A Reflective Day at Sky Mirror Beach (Malaysia)

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Feeling enchanted at Sky Mirror Beach, Kuala Selangor.

In Malaysia, there is a magical beach that will display a perfect image of your reflection in the water during certain times of the day due to the low tide.  Kuala Selangor Beach, better known as Sky Mirror Beach, is a natural phenomena that attracts many creative photographers and those who wish to see this rare occurrence.

Though the official website states that you can only see this twice a month during the full moon and new moon phases, you can actually see it daily with the assistance of lighting.  At times the beach is completely submerged underwater and appears uncharted, which is why it is required that you book a tour to go to Sky Mirror Beach.  The beach is quite remote and requires a speedboat trip to reach it, but once there you can take in all of its rare beauty!

I booked my tour through Veltra, and I found the tour to be overall satisfactory.  Though I road the speedboat with a group of people, I had my own private driver to the pier that was included in the price.  He picked me up right from my hostel and got me there early so I could relax for a bit.  Once arriving at the beach, they will also help you take pictures with optimal lighting.  I brought my portable tripod, but they had light boxes set up on the beach already.  You are free to walk around and explore the beach on your own too.  Though it’s not really ideal for swimming, there are a lot of interesting sea snails and tiny crabs you can see (and they’re harmless).

Overall, most tour packages are about $100 to see this beach, but I think the experience is worth it.  The trip includes snacks, water, and transportation to an extremely rare area of the country from central Kaula Lumpur, so I think it’s justified.  I’m not sure where else in the world I can see a magical beach like this, so I’m happy that I took this opportunity!

Exploring Kuala Lumpur: Temples, Caves, and Chinatown

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The city of Kuala Lumpur comes alive at night.

Malaysia is a country where you can find an abundance of places such as remote beaches, penthouses with infinity pools, markets, skyscrapers, temples, and more amazing architecture.  I loved the diversity that the city of Kuala Lumpur had to offer.  Though the center of the city is quite fancy, the country itself is actually very affordable to travel in, making it a popular destination for backpackers.  I traveled here via bus for three days after exploring Singapore, and was extremely happy with all the sights I was able to see.

I recommend staying at least three days in KL to make sure you have time to see everything.  Much of the city is reachable on foot or via train, but since it was cheap I used the Grab app to call taxis around the city.  With the tropical weather, delicious food, and affordable accommodations, you really can’t go wrong traveling here!  Here are the places that I definitely recommend seeing:

Petaling Street & Chinatown

The Chinatown district of KL is always very lively and has a ton of cultural aspects to enjoy.  When exploring a new country, my strategy is always to usually start with the local market to see what the downtown area was like.  That is why I chose to come here early in the day, though most places are usually open until around 11pm or later.  The market on Petaling Street had an array of knockoff handbags and interesting items.  I managed to score a seemingly authentic-looking Ted Baker bag for less than $50.  Prices here are open to negotiation, and I recommend that you look around!

If you’re not into shopping. there is still a lot to see around this area because it’s very close to KL’s central transit station.  I explored the local Sri Mahamariamman Temple, which is the oldest Hindu temple in the city.  I also got some local street food that tasted amazing!  I recommend that you try the local fried rice dishes and curry here.

I also tried “ABC Ice”, which is a very unique Malaysian spin on shaved ice:

The top of it tasted like traditional shaved ice you find in Japan–it was topped with condensed milk which made it extremely sweet and delicious.  However, at the bottom it was filled with jelly cubes, sweet beans, and this mysterious green noodle sweet I had never tasted before!  It was refreshing, but the texture of the toppings they placed at the bottom as a bit too much for me…  However, I was happy that I tried it!

The Batu Caves

The Batu Caves is a beautiful area with rainbow stairs leading to a limestone cave with temples inside.  There are actually a total of five caves, but the central ones with the golden statue of Lord Murugan are the most frequented.  Though the hill looks steep, it actually only takes approximately 8 minutes to climb.  The caves are extremely gorgeous, and this trip is a relaxing escape from the city that only takes approximately 30 minutes to reach.  I enjoyed sipping on some fresh coconut juice while going on this short hike.  To reach the Dark Cave, it is required you book a tour, but you can see the majority of the area without one.

Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers are an iconic landmark of KL and are currently the tallest twin towers in the world.  At night they light up and you can find groups of people gathered around them because they are in the heart of the city.  When you first enter them, you will find an upscale shopping district called Suria KLCC.  However, on the 41st and 42nd floor, you will find the skybridge that connects the two towers.  You can go up to the top and take some stunning photos.  This is an ingenious design because it saves a ton of time walking through here rather than from one building to the other.  This very well could be the future of architecture!

Bukit Bintang

Bukit Bintang is the main bar street of KL, and there’s a lot of adventures to be had here!  Though I only had two nights to explore it, I came across this upscale Asian bistro called Opium that I really enjoyed.  They had a ton of Asian cuisine (Thai, Maylasian, Japanese, Vietnamese), as well as some fascinating cocktails.  I tried the spiced rum and coffee cocktails.  Though they were a bit pricey, just two of them got me pretty tipsy.

I then briefly popped into the club called Zion (Sieg Zion)!  The pro was that it was free, the con was that it played mainly American hiphop music with no variety, but I was bought a handful of drinks by locals so it was a night well spent.  The club was big enough to dance, and I’m curious to know what the music selection is like on other nights.

Final Thoughts

Though this might not be the first trip on your itinerary, as someone who’s lived in Asia for a while, I can definitely say traveling here is like a breath of fresh air.  The country is extremely safe, and I enjoyed experiencing the culture of the people that live here.  It feels familiar because everyone speaks English, but also extremely foreign at the same time.  The biggest culture shock for me was that people eat rice with their bare hands!  However, people were extremely polite and kind to me, and it reminded me of Thailand at times.  Please consider taking a trip here.

 

Staying at a Backpacker’s Penthouse in Malaysia

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Ever heard of infinity pools?  Though the sleek concept involving cityscapes and a seemingly endless body of water is popular in some countries, coming from Tokyo, it was a brand new experience for me.  After exploring some remote beaches in Mersing and near Singapore, I took a 6 hour bus ride to Malaysia’s bustling metropolis; Kaula Lumpur, and stayed in a penthouse with other backpackers for the duration of my trip.  During this time I connected with other people from around the world that I’ll never forget.

After browsing a few places online, I settled on Sky Society, a backpacker’s penthouse boasting both a high quality stay and a stunning rooftop infinity pool.  I figured I’d have to try staying in a penthouse at least once in my life, and with dorm prices going as low as $15 per night, who could complain?

My stay there was incredible.  The Regalia Tower in which Sky Society is located has high security making you feel safe at all times, and it feels like a homestay because the hosts take extremely good care of you.  There’s free breakfast every morning, plus they have clean private showers.  Despite staying in the cheapest dorm room, everyone was quiet and respectful of one another.  However, I was able to socialize with other backpackers out on the balcony even after midnight and that’s where I met some of my best friends on this trip.  No matter how social you want to be, you can have a great time here.  Did I mention the pool?

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View from my penthouse room in Sky Society.

That just shows the basic swimming pool.  Here’s the grand infinity pool on the top floor:

It was a bit narrow, but the breathtaking view made up for it.  You can see all of the most iconic buildings, including the Petronas Towers, from this pool.  The number of people up here was just right too.  There’s a minibar, though I recommend pregaming in your room first like I did.  Overall, this is an experience that I think everyone should have.  I will be writing about exploring the city of Kuala Lumpur next.

Exploring the Remote Beaches of Mersing (Malaysia)

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Chasing after Malaysian skies in my Orient shirt.

During my aesthetic adventures in Singapore, I decided to take a side trip to Malaysia via bus and see some of its beautiful remote beaches.  This meant waking up before 6:30am and riding a 6 hour bus from central Singapore to Mersing, but the experience I had made it worth it!  The bus was air-conditioned, and getting through customs early in the morning meant we didn’t have to wait as long.  Singapore’s Sentosa Island has a number of gorgeous beaches, but the ones in Mersing have the essence of unspoiled beauty.

I decided to book a $28 bus through Easy Book online to get to Mersing, Malaysia, and then took a private boat tour through Let’s Go Island Tours for 450 Ringgit to see the islands.  This price was actually a bit cheaper than what I paid for private boat tours in Thailand, and includes some of the same activities like scuba diving and sightseeing.  If you get to Mersing early enough, you can take a group boat tour for a much cheaper price.  Since I was going to central Malaysia later that night and didn’t have a lot of time, I opted for a private tour.

