Kuala Lumpur, the Capital of Malaysia

  • Barbara and I decide to travel to Malaysia on a last minute whim. We just book a flight to Kuala Lumpur and then another to Kota Kinabalu on Borneo and back when we get there. Then we realise we can visit Singapore as well, get all excited and alter our return booking.
  • Barbara has friends living on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. We are soon talking about KL and KK like proper ex-pats.
  • KL itself isn’t hugely enticing. There is a good view from the tower block hotel window and another from the top of the Petronas Towers. There are malls and lots of shops selling shiny hair accessories. The most interesting sights are the colonial heritage buildings.

Kota Kinabalu

  • Malaysia is unexpectedly orderly compared to much of Asia. And very British. KK is easily reached and we find an affordable central hotel without too much hassle. There are plenty of locals willing to help us travel across the island on surprisingly comfortable and punctual buses.
  • We take ferryboats to the local small islands, especially Mamutik for the snorkelling and the beautiful beaches. We are well organised and take a picnic lunch with us. Monkeys creep down from the trees and steal it while we’re in the water. The beach is strewn with empty bags and peel and we are very hungry by the time the boat turns up to fetch us home.


  • Most people get up very early to climb Kinabalu, the highest mountain in south East Asia. Barbara is appalled at the idea. We walk up some way savouring the jungle paths, but it’s still the wet season and it’s too misty to enjoy much of a view in any case.

Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary

  • At Sepilok Orang Utan Sanctuary the endangered apes dutifully swing acrobatically along lines strung through the trees and queue up for fruit.

Selingan Island

  • At Selingan Island our hotel is near the beach and we help turn buckets of tiny turtles, legs waving, onto the sand and watch as they scuttle towards the sea. It’s heart-wrenching. We run around waving our arms hoping to ward off any predatory birds and then watch them struggle into the waves. Our guide tells us that the sanctuary‘s job is to guard the nests, remove the eggs after they’re laid and protect and incubate them. He adds that the employees are often offered hefty bribes to sell the eggs. So frustratingly sad.
  • Back at KK we sample cocktails by the glitzy beachside hotels we can’t afford to reside in.
  • Singapore next

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