Photos of our trip to Rawa are now posted under the photos tab. Hover over the tab and select Malaysia to see them.

As a side note, Joe was excited to see the bags pictured below on the pier of Rawa. He works for BASF and it was very random to see the company's products all the way out in the middle of the ocean!
The other side of Rawa
We started day two in Rawa with a jungle trek up to the top of the island. The trail was nicely laid out for us with concrete steps that led the way (and provided an exhausting gluteal workout as well!). 

The view from the top of Rawa was spectacular as you can see in the photo to the left. The island is really narrow, so we could see the different landscapes of the opposite sides from one vantage point. The side we stayed on has the island's only beach, and the water is fairly calm. The side opposite the beach is very rocky and the current is extremely strong (as we later found out in the day... more to come on this later in the story).

After taking in the view from the top, we made our way back down the hill and took a different path that goes around the base of the island. We discovered that Rawa Safaris is quite expansive, with villas along the hillside. 

While exploring this part of the island, we ran into the manager of the resort (his name is Tom). I asked him about the prices of the villas (because they looked really modern and nice), and surprisingly, he asked, "Do you want to try one out?" At first, I thought Tom was joking because he has a dry, almost sarcastic attitude. However, he wasn't. We later discovered this was a blessing.

View of our beach from above
The trail around the island
Before moving into our new digs, Joe and I decided to have an adventure and went kayaking in the ocean. At first, the experience was great. We took off from our side of the island into the calm water, enjoying the scenery. We joked about who could paddle faster (of course, this was Joe's forte) and set a goal of going around the entire island. This was a bad idea.

When we made it to the opposite side of the island, we discovered the water was extremely choppy and it was difficult to control the kayak. It was eerie being away from the civilized side of the island and it felt almost as if we were lost at sea. And to top things off, poor Joe got seasick from being thrown around, leaving (poor) me with the responsibility of getting us back to the other side. My muscles ached and the skin on my hands was rubbed raw from the paddles, but I pushed through. And, Joe avoided hurling into the ocean (we were afraid it might attract sharks!). It was both a triumph and a relief when we finally reached home base! 
Our villa on the hill
After this adventure, all I wanted was a nice air conditioned room to relax in... and luckily, the villa we moved into provided this! The villas are a newer addition to the resort, and are very nice. Our new room was a stark difference from our bungalow on the beach! We celebrated as we cranked the air down to 18 degrees celcius. If you plan to visit Rawa, I recommend booking a villa. Thank goodness I asked about it!

To end the active day, we relaxed on the pier and enjoyed the ocean and the stars. It was a serene and romantic way to end our trip!

Our new room
View from our room
Waiting on the pier for our boat to take us back to the mainland... bye Rawa!
The view of Rawa's beach from our balcony
Rawa Island is a remote little paradise off the west coast of Malaysia. We first heard about this gem while vacationing in Jamaica this past July. An executive from Exxon Mobil raved about the beach on Rawa and said it was his favorite place to vacation when he lived in Singapore. So, Joe and I decided to give it a whirl.

Our journey to Rawa began with an early morning taxi ride that took us three hours north of Singapore to the port of Mersing in Malaysia. The border crossing between Singapore and Malaysia is very impressive and efficient. Once we got to Malaysia, we switched cars. For some reason, taxi companies don't drive Singapore-registered cars through Malaysia, so we had to switch to a Malaysian car. The difference between the two cars was comical. In Singapore, we were picked up by a really nice, clean car with tinted windows. Our Malaysian car was a taxi that must have been built before 1980... it looked like it was falling apart and didn't have seat belts. I panicked a little bit because I was worried about getting stranded in the middle of nowhere, but I didn't let this fear get in the way of our adventure.

Palm plantations along the highway in Malaysia
Our drive through the Malaysian countryside was both beautiful and gut-wrenching. On the positive side, lush, green palm tree plantations lined the highway and gave us a breathtaking view. I kept thinking how different the sight was compared to the cornfields and soybean fields of the midwest. On the negative side, our driver had no fear and drove like a bat out of hell. He weaved in and out of traffic as he passed cars on the two-lane road, gunning the poor engine that sounded like it would blow up. To make things worse, the road was very windy, and every time our driver took a turn he drifted over into the opposite lane. Joe managed to fall asleep on our drive, but I was too nervous to shut my eyes.

Boarding our speedboat in Mersing
Despite the dangerous ride, we made it safely to Mersing Port where we boarded a speedboat that took us to Rawa Island. Rawa is about 30 minutes away from Mersing. While the ride was a little choppy, the view along the way was spectacular. 

As we approached Rawa, I could see why the executive from Exxon had fallen in love with the island. The island is very small with a tiny stretch of beach. The beach has bright white sand that is as soft as powder and clear aqua water. 

Rawa's pier and waterslide
Our private bungalow on the beach
Our bedroom
Our tropical setting
The best thing about Rawa is that it is extremely undeveloped and the island's wildlife has been largely undisturbed. It was neat to visit a so-called raw island where civilization hasn't totally commercialized every inch. Rawa doesn't have a town with stores... there are only two very basic hotels. Alang's Rawa is sort of a beach bum hangout where people can camp on the beach or stay in a bungalow that doesn't have air conditioning or hot water. Rawa Safaris is the island's resort, with slightly better accommodations.

