Travel Diary: Malaysia Memories

by - June 07, 2020

This time last year I made my second trip to Asia to visit one of my closest friends, Chiu, in her home country, Malaysia. Apart from the thrill of finally being able to physically reconnect with her after 2 years, I was so excited to explore a new country, in what made out be the shortest 2 weeks of my life! As I won't be able to travel this summer as originally planned, I wanted to share some moments from my last summer vacation and reminisce on my time wandering around Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malacca and Sabah.

Since I jammed A LOT into my trip, I will spare you the minutiae of every single day and instead highlight the things that were incredibly impressive, fun, unexpected and even a little weird. I was spoiled by having local as a guide and so it was probably my most stress-free trip to date. Chiu was able to perfectly balance adventure with laidback and my only complaint is that I wish I had more time there...

Where To Stay

Kuala Lumpur 
I was lucky. I really didn't have to plan much for this trip since Chiu took care of almost EVERYTHING. We moved around quite a bit and when we weren't in her home town (KL), we were lodging at an Airbnb or a accommodation. In KL we stayed in a loft in a gentrified building (Alia) which afforded us an incredible view of the city. It was a few minutes away from the hip shopping district, Bangsar, also home of the bomb brunch spot VCR and arguably the best croissants in the capital courtesy of Dew Patisserie as mentioned in my Malaysian Food Diary post. This location also gave us easy access to Bukit Bingtang, the epicentre of all things trendy in Kuala Lumpur, so overall we were well situated at best. The Alia building is pretty secured, though the area itself is a little sketchy. You're safe but I still wouldn't recommend walking around the area at night. 

When we left KL we took two day trips in Sabah, first to Kudat, a beach town at the tip of Borneo and later to a getaway in the mountains of Kundasang. Our Kudat lodgement was intriguing. The one-bedroom container with an ensuite bathroom gave us easy access to the beach which was right across the road. The only challenge though was that the town was rather sleepy when we went, with only one restaurant option, Tip Top (limited menu), which means taking your own food would be the best option. One of the coolest things about staying here is that you can literally venture out to the tip of Borneo and watch the sunrise. Unfortunately for us it was a rainy morning when we attempted to do this but it was still an awesome experience to be there. 


Kundasang was, without doubt, one of my absolute favourite part of the trip. We stayed at an Airbnb called “Spring Garden” in a cabin style one bedroom that gave a stunning view of their famous garden. This accommodation redefines relaxation. Beyond the garden, a short hike will unveil their backyard river where you can go to get your feet wet and connect with nature. Everything about the property is enchanting, from the impressive variety of flowers, plants, birds and bugs to the breathtaking sunsets rivalled only by the expansive view of Mount Kinabalu. It was hard to leave. Like the accommodation in Kudat you’ll have to secure your own dinner though breakfast is included off property at a close-by inn (HB Hotel). There are lots to do in the area and I suggest visiting the National Park if nothing else. Otherwise, if you just need some time away from everything to decompress, I highly recommend this place!

Mini Adventures

Malacca (Melaka)
In addition to the aforementioned, I did a few other activities and excursions worth mentioning. I think my day trip to the old city Malacca, a UNESCO World Heritage site was interesting, to say the least. The two hour bus ride from KL was pleasant for the most part and since we got there super early we had a full day before us. We started with brunch at Locahouz and then decided to walk our way around the city. Let me tell you if quaint were ever a place, it’s Melaka. An immense contrast from KL’s high rise and modern buildings, it offered ingress to antiquity. In spite of the unexpected downpour we still managed to see a bunch of historic sites including the famed Christ Church of Melaka (Dutch Square), St. Paul’s Church of Malacca and the Sungai Riverside. Of course, no trip to Malacca is complete without visiting the Jonkers Street Market which for any Westerner is the kind of fascinating and foreign that requires an open mind. Prepare yourself for food, culture and lots of treasures to take back home with you. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome souvenir shop Hueman Studio where the owner has some of the city’s most impressive craft and prints that he makes himself! I had quite the time in Malacca, never mind having to stoop to use their "ground" toilet, it is the old city after all, which I think was possibly the biggest culture shock moment of the trip.

Batu Caves
Now, if you’re in Kuala Lumpur you absolutely have to check out this place! It’s so beautiful. Between the temples, the steps and the caves you’ll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of brilliant colours and sacred monuments. To view inside of the temple you will be required to take your shoes off, so I suggest having a bag and taking black socks so you don’t have to go barefooted unless you’re into that (: Also, take water if you plan on climbing to the top of the steps to get to the caves. You're very likely to break a sweat. Nevertheless, Batu Caves is one of those places you'll never grow weary of, there's something to intrigue you at every corner. Be warned that there are lots of monkeys who are both friendly and aggressive so avoid any snacks that will make noises in your bag like chips as they will try to take your bag away, speaking from experience 🙃. 

Kota Kinabalu
Apart from in the mountains of Kundasang, I felt most at home in KK, the capital city of Sabah. I loved how laidback everything was and as a city girl, I did also love the easy access to the malls and inspired cafes. There is quite a bit to see here too including the Pillars of Sabah where street art and activism meet, the historic Atkinson Clock, the market place and the City Mosque (that looks like it’s floating on water). Like a true romantic, I watched a lot of sunsets and KK could rival any of the finest in the world. We watched from the bar at The Marriott Hotel which provided a stunning view and also another time from the Italian restaurant Grazie at Suriah Mall. Truly, you would be impressed watching the sun descend from anywhere in KK as the scene of distant islands and mountains everywhere make it difficult for the wide eyed visitor to not be mesmerised. Although time didn’t permit for me, I heard island hopping is also must-do adventure in KK too so you can add that to your list!

View from The Marriott in Kota Kinabalu
There was a lot of adventure but even more so there was a lot of food. As stated in my other blog post on Malaysia, I ate my way through my trip trying things like Indian Banana Leaf dining and Tissue Roti Dessert. I had Chayote vines (dragon whiskers) stir fry, pumpkin shoot and sweet potato leaves for the first time. There was also fresh Calamansi juice, Chrysanthemum iced tea, bubble tea and the list goes on! I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much, ever. Overall, it’s fair to say Malaysia became a home away from home. Even though people stared at me a lot with quite à few people even compelled to take photos and videos of me (assuming they weren’t used to seeing black people), it was one of the best 2019 experiences. If you're thinking of making a trip to Asia, you definitely do not want to count Malaysia out. I can't wait to go back. Thank you, Chiu (et Mama!). 

until next time......
Do Good, Dress Well

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  1. The pictures are so amazing and the trip sounds absolutely wonderful. I've never really thought about visiting Malaysia before but I think I should reconsider.