2-day stopover in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
The first thing for every addicted smoker after a long flight is to step outside the airport and light one of those deadly cancer sticks.
But before I am able to reach the relieving smoking territory of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport about a dozen of Kuala Lumpedians (Kuala Lumpurians, Kuala Lumps, what are they called?) are assailing me trying to foist a taxi upon me, rob me or do I don’t know what sort of kinkinesses to me. It takes a while to shake them off and reach the safe exterior where I can finally have a smoke. After that I’ll just stay put for a couple of minutes inhaling the hot morning air and reordering my orientation.
Then I consult the next money exchange and hope that 50 Euro is sufficient money for two days in KL.
Meanwhile I’ve managed to get rid of 34 alleged taxi drivers but tired as I am I give in and follow my kidnapper. He takes me into a dark parking garage where he opens an old Toyota. I am about to get in as I realize that the steering wheel is on the “wrong” side. My abductor smiles impishly as I’m walking around the car.
After my initial scepticism I soon begin to “trust” my driver. His name is Simon and he drives to and fro the airport twice a day and normally makes his living with car dealing, as he says. I soon regret my request to put on some music because what is tootling out of the loudspeaker sounds like caponised and stoned techno teletubbies.
On the way from the airport to the city (about 60km) Simon even stops so that I can buy a bottle of water.
He drops me off right in front of my hostel, the Red Palm, and offers me a sight-seeing tour (“cheap cheap”) and a return ride to the airport tomorrow (“discount discount”). I nod friendly, take his name card and assure him I’d call which I won’t.
Finally I'm here. The Red Palm Hostel is as beautiful as I remember it from the pictures of the hostel's webpage and the owner, although still looking dozily, opens the door for me with a welcoming speech.
In my dorm four people are still snoring • probably sleeping off their hangover. Relieved I fall into my squeaky bed and am finally able to find some sleep myself.
I reawake at noon and make use of the mingy bathroom. Back in my room I meet Gary from Ireland who has been through four weeks of Thailand which obviously left its mark on him. Gary gets out of bed, takes a shower, walks straight to the kitchen and opens his first Tiger beer. He is wearing a rainbow-coloured poncho. He says he makes music and films and of course he’s into painting as well. I’m sure he’s about to tell me he likes soft drugs. He’s smoking small, strong cigarettes without filters and after every drag he spits out pieces of tobacco like a trophy.
After spending some time on the couch of the hostel’s lounge in the direct wind of a turbo-fan I finally decide to go for a little walk in the outside world.
I start heading straight for the KL Tower which I reach half an hour later close to a heart-attack.
After considering this for a while I leave him and start walking to a nearby park. On the way a mosque raises my attention and being a blissfully ignorant tourist I walk onto the polished and holy marble ground.
After this • let’s file it under “new experience” • I walk back downtown and get lost knowingly, just to see where I end up. I end up at a Burger King which is simply pathetic.
After eating I hail a taxi back to my hostel and am not sure whether my driver is blind or just able to drive blindfolded.
The lounge of the hostel is full of backpacker dudes watching stupid films in a city with so much to see. The male backpackers I’ve met so far were all outgoing but also a bit, well, let’s say off-the-wall. Females on the other hand are mostly quiet and absent.
Sitting there among those people I imagine my year to come. Actually I have no clue what's expecting me and right now I don’t really know if this nescience is good or not. What did I do this for? Now I’m here in Malyasia. Me. I hope that this feeling is only present in the beginning and will soon start to become the normal course of life.
To ease my worries I decide to treat myself to some cold beer.
First I stroll through China Town for a while soaking up the different fragrances (both good and ill-natured) that crawl up my nostrils from the numerous food stalls at the road side. I walk on till I reach the main shopping street Jalan Bukit Bintang passing luminous advertising billboards, a dozen mobile phone shops, even more massage parlours and street musicians. When my feet start to hurt a little I sit down at a tiny bar next to the road and order a Tiger beer. To cool the guests some water rains down from small pipes and it is indeed a benefit to feel some water on your skin when you have a humidity of fuck-me-I-don’t-know-how-much.
On the table next to me some young guys who I assume to be locals are having a beer as well. When a homeless guy walks by they shout at him but instead of walking away the guy approaches them, plants his feet next to their table and starts staring at the peanuts.
The locals then give the homeless guy a cigarette which he smokes in one minute without knocking the ash off. Naturally he refuses to leave now. This also isn’t unnoticed by one of the waiters who is now trying to lure him away from the bar. He baits him with another cigarette and a half-full bottle of Heineken like a master baits its dog. But it is not until the waiter gives him a half-full pack of cigarettes that the dosser leaves the scene.
After having observed this spectacle I just sit there watching the noise of the big city rushing past me.
Three beers later I walk back to my hostel, listening to a couple of street bands on the way.
The next morning. I wake up. Where am I? Oh, right, Kuala Lumpur.
First I take a shower after which I start sweating again while still drying. Then I have a big bowl of cornflakes. I meet Sebastian and Philipp from Germany (Germans seem to haunt me). We have some small talk about itineraries and I realise that talking German can be harder than talking English from time to time.
After watching a NBA final in the box I step outside into the heat once more and get inside a taxi to the Petronas Towers.
While watching the huge butterflies suddenly the Flood starts.
Back at the hostel I collect my luggage and head for Sentral Station where I can already check in for my flight. A comfortable train takes me to the airport for half the price Simon charged me.
Two hours later I find myself in the plane high above the clouds. Fortunately this time I can stretch my feet since nobody’s sitting next to me. But trying to get some shut-eye I soon give up because a few rows behind me some Ozzies are celebrating their victory at a rugby tournament in Kuala Lumpur.
Shortly before landing in Sydney they clap their hands joyfully encouraging the pilot to fly a little loop. Welcome to Australia…