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.
By Monday, a week after my arrival in Malaysia, I decided it was time to venture out on my own. Richard dropped me off at the visitor center where I booked a room and got the bus information to head out for an overnight trip to Bako National Park. I enjoyed being show around town and treated to many things I otherwise may not have experience but I was ready for some alone time and a little bit more nature. The journey to the park involved an hour bus ride followed by a half hour boat ride. I arrived at the jetty around 12pm but to my dismay was told that i'd have to wait until 1:30 for the tide to rise, with nothing but a small coffee/snack shop to entertain me the time passed a bit slow, but I was in no rush, after all this was vacation. The boat fare was 47RM regardless of the amount of people so I was excited when 3 other travelers turned up to split the cost with me.
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
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.