The private boat I rode was only myself and the captain, so it was quite the adventure!  A light storm was approaching so the waves made the boat a bit rocky, but the captain expertly navigated the waters.  Our first destination was Lang Tengah Island, where I stopped for Pina Coladas and got to see the Batu Batu Resort area.  It was quite beautiful, but the beachfront was actually very small and the weather conditions made it difficult for swimming.  However, I still enjoyed walking around and seeing the beach huts and palm trees.  I even saw a baby lizard!

After spending about an hour here, the captain took me to another beach at Besar Island behind the resort area that was completely private.  It looked like something out of a movie or anime, and I had it all to myself!

Swimming here was definitely the experience of a lifetime.  You can see in the third picture that the sky is dark because the storm was approaching, but I fortunately had over 2 hours to swim and explore this beach.  The tour was extremely laid back and I could choose where I wanted to be.  I was so happy to spend some time alone (besides the captain) on this island!

The interesting thing about Mersing is boats don’t always leave exactly on time; the boat companies all pay close attention to the tide and then set the departure time.  Due to this factor, I would recommend staying 2-3 days on these islands so you have enough time to see them.  I was able to see a lot on my private tour, but I wished I could have additionally seen Tioman or Rawa Island, which are extremely popular to stay at.

When it started to rain, we headed back to the Mersing Harbor where I waited for my bus to Kuala Lumpur.  This was yet another 6 hours bus ride that I booked through RedBus for $15, but I ended up having it all to myself!  I don’t recommend booking 2 buses in one day because it’s a lot of travel and it’s nicer to stay on an island in Mersing, but I was on a tight schedule.  If I come back here again, I will be sure to take more time in this area.

In the end, the driver dropped me off right at my hostel and I got to see a lot of Malaysia!  We went from the border of Singapore, all the way up to Kuala Lumpur.  The scenery went from monkeys on the side of the road to bright flashing lights in the center of the city.  It felt great to be in a foreign world once again!

Aesthetic Adventures in Singapore

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Singapore as it appears in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Starting this Thursday, I will be taking a six day backpacking trip through Singapore from Tokyo, and also visiting Malaysia!  I chose Singapore as my next destination because it is a highly condensed city with futuristic garden displays, beautiful man-made beaches, and unique food, so it’s been on my travel list for quite a while.

During my recent trip to Hokkaido, I met a traveling couple from central Singapore and they inspired me to come here myself.  I think the people and culture of this country are extremely kind so I’m excited to learn more about them on my trip.  The best thing about this country is you can see all of the major attractions on foot or via train due to its small size.  It also is extremely English-friendly and has a low crime rate, as well as being welcoming to international tourists.

Another perk of visiting Singapore is that you can easily book a cheap bus to Malaysia, and flights between the two countries are as low as $48.  The downside will be the extremely hot temperature, but I plan on wearing a light jacket and sunblock to protect my skin.  I am most excited to see the Merlion Statue!

My planned itinerary (so far) is listed below:

Tokyo → Singapore & Sentosa Island → Mersing (Malaysia) → Rawa Island → Kuala Lumpur → Mirror Beach → Singapore → Tokyo

Aug 1st: Arriving to Singapore

I booked a $500 flight to Singapore in June departing a little after 5pm from Narita Airport through Delta Airlines.  I plan on playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses during the long 6 hour flight.  I will arrive to Singapore around midnight and be staying at the sci-fi themed Spacepod Capsule Hotel!  I’m already excited for this next big adventure!

Aug 2nd: Exploring Temples, Galleries, and Clubs

As soon as I wake up and finish my daily run, I plan on heading straight to the Merlion Statue to get some pictures with it!  People say it’s extremely small in person, but that doesn’t damper my enthusiasm for it.  I still think it’s cute!  From there I plan on walking to some of the nearby temples and landmarks including Thian Hock Keng Temple, the Abdul Gaffoor Mosque, and stopping at the Gudetama Cafe for dessert.  If I have time to see both the National Gallery Singapore and Art Science Museum, I definitely will, as well as try some street food on the way!  My aim for the first day is mostly walking around and getting acquainted with the atmosphere of this new country.

