Overwhelmed By Travel Malaysia / Penang / Personal / Travel

Have you ever gone on vacation, and after returning home felt like you needed even more time to recuperate from it? I have. This usually happens when you keep yourself busy seeing all the sites and doing all the fun activities you planned, while not leaving much down time for resting or thinking. As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve been keeping very busy lately. And I’ve decided it’s busier than I want to be.

Because we’re in a fairly touristy town right now, one of the questions we’re often asked is, “Are you here on holiday?” At first, we always answered, “No, we live here.” After all, we did plan to stay in Malaysia for at least three months. We rented a house and a car, signed the girls up for art and Chinese classes and a community choir, and even made some friends we hung out with regularly. I work a little every day, and we homeschool the girls. So it’s not a vacation in the sense that most people think of it.

But since we’ve arrived in Penang, Malaysia, I’ve felt more like we’re on vacation than like we’re living here. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the variety and magnitude of all that is around us. There are new foods to try, unique temples to visit, beautiful nature to enjoy, educational classes to enroll in, seasonal activities to participate in, cool friends to get to know better, interesting cultures to understand, and we want to do it all right now!

Coming from Costa Rica where the pace of life is slower, and there is simply less to do, Penang has been an exciting stimulation to all our senses. We partly expected it, but I think our excitement has caused us to try to do too much at once, and we’re feeling a bit tired and drained (or maybe that’s just because of the heat). This is a night town, too, where some restaurants don’t open until 7pm, and they stay open until two or three in the morning! So we often don’t get to bed until after midnight and we wake up late, which gives us the illusion of having shorter days. It’s an interesting cycle.

So right now, I feel like I just want to slow down, finish writing my book (or even just read a book), focus more on building my business, and relax with my family. I’ve made that a little more difficult than necessary by purchasing some extremely discounted AirAsia tickets to Singapore, Bali, and Japan for this Spring. Each of those trips is requiring more time for planning than I anticipated. I know they will be rich and rewarding experiences, and I’m trying to leave some things to spontaneity, such as any longer-term (7+ days) accommodations which we’d like to see in person before we commit to. But I don’t want to go unprepared, either.

We’ve also decided to not spend a full 3 months in Penang, but to spend our last month in Kuala Lumpur, renting an apartment there, if we can, and taking life a little slower. We’ll leave all the beautiful islands with crystal clear water and the nature of the Sabah/Borneo side of Malaysia for another time. Kuala Lumpur is a new city for us, though, full of fun activities and interesting sites. But we’ve decided that we’re not going to try to do them all. We’ll focus on a few highlights and the things that are most important to us, and take a lot of rest days in between. We’ll refocus on creative education (for example, we’ve enrolled the kids in a 5-day children’s technology workshop), and maybe I’ll finally even get some time to work on my book.

Vacations are great. But sometimes I just want to “live.”


Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in each moment.


  1. Jennifer Pearce Says: December 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Yes, we certainly have been busy. It has been fun, like you say, but a bit out of balance at the same time. More down time feels healthier, that’s for sure.

  2. I usually return from vacations feeling like I need a vacation to recover. For me it is the actual “travel” portion that does that to me as much as anything…. driving to airports, waiting in lines, sitting it cramped aircraft (or other) for hours, changing time zones, sleeping in a strange bed (or not being able to sleep at all) – they take their toll. As much as I love to see and experience many things, even the thought of constant activity leaves me exhausted.

    So I hear you. Slow down and enjoy the simple joys of living, as well as the exciting adventures. And when you settle for a little longer, do it somewhere not so hot and humid so I can come visit :) You know me and heat don’t get along very well…

  3. Your trip sounds amazing. I have never wanted to travel overseas, until this year! I would love to visit Penang, Malaysia, Japan and Costa Rica – even Bali and Japan sounds magical….there are so many amazing places to take children to!
    I would love the late nights because I am a night owl – but then again I would like to get up early to get the day started!

    take care – enjoy your amazing stay, and all the best with your book.

  4. It’s a tough balance, but we moved to a place where simple is still the name of the game, in fact, the island has even less options than Costa Rica…so unlike you, we are looking for other things to do besides play on the beach, ride our bikes and go to restaurants. That is all fine and good and we love it, but it’s time for us to escape.
    We’re heading to the interior of Belize so that we can have those different experiences.

    This is the beauty of both of our ‘slow travel’ lifestyles…there is time to see things, certainly not everything…that is impossible nor is it our goal. Our goal is to live in the culture, which includes some of the fun, touristy things as well.

    You make a great point at how time consuming it is to plan for the next place. We are doing something different for us coming up: winging it. It should be interesting with a 3 & 1 yr old.

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the slower pace. But yes, it’s funny how we tend to go back and forth that way. When we get tired of the slowness, we want more action, until we get tired of that. :) Maybe that’s just how the balance works. I think we’re going to try winging it in Singapore and Bali as well. But probably not in Japan because of the high costs. (You have to book your train passes in advance, for example)

  5. When are you planning to visit Singapore? Do drop me a note when you are here.

  6. I envy your life but it sounds exhausting. Once I get home after work it’s even hard to think about going out to dinner. On most of my days off I don’t even go outside. Maybe it’s cause I read about your adventures and that’s enough. when we retire we do want to buy a boat that’s big enough to live on and cruise up and down the west coast.

    • Yes, it has been exhausting. It usually isn’t, but lately it has been. I would like to eat in more often than we do, but because of the amazing food options here, and because they’re cheaper than eating at home ($5 can feed our entire family for a meal, including drinks), and because there are lots of ants in the kitchen, we eat out most of the time. :)

      Living on a boat for a while would be really fun! I hope you can do that. We’re really attracted to the idea as well, except for the problem of sea sickness…

  7. I can understand that… it’s good that you have the option of doing either. Or both! I think that they both can be healthy, depending on your needs :)
    I’m enjoying hearing about everything you have been able to experience. Excited to hear more!

Leave a Reply