Friday, July 3, 2009

Backpacking in Malaysia

I just got home from Asia and I'm already longing back to Malaysia! *sigh*

Here's a taste of it:

Kuala Lumpur is the BEST (better than Bangkok I have to admit).

Before we left, my friends who already visited Malaysia told me that Chinatown was shitty and unbearable. I disagree -- well, it's shitty alright.

But Chinatown is the place to soak real culture -- the smells of Malay food and sewage/methane gas hits you when you arrive in the heart of it. There are loads of local restaurants where you can eat CHEAP delicious food and it's packed just like Khao San Road in Bangkok.

And the atmosphere... very relaxed! No one was stalking us to sell some piece of wood (compared to e.g. India). There are millions of people in KL, but it still feels that you have space around you.

And I got my 6th tattoo! A very nice sea horse (4 inches tall). Hurt like hell, but it was worth it. And it cost like nothing. Kelvin charged 180 RM (that's like 45 US dollars) -- professional and talented guy. He knows what he's doing.

Then we went to Borneo...

Gosh... we loved Kota Kinabalu (at least the nice part of it). If you're going to KK, taking a stroll along the harbor is a must! Relax and have some cold cold beer while you're enjoying the ocean, the breeze and the friendly local people.

At night, the harbor comes alive... The Filipino Market was heavily packed with starving people... eating anything from fresh fried fish to Halal BBQ chicken on stick to mouth running soups!!

Diving in Semporna...

Skuba Junkie was our first choice and it really lives up to its reputation. I already booked a Open Water Course in March, and was glad that I did...

When we got there we heard that the next available date for diving on Sipadan island was August 22... We got there on June 11th... Two frigging months of waiting! So book ahead if you can!

We had to fill out forms and a complex medical declaration honestly. So I did.

But they sent me to the doctor because of my minor asthma problem. The local doctor checked my lungs and my ears. He was like: "I can see your eardrum is ruptured..... Still, he said that I was fit for diving -- I believed him of course..cause he was a doctor!

On the 2nd day of the course, my right eardrum erupted/popped badly...

Could I complete the course? -- Sorry, Amanda you can't.

Disappointed? -- YES.


If you want to go diving: PLEASE SEE A DOCTOR in your home country. Even our diving instructor told us that the some of the local doctors in Semporna didn't do their job right (that was after my eardrum popped).

So I was just sad and we left Semporna the next day. Couldn't handle all the "divers talk" like "Ahh, we saw a frog fish, and a shark and a leatherback turtle" when I couldn't even complete the course... SUCKS!

Our next stop was Perhentian Kecil on the east coast of Malay Peninsular...

We stayed on Long Beach at Panorama. If you're planning on visiting Perhentian from June-August, I suggest you get your ass over there the earliest you can (first boat leaves Kuala Besut at 07.30 am). We got the last bungalow at Panorama and we arrived around 8 am...

Around noon more backpackers came in, but they had to take the boat to another beach cause there were NO bungalows/rooms left on Long Beach by that time. Not even at the only resort (BuBu's) on Long Beach...

Perhentian is beautiful! It's picture-perfect: white sand beach, crystal clear water, tall palm trees and blue skies. And before I forget: the cute monitor lizards (the largest we saw was 1,5 meter long) running around the island looking for food -- they're awesome!

The only downside is the garbage floating around the bungalows. It didn't seem like they cared about removing it. It's a shame though..

Well, we didn't get to visit Melaka but otherwise it was a great backpacking trip! Me and my boyfriend miss Malaysia, and we're definitely going back next year.

Some practical info:

I will be releasing the first articles on Malaysia at the end of the summer (August). As you've probably noticed, I have to finish up Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and India.

There's a lot of work with, but I love the work so I don't mind at all! ;)