Orlando Lifestyle Photographer | Travel Photography

On June 16th at 5am Lubin and I boarded the plane for our biggest adventure yet...we were headed to Malaysia! (Thanks to our amazing friend Britt for dropping us off at OIA so very early) We've wanted to go on a BIG trip like this for some time, but booking a trip to a new place that is on the other side of the world can be intimidating and overwhelming. 

Alas we have super uper duper amazing friends Bryan and SueAnn who are world travelers and when we mentioned that we'd also love to travel we quickly started planning and before we all knew it we had a group trip planned for Malaysia and started counting down the days!

Planning our trip over dinner June of last year at  Mamak  in Orlando.

Planning our trip over dinner June of last year at Mamak in Orlando.

We traveled for a total of 17 days which included 49 hours of plane time, 46 hours worth of layovers, approximately 22,000 air miles, 5 hostels/hotels, traveling via smaller plane, Taxi, Boat, Rapid Bus, mini bus, train and hours of walking, not to mention the countless rotis & smoothies we devoured and the wonderful laughs and memories that we will forever cherish. So strap on your seat belts and take a ride as we revisit some of our favorite moments and then head outdoors and go on an adventure of your own, near or far. 

SIDE NOTE: I decided, literally the night before we left that I would not take my fancy smancy camera. I wanted to take everything that we saw in and really savor every moment. I don't regret this at all. There are a mix of photos from my old and trusty Nikon D60, Lubin's iphone and our friends under water camera. I think I carried my camera with me for a total of three days out of our entire trip, I did my best to organize the mix of photos and allow you to see Malaysia through our eyes. ENJOY! 

Feel free to click on the words or sentences that are underlined as I have included a link so that you may visit the website of the place that is noted and learn more about the places we visited. 

We had two layovers one in Chicago where Lubin spotted Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho, that was a happy moment for him!! And our second layover landed us in Japan. We unfortunately arrived too late (not to mention wifey here didn't get Lubin's visa for our layover so we had to go through a process to get Lubin a shore pass and that ate up a bit of our time, but everyone we met was extremely nice and helpful) plus we were too exhausted from our plane ride to venture out into Japan, we got to see the airport and sleep well that night in our hotel though! We'll definitely be planning a trip back to japan for a longer stay in the future! 

And we made it! We arrived in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur and quickly learned the route that was needed to get from the  airport to our hostel via the train. The train dropped us off just two blocks from our hostel, The Reggae Mansion and Bryan met us with a smiling face when we stepped out of the train station and lead the way, good thing because navigating in another country especially in a big city can be confusing. We were in Kuala Lumpur for two days and that was plenty, none of us are city people and once SueAnn arrived we were ready for our "real" adventures to begin!!

While in Kulala Lumpur we ate a lot, but we did that the whole trip because the food there is so delicious and CHEAP!! We ate on average for $2!! We also walked the streets of the markets, which unfortunately sold a lot of "American" products i.e. Nike backpacks, perfume, mass produced jewelry etc. this was a big bummer for me as I wanted to bring home something really unique, but the overall experience was more than enough. The streets are filled with markets, people, cars and mopeds that don't follow the traffic rules, but we managed. We also visited what would be our first of many Temples & Art Museums. 



Taman Negara, jungle town here we come. After SueAnn arrived we were out of the city and headed for some greenery. We were picked up by a mini bus outside of our hostel and after picking up a few more people to fill up the bus we did our best to get comfy as we had a 3.5-4 hour bus ride with our crazy bus driver that had a heavy foot and a wild steering wheel. We arrived safely to our stop where we ate lunch and played cards. Then it was back on the bus where we were dropped off for our boat ride down the river. We hopped on board and enjoyed our peaceful 3.5-4 hour boat ride to our next stop.

We stopped in a tiny town on the side of the Tembeling River that was lined with floating restaurants. It's hotter than blue blazes in Malaysia people! So once we got situated we quickly changed into our swim suits and went for a dip!! We went back to the hostel got cleaned up and headed for dinner at one of the floating restaurants and then headed back to the hostel for a good nights rest. (and by hostel I mean a families home that was divided into 4 rooms, 3 of which were filled with 4 bunk beds and oh yes a child that chugged caffeine and didn't know what sleep was, hahaha a side story for another time) . 

