Malaysia

After being forced to change our flights from Indonesia, we decided to make an unscheduled stop in Malaysia, which turned out to be a great decision. We spent a whirlwind three weeks checking out Kuala Lumpur and trekking through the jungles of Borneo searching for wild orangutans and sleeping out under the stars. In 2016, we also returned to Malaysia on a visa run from Thailand, this time to visit Penang and its famous street art.  Here are our travel stories from Malaysia.

After our flight from Indonesia to the Philippines got cancelled, a two-hour stopover in Malaysia became a 23-day jungle adventure and we’re so glad that it did. We were given a free 90 day visa on arrival and we really wish we could have used it; we could have slowed down and been able to see much more of this beautiful country. After struggling with budgets in Indonesia, we figured that we needed to relax our spending in Malaysia instead of plucking a daily budget out of thin air and wildly sticking to it no matter what; with that in mind, here’s what we spent during three weeks in Malaysia.
Unlike some travellers, I didn’t despise my life before we hit the road. I didn’t have a job I especially hated or live in a place I found dull. In fact, there were many elements of my old life that I absolutely loved; the people, my routines and living in what I still consider to be the best city in the world: London. So, although I had an almost all-consuming, obsessive desire to travel, those last few weeks before we left the UK and all the packing, organising and saying endless goodbyes were pretty difficult for me.
My only plan for our three-week trip to Malaysia was to find wild orangutans in Borneo. I’ve long dreamed of seeing these incredible human-like creatures in their natural environment and was prepared to do whatever it took to achieve my goal. Our search for the so-called man of the forest took us deep into the jungles of Borneo; we sailed down rivers and spent hours trekking through tropical heat to try and catch a glimpse of these secretive and endangered primates, but did we succeed?
A bat crash-landed on our bed. I say bed, but it was really just a piece of tarpaulin laid out on the floor of our camp, deep in the jungles of Borneo. Perhaps the bat was confused by the light from our candles flickering feebly in the night breeze, no match for the deep darkness that lay thick around us. While Andrew and I leapt up in shock, the dazed bat pulled itself along on spiky elbows, its leathery wings stretching and contracting as our local guide, Ganya, herded it away from our camp.
You never know what you’re going to get when you arrive in a new country.  We've found that those first few hours and even moments after emerging from the airport can entirely colour the way you feel about the place; while we immediately fell in love with Melbourne, for example,  we just as instantly detested Jakarta. Unfortunately, those first few days in Jakarta really stained our whole experience in Indonesia, so I was nervous about what we'd encounter in our next destination. Would Malaysia be the tonic we needed to help us fall back in love with travel?