First Impressions of Malaysia

Before my big trip I always had such a romantic view of Malaysia, the name itself conjured up images of an exotic country, the pearl of Asia and one where I would feel like I was a million miles away from the Western world.

I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried….

 

As I boarded the posh bus from Singapore to Melakka my stomach was filled with butterflies. Melakka was a place that I knew very little about, I actually picked a random place in Malaysia and booked a bus ticket there and then. This was what real travellers do! I crossed my first land border as I crossed the border from Singapore to Malaysia, the process seemed too beautocratic and I was already starting to hate my 20kg backpack as I dragged it from scanner to scanner.

Then I was through the border! In a different country! I struggled to find my bus in a carpark of identical buses and then I was on my way to ‘The pearl of Asia’.

I didn’t want to read or sleep on the bus, I wanted to see every bit of this new country on the journey, the butterflies faded as I saw miles and miles of road, tarmac and sparse vegetation. I soon realised that Malaysia was not going to be the exotic country that I had been hoping for.

But that was not bad, just different to what I was expecting. As a newbie traveller I still had an awful lot to learn about the world and I needed to stop seeing it through rose tinted glassess and see the real countries.

The bus stopped for a toilet break (I was surprised to find the dreaded squat toilet…), I was starving but had no ringets to buy some food. We then made our way to a massive bus station where I was going to try and find a bus to the centre of Melakka.

At this point I wished that I had done even a little bit of research about a new country. Luckily my fears were unfounded and it was easy to buy a bus ticket, the gentleman even told me when to get off the bus.

As I looked around the bus station I saw women wearing hijabs in every colour under the sun manning stalls selling modest Islamic clothing. The hijabs were differnet to any that I had ever seen before and had kind of an integrated peak in them. It certainly felt very different to Singapore, Sri Lanka and Dubai but everyone was very friendly and I felt at ease.

I boarded the bus to the city centre and was gretted by the world’s chirpiest bus driver. I stood up for the entire journey because I could not cope with the pain of picking my backpack off the floor when I had to put it back on again.

The bus driver let us off at the ‘Dutch Square’ that had a beautiful terracotta church in it’s centre. I cheekily asked fellow backpackers if they knew the way to my hostel, Jalan jalan hostel. They pointed me in the right direction through the narrow busy streets.

The streets were bustling with activity, cars and bikes whizzed past me as I watched people setting up market stalls for the night market.

It seemed alive!

Graffiti marked houses line the riverside in Melacca
Graffiti marked houses line the riverside in Melacca

 

Brightly coloured buildings in Melacca
Brightly coloured buildings in Melacca

 

Some helpful locals pointed me in the right direction and I found my hostel. Little did I know that I would be staying at one of the friendliest hostels in the world where I would meet friends who would travel in Malaysia with me.

I thew my backpack next to a free bed in the ten bed dorm that had no windows and set out to explore the town centre. Every corner I turned held a sight to behold, beautiful mosques and buddhist temples set against shops selling every item under the sun. It felt like a weird juxtaposition of East and West, of old and new. Exotic enough to feel like I was in ‘real’ Asia but Western enough that I didn’t feel culture shock.

 

That night I went out for a delicious Indian meal with the rest of the travellers from my hostel. I met a guy from England that in time was to become a Buddhist monk and partied the night away with my new friends in a crazy Malaysian disco where we ‘falangs’ were the centre of attention. The next day I wandered around the beautiful town and riverfront and ate a very delicious burger in one of the many bijous yet cheap restaurants dotted around the quirky town centre.

Malaysia was not what I was expecting at all!

 

Have you ever travelled to Malaysia? Did you have any pre-conceptions about it like me?

 

Seven months of Travel: Summary and Review

kohrong

My Seventh month of travel was a very different month for me, I travelled very fast compared to normal but it was one of my best months yet!

My month kicked of in the gritty seaside resort Sihanoukville. Despite looking worn out Sihanoukville has a hidden charm. It’s extremely cheap and you could easily live off $5 a day if you budgeted very hard!

I stayed at Utopia, little did I know that It’s known as the scuzziest place in Sihanoukville. You can get dorms for as little as $1 a night if you don’t mind sleeping on a mat on the floor in a line with other people. I opted for the ‘deluxe’ dorm that had air com and a private bathroom. I think it’s called the deluxe dorm because it’s the only one without bedbugs though….

The nightlife in Sihanoukville is amazing! You can get free drinks from most bars, cheap beer and ‘buckets’ for as little as $1! (They are cut open Sprite bottles instead of actual buckets though). They also sell laughing gas, something that I had never seen before. I loved my nights in ‘Snooky’ but there wasn’t much to do in the day.

