During our stay in Malaysia, we were told that Malaysia is a great place to live (and visit) because it has the best of both worlds; Western comforts with Eastern culture. After leaving the roads of Nepal where traveling 40 km per hour was a luxury, we were both relieved to find paved roads where traveling 100 km per hour was the norm.
Malaysia proved to give us an opportunity to recharge our batteries and take care of a lot of things back home. At the same time, we got to experience the WONDERFUL people of Malaysia, the rich culture and fantastic Indian, Chinese and Malaysian food. Overall, we were blown away by the hospitality and warmth shown to us in Malaysia. Here are some of the highlights (in no particular order):
- Visit with the Sockalingams: One of Phi’s college roommates and bridesmaid in our wedding, Vinu, and her husband Senthil are good friends of ours who live in the D.C. area. Senthil grew up in Malaysia. His family was so kind to host us for a night. While we stayed with Auntie and Uncle, they made us several delicious home cooked meals, shared stories and photos of their family and showed us some local points of interest. Auntie showed us to Putrajaya (a futuristic-looking planned city and administrate center of Malaysia), a Hindu temple and some of Senthil’s old haunts (from his favorite stationery store to where he got his haircut). We really enjoyed not only learning more about their family, traditions and history but also their company. We were sad to leave as we were touched by the welcome and warmth they showed us- they treated us like family (For more on this and how we ended up spending 2 nights with the Sockalingam family, read below). We are convinced we will never meet a family kinder than the Sockalingam family.
- Airbnb stay in Malayisa: Our best Airbnb stay to date was our 2nd stint in Malaysia. Everything about the stay was incredible. The host, Gerard, was the most welcoming host we’ve had. He picked us up from the bus stop and dropped us at the airport. He gave us an incredible map with his favorite restaurants, all the sites and amenities around his location. It helped that the place was perfectly located for Malaysia sites and restaurant. At night, we could watch the KL Tower light show from our balcony, which was beautiful. The place itself was the cleanest place we’ve ever stayed at through Airbnb. He had a great selection of movies, which as mentioned below, helped us recharge our batteries. If you are ever visiting Kuala Lumpur, you’ll definitely want to stay with Gerard.
- Taking care of business: Malaysia gave us the opportunity to take care of some things as well. We shipped a 9 pound box of clothes and unneeded items back home which lightened both of our packs. We took care of some paperwork through FedEx that we had to do by early December. I also got my haircut. We also generally had access to a gym, so we were able to get a few workouts in.
- Cameron Highlands: The one excursion we took while in Malaysia was to the largest hill station in Malaysia. It’s essentially jungle/mountainous terrain and was a 4H30Min bus trip from Kuala Lumpur. Our trip was cut 1 day short (see below), but we still had 2 days in Cameron Highlands to explore. We did a couple of jungle treks that were wet, muddy and humid, but such a unique trek. During these treks, we saw monkeys and some rather annoying wild puppies that literally followed us for miles up and down ridiculous terrain. Phi had afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is really common here because of the British influence in this region.
- Sites in Kuala Lumpur: While in KL, we got to see a number of different sites. First, the Petronas Towers are truly beautiful. We got many different perspectives of the tower. At one point, these towers were the tallest buildings in the world (early 2000’s). Now, they are the 11th tallest buildings in the world. At night, they are lit up and are really gorgeous. We also got to visit the National Mosque for Malaysia. The experience was really informative and educational for both of us. We visited the Botanical Gardens and walked around for a few hours to escape the hustle and bustle of all the motor bikes in KL. Lastly, we visited the Malaysian War Memorial, which has a huge bronze statue that was inspired by the Iwo Jima memorial in the U.S.
- Relaxing: After 5 weeks on the road, we didn’t realize how badly we needed to recharge. It’s the monsoon season here in Malaysia so it would rain quite a bit during the days, which also forced us to sit back and relax more vs. zipping around to see the sites. During our stay in Malaysia we were able to go to the movies (to see Fantastic Beasts—which was fantastic), see several movies provided at our AirBnb host (Hateful Eight, Creed, 12 Angry Men, Ex Machina) and play several games of Canasta (Matt won them all). We also had access to a pool most nights, which we took advantage of as well. As we head into Vietnam, we know that this downtime has been great for us to stay fresh.
A Most Fortunate, Unfortunate Event:
In an unfortunate event, I came down with a case of salmonella. I got it either at the very end of our trip in Nepal or the very beginning of the trip in Malaysia. It generally takes around 24-72 hours to show symptoms, which started the day we visited the Sockalingam family. Despite my best effort to hide the sickness, I knew I was not well enough to get on a 4-5 hour bus ride to the Cameron Highlands the morning we were scheduled to leave. In the most fortunate circumstances, Senthil’s father is a doctor. Dr. Sockalingam quickly took my temperature (which was 103) and figured out what was going on. I ended up in bed for about 24 hours and Dr. Sockalingam was kind enough to pick up medication for me. After 24 hours of 100 plus (Malaysian Gatorade), some incredible porridge and lots of rest, I started to feel better. All in all, it took 5-6 days to fully recover, but after 24 hours I was much better!