2019 Year In Review: South East Asia

We spent most of 2019 as digital nomads in South East Asia. We worked hard and we travelled hard. We got to know some amazing people and taste the most delicious food. Check it out!

Prequel: 2018

In September 2018, we packed up our belongings and drove across Australia from Brisbane to Perth.

Australia's longest straight road
Australia’s longest straight road

We spent seven months in Western Australia and had Christmas and New Year with family. During our time in late 2018 and early 2019, we worked online and went camping with our rooftop tent.

Camping with our tent
Camping with our tent

For my 2019 birthday, I had a lovely little lunch with family and a Danish flag.

Cheesecake with a candle in the center and a danish flag.
My 2019 Birthday Cake

We made friends with a local cat, who turned out to be very photogenic.

Cat in front of the sunset

We saw some amazing sunsets and had picnics together. Morgan cut my hair and we had a little photoshoot together on the beach.

We hung around to look after the place while other family members went travelling. And once they got back, we left to travel South East Asia! We both decided to travel light, with only a 7kg backback each.

Lari and Morgan silliness

Leaving Australia Again: Flight to Penang

On May 7, 2019, we flew off to Penang via Kuala Lumpur airport.

We absolutely loved the food in Penang. It truly is a foodie heaven. We spent two months there finding the best places to eat.

We had a fantastic AirBnB. Our host Kai and his wife had set it up so nicely and were super kind to us during our stay. The view from our room on the 16th floor was amazing. We even had Netflix!

Penang, Malaysia: May 7 – June 19

We had a great time in Penang. We visited local markets and tried awesome food.

Man cooking chicken at a local night market
Man cooking chicken at a local night market

An old friend came to visit and stayed with us for a while, which was lovely. We got wet hiking in the Penang National Park.

Penang National Park
Penang National Park

We visited the famous Chew Jetty and some of the other surrounding clan jetties.

One of the clan jetties in Penang
One of the clan jetties in Penang

We saw the butterfly farm.

Me holding a butterfly at the butterfly farm. They sometimes land on you, which is nice, and a little creepy.
Me holding a butterfly at the butterfly farm. They sometimes land on you, which is nice, and a little creepy.

We walked around and viewed some of the famous graffiti/wall art around Penang.

We even tried Malaysian McDonald’s.

Malaysian burger

We absolutely loved Penang. We were comfortable there and we loved the food. We were there during Ramadan, but there was still plenty of Chinese and Indian restaurants open, and we experienced awesome food markets at night.

Inside our Airbnb at Penang

We thought we’d be back for Christmas, but turns out our next stop in Malaysia was even better!

Langkawi, Malaysia: June 19 – July 9

Me with the Langkawi sign at the airport
Arriving in Langkawi

We had only booked 20 days in Langkawi, which seemed like a really long time to everyone we spoke to. People told us that there wasn’t much to do there and that we would get bored after 5 days. Boy were they wrong!

At the beach with our helmets on
Us stopping to view the beaches on our ride around the island

We LOVED Langkawi. In fact, Langkawi may well be our favourite place we’ve visited in all our travels combined.

Lari at Tanjung Rhu Beach
At Tanjung Rhu Beach in Langkawi

We spent 10 days in Kuah, where there isn’t a whole lot to do. We did ride around and look at the scenery and eat lots of good food though.

Views from moped langkawi
View of Raya Mountain from Kuah

We went up Raya Mountain on a cloudy day, which was actually quite eerie and an awesome experience, except that we didn’t see a view at the top.

Going up Raya Mountain
Going up the mountain in the fog

Then we spent 10 days at Cenang Beach, which is super relaxing and exactly the vibe we like (in the lower season at least). We loved Langkawi so much that we decided to come back and spend more time there later in 2019.

Cenang Beach
Cenang Beach in the low season

We visited the Eagle Square at night, which was very pretty with light and water fountains around the massive eagle, the symbol of Langkawi.

The Langkawi Eagle
The massive Langkawi Eagle

We visited the beautiful Seven Wells Waterfall and had a refreshing swim there.

View from Seven Wells Waterfall
View from Seven Wells Waterfall

Regretfully, we had to leave Langkawi because our tourist visa was up, so we flew to Phuket, Thailand (again via KL Airport).

During this time, I designed the new logo for our business, puri.io. We still laugh looking back at the creative process now!

Phuket, Thailand: July 9 – August 3

We were able to find really cheap accommodation in Phuket because it was the low season.

The pool at our villa in Phuket

Phuket itself is not anything super special. It is super touristy and not at all the kind of place one would go if they want to experience the local way of life and local food at local prices. We had to spend over two hours in a minibus to get from the airport to our villa, and the bus stopped at a travel agency that tried to sell us tours. I do have to say though, the water at Kata Beach was super clear and so nice to swim in when there wasn’t rubbish around.

Us at Karon Beach, Phuket

We would never stay there in high season because everything is expensive. But we loved the place we stayed at so much that we really want to return again simply because of the staff and their great food and service. If this place is still open, we will definitely visit again!

Delicious breakfasts with rye bread and smoothies included

I had tequila for the first time, and also a little too much alcohol for the first and hopefully last time.

