Southeast Asia

Full of optimism and free of debt, I traveled with Jonas to Southeast Asia in Autumn/Winter 2019. We started in Thailand, celebrated the new year 2020, then hitchhiked extensively through Myanmar on a very short visa.

After Myanmar, we returned to Thailand, which was the first country outside of China with COVID-19 patients. But February saw no restrictions, which is why we had no issue to hitchhike through southern Thailand across the border to Malaysia. All we had to do at immigration is sign a form that says we hadn’t been to China in the last 14 days. We hadn’t, but the officer did analyze our passport stamp very keenly.

In Kota Bahru (Malaysia), the coronavirus numbers started to let loose. We hitchhiked with facemasks to Penang and still considered booking more Airbnbs on our future itinerary. Then there was the announcement that Australia locked its borders. Shit. We had to get some money back from those bookings. Then slowly more countries started to lock down and so did Malaysia.

Luckily, Malaysia allowed us to stay. Even though our passport stamps had long expired, we were on the receiving end of amnesty. And we were happy to stay in Malaysia, because holy smokes, the food!

After lockdown, we explored bits of Malaysia whenever cases were low. Jonas didn’t like Malaysia the first time he visited way before I met him. Now he’s a huge fan. So am I.

Our adventures in Southeast Asia came to a premature halt. I’m hoping to pick up my travels here again later, but the world will look very different. But for now, enjoy these posts!

Hello, Dubai?! Leaving Malaysia for the UAE After 339 Days (Semi-Live Blog)

You know I’ve been ruminating on it. But after 339 days, it’s finally time to leave Malaysia. We’re traveling to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is a semi-live blog that I’ll update throughout the journey. I’ll edit in photos once I’m back on my laptop. The Weeks Before Departure to Dubai On the evening of the start of ‘MCO 2.0’, Jonas and I were smoking shisha at Chimney Hookah Café in Johor Bahru (JB). We’d just made the most of our last day without stay-inside-order and we finished it off with a banger. One thing had beenContinue reading

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Immigration Scare 2021: Are We Done, Malaysia?

As you might know, Jonas and I have been in Malaysia for nearly a year. But we aren’t expats, nay, we’re ‘Tourists stranded in Malaysia‘ (TSIMY). The Malaysian government basically granted us amnesty to stay in the country during the COVID-19 crisis. They call the special rules ‘the MCO’, which have an end date that has been extended by weeks or months every time the deadline approaches. This is stuff I’ve detailed in my pandemic diaries. Every time they extend the MCO rules for the pandemic, we might hear the news that we have to leave. Thus far, the government’sContinue reading

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Johor Bahru: The Best Vegetarian + Vegan Restaurants

Johor Bahru (JB) is a great place to hang out for vegetarians and – to a lesser extent – vegans. During this pandemic, we tried out many veggie places in person and by delivery. These are our recommendations. Click here to scroll down to the map of Johor Bahru with all the vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Click the + below to learn more about the meaning of the emojis, dietary restrictions and intolerances, and a disclaimer. Note that we stayed in Johor Bahru during the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants aren’t ranked in a specific order. Life Ricette 🥬🛵🚶‍♀️ Click here to order LifeContinue reading

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Traveling in Malaysia during the Pandemic (Another Heckin’ Diary)

This little diary is a continuation of the ‘Pandemic in Penang’ diary I’ve kept during Malaysia’s harder lockdown. Long story short: we were traveling in Malaysia and other Asian countries when the coronavirus lockdowns caught us in George Town, Penang. We stayed there during the various phases of lockdown, from MCO to CMCO and RMCO (“Recovery Movement Control Order”). When interstate travel opened up, we planned our departure from Penang to travel within Malaysia’s borders. “SOP” stands for “Standard Operating Procedure”. Days since we entered Malaysia: Days since the start of the Movement Control Order (MCO): Travel days since we finallyContinue reading

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Melaka Desert – Sauntering About the Shifting Sand Dunes at Sunset

I was casually scrolling the map around Melaka when something caught my eye: Melaka Desert and Klebang Deserr. A typo, cute! It wasn’t far from our home in Atlantis Residences. I googled where exactly to go. It turned out it was in a different place on some artificial peninsula. Whichever rich coastal city you travel to in Malaysia, you’ll always find a land reclamation project. This one had been canceled, which let the winds shift the sands and shape up into dunes. The pictures looked very nice. But we didn’t know what it was; satellite data from Google Maps brokeContinue reading

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The Tastiest Vegetarian+Vegan Delivery Restaurants in Penang

During the lockdown in Penang, Jonas and I have become somewhat vegetarian delivery food connoisseurs in our area of George Town. Our kitchen is slightly underequipped and we tried to limit our supermarket visits during the height of the pandemic in Penang. That’s why we ordered most of our meals (twice a day) online. Over the course of 121 days in Penang, we’ve ordered from 31 different restaurants. We only included our favorites on this list. Most of our food came through Foodpanda and Grab, although we also used Folo. We were happy to support local restaurants and delivery drivers,Continue reading

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Pandemic in Penang: A Play-by-Play from Two Digital Nomads in Malaysia

Before you judge our decision to stay in Malaysia and not ‘repatriate’ ourselves, scroll to the bottom to read our motivations for riding out the pandemic in Penang/George Town. If coronavirus statistics trigger your anxiety, this journal might not be for you. Also, I wrote this, so not everything here reflects Jonas’ views. My sources for Malaysia come from the trilingual news website Malaysia Kini, which has an excellent COVID-19 tracker which adds new functionality almost twice a week, and our elevator. My world stats come from the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, which unfortunately keeps butchering country names. TheContinue reading

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Kayaking to Pulau Tikus: a Sacred Island near George Town, Penang

We kayaked to Pulau Tikus on the 10th of July, 2020. If you want to know where and how to rent a kayak in Penang, click here. To get tips on what to bring, click here or visit my extensive kayak gear guide if you’re very, very serious. The Idea One boring afternoon in lockdown I was scrolling on the map on my phone. Looking nearby my location in George Town, I spotted a small island not far from Penang Island. On my OSM map, it was a nameless rock, but it had a building. Perhaps a lighthouse? Google Maps showedContinue reading

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Penang National Park and the Meromictic Lake at Pantai Keracut

Events in this story happened on Tuesday the 30th of June 2020. We hiked in Penang National Park to the meromictic lake at Turtle Beach (Pantai Keracut). This is during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) during the easing of the restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak. You can read my pandemic in Penang diary here. Preparations and Getting the Grab We took three liters of water in my hydration bladder and another 1.5 liters in a bottle in Jonas’ bag. Our lessons from previous hikes in the hills of Penang and on its beaches taught us it’s a good ideaContinue reading

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