One day I took a ferry to Koh Rong where a French child projectile vomited all over himself. This was quite a scary sight, not dissimilar to the exorcist. Luckily as soon as I stepped off the ferry all my worries went away.

Koh Rong was my idea of paradise!

A handful of bars, guesthouses and restaurants are dotted along the pristine beach. The sand is white and so fine it looks like talc. I spent three very content days and nights in Koh Rong.

My Cambodian visa was running out so I took the overnight bus to Bangkok. As always the bus ride was very eventful and I was spooned by an Asian man and nearly fainted at the border because I was suffering from severe food poisoning. No one helped me even though I made it clear that I was struggling. Traveling solo makes you realise that no one really cares about you and you have to be strong and look after yourself.

Bangkok was heaven after months in poorer Asian countries. I spent my days buying a whole new travel wardrobe and drooling at all of the beautiful makeup and toiletries that I could buy! I was also in heaven thanks to my beloved 7-Eleven! I went on a day trip to the floating markets, the bridge over the river Kwai and I also visited tiger temple where I got to stroke actual tigers!

It was then time to experience the Thai islands, something that I had been looking forward to for all of my trip! My first island was Koh Samui, despite being quite touristy and full of couples and families I had a fantastic time thanks to meeting a great group of friends! The nightlife in Koh Samui is legendary!

Drinking buckets on a night out in Koh Samui

I travelled to Koh Tao with a group of friends that I met in Koh Samui. I fell in love with the island instantly, it’s so chilled out. The town area is small and pedestrianised. I spent the first few days eating delicious food (They sold Spanish omelette! yay) and relaxing on the pristine beach.

On September the 9th it was my birthday! I normally hate my birthday, It’s a day of reflection for me and I hate getting older. Luckily I have so much to be thankful for at this time in my life. I spent the day sunbathing in my new bikini, I had a massage and enjoyed Mexican food and cocktails in the evening!

Life is good!

It was then time to face my fears and complete my PADI qualification! I’m normally such a wimp when it comes to the sea but I challenged myself, faced my fears and gained my PADI open water certificate! I will write more about scuba diving in a future blog post.

It was then time to head to Koh Phangan and tick the full moon party off my bucket list! I spent my time there in a 40 bed dorm and once again met some lovely friends. It was amazing to see the population of the town swell as the full moon party neared. The pre parties really put me in the mood for the main night, the full moon party!

The actual full moon party could not be more different to how I celebrated the last full moon. At the last full moon I was at the retreat and spent the evening chanting around a fire and throwing rice in to it. This month I was partying in neon on the beach with over 20,000 other people! There were skipping ropes of fire, ‘death slides’ and loads of crazy sights to behold. The pre parties were such good fun too. The mood was amazing and watching the sunrise was one of the most beautiful moments in my life.

 

 

I rounded up my seventh month of travel by taking a night boat, bus and ferry to the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi where I got to tick another item off my bucket list!, I will tell you more about my time there in my next monthly round up!

In conclusion month seven was one of my easiest months of travel. I made amazing friends which really does enhance the travel experience. I spent the month doing what I like to do best, partying and lazing on the beach. I also spent most of the month in my favorite Asian country, Thailand. It’s so easy to travel here and the food is amazing!

Next month I will be leaving my beloved Asia and heading to a whole new continent, AUSTRALIA! I’m kind of scared and apprehensive about leaving Asia, it’s been my home for seven months after all!

Total countries visited=2, Cambodia and Thailand

New travel wardrobes bought= 1, I replaced nearly every item of clothing during a crazy shopping spree in Bangkok! I had actually forgotten how to shop believe it or not…

Number of times I was spooned by an Asian man on a night bus= 1, on the night bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok.

Modes of transport= Night bus from Sihanoukville to Bangkok then a variety of buses and ferrys as I island hopped.

Night ferry’s taken= 1, from Koh Phagnan to Surathani. We had to sleep on tiny thin mattresses lined up on each side of the boat (It actually reminded me of the dorms in Utopia…). The guy next to me actually put his leg over me as I was sleeping…

Number of buckets imbibed= 13, I had a very fun time on the islands, the hostel owner even gave us one free because it was his birthday!

Bucket list item ticked off= 2, to attend the full moon party and visit the beautiful Maya bay in Koh Phi Phi.

Lessons I have Learned= Have fun and enjoy the friends you make on your travels whilst you can. You never know when you will meet a group of like minded people again.

Number of 7-Eleven toasties consumed= 36

Number of 7-Eleven iced lattes imbibed= 10, I had to give them up because they started giving me heart palpitations, so tasty though!