After facing the crowds of Thaipusam I had two days to leisurely explore the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. After talking to friends and reading various blogs/travel reviews I didn't find many must see attractions in the city. I figured I'd stop by the Patronas towers, random markets, Chinatown...and erhh what else? In reality, I only wanted to spend a day, but because of the huge price differences in airline tickets, I had more time. Sunday night, after a much needed shower Riz and Angelina wanted to treat me to dinner near the Petronas towers which was not necessary, but incredibly nice of them. It was another rainy night, but thankfully the skies cleared just long enough to get a good view and a few pictures of the towers.
One long, cold, uncomfortable bus ride later I found myself on the island portion of Penang, Malaysia. One of the few down sides to taking overnight buses is that you find yourself in the next city at the wee hours of the morning. I had made arrangements with my next couchsurfing host but my phone decided to make my day and chose not to work thus leaving me stranded and confused at the bus terminal. I decided to get a taxi into town where I could find some wifi and send John and email. I think the taxi drivers in Penang might have been some of my favorite people along this trip - super friendly, talkative and kind, A+! After killing some time at Gloria Jeans I managed to contact John and was soon in his car getting a high speed introduction to Penang - first stop, Cendol, John wasn't messing around.
Only a few days in and I knew that I had made the right choice by starting my vacation in Kuching. The people, food, sights, yoga....everything was awesome, the only thing I could've asked for was a bit more sun - but that's what you get when you plan a vacation during the rainy season. Thursday morning came and we were off on another adventure, this time headed for Gunung Gading National Park. The main attraction at this park is the Rafflesia flower which can grow up to one meter in diameter (and I'm told) is pretty impressive. Unfortunately the flower blooms pretty much whenever the hell it wants to, with no particular season, and only lasts for 4 to 5 days. We figured the drive would be worth it even if the flower wasn't blooming considering the park is huge and has multiple hikes, some including waterfalls
My first stop was Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia which is on the island of Borneo. Generally when people plan trips to Malaysia this area is overlooked, and it's definitely not the first stop along their trek. Hence the reason that many of the people I met in my first week were dumbfounded as to how I wound up in this small, rural city. Upon arriving I was met by Richard, my first CS host, at the airport where we proceeded to the mall so I could get a Malaysian SIM card for my phone. He also treated me to a sushi dinner before dropping me off at the yoga studio, my home for the next weak.
I got lucky picking this as my first major, solo=backpacking trip. The locals that welcomed me into their homes and taught me about their culture fueled my fire for travel. The food is diverse and delicious, as is the country itself. With heavy influences from both China and India there is a lot on offer.