Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
12.04.2010 - 14.04.2010 34 °C
Oh Airasia I love thee already.... In case you didn’t know, Airasia are a newish budget airline for flying within Asia (mainly SE Asia but also India and China too) for little more than the price of a chicken satay in the UK! Since last year they have introduced a route between London Stansted and Kuala Lumpur, the fine capital of Malaysia. So here we are then, £250 single fare what are we waiting for? They got me there safely and on time too, bonus! I even had 2 seats to myself so managed to sleep for 5 hours of the flight and rest my ankle a bit as it is still causing a lot of problems although i cannot really complain coming away from that accident with nothing more serious..
I usually get really excited flying to new destinations. However, on this occasion I was feeling real sad to be leaving people behind for such a long time and couldn’t shake it that maybe I was not cut out for this after all. Where was this fire in my belly that I always get when I am on the road? Nothing, nada... ‘oh I must remember on my way back to put a movie on my iphone as there are no movies on the flight without paying’ Oh hang on a minute there is NO RETURN JOURNEY!!!! This is a one way trip, i will be coming back across the Atlantic from central America one year from now YIKES! Reality was really starting to sink in. To be honest, I had been too busy to really think about things too much before, which was probably a blessing. A couple of hours later, first glimpse of Petronas towers lit up at night, breathing in the hot humid air, smelling the Nasi Lamak being cooked on the sidestreet ahhhhhh whoooosh smile returns to face, inspiration, I AM IN MALAYASIA
Kuala Lumpur is modern, clean, safe, organised Asian city full of diversity. There are three ethnic groups that make up the population, Malay, Indian and Chinese. There is clearly a tremendous amount of respect for the differing religious beliefs and cultures and has even resulted in some creative ‘fusion’ dishes between the cuisines.. Nasi biryani anyone? They use British plugs!! (this surprised me) and drive on the left. Throwbacks from pre-1950s British rule. The best thing though is that the Malaysian people greet you with big warm smiles and seem genuinely interested in finding out about you and telling you about their city. I am already seeing a huge advantage of travelling solo in that locals seem much more likely to come and chat, ask you for dinner. Loving it.
I stayed in the Red Palm hostel in the Bukit Bintang area of the city. The hostel was in a small unmarked (!) colonial-style building within walking distance of all the main sights and I was made to feel totally at home. So I was off to see the city. First stop, the KL Tower for a view of the city to hopefully orientate myself. After a highly tacky Malaysian ‘cultural’ dance show on the way in, up the tower for what i thought wasn’t that impressive a view. It may have been that it was a bit of a foggy day and i am spoilt by one too many US city skyline view but there wasn’t a huge amount to take in. Bit of window shopping in one of the many huge malls, caught briefly in torrential rain, a walk through the markets, then telling my life story to Khairil, an office worker from the petronas tower. This was my brief stay in Kuala Lumpur, so far so good.
Just a note of gripe though, one thing TAXI DRIVERS! What the hell is it with these guys? everyone else i met in the city were so welcoming, why are they so different?. They should use their meter, it is illegal not to, but they REFUSE and instead try and agree a price with you at least double of what you would on a meter. I know this as I paid the non-metered price when i first arrive when i was disorientated, couldn’t be assed, then did same journey back insisting on using meter. These same scoundrels having tried to rip me off then within a couple of minutes start asking ‘are you married?’ (i answer yes even though I am not!) ‘where is your husband?’ ‘why you travel alone?’ ‘how old are you?’ Yes I feel really comfortable now. Oh I know it is a different culture and these questions are probably not as much of a taboo to ask a stranger but when i was already in a grump with these guys it didn’t make me feel any better!