Asia with family: Our 5-week trip to Malaysia and Indonesia

It's morning in KL. It's not yet 8 a.m. and it's already 35 degrees in the shade. We left on a snowy evening in February and presto, a little trip back in time and here we are in the morning in the sun, 2 days later, February 5th. We get off the plane after a very pleasant (yes, yes!) 25 hours of flight with the kids and we are immediately won over by the humidity which instantly gives us, the children and me, a curly seventies look.

This is when we realize a lot of things:

1) that we escaped from the Quebec winter YÉ! And
2) that we will be VERY hot for the next 5 weeks YUM!
3) that we will have our children with us full time LOVE IT!
4) that we are returning to our dear Asia AHHHH! so greatly explored and adored over the years and that
5) we have the immense joy of introducing it to our TWO wonderful children…YOUPPI!! We are happy. Happy. Filled.

And it will be like this for the next 5 weeks.

Our itinerary:
  1. Kuala Lumpur: 4 days
  2. Borneo: 11 days
  3. Sanur: 5 days
  4. Nusa Lembongan: 7 days
  5. Flores: 6 days
  6. Ubud: 6 days

1. 4 days in Kuala Lumpur with family

Our great family adventure begins in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia , where we will take a few days to relax and recover from jet lag. We don't make any schedules, we don't oblige ourselves to anything. All we want is decent, complete and comfortable accommodation so as not to have the feeling that there is more to do outside than inside. The goal is to refuel a little before setting off to explore Borneo.

We are staying at the Swiss Garden in the heart of Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur , in a condo complex, which offers us a great apartment with large bedroom, living room, extra small bed for Raf, playpen for Chloé, fully equipped kitchen, etc. . In the building, we have a superb 3-level swimming pool, a gym and… a mini children’s park! The height.
We also discover the GRAB service, which is the Asian counterpart of UBER, which offers taxi services at a lower cost, without waiting and oh-so-efficient in addition to offering restaurant delivery service. But it's difficult to relax in a city that has so much to offer families! And as a family that is on the move, we could no longer sit still. So we continue the activities with no routine and weird nighttime awakenings. First stop, head to the famous Petronas Towers , by day, to discover a huge children's park with water games, swimming pool and endless play modules at your feet. We love!! So much so that I told JP that I wanted to move here. ( It's not like I'm used to overreacting 😅)
We then stroll through the streets of Jalan Alor , the perfect place to eat real, real street food typical of Southeast Asia with its dubious stalls and plastic chairs right on the street. It's our first day, we're still a little chicken so we'll just go for a walk this time... street food, we'll have to wait... Tomorrow!
We take the opportunity to remember the good smells, the loud music, the hordes of people... the only difference with what we remember is the wearing of a mask which is becoming more and more present. We were starting to hear more and more about COVID19 at that time, which was quite aggressive in China.
Nearby was the famous Petaling Street Market. A gigantic flea market located on the main artery but which becomes sprawling with all its small alleys crowded with cheap and not always good quality gems. However, we are here for a very important mission. 7 years ago, JP bought a money clip here, better known as a money clip , which he has revered ever since, telling himself that he would never be able to find such a find again... and well that's not true, we robbed the market and JP was able to get his hands on his precious one.

Let's continue with a visit to Batu Cave , a sacred and colorful place located on the outskirts of the city. Now that GRAB is our ally for any trip, we head towards the large golden statue topped with overexcited monkeys on Coca-Cola, mainly for a first meeting with the macaque for Rafael, without suspecting that today is the day of prayer for the Indian-Malays of the region. It's not a simple day of chanting for Shiva, the roads are completely jammed, there are thousands of people, loud music (and literally bursting eardrums), curry food, lots of pretty saris… For a moment, we wondered if we had just landed in New Delhi. Considering that we have fond memories of our trip to India, we are still delighted. Even if it makes traveling a little complicated and the visit shortened, we are very lucky to have been able to attend these rather colorful and lively ceremonies.

