Since my last update of Thailand, Laos and Malaysia I’m now going to write a quick update for my month in Indonesia (Bali and Gili Islands) and 10 days in Malaysia before heading to Japan! I spent my anniversary of my 7th month (April 20th) in Japan!
To see my updated archives, click here. Once again, please ignore my typos and misspellings… 🙂
Diaries Around the World: 6.5 Months!
Bali and the Gili Islands:
For those that had questions about the Institute of Code, I’m going to write a separate post about it, but until then here’s a quick synopsis.
I found out about the Institute of Code while I was living in San Francisco and saw a few of the travel bloggers I follow go and try the program. For me, this was a dream! A luxury coding and yoga camp in Bali!? Count me in.
I’ve always had a thing for designing web pages because I’ve had 4 blogs in my life and a Myspace, of course (haha). I’ve found myself spending hours upon hours in the code trying to teach myself. Finally, I found a place that I could learn how to do it in a magical location.
So, I signed up for the IOC newsletter and one day I got an email saying that they were doing a scholarship for their camp in Bali! On a whim, I decided to apply for the scholarship and a few weeks later I found out I got it! I was soo soo excited but found out that it was going to be really soon and it wasn’t going to work out with my schedule in Laos at all. Luckily, they were super flexible with me and I got to go to the next class in March.
After backpacking and staying in hostels for a really long time, this was exactly what I was craving. Somewhere to stay for a while, not move my bags and unpack, and have the ultimate experience in luxury was the DREAM. We stayed in a luxury villa complete with yoga twice a day, an amazing chef, an infinity pool and views out to the rice paddy fields.
This was one of the coolest things I could have done for myself and my future career. I always thought coding was going to be super hard (it kind of is) and that it was something I would never be able to do. But, whaddya know…I actually really enjoy it and can actually code now!
For 10 days we coded during the day, drank cocktails, visited hot spots in Bali like Ubud and Seminyak and I met some of the coolest people ever! It was so inspiring to be by fellow entrepreneurs and made me realize that I really want to work for myself one day. We had some super fun nights out in Bali and I will never forget the people I met OR the funny experiences we had including very nerdy inside jokes cause we’re coders now. *What is Cloudcannon*? 😉
At the end of the course, we all presented our projects and went out to celebrate the end! I really didn’t want to leave all of the friends I made at IOC and was super sad the course was over. I wish I could do it all over again! Soon, I’m going to post about my full experience and show you my finished project!
After our last session, a few of us girls rented a villa in Uluwatu and stayed for the weekend. It was so nice to explore a different side of Bali and we had a blast chilling by the pool and touring around. We went to the Uluwatu temple where a monkey jumped on a ladies head and bite her. This completely solidified my fear for wild monkeys. I no longer find them cute…
We went out a few times, checked out a few surfer beaches, ate smoothie bowls and poke bowls and visited amazing cafes. I also took a surfboard out to one of the beaches and attempted to catch some waves. It didn’t happen, but was fun to try!
After everyone left in Uluwatu I was alone again and sad all my friends had left. I was also drained completely so I checked into a hotel in Seminyak and stayed by myself for 2 nights doing nothing. After those two nights to recharge I checked into the Bali Silent Retreat where I went for 3 days! It was amazing!
At first, I didn’t think it would be very easy to not talk for 3 days, but it turned out to be just what I needed after hitting 6 months on the road. It was really nice to just lay around and do nothing. I read, listened to music, did yoga, meditated and ate some incredible food. It helped that the scenery was insanely beautiful and all of the food was grown right on the farm. I highly recommend this to anyone trying to get away from it all and center yourself. I want to go back again 🙂
After the Silent Retreat, I mistakenly booked a party hostel in Seminyak and stayed there for 2 nights. It was weird going from complete silence to complete craziness. I met new friends instantly and partied a few times in Seminyak (La Laguna…my fave). Eventually, I took a boat to the Gili Islands with a few people I met at the hostel. I was REALLY sad to leave Bali and felt like 3 weeks went by way to freakin’ fast. If my visa was longer I would have stayed 2 more months! My flight was booked out of Lombok, the island next to Bali, so I had to head that way to catch my flight.
It took about 2 hours to get from Bali to the Gili islands by bus and boat from where I was in Seminyak. I started on Gili Trawangan (the party island) and had a BLAST! I stayed for 4 nights and partied soooo hard here and met tons of cool people and we had so much fun. We went on a party boat and went out to the bars at night and explored the island during the day. My hostel was really great (My Mate’s Place) too which wanted me to stay longer.
Finally, it was time to leave the party island and switch over to the chill island of Gili Air to spend 3 nights and go scuba diving. I booked a cool outdoor hostel with a mushroom pool and little straw huts. It was cool because I ran into a bunch of the same people that I had met on Gili T. The hostel/backpacker network in SE Asia is a huge community and you keep seeing the same people all over the place.
On Gili Air, I got to go diving and met a girl at my hostel who was training to be a dive master so we went together. It was incredible diving! I saw sea turtles all over the place and two octopus fighting each other which was pretty cool. We did two dives and I was exhausted after them because I hadn’t been diving since Thailand (2 months before). I also got sick the next day with a sinus situation and cough and was praying it would be gone by the time I got to Malaysia cause I wanted to dive there so badly!
After so much fun on Gili Air, I took another boat to Lombok to get my flight. This was a long dayyyy, but I was just flying back to Kuala Lumpur which has started to feel like my home base these days. I ended up getting a free night at my hostel cause I’d stayed so many times before. (haha!)
