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In light of International Women’s Day which was yesterday, I wanted to write this post. Many people over the years have asked me who I find inspirational, and which women I look up to. My answer has evolved over the years, but one thing remains constant; the women I look up to are independent, strong, and amazing individuals.

In Madagascar, International Women’s Day is a big deal. It is referred to as Fety Vehivavy, or Women’s Holiday/Party. The women in my village talked about this day for months leading up to it; what events would take place and the parade that would happen. Hand in hand, it is just as important as Madagascar’s Independence Day. I observed, 364 days out the year, women being repressed into the shadows and afraid to speak their voices. I saw women just accept the sexual harassment and inappropriate gestures and behaviors by men in the country. But for one day a year, this was a day for them. Women in my village shut down their businesses, closed their doors. They walked down the street hand in hand with their fellow friends and family. They took part in the parade, proud to be a woman.

One day out of the year. Every day, I feel, should be International Women’s Day, or at least Women’s Day in general. On March 9th, I witnessed these same women step back into the roles society assigned to them. Seamstresses, cooks, homemakers. What happened to the girls that said they wanted to work in government, the women that wanted to open their own businesses with their own money? They were there, still present in the village, but hid their ambitions.

One of my biggest regrets for my Peace Corps experience was not participating in GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Camp. I worked predominantly with men, and I didn’t make the time to participate in what would have been an amazing teaching and learning experience. I heard stories of other volunteers having enlightening experiences from bringing a handful of girls from their community to this camp and letting them interact with girls from other villages, empowering each other. If I could do it again, I would care less about my perception and the nervousness that overtakes me, and more about what I was trying to achieve. I fought for gender equality in other, but more discreet ways, but the widespread knowledge and understanding the community had for GLOW because it was hosted every year, makes it one of those things that I’d wish I had done.

From Eleanor Roosevelt and the strength she embodied to Hilary Clinton and the boundaries she has pushed as Secretary of State and a Presidential Candidate, there are many women today that deserve recognition. If you were to ask me today who I find inspirational, my answer would “anyone that stands up for the rights of women and equality across all genders.” That doesn’t necessarily just mean women, but rather both men and women.

Last year, Emma Watson made a spectacular speech at the UN for HeForShe, an organization that seeks for men and women to support each other in the fight for gender equality. Just yesterday, she held another press conference about HeForShe and what she wants see done for the movement. She is one of the women I look up to now. She is using the fame and recognition she got from the franchise she is known so well for to do good.

The fight for gender equality is not just a woman’s fight, but a fight for all. It’s about not seeing men as weak for showing emotions. It’s about seeing everyone, regardless of what parts you have as an equal in today’s world. That men and women deserve the same pay. That women shouldn’t be pitied and babied because they are seen as emotionally and physically weaker. So ask me again who I find inspirational. I find the over 250,000 men who have taken the pledge to fight gender equality as an inspiration.

Bangkok is city of 7-Elevens and tons and tons of people. Most people stop in Bangkok to enjoy the nightlife and as a home base for short trips outside of the city but still within Thailand. The main reason for my travel party and I to stop for a few nights in Bangkok was to get our Vietnam Visas. Unless you apply in your home country and know exactly what days you will be in Vietnam, getting a visa can be a little difficult. For most backpackers, all you know is your departure and return date to your country of record. For everything else, you go with the flow. You can have ideas of where you want to go and when, but a majority of the time, when you get to a destination, you barely even know what you are going to do the next day. Typically, you check into your hostel and meet fellow travelers, and from that, you get advice on what to see not only at your current location, but also in your future travels.

My friends and I had a set schedule. We knew exactly where we were going and when. I still considered us backpackers because we didn’t know our program of activities and we traveled on significant budgets, using public transportation, and traveling through and staying at hostels. Two of us had our visas, but Amy and I had also been working overseas for the past two years, so applying for a visa in Madagascar wasn’t an option.

We arrived in Bangkok after a little longer than expected overnight train from Chiang Mai. It wasn’t significantly late, but it did throw a wrench in our plans that we wanted to get our passport visas the day we arrived. By the time we got to the hostel, checked in, and delivered our luggage, the cut off for next day processing had already passed. We had factored in an extra day for official travel documents so we just rearranged our program of activities.

