Kuala Lumpur 17 November 2015
What can I say. KL is a shopper’s paradise. Went to the British India flagship store after we arrived and bought out the place. Don’t bother coming here – everything is gone. I even got Pat Henderson to buy something.
We are staying in a “backpacker” hotel which reminded each of us of the hotel in Best Marigold Hotel. Run by bobble-headed friendly Indians – it is clean and once I learned to close the door to the bathroom, even the air conditioning seems to work properly. But the internet is slow as hell. It took 3 days to finish my short piece on Malacca because the internet would cut out before I saved my writing or finished downloading photos. It was very frustrating.
We headed to Jalan Alor – a hawker market street a few blocks away on the first night and ate food which was even a bit too spicy for me. – or perhaps it was just my tummy saying “WHOOO – Maybe you should think twice before eating street food”.
But in this area of KL even the restaurants give one pause – food is served on tin platters which are cleaned by dipping them in cold water and then filling them up again for the next patron. It’s more the fear of contaminants than the actual getting of a bug which seems to have my tummy feeling like a washing-machine. (That’s a line we heard from one of our guides along the way and it is a darn good description).
We’ve been frequenting a large outdoor Indian restaurant close to our hostel. The roti is light and fluffy and the nan bread delicious – we watched a waiter bung the nan onto the sides of a hot old clay pot. We’ve been experimenting trying to find some food that isn’t too spicy for Deb. The restaurant seem to get lots of traffic at times and for us that indicates that food is probably pretty good. However, I counted 13 waiters this evening and I don’t think there were 13 diners. We figured that a lot of the waiters looked alike and were probably related – a family business with all the sons, uncles and cousins working at the same place – not a woman in the place except we three.
Yesterday we had lunch in an open-air covered dining room which seemed as if it were imported from the British Raj. High roof with fans lazily circulating air. Linen table cloths, with couches and easy chairs with an assortment of reading material for lounging, after-dinner drinks or tea. Lunch was served in tiffin tins, To keep up the ambience – I ordered a Gin and Tonic to the shock of the Muslim waitress seeing that it wasn’t even noon.
Just as we finished eating it began to pour. The heavens opened. We sat in the lounge area and watched the monsoon rain and occasionally jumped from the crack of thunder when lightning struck the nearby Kuala Lumpur Tower.
Today we headed out to the bus station to pick up tickets for our bus trip tomorrow to Penang. Our hostel called for a cab and not long after we drove away, the car was stopped by police. Much discussion, arm waving and officer berated us for not using a proper taxi. We wondered if we were going to have to get out and find another taxi – but the driver returned saying he paid the police 200 MR and presumably they were happy and let him drive us. It was an adventure.
We have finally booked all our transportation and hotels for the rest of our trip. It has been a chore given the slow internet. Once again, I reiterate that it was much easier booking hotels and transportation from my home than on the fly where the internet is spotty and I don’t have a printer. It means having to download whatever I need to a stick and then try to find an internet café (since our hotels are often not the kind with business centers) to print out boarding passes or reservations.
And of course, just to make things more complicated, CIBC decided that someone must be fraudulently using my card (maybe that was from all the shopping at British India) despite the fact that I told them where and when I was travelling and that I didn’t want to have to call Canada in the midst of my trip.
We are off to Penang tomorrow by bus. Another adventure.