T I M E
16th – 23rd August 2018
V I S A
No visa necessary – you receive three months on arrival for both Malaysia & Singapore.
S P E N D I N G
In the one week we spent in Malaysia & Singapore, I spent a total of £550.00. Still a reasonable amount, but about double what we had previously been spending per week due to a nights stay in Marina Bay Sands – Singapore’s most luxurious hotel.
R O U T E
- George Town, Penang 2. Kuala Lumpur 3.Singapore
G E O R G E T O W N, P E N A N G
Day 1 – 4
We got the morning flight out of Siem Reap, Cambodia into Kuala Lumpur – the capital of Malaysia. From here, we caught a train to Butterworth and finally the ferry into George Town. George Town was not in our original route, but having met someone in Thailand who couldn’t recommend it enough, we incorporated it into our plans. As soon as we had explored George Town, we kicked ourselves for not doing more research and seeing more of Malaysia! It was truly stunning. The sun was setting as we got the ferry into George Town and I have never seen a more beautiful sky, it was a surreal and special welcome into Malaysia. We checked in at Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel, a very average hostel but again, one of the best of the bunch at the time! After dumping our bags and freshened up after a day of travel, we took a stroll down to the – yes you guessed it, the centre of George Town to get some street food. Unlike night markets elsewhere, George Towns vendors seemed to be a lot more spread out. I managed to devour everything in sight, suggesting I was feeling myself again.
We spent our first morning in George Town at the Upside Down museum in George Town centre (see silly pics for what this entails), followed by an UNREAL Mexican lunch of nachos and tacos at Holy Guacamole on the gorgeous Love Lane.
We spent the afternoon trailing the streets looking out for the famous Street Art. My top tip for this is to google it beforehand, and pick the main ones you want to see as there are so many. Checking out these extremely talented street artists was definitely a really cool thing to see, even if it did mean walking for hours in the heat! That evening we decided to do some proper research as we were certain there had to be more to the street food scene. We came across New Lane Hawker Centre (Lorong Baru Street Food), which was a big centre full of different vendors! Much more choice and right up our street.
We finished the day off perfectly with a bottle of red at the most beautiful bar, Georgetown wines – 100% recommended if you don’t want to feel like a backpacker for the evening.
On our final day in Penang & the day I fell in love with Malaysia, we got a grab (a Malaysian Uber) to Penang National Park (another recommendation from the man full of wisdom – @naturemanj). We arranged a boat journey to Kerachut Beach to visit the Turtle Sanctuary (baby turtles everywhere omgggg!). The boat wouldn’t leave until it was full, so we had to shamelessly go and ask people to join us, which later in the day came back to benefit us when one of the guys (who was local to the area) kindly dropped us to Penang Hill. The boat journey also took us out to a beach they call Monkey Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. We sat with some locals and ate local cuisine, all whilst being starred out by the most evil looking monkeys. I have never eaten so fast, but luckily they were more interested in the huge picnic going on beside us.
When the boat dropped us back to the entrance of the park, as I mentioned previously, one of the men we had spent the day with on our trip kindly offered to drop us to Penang Hill. The only way up the hill to be able to enjoy the stunning view over Penang is via the funicular railway – essentially a vertical train. The queues are long and it is very busy, so be prepared to wait (that’s getting up and down!). The surface area at the top is huge and offers a range of activities, but we just took a stroll around and got a couple of drinks at the bar, taking in the views. We stayed a couple of hours to watch the sunset over Penang (stunning) and to watch as all the buildings lit up as the sky fell dark (also stunning)! Our final evening spent in this beautiful, spontaneous, country, was of course – spent eating street food. We travelled back to Kuala Lumpur (Sentral Station) via ferry & train early the next morning.
K U A L A L U M P U R
Day 4 – 6
Having not been in a modern day shopping centre for what felt like so long, we spent some time mooching around the shops and got a NANDOS. We had heard there were some crazy Airbnb’s to be stayed at, for a fraction of the price of Singapore, so we had a search and booked the Regalia Suites. The selling point for us was the rooftop pool that overlooked the Petronas Towers – providing an absolutely unreal view at night. As it was more of an apartment, we took a walk to a smaller, more local mall to an ACTUAL grocery store to make a home cooked dinner- we were so excited and we absolutely splashed the cash on foods we hadn’t ate in months (including the whole gluten free range for myself).
That evening, we decided to get dressed up (aka putting on the nicest of your shite clothes) and head to the Heli Lounge bar – where by day, is still used as a helipad & evening it surprises you with the most amazing 360-view of the lit up city, including the Petronas (of course). Such a must for the views, even if your budget can only get you one drink (we definitely forgot we were travelling for an evening)!
The following morning we took it easy and tried to stay cool (it was extremely humid weather) at the rooftop pool. When the humidity cooled (ever so slightly) later in the afternoon, we walked to the KL Tower and went up 300m above ground level to the sky deck, where you can have your photo taken in the glass boxes creating the illusion you are ‘floating above the city’. The line was of course very long, but once you’re up it feels a shame to leave without experiencing it. We took a little stroll to Kuala Lumpur’s most famous icon, the Petronas Towers. There are some men just below who sell these little fish eye lenses for your iPhone to be able to take a good picture, I would definitely recommend to purchase one of these for a couple of pounds as there is no way you can fit the full tower into a picture without the wide lens, We quite literally had to risk our lives in the middle of the road to get a good picture, god only knows how Instagram models manage it. Our final stop of the evening was of course to fill out bellies, so we headed to Jalan Alor Walking Street. Its funny, you go from huge city sky scrapers back to basics in a matter of streets. Jalan Alor had a fabulous atmosphere and is extremely busy – annoyingly I cant remember for the life of me what I had to eat! We headed back to enjoy our final night spread out in the apartment, with face masks, hair masks the lot – before getting the 10am bus the following morning to SINGAPORE!
