When French boyfriend-girlfriend Antoine Le Guen and Violette Vauchelle decided to travel full-time, they went on a world tour from France to New Zealand. Having left their jobs, they had no particular schedule to adhere to, allowing them to spend two amazing weeks at Panuba Inn Resort on Tioman Island off the Malaysian east coast state of Pahang.
“It was in 2014. We had heard from friends that Tioman was the best budget destination in Southeast Asia for a romantic getaway. We ended up staying for two long weeks at a very low cost, before heading to New Zealand,” said Le Guen.
Since that trip, the couple has visited Malaysia three more times, making Penang their base this latest visit.
Vauchelle added, “We were in Penang for two months last year and fell in love with George Town’s historical architecture. The fact that it is a walkable city made our stay all the more enjoyable as we explored many places on foot. Of course, two other alluring factors were the laid-back lifestyle and wide range of delicious food, perfect for longer stays!”
When Le Guen and Vauchelle decided to look for a month-long base, it was naturally Penang. “We spent six months in Southeast Asia and have visited Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines, besides Malaysia. Penang was a unanimous decision as the lifestyle is our favourite in all the Southeast Asian cities that we visited.
“George Town will be our home for one month as we work on a web series on our website vlogexpedition.com, where we take our audience to explore the top one hundred most extraordinary places on Earth,” shared Le Guen.
The first series of ‘Expedition 100’ is set in Southeast Asia, so Le Guen and Vauchelle are prepared to spend at least another year in the region. Before the series officially starts in the Philippines, the couple is planning to visit Langkawi, where Vauchelle will finally have the opportunity to discover the paradise island that she had read so much about.
“Langkawi is like Violette’s dream island. We are stoked to be heading that way in the coming weeks,” said Le Guen.
Season one of ‘Expedition 100’ will also see the couple documenting the rainforest on the Malaysian side of Borneo. The episodes will be used as an adventure series to convey values that have a positive impact on their audience, with environmentalism being one of the main focuses.
“We have made this our top priority because rainforests are disappearing at a very fast pace,” Vauchelle stressed as Le Guen nodded.
On how the idea came about for The Vlog Expedition, Le Guen explained, “We wish to inspire people to unite in facing the global challenges of our time, by giving both inspiration and concrete solutions. ‘Expedition 100’ focuses as much on the journey and the people that we meet, rather than merely the top one hundred most extraordinary places on Earth. This vlog series is about opening our minds to the unknown and acknowledging that what is bonding us humans is greater than what separates us. Our message is: it is ultimately up to us to change our lifestyle so that what’s beautiful in this world continues to exist for generations to come.
“Violette and I champion the innovative spirit. Our vlogs look and feel like normal videos but there are more to them: the video can turn into a 360° video, there is an interactive map that the viewer can play with and lots of other extra content. We believe that is what web content will look like in the coming years. Using a network of 360° videos at the end of the episodes gives audience the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience with the world’s most impressive locations.”
With so many months allocated for their first season of ‘Expedition 100’, the couple will be spending lots more time exploring the rest of Malaysia, having had a taste of Malacca and its famed Peranakan cuisine last year. “We only had four days in Malacca and it was not enough. We are looking forward to taste more of the unique cuisine, which we believe is a combination of Malay and Chinese cooking traditions.
“We also look forward to visiting different parts of the country and getting to know a cross section of the local community. This will offer us a more enlightened understanding of Malaysia, although I suspect that any other place will be difficult to top our memory of Tioman,” confessed the 29-year-old Le Guen, who is originally from Versailles, south-west of Paris.
To Le Guen and Vauchelle, Malaysia is a welcoming country, which makes it a delight to return every time. “We feel very at ease wherever we go,” declared Vauchelle.
Note: An edited version of this article [‘Bonjour’ again, Malaysia!] was published on 15th April, 2017 in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.