We had read that any good, self-respecting family must visit the Kuala Lumpur Aquarium. Because kids run almost all of our activities now, here we go! It is indeed a very beautiful aquarium. The perfect place to spend a few hours with the family sheltered from the sweltering afternoon sun. We're not particularly fans of zoos, aquariums and other things like that but Rafael liked it, that's what counts.
We finish at dusk with another visit to the Petronas Towers, which I wanted to see at night too (I have always had a particular attachment to its towers and no, it has nothing to do with Entrapment from 1999 ). In fact, it was mainly because we had to take the same photo again, in the same place but this time, with 2 little heads more. There is truly something magical about returning to a place with your children, 7 years later. We can see Chloe's little mop of hair in the photo, snoozing on daddy.
So it was a busy 4 days in the end, despite the time difference, but just enough for us to be able to adapt our biological clock to our new reality. So we leave for the adventure in the jungle of Borneo, our highlight of the trip.

2. Borneo with family: monkeys with our little monkeys

We are now flying to the island of Borneo, a beautiful 3 hour flight from Kuala Lumpur. We land at Sandakan airport, to stay in Sepilok , in the Malaysian state of Sabah , on the island of Borneo , Malaysia . It's clear!?

A little geo…

This island in Southeast Asia, the 3rd largest in the world , is nicknamed Borneo, which is shared between 3 countries: Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, an ultra-rich micro-country led by a sadistic sultan who still allows the death penalty by stoning for homosexuality... We won't go there, let's say. We focus on the Malaysian portion of the island, Borneo . The Indonesian portion is better known as Kalimantan.

That will be all for the geo lesson, except to point out that we find, on the island, 2 animal species unique to this place , and this is precisely what attracts us here: the proboscis monkeys and orangutans.

Proboscis monkeys (which I think look like Marc Messier 🤣) are endemic to the island of Borneo, meaning they are only found here. One of the few places is at Labuk Bay Sanctuary , a few kilometers from Sepilok. They are really funny to watch and make funny noises. It seems that the bigger their noses, the more attractive and powerful they are. They are threatened, of course, by the destruction of their natural habitat.

As for orangutans , these beautiful large orange primates also threatened with extinction, they are found in only 2 places on Earth, on 2 islands of Malaysia: Borneo and Sumatra . Because deforestation is wiping out their natural habitats to make way for miles and miles of sugar cane plantations, there are only 2-3 places left on the island where you can see them up close, in specialized centers where the species is preserved, protected and rehabilitated. At Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center , we take care of orphans and rehabilitate them so that they can return to the mighty jungle on their own one day. We feed them and we shout mission accomplished when they no longer come to feed, which will mean that they are now independent and that they have left to roam the jungle on their own .

The orangutan is so fascinating. Did you know that they are true nomads and that they change their habitat every day? Every night, they build a new home in the trees, which they will abandon the next day when they set out again in search of fruit. Learning about his unique way of life and seeing how close he is to humans is scary...! Gestation is very similar to humans and it is one of the animal species whose baby stays with its mother the longest before reaching autonomy. Tse 💕. But the most disturbing thing when you visit and learn about the subject of “oo”, is to concretely observe the harmful effects of deforestation by seeing, as clear proof, fields and fields as far as the eye can see , all sides, all sides, of sugar cane and understand that even if it is a horrible killing, it is the #1 source of income for the country... unfortunately there is no ideal scenario. Brief! Very interesting subject for discussion.


So we're staying at the Forest Edge Resort , a 10-minute walk from the Sepilok large primate center, in a very charming little private house, with a fitted outdoor shower, in the END of the jungle. We hear the muffled sounds of unidentified animals, whistling and blowing day and night. The 250% humidex index constantly gives us a post- workout look. The density of nature that surrounds us is bewitching. A desire to walk around naked, outside, instantly.

Sepilok is one of the most remote and wild places we have ever been, while having, thanks to our super class resort, a structure and healthiness that we need with children. Everything is perfect. Giga buffet for breakfast, restaurant to order for other meals offering more than tasty 5-star food, a small “refreshing” swimming pool and pretty trails to venture into the bowels of the jungle.

This is our #1 travel paradise.


We leave our little haven of peace to head to a homestay in Sukau , near the Kinabatangan river. Even more at the END of anywhere, at Bam's, who welcomes us like kings in his not super clean house where we will eat on the floor, we will shower in a bucket, we will pee with the millions of ants, we will sleep in unwashed Hello Kitty sheets, we will play with the 50 family friends who are staying there to serve and entertain us and where we will do a number of activities thanks to a well-stocked program. It's a change from our fancy resort but it will remain one of the most beautiful and true experiences of travel.