We awoke early the next day to catch our boat that would take us to the beginning of our jungle trek!! We met our guide Appy who was a full of energy and kept us laughing. We made a stop on the way to the jungle trek so that we could walk across a pretty awesome canopy walkway and then were literally dropped off in the middle of nowhere to only trust Appy to get us in, through and out of the jungle safely...I loved every sweaty moment of it. We hiked for a total of six hours before reaching our "Five Star Hotel" or our cave which ever you prefer. Appy stopped only briefly to share different things with us about the jungle such as leaves that are used for soap and a pain killer, massive ants, caterpillars, leeches (lubin and I are the only ones that made it through without getting leeches, Carvajal power!) moths (everything is bigger in the jungle), piles and piles of elephant poop, all sorts of mushrooms, the sounds of monkeys & bugs, sweat loving bees, thorny plants, snakes, porcupines & fruit. Luckily everyone in our group was young and fit...although the four of us tended to be in the back the majority of the time, but we made it to the cave faster than any other group our size and had lots of fun in the process, even if it did feel like hot death at times. We were so, so, so happy to see that cave and quickly laid our or sleeping pads and happily slept on the million rocks that laid below us after group dinner. Appy told us that we'd be visited by a porcupine after dinner, but with all his joking around I didn't believe him, but sure enough our leftovers were munched on guessed it a porcupine. We slept as good as one could in a cave on the floor with someone from another group snoring the loudest snore (or sleep song as Appy put it) I've ever heard as it bounced off the walls of the cave and sang us a lovely lullaby. 

We woke the next morning jumped in the jacuzzi, ate a luxurious breakfast at the, no totally kidding we started our day off with bread and jam, coffee, tea and hot chocolate packed up camp and headed back out into the jungle for our hike "home". We took a little detour and Appy took us to another cave for a little bit of exploring. We all spread out to see what we could find and came across giant toads, crickets that looked like giant spiders, lots and lots of bats & a bat eating snake. Once we'd seen enough we were back on the trail. 

We walked for another three hours before reaching our final destination and oh what a glorious feeling that was. We had a few hours to kill before our boat picked us up so we all dropped off our backpacks, gave Appy the rest of our food so he could make us a wonderful lunch and headed to the water for the most amazing swim of my life! 

After we cooled off and our bellies were full our boat arrived and we hopped on and headed down the river to a local village that allowed tourist and we got to see how they live, how they make their tools, how they make fire and we even got to play with their awesome blowgun and loved it so much we left with our own.

We made it back to our little town safely and took a 845793857 hour long shower, because jungle stench is like no other people, YIKES! We met up with our group for dinner and chatted until we were the last ones at the restaurant, said our goodbyes and packed up for our next stop...the islands!


Perhentian Islands

The most relaxing and serene part of our whole trip, Perhentian Islands . After another long bus ride and a 45 minute boat ride we made it to the first of the two Islands we'd be staying on, Kecil. (SueAnn and I sat behind a woman the whole boat ride that we thought for sure was going to blow chunks and we would be the catchall, but she held it together. Thank God!!)

We could not have planned the Island portion of our trip better, after sweating for several days in the jungle, this was pure paradise for us all. We spent the days exploring the island and snorkeling, we took boat rides to other small islands and around the islands we were staying. We saw something different each time we jumped in the water including sting ray, sharks, sea snake, tons of fish including Nemo and his Dad and parrot fish that enjoyed attacking me for no reason, sea turtles, sea cucumbers, lots and lots of coral and sea anemones.  We watched awful movies, took naps in hammocks, made it through an island storm, celebrated Lubin's Birthday and drank lots and lots and LOTS of smoothies. We also met up with SueAnn's sister, Dianne who was staying in Asia to take some classes for her Architect degree. 

We spent three days on the smaller of the two islands Kecil and stayed at Shari-La Resort and then took at boat to the bigger island, Besar where we stayed at for another two days at The Reef Chalets . 


We're in the home stretch now. Our last stop, Penang. 

After getting back on a boat to leave the beautiful islands we took an hour long taxi ride to the Kota Bharu airport. We had a great driver and we asked him all sorts of questions about Malaysia; schools, politics, customs, etc. he kept us laughing and allowed the trip to the airport to pass by quickly. We had time to kill so we found a place to plant ourselves for the next couple of hours and visited the general store that was in there and bought a bunch of random snacks and soup in a cup, played cards and shooed the airport cat away that wanted to be right on top of everything we were doing. We boarded our plane and arrived in Penang at 3:40PM. 

Once in Penang we took public transportation to get to our hostel, Red Inn Court which sat right across from a flower market, a large street shrine and just a block from little India!! We visited lots of little shops, more beautiful temples, ate gobs and gobs of street food and enjoyed all the street art that filled the walls for Georgetown. If you'd like to learn more about the young artist that created the incredible interactive art you can click here. 



Jessica McCarty-Carvajal