Tag Archives: Kuala Lumpur

How we traveled Malaysia on a budget…and still had an amazing time!

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Wow!

It’s been quite the week as all of my kiddos returned to school for the second semester. I have been running around like a mad woman trying to get used to my busy busy schedule of teaching again. The kids will go from September to December before they take 2 1/2 months off, and start a new school year in March. I really wanted to blog this week, but it got pushed back as lesson planning took the front seat. Have I mentioned before that time flies here?!? The weeks turn into days and then months. It’s crazy to think we have been here 5 months already.

I wanted to share a bit more on our trip to Malaysia and how we kept it relatively low cost while still doing everything we wanted to do while there (Kuala Lumpur, Climbing Mt. Kinabalu, River safaris, orangutan sanctuary, and kota kinabalu island exploration!)

1. The biggest cost of savings for our trip was simply (or not so simply): AVOIDING tour companies like the plague.

Tom and I soon discovered the things we wanted to do were about 3x the price if we went with a tour company rather then doing it ourselves. I strongly feel as if the money would not stay in the local economy if we had booked with a large tour group (although that is not always the case!) Yes, the convenience is there if you want to have your trips all planned out. There were more downsides for us to go with a tour company such as: being on a time crunch & a bit over priced. We found that we could see sights ourselves while being much more cost effective. There are (I am sure) tour groups that are awesome. My point is that this trip they weren’t right for us. For example: A trip to the pouring hot springs was MUCH cheaper if we found a way to the place, and paid a small fee to get in. Ok, yeah. So we had to hitch a few rides (don’t tell our moms! hehe) which brings me to my next point.

2. Hitchhiking!

We had NO idea if it was common in Malaysia. BUT when the bus dropped us off 15km from where we needed to be with not a taxi, car, or phone in sight -hitch hiking was our only option. We met two awesome Malaysian fellas who picked us up and took us the almost 9 miles we needed to go. They wouldn’t take our money, but offered up some great conversation, and tips on how to get back to our lodge for cheap. Let’s just say it ended with more hitch hiking where an awesome Chinese family and a retired American couple picked us up and took us where we needed to be. I don’t recommend always hitch hiking, and I sure wouldn’t do it in the USA, but man it was pretty awesome AND we met some crazy cool people along the way.

Just a hitch hikin' ;)

Just a hitch hikin’ 😉

and lots of this...

and lots of this…

and more walkin... :)

and more walkin… 🙂

3. Unique places to stay.

We stayed in some incredible places. I wish I could tell you that it was my awesome planning that lead us to these incredible places we stayed at BUT that is not  the case. We used hostelworld.com quite a bit to book cheap/safe places that we could get our own room, borrowed a lonely planet book from a guy on a bus, and sometimes just searching around online . Another way we cut cost even further when it came to lodging was booking private rooms with a shared bathroom.

Lavender Lodge in Kota Kinabalu. We used the hostel world app to find this gem! AND only a 15 min walk to the ocean :)

Lavender Lodge in Kota Kinabalu. We used the hostel world app to find this gem! AND only a 15 min walk to the ocean 🙂

Eco friendly and 20 min walk from Mt. Kinabalu's headquarters- Mt. Kinabalu Lodge!

Eco friendly and 20 min walk from Mt. Kinabalu’s headquarters- Mt. Kinabalu Lodge!

My favorite place we stayed at- Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort. (found this gem in the lonely planet book we borrowed from a random guy on a bus!)

My favorite place we stayed at- Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort. (found this gem in the lonely planet book we borrowed from a random guy on a bus.) Made from recycled materials. We learned if they don’t have available rooms (during busy season) you can camp here for FREE!

Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort

Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort

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Enjoying our morning tea.

Enjoying our morning tea. Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort.

Hangin in the main lodge area. Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort,

Hangin in the main lodge area. Paganakan Dii Tropical Resort,

Sukau Greenview B&B- our last night in the rainforest!

Sukau Greenview B&B- our last night in the rainforest!

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Sukau Greenview B&B

Morning breakfast view! Sukau Greenview B&B

Morning breakfast view! Sukau Greenview B&B

4. Eating as the locals. Enough said!

Chinese for lunch! Porridge with chicken :)

Chinese for lunch! Porridge with chicken 🙂

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5. Keepin’ it local.

We shopped at markets and when we DID do a “safari tour” we decided to go with a local guy where we knew the money would go right into the local economy.

Exploring Central market in Kuala Lumpur and the market in Kota Kinabalu

Exploring Central market in Kuala Lumpur and the market in Kota Kinabalu

Do you have any tips on how to keep a budget while still doing all the things you want to see/do while traveling?

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Walking Tour of Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia’s Capital City!

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After so much time in the Malaysian jungle I wasn’t sure what I thought about heading to a big “city.” I’m typically not a fan of exploring big cities at all. If you have been following along you know that Yeosu (our Korean home base) contains 300,000 people which feels HUGE to me. The beach is 2 miles away, and there is a mountain in our backyard. Literally. That’s all I need to be one happy gal.