For Vietnam visas, you must apply at the Vietnam Embassy in Bangkok. If your next destination is Cambodia, you can apply in Phnom Penh, but if you are just passing through, you won’t have enough time to get it approved. Bangkok is your last chance. Getting to the Embassy can be a little confusing. If you are coming from the Phloen Chit BTS Station, it isn’t well marked. Make sure you take Exit 2 that will spit you out next to the Mahatun Plaza. Keep walking down that road and on the corner of Phloen Chit and Wireless is the Embassy. There is no sign hanging over the tourist entrance, but the door is protruding on the corner of the building, nearly perpendicular to the street, with blue walls on the interior. Honestly, follow the tourists and most likely the line. You won’t miss it.

As for prices, they vary. On multiple websites, it’s listed as follows:

1800 baht for four business days

2300 baht for next day

2800 baht for same day

I personally paid for next day and paid 3300 baht, so just make sure you have enough cash on you to pay a little extra. 5000 should be a safe amount.

Unless you are waiting at the Embassy first thing before they even open, you will most likely not get your passport back for same day processing. My friends and I arrived at 9am and barely made it for next day processing since the line was so long and next day processing requests have to be submitted before they close at 1030. Remember that while you might be on a go with the flow mental attitude, businesses in Thailand typically are not, so if you have a strict schedule you have to follow, don’t take chances with running late. You also have to leave your passport there for processing, you cannot leave the Bangkok area, but there is plenty to see in town.

Bangkok is home to the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace was the official residence of previous Kings until 1925, and since then has been preserved as a national monument. The size alone is a little overwhelming. The number of people is even more such. It doesn’t seem that the Palace has a capacity, but rather allows anyone that pays the admission price to come through the gates. If you’re looking for raw tourism, the Grand Palace is not the place to visit. However, if you’re looking for some of the most gorgeous buildings plated in gold and precious stones, then the Grand Palace is a place to visit. You can spend anywhere between a few hours to your entire day there, so plan accordingly. Make sure you visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to see just that, the Emerald Buddha. Cameras are not allowed within the temple, but you can still admire it while taking in the rest of the décor.

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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha

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The Emerald Buddha (sans flash) taken from outside, from the steps

Around the corner from the Grand Palace is Wat Pho. If you can, it would be productive to see them in the same day. Proximity. Wat Pho is where the 46 meter long Resting Buddha lies. No pun intended. You will have to take your shoes off to enter, so make sure you wear socks or are completely fine with walking around bare foot and possibly contracting Athlete’s Foot. There is something to see at every angle, intricate details even on the backside. All in all, an hour would be the right amount of time to allot to this visit.

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If you are traveling to Cambodia, it is cheaper to travel on your own. By taking the train from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, tuk-tuking to the border, and walking across, you save a considerable amount of money. We met people at the border who paid 3000 baht to be driven to Siem Riep. We paid 50 baht for the train and 100 baht for the tuk-tuk. There are two trains: 5:55am and 1:30pm. It should take a little over five and half hours to arrive at the border. But, as you will come to know, unless you are traveling in countries with great infrastructure and set transportation schedules, you are going to be late. A couple of hours late. If you plan to take the afternoon train, make sure you have all of your transportation mapped out. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the border, and not knowing how to get to your destination. Once you get into Cambodia, you have to find your own transportation to Siem Reap. This is the place to be careful about scams. A lot of people will promise to drive you for a certain amount of money and then not deliver you to where they were supposed to. Check with your hotel or hostel before leaving Bangkok. A majority will set up a private car to pick you up at the border, regardless of what time you arrive and drop you off at the hotel.

I really wish we had a little more time in Bangkok to enjoy the overpopulated city and see all of the sites. To enjoy the free museum at the end of the BTS line near the Vietnam Embassy. To see a few more temples. To find the large market. To maybe take a few days and travel down to Phuket, or out of Bangkok to another destination. But we had a schedule to keep to and the best of our trip was to come. Cambodia was the country we were all looking forward to, especially Angkor Wat. Two countries down, two to go.

As the countdown to tonight’s Victoria Secret Fashion Show begins, I can’t help but revisit how much has changed over the past decade. I remember being partially disgusted by how much hype there was come every year for the VS Fashion Show. I didn’t see the appeal. Why would I want to watch women parade around in lingerie? It went against everything I had studied and worked for in life, and I considered it demeaning to women who were working so hard to break the glass ceilings.

