(Indonesia) Labuan Bajo >>> (Malaysia) Kuala Lumpur
6/18- The Best Diving of our Lives in Komodo National Park!
6/19- Chill Day with Friends in Labuan Bajo
6/20- Flying from Flores to Bali to Malaysia!
6/21- Walking around through China Town and Little India
6/22- Exploring Kuala Lumpur by Foot
6/23- Batu Caves, Scrumptous Smoothies and Nando’s!
6/24- Reunited with our Australian friends at Chili’s!
The Best Diving of our Lives in Komodo National Park!
+ Multiple times throughout the wee hours of the morning we were awoken by the EXTREMELY loud call to prayer. The speakers were pointed directly at the harbor so our ear plugs were pretty useless. Around 6:30 everybody finally got up and climbed off the boat together back onto the pier. Today we were headed to Uber Scuba!
+ After meeting up with Charlotte and checking in with Uber Scuba we set out on their big nice boat for our fun-filled day of 3 dives. Along the way, we had some yummy doughnuts and fruit and were happy it wasn’t Indonesian food for once!
+ Our first dive was right near Manta Point at Manuan and we made sure the 3 of us (Charlotte included) were in the same dive group. The site was explained out to us all and we knew the route we were going but once everybody got underwater, that plan went out the window because there were so many of Manta Rays swimming all around! The mantas were making good use of this cleaning station!
+ This was fine with us and our group of 4 (there was an Italian guy in our group (who proved to be a very bad diver) sat on a sandy bottom only about 9 meters (30 feet) underwater as we watched a whole bunch of Manta Rays (about 8 total) swim all around us. We ended up sitting there for about 55 minutes and it seemed like every time the Mantas came by they got closer and closer to us swimming just over, around, or between us! It was awesome! We even had a small white-tipped shark swim by and a turtle come in for a visit too!
+ The dive was just what we’d been looking for and made Liz especially happy since she’d narrowly missed out on being close to the Mantas a few times already. Her favorite types of dives were just sitting at the bottom and watching wildlife, just like she’d done back in college on her sponge research dives.
+ After surfacing, we all got on the boat again and moved to our next dive site: Batu Balong. This was one of the most revered dive sites in all of Komodo and we were happy to get the chance to dive it. Once we were all below water and at the bottom of the giant coral stack, we were amazed at the bright colors and astronomical amount of fish life! The fish were everywhere! We moved along the wall back and forth as we slowly rose higher and higher. We saw a couple of Nudibranchs which was impressive because they were so small and hard to find. Each one had completely different crazy colors and were cool to watch crawl around. We also saw some eels and a turtle that liked to hang out and watch us.
+ On board we had a nice lunch of chicken curry as we moved to our last dive site: Siaba Kecil. This dive site was also a ton of fun to dive and reminded us of just how bright and vibrant coral life could be when it wasn’t damaged or bleached. We stayed under for almost an hour again and saw a lot more Nudibranchs and other fish and invertebrates including some more Mantis Shrimp! Cool!
+ In the end, we decided it was probably the best day of diving we’d ever had! We originally thought we would be going diving 2 days in a row but after such an incredible day underwater (coupled with the fact that it was super expensive and busted our daily budget) we decided to end our Indonesian adventures on a high note and give our wallets a break.
+ On the 2 hour journey back to port, we looked through the different fish and creatures of the reef books to find all the cool things we’d seen underwater. For about 90 minutes we geeked out with Charlotte and our guide Ody looking at all the cool creatures!
+ Back on the mainland, we split from Charlotte for a few hours while we moved our bags and checked into our hotel: Eco Tree O’Tel. Then we took some VERY much needed showers for the first time in 5 days and enjoyed some A/C in our nice big room. The hotel had given us a huge room with 2 queen beds in it and a nice big bathroom. Our nicest room since The Stones!
+ For dinner, we met up with Jake and Charlotte again and went to an Italian restaurant called La Cucina. Then we sat around enjoying pizza and pasta while we talked about our travels. Eventually we were all super sleepy again around 10 and headed back to our hotels to pass out.
+ Liz fell asleep almost immediately while Corey played around online a little and enjoyed some movies IN ENGLISH! on Indonesian TV!
