Good morning Kuala Lumpur!

11 May

Our last few days on Koh Samui were very relaxing – well, this was kind of enforced as I couldn’t move any of my limbs after the evil Thai massage. So we pottered about, raised a glass to Matt, explored a few last restaurants and suddenly it was time to go. We didn’t go and see the dead monk – a mummified monk who died 40 years ago and has been sitting outside the temple ever since, nailed to the wall so he doesn’t fall over and with sunglasses on because his eyes fell into his head – but I think we covered most other things to do. It was still sad though as we had to say goodbye to the lovely Oh, Andy, Meow and Guy who had looked after us for a month. They gave Craig an embossed Thai ashtray (with instructions never to us it) and me a little painted wooden box…two things we can hopefully get into Australia as they’ve got strict rules about what wood you can take in. This proved prudent as I went to pack my bamboo cup from trekking in Cambodia and found termites were nibbling away at the bottom of it :(

So after a mammoth packing session (stuffing everything into three bags), we were finally ready and got the ferry over to the mainland. Having been relieved of money on the way over to Koh Samui on the ferry, we tried to take our bags off the bus, but the driver said no. So we sat in the car compartment the whole way there, watching the bus in case anyone tried to take anything. This tactic worked and we didn’t lose anything from the bags this time. We got back on the bus for the trip to Surat Thani, which is a fairly non-descript and faceless town, but close to the airport for our flight the next day.

We found a hotel and dumped the bags, and wandered around the town trying to find a restaurant. There were plenty of street sellers but with getting a flight the next day, we wanted to be as sure as possible that the food wasn’t going to cause us problems. As the Greek girl who was also staying at our hotel put it, she wanted “food with a few less flies on it”. So Craig and I ended up eating back at the hotel – this was clearly a rare occurrence as it looked like we’d woken the staff up when we went in. The dead cockroach in the pot next to us should have been a warning sign in retrospect. Stupidly, I ordered Western food (the rule is, the fewer the tourists in a place, the worse the Western food will be), but I just fancied some comfort food so took the risk.

Idiot. They didn’t let me down – I should have stopped when I ordered spaghetti meatballs and they asked me whether I’d like pork, shrimp, beef, crab or catfish – the ‘meatballs’ arrived and it was pork mince (I had ordered beef) and not shaped into balls, just cooked up like normal bolognaise. Which was fine although there were approximately three strands of spaghetti. But luckily I’d ordered chips too so I at least had those to keep me going. I took a tentative bite…mmm sweet tomato sauce…and what’s that? Oh, they’ve added pineapple. Num num num. There is no way spaghetti bolognaise should ever be able to be described as sweet and contain fruit other than tomatoes. A hideous, hideous mess. Made slightly worse by Craig giving me the money to pay whilst he nipped to the shop to get beer –  the waitress upon receiving the 1,000 baht note, put it underneath her bra strap and told me I had to get it from there. I had no clue what was going on, but this was apparently comedy gold for the other waitresses so I just stood there, laughing confusedly and blushing. I did briefly consider whether to take it out with me teeth – that would show her – but I thought she might call the police so gave that one a miss. She then asked me again, shaking her chest towards me…I just went for the same tack, laughing whilst hoping the ground would swallow me up and she eventually took it out herself. So odd! What is the Thai women’s obsession with breasts at the moment?!

The food issues continued the next day – the breakfast looked vile so I just had some water, thinking I’d be able to buy some snacks on the plane. The airport is tiny and there wasn’t much to do so I bought a Mars bar and a book (A Shattered Youth about a Cambodian girl growing up during the Khmer Rouge years, which was both interesting and disturbing) but this being Thailand, the book cost £11 as for some reason it’s really expensive to buy even used books here. But it kept me entertained and we got on the plane. As usual it was a lovely Airasia plane: new, leather seats etc but this time it was full so we didn’t have the luxury of stretching out like we have done on the last two. But they were serving food, which was chicken fried rice and as I was starving, I bought one and a Pepsi Max, which came to 180 baht…a fortune compared to what we would have paid on the ground.

How can you make chicken fried rice inedible? Put tiny whole fish in it of course! And basically no other flavouring! The disgusting tiny fish had their faces still on, complete with eyes. Except, some of them didn’t have eyes. This could only mean one thing…my rice contained tiny fish eyes. I think I’m not hungry any more. The irony of reading a book about a girl who was actually starving and forced to work all day on just a bowl of rice soup whilst complaining about tiny fish eyes was not lost on me, but I repeat, tiny fish eyes. I just couldn’t do it!

Our plane arrived early by 15 minutes, meaning the whole trip took just over an hour. We swapped the lovely Koh Samui

for this

Absolutely torrential rain. It was still warm, but just bucketing down. So after taking the bus to Kuala Lumpur city centre, we turned on our heels and headed to the nearest Burger King to wait it out and eat something that didn’t contain gross fish. We contemplated using the train to get to the hotel, but in the end decided this was too difficult in the pouring rain so we just got a taxi for 10 ringitts to the guesthouse.

A new language, currency, set of customs…unlike all the other countries we’ve been to bar Vietnam, the Malaysian language doesn’t look like a beautiful drawing, it looks like ours. Ours that has been shaken up – bus becomes bas, restaurant is restoran, taxi is teksi, central is sentral etc. It is confusing because it looks like English, but you find yourself wondering whether they can’t spell in English or whether that’s how they spell it in Malay as lots of words look the same. They also mix Malay and English on the same sign, so you have to look quite hard to work out what language it’s in and what applies to you. The currency also takes some getting used to – 65 baht for a night would be incredibly cheap at just over a pound, but 65 ringitts is actually £16. The whole place is very expensive, so we’re back to staying in grotty accommodation (but paying a lot more for it) to save some cash so we can do all the exciting things KL has to offer a little bit less guiltily.

So we found said grotty accommodation (would you like a room with a toilet or without?), dropped the bags off and headed off to explore the area we are staying in, Chinatown. First stop: umbrella shop!

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4 Responses to “Good morning Kuala Lumpur!”

  1. wheresphil 11 May 2012 at 6:25 am #

    You should go to Batu Caves, I thought it was pretty cool, its 15km from Chinatown and the train goes to the entrance. if you do go, go early in the AM as it gets hot there.

    And of course you have to go see Petronas towers at night ! Go late afternoon as it looks cool at sunset and there is a massive food court inside the tower mall, then see it in the dark. it is the most awesome building I have seen.

    • toaustraliathelongway 11 May 2012 at 6:37 am #

      We’re only here for today and tomorrow and haven’t really got up yet! We saw the Petronas towers at night last night (see next post) and they were stunning. We’re going back up there today to go on the bridge :)

      • wheresphil 11 May 2012 at 6:52 am #

        Just saw next post :) Those towers are so cool, and it was raining like that when I went the first time too – though I got the train…

      • toaustraliathelongway 11 May 2012 at 7:03 am #

        We caught the bus as the train cost $25 and the bus cost 8 ringitts, so it meant we could have more cocktails later :D

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