Five weeks, three countries, 13 towns and cities, one too many flights, way too many buses and countless plates of Nasi Goreng

Money in hand and love in my heart, I started packing (again) to leave Korea (again). But to where? I asked myself, saving the decision for my last week in Busan at the end of August. I didn't have much time left, I had to be back in Montreal by the beginning of October, and I made a promise to my BFF in Vancouver that I would visit her on the road back home. I had just over five weeks, and not a whole lot of cash. It came to me randomly while in a trance: "Malaysia. You shall go to Malaysia." My spirit guide told me. "And Indoneeesia too, why not? Just not Bali, don't go to Bali. Check flights on Air Asia..."
So I did. And what did I find? A deal; one-way from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur for under $200. Click. Credit card number. Done. I borrowed an old Lonely Planet for South-East Asia and started planning.
I came up with the goal of wandering through both sides of Malaysia; first the peninsula then to Borneo, passing through Singapore somewhere along the way. Then travel overland to the Indonesian part of Borneo, island hop my way west to Sumatra, and finally circling back to peninsular Malaysia for my flight out of Kuala Lumpur to Vancouver.
And I did it all in five weeks, and landed in Vancouver in one piece(ish). I didn't get to dive, but I got to snorkel. Some days I was alone and some days I didn't want to end because of the great people around me. I took a few sketchy bus rides that I shouldn't have, a bunch of overnight buses, every one of them stopping at six o'clock in the morning for the daily Muslim morning prayer. I got to see turtles, baby and mama, but not as many monkeys as one would hope. Some hostels I didn't want to leave and almost started working in so that I wouldn't have to, and in others I slept with one eye open in case of cockroaches.
I sipped on a real Singapore Sling, caught a glimpse of the Indian Ocean, finally got to the southern hemisphere (no, the toilet water doesn't run the opposite way), stood on the equator, and saw orangutans.

Malaysian flag in rainy Kuala Lumpur
Tom Yum Soup

Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Train tracks, Kuala Lumpur

Pizza in Cherating, Malaysia

Ever tried durian fruit?

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Turtle tracks, Cherating, Malaysia

Pizza place party with friends from all over the world, Cherating, Malaysia

Me with the Rafflesia, the world's largest flower, Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Dashboard of the jeep that took me around the Cameron Highlands

Lunchtime in paradise, Pehrentian Islands, Malaysia

The big island, Pehrentian Islands, Malaysia

Colonial Melaka, Malaysia

River and graffiti in Melaka, Malaysia

Famous food in Saturday Morning market, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Egg tarts, Saturday Morning Market, KL

Streets of Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Orangutan animal reserve in Malaysian Borneo

The Equator Monument in Pontianak, Borneo, Indonesia

Statues by the beach in Sengiggi, Lombok, Indonesia
Sunset in Sengiggi, Lombok, Indonesia

On the way back to the airport during my afternoon layover in LA, I found myself swapping stories with a traveling  Aussie businessman. I summed up my seven months of backpacking in a nutshell for him, adding snippets of teaching English in Asia and my opinion on China's state of affairs. He told me about his work, I forget what it was now. Before getting off at his stop at Manhattan beach, he told me to take care, and to "keep rockin". I couldn't think of better words of wisdom for my last moments on the road. I can only hope that I do Mr.Australian dude proud on my next journey, wherever that takes me. 

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