The Epic Adventure Part II: Month 2 (August 2017)
August was the month of sitting still. I know how much people rave about slow level and staying in one place for weeks and weeks. But that has never been me.
I’ve always loved the feeling of constantly being on the move. Yes, it is exhausting and I do take long weeks in places when I need a break. But I get too restless if I stay in one place too long.
I spent most of August in Kuala Lumpur, only leaving the city at the very end of the month for a week of travel in Penang and the Perhentian Islands. That’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place whilst travelling ever. Even when I was living in Florence I was going somewhere every weekend.
I decided to stay put this month for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I needed to save some money after blowing my monthly budget in July. Whenever you have a base somewhere, weekend trips are more expensive than normal travel would be. If I decide to go away on the weekend I’m paying for transport there AND back, and I’m also paying for accommodation even whilst paying rent back in Kuala Lumpur.
Hence, I saved a heap of money by staying in KL until the 24th of August when my lease ended on my room in KL.
Secondly, I needed a break and some time to rest. I spent every weekend of July heading somewhere in Malaysia or Singapore and I was utterly exhausted. Long bus trips on weekend only to come back to 6 hours of intensive law classes per day was slowly killing me.
Staying put was an experiment for me this month but I enjoyed myself. But more importantly, it made me super excited to finally hit the road again, this time for 6 months of constant backpacking.
1-24 August- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
24-26 August- Penang, Malaysia
26 August-1 September- Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
Some Interesting Statistics
Countries Visited- 1 (Malaysia)
Finally getting to explore KL- it was only during my last few weeks in Kuala Lumpur that I realised that I hadn’t done a lot of sightseeing or food tasting while in the city. I lived in Sunway which is a heavily gentrified and posh part of KL and it can feel like a bit of a bubble. I was happy to finally burst that bubble this month. I rode public transport into the city on multiple occasions, I went and bought crappy fake sunglasses in Chinatown, I ate incredible food, I finally took a photo of the Petronas Towers and I headed out to Putra Jaya to visit some mosques.
Getting my China visa- I’m heading to China in October for two weeks of exploring and I’d heard many stories about how hard getting a visa was going to be, especially because I needed to apply in Kuala Lumpur as a foreigner. But all the stress was for nothing! I’m going to write a specific post about this in the future but once I had all my documents together it was just a matter of dropping them off at the visa centre and then picking up my passport with a shiny new visa inside just four days later.
Catching up with Bec in Penang- I’d visited Penang four years ago on my last trip to Malaysia but I was keen to return for the good food and more exploring. When I worked out that my friend Bec was going to be visiting at the same time it made sense to head there en route to the Perhentian islands. We had such a great night out in Penang and I even got to reunite with the Old Trafford Burger, a favourite drunk food of ours from four years ago.
Getting my Padi Open Water and Padi Advanced Scuba Diving Certification on the Perhentian Islands- This was my third trip to the Perhentian islands and I’ve made no secret of the fact that the beautiful Perhentian Kecil is one of my new favourite places in the world. It also happens to be one of the cheapest places to get Padi certified. At Matahari Divers on the island, I paid $550 AUD for both my Open Water and my Advanced course and the price included six free nights of accommodation. The instructors were amazing and it really felt like you were part of a little diving family. Diving is something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember and I’ve fallen head over heels with the underwater world. I can’t wait to do some more diving now that I’m all certified.
Favourite Food Moments
Banana Leaf at Sri Nirwana in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur- Banana leaf is a famous dish in Kuala Lumpur, especially the suburb of Bangsar. It’s basically Indian curries or biryani served on a banana leaf with lots of delicious sides. The Chicken Biyrani I had at Sri Nirwana was so incredible and I wish I could have returned more than once during my stay in KL.
Eating my way across Penang- Penang is known for being a prime foodie destination so of course I spent the majority of my time there moving from one street food stand to another in pursuit of Penang’s best dishes. One highlight was eating Curry Laksa from Sisters Curry Mee, a street food stall in Ayer Batam that has been operated by the same two sisters for 60 years. The other was waiting for almost two hours for the famous Char Keow Teow at Siam Road Char Keow Teow- the dish is still made the traditional way over charcoals and was super delicious.
Saying goodbye to everyone in KL- by the time classes had finished more than three quarters of my class had already headed back to Australia or on to another destination. The last three days I spent locked up in my room in KL studying was super lonely. Everyone was gone except me! I’ve made so many good friends during my time studying in Malaysia and it was hard to see everyone heading back to Melbourne. Hopefully we will be able to have lots of catch ups when I finally get back.
Bed bugs- In more than 17 months of travel I have never had the dreaded bed bugs. But in the Perhentians I had them for one night. They don’t seem to like me very much so it wasn’t the worst incidence, and they seemed confined to my bed because switching bunk beds solved the problem. But it does not feel nice knowing something was eating you all night!
Money Spent- $1376 (+ $560 for PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Diving Course)
I’ve put my dive courses as a separate expense on my budget this month for two reasons. Firstly, because it isn’t a normal expense for me but a once off payment, and secondly because most of my course was paid for by my parents and my sister as a birthday present.
$1376 is under my normal budget of $1500 a month so I’m happy with my spending. I could have done it even cheaper but had some big nights out in Kuala Lumpur and the Perhentians and some splurge meals.
As always you can see every expense here.
I’ve been on a roll this month starting and finishing my posts for both Colombia and Ecuador, and getting halfway through my Peru posts. I was hoping to have another five or six posts published this month as well but the lack of internet on the Perhentians, and all of my assignments that were due made doing that a little difficult.
Stories from Medellin, Colombia: Pablo Escobar Tours and Partying All Night
Embracing the Caribbean Vibes: What to Do in Cartagena, Colombia
Tayrona National Park in One Day From Santa Marta, Colombia
Is Colombia Safe to Travel? Yes! Even for Solo Female Travellers
Last Minute Galapagos Cruise Deal: 8 Days on the Lonesome George (Solitario Jorge)
Three Days on Isabela Island in the Galapagos: Snorkelling Tuneles and Volcano Hiking
The Galapagos Islands on a Budget: How to Save Money on the Galapagos
Two Days in Banos, Ecuador: Canyoning and the Swing at Casa de Arbol
Celebrating a Crazy Christmas Overseas at Loki Mancora Hostel, Peru
Six Incredible Days in the Amazon Rainforest at Tambopata Research Centre in Peru
Remembering to Breathe at Machu Picchu: A Two-Day Bus Tour to the Ancient Incan Civilisation
Instagram Top Five
I’ve still got plenty of photos from the Galápagos Islands to share over the next week. This is a trip I took about 8 months ago but given I’m currently stuck in my room in Kuala Lumpur furiously studying, I thought breaking out these photos would prove more interesting. I’ll be back to real time photos soon when I finally pack up my temporary home in KL and head off on the road again.
The whole month of September is going to be spent exploring Indonesia. I’m starting in the cultural capital of Yogyakarta, Java and going to hike some volcanoes at Mount Bromo and Ijen. The rest of my trip to Indonesia is basically going to be a diving trip- I’m planning on heading to Pemuteran and Tulamben in Bali before heading to the Gilli Islands. I’m going to finish the month in Komodo!