sungai Perak R&R is also quite pretty. Since we can't find a nice photo of the Bukit Gantang R&R, here's the Sungai Perak R&R instead.
Of all the R&Rs in Malaysia, the one at Bukit Gantang northbound, could possibly be the most peaceful and relaxing of them all. After driving out of what is usually crazy-busy KL traffic, it’s nice to pull into the Bukit Gantang R&R, which looks like a small “kampung oasis” on the highway.
With its lush greenery and beautifully-structured fruit stands, it’s exactly what is needed to quickly get into “R&R mode”, without much of an effort. A friend of mine visiting from Canada even said Bukit Gantang R&R looks like a Roman garden, and with it being surrounded by delicious Malaysian food and treats, that’s a combination that’s hard to beat!
Editor's Note: So he's found two that are really nice. We'll give him that.
Spending a “Holiday” at the Tapah R&R
Going southbound, the Tapah R&R is hard to beat, with its expansive, istana
-like size and holiday-style setting, complete with not only water features and fountains, and everything else other R&R’s have, and also boasting a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop and a Dunkin’ Donuts shop. Perfect for when you decide to take a dozen or so donuts with you for on-the-road eating ecstasy.
Malaysians Know How to Rest
If Malaysians have taught Westerners who live here anything at all, it’s learning to live with more patience and how to truly rest. At both the Bukit Gantang and the Tapah R&R’s -- and all other Malaysian R&R for that matter -- you can actually rest and relax. What a novel idea!
Editor's Note: Actually, he hit the nail on the head here. Malaysians love to rest. Lepak culture isn't just a youth issue, it's systemic.
Whether it’s finding a good massage chair to spend a few minutes in or napping in your own car for as long as you need to or want, the R&R’s here have your snoozing place of choice covered. And speaking of covered snoozing places, don’t forget that most Malaysian-spot of all the places to rest and relax one’s mind, body and even soul: the wonderful, soothing wakaf
structures that grace most R&R’s in the country and are pure bliss on a typical, sunny Malaysian afternoon.
So, on your next road trip in Malaysia, no matter where your journey may take you, be grateful that you are in a country where regardless of how long or how stressful a road trip may be, you can still recline, relax and rejuvenate or do just about anything else you might need to do in the comfortable, clean and safe environment of one of the country’s beautiful R&R’s!
And those are all reasons to rejoice!
Editor's Note: Yeah so our R&Rs are pretty well equipped. He forgot to mention that some of the R&Rs also come equipped with showers.