PHOTODIARY: MALAYSIA & INDONESIA
It’s been nearly a month since I came back from one of the most amazing trips so far. Malaysia and Indonesia. This might sound totally cliché but words really cannot describe how special this trip was. I’ve been in Indonesia four times already and made a lot of journeys to my roots with my parents before this trip. I have seen a lot of different islands before hand. But this journey was different. We discovered a great amount of beauty and had a lot of adventurous moments. It was the first time my guy met my motherland, even though I’m born and raised and my home is Holland, I have a strong connection with Indonesia. It’s the country of my parents, my grandparents, it’s basically all my roots.
KL, a metropol, a shining star.
We started our journey in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We had this AirBnB home like 15 minutes from KL City Centre and it was a great home to start with. It had everything you needed and more. The best part was to be discovered on the 38th floor. The infinity pool with a view. One word? WICKED! Besides dreaming away in this pool and enjoying the view, we discovered the beautiful city, climbed the towers, smiled at the Petronas several times and went on a journey to the Batu Caves and visited a few parks as well. Another thing I remembered was falling in love with MamaSan, a restaurant in KL that served anything authentic of the Malay and Indonesian kitchen. The cendol, martabak, beef and especially rendang still makes my heart beat faster and belly long for that magnificent taste once again. Kuala Lumpur you’re a shining star.
Sumatra, close to home.
Even though both my parents are born in Java, I somehow sensed such a connection to this island. There were little kids that literally looked similar like me when I was a kid. And besides all this, this island made me feel so peacefully and happy. Somehow it really felt like home here. Kicking it off in the islands capital Medan, we soon head off for a 7 hour drive and 1 hour boat trip to Samosir Island, inside the enormous vulcanic crater Lake Toba (Yes I swam in it!). A wonderful island with so many hidden stories, so many history and beautiful landscapes. Once we got back on the mainland of Sumatra we spent a day in Medan again but soon packed up for another adventure with a bit more thrill: Jungle time!
Bukit Lawang was on the agenda, so we had another long ride with our driver Rudy (such a cool, funny and sweet guy) and driving in Sumatra meant seeing so many different kinds of nature. Palm trees, fresh durian tasting along the road, plucking cloth, coffeebeans from trees.. Seeing wild monkeys, seeing so many fruit species we’ve never ever heard of (mangosteen, salak, rambutan? GOSH I LOVE THIS PART) and just getting to pick passion fruits and coconuts from trees whereever you go. I’ve learned so much of Sumatra’s nature, culture and habits. This place was magical.
Once we made it to Bukit Lawang, we spent two days there with two locals, Choy and Yan. I will never forget you guys and all the great memories we made together. I really had a hard time first since I wasn’t the fittest hiker to survive these HOT jungle situations but I think I did a pretty good job after all, ha! Seeing Kevin enjoy nature so much was wonderful and once we got to meet wildlife, things got even more special. The first animal we saw was the greenest (it would’ve made a beautiful Pantone color by the way) poisonous snake I have ever seen. The only thing on my mind at that time: oh SHIT just got real! Hahaha
Once we got up in the rainforests we’ve seen so many beautiful things, gigantic trees, orang oetans (yes even the little ones), Thomas leaf monkeys, baboons and a varaan.. Non stop music: all the sounds of the jungle. Only thinking about these days make me full of butterflies inside. We also crossed a lot of riversides and even swam in it actually but the current was so strong I couldn’t even move forward! Nonetheless, it was cool and refreshing!
After about 5 hours of hiking we got to the campsite right next to the river, just the four of us. It started to rain heavily so Choy served dinner in a tent where we had a cozy candle light and enough space to hide from the pouring rain. Choy’s homecooked dinner (he made it live in the jungle) was next level! IT WAS THE BEST INDONESIAN COOKING EVER! All the tastes were so pure and delicate, from the rendang to the curries to the tempeh, I cannot even talk about it! His white rice even tasted better than mine – and I have this uber-sophisticated rice cooker that does all the work. Go figure! This night was great with funny thinking games, a quiz, magic tricks, card tricks, too many bad jokes and long talks. Sumatra, you have a piece of my heart forever.
In the same time while we were in Indonesia, my parents were traveling in Indonesia as well. They were discovering Java by train so we planned to meet up halfway, in Yogya. Obviously it was amazing to meet up with your parents ten thousand miles away from home! We had a lot of fun together and had countless stories to catch up to, from both sides! We visited the Prambanan temples, Borobudur and went sightseeing in downtown Yogya. There was also plenty time to catch up at the pool and enjoy all the divine food <3 Yogyakarta, you’re the soul of Java.
Eat, Pray, Love in Ubud
Bali was next. Ubud was first! Gosh where to start? Rafting, seeing a show of traditional Balinese dancing and Barongs musical, cuddling with baby turtles, falling in love with its’ rice paddies, oh and I had the best Mexican burrito here in Ubud at Taco Casa (hands down de-li-cious!). Monkey forests, strolls down the markets, shopping sprees, discovering food, embracing the Hindu culture and it’s beautiful colourful temples. What more can I say? Ubud is characteristic, original and fantastic.
White sandy beaches + baby blue water = perfect paradise at the Gili Islands
Another boat ride to one of Lomboks’ finest islands: GILI TRAWANGAN.
Once we hit the shore we were so curious to meet our villa (we consciously didn’t pay attention to the price tag on this island, cause we were like: Bounty island? HELL YEAH!). We were a bit biased at first since there were precisely zero motorized vehicles on the island. You had three options on Gili to move from A to B: 1) by foot 2) rent a bike like everyone does and 3) rent a horse and carriage like everyone does. Once we got to our villa we were stunned, WOAH’ed and seriously ecstatic (I guess all three at the same time). These days felt like heaven for both of us. From cycling the island round in 1,5 hour, watching the sunset with cocktails, snorkling next to massive turtles and a lot of beautiful coral and fishes. White sandy beaches, baby blue water, sunlights, so much for vitamine sea. O my God, Gili I love you.
Chill and laid back in Seminyak and Sanur
The last part of our trip. We wanted to end it with a bang so we decided to stay at another fine place in Sanur. One night to remember was our getaway to W Retreat. Where we dined the finest tapas, drank a lot of fancy cocktails (with cotton candy, smoke and that kind of cool stuff). Later on we went to the underground bar to dance to the beats of Brazilian techno DJ Anna. My goodness this whole venue was an instant daydream thing (at the entrance we got picked up by a buggy and everything was just at the top of your game). Bali was sweet and these last days were relaxed. Shopping, swimming and enjoying the ocean. Looking back now, it brings another big smile to my face. Bali you made me Zen.
If I’d had to write every experience and special moment I could write a whole book! So I decided just to stick to some highlights, haha. Malaysia and Indonesia have captured another big place in my heart and these memories will last forever. I’m in awe of your beauty, your people, your culture, your beliefs, of you.
One time someone told me that traveling is the only thing you pay for that makes you richer. I’d like to close with this thought <3 Travel really brings power and love into my life. I travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape me.
Photo credits; by Audrey Victoria
If you’re curious about the posts I’ve written locally during my time in Asia, check out the following post: Bounty Island and Paradise in the Gili Islands, fascinating Yogyakarta, two days of mesmerizing jungle in Sumatra, the transition from Malaysia to Indonesia and all things Kuala Lumpur.