Chill Day with Friends in Labuan Bajo
+ Today was to be our chill day and help us get organized and ready for our departure out of Indonesia tomorrow.
+ First we headed up to the 3rd floor of the hotel for a wonderful breakfast looking out over the harbour. We had a great view and could even see our boat still parked at the dock! After breakfast we skyped with Liz’s dad for a while since it was Father’s Day and got updates from back home.
+ Then Corey went out in search of a place that could do our laundry for us and have it ready before 10 am tomorrow, but unfortunately couldn’t find anybody who could guarantee it would be ready so we decided to wait until Malaysia.
+ The next couple of hours we completely reorganized our bags since stuff was everywhere after the boat and dive trips. We also worked online for a while checking email and getting caught up with everything we’d missed.
+ In the late afternoon, Jake and Charlotte came over and we hung out in our hotel room (bc we had AC) swapping pictures and videos from the trip and dive. Luckily Charlotte had brought her Go-Pro with her on the dive because ours had mysteriously decided to not work for some reason. On the Komodo diving day of all days!
+ For sunset, we all headed up to the 4th floor of our hotel and ordered from the restaurant attached to it called Treetop Cafe. Then we watched the gorgeous sunset and realized that a boat (possibly two?) was actively sinking in the harbour! There were a bunch of smaller boats and locals that were trying to salvage anything and everything they could. It stinks for the boat owners but it was entertaining for us.
+ After dinner we went back to our room and we all watched the movie “A Map For Saturday”. It was the second time we’d seen it but we were happy to share it with other avid travelers and hear their thoughts and perspectives.
+ Somehow it was suddenly 11 at night and we were all exhausted (ugh, this adult sleep schedule is the worst!) so we said our goodbyes for the final time. They would be staying on Flores for a few more nights while we were to fly out tomorrow. We promised to stay in touch and meet up again in some other area of the world.
+ Before bed we made sure most of our stuff was packed up and then we laid down to enjoy our last night in Indonesia with the cool A/C blasting on us.
Flying from Flores to Bali to Malaysia!
+ We awoke around 9 and enjoyed another breakfast looking out over the harbour. With full daylight now, we were able to see that it was indeed 2 boats that had been sunk, although neither had advanced further than last night so they were probably already resting on the ground.
+ It was then back to the room where we showered, packed and caught a taxi to the airport, only 10 minutes away. We arrived at the airport only 45 minutes before our flight! That’s the latest we’ve ever arrived but it was sufficient enough time for this tiny airport. Our small plane was run by NAM Air and was completely full.
+ The flight was only 50 minutes to Denpasar in Bali where we gathered our bags and headed straight for the coveted Priority Pass lounge. We actually looked forward to flight days now if the airports had lounges to relax in, knowing that we would be able to eat and drink as we pleased with no monetary restrictions.
+ During our layover, Corey worked on the blog since he was about 7 days behind and Liz worked on pictures and videos which we were wayyyyyy behind on. Not only did she have our phones, camera, and go-pro to go through, but she also had a bunch of fantastic dive photos and videos from Charlotte to sort through.
+ In the airport, we discovered our flight was delayed almost 2 hours which meant we wouldn’t be getting into Kuala Lumpur until almost 11 and not to our hostel until after midnight! We got an email informing us we had the option to reschedule to another flight earlier in the day so we called to switch. After a while were told we could change to a flight that night at 7:10 which was better than our rescheduled one at 8:10. So we switched it and hoped we would receive a confirmation email soon and that the 7:10 flight wouldn’t be delayed!
+ A few hours later, after having our fill of free food and beer in the lounge, it was time to board our next flight with Air Asia to fly to Kuala Lumpur.
+ On the flight, Liz sat next to a really nice Malaysian woman named Alice. We all chatted almost the entire 3 hour flight and she shared so many helpful tips and information about Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia in general. Alice even gave us some different phrases we can use to assist us in our travels.
+ One funny thing she said was that sometimes Malaysian people call her a banana because she is yellow on the outside and white on the inside! Because she looks Chinese people assume she can fluently speak Cantonese, but actually she speaks only English and native Malysian Bahasa.
