Part 1: Kuala Lumpur - Kota Kinabalu
I admit this is going to be difficult to recap everything since it's been nearly 2 months since this trip actually happened. Bear with me.
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the mainland first for two reasons: a) I wanted to get out of Korea ASAP and b) I wanted to see the Petronas Towers at night. Done and done. Kuala Lumpur was hot and humid; you always think you've prepared yourself for the difference, but you can't really. It was cold and rainy in Korea so I could only imagine the heat in theory.
I found my hostel pretty painlessly (on a side note, the BackHome Guesthouse has to be the best one I've ever stayed in. Ever.) and went and got a beer with one of the girls staying in my room. We had the added bonus of a man following us around and even managing to sneak into the hostel to "hang out" with us before the lady running the place shooed him out. KL was alright, but just alright. It reminded me of Bangkok and other bustling dirty cities in SE Asia. The garbage/sewage smell, the puddles of indeterminable liquids that you step in...in flip-flops. The one redeeming quality was the Petronas Towers, which were totally worth the stopover on the mainland. I didn't get to ascend, but just being there was pretty cool.
Yep. That's them.
It was hard to get a good night's sleep because of the 24-hour street traffic noise, and by the next day I was pretty happy that I was getting out of KL.
Mmmmmm....breakfast. (Roti with all the dipping sauces. DELISH!)
Some of the buildings in the morning.
I didn't include more photos here, because I've already posted so many on my Flickr account.
The trip to Kota Kinabalu (Malaysian Borneo's main city) was smooth and painless...I even got to eat some tasty chicken biryani on the plane - seriously...Malaysia Air's food = some of the best you can find. It was a bit rainy / cloudy / overcast when I arrived when I went exploring.
That night, I went for dinner at the Filipino Night Market, where they had amazing barbecue. I mean really amazing. They had fish, squid, chicken; all fresh, all grilled while you wait. And you can totally eat with your hands, which I love doing.
Chicken Satay, which I got the 2nd time I came.
This pot and basin were provided for hand-washing before and after the meal.
I had the help of a friendly local sitting next to me on ordering and how exactly the logistics of eating my meal should properly go. It's not just something you sit down and can do immediately. He ended up paying for my meal and he and his business associate and I went for some drinks (which they invited me to "have some beers"...however, because they are Muslim, I was the only one with an actual beer). They were very helpful and nice, which was totally a running theme with 99% of the Malaysians I met on my trip. Everyone was friendly, and I even had long conversations, in perfect English, with my taxi drivers. People are SO friendly and everyone speaks English.
The next day, I walked out onto the Gaya Street Sunday market...which had a plethora of different things for sale. Like...
After, I decided to check out one of the islands off the coast. Their trips are mainly marketed to snorkelers, but I figured I could lay on the beach with a book. WRONG. It's snorkeling or nothing there. Also, the waters are pretty full of trash. I've heard that the nearby floating village residents just sort of dump their trash into the ocean, something I noticed all around KK as well. I did not go into the water, but I got a lot of my book read (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - way better than Cider House Rules).
It was pretty, though!
That night, I think I went to go see Iron Man 2...mainly because of the air conditioned theater, but also because the movie was $3. Fun had by all.
The next day, I left for Gunung Mulu National Park in Malaysian Borneo's other state, Sarawak.