So, I was hesitant to spend time in Kuala Lumpur. Which in my mind you can’t compare AT ALL to East Malaysia (where we spent the majority of our trip.) We had our layover in Kuala Lumpur back to Korea so we decided (well Tom convinced me) that we should spend 2 nights, and 1 full day exploring the city. So we did. I live to tell you it was much more interesting than I had expected, but that I am glad we only stayed one day. We walked for 14 hours around the city (with stops to enjoy, relax, and eat) and I felt like we saw EVERYTHING I possibly wanted to see. From the Muslim Mosques, to the Indian temples, all of the cool architecture, the food, the mix of culture, the crazy demented city monkeys, all of the amazing markets (we went to three), to the gorgeous garden park. I am happy to say we DID it!

Tom and I both had an extremely hard time leaving Malaysia. We love living in Korea, but it was such an absolutely incredible trip that it was hard to say goodbye. Kuala Lumpur concluded our time in Malaysia, but I know we will be back. I loved the diversity of the people living in Malaysia: Chinese, Native Malaysians, and Indian. The diversity of people brought diversity of food which I hadn’t even mentioned yet. We ate real Italian food from an Italian expat living in Malaysia, Chinese food, Indian food, and everything in between. I was humbled by all of the travelers we met there and I am inspired to continue to discover more of this big beautiful world.

China Town Market

China Town Market

This guy ;)

This guy 😉

In the morning we headed to the famous Batu Caves. Caves made of limestone, a place of worship for hindu people, and home to one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.

In the morning we headed to the famous Batu Caves. Caves made of limestone, a place of worship for Hindu’s, and home to one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside of India.

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The crazy demon monkeys around the Batu Caves. Stealing people's food and drinks. Not going to lie I was scared of them not like the monkeys we seen in the wild. The may look cute...don't let them fool you.

The crazy demon monkeys around the Batu Caves. Stealing people’s food and drinks. Not like the monkeys we seen in the wild. The may look cute…don’t let them fool you.

Sippin on some delicious and fresh coconut juice.

Sippin’ on some delicious fresh coconut juice.

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Heading up, up, up the stairs into the caves.

Heading up, up, up the stairs into the caves.

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They were waiting watching the humans until they found their victims.

They were waiting watching the humans until they found their victims.

Headed to explore the city!

Headed to explore the city!

Kuala Lumpur Garden Park

Kuala Lumpur Garden Park

Checkin out the sites at the National Monument.

Checkin out the sites at the National Monument.

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National Mosque

National Mosque

love this architecture.

love this architecture.

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Checking out Central Market.

Checking out Central Market.

Chinese for lunch! Porridge with chicken :)

Chinese for lunch! Porridge with chicken 🙂

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Night Market findings. New watch from a guy who uniquely made each one (besides the watch face hehe)

Night Market findings. New watch from a guy who uniquely made each one (besides the watch face hehe)

Petronas Towers at night!

Petronas Towers at night!

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So there ya have it. 3 blog posts in 3 days!!

I am so excited that I have successfully documented our entire trip to Malaysia all before second semester starts back up for teaching on Monday! First, we are saying goodbye to our good friend Alyssa as she has completed 2 years of teaching in Korea, and is embarking on many months of traveling. Sunday is our 1/2 marathon! We are so excited to do a race in KOREA.

I’ll be back next week with more stories on how we had an amazing trip on a budget, things we learned that we won’t travel East Malaysia without, and  our travel plans coming up in just 3 weeks!

Happy Friday to you all. I just have to leave you with 4 more photos that sum up the diversity we experienced in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia- so perfectly. 🙂 photo

Next stop: Borneo, Malaysia.

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Next stop: Borneo, Malaysia.

Malaysia.

A country I had heard of, but knew absolutely nothing about. A place where when I began to research I found has the  highest point between the Himalayas and New Guinea (Mt. Kinabalu-13,436 feet above sea level.)

A country full of culture, delicious food, rain forest trekking, river safari tours teaming with wildlife, stunning scuba diving, and magnificent night markets.

How could we choose anywhere else?

I am beyond excited.

This is what I know:

1. We decided on East Malaysia also known as Borneo, Malaysia because of our desire to hike, explore the rain forest, and scuba dive. First: We fly into Kuala Lumpur- Malaysia’s capital. Then we’ll catch another flight to East Malaysia.

2.We will be doing 2 or 3 scuba dives here (not sure which islands yet!  There are 5 in Tunku Marine Park):

photo from etawau.com

3. We will be attempting to climb Kota Kinabalu in ONE day- the tallest point between the Himalayas and New Guinea at 13,436 feet above sea level. We found the inspiration to hike in one day here. If you are a new reader you can track our hiking treks on Tom’s blog.

photo from the theplanetd.com

4. We will visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary- Where orangutans are rehabilitated back to independent wildlife living. Can’t wait to see these amazing animals 🙂

photo from sabahtourism.com

5. We will be taking a river safari down the Kinabatangan River- to hopefully spy some Pygmy Elephants ( we would have to be really lucky!), crocodiles, birds, and maybe even a proboscis monkey.

photo from insabah.com

6. Visit the night markets! In both Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu.

photo from junesapartment.com

–This much I know.

I know we are so excited to head to Malaysia in just 5 short weeks!  We are going into the trip with an outline of a plan. Hoping for the best…expecting the worst. We will have a some what flexible schedule, but embarking on this adventure with the idea that the BEST adventures are the ones that aren’t planned, and the understanding that ANYTHING can change in a second.

Here is to an incredible adventure ahead with my husband… Off of the beaten path!