Maybe it was my experiences in Peace Corps, where the showing of skin eluded to you being a prostitute. Or maybe it was because I started actually considering both sides of everything and realizing what is my voice and what was the voice of peer pressure, but I have come to respect these women. To have the confidence in their appearance and body to be able to walk down a runway that is being televised to millions of people takes a lot of strength. Strength that I don’t have, as well as a majority of the female population in the United States.

My generation lives in a world of peer pressure and low self esteem. You can never be pretty enough. There is always something to fix or work on. I see so many more children bullied today in schools then when I went to school. But I also see many people more vocal about it. Celebrities are starting to become more open about their own experiences and are becoming positive role models for their fans.

Last year was the first year I watched the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. Ever. I was 24 years old. I had spent the later part of 10 years being strongly opposed to something that I hadn’t even watched to be able to pass judgement. I wasn’t very content about watching it either. I remember being in the transit house for Peace Corps and everyone asked if I had seen it. I gave them a puzzled look and spit out three words: “of course not.” I thereafter fell to the peer pressure of my friends to watch it and we huddled around around a small computer streaming it from youtube.

My preconceptions were shattered when it started. It wasn’t just girls walking down the runway in high heels wearing practically nothing. There was behind the scenes and backstage footage of the models. Who they are. What they stand for. They talked about the pressure of the job. How one photo on social media could make or break their career. I had always seen them as Barbie doll plastics that just wanted to show off their bodies and were just plain “Mean Girls.” Surprise! They were humans. They dealt with body issues, were spokespeople for organizations that meant a lot to them, and were hurt by the mean comments of people so anti what they did for a living.

Over the past year, I have watched them on various social media sites. I have learned more about what makes them people, and each time, their untouchable perfect image slowly melts away. If after dealing with the same issues you and I deal with, they can get up, and continue their jobs, I look up to them. Come 10pm tonight, I will be tuning in with millions of other people, watching them do what they do best while thinking “if only I had that confidence.”

Surprisingly, with all the chaos around the missing flight of MH370, Kuala Lumpur’s airport was very calm and operating normally. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Chiang Mai, Thailand was a little over three hours, and very comfortable. This may be associated with the fact that the flight attendant asked me to move to another row, one with no passengers in it. Immediately after takeoff, I proceeded to enjoy the space until I heard the “please prepare for landing” speech from the captain and the flight attendants.

It really is hard to say what part of my trip was my favorite, but my time in Chiang Mai was right up there. For being an international destination, Chiang Mai is a very quant town that is bustling with attractions to keep you entertained. Chiang Mai is divided into two parts, the city within the river, what was previously a mote and runs as a square around the central part, and the city outside of it. Inside the river is what I like to call Temple City. It seems like on every corner there is a temple to go into, explore, and be amazed by its beauty. Two things to note about the temples of Chiang Mai: don’t forget to abide by the rules of respect when visiting them. This means no shoulders showing, and no knees showing. Dress moderately. Just wear what you would to a conservative church. The other thing is don’t feel you have to visit every single one. You can very easily be overloaded by temples and not want to visit any more as your backpacking travels continue. My friends and I unfortunately fell victim to that. We were so excited to be in Chiang Mai that we visited too many temples too fast and found ourselves “templed out” by the time we reached Bangkok.

If I had to choose three temples to recommend in Chiang Mai, here’s what I would say. Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is a must. It is a half day or day trip outside of Chiang Mai, and make sure you take your motion sickness pills before leaving because that road is rough. I would know. I had to stop the car because I couldn’t handle all of its curves. Just beware. Besides that, this temple is breathtaking, its spire in particular. Completely plated by gold, it can actually make your eyes advert from staring straight at it because it is reflects the sun so much. Wat Chiang Man is the next. This is a less visited temple, but if you happen to stumble upon it, it is worth the visit. It is preserved nicely and doesn’t have the normal glitz and glam of the other temples around the city. That’s what I like the most about this temple. It’s beautiful and small without really trying. My final recommendation is Wat Chedi Luang. Unfortunately, my friends and I never made it to the spire, but the temple and alter within it are both jaw dropping and after seeing pictures of the spire, I know that would have been too. It is on a large property which makes it very popular with tourists, but it doesn’t take away from the experience.

