Part 5: Malaysia and Singapore

The 12th of June, we took a plane from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

Since we didn’t plan to visit this country, we had no idea what to expect. The moment we set foot outside of the airport, we realized this was the most developed city we visited so far. No motorbikes, normal traffic, a real metro line, clean streets… A big difference with Phnom Penh! After a day of walking around the amazing city center of KL, we took the night bus to Khota Baru in the north. This city is close to the border of Thailand, but, more importantly, the best place to take the ferry to the Perhentian Islands where we were about to meet our friends Laura and Miel.

Perhentian Islands

We spent 5 days on one of the 2 Perhentian islands, consisting of:

– Chatting and sharing stories with Miel & Laura, who had been in Asia for over 9 months
– Doing two snorkeling tours around the island and spotting some beautiful water animals like a huge sea turtle, a bunch of black tip sharkes, Nemos, bumpheads, stingrays..
– Doing a cool open water dive for only 15 dollar per person
– Having great food at the many restaurants on the beach

– Only having electricity from 7 pm till 6 am

Laura, Miel and Laura
The view on the snorkeling boat was absolutely stunning
Having dinner at the beach
The view from our bungalow

After 5 days on the beaches, we set foot to Singapore in the South. We took a night train for over 17 hours to master more than 900 kilometers and the next day we arrived in Singapore.

The night train

Singapore

When we were in Laos, we met an Irish guy who works in Singapore. We didn’t fully understand what he meant when he told us that Singapore is ‘more liveable than visitable’. But 4 days in Singapore taught us that it should be ‘even more liveable than visitable’. Singapore is by far the richest and as such most impressive city/country we visited in our entire lives and we’re quite sure it’s one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

Singapore

You might think: why?

– Automated metros every several minutes in all directions
– Airconditioning everywhere!
– Super clean streets and buildings
– Free impressive light shows
– Pavements as wide as the streets
– A lot of underground tunnels allowing you to move easily from one place to another without the need to cross streets
– Free buses
– Malls literally everywhere
– Good cheap food courts
– Amazing views on the skyline, the skyscrapers,..
– A more than beautiful central lake
– Great parks to visit, Google ‘botanic gardens’ and ‘Gardens by the bay’
– A lovely zoo with a huge diversity of monkeys

A light show in ‘Gardens by the bay’
The astonishing Marine Bay hotel
Singapore by night

Melaka

We left Singapore and went back into Malaysia. Our next stop was Melaka, part of the Unesco World Heritage. Unfortunately the city was less impressive than we expected, so we spent our days walking around, visiting a church, bringing a visit to the cinema and eating delicious food at a local Indian restaurant and the ‘Big Ice Bowl’.

After 3 days in Melaka, we left our hotel and went back to the bus station. Since it was ‘sugar party’, meaning the end of Ramadan for a lot of Malaysia people, we had a lot of difficulties trying to catch a bus to Kuala Lumpur. A lot of buses were fully booked so the options were either to wait for 7 hours on a direct bus or take a bus to the KL Internationial airport and take a second bus to the city center.. We love Asia! 🙂

Kuala Lumpur

We spent 3 more days in the center of Kuala Lumpur, where we visited the bird park, the shopping street, drank a cocktail in a rooftop bar and swam with the best view in the world. Miel & Laura had to leave us to head back to Belgium, so we spend our last day in KL on our own.. Or at least we thought it was our last day.

Swimming with a view!

The next morning, we left early because we had a flight at 11.10 to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh). What began as a beautiful day, soon became the most horrific day of our trip so far.

How to miss 2 flights in 1 day

At 9 o’clock we wanted to check in for our flight, when AirAsia refused to let us on the plane. We were flying to Vietnam and they offer a Visa On Arrival. We knew we had to pay for our visa and we thought it was the same procedure as when entering Thailand or Malaysia: you get off the plane, you fill in a form, you pay the fee and get an entrance stamp. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

As told, AirAsia refused us to take our flight. Apparently, when you want to fly into Vietnam, you need an approval letter of the Vietnamese Government. No approval letter = not boarding the plane. Totally shocked because we forgot about this, we immediately did a search on the internet and found out some companies have an urgent formula for getting you the approval letter. We filled in a form on vietnamvisa.org, paid for the urgent (within 1 working day) formula and got a reply that they were about to send us the letter by 6.30 in the evening.

We cancelled our first flight and booked a second flight at 7.40 pm. Since the time frame between recieved the approval letter and the start of the check in for our 2nd flight was really short (10 minutes), we mailed VietnamVisa.org at 5.30 to ask them if they were almost done handling the approval letter request. We got a reply that they never told us they were sending the approval letter the same day (although it was in the last mail) and that we had to pay 200 euros extra to receive it before 7pm. Of course we were pissed off, 200 euros was way to much. As a result, we contacted another approval letter agency. We received the approval letter about 50 minutes before the flight of 7.40 would take off, ran to the check in, but were refused to check in our luggage and as such missed our second flight too..

As if things couldn’t get any worse, we had to book a third flight for the day after, but Maarten’s VISA card got rejected. Apparently Maarten had hit his max amount per month, partly due to the booking of the second flight.

The law of Murphy was strong with us that day, for sure.

Luckily we catched our third flight to Vietnam, where we started crossing the country with Lien & Melanie, two good friends!

We’ll be back soon with our next blog post! 🙂

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