+ By the time we landed and got our luggage (and walked the almost 2 miles through the airport to the exit) it was about 11:30 pm! She told us that the trains do not run after midnight and so she graciously offered to give us a ride to our hostel since her car was parked at the central station! So very nice of her!
+ First though, the 3 of us had to ride a bus for an hour from the airport just to get to the city center since the airport was soooo far away. Corey grabbed some Malaysian food for dinner and then watched the Batman V Superman movie during the ride.
+ At the bus station we loaded into Alice’s car and then she drove us 20 minutes to our hostel called Reggae Mansion. We thanked her profusely and said our goodbyes. Liz made sure to get Alice’s WhatsApp information in hopes we could treat her to lunch on of these days we were in KL. Then we checked into the old mansion- now giant party hostel – and lugged our bags up the stairs to our room.
+ We were super tired and didn’t do much before finally crashing into our very hard bed around 2!
Walking around through China Town and Little India
+ We woke up around 9 in the morning but without any free breakfast to venture out for, we just decided to go back to sleep and enjoy the quiet and the A/C. Finally no more mosques blaring outside!
+ In the afternoon, we ventured out for lunch and stopped at the first place we saw: McDonalds! It was pretty cheap and we were happy to have some familiar food for the first time in a while.
+ From there, we decided to walk around town a bit and explore. So we visited the Central Market first and explored all of the different shops and boutique stores. Of course we couldn’t buy anything big or fragile since we were backpacking, so we had to be content just to look. Then we went through China Town and saw a thousand more stalls and shops selling mostly the same stuff.
+ Eventually we looped around back to our hostel, grabbing some Mountain Dew for Corey and a yummy Magnum chocolate ice cream bar for Liz! We were happy to be back around cheap prices unlike Labuan Bajo which surprisingly had prices rivaling American restaurants!
+ Back in the hostel, we turned in laundry, took showers, and started the long process of working on the blog and pictures as well as trying to plan out our time in Malaysia.
+ For dinner, we only had to head downstairs to the dining area since our hostel offered free dinner! We thought it would be a crappy meal but we were happily surprised to find we had 2 options. Both of which were pretty big and tasty. A nice perk for sure!
+ Back up in the room, we messaged with some family and friends before watching some “Better Call Saul” episodes and going to sleep.
Exploring Kuala Lumpur by Foot
+ Another nice quiet morning with no sunlight or noises to wake us up and the cold A/C forcing us to stay hidden under the covers until almost 11! It was wonderful.
+ Today we set out to explore the city a little bit more so after a quick lunch at Subway (so delicious!) we started hiking North. The first place we came to was the KL Eco Park which was seemingly deserted. It had a guard out front who ensured us it was safe, but as we began our hike through the park we started having flashbacks of Colombia and were worried about meeting any unscrupulous characters.
+ Due to the uneasiness (there was literally no one else around!) we cut our visit short and exited on a side path. So we only saw about half of the park.
+ From our exit point we were very close to the KL Tower, which is a deceptively tall structure and just seemed to get taller and taller as we approached. It’s actually the 7th tallest structure in the world! We didn’t feel like paying to go to the top so we just kept exploring.
+ Eventually, after walking around a bunch of different city blocks, we reached the KLCC Mall and the Petronas Towers. The mall was absolutely humongous coming in at 6 stories and each floor being the size of one of our malls back home. We ambled around a bit but all of the stores were too fancy and expensive for our budget so we made our way to the Petronas Towers.
+ We enjoyed reading about their history and watching the free videos about how they were made but again didn’t feel like paying to go up. We prefer our viewpoints to be more natural in an outdoor setting as opposed to these types.
+ Back in the mall, we were super excited to see they had some of our favorite restaurants including Nando’s, Chili’s, and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels! Oh boy! We got a pretzel (vowing to return for Chili’s later) and walked outside to watch the fountains while we ate it.
+ Content with our city tour for the day, we walked over to the nearest tram station and caught one back towards our hostel.
+ That night we enjoyed another free dinner and then watched more “Better Call Saul”. We also decided to extend our stay in KL by a few more nights but booked another place online that was much nicer with some of our Chase points!
