I’m Moving to Malaysia

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May 7, 2014
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May 15, 2014

I’m Moving to Malaysia

moving to malaysia

View across the street from my new apartment.

moving to malaysia

View across the street from my new apartment.

I’m Moving to Malaysia


With the exception of visiting my family for a couple months at the holidays,I have been traveling the world for the past three years straight. My routine has been to stay for about a month in each country, except for my fast-paced European rail trips. Most of the time I’ve spent in Asia because those are the cultures in which I’m most interested and the economies that allow me to most reduce my cost of living/traveling.


It’s been an amazing three years. I’ve trekked along miles of centuries-old rice terraces in the Philippines, encountered numerous ethnic groups in China’s Yunnan province, spent months exploring off-the-beaten track India, photographed Oman, and witnessed revolution tourism in Ukraine. I’ve celebrated the Lunar New Year in Korea with my girlfriend’s family, rode a motorbike around the Cambodian countryside, went camel trekking through the desert of Rajasthan, visited the ancient American Indian settlements in New Mexico, drank sour beers in Belgium, and stuffed myself full of the most delicious local food in Rome.


It’s also been tiring. Will I stop traveling? Of course not. But it’s time for a change. I’m going to set up a home base from which to travel. That way I can take shorter trips and recuperate while processing my experiences in a quiet location that’s my own. This will enable me to travel better and write better.


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Why Malaysia?

If you’ve been following this blog, you know how much I like Malaysia. Its mix of cultures is always interesting. The quality of life is good. It’s not too expensive. The tropical climate is different than what I’m used to. And perhaps most of all, I love the food.


I’m also running small group tours in Malaysia this year. This our second year running the Singapore & Malaysia Food & Culture Tour and we’ve launched the Borneo Adventure Tour for October. Living in Malaysia puts me in close proximity to these tours. It also happens that Juno is organizing another Asian Women’s conference there.

kota kinabalu harbor


Why Kota Kinabalu?

The city I’ll be living in is called Kota Kinabalu. It’s on the island of Borneo, a region which Malaysians call East Malaysia because the country is split into two parts. Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and is divided among Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Kota Kinabalu is the biggest city in the state of Sabah and is a secondary air hub and tourist resort in its own right. It’s got some beautiful offshore islands, an excellent night market, a diverse food scene, and an economy with momentum. And most of all, Juno likes it, too!

Juno and me in Kota Kinabalu.

Juno and me in Kota Kinabalu.


2014 Travels away from Malaysia

At the end of September, we’re going to South Korea to celebrate the harvest festival Chuseok with Juno’s family. After that, we’re making a quick stop in Hong Kong to visit a friend. At the end of September, I’m joining (not leading) our small group tour to Taiwan. At some point I’m hoping to squeeze in some solo travel to Bangladesh. My next trip, however, will be right here in Borneo, to the other state, Sarawak. I’ll be traveling to Kuching to visit Noel and we’ll be going together to an indigenous village to celebrate the harvest festival.


Stayed tuned for more from Borneo and read more about my journey towards location independence.

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. Arabella says:

    Sounds great! I’m happy for you.

  2. Tiffany says:

    So awesome, happy (more) quiet living to you and Juno! I’m a tiiiny bit jealous that you guys are able to slow down for a while, I’ve some more months of racing around ahead of me.

  3. Tom says:

    Exciting news Stephen. Hope it’s all going well.

  4. James Clark says:

    Nice move! I loved KK when I visited and it feels like a place I would visit again.

  5. LerLer says:

    KK is a nice place. Welcome to Malaysia^^

  6. Coolfadhli says:

    Hello there Stephen, I need your feedback about something on my city. I’m from Kuching btw 🙂

    1.What do you think of experiencing local food during your your stays in Borneo?
    2.Do you have troubles with finding shop which serve the best unique local food which is only known by locals?
    3.Or would you prefer to focus on something else when visiting the city?

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