What to do with a week left in Malaysia

Wow! Hard to believe that only a week left in beautiful and unique Malaysia. I’ve been to a few cool places here. Just thinking back I got to see KL, Melaka, Port Dickson, Kuantan, and now Penang Island a bit of the mainland. Each place has a thing going for it and in some cases multiple things but I always resist posting one of the “X places to see in a week” blog posts. I don’t think they provide much value to new people visiting that have a week. Itineraries from well-meaning bloggers that seek to define a set of activities and days it will take are not much better. Instead what you get is an itinerary based on their desires and not yours.

So what should you do? You have some time in a place you have never been before. Perhaps its a week. I would argue first off you need to spend longer in places to truly see them but maybe you don’t have more or you are after the country and continent count instead. Here in Malaysia if you are a US passport holder or from a set of other countries you can get 90 days free with just a stamp in the passport. You have to answer what is the best use of your time. You can sign up for another blogger’s list of things or itineraries or strike out on your own and find your own path. I’ll take a city as an example.

Adventuring in Kuala Lumpur

KL is a wondrous place to adventure. The city is well-connected with bus, train, light rail, and monorail services throughout. You can hop on the monorail or the LRT and ride up some stops and get off basically in a new part of KL and then set off on foot. You will find unique and wonderful things around a corner or two but to truly see the things, you must slow down. So my advice to those visiting KL is to slow down. Don’t pick some set of tourist agenda items like Batu Caves or Petronas Towers or KLCC. You know you want to do those things but allow yourself time to see the ordinary and the not so ordinary and explore and adventure with no real goal in sight. If you run out of days perhaps you should re-investigate your travel motif. KL is not an easy city sometimes to walk through. You have to mind the traffic signals and especially watch for motor bikes which really are the bane of existence in many countries in Asia. But if you strike out on your own after getting off at some LRT stop you may find the KL that is not Chinatown or the Market or the downtown sparkling with malls and international restaurants. Instead you may find a local Nasi Kandar place where the staff welcomes yuo with exuberance and happiness because they don’t see a lot of tourists and are happy, genuinely so, that you chose their place.

A second thing with adventuring with no goal is you never have to answer the quality questions like:

  • Did I see enough
  • Did I make it to enough places
  • Did I see the temples and historic sites

I know many of us live by those things. KL does not though. KL lives by its own rules like Tokyo or Siem Reap or name the place. Its not designed nor was it constrained to answer the quality questions.

So if you take KL by my metric, here is what I would suggest to answer the pesky quality conditions or limitations. Stop with the planning and itineraries completely. You know there are things you have to see based on your interests. Make a list and mark them on google maps as “want to see” places. Now you have them recorded! That’s a big step because that’s all you need. You will take lets say a week wandering KL with no real plan or goal but you know there are three things you have to see. Perhaps its museums or temples or historic or archeological sites. You spent some time marking them after all. Also bear in mind no matter what tour you do, you will never see all of it. KL is intricate with small streets and communities worthy of visiting but you will never see them no matter with a plan or without. So take the time and see a worthy sample that you can see with your feet, with light rail stops, and with a camera. Take some days doing this. After all, I would ask; who are you traveling for? Your instagram feed or to make yourself more, see more, and become a different thing? You will come back to the saved places soon enough. Don’t worry. Just consider though what is the real reason for traveling and tourism or vagabonding or whatever you call it.

Now bearing in mind you have not seen it all and you never will, take a final day and look at the “want to see” places. In KL, I marked museums, historic sites, Batu Caves, and Petronas Towers. I did all those things easily but with no pressure on a day. You can do this too if you divorce yourself from the mantra of having to do a thing, judging the quality of the thing you are doing, and traveling for an ulterior motive of enriching your instagram feed, monetizing your blog, creating Pins on Pinterest (still not sure of what they actually do). Instead I would aver you travel to enrich yourself. Robert Louis Stevenson said this,

I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.

So don’t go anywhere, just move. Move with some grace through KL. Slow down. Let the days be your moments to explore. Keep the list of “want to see” places there. You can do them. Also ask yourself the leading why and how questions I postulated. Who are you traveling for? Who do you have to explain your choices to? Lets just speculate that another of your party likes structured events and itineraries. I can understand that. Seek for a compromise and agree to a number of structured events and  a number of random events. I’m lucky though because I only go at it alone. I have no explaining to do after a day spent seeing only one small place in KL and finding that hidden Nasi Kandar place.

Ask yourself the leading questions. The basic questions. Is it so important to count countries and continents? Are you after experiences or itineraries? What is a week left after almost three months in wonderful Malaysia? I too have those “want to see” places and I know I have a number of days left to see them. After all, I did one in my google calendar yesterday. So if I can combine things, so can you. KL awaits!

Make it yours by doing different. Forget the instagram moments. Find the “you” moments. The cities and parks and nature will show you more. We don’t need more structure and planning and tasks and milestones in our lives. Don’t you get enough of those if you work? Don’t make play into a kind of work. Relax dear reader and fellow traveler. You won’t see it all. You will experience KL or George Town or Melaka a certain way and when you look at the photo album and consider writing a retrospective post on your blog, you can say that you did both.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.

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