End of 2020 travel adjustments for Earth Vagabonds

Penang, MalaysiEnd of 2020 travel adjustments do not include Penang, Malaysia, pictured here at sunset.

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

It’s official. We will not be traveling back to Penang, Malaysia this year, as we had planned.

Originally, we had booked a three-month stay starting in mid-July. The eruption of the coronavirus crisis caused us to push that expected arrival date back to mid-October.

Now another delay.

End of 2020 travel adjustments

The notification

Below is our unfortunate correspondence sent to the Malaysian rental agents.

Hello ladies!
Hope you are well.
We remain in Malay, Philippines, monitoring events worldwide. 

We see Malaysia will not reopen to tourists this year. So obviously we are not coming back to Penang in 2020. 

If you can rent the Tanjung Bunga unit that we reserved— do it. No reason to block it for us. 

We will figure out accommodation whenever we are finally able to return. We are not worried about the money. We do have some medical issues that we would like to address in Penang, eventually. 

Hopefully we can come early next year, when things improve. For now, that’s all we can do— hope.

Best regards,
Ellen and Tedly

The Malaysian government had announced a phased reopening of the nation’s borders starting in June – with tourism expected to to restart by the end of August. But virus flare-ups worldwide have made that timetable impossible.

The attraction of Penang

The trip to Penang would be one of the very few times we have returned to a location. As Earth Vagabonds, we usually seek to continue roaming. But we really enjoyed our month-long stay outside of George Town, on Penang island last summer. 

Skyline with an apartment rental highlighted near the waterfront shore of George Town, Malaysia, where our slow travel in penang lasted one month.

The apartment we stayed in – and this second time, secured with a one-month rent deposit – is big and comfortable and a good value. (Take a video tour.)

The Tanjung Bunga neighborhood is a true ‘melting pot’ of classes and cultures: Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Malay, Chinese, Indian, British.

The island amenities and transport options are varied and convenient and priced right. And we made some great friends there, too.

Finally, perhaps the greatest draw is the affordable, world-class medical care available. Ellen is overdue for her oncology check-ups. Penang is also a haven for dental tourism and treatment.

The pandemic reality

Despite our disappointment at the further travel delay, we can hardly complain. We continue to be healthy and safe and early retired.
We remain living in a beautiful, friendly, affordable beach paradise; Malay, Aklan, Panay, Philippines.

We are a ten-minute ferry ride from the island of Boracay — world-renowned for its incredible powdery white sands, crystal clear waters, and unrivaled sunsets.

Moreover, we’ve made many new friends and are finding numerous ways to assist others during this unprecedented crisis.

We also take comfort in knowing that my mom — ‘stranded’ here by flight cancellations and virus restrictions since her winter/holiday vacation — is safe and well and content with our circumstances.

Mom Diane, Ellen, Tedly in Bacalod, Philippines, in early March 2020.

Our ongoing plan

As we say in the note to the Malaysian agents, all we can do is wait and hope. Presumably we’ll be able to get back to Penang in 2021 – and then on to other places after that. 

Of course, we’ll stay apprised of the evolving pandemic situation and do whatever is best and necessary for our health and well-being. Philippine oncologists and dentists are always an option (though travel within the Philippines is not advisable at present).

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW!

Thanks for reading, “End of 2020 travel adjustments for Earth Vagabonds.”

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