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 The spire at Doi Suthep

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Wat Chiang Man

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Wat Chedi Luang

 

Another reason people come to Chiang Mai is for the elephants. There are so many different options for elephant experiences. It’s hard to make a choice on which one to do. My friends and I tried to sit down and pick a company that did not mistreat their elephants. Baan Chang Elephant Park is what we decided. It cannot be for certain that the elephants are not mistreated, but it was our best option, and while we were there, we did not see anything that was outright hurting to the elephants. They will pick you up at your hotel, hostel, or wherever you are staying and transport you to the park. (on a side note, if you’re looking to splurge and sleep in some of the most comfortable beds ever, Raming Lodge is the one for you while in Chiang Mai.) Jimmie was our ‘handler’ and he was one of the funniest and most enjoyable tour guides we had the entire trip.

For the first hour, we walked around and fed the elephants sugarcane. We were allowed to pet them and interact with them. Jimmie had one of the baby elephants give us kisses which feels like a vacuum getting stuck on your neck. We then spent the next two hours training on commands for when we ride the elephants. The commands escape my mind right now, but they were the traditional commands you would teach your dog—stop, go, left, right, down, up. We practiced getting on and off the training elephant before we ventured onto the trails with our elephants. Amy and I were elephant buddies, each taking turns being the rider and the passenger. Elephants are really not that comfortable. Being such large animals, it becomes uncomfortable to sit on them. Not to mention their hair, while it looks soft and puppylike, is actually very rough and scratchy. But they’re really gentle creatures and riding them was an experience I will always remember. You end the experience by bathing your elephant in the pond, and they are not shy elephants. They have as much fun as their riders.

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Five days in Chiang Mai was enough to really experience this small city and everything it has to offer. It’s spectacular night market, the upscale market of jade, silver, and silk, and the many many massage parlors that offer traditional Thai massages and on the sidewalk fish pedicures.

Our next stop was Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. We took the overnight train down, and woke up to the sound of the train horn as we entered Bangkok. It was my birthday weekend and I had some fun times in store.

I was on the Jodi Picoult train before there really was one. Before Cameron Diaz stared in the movie adaption of My Sister’s Keeper. Before Ellen DeGeneres bought the rights to Sing You Home. Definitely before The Storyteller gained so much publicity for Jodi. Ironic enough, the first book I read of Jodi’s was My Sister’s Keeper. Note that, however, the book came out in 2004 and the movie in 2009. The only reason I picked up the book in the first place was because I stumbled across it in the clearance section of Barnes and Noble. But the story of Anna and Kate and Anna’s fight for medical emancipation kept me wanting more; and buying more.

One of the reasons I am so protective of Jodi Picoult and her works when my friends or acquaintances judge her is the fact that after JK Rowling, I struggled to find an author that really persuaded me to pick up a book and read. I was that child—not that 14 would really be considered a child nowadays—that had to be given mandatory reading time every night because I would rather do the alternative; sit in front of a small television screen and absorb copious amounts of information that would most likely do me no good in the future. I didn’t have an interest in reading. I account this to the association I had of books with school assignments; books I did not want to read in the first place. Why read for pleasure when I was being bombarded with reading questions and essays for school assignments? Thanks, but no thanks. I have enough trouble trying to find the symbolism. With Jodi’s books, however, I was intrigued.

Intrigued by everything. By her stories. By her courage to write about what she does. By her humbleness no matter how much publicity and fans she has gained over the years. I remember a few years back, at one of her book signings, Jodi mentioned to her audience that she would never be one of those record breaking authors because of the topics she writes about. In my personal opinion however, that’s why she such the large fan base that she does. She doesn’t shy away from writing about things that are considered taboo to bring up at the dinner table. The death penalty, gay marriage, and pulling the plug on life support. I applaud her for that. And with that, she also touches on the emotionally draining subjects of a high school shooting, raising a child with special needs, a survivor of the Holocaust, being in a mentally abusive relationship, and the likes; very touchy subjects to write about and get right. But if we’re being honest again like I have been this entire piece, that was why I bought book after book of hers.

Her books capture both sides of the story. She writes from the different perspectives of different characters, on both sides of the argument. She can take on the personas of a male within a coma to a fictional character of her fictional character and make them seem so realistic. That everything could actually happen. That it is truly acceptable to believe a storybook could come to life and the fairy tale character is rationally able to communicate with a person in society. To that, I owe her daughter credit as well. They co-wrote it.

