Malaysian flag on Pulau Langkawi

8 Things I Learned Travelling in Malaysia

In January of this year, I set foot in Malaysia for the first time with a sense of adventure and a desire to go exploring.  What I found was a country which felt familiar, yet challenged my western sensibilities. I fell in love with Malaysia’s people, its natural beauty, and its unique place in history.

Not everything about Malaysia is perfect.  There are infrastructure deficits – most notably open sewers in some communities which leave you gasping for air.  There is petty crime which – like anywhere – stems from some people just not having enough to get by.  And while a variety of religions can find acceptance in Malaysia, the country’s government is decidedly regressive on social policy like LGBT rights.

Looking back on Kuala Lumpur's skyline from the grounds of the Royal Selangor Club.
Looking back on Kuala Lumpur’s skyline from the grounds of the Royal Selangor Club.

Malaysia made a big impact on me during my month criss-crossing the nation.  Here are eight of my biggest takeaways from visiting the country.

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SIM Card Review : Maxis Hotlink (Malaysia)

Staying connected on the road is important for me.  It lets me keep in contact with family and friends, I can continue to work on this blog, I can book hostels and flights as I need them without having to rush to find a WiFi connection or Internet cafe, and – most importantly – I have access to local information so I can better navigate the place I’m visiting.

While I wrote a more extensive guide to local SIM cards in Japan (because I’m a geek and I had lots of time on my hands to research it), from here on out my posts about using local mobile providers will be directly linked to the experiences I had while using the service.

In Malaysia, there are a wealth of mobile providers who have prepaid SIM cards available for visitors to purchase.  Maxis Hotlink, Digi, Celcom XPAX, and UMobile all have strong presences at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and have made it dead simple for tourists to get connected within minutes.

For my month in Malaysia, I chose to use Maxis Hotlink as my cellular provider.

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Episode 25 – Gone to Vietnam

After being in backpacker purgatory – not sure of where I wanted to travel next – I set about making a trip to Vietnam a reality. And, as you listen to this podcast, I’ll be well on my way there!

On this episode, I talk about the decision making process and why I chose to go to Vietnam instead of Bali right now, and the steps I needed to take to make sure I could get in to the country.

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Best Bits : Malaysia

Just over a month ago, I touched down in Kuala Lumpur to begin exploring Southeast Asia.  While I was only expecting to stay a couple of weeks based on my initial planning, I’m leaving the country 32 days later with some amazing experiences under my belt, and a couple of destinations I’ve fallen in love with which I want to visit again.

I didn’t buy any souvenirs (I don’t have room in my backpack for them).  But what I am taking with me are some great memories.

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Beautiful Pulau Sapi.

My Sabah Five

My visit to Malaysian Borneo ended on Monday. Truthfully, I should have waited to book my flight onward so I could have stayed longer.  Sabah is beautiful, and really unique compared to the rest of Malaysia.  Despite my little accident on Saturday, I thoroughly enjoyed my time off the peninsula.

Rather than ramble on for paragraphs, I thought I’d try my hand at making a list about Sabah. A little more meat on the bones than a Buzzfeed list, but not so long that you’re sitting there thinking, “damn it, John – make it stop.”

So here they are… my “Sabah Five.”

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