Adventure Malaysia

This week, I returned from Malaysia, where eight friends from our church went on the friendship, mission, and travel adventure of a lifetime. Our leader, who lived with his family in China in the past and is connected to some manufacturing company, made a friend in Malaysia who invited us to come.

This friend is a Malaysian pastor, and he introduced us around to some of his friends who served as our hosts and guides as we explored the Island of Borneo (now known as Sabah, Sarawak, and part of Indonesia). We concentrated our exploration on the cities of Semporna, Lahad Datu, and Tawau in Sabah and the islands easiest to visit from there for snorkeling and sightseeing. Two of our young guides were pastors, so we asked if we could experience their churches. They obliged. 

We found the people friendly, and they welcomed us into their lives and culture. Not being more knowledgeable, I assume this is more of the Indigenous people group. Malaysians are known for their hospitality, and there are many people groups and cultures living there. We saw no other Americans while we were exploring that part of the island and only a few European travelers. The populations we encountered were mainly native Malaysians and Chinese tourists.

Thankfully, Tim and wife Lindsay could guide us on food choices along with our hosts. The food was delicious and inexpensive — adding to the adventure. And several in our group were much more “foodies” than I had known.

Malaysia and neighboring Indonesia are primarily Muslim. There is a fair amount of religious freedom, with segments of the population being Buddhist, Hindu, and Christian. On our arrival day in the country, we decided to rest a bit from the long (35-hour) travel and recover from jet lag. Tim was familiar with the city from his business travels, and using Grab (Asian Uber), he snagged us a couple of cars to transport us from the airport hotel to the Batu Caves, a beautiful, unusual Hindu religious site.

Then, we used Grab to get to downtown Kuala Lumpur to see the impressive city center with business and government buildings, including the Petronas Towers, the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers at 88 stories. They are officially a bit higher than the Sears Tower in Chicago, which held the tallest building record for many years. We also strolled through Chinatown, which was a short ride away.

We returned to the hotel for our friends’ briefing on the country, had a good night’s sleep (I think!), and the next day, boarded another three-hour flight to Sabah, our main destination for the visit. I had traveled with these friends to Honduras the previous year, so I knew they were tough and would soldier through the travel without complaint. 

Our reward was soon a nice hotel in Semporna, where we hung our hats for the entire stay, except for excursions and flying out of Tawau. The people were friendly and helpful, our hosts were gracious, and the scenery exquisite. It was just like I imagined the South China Sea to look, maybe better. Peaceful, serene, beautiful white sand with aqua-blue water housing coral reefs and the most colorful array of fish imaginable — along with comfortable temperatures and a gentle breeze moving palm trees and clouds with its sway. Enchanting.

Our guides welcomed us into their lives and families, showing us that the Spirit of God moves similarly to people all around the globe. And around the globe, it is! Thirteen time zones different from CDST, south of Vietnam and north of Australia, get you in the area as the peninsula of Malaysia extends off the south tip of Thailand. And off the very south tip of Malaysia is the tiny, powerful island, city, and nation of Singapore.

It’s far. For pricing and connections, we elected to go east through Qatar on Qatar Airways (15 hours from DFW), connecting to Malaysia Airlines (8 hours) to KUL, Kuala Lumpur.

Overall, it was a trip, a cultural and spiritual experience none of us will soon forget. Grateful for the experience, the company, and our new friends, we returned to our homes, families, and friends who held down the fort so we could experience this culture, place, and people for ourselves—an unforgettable experience.

Malaysian Friends Photos

Malaysia Travel Adventure


“The Lord has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations” (Psalm 98:2).

“The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many islands be glad” (Psalm 97:1).

“For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:15).