We were intending to continue on to Vietnam, but we had a bit of a health scare so had to fly back to Australia on August 2 (again via KL).

Australia Again: August 3 – August 26

Back in Australia we got our health issues sorted out and met the new furry addition to Morgan’s family.

This allowed us to offload someof the clothes we hadn’t been wearing, such as a jumper I packed but had found no need for. With lighter backpacks, we flew out again as soon as we were ready.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam: August 26 – September 11

We very much enjoyed all the tasty Vietnamese food in Ho Chi Minh. It makes my mouth water looking back at it. Those fresh flavours are delicious.

We had our first experience trying egg coffee in a quaint little place here.

Vietnamese egg coffee
Vietnamese egg coffee

We did get into a little routine here, and found some good places to work and eat. And we found some good food markets. We got upgraded to a really nice room, which we made good use of because Morgan unfortunately got a bad case of food poisoning. But once we were better, we enjoyed getting out and walking around the local park and using some of the exercise equipment there in the evenings.

Asiana Food Town in Ho Chi Minh
Asiana Food Town in Ho Chi Minh

We also spent a few interesting nights in a newly opened hostel.

Old fashioned room in Ho Chi Minh
Cool budget room in Ho Chi Minh

And we had fun redesigning our breakfasts.

An egg with a face drawn on it and a sausage moustache
Breakfast in Ho Chi Minh

Hanoi, Vietnam: September 11 – October 26

Hanoi at night
Hanoi at night

Hanoi was more to our liking than Ho Chi Minh.

We arrived just in time for their Mid-Autumn Festival, where we tasted their traditional mooncakes and watched the fire dancers. We listened to street performers and dodged children driving little mini cars around in the streets.

We had a really nice AirBnB in Hanoi, with a lovely host who had kind parents that even made us some Vietnamese spring rolls!

We really enjoyed strolling around Hoan Kiem Lake, which was super busy on weekends, and more relaxing during week days.

The Jade Temple at Hoan Kiem Lake
The Temple of the Jade Mountain at Hoan Kiem Lake

We spent many nights out drinking Bia Hoi, probably the cheapest beer you’ll find in the world.

Bia hoi drunk at little tables talking to other tourists

We bought matching shirts.

Us in matching shirts
Us in matching shirts

We ate lots more delicious food that was a little bit different to the food we found in Ho Chi Minh.

Some weekends, we even got free beer and hats…

Beer and hat samples in Hanoi
Free beer and hats in Hanoi

We got used to Hanoi and quite enjoyed it. But we were also happy to leave because the air quality was really bad, to the point that we started wearing air masks.

Us wearing air masks in Hanoi

Next we went back to KL airport for the fourth time to get back to Langkawi, Malaysia, our happy place. But first…

Kuala Lumpur: October 26 – October 31

Rain coming over KL from our bedroom window
Rain coming over KL from our bedroom window

Kuala Lumpur actually exceeded our expectations, and we strongly considered extending our stay. Instead, we decided we’d like to visit again one day. I haven’t even had time to write a more detailed post on the awesome things we did and saw there, but that’ll be coming soon!

View from our hostel at night of the city
View from our hostel

We had an amazing room with an awesome view.

And little did we know, we had arrived just before Diwali, the Festival of Lights. When we lay down that evening, we were pleasantly surprised with a firework show all across the city outside our window!

Fireworks from our room in KL

Once we found out what the fireworks were about, we spent the next day exploring some of the Diwali events around KL.

We decided to spend a bit of time exploring the city, so we went and visited the awesome Perdana Botanical Gardens, which was huge and a lot of fun.

Perdana Gardens, Kuala Lumpur

We saw the Petronas Towers and watched a water and light show in front of them.

Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

We also went to the Batu Caves, which were beautiful.

Temple inside the batu caves
Batu Caves

Langkawi Again: October 31 – January 2

We finally arrived back again in our happy place. This time, we got to know some amazing people.

We were lucky enough to get a visit from family for two weeks, so we got to do some touristy stuff together.

Us sitting in a boat in matching shirts

One of our highlights was going on a ‘scary ride’ at a local theme park that had us all laughing so hard because it was so silly.

Morgan and I got to take a kayaking tour, which was really fun.

Us on our kayaking tour

I overcame my fear of heights and went on every ride at the newly opened Splash Out!

We went back up Raya Mountain on a sunny day and enjoyed the view.

View from Raya Mountain
View from Raya Mountain

Langkawi had some amazing sunsets, and we enjoyed a lot of them in the evenings on the beach. The colors in the sky and the streaks of light were simply amazing.

We spent our Christmas at a waterfall, and New Year’s Eve drinking beer and watching firewords on a crowded beach with some other Aussies from Queensland.

Our footage of the sunsets

We had some amazing experiences and were sad to have to leave Langkawi again. Hopefully we can come back another year! Thank you, Langkawi.

And the work side of things?

We’ve been slowly growing our business and have written a separate post about that!

2020 Lombok, Indonesia

As I’m writing this post, we’ve now had a couple of days in Lombok, Indonesia. Hopefully 2020 will bring good things!

Beautiful Lombok
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