Tag Archives: Malaysia

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?

Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary- Malaysia

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Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary- Malaysia

After the big hike up Mt. Kinabalu we headed East on a big red double decker coach bus. I was exhausted from the hike, and caught some sleep while Tom watched a movie. The bus ride was about 4 hours as we trekked to our next destination Sepilok, Malaysia. Known for the Orangutan Sanctuary. It was late at night when we were dropped off at a small round-a-bout in the middle of no where. We waited for our “tropical retreat” shuttle to come fetch us in the dark after using the bus driver’s cell phone to tell them we were at “mile 14” round-a-bout. I was pumped we were literally in the middle of no where!!! Even in the dark we could see that massive palm trees covered the terrain.

We stayed at Paganakan Dii Tropical Retreat ( I will write about this fabulous place later!) and we were ready to get some rest  pass out from our 9 hour hike, and the 4 hour bus ride East.

In the morning (after our delicious breakfast) our resort had a shuttle to the Orangutan Sanctuary which was started in 1964 as a place to rehabilitate orangutans back to health. It was a short 15 min ride to the place. We bought tickets, and walked out on this long wooden path to a platform in the jungle where two feedings per day take place (one at 10am and one at 3pm.) We decided to stay the whole day to watch both feedings, eat lunch, and walk around. The entire place is about 10,000 acres of protected rainforest for the orangutans to live, and roam freely once they are healthy enough. I read in lonely planet that although 1,000’s of people each year come to view the orangutans there is a chance (since they are essentially wild) that none will show up to the platform to feed. At the 10am feeding there was about 10-12 orangutans that came (and LOTS of little short/long tailed macaque monkeys) The 3:00 feeding turned out to be a bit less “tour group-y” but less orangutans. We did see TWO momma’s with little babes hangin on to them that came to the 3pm feeding so that was really neat!

There was a sign that read “SILENCE PLEASE” …if I had to guess I’d say about 200 people gathered around to wait quietly to view the orangutans. Sure enough as it neared 10am the monkeys, and orangutans begun to peek out of the jungle in our view. Slowly, with the help of ropes/vines they made their way over to the platform to snack on bananas/milk.

It was fascinating. Seriously, fascinating.

I don’t think I blinked for the entire time… while Tom snapped some AWESOME pictures.  The second feeding Tom was able to just sit, and enjoy as I snapped a couple good ones. 😉 I knew this post was going to be a tough one. HOW do I choose my favorite pictures of the orangutans when we took SO many incredible pictures. I am going to post a bunch, because I just can not stop staring at these precious little orange furry fellas.

If you want more information on visiting the sanctuary go here!

Here they come!!!!!!

Here they come!!!!!!

orang one

Macaque Monkey

Macaque Monkey

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Having a snack!

Having a snack!

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;p

;p

Macaque monkey

Macaque monkey

LOVE <3

LOVE ❤

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Those EYES!

Those EYES!

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Hey little guy

Hey little guy (one of my favorites)

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You can see where we observed from in this one :)

You can see where we observed from in this one 🙂

Tom and I walked around and snapped a few more pictures before the next feeding.

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Ready for 3pm feeding!!!

Ready for 3pm feeding!!!

Just a few more for ya because I HAVE TO…

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Momma

Momma

Momma Love...

Momma Love…

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I LOVE this shot.

I LOVE this shot.

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Strollin’ the Streets of Kota Kinabalu- Night Market and Gaya Street Market

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Strollin’ the Streets of Kota Kinabalu- Night Market and Gaya Street Market

One thing I love about Korea is the outdoor open air market we shop at. I have said it 100 times, but it might be one of my favorite things about Korea. So, naturally I was excited to explore markets of Malaysia! In Kota Kinabalu we found that the night market sold lots of fresh food! It’s as fresh as it comes 🙂 After asking the lovely ladies who worked at Lavender Lodge (where we stayed) for some tips on where to go, we grabbed a city map, and explored. I loved that in Kota Kinabalu (even though it was a “city”) it was small enough you could walk around/through/across it- easily in just 30 min.

While Gaya street market also sold fruit and other delicious food items this market was more of the souvenirs, clothing, live animal type of market. Just about everything could be found at Gaya Street!

Here are my favorite shots of us strollin the streets of Kota Kinabalu…

Lots of little street vendors :)

Lots of little street vendors 🙂

I have no idea what we ate, but it sure was delicious. I would say it tasted like a cross between a pear and an apple. With "plum powder" sprinkled on top. (I saw the label on the package, but I had no idea plum powder even was a thing!)

I have no idea what we ate, but it sure was delicious. I would say it tasted like a cross between a pear and an apple. With “plum powder” sprinkled on top. (I saw the label on the package, but I had no idea plum powder even was a thing!)

Night Market in KK

Night Market in KK

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Always lots of veggies. :)

Always lots of veggies. 🙂

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The night market is right along the water. Made for a really pretty sunset.

The night market is right along the water. Made for a really pretty sunset.

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Exploring more of the port.

Exploring more of the port.

Love this guy and this photo!

Love this guy and this photo!

Gaya Street market the next day!

Gaya Street market the next day!

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Selling freshly ground coffee beans. yum!

Selling freshly ground coffee beans. yum!

More coffee for sale

More coffee for sale

Butterfly made from feathers

Butterfly made from feathers

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Crazy hat.

Crazy hat.

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...and even animals for sale.

…and even animals for sale.

DSCN2587 Can’t wait to share more of Malaysia 🙂

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!