Just as my body was somewhat getting over the jet lag, it was time to leave Japan and continue on our adventures. Three nights in Tokyo was a good sampler, but I’d love to go back and experience the entire country and culture more in-depth one day.
To get to the next stop, I had one-night layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I knew nothing about the city prior to this trip, but the real surprise was adding another country to the trip and offering an option that would get us to Koh Samui without having to overnight in Bangkok, which I’ve heard from a number of travelers is worth skipping out on.
In order to get to KL, I had to spend the full day in transit – starting with business class on Korean Air from Japan to Seoul, with a 5 hour layover. During our layover in Seoul, since the airport is so far from the city itself, we took the complimentary shuttle to the Hyatt Regency to enjoy their lunch buffet. This is the perfect way to kill time if stuck at the ICN airport! By that point, I was excited to eat anything besides Udon and shrimp tempura (and they had a pretty extensive gelato selection). We then hopped on a 6 hour Korean flight to KUL. Korean’s business class was definitely a new and improved flying experience for me – over the top service and a full, plated meal were just two of the perks.
We arrived to Kuala Lumpur at night time when it was lit up like the Vegas strip, the Petronas Twin Towers sparkled outside of the hotel room’s window at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur completely surprised me – it was flashy, it was touristy, it was not at all what I was expecting of Malaysia. Granted, KL is not the typical reflection of the country it’s in, but it was a nice place to stop over, especially considering the perfect location of the Mandarin Oriental.
The next morning, I took a quick walk around the area. The city was bustling – runners jogging around the square outside of the hotel, kids playing in the water park nearby, streets busy with the tourist traffic. I could’ve honestly spent another day there – and it has nothing to do with the 8 story mall located right beside the Mandarin.
While we flew into KUL, the larger of Kuala Lumpur’s airports, our flight to Koh Samui would take us to a smaller, regional airport that was, as surprising as everything else in KUL, really quite nice. As soon as we walked into the airport, there was the unmistakable smell of fresh donuts. Naturally, I let my nose carry me to the source, where there were donuts of EVERY flavor imaginable. All I wanted was one little donut, just a taste of the Oreo one, or maybe the Nutella one, or maybe I’d just get two little donuts, or maybe I’d add the mocha one, or maybe a box of assorted flavors if I could get one of each, or maybe…maybe I was in the airport with only US dollars and a credit card, only to find out they only accepted Malaysian ringgits, which I didn’t bother to exchange because we had such a short time in Malaysia.
I try my best to live a life of no regrets. This moment of deep sadness for not being able to purchase Malaysian donuts was an epic regret.
Our flight from KL to Koh Samui was very much not business class since the plane didn’t offer a business class making for a long 2 hour transfer. We arrived to the Six Senses Samui in the midst of a downpour – it is rainy season in Thailand and, unlike certain areas of the world where the rainy season doesn’t necessarily hinder a trip, I’ve found out that’s not the case here. When it’s raining there is very little to do – however, we’ve lucked up with some decent weather and enjoyed a nearly full day in the sun on the beach at the Six Senses and by the private plunge pool in the villa (each room comes with one!).
Koh Samui, and the Six Senses specifically, is very eco-friendly with landscape and accommodations similar to what one would find in Costa Rica.
One of the things I’ve loved the most on this trip has been seeing the vast differences from culture to culture. From the way the people carry themselves when simply walking down the road to the way they interact with one another – the bowing, the eye contact, the smiling, or lack thereof in some cases – is fascinating to me. The heaviness of the Japanese culture, so steeped in tradition and history, is such a juxtaposition to the lightness that the Thai people exude in their barefoot lifestyle. Little things like this really make me want to continue exploring Asia – luckily, we have a couple more stops before returning back home!