S I N G A P O R E
Day 6 – 8
We did lots of research on the best/most convenient way to get into Singapore from Kuala Lumpur, and we decided on Aeroline – a very comfy and easy (quite luxurious) mini bus, who made our border cross very straight forward (the wait was still very long due to strict borders). On our first night, we checked into Wanderloft Capsule Hostel in Boat Quay. I really wouldn’t recommend here unless you are under 4ft, love being claustrophobic and enjoy imagining you are in a coffin. It really is TINY and I was so thankful we only had one night here! As you can imagine, hostels in Singapore are overpriced, extremely tiny and hard to find – just like any main city in the world. Anyway, we literally dumped our bags and went exploring around the city. Because the land marks are so large, it’s easy to just keep walking until you get to them – be prepared to cover some miles if you want to see it all. We stumbled across the street food Hawker Stalls down at Makansutra Gluttons Bay (head towards the esplanade). Wow – talk about Michelin star style food! This is an absolute MUST for dinner and typical to be so nice in Singapore! To walk off our feast, we continued across the bridge to Marina Bay Sands hotel to explore the Gardens by the Bay, so beautifully lit up at night. If you are heading to Singapore, I already know this is top on your list.
After a gorgeous sleep in our little coffins (sigh), we were up and out early to explore Sentosa Island. We got the cable cars (I think there is two locations you can get these from) across to the Island, but unfortunately, once again the weather was not on our side. As soon as we got off the cable car, the skies turned black & the heavens opened. Funny, the sun was beaming as soon as we got back to main land – never mind! Sentosa is best described as a cool, all age playground. There was quite literally anything you could think of here, from Spas to waterparks.
As backpackers who were about to check in to Marina Bay for a night – we saved our pennies and got the cable car back to the hostel, to upgrade just a little from coffins to king size beds at Marina Bay Sands. All I can say is, WOW. I felt so grateful to be even stood inside of the building. They have thought of everything, and the attention to detail had you gob smacked every time you turned. We actually booked this night back in Thailand about 2-months prior, so this was night was a definite & every other stop had to fit around this. We got an amazing deal where a night stay overlooking the Gardens by the Bay cost us around £170.00 each – worth every penny, and something I will forever feel so lucky to have experienced.
Of course, the first thing we did was put on our bikinis and head up to the infinity pool and boy did we milk it. We stayed up here till dark, enjoying all the luxury. Talk about going from rags to riches/ champagne lifestyle on a lemonade (non-existent) wage. It was actually in fact mine and my friends last evening together before we split ways the following morning – I was heading to Cairns & Emma to Melbourne, Australia. So we drank lots of wine & reminisced on the past 3-months we had spent together and all of the events that we had encountered along the way!
We headed back to our room to once again, get dressed up and celebrate our final evening together at CE LA VIE for Ladies night, situated on the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands (think film – Crazy Rich Asians)! Considering this night was fueled by gorgeous Asian cuisine & pleeeenty of alcohol, I noted down that we only spent £50.00 each – which is unbelievable when I think back to that night. Such a fun night & with the additional entertainment of watching extremely wealthy people party. An ‘oh how the other half live’ moment.
And so, that brings me to our final day of our South East Asian travels. And what better way to spend it than a morning exploring the Gardens again, paying entry to the magnificent Cloud Forest. Not only have they bought the most beautiful tropical world indoors – including a sky walk and a 30m waterfall – there is also the most amazing, insightful, thought provoking video explaining the effects of global warming on our world by 2050. I have tried so many times to find this video online to share as I believe its something every human being needs to watch. Think Attenborough on another scale.
I can’t put into words how incredible Singapore is. It is clean, modern, the people are unbelievably friendly. They seem to have everything right. It is super expensive, but 100% a trip to be made in your lifetime. I will be back. Reluctantly, we collected our bags from the hotel and got a taxi to Singapore airport – where we spent several hours exploring the enormity of the place. Seriously, you could spend days here if it was allowed! Cinemas, pools, gyms, rooftops – you name it, they have it – it is Singapore after all. We said our final (and very emotional) goodbyes and headed to our separate gates to begin both of our first solo adventures – I don’t think I have ever felt so scared and full of uncertainty in my life. I flew into Melbourne (I remember calling my parents like what the f) and caught a connecting flight to Cairns, where I headed to the hostel with absolutely no idea what do next!
Having the time in Lockdown to be able to reflect back on 3-months spent in Asia has been quite emotional. I am so grateful I kept my travel diary and have been able to relive this special time of my life through writing. I experienced so many firsts, so many laughs & so many tears. I had my eyes opened to some of the poorest parts of the world, and some of the richest. I threw myself head first into 5 different cultures and embraced every second of it. I tried things I said I wouldn’t, I connected with people from all across the world, I slept in some luxurious and some not so luxurious places. I felt fear and excitement, but most importantly, I left with a new found admiration for the world we are so lucky to live in and a heart full of love.
Keep your eyes peeled for a 4-week travel guide of the East Coast of Australia – coming soon!