I don’t claim to be a great writer. This opinion piece probably has so many grammatical and flow errors that it shows just that. But the one thing that I do have is the inspiration to write. What’s on my mind. The random stories that I create in the chaos of my brain. Realistically, the things that I write and publish will never see the light of day past the few subscribers on my website, but I write for no one but myself. I owe Jodi Picoult for that. Her determination and dedication to writing about things that I wish I had the guts to inspires me to get my voice out there, whether it actually reaches someone or not. Thank you Jodi for being my role model, even though you may not know that you are.

I leave with this quote from her latest published book, The Storyteller: “Fiction comes in all shapes and sizes. Secrets, lies, stories. We all tell them. Sometimes, because we hope to entertain. Sometimes, because we need to distract. And sometimes, because we have to.”

When planning our trip across Southeast Asia on our way home to the United States, Amy and I sat down and looked through the guide books to see what we would want to do. The entire point to making the voyage out to the Borneo Island for us was Sandakan. Sandakan is small oceanside city on the Malaysian side of the island that is the transit point to Sepilok, the home of the Sun Bear Sanctuary and Orangutan Rehabilitation Center.

I remember the moment that Amy and I got off the plane and were waiting in the taxi line and an elderly tourist stopped me.

“Excuse me miss? Can you tell me why there are so many young individuals flying to here?” he asked me.

“There’s an Orangutan Center thirty minutes away from here,” I responded back.

“Oh….I thought it was something more exciting,” and with that he turned and walked away.

More exciting? What can be more exciting than visiting a center that is only one of four in the world? The world, people!

Sepilok is an easy taxi ride from the airport. We discovered early on in our travels, that when having to take public transportation, it was typically easier to take a taxi, then local buses. Not only in efficiency, but because with local buses, you have to change buses to get almost anywhere. It is also really convenient, and overall, not that expensive. At any airport, you go to the taxi window, tell the attendant where you are going, they charge you a cost, you pay, and then you give the ticket to taxi driver when you go outside. It prevents greatly from the taxi drivers scamming you by running up the meter, if it even has a meter.

There is no dirt cheap place to stay in Sepilok. The luxury hotels monopolize the area, but the Long House offers a somewhat inexpensive accommodation. Food however, good luck. Look to be spending US prices eating the simplest meals on the menu. That’s just the way it is. The hotels are the only option for eating.

The Orangutan Rehabilitation Center is open all day for hiking, but there are only two feedings to see the orangutans, 10am and 3pm. If you want the best value for the ticket price, go to watch both feedings. If you have two days in Sepilok and you won’t make the first feeding for the first day, put it off and go to the Sun Bear Sanctuary instead. Right across the street, and pushed out of the limelight because of the orangutans is the sanctuary where the world’s smallest bear lives, and they are worth the visit. They are some of the cutest animals I have ever seen, and they climb trees! We spent three hours without even knowing it watching them climb up and down trees.

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Apart from the Sun Bears and Orangutans, Sepilok is also home to the Rainforest Education Center, a great place to take a hike and bird watch if you have extra time, and learn about the plants that call Malaysia home. But beware of the humidity and the leeches! They’ll get you every time.

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 Amy and I spent a total of two nights in Sepilok, and left the morning of the third day to our final Malaysian destination, Kuala Lumpur. We had intentions to make the trip to Kuala Selangor to experience the fireflies, but with traffic getting back into Kuala Lumpur from the airport, we missed the last bus out, meaning an extra night in Kuala Lumpur, doubling our time in there. We ended up staying at The Pod Hostel, one of the coolest hostels I stayed in the entire trip. The dorm rooms were the same, but the individual room we slept in the first night since nothing in the dorms were available was very “pod”esc, something I enjoyed.

The reason we only allotted two days to Kuala Lumpur was mainly because it was just a stopping point on the way to Thailand. We did want to visit the Batu Caves and two friends from our Peace Corps group were in town as well, so our days were planned, and only two were needed.

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Everyone that travels through Malaysia has heard of the Batu Caves. It is a religious sight, known for its tall statue guarding the stairs and the entrance of the cave. It too can be easily reached by the local metro system, costing roughly $4 round trip, dropping you off right at the entrance. It would be beneficial to do some cardio in the days leading up because those steps will definitely cause you to be winded by the time your reach the top. You can be blessed at any one of the temples, giving a dollar or two donation in return. I have never liked when people make a religious site a tourist trap by ‘selling’ the experience, but Batu Caves does it in a very classy way. Monks are walking about, using the grounds to further their faiths, and overall, tourists are very respectful of what areas are designated tourist and what remain for their original purpose.

