Malaysia was a funny thing. It was in my itinerary as just a short layover in Kuala Lumpur, between Thailand and Singapore but things happened. Around New Year’s, southern Thailand and its islands where I was supposed to go diving, was flooding. So it became clear pretty quickly that I couldn’t go there but since I already had a flight to Bangkok (I had had to book it before entering Vietnam in case they check my onward ticket for the visa, which they in none of the countries did btw) So I went there and booked a nice hotel for myself for two nights as a Christmas present, haha. But I somehow even on this point, don’t ask how, had forgotten that I probably should have the onward ticket when entering Thailand as well. So I realised all this in Ho Chi Minh City’s airport and had to make a decision where to go next in like half an hour. Now it’s funny but I was kind of panicking then. Kuala Lumpur seemed like the cheapest option and was sort of on the way to Singapore so I booked it.
A story that is linked to this is the one I somehow didn’t tell in the Laos post. Long story short(ish), the most random encounter happened in Laos where in the middle of nowhere I met two Finnish girls (even from Helsinki) and they were like the first Finnish people I met on the entire trip so it was even more odd. We spent a fun day in Laos but they stayed there as I went to Vietnam. Anyway, I remember them telling me that they were going to Malaysia later on so I just suddenly remembered that in Bangkok the morning of my flight and thought I’d text them, just to check if they happened to be in Malaysia too. Probably not, I thought, but funnily enough, they had a flight to KL on the same exact day. So we obviously had to meet. Then I thought I’d at least spend the New Year’s in KL with them and it became maybe the best New Year’s I’ve ever had.
KL as a city didn’t become my favorite although it was cool as well and I had some really good time. It’s big and a bit sparce and gives you the feeling that it’s really hard trying to be a bit bigger, more modern and cosmopolitan than it yet is. Looking down from the KL Tower, you could just see construction everywhere. I think it’s aiming to be a bit like Singapore maybe and since Singapore was one of my all time favorite cities I maybe unintetionally compared them a little bit, especially knowing I’d go there next. It had some really cool places though, like this canopy walkway we came across one day. And the skydeck in KL Tower was one of the most exciting experiences.
We all, having been traveling for a while, wanted to do something boringly normal for a change so we went shopping before New Year’s Eve to some cold, air-conditioned shopping malls and laughed at the crazy, over the top- Christmas decorations there. For new year’s we tried to find a rooftop bar to see the fireworks from but they were all so full we just wandered around the Petronas Towers which in some way are actually really impressive and pretty at night. Or a bit different than many other skyscrapers I’ve seen. Just in time we found a spot from the nearby KLCC Park and sat there on the ground waiting for the fireworks. And they were the most stunning ones I’ve ever seen. At this point on my trip I felt I had gone through many emotional stages when it comes to traveling and being away. I had had the part where I doubted my whole trip and the one where I thought about home a lot and then the one where I had such an amazing time and finally I had kind of started to reach the stage where it all, being away from home, alone, changing places constantly, had started to feel a bit like the new normal, a home of some kind. And being in such a good, very unexpected and sudden company, and in such a cool environment, I felt it all really culminated on New Year’s Eve. All was just so well and I guess the trip had already taught me so much and I kind of realised that in that moment. I’ve never been a New Year’s person or celebrated it much but this one I really loved.
I had heard good of the island of Penang and the girls had thought about it as well so we decided to go to Georgetown on Penang. It’s another Unesco town, founded by the British in the 18th century. Nowadays it’s known for its multicultural atmosphere and architecture as well as its street art. Georgetown was like every photograper’s dream. It had lots of little alleys, cute shops and cafes and we pretty much just walked around for a few days.
After that we thought that hey, we could use some beach time and I had been traveling more or less inland the whole trip, so we headed off to Langkawi which was only a 4-hour boat ride away from Penang. I wasn’t expecting anything breathaking, just maybe some nice beaches, since I knew how popular Langkawi was with tourists (and Finnish tourists) But once again there was a perk with traveling during the low season: the whole island, even the popoular parts, were half empty. So we just spent time on the beach and did a trip to the skybrige which was absolutely amazing.
I also randomly went to a tax free shop I walked past and spotted some Finnish chocoalte, the one I always have at home, so I literally ran to that shelf, grabbed one and almost had like tears of joy in my eyes because it really felt like home and I ate like half of it outside of the shop, haha. Also since it was the low season it means the weather can get a little bit surprising and we did get absolutely soaked a couple of times but the weather was still so hot it didn’t really matter.
Most of the reasons I had such a good time in Malaysia come down to Regina and Milja who were just the funniest and best company I could ever had wished for. It’s so funny how I made new Finnish friends but just met them in Laos. Our impromptu yoga sessions in the beach, trip to a trampolin park in KL and half liter smoothie breakfasts in KL’s Chinatown remain as some of the best moments from my trip.
Malaysia was also a good example of how my plans completely changed during my trip. Like in the end, the trip sort of made itself. Everything wasn’t planned but then again the best things never were.