June was one of the most fun months! The month kicked off with the arrival of my sister from The States. She’s been talking about coming out to visit me for forever, and I’m so glad it finally happened!
With her limited 2 weeks of vacation time, I was determined to make it a great one. I planned a 2-week itinerary to hit up the best of Malaysia: from the exciting capital of KL to the foodie town of Penang and finally to the beautiful island of Redang.
We did sooo much in the 2 weeks that it’ll be hard to capture it all down here. I joked that she did more in Malaysia in 2 weeks than I did in an entire year!
Onto the highlights!
June 1 – 5: Kuala Lumpur
There’s no better place than KL to start your Malaysian adventures. I wanted to strike a balance between touristy and local activities. I wanted to her to experience a side of KL that normal tourists won’t get to see. I think I pulled it off!
She came to Malaysia just as the month-long Ramadan was starting. At first, I worried that it was bad timing, but it turned out to be a wonderful thing! Not only were lots of places decorated for the upcoming Hari Raya celebration, there were also major sales going on in all the stores. One of the main things my sister was looking forward to was all the cheap shopping. She pretty much brought over just an empty suitcase and it was completely filled with amazing bargain buys on her flight back!
And Ramadan also meant that we were able to check out a Ramadan night bazaar. Since the Muslims fast during the day, every evening, there are markets with all kinds of crazy food. The idea is that starving people would load up with food and take them home to eat when they break fast.
I may do a full post on this because it was so interesting. And I do so love a good food market.
Of course, we went into the city and took photos with the famous twin towers.
For a view of KL from above, we went up the KL Tower. This was a first for me as well! We splurged on the open air Sky Deck Level with the glass boxes. It was a pretty cool experience and the photos are great!
For food, I introduced her to my favorite local foods as well as KL’s spectacular cafe foods.
I’ve said it before, but KL is not known for too many sights to see. So we mostly enjoyed the city life. Some of the other things we did were:
- enjoyed 2 hours Thai massages
- pampered ourselves with mani/pedis
- caught a stand-up comedy show
- played VR with a couple of my friends (most fun EVER!)
- went to a Chinese night market
But the most special was that I asked my photographer friend James to do a photoshoot for us. I wanted us to have some good pictures of her time in Malaysia. I can’t wait to get the photos and share with you guys!
June 5 – 9: Penang
And then we flew to Penang, a place I had fallen in love with. I’m not as familiar with Penang as I am with KL, so here, we stuck to the main touristy activities, sprinkled with quests to search for Penang-famous food stalls.
We both had a ton of fun at the Made in Penang 3D Art Museum. I had gone to one of these in Langkawi before, and it is definitely more fun with two people!!
After the indoor art, we continued with searching for the famous Penang street art outdoors. See all the photos here!
I took her to my favorite food places in the area (China House and the jetty food stalls) before ending the day with sunset on the jetties.
We also went to the Batu Ferringhi beach on the north shore. My sister went parasailing for the first time – something she’s always wanted to do!
Penang Hill is another must-do experience in Penang. I had hiked up there the last time I went, but this time we just took the trolley up the hill. Last time, there was heavy fog that completely obliterated any view. This time, we were able to get a better view of the island, though still a bit hazy.
But I admit that main reason I wanted to come back was to try to catch a sighting of the dusky leaf monkeys. These monkeys are SO cute (as you’ll see in the picture), but harder to find. Carmela and Ray saw a bunch when they went to Penang Hill, so I was determined go back and see one. We hiked down one of the nature paths before finally spotting a group in the trees. Made my day!
Food wise, I took my sister to some of my favorite Penang food stalls and hunted down a couple I didn’t get to hit up last time. She was a good sport putting up with my obsessive hunt for food. Unfortunately, some were a definite “miss”.
June 9 – 13: Redang Island
The evening of the 9th, we met up with my previous Airbnb host, Teresa, and one of her friends (also another previous guest from Korea) to begin the long journey to Redang Island. First, we took the night bus from Penang to Terrengganu. Upon arriving there in the morning, it was another 1.5 hour ferry ride to finally reach Redang. It takes a lot of work to get to paradise!
But it was soooo worth it. Redang is without a doubt the most beautiful island I’ve ever seen! The pale sand is as soft and fine as flour and the water is a sparkling clear blue.
Besides the beautiful beach, Redang is famous for its abundant underwater life. I wish I had an underwater camera to capture it all but I only have my memories. Everyday, there were snorkeling boat trips, but I found that the best spot was actually just right off the beach!
Some days, we split up to do different things (and I admit I’m not used to 24/7 company anymore!), and the best day was when I was snorkeling alone by the beach. It really felt like it was just me in this beautiful underwater world, surrounded by baby sharks and tropical fish. A local guide was also doing the same and he showed me Nemo, a manta ray, sea cucumber, and we even saw a big shark!
Our days were spent snorkeling during the day, and long walks on the beach in the evening. One evening, we sat down for shisha on the beach and the local boys put on a fire show. I even got to try my hand at it! Though I was terrified the whole time that I would fling a flaming fireball into my face.
Redang is also known for “blue sand” at night. I believe that these are tiny plankton that glow blue when disturbed. Whenever we found a patch, we squealed like little girls.
Ah the beach life. Is it acceptable to become a beach bum??
June 13 – July 2: Back to KL
After Redang, we flew back to KL. My sister had one final day of rest before flying back to Los Angeles. I really hope she had an amazing time in Malaysia!
After 2 weeks of travel and vacation spending, I was ready to relax and also let my wallet take a break. For the rest of the month, I stayed in KL. I ate at all the places I’ll miss and hung out with my local friends I’ll miss. I’m so happy to have made friends in KL who make saying bye so hard.
As I toured my sister around Malaysia, introduced her to friends who showed her genuine kindness, and explained to her the food/culture/customs, etc., it filled my heart with pride. Malaysia never felt more like home. Malaysia is a beautiful country with a wonderful culture. It made me realize how much I truly love this country and how truly sad I am to be leaving soon. And how I am not even close to being done with it yet.
Will I return? If you had asked a few months ago, I’d have been unsure. But now, my answer is an unequivocal yes. Malaysia has ingrained itself into my heart even more. And I don’t see it worming its way out anytime soon.
But for now…
What’s going on in July
I’m in Chengdu, China! I’ve been here for a week already, and while I’m LOVING it, I’ve also been plagued with exhaustion (the air pollution perhaps?) and tummy issues. It’s honestly been taking all my energy to even do the minimum amount of work and get this post up.
I came to Chengdu because Amanda (Little Tranquility) was coming here for a month-long study abroad program. We’ve been blog friends for so long and I’m actually STOKED that they sent her here. I’ve been curious about the Sichuan area of China (which I’ve never been to) for a long time, so when she told me she’s coming, I hardly even hesitated to say that I’d meet her here. I’m soooo glad I’m here and I really love it! Of course, follow along real-time in my Instagram or Facebook, and I’ll write about Chengdu in next month’s re-cap!
What are you up to this month? :)