Final Days: Malaysia

By Amy

Well, we have officially been home now for a month, and we really hit the ground running. But before I get to that, I want to wrap up the end of our amazing six and a half week journey around Southeast Asia.

After Burma, we headed back to Kuala Lumpur, which really became our second home in Asia. As we’ve mentioned before, my friend Jessica lives there and we were¬†able to use her place as a base camp during our travels. We spend our last six days in Malaysia with Jessica, her friend Paul and some members of Paul’s family. It was kind of a random assortment of people, but we really hit it off!


After three days in KL, getting some R&R, a haircut, doing laundry and packing our things, we headed to Penang for a day and a night. Penang is an island in Malaysia and is known as sort of a foodie destination. We stayed in George Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town is made up of lots of pre-Second World War houses and shop houses. We stayed in a fantastic hotel called 23 Love Lane. As expected we did plenty of eating in Penang as well as some last minute shopping.


After a great night in Penang, we hopped a short flight to Langkawi, another Malaysian island. This time our destination was a fancy beach resort. We spent our last two days on vacation laying on the sand, drinking cocktails and sleeping in the most comfortable bed of our entire trip!


Even though the resort seemed to want to hold us hostage to their overpriced and less than delicious food, Jessica took matters into her own hands and negotiated with a taxi to break us out the second night and take us into town for a great dinner. On the way back we stopped at a convenience store for snacks and our exuberant multi-generational group felt like a bunch of kids stocking up on junk food!

On our last morning, we said goodbye to our new friends, and Will, Jessica and I flew back to Kuala Lumpur so that Will and I could catch our flight that night to Tokyo where we would have an 11 hour layover. Stay tuned…



Several Penang photos courtesy of Paul Oliva, our good friend and guide to Malaysia!

Adventures in Kuala Lumpur


Our new foreign service friend Paul snapped this epic picture while we were having drinks on a helipad.

By Amy

If the United States and Indonesia had a baby, and that baby grew up to be a city, it would be something like Kuala Lumpur.

I’m not sure what we were expecting before visiting KL for a long weekend in mid-December, but it definitely impressed us. Our friend Michael, was planning to come visit us during the last two weeks of December, and he wanted to see another country while here. Meanwhile, my friend Jessica from grad school had recently moved to KL as an American diplomat. The timing was perfect for a visit.


We kicked things off at a Mexican restaurant. Michael wasn’t quite as excited as we were.

KL itself is an interesting place with a mix of ethnic Malays, Chinese and Tamil Indians. The food and language reflect that blend, and every where we went we could speak English. At first we thought we’d speak Indonesian given that Indonesian and Malay are almost identical languages, but then just realized it would be easier to speak English. The city is clean and modern and has everything imaginable from retail stores, food, modern bars and restaurants and cultural sites.


This was the dessert following an incredible sushi buffet. Unfortunately we were too busy stuffing our faces to take pictures of the sushi.

We were thrilled to see two of our closest friends after so long, and felt pampered in Jessica’s luxurious three-bedroom condo with a view of the iconic Petronas Towers. I’m sure it was surreal for Michael to spend such an American-style weekend. We ate authentic Mexican food, ordered Papa Johns, drank cocktails in a speakeasy and visited one of the nicest grocery stores any of us had ever seen. Expats living in KL do not want for anything. Anything. It was a fantastic break.


Papa Johns?! Delivery?! Where are we?!

For us it’s still the little things that get us the most excited. A carpeted bedroom with an adjacent nice bathroom, delivery pizza, baking cookies, a washer and dryer and plenty of other expats around the city to allow us to blend in.

We did some pretty cool things during our time too. We toured a bird garden, saw the national mosque, visited Chinatown, took the Pentronas Towers tour, had an all-you-can-eat sushi brunch, had drinks on a helipad on top of a skyscraper, helped decorate two different apartments for Christmas and had our fair share of Starbucks.


And the best part is that we learned how to use the public transportation system so we’ll know our way when around when visit again during our Southeast Asian travels this summer!


We probably have 500 pictures that look pretty much just like this.

After our amazing weekend it was back to site with Michael for a few days before setting off on our Christmas vacation. More on that to come!


After asking if we had been following the ridiculous “crisis” in America of whether or not Santa Clause is white, a Californian chef gave us these locally made snacks as we left his restaurant.

As we found, Santa comes in all shapes and sizes.

As we found, Santa comes in all shapes and sizes.