Penang

The minute I stepped off the boat into Penang I knew it would be incredible. I stayed in Georgetown the entire time rather than exploring the rest of the island due to time restraints.

The streets are so brightly coloured, it looks like a movie set. But the thing which puts this place in a league of its own is the celebration of creativity and freedom of expression seen everywhere. There were open spaces for artists to come and paint or draw whenever and whatever they wanted which I thought was a cracking idea.

There was so much incredible street art. I grabbed a map and hunted down a lot of the art which took forever but was such a good way of seeing all around the city.

I also really loved all of the cute independent shops and eating places. Little India was incredible for food, I ate veggie meals until I was full to bursting every single day.

One of the things I did was to write a postcard to myself which will be sent on whatever day you choose within the next five years. I wrote down all the goals and wishes I had for the coming year. Mine should arrive on my 26th birthday which is a scary thought.

The buildings in Penang all were painted gorgeous colours and had the most beautiful tiles on the floors and walls. Some of the building had paint flaking off them which added to the atmosphere of the place, instead of looking tired it seemed to look deliberate.

I can’t finish this blog post without mentioning China House cafe. No visit to Penang would be complete without paying this cafe a visit. It is pricy but oh my god the cakes are just insane. I’ve never seen so many cakes before. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures because clearly I was too involved in the cake situation but trust me on this one. You won’t regret it.

Penang will always hold a special place in my heart because it was so memorable. I definitely want to return with the intention of touring around the whole island and discovering whether it is all as amazing as Georgetown.

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Langkawi

Langkawi has some of the most beautiful beaches that I have come across in my travels so far. It was so zen, I could have stay forever.

Meters and meters of white sand reach blue clear oceans. Very few people grace these beaches. Lying down you could hear the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore. Islands covered with jungle surrounded the beach resulting in beautiful views. The clouds were perfect – so fluffy and so white.

Where we were staying there were hundreds of coconut trees lining the roadside with foliage stretching for miles. In the evenings the skies were pink, hinting at a Shepard’s delight in the morning and crickets chirped loudly. Fluffy cats and chickens lived in harmony, happily meandering around looking for any spare food.

In the evenings after cooking for ourselves (hallelujah) we watched a film. The first time in two months I have been able to watch one. Night one was the BFG, night two was Inside Out. Having the chance to relax and unwind whilst watching a film is a luxury than I didn’t even know I missed.

Once the film was over we would walk to the ice cream stand and get ourselves a big big ice cream and sit on the bench outside watching the world go by.

Langkawi was the perfect place to come and unwind from the hectic travelling life. Having the facilities to cook for ourselves was so nice because sometimes all you want is a big bowl of pasta with plain tomato sauce and unfortunately that can be hard to come by in Asia. I feel so rejuvenated by these couple of days it’s quite unbelievable. Beach days, film nights, ice cream evenings… pure lush!

Kuala Lumpur

I may have found one of my favourite cities to add to the list.

KL is infinitely more chill than all of the other big cities I have visited on this trip. I had two full days here and mainly I just wandered (as per). There is plenty to do though if you are here for longer such as the classic museums etc.

I always use Culture Trip to look up potential things to do in all of the places that I go as they tend to have a few articles listing different things depending on what you are into.

DAY ONE

It was Rachael’s last day with us (cryyyy) before she headed home for graduation. We got food at a little Indian restaurant around the corner from our hostel which was RIDICULOUSLY cheap. It was such a confusing menu and we made no sense of it so just order two chapattis with vegetable curry and it was delicious.

After fuelling up we walked to the patronis twin towers. It was a bit drizzly but we still managed to get an ample number of photographs.

We went into the big shopping centre in the towers and it was like stepping into another world. Caroline and I haven’t been in a proper shop for months so we were VERY overexcited especially when we spotted Topshop!

Because it was Rachael’s last night we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out. We decided on a Tapas restaurant called Pinchos. We made a reservation which was wise as when we arrived it was packed and stayed packed for the two hours we were there. We went a bit overboard on the food ordering. We got seven between us but these tapas were huge and obviously we couldn’t go for a nice dinner without a bottle of red wine. I couldn’t recommend this place enough. Food was unreal, service was impeccable and the atmosphere was really good.

DAY TWO

Caroline and I weren’t too sure what we wanted to do on our second day except revisit the shopping centre.

We started wandering up that way and decided to walk through the eco garden which is a sort of park but it is part of the jungle which has been preserved. There is a walkway along the treetops. It was nice, felt surreal having such greenery within a city.

We did get a bit lost as some of the paths were blocked by fallen down trees or the paths had been destroyed by storms so it took a lot longer than intended but we met some really nice Malaysian people who were up for a chat.

Once we got to the shopping centre we wandered around looking in shops and lusting over various food items. There was even a Marks and Spencer’s in which I treated myself to a packet of Jaffa cakes.

After the shopping centre we walked back to the hostel for a hour of so of chill time. We actually then went to one of mosques in the city which you were allowed to walk around. I have only been inside a mosque when I was really young so I was intrigued. It was very beautiful, located between two canals.

After wandering around the mosque we walked to independence square which looked like a cricket ground almost. The building facing the square was incredible, so pretty and intricate.

That evening we walked back to the patronis twin towers to watch the light show. It lasted about 15-20 mins and was impressive. The fountains and lights were in time to various music compositions.

There is always mixed opinions of KL floating about but for me it was definitely a very positive experience. Good vibes all round.