It was nice coming back to a city where I knew exactly how to get around. But when I arrived the trains had stopped working cause it was a busy Friday night (for some reason I always find myself traveling on weekends…so annoying). I was trying to figure out how to get to the hostel cause the cab line was 2 hours long and I didn’t have service on my phone.
Then, I walked up to these two Italian guys and they happened to be heading to my same hostel, Thank God! One of them had service and called us an uber and we were set. Sometimes I get sooo freakin’ lucky while traveling, it’s so nuts.
I only stayed in KL that night and the next morning got up super early to take the bus to Cameron Highlands. The bus took about 4 hours and the scenery was incredible! I got dropped off in the Highlands at my hostel and had such a bad cough I just tried to relax and chill out in the hostel for a bit. The hostel was pretty gross so I wasn’t wanting to spend too much time there but didn’t really have a choice since it was raining. I ended up booking a half day tour for the next day, finding food and doing laundry. I met some cool English girls and we chatted for a few hours.
The next day I got picked up in a 4×4 jeep for my tour of the highlands. The tour took us all around the mountains and we went to a butterfly farm where I held a raccoon! We also went to a strawberry farm, the BOH Tea Plantation, and the mossy forest. It was a fun day and a really good and cheap way to see the area. I loved the tea plantations! It was only $8 for the entire tour.
I met two South Koreans on my jeep who loved taking photos of me and with me so I had my own personal blog photographers for the day…haha. I wish I could have stayed a day longer to hike a bit more, but I really wanted to GTFO of this hostel I stayed in, plus I was sick.
I did meet a Norwegian guy who I seriously LOVED. Like, I think I fell in love with him. 😉 On my last night he had just checked into the hostel and I think we spoke non-stop for 3 hours. It’s too bad cause I’ll probs never see him again and we didn’t exchange information, but I defo had a crush upon leaving. 😉
The next day I got on a bus across Malaysia to the Perhentian islands. Since I technically only had 9 days in all of Malaysia, I had to decide between the Perhentian islands and Penang/Langkawi area. I chose the islands so I could go diving, but hopefully, I can go back and explore Penang area one day!
After about 6 hours on the bus and 30 mins on a boat, we made it to the Perhentians. On the bus and boat, I met a Swiss and English girl who I hung out with on the islands.
At first, I hated the Perhentians. I was sick, the accommodation sucked and it was raining. I thought I’d come to chill out and dive, but I couldn’t go outside and I couldn’t go diving cause I was sick. For the first two days I just hung around eating and reading and it was annoying and I was annoyed of being sick and annoyed of the rain and annoyed that there wasn’t an ATM on the island and I had barely any cash cause I forgot.
One day I said fuck it and booked a snorkel tour hoping that day the rain would stop. I was soooo lucky because it turned out to be a beautiful day! The sun came out and the water was insanely blue! We snorkeled all around and it was the best snorkeling I’ve ever done hands down! I saw about 50 nemo in a massive anemone and so many other amazing fish. It was almost better than going diving!
At one point I was separated from the group (my whole tour was comprised of Malaysians and they didn’t really snorkel they just floated in their life jackets in a group) so I went off on my own and saw a black tip reef shark!! I wasss soooo excited to see it! I was also freaked out even though I know they are harmless my heart skipped a beat.
It’s crazy cause Malaysians are predominately Muslim so they all swim with their full on clothing! I was the only one on the boat with a bikini and felt SUPER awkward haha. Everyone in Malaysia loved to secretly take photos of me as well. They think I don’t notice, but I always did…haha.
They day after snorkeling I still didn’t feel great and had a bad cough. I thought my ear wouldn’t equalize if I went diving. I decided to sign up anyway because it was my last day! Naughty. It ended up working fine! We did the temple of the sea dive site. It wasn’t great visibility at all, but I got t to see a yellow spotted sting ray and a puffer fish! Plus I got to go with my Swiss friend dive buddy and we had so much fun! I did get a black eye though from getting hit in the face from a Spanish dude’s oxygen gauge. It’s gone now though! 🙂
It was finally time to go back to Kuala Lumpur and the next day I got on the boat to grab the bus. When I got off the boat I realized I didn’t know where the bus station was and I only had 20 mins to catch my bus. Everyone pointed me in the direction, but my maps weren’t working and I thought I could walk. Then this guy on a motorbike asked if I wanted a ride and I said no I was walking. Then he came up again and said 3 Ringgit and I’ll drive you.
That’s about 60 cents USD, so without even thinking “oh this guy could be sketch” I got on his bike. He drove my right where I was supposed to go and was super nice. Sometimes I look back and think “wow that could have ended poorly”, but usually everything seems to work out and people are just really helpful in other countries.
I made to in on my bus and it legit took 9 HOURS and I wanted to die. Then I ate nasty food from the rest stops and couldn’t wait to get back to KL for the night. It just didn’t help that I was sick. I always get a bit homesick when I am. The next morning I had an early flight to Japan (thank god!) and flew for about 6 hours to arrive!
I’m currently on a flight to Italy after spending 4 1/2 months in Asia! I cannot even believe it. I’m going to miss Asia a lot, but am ready for the comforts of the Western world!
My next update will be about my month in Japan! It’s been INCREDIBLE and I recommend that everyone visits here at some point in their life!
Onto the next adventure in Italy with my family!! Follow my real-time adventures on my Instagram: @travelingspud or Snapchat: @kwilliams300