Looking back on the past few months.

It has been two months since we left our dingy little basement of a home in San Francisco, sold everything we had, and embarked on our travels. We were rookies to backpacking when we started and packed more than we could comfortably carry. I am embarrassed to share this, but we had to backtrack to Singapore to offload a few pounds.. bring less camera gear, and ditch a laptop.

I guess I didn’t have to get the 75L backpack after all (insert eye roll emoji here).

On the plus side I have been having the best time of my life! I have learnt so many things that I did not know about my neighboring country (Malaysia). For example, Singapore does not actually have the best food in the world.. (don’t be upset Amma and Thata). I think Penang and Singapore are pretty on par with each other. And Malaysia is also pretty clean. I had no idea.

People here are undeniably conservative. In the more remote areas of Malaysia I had to dress in long pants and sleeved shirts to avoid getting harassed. But in larger cities like Kuala Lumpur and Penang it really didn’t matter.

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It has also been very interesting being in a Muslim country while reading the chaos that is overtaking America. I have only met kind people and it is funny to me how some Americans can be so close-minded when it comes to religions or people that they do not understand. So annoying.

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I have learnt that after eating Asian food 24/7 you crave burgers and caesar salads often. And the only place to get a good western food is Hard Rock Café. I tried to get a caesar salad from a “western restaurant” and I think the dressing was like milk? with sugar.. it was odd. Alternatively, you can give up and just eat Asian food all day. I do not know why I keep trying to find a decent caesar salad.

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We are headed to Bangkok today, and I cannot be more excited. Thailand has the spiciest food in the world (in my opinion). This is what I have been waiting for! As we are sitting here in Kuala Lumpur Airport eating our last meal in Malaysia at Nando’s.. I would like to share my top 5 most memorable things about my time in Malaysia.

  1. Meeting Luz and Andy

Our first stop was Tioman, an island off the East Coast of Malaysia. We heard it was one of the most beautiful islands in the world so we had to go. But because it was monsoon season there weren’t many any tourists around. It was really nice to have the whole place to ourselves. It rained a bit, but not too much that we were trapped indoors. We actually did a lot of things while we were there. My favorite part was meeting Luz and Andy, the owners of Coconut Grove. They were so kind! And since we were one of the only guests they had, we got some one on one time with them and tried some secret menu items.

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  1. Getting to know my Aunties better

We were lucky enough to get a behind the scenes Kuala Lumpur experience by staying with my Aunties. I only ever see Aunty Lali and Aunty Linda at family gatherings and it was really nice to get some one on one time with them. We spent our days climbing up the steps of the Batu Caves, drifting with fireflies in Kuala Selangor, dancing to live music at Waikiki and eating TONS of food. Thank god Aunty Linda likes to walk or we would have put on the pounds!

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  1. Island hopping on a jet ski in Langkawi

It took us a while to find an island that was not effected by the monsoon, but when we finally arrived to Langkawi we knew it was going to be a while before we left. On our second day on the island we went on a jet ski tour and I cannot recommend it enough! It is such a personal experience to be on a jet ski with the clear blue water beneath you and the wind blowing through your hair as you fly over waves. Though a little pricier, it outweighs any experience on a boat tour.

Langkawi is also duty free so alcohol is super cheap and their seafood is amazing!

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  1. The most intense hike of my life in Penang

To offset all the eating we were doing, I took it upon myself to find a nice long hike in Penang. Little did I know that it was going to be the most strenuous hike ever.. When I was doing my research on what hikes Penang had to offer I found a lot of information on hiking from Moongate. Then I saw this one sentence at the bottom of a government website that said something about starting at Teluk Bahang for a more adventurous experience. Well I picked the adventurous experience of course. But we were so unprepared. I thought it was going to be a slow and steady incline towards Penang Hill. Instead it was filled with steep 70° inclines followed by steep declines for 10km! We didn’t bring enough water and ran out about half way but for some reason kept going because we thought we were getting closer to the end than we actually were. Fabio, our new German friend, was really the only reason why we had the strength to keep going.. so thanks Fabio lol. PS. Thank god we didn’t have to drink the river water.

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  1. Hanging with a bunch of Singaporeans in Miri

Today we just flew back from a weekend in Miri where we celebrated Gregory and Valerie’s wedding. It was a nice change of scenery to stay in a fancy hotel with decent Wi-Fi. I also got to see the whole John family, whom I haven’t seen in many years. The weekend was filled with Black Label Scotch, lots of hangovers (literally), lots of dinners, some midnight swimming, and a wedding!

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