Ko Lanta

Being on the move all the time is very tiring so spending 3 full days in the one place was a well needed respite.

DAY ONE

It was very very wet the entire day so whilst waiting for the rain to calm down I did some French on Duolingo and read. Cabin fever kicked in and we had to get out of the hostel for a walk and some food. I did quite enjoy a quiet day of sitting hearing the rain patter on the roof, cool temperatures and chilling out.

DAY TWO

This was suuuuch a nice day. We went for a big long walk along the beach. Because it is low season here the beaches were dead so we found a little secluded beach to relax for a couple of hours. I loved watching the crustaceans migrating along the shore as the tide went out, crab watching in the rock pools and making friends with a dog that was roaming around on the sand.

Caroline taught me how to do a proper cartwheel and hand stand as I am incapable of doing either so I practiced on the beach. I’m counting that as a fair amount of exercise considering the severe lack in the last couple months.

DAY THREE

We booked onto an island hopping tour which visited four islands for our last full day. It was 1000 baht and included transfer from the hostel to the pier, lunch and snorkelling.

Unfortunately the water wasn’t very clear for snorkelling so it was difficult to see anything which was a bit disappointing but I did see a couple of fish amongst the rocks so can’t complain. The lunch was a proper feast of rice and veg followed by fruit for us vegetarians and a big buffet for the carnivores.

It was such a great day and I loved being driven around in the speed boat with the wind in my hair and the sun on my face…albeit a bit too much sun considering the sunburn levels later on that evening!

Krabi

Krabi was jam packed full of activities for me which was good as I like to be busy. We had got the night bus down from Bangkok and so we all slept on the day we arrived which left us with one full day essentially.

We decided to hire scooters and climb one of the surrounding hills in the Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park (I think). The drive was around 40 minutes followed by a 2 hour hike. We set off very early to avoid the midday heat which was sensible as by the time we approached the top it was getting very hot.

The climb itself was steep and not the best underfoot but it was manageable. It was so nice to be doing some exercise surrounded by nature. The views at the top were beautiful, you could see the amazing landscape for miles.

On the way back we stopped off at a beach to cool off and go for a swim before heading back to our hostel. My scooter almost ran out of petrol which was a bit scary but I made it back in one piece.

I liked Krabi although because it was the low season it was pretty quiet which had both positives and negatives. Positives being that the beaches were so quiet which was lovely, negatives being that the bars and restaurants were all very quiet. All in all though I liked Krabi, it was the perfect little beach town.

Bangkok

Bangkok is crazy but amazing.

We treated ourselves to a hotel stay whilst here because we just wanted some relaxation time and some privacy. The hotel we stayed in was really really nice, very central and the breakfast buffet was dreamy. One of our friends from back home joined us in Bangkok for a two week holiday.

We were in Bangkok only a short while so we decided to focus our efforts on visiting two of the well known temples – Wat Pho and Wat Arun. The temples were insane, such beautiful intricate designs both inside and out. The entrance fee was not too pricey and with it you got free unlimited drinking water which was great as it was such a hot day.

That evening we went out for a nice meal to celebrate Rachael’s graduation and new job. We booked at a place called Indulge which was well worth the money. We were forty minutes late for our booking (oops) because the traffic was so bad and we were crossing town. It was the first time I had applied make up or straightened my hair in about seven weeks and it felt so strange!

I had the creamy mushroomy pasta followed by the New York cheesecake. It was so nice and after eating rice or noodles solidly for weeks pasta was a welcome change.

The deserts were out of this world. I never had a cocktail but they also looked so good but were very pricy. Definitely a worthwhile place to visit if you are in Bangkok.

Pai

So my favourite place has changed from Hoi An to Pai.

Pai is just so incredible. My favourite thing to do was to hire scooters and drive around the countryside through little villages and stumbling upon waterfalls. The countryside was absolutely stunning. Remember to put on suncream though because I didn’t and I don’t think I’ve ever been more burnt in my entire life. No word of a lie.

I spent a day at the Conserve Natural Forest which was absolutely fantastic. I wanted to do an elephant sanctuary type thing except I am very aware that a lot of them mistreat the elephants and I didn’t want to pay for something I would be uncomfortable attending. I stumbled upon the Conserve Natural Forest on the Internet and so I researched it and it seemed quite good because it also involved learning about plant conservation so I booked onto the Eco Tour.

It exceeded my expectations. It was such a great day and very educational. I was very happy that the elephant seemed very well treated and would be released to the wild once she had gained the necessary skills to survive. I was also very confident that the donation I gave went towards the care of the elephants and plants.

The second part of the day was planting trees to encourage regrowth of jungle which had been removed due to soya and garlic farming. We helped plant seeds of rain trees and then we planted an orchid tree.

We were also given loads of fruit from the garden to snack on and have a cheeky gin and tonic complete with passion fruit fresh from the garden.

There are loaaaads of cool restaurants in Pai but in my opinion the night market is the best. The night market on Walking Street had hundreds of food stalls selling all sorts for as little as 25 pence and it was incredible. The night life in Pai was actually pretty good. Bars close at 12 but you can pay the bar a fee and it will stay open for you which is class.

Overall I was so gutted that I only spent a couple of days in Pai. It’s definitely a place where I want to come back to. Next time I would like to stay out in the country surrounded by nature and hire a motorbike again to get around. Maybe next year …