We will learn to cook with the family, to dance with skirts, to make shrimp traps, to become a banana leaf craftsman... and the most charming thing is to see the children make lots of friends, so naturally.

Bam offers us an all-inclusive stay of 4 days, 3 nights, which includes 2 to 3 excursions per day in the jungle and on the river, to track the local wild animals, day and night. It's raw, real, pure, not really organized and so authentic. You can see the most colorful birds, proboscis monkeys and many macaques in their natural habitat, 1 or 2 orangutans, crocs, small and large... here, it is not a rehabilitation center. What we see is real and so natural. A whole world to which we do not belong comes to life in the forest.

We end the stay with a visit to a bat cellar, for the morbid smell that came from this cellar, it's not even worth talking about. The golden rule for returning? Don't open your mouth when you look up, some guzzler could stuff your mouth. And above all, don't touch the banisters and the floor, which are clogged with centipedes, cockroaches and rats waltzing between your steps. Chloe and I stayed outside. To this day, JP still has nightmares about it.

Kota Kinabalu

We leave the sugar canes and extreme rurality to discover the capital of the state of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu . Or KK, pronounced KéKé, for short. A coastal city that offers a perfect marriage between small markets typical of Southeast Asia and contemporary urban development . A bit like KL, actually. But less developed and surrounded by small paradise islands, ideal for a daily getaway. Manukan being the most popular and populous, we opted for Sapi Island. Less touristy, we expected a desert beach bordering a turquoise lagoon that we would have all to ourselves. It was indeed a superb white sand beach bordering clear turquoise water but rather small and shared with many locals…. and gigantic monitor lizards! All the same, a great first beach day , in the middle of February.

On KK, we take up residence in a superb apartment rented on Airbnb with everything we need to be happy, and even more!! A bedroom with a giga bed for JP, Koé and me, a living room with sofa bed for Raf, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen with filtered water machine, cold or hot (perfect for baby bottles!!). And an infinite swimming pool which gives us a sublime view of the coast and the surrounding islands, inflatable unicorn included. We are so comfortable that we thought about buying a condo here as a second home, but 25 hours of transportation is a bit far for a “chalet”. In any case, if we could have chosen where to be confined, this is where we would have stayed!
We explore the city in a GRAB (yeah yeah!) and in a stroller, we wander through the markets at 45 degrees, we find the trendy little cafes for JP, we drive the economy of the small deserted boardwalk fairs, and we discover Tanjung Aru for the most beautiful sunsets in the region.
We sadly leave Malaysia, even more sadly Borneo, which will remain our great favorite of the trip , making a promise to return there one day...

