Sorry not sorry for the hiatus, but I am now back from Malaysia and Singapore!! My first solo trip was totally successful and I have sooOOo much to talk about! I’m going to try not talking your ears off (/writing your eyes off???) and make this as organized as possible. LEGGO.
Destination #1: Kuala Lumpur, January 19th – 22nd
I arrived at my hostel, Sunshine Bedz (around $10.20/night) at around midnight. I went straight to sleep and I was bummed that I wasn’t able to meet anybody in my dorm or in the hostel in general. Next morning, I realized people had already bonded and had plans with each other so I toughened up and set out on my own to go to Batu Caves. At the train station, I recognized a girl from breakfast at my hostel; she was sitting with a man I didn’t recognize. I decided to go talk to them and the three of us hit it off! She’s Canadian and he’s French and we spent the rest of the day together. Got lots of exploring accomplished with the two of them and it was nice to have someone there to take pictures of me 😛
The next day, I met up with some local friends that I met in university back home. I am so grateful for them for feeding, no, stuffing me, and showing me things that I probably wouldn’t have been able to see without having locals show me! They stuffed me to the point that I wanted to die at a night market just outside of the city and showed me Chinese New Year traditions at a beautiful temple that I definitely wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Sights seen: Batu Caves, Petronas Towers, Chinatown/Petaling Street, the National Mosque, Bukit Bintang Food Street, Malaysia’s longest night market, KLCC, Merdeka Square, and a Chinese temple whose name I didn’t catch, and many many malls – KL is full of them.
Destination #2: Singapore, January 22nd – 25th
First of all, let me tell you how salty I am that it rained 90% of the time I was in Singapore. Almost everything I wanted to do was outdoors and so I was quite bummed a lot of the time Regardless, I had absolutely fantastic hosts who helped me know the ins and outs of Singapore. Let me tell you how awesome it is to have a global network of friends – I didn’t even know this girl, but we share a mutual friend and so she let me stay with her and fed me while I was in Singapore *wipes happy tear*. Despite the weather, I ate very well in Singapore. I tried Singapore’s famous chili crab, had proper dim sum in Chinatown for the first time in forever, got affordable food at a mall food court (quality was on point, guys, don’t think of an American food court), various amazing desserts, and had a super fancy Peking Duck dining experience (I could eat crispy duck skin for every meal the rest of my life tbh).
Contrary to popular belief, I did end up doing more than just eating while I was in Singapore, haha. I went to Gardens by the Bay and visited their two, air-conditioned, covered domes. This was a perfect rainy day activity as I was covered the whole time. It was ~$25 for entrance into both domes: Cloud Forest (my favorite!!) and Flower Dome. I spent a couple of hours snapping photos and being mesmerized inside of these places.
Sights seen: Gardens by the Bay, Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, Marina Bay Sands, Merlion Park, Chinatown (probably my favorite), did a river cruise, Clarke Quay, Orchard Square, City Hall, Little India, Bugis Square
One day, it was still raining and I was tired of just standing around in malls trying to keep cover. I decided to do a covered boat river cruise, where I could least waste 40 minutes and still be outside and learn about the city/state/country. I was originally the only one in line for the boat but I heard two Koreans talking behind me, a father and his son. Now, I always get really excited when I hear Koreans speaking and I’m not in Korea because, well, y’know, I live in Seoul and speak Korean and all. I felt like it’d be too awkward to just start talking to them, but apparently I was staring pretty hard. The father looked at me and said “Hi?” So I got really excited and said “Annyeonghaseyo!” He literally jumped back like 3 feet and looked at me with this really bewildered expression hahaha. I told him my story and he was so excited to meet someone who speaks Korean! I didn’t end up seeing anything the entire boat ride because they were too excited talking to me and asking me questions, it was cute. He and his 6th grade son know verryy little English and so I figured, hey, what a better way to spend my day then help translate for these guys. So we hung out the rest of the day and I helped them get to the places they wanted to get to. Anyways, the father was so touched and we exchanged Kakao information and he’s gonna take me to dinner on Saturday! See, solo travel doesn’t have to mean you’re alone 🙂
I also had the opportunity to meet up with friends from my exchange year at Sogang University in Seoul! I haven’t seen these girls since summer 2013 and it was so nice being able to reconnect. As a student, there are so many programs out there to help students study abroad – you can do it, too! I never thought any of this would be accessible for me, but here I am.
I’m going to stop this post here, most because I’m lazy, but also because it’s getting long. I’ll cover the next half of my trip in the next post. Pending interest, I can also cover what is was like to be a first time solo female traveler (of color) in another post. I did not know anybody in the next two cities I went so it was more authentically solo travel, haha.