At night I definitely want to visit the Gardens at the Bay!  The futuristic neon lights and expansive greenhouses look amazing!  There’s also a ton of nightlife in this area.  I plan on checking out the videogame-themed Nineteen80 bar first.  According to the reviews, it’s awesome and I think I’ll very much enjoy the retro aspect of it it.  There’s also a Korean bistro called Don’t Tell Mama that I’m excited to go to!  Despite the name, I know my mother will eventually find out I’m there through social media…  So I might as well enjoy it!  I’m excited to try their shochu cocktails and also check out some nearby dance clubs!  This should be an extremely exciting first night full of crazy memories.

Aug 3rd: Sentosa Island

Before I hit the beach, I plan on checking out both the Harry Potter Cafe and the Durian Cafe for my daily dose of aesthetic food.  After I’m fully satisfied, I’ll ride the skyline from central Singapore to explore the exciting Sentosa island.  Here I will sunbathe on Palawan Beach which resembles the Caribbean with its white sand and tropical trees!  There’s a total of three beaches here and I hope to go swimming at them all since this island is also small and very walkable.

Sentosa also has Universal Studies, an aquarium, wildlife centers, and many bars and resorts so there’s a lot to do!  I hope to enjoy the attractions here as much as I did in Thailand.  Either way, I will definitely enjoy being on the beach again!  The beaches in Japan just don’t compare.

Aug 4th: Rawa Island

Rawa Island is a beautiful private island in Malaysia which is an extremely popular day trip from Singapore, so I decided to go here!

From the Golden Mile Tower in Singapore, I booked a $28 bus through Easy Book that leaves at 6:30am (ouch), and arrives at the Mersing ferry port of Malaysia before noon.  From there, I will purchase a ferry ticket directly to Rawa Island.  According to what I’ve read online, ferries depart every 1-2 hours depending on the tide.

Once I arrive to the island, I plan to go swimming and also rent some snorkeling gear.  I hear there are water slides here as well, so I really want to try them out!  Essentially this will be my relaxation day.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate too!

At 5:30, I booked a bus to Kuala Lumpur from Mersing for $15 where I will be staying for 2 nights of this trip.  The bus trip will be long, but it takes about the same amount of time from Vegas to the Grand Canyon which I endured at the beginning of the summer (5 hours).  I chose to stay at the Sky Society hostel because it has a beautiful infinity pool and is less than $30 per night.  Infinity pools are usually found on top of high buildings and create the illusion that they’re connected to the sky.  I’m more than enthralled to swim in one!

Aug 5th: Exploring Kuala Lumpur

Once I wake up, I plan on taking a taxi or bus to the famous Batu Caves for some hiking and sightseeing.  I am looking forward to seeing the famous Lord Murugan Statue there as well!  I then plan on seeing some famous landmarks in the city like the Petronas Towers and Merdaka Square.  If I have time, I want to see the Museum of Illusions and the bird park too!

At night, I want to wander around Petaling Street and try some street food.  This area of the city sounds like it’s always bustling, so it should be a great place to start the night.  There’s a bar called Skulldaggery around which caught my attention as well.  If I have enough energy, I plan on checking out some clubs too.  I’m not sure how Malaysia’s night life compares to other countries, but I’m willing to check it out!

Aug 6th: Sky Mirror Beach

One of the most mesmerizing attractions in Malaysia is Sky Mirror Beach, which clearly reflects your reflection on the surface of its low tide during certain times of the day!  Because it is a bit remote, I booked a tour through Veltra to go there from my accommodation in Kuala Lumpur.  I will be doing some experimental photography there while enjoying the beautiful natural phenomenon.  There is also some unique sea shells and marine life that you can see!

At night, I will be returning to Singapore via a cheap flight I booked through Jetstar airlines.  Though this trip is only a few days, I know it will be extremely fulfilling!  I also know I’ll be extremely exhausted from all of this traveling, so this time is sufficient.

Aug 7th: Returning to Tokyo

I will fly back to Tokyo via the very first flight of the morning at 5:05am!  The time is a bit dreadful, but I am extremely fortunate that I was able to take a budget trip here.

Please look forward to my future posts!  I’m extremely fortunate to be able to see two more gorgeous Asian countries and their beautiful beaches.  I aim to share my backpacking experience so others may enjoy it and use it for reference.  I’m excited for yet another aesthetic adventure filled with unforgettable memories.  I love traveling alone because it gives me the chance to reflect on my life and prepare for the future!