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Petronas Twin Towers, also in KL

Malaysia was a whirlwind of 7 days and a lot was accomplished in that time. There was little time to relax, but rather take in the sights, and the rest of our trip would be the same as well. On to Thailand, starting with a flight into Chiang Mai.

When you join Peace Corps, you are bitten by the travel bug. You want to go everywhere, see everything, and experience it all. I traveled through four different countries on my way home after finishing my service. First stop was Malaysia. It was a bit unfortunate that I visited the country a mere month after the Malaysia Air flight went missing after takeoff. That was all anyone could converse about. I was even a little hesitant myself to get on a plane when more than 5 countries and 13 military ships couldn’t find the wreckage of the plane that supposedly went down. With that being said, I tried to not let the conspiracy bring down the expectations I had for traveling. A little easier said than done. The nearly two months of traveling involved 9 flights. I took one flight at a time, and enjoyed the each destination reminding myself nothing ever comes from being worried.

If you know me, you know I have everything planned out. I want to know where I’m going, and when I’m going to get there. Something I didn’t research, that now I look back and realize I should have, was airports. I assumed that when you arrived into one airport and you have a connecting flight in the same city, you just need to walk to the gate…wrong. Note to any backpackers who might be traveling through Southeast Asia, or more importantly Kuala Lumpur, and happens to stumble across this post, there are TWO airports. One for any international flight and one for regional transportation/Air Asia. They are not in the same airport, and more detrimental, they are not close to each other. I allowed two hours in between arriving in Kuala Lumpur and catching a flight to Kota Kinabalu. I believe a little over one hour before our flight was supposed to take off, a nice gentleman told us that we needed to get to another airport, 30 minutes away. Queue panic mode.

Air Asia terminals are laid out strangely. They screen your bag before you get to the counter. You check in online, preferably twenty four hours prior to your flight, which is when your seat is assigned unless you pay the extra few dollars to pick your own seat. I have also noticed that when you fly with Air Asia, the first seat they assign you tends to be the seat whereabouts you are assigned for the rest of your travels. I never sat in a row less than 22 which my friend always seemed to be sitting around row 9. When we arrived, t-minus 30 minutes to the terminal, we rushed through the lines trying to get through security before our plane took off. Success!
After a short three hour flight to the island of Borneo, we landed at our first destination, Kota Kinabalu. After checking into our hostel, we went searching for food, and our first meal outside of Madagascar ended up being chicken livers and rice. We found some small hole in the wall place right around the corner from our hostel, and the cravings for rice lead us into this little establishment. Filled with Malay individuals who all gave us a puzzle luck as to why two Americans were eating there, we ate our meal, discussing that although we may have left Madagascar, we never really left our picked up habits.

The entire reason for visiting Kota Kinabalu is to climb Mt. Kinabalu and visit Tunku Abdul Rahman Park second. In order to climb Mt. Kinabalu you need a climbing permit and reservation, something we didn’t get, so that was out. Second choice, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park. A national park of four islands, it is a relaxing place to snorkel and enjoy the ocean. Tour companies will try to sell you a package tour for nearly triple the price of what you would to walk down to the port and buy the boat hopper ticket and snorkels yourself. Backpackers are all about pinching pennies, so walking and figuring out the program yourself means adding a nice meal to your schedule later on. When visiting islands however, make sure you mind the hundreds and hundreds of jelly fish that hang out on the shoreline.

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Kota Kinabalu also has an amazing food night market, one of the best I saw in the two months traveling. Descriptions can’t even do it justice. Just look at the photos. Fresh fish and seafood, coconuts, and very hospitable people working the stations.
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(photo creds to Amy Wallace)

There are so many tours taking off from Kota Kinabalu to other locations. We opted to see the summit of Mt. Kinabalu and the Poring Hot Springs for our last day in town. The massive size of Mt. Kinabalu alone was worth the trip, but personally, I felt Poring Hot Springs was completely overrated. It had been commercialized to the point that it lost its raw tourism aspect and felt more like a water park than anything. For those that want to really “experience” the island, I don’t think I would ever recommend it as a destination. For a family outing, it would be perfect. But if you do end up venturing out that direction, you can get a free pedicure in the waterfall behind the rope bridge at Poring from the little fishes that eat dead skin.

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Kota Kinabalu was a fast first stop on the two month adventure, stay tuned for part two: Sepilok and Kuala Lumpur.

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