Hello! I’m STILL here, in Malaysia. 5 months in. How are you doing?
The current MCO (Movement Control Order) is due to end 31st August. If you haven’t seen my post on why I decided to stay in Malaysia during the pandemic, then to quickly recap – the Malaysian government have granted us tourists on social visitor passes (90 day visas) a stay till the end of the MCO with no repercussions. If it does end, we will have to pack our bags and leave within 14 working days. If the MCO is extended then we’ll all probably spend the following few days / weeks panicking that the Malaysian government will go back on their decision and then we’ll settle back into local life again.
RELATED: Why I chose to stay in Malaysia during the pandemic
In preparation of my possible impending departure I’ve been looking at options on how I would like to spend my last couple of weeks. Hopping my way down the east coast islands had always been my Malaysian travel plan. When the ban on interstate travel was lifted mid June, me and the Tinder (ex) boyfriend hop footed it over to Langkawi and then worked our way down the… west coast. When we went our separate ways I sort refuge back in Penang so I could finish off my current work cycle and he headed to… the east coast. For some reason, the lure of the east coast islands had worn off. Even more so when every time I searched for accommodation the options in my price bracket just did not appeal to me. Some travellers say accommodation doesn’t matter, it’s just a place for you to lay your head, you spend most of your time outside anyway, but I don’t and especially not during a pandemic! I’ve lived abroad now for 2 years, I move from place to place, I work 2 weeks of the month, I like to travel slow. I like getting to know a place rather than hurriedly ticking off the tourist hot spots, I like to live in my accommodation. This life suits me. It’s more sustainable (both environmentally & economically), healthier for me (cook, gym, swim), and let’s face it, even though it pains me to admit, I’m a huge fan of having a routine, even if that routine changes on a monthly basis. Quite frankly if I moved on every few days on a permanent basis I’d burn out pretty quickly and probably not even see anything! Determined to not let current situations spoil my original east coast plans, I decided to try and change my attitude towards my options and see it as a “holiday”. Holidays mean in my head I can splurge a bit more. I upped my budget and then upped it again, and I still didn’t get that heart flutter moment from anything I saw, it just sank even more.
Last night the fog lifted and I had a revelation – how about a staycation instead?? There are a ton of hotels in George Town that I wouldn’t mind staying in but when I found my apartment I just stayed and then we locked down. I’m located about 5kms outside of the main UNESCO tourist drag of George Town. I pop in about once a week to eat out and have a wander but I haven’t spent much time there recently. Years ago when I first visited here I immediately eared marked George Town as a place I’d like to live, maybe just for a month, see what it’s like. I had always imagined myself living in an old heritage building, I LOVE them. Little did I realise back then but it turns out at the moment I’m more of a sky rise modern apartment type of girl ha. I mean the views I have are insane, the apartment is bigger than my two bedroom London flat, there’s a gym, 50m swimming pool and I pay £18 a night. That’s cheaper than the rent on my first shared London flat almost 20 years ago! See why I stayed?
Anyway, to loop back round, within a couple of hours of research I had booked three different hotels in George Town over a 10 night period and I immediately knew it was the right decision. I’ve never done that. The only time I would normally move hotels that are in the same location is if I’ve had a bad experience (Nagasaki comes to mind), or if it’s a repeat visit. I was so in awe of all three properties I decided to stay in all of them! It may sound silly but I now have a constant joy feeling in my heart and maybe feel a little too over excited (or that could be because I’ve had quite a bit of caffeine for the first time in a while). My motivation is sparked again, just by this simple decision. Funny isn’t it, how suddenly things can just fall into place? I always know when my decisions feel right because I get this insane happy feeling. I’ve missed this feeling. I shan’t try and give too much away but I’ve booked two old heritage hotels and one super duper bloody lovely treat for myself. The super duper bloody lovely treat is timed around the MCO announcement so if I have to say goodbye to Penang and Malaysia it will end on a bloody good note (I hope!). It’s somewhere that I’ve wanted to stay for years and it is very well known in George Town but normally I couldn’t justify the cost. To encourage people to travel domestically (as international borders are still closed) there are some great deals at the moment and I had to jump at the chance. I’ve already researched and pinned a ton of cafes I haven’t tried yet and can’t wait to be back in “tourist” mode for a short while. Whilst I’m sad about my east coast ideas, this feels like the right decision for me at this (one) moment in time (cue lighters and a Whitney Houston power ballad…sorry…). The islands will always be there and I think we all know I will be back in Malaysia in the not so distant future (pending borders re-opening of course). You always need something left on the list to come back too.
Booking accommodation use to be my worst nightmare. Especially when you travel with others, you have different ideas, budgets, needs. It sometimes feels to me like an overwhelming responsibility. But, I need to remember, I’m good at it, I’ve had A LOT of experience. We are talking budget accommodation here though like under £50 a night per room although I like to stick to £20 and under. Down the west coast we didn’t pay more than £5-£10 a night each and stayed in some amazing places! Although for full transparency the average price of accommodation for my George Town stay is around £37 per night. Although that’s still budget right? Especially if you’re a couple – I would even go as far as to call that a bargain! Just wait till you see them! It’s the most I have spent all year per night but it’s a (working) holiday, I barely spent anything whilst on lock down for three months, and well, I need the pick me up!
I LOVE staying in different places. They are after all my home away from home. From hostels, to pods, to boutique hotels, plush hotels, apartments, old soviet hotels. Each bringing a unique experience which is all part of the travel experience for me. I know this won’t be to every ones taste but if you need budget accommodation ideas – I’m your person!
Well, I had intended the above to just be an opening paragraph to introduce a post on some of the best places I’ve stayed over the past couple of years but I guess it turned into a very wordy life update instead. So I’ll leave it there for now. I’m sure with my new found motivation again there will be one incoming shortly… maybe I might even get back to Sunday blogging. Who knows!
Until next time, stay safe (and wear a mask) x