To see all the photos, scroll to the bottom of the post.
My first stop in Malaysia was a 5 night stay in Langkawi- an island just south of the Thai border. One of my first activities was shaving off my beard. The hair trimmer I brought with me died in Ko Lanta, so I opted to just go full razor to the bushy beard. This is not something I would recommend.
The highlights from Langkawi included:
- Randomly, it was the annual Water Festival (a celebration of water?) the first day I got there. The set up was similar to a county fair, but in proper SE Asian style it was right on the beach. There was a mini stage set up with someone playing Radioheads Creep which was pretty weird to hear covered by a dude with a guitar and a mic in Malaysia. The food stalls had some tasty food and drink- I picked up some fried prawns (you can eat the whole thing- head/ tail and all) and a cup of ice cold coconut water. It set me back all of $1.50 for both.
- The Langkawi cable car. Situated in "Oriental Village," which is a super fake tourist stop, the cable car takes you to the top of a mountain. There is also a super cool looking Sky Bridge, but in typical SE Asian fashion it was under construction. The views from the top were still really cool, as you can see the many islands surrounding the main one of Langkawi.
- I randomly found a night market, which are one of my favorite things to visit in this part of the world. There is insanely cheap food and this is where all the locals go. No other tourists to be found, so it feels so much more authentic compared to most of the places I normally find myself. The school girls all wear full head covers, which was something I had not seen before. The $0.50 coconut water was delicious.
- There is a massive eagle statue at the main port. Very silly. Naturally I enjoyed it.
- The highlight was a jet ski tour around the many islands of Langkawi. Jet Ski gets my vote for Most Fun Vehicle. That may change as jet packs become available, but for now there isnt anything more enjoyable than jet skiing around the open ocean. It was just a local guide and me cruising the ocean and visiting various islands. There was a massive fresh water lake on one, and a huge circle of eagles feeding on another. I also got over an hour of Jet Ski Play Time, which I did with a smile on my face the entire time. Living that Jet Ski Life.
I decided to skip the island of Penang and flew straight to Kuala Lumpur, where I am right now. The regional flights over here are insanely cheap (one way flight was $40 for the 70 minute flight from Langkawi to KL). For the first time ever, I went to AirBnB to rent a studio instead of staying in a hotel. After touching down and grabbing my bag, I took a high speed train (100 mph with free internet!) to KL Central, and then a monorail to my apartment building. It is not a new city if I don't get lost while lugging all my bags, which of course I did. Wandering around lost with 40ish pounds of luggage in 90 degree heat is exactly as fun as it sounds. Plenty of sweat was unleashed. After a few circles and backtracks, I found the building.
It is unclear if KL has a massive crime problem, but it is clear that the apartment building I am staying in has an unprecedented level of security. There is a main gate that unlocks with a key card, also staffed with a security guard 24/7. The key card also opens the door to the elevator bay. The key card ALSO needs to be used to run the elevator. Then there is a iron gate AND a door, each with its' own deadbolt, on the entrance to my block of studios (there are 4 in my area). Then finally there is one more lock on the front door to my unit. If you were keeping score, that is 3 key card uses, 2 deadbolts, 1 front door lock, and 1 security guard station. That is some serious security/ paranoia.
Now 6 days and nights exploring the big city of Kuala Lumpur.