Hello 2018! We made it, officially 7 months into our journey around the world. Much to our surprise, December went exactly as we planned. Our time on the islands (and break on the blog) was precisely what we needed to recharge our batteries after exhausting ourselves in India. After celebrating New Year's on Koh Samui we opted to head back to Koh Tao to start the new year, mostly because we loved it so much, but also so Jenny could take her advanced diver certification. It is super cheap and easy to bounce around from island to island, even during high season. On the 7th we ferried back to the mainland and the next day we caught a flight to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Planning out the rest of our January has been surprisingly difficult. Now that we are in Southeast Asia, we can fly pretty much anywhere for less than $100. Flights within Malaysia can be found for as cheap as $13. Knowing we can go anywhere has made the process of narrowing down our lists of destinations quite difficult. We opted to head back north to Penang after some careful consideration. We've been on a major street food kick and Penang is supposed to have some of the best hawker stalls in the world. The island is just a short bus or flight from Kuala Lumpur and there are plenty of inexpensive accommodations to choose from.
While cost has always been on our minds since we began, now that we are in the back leg we are a little more conscious of our spending, mainly concerning food and shelter. Malaysia really hits that sweet spot of good quality for low cost. We actually find it to be much better value than most of Thailand, prices there have definitely gone up since last time I was there 5 years ago.
After Penang we plan on ferrying to Langkawi, another island on the west side of Malaysia. We have some friends from Koh Tao who highly recommended it and it is easy to get to from Penang. We heavily deliberated on hitting up Borneo after Langkawi, and we still could, but the cost seems a bit prohibitive. In order to scuba, trek, cllimb, or participate in any of the major activities Borneo is known for, you are required to buy permits. If we we're just doing a month long trip without a tight budget we would be there in a heartbeat, but it might not be in the cards this time around.
Instead we plan on rounding out our January in Bali! It is low season right now so we won't have to deal with too many crowds or high prices. Bali is also right near some other places in Indonesia we want to explore in February, so we should have a much easier time choosing our subsequent destinations. It should be a month filled with beautiful beaches, great food, and some brand new experiences - we cannot wait!