KL Forest Eco Park

The KL Forest Eco Park hosts the oldest permanent rain forest reserve in Malaysia, and it’s the only natural rain forest in the world to be located in a city center. If that wasn’t enough to earn a star, then maybe it was the fact that the KL Forest Eco Park ticket price was free (March 2018). 

When we told our friends and family about our plans for the year, Kuala Lumpur (known as “KL” to the locals) was not on the list. This wasn’t intentional, we just didn’t know we would be coming here! We ended up booking a two-week house sit, and since the whole plan is to go where the wind takes us, it seemed like a great opportunity to go somewhere new and unexpected.

With only two weeks notice, I didn’t have a lot of time to plan and had no idea what to expect. I had done a one-day guided tour from Singapore into Malaysia once when I was kid, but it was through some poor fishing villages in the south. I had no idea whether or not the entire country was like that; we came in almost completely blind, with no idea of what to expect in terms of local culture, food, economy, and adventures.

Thankfully, I am an avid travel planner. Every time I see a travel picture I like on Pinterest, some delicious dish on Instragram, or an enticing adventure on my favorite travel shows, I “star” it on Google Maps. I have stars scattered all over that thing in every corner of the world. So I already had a number of stars around Kuala Lumpur when we arrived.

As Josh and I were walking around on our first day I noticed a star on KL Forest Eco Park. I had starred it so long ago I couldn’t remember why.  Is it good for birding or hiking? Is there a rare plant or animal inside? Does it have historic significance? Without internet, it remained a mystery. We decided to check it out, hoping I would know what I was looking for when I found it.

The KL Forest Eco Park hosts the oldest permanent rain forest reserve in Malaysia, and it’s the only natural rain forest in the world to be located in a city center. If that wasn’t enough to earn a star, then maybe it was the fact that the KL Forest Eco Park ticket price was free (March 2018). We walked right in and enjoyed a couple of different, well-maintained trails that weaved through the park. The trees were old and tall and thick with leaves. I didn’t see a lot of birds, flowers, or even bugs, but there was a lot of greenery and almost all of it looked tenacious.

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One path we ran into had a larger sign than the others and looked quite lovely. We enjoyed a stroll up the side of a small hill and noticed what looked like a tree house off to the left. Although Josh was interested in checking out the tree house, he was also skeptical due to his fear of heights. But, he was a good sport, took a deep breath, and climbed up.

The view from the top not only gave us a beautiful view of the tree tops, but access to what must be the REAL reason I starred this particular park: KL Forest Eco Park Canopy Walk. 650 feet long and 69 feet off the ground, the series of sky bridges was formidable. Josh immediately panicked when we got to the top to see them towering through the forest in all of their glory… and with a small child bawling her face off trying to walk across one.

After some (I’m using the word “some” simply out of politeness) goading, I was finally able to get Josh to walk across the bridge. Little did he know, that the other side didn’t provide a way back down to ground level, but instead another sky bridge… and another… and four more. He was a good sport, sweating, and slinking across each bridge with the poise of a scared cat. And, to both of our surprise, he made it all the way to the end. He claims it is the scariest thing he has ever done.

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My story isn’t nearly as dramatic. The Canopy Walk looked scary with wood planks and rope sides, but hidden underneath was a thick layer of metal gratings and steel reinforcements. The sky bridges were steady with only a little bit of movement. The view was awesome. I loved looking at these old and gnarled trees up close. I only wish we had seen some of the monkeys that are said to be spotted there.

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I think it is a good sign that our first adventure in Kuala Lumpur was successful and blog worthy. I have had a chance to review some of my other Google Map stars and am really looking forward to the adventures we have ahead of us… including ANOTHER rendition of Adventures in Eating at KFC!

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Budget – February 2018

There seem to be a bazillion nomad bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!

There seem to be a bazillion travel bloggers out there talking about how cheap it is to travel, but very few are open about their finances. We’ve gotten quite a few questions about how we can afford to travel full-time, so we’ve decided to open up the books and do a monthly post with the details of our budget. The hope is that these posts will help prepare others who are thinking about jumping into the nomad life, and help us re-assess our spending habits. Enjoy!


Our goal budget for this journey is $200 per week, putting us at $800 to spend for the month of February.

We did not live a life of the rich and famous, but we didn’t go without either. China is quite suitable for $800 per month for two people.

  • Average Daily Food Cost: $11
    • The time at our house sit included two home cooked meals and one meal out.
    • Outside of the house sit, we ate out for all three meals. We also enjoyed one cup of coffee and three cans of either beer or soda per day.
  • Average Daily Lodging: $7.50
    • Two weeks in the private room at the Yangshuo hostel were $14 per night.
    • Two weeks in our house sit were FREE.
    • One week in our two different dorm beds at the Chengdu hostels were $11 per night.
    • All of our lodging included Wifi, VPN (expect for three days), and free water.

Money Spent: $1,128

Income: $387

Monthly Net: -($741)


Two Month Total:

$692 (Income) – $2,662 (Spent) = -($1,970) 


Week One Net: -($178)

Despite some big nights out, we still came very close to sticking to our $200 budget. We rented a scooter for a day, ate a big meal of beer fish, and had a date night with a fancy Indian dinner and two import beers. We spent $202.

We reached our goal of 2,000 views on the blog for the month of January. I’m still not famous, but I feel pretty awesome!! I even made a little bit of money from AdWords (the annoying advertisements on the bottom of the page) of $0.46! May not be much, but that is enough for a small breakfast here.