Batu Caves, Scrumptious Smoothies and Nando’s!
+ We hung out at our hostel until the noon check out time forced us to leave. Then we moved our bags over to the next place we would be staying: Pacific Express Hotel.
+ While waiting for our room to be ready, Corey went to get his sandals fixed by this guy on the street the hostel had told us about. The soles were coming undone so the plan was just to get them glued but for whatever reason the guy insisted he needed to put new soles on the bottom. Corey decided that was ok (which he now regrets) so the guy proceeded to glue and sew new soles onto the bottom underneath the ones that were already on there! And these had much worse tread plus now the sandals were super heavy! Arghhhhhh! He should have just insisted the glue would be enough and not let this guy make them worse and then wayyyy overcharge! So frustrating!
+ By the time he got back to the hotel, Liz was already checked into the room. The hotel had upgraded us to a nicer room on a corner with views all around! Sweet!
+ We got changed and then set off to catch a train North. After walking 20 minutes to the station, we narrowly missed the train we needed and had to sit on the platform for 30 minutes waiting for the next one. Also very, very frustrating! This was our least favorite part of travel because it seemed like we always missed the train we needed by a few seconds and were forced to wait around for half an hour until the next one.
+ Eventually we boarded and rode the train up to the Batu Caves. These were a series of 3 caves and temples and over the next couple of hours we explored 2 of them. The first one was called the Dark Cave (aren’t they all dark?) and we just managed to make the last tour of the day. The tour was semi interesting but we have seen so many caves on this trip we found ourselves a bit unimpressed. Lots of bats though and we did see a really cool looking centipede.
+ The next cave was the main attraction and we had to reach the top of the 277 stairs to get there. It had a really big and ornate Hindu temple at the top as well as an impressive view out over the city and the well-known GIANT gold statue of Murugan at the bottom of the stairs. On our way up and down we were careful not to let the hundreds of roaming monkeys steal any of our belongings.
+ From there we rode the tram back to the city, soaking up the A/C the whole time. Then we got some incredibly delicious drinks (MilkTea for Liz and Oreo milkshake for Corey) from a place called Tealive and savored those as we walked through China Town again. Before we got back to the hotel, we stopped and got Liz some new sunglasses for only $3.50.
+ For dinner we walked a few blocks East to Nando’s. The menu was just like it was in the UK but all the prices were cheaper. Awesome! We really enjoyed our meals and Corey used wayyy too much hot sauce like normal. His body would probably not like it later but it was totally worth it though.
+ That night we skyped with Corey’s brother Clayton and his wife Kori. Then we watched some YouTube videos and hit the hay.
Reunited with our Australian friends and Chili’s!
+ This bed was much more comfortable than the Reggae Hostel bed had been so we enjoyed relaxing in it for most of the morning.
+ We spent most of the day with Corey researching and planning for Malaysia while Liz uploaded pictures to the blog and Facebook. We did take a short break for some Church’s chicken which was just a block from our hostel. Spicy chicken was very popular here and Corey loved it!
+ To our surprise, one of the families that we housesat for back in the Gold Coast of Australia was vacationing here in KL the same time we were! So we agreed to meet up over at the KLCC mall for dinner.
+ So at 7:30 we met up with them at the fountains right near the mall and after trying (unsuccessfully) to find a restaurant serving Malaysian food, we all just headed upstairs to Chili’s. There was a 45 minute wait that required us to stroll around the mall for a bit, but we enjoyed chatting and catching up since it had been over 6 entire months since we started that housesit! So crazy how times flies!
+ Dinner was amazing and it was sooooo nice to have the Western food from back home that we had been craving so much! The service was pretty bad though which was a bit annoying, but still- the food! This week was turning into quite the Western foodie week for us!
+ We sat there talking and laughing until we were the last ones left in that half of the restaurant (and that rude waitress was scowling at us) and then we said our goodbyes and headed back to our respective hotels.
+ Although we wanted to get in bed, we spent the next couple of hours working on the blog, researching, and posting more pictures. Then around 1:30 am we finally crawled into that super comfortable bed and pulled the plush comforter up around us. Ahhhhh….