When Lucas booked surprise tickets to Malaysia, I secretly started panicking. For one, i’m a planner, and here we were a few days away from making a leap to another country that I had done ZERO research on! Secondly, we’ve all heard about the Malaysian flights that had vanished into thin air, so in my mind I just knew something was going to happen during our flights. I didn’t let him know that my mind was going in circles, instead, I let him do all the planning and research 🙂 Turned out to be a win-win as he planned for us to go to the beautiful tropical island of Tioman, stroll through the tea fields of the Cameron Highlands and eat an abundance of amazing food in Penang. So after he had it all planned out and written down we boarded the plane and two hours later landed in Kuala Lumpur.
Our first initial thought of Kuala Lumpur was it was a freaking HUGE, smog filled, horn honking, bustling city! But like other cities we had been to, the transportation was super easy to use and we easily found a bus that took us to our pre-booked hostel an hour away. When we walked up to where maps.me said our hostel was we had a little bit of a hard time finding it. We looked around the corner and kept walking up and down the sidewalk past where it should have been. Turns out it was not at eye level but up 4 flights of stairs situated in-between two businesses. So since I refused to use the lift/elevator, we slowly climbed our way up to the reception desk. If you could only see this building you would understand immediately why the stairs seemed like the safe option to get up to the room. The building was old, run down, and needed a serious renovation. Sadly our room was no better 😦 And a refund was not an option as we had pre-booked online, and at 11pm at night we would of had a heck of a time finding another room. So we sucked it up and made do. One thing about traveling is you have to take the good with the bad. The bad in this case involved sleeping on what seemed like 30 year old mattresses and pillows stained and smelly from probably a million visitors (Thankfully we both had our silk sheet liners with us and I had brought my blow up Big Agnes travel pillow.) The advertised A/C of course didn’t work, but we were fortunate enough to have a fan in the room that blew around the particles that lurked all around and it smelled as though it had been wet and moldy and had just been sprayed with a cheap air freshener before we came in. The good, we only booked one night and it included coffee in the morning. There you go, taking the good with the bad 🙂 🙂 But in all reality, this was the CHEAPEST place we could find for the night, there are plenty of other accommodations to choose from, and now we know for next time when we come to Kuala Lumpur to go ahead and stay clear of the cheapest hotels!
The next morning after we enjoyed a fresh cup of instant coffee and toast (Complimentary breakfast) we made our way to the bus station to get a ticket to Tioman Island. (Getting as far away from the city as possible was priority) From our hotel we walked to KL Sentral and hopped on the subway for 2 ringgit. This subway took us to the BTS bus station where we purchased tickets to Mersing ( the small town where the ferry leaves for Tioman ) 38 ringgit each later we were finally on our way out of Kuala Lumpur.
We were warned by a local Malaysian who we met in Thailand that the bus drivers in Malaysia were far worse than Thai drivers. We did not believe this as we have seen some very bad bus drivers, but after spending 5 hours riding on a bus from KL to Mersing with winding uneven roads, we would definitely have to agree with him! Luckily we made it safe and sound. Just when we thought we were in the clear with finding a better accommodation, we got stuck with another run down, cheap hotel that was just as bad as our first night stay in KL. I guess thats what being cheap gets you sometimes 😦 Thankfully we needed to just survive one night so we could leave to our beautiful awaiting island of Tioman the next morning! We hopped on the short 1.5 hour ferry and as we pulled up to Tioman Island we were welcomed with crystal clear turquoise water with no clouds in the sky!
Finally arriving on Tioman we were ecstatic to begin our adventure. Lucas had plans of camping for the first few nights, so we immediately made our way towards Monkey Bay where there was supposed to be a campground (according to Maps.me) After hiking about an hour and a half through the forest we popped out at Monkey Bay (yes there were monkeys! Tons of them!) But there was no campground. The buildings which used to be set up where overgrown and overtaken by the nearby monkeys. Large monitor lizards lurked in the tall grass surrounding the abandoned campground. As for us, we still decided to set up camp since the sun was setting and trekking back through the forest in the dark didn’t seem like the best idea. We strung our hammocks up in one of the abandoned buildings and shut the doors the best we could to deter any large creatures from waking us up in the middle of the night. After we hung our hammocks up we sat and watched the sun set over the beautiful Malaysian waters, surrounded by monkeys in the distance. If we had to stay in the same two crappy hotels again just to experience this one night over, I would in a heartbeat! It was truly breathtaking!
During our week on Tioman we camped two nights and stayed in a cute triangle bungalow near the beach the rest of the time. Our friend Matthew, who was traveling in Thailand arrived in Tioman to visit us and ended up getting his Padi Open Water Diving Certificate! Its a perfect spot to learn to dive and snorkel! Apart from camping and snorkeling we also did a hike from Tekek all the way to the opposite side of the island to Juara, sounds like it would be a heck of a hike but it was only 3 hours each way and it took us through the interior of the island, up and down the mountainous terrain. When we returned after the hike we hung our hammocks up and relaxed next to the beach, the perfect end to a great day. Tioman was a perfect island getaway and far exceeded our expectations with beautiful water, a chilled atmosphere. We loved the island so much that our initial 3-4 day plan turned into a weeks stay. We decided to hold off on Cameron Highlands and spend more time on Tioman because we enjoyed it so much.
Now that Cameron Highlands was out of the picture, we hopped onto a overnight bus to Penang Island with our dear friend Matthew. The journey would take us all the way from Southeast Malaysia diagonally up to the Northwest part of the peninsula. When Lucas researched Penang he was instantly hooked by everyone saying it was the food capitol of Malaysia. Lucas is ALL about the food! And his research did not steer us wrong. With the fusion of cultures in the city, there was not a day in Penang that we disliked anything we tried, well, except for the Durian we had. Yuck! Penang was a very cool city, with Street art everywhere, museums, and amazing food, and if you go there, you must try the Tiramisu at the China House, you will be in Heaven!
Our two weeks in Malaysia ended way to fast and I can not believe for a second that I was so hesitant and nervous to go to this amazing country! Malaysia has pristine beaches, amazing nature trails, we will be back!