Vacation To Malaysia
Every morning when I'm on holiday in Malaysia, I like to get up early and, before breakfast, take a long, slow walk along the beach. Sometimes, I'll sit quietly on the sand for a while and meditate, or I might simply watch the sun rise. It's one of my greatest pleasures.
I don't go barefoot in the sand, though - I wear sandals. You have to look after your feet, keep them clean and healthy. You should wash them every night in warm, salted water before going to bed.
It's not surprising that I love the coast, though I'm not so fond of the sea itself. I grew up on Penang island, the Pearl of the Orient, encircled by beautiful beaches. I was the only son, so my mum spoiled me. I wanted a moped, so she bought me one and I'd go off with a group of friends. We'd spend lots of time on the beach, fishing and camping out. But I was scared of the sea because I couldn't swim.
Then one day, when I was 14 or 15, a friend said: 'Come on, everybody can swim,' and pushed me off a promontory straight into the water. It was quite deep, over my head, and my friends were shouting 'Go on, swim!' - so I had to.
Although I live in Britain - having arrived in 1980 to set up my label - Malaysia is still my country and I am proud to be an honorary ambassador. I have a lot of family there and go back about six times a year. I was in Penang, my home town, this Chinese New Year for the first time in 15 years. Usually I am in the UK to support London Fashion Week.
Malaysia has so much for holidaymakers to do and fantastic resorts, so I don't always stay with family. Pangkor Laut is one of my favourite places.
Malaysian marvel: Water villas at the Pangkor Laut resort
Two weeks there and I'm a new person. It's a privately owned island three miles off the west coast of Malaysia along the Straits of Malacca, with a two-million-year-old rainforest and pristine beach around Emerald Bay. Only a fraction of the island - four acres --is occupied by the resort.
Joan Collins honeymooned there and I have stayed there twice. The Spa Village is world-renowned and offers Ayurvedic, Chinese and Malay treatments. The island is owned by YTL Hotels, who own and manage a collection of awardwinning resorts, hotels and spas.
I have also stayed at YTL's Cameron Highlands Resort, a boutique hideaway set in the middle of tea plantations in Pahang in Malaysia's largest hill region. I was there for ten days recently and I had a two-hour massage with the same Malay therapist every day in its spa . . . fantastic! Actress Keira Knightley was a guest not long ago at its sister resort, Spa Village Tembok Bali.
I love massages. It's very important that your body's chi, or lifeforce energy, flows smoothly - and meditation, yoga and massage can help. I find that one hour is never enough.
Mind you, you don't have to go all the way to Malaysia for a Malay massage - recently I went to Bath to visit the Thermae Bath Spa for its Malaysian Spa Festival. I had my first 'watsu' treatment - a shiatsu massage carried out while you float in water. I had trouble rousing myself afterwards.
Red alert: Keira Knightley is a fan of Pangkor Laut
Holidays are all about taking time to relax and do something you enjoy. That's so important because if you feel good, you pass that on to those around you. God gave me a good, comfortable life and I like to share that.
The thing I like to do on holiday best of all is sit with friends I have invited as my guests and just be together, have some delicious food and maybe some champagne - Dom Perignon is my favourite. If you pass something on, it makes you feel good, so you benefit and so do other people. It's good karma.I used to enjoy fishing on holiday, too. When I was young, my friends taught me how to chew up a piece of biscuit with sea water, then spit it on to the beach. Within minutes, a worm would come up, which we would use for bait.
More recently, my friend and fellow designer John Rocha revived my interest in fishing. But last year, I got a hook caught deep in the palm of my hand. A doctor had to push it right through to stop the barb catching and it was very painful. I talked to my spiritual teacher and decided it must have been a result of bad karma, a sign that I shouldn't fish any more.
I don't go anywhere without my Buddhist pendant. I also always carry two cameras with me in case I drop one, and I take a book of poetry and a notebook, to jot down ideas. I never sketch landscapes, only shoes! I take my MP3 player, too, so I can listen to music. I like Ronan Keating, and in particular his song When You Say Nothing At All. Ronan is another fan of Malaysia and has visited a few times.
There are so many extraordinary things for holidaymakers to see and do in peninsular Malaysia and the separate states of Sarawak and Sabah on the island of Borneo. You can take the Eastern& Oriental train through Malaysia from Bangkok in Thailand to the north and Singapore to the south, for example, and there's a new luxurious cruise on the theme 'Into the heart of Borneo' along Sarawak's rivers, with Pandaw Cruises.
Apart from its natural beauty and fantastic wildlife, such as orang-utans and Sumatran rhinoceros, the country has great activities, from diving and whitewater rafting to golf and bird- watching. Kuala Lumpur, the capital, is a 12-hour flight from the UK. It is, of course, a fantastic destination in itself, with wonderful art galleries, shops, markets and cultural events, including concerts and Formula 1 motor racing.
The Malay people are friendly and speak English well. Staff in the resorts are well trained and really look after guests.
Travel is very important, not just for relaxation but to improve our understanding of different cultures. For me, it's also a great source of inspiration for my designs. I travel a lot in Britain - I love London, the British countryside, Bath and Scotland - but Malaysia will always be top of my list.