This time last week I was flying home from Kuala Lumpur, the final stop on our epic Honeymoon adventure. I’ve been fortunate enough to do quite a bit of travelling with my family before I left home, but this was definitely the most involved trip I had ever taken. Lewis had exclusively travelled within Europe, so this was a big deal for both of us.
Our holiday took us to Singapore, Sandakan and Kuala Lumpur. Five flights in total, two weeks away, the trip of a lifetime.
Singapore – it’s a fine city!
We loved Singapore. It was where we spent the longest—six nights in total—and so we did the most exploring there, and we really felt like we got to know the section we were staying in by the end of our trip. We also crammed a lot into our time there, venturing far and wide across the city, which was almost as exhausting as it was exciting.
Some key observations about Singapore: there are a lot of rules, and people mostly follow them, at least in the parts we saw. There’s very little litter, and the streets are astonishingly free of chewing gum (which has been banned from being sold there since 1992). You can’t eat or drink on their underground system—the MRT, or mass rapid transit, system—not even water, and all of these rules can be enforced by fines. Hence a t-shirt we saw, claiming that Singapore is a “Fine” city, along with a list of the things you can be fined for in it.
I’ve got to say though, the system seems to be working pretty well, at least for keeping things clean and running smoothly!
Food is obviously a big deal, there are hawker stalls all over the place and they started to fill up with people from pretty early in the morning. Something that was unusual to me, coming from the UK, was that people tend to eat the same things for breakfast as they do all day. I know this is pretty common in a lot of other countries, but I’m used to having uniquely breakfast foods (usually sweet foods), so there was something particularly interesting about wandering around first thing in the morning surrounded by roast ducks, curry and ramen.
One of the things that made me particularly want to go to Singapore was learning about the Supertrees, so I was psyched to go see them. They’re situated in the Gardens by the Bay, which are pretty astonishing in and of themselves, and we had a great time roaming the two enormous conservatories before we went to the Supertree grove. The Supertrees are 25 to 30 metres tall apiece, with a huge variety of plants climbing their steel frames. They’re beautiful, and fascinating, and well worth the trip.
We also went to Singapore Zoo, which we’d heard might just be the best zoo in the world. I know zoos can be a controversial topic, I personally feel that Singapore Zoo’s focus on conservation and education is a benefit that counterbalances the problematic nature of zoos, although I totally understand that not everyone would agree with that assessment.
There are areas within the zoo where certain animals can roam freely, so you can be walking along and have a toucan swoop overhead, or suddenly have to make way for a lemur.
The last thing I’ll say about Singapore is that its airport is amazing. Super easy to navigate, looks stunning, and it has a freaking enchanted garden in the middle of it complete with nature sounds and an actual fish pond. Heathrow is a bit of a let-down in comparison!
Sandakan—forest men and the fancy hotel
Our stay in Sandakan was mostly intended as time to relax, we stayed in a nice hotel with a pool and spent a lot of time just chilling out after the non-stop adventuring of Singapore. We did leave the hotel for one day though, to go to Sepilok and visit the orangutan rehabilitation centre.
There’s no guarantee of seeing orangutans up close, because they’ve got a lot of area to live in and aren’t forced to be in the same place as the visiting people. There’s the food station, where the keepers put food every day, but there’s plenty of food available in the forest (some much more interesting than the food supplied by the keepers at the feeding platform) so apparently you get quite a lot of variation in the number of apes turning up for a meal. We got pretty lucky though, we saw quite a few orangutans at the feeding platform, before they got run off by macaques, and then we saw some others come over to gawk at all the people!
I completely understand why their name means “person of the forest”, they have some very human expressions and mannerisms. At the outdoor nursery, where young orangutans learn and play before they’re ready to go out into the forest, we got to see one young orangutan having a tantrum in the middle of its food. It looked very like a human child as it flung its arms down and swept the food into heaps, apparently unhappy with what was on offer.
Kuala Lumpur—stray chickens and skyscrapers
We only had two nights in Kuala Lumpur, so we didn’t have a lot of time, but one of the things we made sure to do was go for a walk around and take in the city a little. Kuala Lumpur has a lot of skyscrapers, and more seemingly under construction around every corner, but it also contains a traditional Malay village—Kampong Baru. We walked through some of it, and it was bizarre to be walking through this incredibly rural-feeling area, complete with chickens running around the streets, with the sleek towers visible just beyond the houses.
Other than roaming the city, we also made sure to visit the Petronas Towers, including going up to the sky bridge and the observation decks. The view from up there is insane.
One of my favourite things about Kuala Lumpur was its transport system. Our hotel was on the monorail line and we used it a couple of times. It gives you a chance to get a look at the city as you travel, and also the way it tilts as it goes around corners kind of makes you feel like you’re on one of those slow-moving children’s roller coasters.
So that was our trip, apart from one tiny other detail:
Unfortunately, I was also horrendously ill the entire time. Talk about lousy timing! Lewis and I have lived together for around five years now, so it’s not like he’s not seen me be ill before, but this was something else. To cut a long and unpleasant story short, for most of the honeymoon I would cough until I threw up pretty much once or twice a day. This did not, as you might imagine, always happen at convenient times. The most worrying was when we were walking back to our hotel in Singapore after going for coffee; you can be fined for spitting in the street in Singapore, and we weren’t sure whether puking would be more or less acceptable. Luckily the only person around to see was very nice about it and just pointed us in the direction of the nearest public toilet.
Anyway, the point I want to make is not that this ruined the holiday, because it absolutely didn’t. This comes down to two things really. One: for large sections of each day I felt pretty much fine, and I was determined not to let an over-enthusiastic cough stop us from making the most of an incredibly exciting trip. Two: Lewis. Look, if you’re of a mind to get married, find yourself someone who you can laugh with even when you’re feeling like you just want to crawl into a hole and sleep for a month. Find someone who will rinse out the mug you just threw up into without complaint. Someone who makes you feel better just by being there.
I love seeing new places
Walking around a new city, in a different country, surrounded by different sights and smells and sounds, is exiting stuff. Another thing that I love about travelling though is the unique joy of coming home afterwards. Being away gives me a whole new appreciation for the familiar.
This trip has also given me a whole load of ideas of places I’d like to visit in the future, although I’m hoping I’m feeling a little better on my next trip!
Where’s the last place you visited?
Tell me in the comments about the last trip you took—whether that’s to a new area of your city or a whole new country!