Josh had a couple of long-term jobs on UpWork, so he was only able to close one contract for the week. We made $24.

Week Two Net: – ($149)

Week two was a travel week. We caught a taxi to the bus station in Yangshuo, a bus from there to the train station in Guilin, a train from Guilin to Chengdu, then a subway to our hostel in Chengdu. That adventure set us back ¥100/$16. We stayed at The Mix Hostel in a dorm room for a couple of days. The price was decent, but we lacked for comfort.

But the exciting news of the week was our house sitting job!!! We moved out of the hostel and moved into our house sit in Southern Chengdu where we watched a dog in exchange for a free place to stay. So, we went rent free for the next 12 days!! Whoop! In addition to our free accommodations, we had a great kitchen that allowed us to buy groceries which also saved us a ton of money. We spent $171.

It was another slow work week. We made $22.

Week Three Net: -($493)

In general, we did pretty awesome this week. We had one day where we spent nothing and three other days that were under $14. We really got into the swing of things eating more at home and only purchasing what we needed, when we needed it. However, as you can see from the sub heading, we still had a couple of really big purchases. First was a new charger for Josh’s computer. We tried to put it off for as long as we could, but both realized that we were selling ourselves short by sharing a computer. So, we bit the bullet and purchased a new charger at the Apple Store for $99. We also purchased our plane tickets to Kuala Lumpur for $313 (two direct flights). The ticket prices are amazing, but really cut into the budget. We spent $525.

Josh wrapped up one project for $23 and I made $10 on my Amazon.com eGift Cards link!!  We made $33.

Week Four Net: +$78

This was our hardest week due to the move out of our house sit, into a hostel, then into the more expensive city of Kuala Lumpur. Even with a $50 gift card applied, we are still paying 58RM/$15 per day for the 14 nights we booked at our KL hotel. That only leaves us with 43RM/$11 left to spend on other expenses per day. Thankfully, food and transportation are fairly cheap, but still not enough to keep us under budget. We have gone over our 101RM budget every day since we have arrived in KL. We spent $230.

Fortunately, all of those big projects Josh has been working on are finally getting wrapped up. He edited a woman’s non-fiction novel, wrote an essay about intermittent fasting, researched and wrote an article about drug testing, and summarized another research paper for CannaHealthWe made $387.


For our second month overseas, we still have not met our budget goals, but we did get much closer AND came in under $800 for the month’s total net. Overall, we feel pretty good about it. Some learnings this month were:

I have 50% of the rest of our journey booked with house sits. My goal is to bump that up to 75% by the end of next month. That should save us quite a bit of money on food and lodging, but will add to the travel costs (although that was going to be an expense regardless).

Josh and I also had a long talk about his UpWork “career” and have decided to pull back a little bit. He is going to continue to write for CannaHealth, but will otherwise focus more on his short stories. We put together a plan for the month that would have him doing brand building and creative writing for at least five hours per day. I think he will enjoy this much more and, if we start now, will hopefully start making some money at it within the next few months. It’s a risk, but one we are willing to take. I’ll update you on his work in a couple weeks.

Please check out our new branded Facebook pages:

The Places We Live Facebook Page

J. Brandon Lowry (Writer) Facebook Page

Travel Day – Chengdu to Kuala Lumpur

It’s that time. We have maxed out our visas and have to leave the country before the start of the month.

It’s that time. We have maxed out our visas and have to leave the country before the start of the month. After one final night of exploring Chengdu and taking note of the places we need to come back to this summer, we grabbed a ticket for the metro and were on our way.

Grassy park with flower landscaping and panda statues in Chengdu, China

Check-in and customs were no trouble at all. We zoomed right through without any problems. Our flight was on Air Asia, one of Asia’s discount airlines. The plane was large and clean, but there was a strict note on the website, on my ticket, and in the ongoing announcements that no outside food is allowed on the plane. I was a bit worried about this, but assumed that meant they would feed us.

Unfortunately, it was a very Chinese style flight. The passengers rarely listened to directions, talked loudly throughout the entire flight, and paid absolutely no attention to the no outside food rule. To top it off, the airline only provided items for purchase… including WATER. That’s right, I went on a five hour plane ride without water because I was told not to bring any on the plane. What?! I guess I should have read the fine print… or ignored the large print.

I don’t think it will come as a surprise when I say that we were a bit cranky upon our arrival in Malaysia. We ignored the polite greetings from nearly every staff member in the airport, half-listened to the delightfully artsy and charismatic Uber driver, and barely showed our impatience to the kind and giggly hotel clerk. We were tired, we were hungry, and I needed some damn WATER!

Our hotel is in what looked liked a bad side of town. Our room faces a night club that blared music all night. There are ants on our floor. We got two twin beds instead of one queen. Our internet access was spotty. Despite how tired we were, we knew it would be a long and sleepless night.

Then we fell instantly and completely asleep.

We woke up refreshed and with a completely different outlook. The weather was warm and sunny. We had a delicious breakfast at the hotel, complete with real drip coffee. And in the daylight, our neighborhood isn’t really that bad. Heck, we’re in walking distance of an IKEA. We took a long walk around this afternoon, and as of right now, I feel pretty confident that we are going to love it here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This is a brand new country for us, with a whole host of new adventures, and we can’t wait to get out and experience it all!

Woman sitting in front of "I Heart KL Tower, Malaysia" sign