Sweaty, but happy!
We stayed at Rawa Safaris... and I say slightly better accommodations because the resort is old and some of the rooms need some major renovations. Joe and I rented a private bungalow on the beach (see photo above) that had an amazing view. However, it needed some work. The air conditioning in our room did not work well and provided no relief from the hot, humid weather. This made for a very uncomfortable night of sleep (yes, we are spoiled and admit it!). The floorboards were not sealed well, so we could see the beach through the cracks. And the bathroom needs a major overhaul. 

However, given that the point of a beach vacation is to actually spend it on the beach, we took the bad with the good and enjoyed our time on the resort. We gave in to the fact that we would be a sweaty, sticky messes throughout our vacation. And, after experiencing this, I have to admit it was kind of fun being disconnected from society and grubby like children. It's a liberating feeling to enjoy yourself without worrying about your appearance (I'm sure everyone else on the resort felt this way!).

Daisy the resort's dog
And a Lopez vacation wouldn't be complete without befriending the local creatures. In this case, Daisy the resort's beagle (and no, I didn't name her... this was her real name!) took a liking to us. In fact, the first day we had lunch on the resort, she followed us back to our bungalow. It was really cute because we couldn't tell if she was going to walk the entire way with us, but ended up running up to our porch before we even got there! Perhaps she could smell our stuff in the room.

Our first day on Rawa ended with a relaxing mix of frolicking in the ocean, relaxing on our porch, and enjoying the view of the ocean. It was a needed getaway from the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road!

Joe has a three day weekend, so we're heading to Rawa Island in Malaysia for the weekend. It's a pretty remote island with only two hotels (and no inter, so we might be roughing it a bit. However, the trip was highly recommended to us, so we're going to try it out. I'll be back next week with an update!
Infinity Pool + Ocean = Bliss
Langkawi is a Malaysian island that's just about a 45 minute plane ride away from Kuala Lumpur. It was nice to leave the hustle and bustle of the city for a resort getaway. 

We stayed at the Westin, which is about a 30 minute drive from the Langkawi airport. We chose to stay in a more secluded area (most people stay on Cenang Beach where there a millions of hotels).

Supposedly, Cenang Beach is the best beach on the island, but we liked our little hideaway at the Westin. We had a private beach that wasn't spectacular (the sand was rocky and the water wasn't very clear), but it was very nice and quiet... good enough for a stroll down the beach. Our infinity pool, however, ROCKED! The water was a perfect temperature, the view was stunning, and the hotel staff was gracious. Overall, a very relaxing way end our trip!

Check out the photos on the photos tab (hover for the drop down menu - choose Malaysia). However, photos don't do our resort justice! So, I've included a video. 

Bukit Bintang
Our experience in Malaysia started with a visit to Kuala Lumpur. We stayed in the Bukit Bintang area at the Park Royal hotel. Before we left for our trip, our Malaysian friends at 8 on Claymore explained that Bukit Bintang is a party area of the city and that we should definitely try Malaysian satay for dinner.

Lucky for us, our hotel was just a 10 minute walk from Jalan Alor - the food street. This street was crazy. Cheap, food-stall restaurants lined each side of the street, with cheap plastic chairs and tables spilling into the street. You would think with the tables and pedestrians that the street would be closed to cars... but it wasn't! We had to be careful not be run over by the cars weaving down the narrow strip of pavement.

The restaurant employees were very aggressive to get customers to try out their food. We couldn't walk by a restaurant without getting attacked with a sales pitch. We decided to try Yan's "restorant" - please note the spelling in the photo below - and ordered the chicken and beef satay. Satay is DELICIOUS! For about three dollars you can get 10 skewers. We ended up ordering 30. Joe says this is the best food he's had so far in Asia. Funny how the best things you eat often come from hole-in-the-wall places.

Jalan Alor
Yan's "restorant"
Beef and chicken satay
Drinks in bags
The next day we headed about 13km north of the city to the Batu Caves. Before getting on the train, we hit up the local McDonald's for a quick breakfast (nothing else was open). It was funny to have our drinks packaged in baggies - this is a popular thing around Asia. I will say, though, that drinks in bags is a convenient invention. You can carry so many more cups without having to use a difficult drink carrier!

Entrance to caves - 272 steps
The trains in Malaysia are nice and clean, and quite entertaining because they show Tom and Jerry cartoon episodes. Our ride out to the caves was easy and it took about 40 minutes to get there.

When we stepped out of the train station, the sights in front of us were incredible. At the entrance to the Batu Caves are a series of Hindu temples - they are huge, ornate and very colorful. From what I've read online, thousands of Hindu followers visit the caves each year to pay homage to the god Murugan (he's the gold statues in the picture).

To get to the caves, you have to climb 272 steep steps. Along the way, we saw a whole bunch of monkeys (I didn't get attacked this time). The monkeys weren't as aggressive as Singaporean monkeys, although I was still scared of them.

Inside the main cave
At the top of the stairs we had a great view of Kuala Lumpur. Then, we ventured into the main cave. Note: my pictures do not do it justice! It was really beautiful and quite a sight to experience. There are mini shrines throughout the cave, and it was cool to see the Hindu worshippers carry out their practices. 

The one thing that detracted from the holy environment was the army of monkeys. There were hundreds of them all around us. I provided some videos of them below... enjoy!