3. Bali with family: Sanur and the Nusas

Here we are now in Sanur, on the island of Bali, Indonesia . It's not our first time in Indonesia either but we had never explored Sanur. We stay here for a few days, in another resort , at the Prana Sanur Beach Hotel, time to slow down, enjoy the beach and the swimming pool and wait for the arrival of our first guest, my little sister Arianne (Auntie) who will join us. The resort is perfect for families with its water games, its kids club, its delicious restaurant and its ice cream bar. Rafael will practice his back flip in the pool and Chloé will taste the chlorinated water:
We loved Sanur! A beautiful little town, rather quiet (is it the Covid phenomenon which is making itself felt more and more everywhere we go?), very touristy (what is not touristy in Bali?) but not destroyed (like the unfortunate beaches of the west coast) where we will have our first motobike experience as a family. It had been a dream of ours for a long time: to do like the locals and ride like a lilt, with 4 of us on our mobile. While being very careful and avoiding busy roads, the magical experience will be repeated.
We will explore Jimbaran , a place that we have magical memories of for its freshly caught seafood dinners, directly on the beach where thousands of tables are crowded, lit by candlelight. The storm distorted our experience a little but for the ride, it was worth the detour!
Nusa Lembongan
A lovely boat trip takes us to the famous Nusa (Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida), 3 paradise islands which are known for diving, surfing and for anyone looking for relaxation and tranquility. We will be staying in Nusa Lembongan for a nice long week, while waiting for our guest number 2 of the trip, our renowned travel partner/travel crasher who is on her 3rd trip with us, our friend Marie-Michèle. Affectionately named here MMV.
Given its reputation (from the island, not from MMV 😝), I was expecting something much more developed and westernized, like its big sister Bali, but no! Nusa Lembongan is a superb, well-preserved island, not too big but just enough, with lots of little wild paths that are much too narrow and lead nowhere. A taxi-shuttle service has been improvised on the island; you can explore the surroundings aboard open pick-ups.
We live in the Mushroom Bay portion, far from the central hubbub of Jungut Batu (where the majority of restaurants and shops are located). Here too, we have choice accommodation! A beautiful villa at Candas Villas with a swimming pool (which has become a priority criterion with the kids), very kind and helpful staff, a simple breakfast with fresh fruit included. It is here that Rafael will refine his swimming techniques with diving, pool surfing, bottom chair and swimming with goggles, with and without a float.
With Auntie, we treat ourselves to a beautiful half-day snorkeling excursion where we will admire the rich seabed of the region. The place is known for that, after all! And we are not disappointed! We are taken to 4 places where JP and I will take turns putting on fins and snorkels, so as not to leave the children alone on the boat… or in the water!
We then take advantage of the dedicated guardian to go diving… as a couple! It's been ages since we had the chance to dive together, I was either pregnant or we took turns going while the other parent stayed with baby. In short, quite a logistics! So to think that we would (finally!) have the chance to dive together once my sister arrived, we were more excited than if we were going to get married! Our instructor from Koh Tao, our beloved Will, recommended the Siren Diving school with which we had a blast. Our dive master, a Rasta-Indo named Wakari, guided us for 3 beautiful days. JP and I visited 2 superb sites so colorful and full of fish, some of the most beautiful we have seen. A magical marine world with sea turtles and other aquatic wonders opened up before our masks. Then JP went alone to the famous Manta Point and Manta Bay sites to wade with the giant rays and finally, MMV and I also did 2 beautiful dives to meet the mantas. It was magical. Majestic. They waltzed above our heads with their gigantic wings several meters long... I could have stayed there for hours watching them dance. The underwater world is so fascinating and mysterious.
We of course explore the neighboring islands, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida . Penida is the biggest and the least developed, but the Instagrammable places are way too busy which means we enjoyed it a little less. Ceningan is equally magnificent. The 2 daredevils, JP and Auntie, took the opportunity to jump off the cliff 😱.
Now it's time to head to Flores , the island of Eastern Tenggara (another small group of islands in Indonesia) where the Komodo National Park is located and the large, unique dragons of the same name that live there.

4. Flores with family: on land and on water

On land: Labuan Bajo
We settle down in Labuan Bajo , the capital, in a resort (again!) to stock up on comfort and refinement before leaving for the real adventure of travel, a stay on a boat in the open Sunda Sea to meander the magnificent islands of the region. But before talking about the boat, back to LB. We are staying at the Puri Sari Beach Hotel , the place is perfect. The restaurant, the room and its bathroom as big as our apartment on Boyer, the service, the swimming pool, the beach and its sublime view of the national park… We can't fault this place!
We meet Teddy, the one with whom we have been communicating for several weeks and who will be our guide on the boat. Teddy will also serve as our guide for a day trip to visit some attractions in his native region. Head to the local market, where we have our babies stolen by the locals ( as always ) and he accompanies us to the general store where we stock up on snacks, beers and other essentials for our journey at sea.
We then head to visit a nearby cellar, accessible only by boat and apparently very impressive. “Boat” is a big word, we board a noisy, smelly and in no way safe boat with our 2 children. Our guides are silent, so are we. It's sketch en maudit, as they say. We finally arrive at the said cellar and, the first misadventure of the trip, we misunderstood the price with our guide... discomfort, discussions, raised tone, dissatisfaction... In short, it happens on every good trip and it's not worth it. It's hard to make a big deal out of it, all's well that ends well. Let's say that at the time, lost at the end of the world on a peninsula (we think?) accessible only by boat (according to what we are told?), in a clearly visible minority, we felt small in our shorts! In the end, the cave is really impressive and Marie and I attempted the dip... with the fear that a gloomy green monster would come and attack us from behind.
On the water: Komodo Park
The long-awaited moment of the trip has arrived, a 3-day stay to live on a boat, in Komodo Park, to be able to explore the richness of the islands, do a little diving in world-famous sites, meet the last dinosaur alive, live the liveaboard experience… the dream!! We've been dreaming of this adventure since our last visit to Indonesia in 2013. While shopping for packages, we realize that we're not the only ones dreaming and options that are financially realistic are rare... We're taking a chance with Teddy , a local that was referred to me on a group of travelers. He offered the best prices. We opt for a private boat, with our 2 guests Auntie and MMV, that way there will only be us on the boat so we will have more flexibility. We chose the boat by photo on What's app, we gave a generous deposit via Western Union to a guy we don't know at all... In short, this story could have turned into a nightmare! In the end, we got what we paid for!
Family on the go in Asia
If we read between the lines, we didn't pay much so we got a cheap boat, diving with somewhat questionable equipment in not so extraordinary sites, a somewhat random organization, a staff of alcoholic boat… Hahaha! What great stories to tell!! One day, we will go back and live the rich trip to the fullest. For the moment, we still enjoyed the adventure so much. What surrounds us is exceptional. Waking up in the middle of clear water, climbing the most beautiful cliffs which offer views of surreal landscapes , sailing for 72 hours without setting foot, or almost, on dry land, stopping at any time where to admire, mask on the face, the fish, the corals and other wonders where you are visiting, observe the flying foxes (a species of gigantic bats) go out hunting by the thousands and of course, meet the famous Komodo dragon , considered the last living dinosaur. This unique adventure is best told in photos.
Komodo park - family on the go
Learning to be satisfied with little, living with less, losing your bearings, pushing your limits, slowing down... that's what a trip is for after all. Out of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. I am so happy to have been able to make this experience for my children, who have adapted even better than the adults.

