Hello Malaysia, Goodbye Pork and Beer

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Thursday, September 8, 2005

I had a great time riding down to Malaysia in the train, just sitting there reading my book. I was sent to my bed at 7pm though when the Thai woman that I was sitting opposite wanted to go to bed. So the guard came along and made our little area up into the bunk beds. This was ok as it actually meant that I just got more space to myself, lounging around with my nose in 'Atonement' by Ian McEwan, amazing read, I recommend it. I was determined to have my revenge though by not getting up in the morning till at least 8, however I was caught leaving my bunk at 7am for a quick trip to the end of the train and by the time I got back the beds had been made back into seats.

The train arrived in Butterworth, North Malaysia just after lunchtime. A more colonial name I couldn't imagine. A quick 5 hour journey on a bus was a breeze after my Burma experiances and before I knew it I was in Kuala Lumpur looking at the Petrona Towers lit up in the distance. I made the fatal mistake of taking the first cheap place that I found, realising in the middle of the night that I was not alone in my room. In fact I was sharing my bed with an undeterminable number of bed bugs. There was nothing I could do except get the DEET out and give my bed and myself a quick dousing of the stuff followed by lashings of Tiger Balm and an antihistimene tablet. It was too late though and the damage was done. When I checked my back, arms and legs in the morning I was covered in large red welts. Welcome to Malaysia.

As for sight seeing in cities, I don't like to just talk about the negatives of a place but to be honest KL isn't a great sight seeing city. I can imagine that it's brilliant to live and work here but not for tourists. Don't get me wrong, the Pertronas Towers are fabulous especially at night, the street food is magnificent, but there just wasn't anything else to do. Walking around in the afternoon just made me feel hot and tired and I wanted to just find some air-conditioning, I guess I'm just not the hardy backpacker type afterall.

I'd heard about one of the local scams in KL. You get talking to a friendly local who then invites you back to their house. You start playing some 'friendly' cards, winning a little money. After that the stakes go up and you end up loosing all your hard earned cash. I had a guy approach me in the street, either he was genuinely friendly or it was the start of the scam...
He opened with "I like your sandles"
"Thanks"
"How much were they?", keeping on the sandles theme.
"Too much!" It's not usually a good idea to convert UK prices into local currency.
"Where did you buy them?"
"In the UK"
"Which part, Copenhagen?"
"No, Scotland"
At this point I kept on walking, I'll give the guy 9/10 for effort, but he scores a fat 0/10 for research, he'll need to keep trying.

I'd arranged to meet up with Flo (Kalaw and Inle Lake), as he was working for Siemens on the 71st floor of the Pertronas Towers which has 88 floors in total. I was keeping my fingers crossed for an invite up to his office, but I was bitterly disappointed. He did explain to me in great detail though how fantastic the view from his office was, thanks. Perhaps he'll send me a picture of it sometime.

And that about wraps it up for KL, in hindsight I wish I'd just organised my flights to KK from Bangkok, it'll have saved me a few days and a few Baht. For those that don't know where KK is, then you'll just need to wait until my next installment. I don't know when that'll be since I'll be off to climb a mountain which is 4095.2 meters high. The starting point is about 1800 meters so it's a fair walk, not a walk in the park, just a walk in the National Park.
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