5. Bali with family: a last week in Ubud

Bali - Family on the go
Ahhhh Ubud. This memory was so “wonderful” (a term invented in Ubud in 2013 by a wonderful person) that we did not want to go back, for fear of destroying this memory and being disappointed. Good news, that's not at all what happened!! Once again, JP hit it hard with hosting. With the girls, we take possession of the Rumah Capung estate, a site of 3 villas with large swimming pool, small common lounge, hearty breakfast served at the villa, spacious rooms with large windows nicely decorated typically Balinese with a large outdoor bathroom . It's a rare beauty!
Rumah Capung - Family on the go
Being located a little out of the way, in the rice fields on the outskirts of the city, we will have to transport ourselves… in a hurry! It's the return of the family mobile!! This time, we're going all out. We rent the mobile for the duration of the stay. Auntie manages to handle the scooter as if she had always done that, MMV abandons the idea after mowing down a pedestrian... She will have her private driver, that's not bad! So we explore the surroundings as we wanted, on 2 wheels with our little family in the winding roads of central Bali, bottle in hand. babies in the wind. Rafael likes it a lot, Chloé a little less. So we stop anywhere to breastfeed!
Mobility in Asia - Family on the go

We introduce our guides to the city by rediscovering it too. We have fun returning to restaurants and other places we have already visited, such as the pesky Monkey Forest in Ubud, a place we swore we would never visit again for several reasons. But for Raf and his love of monkeys, we will take a little tour there. We also visit another monkey forest, Sangeh Monkey Forest , a little further north of Ubud. We really liked the latter which is much quieter, the monkeys seem a little more sane and you are accompanied by a guardian during your walk. More reassuring! We couldn't miss a visit to the famous Yoga Barn where MMV and I took our first acro-yoga class. We also discover other magnificent places, such as the Elephant Cave and the popular rice fields to the north, Tegalalang . A very touristy place but just as magnificent. We walk briefly through the terraces for a few photos, the oppressive heat makes us want more iced coffee.

Family on the go in Asia

We also visit, during a car excursion, the famous popular temple of Bali, the one you see on all the brochures, Ulun Danu Beratan . It's as beautiful as in the books, despite the rain. This is what will mark the end of our journey.
Asia with family - Family on the go
Asia with family - Family on the go

Asia with family - Family on the go

March 2020. Increasingly, COVID-19 is taking its toll. Some flights are starting to be canceled due to lack of passengers. Little do we know that a few days later, the borders will close. We returned to the country just in time, the day before the lockdown was announced. We will therefore spend the next few months taking care of our little family cocoon, like when traveling, and enjoying the quality time we have as a family. We consider ourselves extremely lucky ❤️🧡💛.

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