Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kuala Lumpur

After a bumpy, cramped, but otherwise comfortable ride of over 22 hours from Phuket, Thailand which started on Friday the 5th at about 7.30 am, I made it to Kuala Lumpur and safely checked into a guesthouse in China Town on Saturday morning, the 6th at about 5am.

 On the first bus from Patong Beach to Phuket Town I met 3 girls dressed nearly identically from Northern Ireland. They were quick and clear to clarify that they were from NORTHERN Ireland, though other than ostensibly being Protestant, I doubt there's much difference. They were pleasant enough company for the ride, though one had a pretty bad attitude, but upon arriving in KL we pretty much parted ways.  Although I had hoped to find some friends to explore with they seemed to have their own agenda and I was just as happy to go my own way.

Saturday I pretty much set about going to see the only thing of significance that I know in KL - the Patronas Towers.  They are the shining twin towers which many see as the symbol of the city.  They were clearly marked on the map that the hostel receptionist gave me and I found the nearby stop on the sky train which would take me right to them.  For 1.60 MYR (the exchange is about 3 MYR / USD) I rode for about 10 minutes and was there.

Although they are surprisingly large - I'm not sure how many stories - more surprising was that they are so clean and shiny! Who washes all those windows?  I have pictures, but due to the terrible internet connection here I haven't really been able to upload much of anything.  One day when I have fast internet, I'll be posting a lot though!

Unfortunately the rides to the skybridge between the towers and the observation deck (not sure what floor it's on, but it must be awesome!) start selling at 8.30 am and go first-come-first-served, so I need to get up early to get there and get mine!  It's 40 MYR to go to both the skybridge and the observation deck - that's like $13 - and will be totally worth it in my opinion!

Last night (the 6th) I was wandering around and while having dinner noticed another western guy sitting alone, reading, eating, and drinking beer.  I hurried to finish my food and went over to join him, looking to find a partner in crime for the night.  His name was Charlie, 24 years old from London.  He had just been travelling for 2 months with his girlfriend of a year but she had to return to London to her job.  He quit his job in April and has been travelling since, he first spent 3 months bicycling around Europe - around 3 sides of France, down the west coast of Italy, and then to Greece for a bit - and has been in SE Asia since.  He seemed like a pretty cool guy and we were getting along rather well, and with both of us being solo we decided to go visit the reggae bar - seemingly the only popular bar in China Town.

While sitting there and drinking our beer we were eaves dropped on by a pair of Yemeni guys, only one of whom spoke English.  At first the conversation was light and friendly, of course saying where we were from, how long we'd been traveling, then talking about Qat (a "drug" plant that you chew on the leaves of, getting a high something like natural speed) which is legal in Yemen, telling drinking stories and discussing the Barclay's Premier League.  After 15 minutes of this they turned around and left us alone...for a while.  Some time later they turned back and simply asked "How do you feel about the war in Iraq?"

This was not really something we wanted to talk about, especially with these guys.  Charlie seems to be a pretty well read and well rounded guy, and we certainly didn't mind discussing the issue factually, but when it came down to it these guys were slightly misinformed and rather angry about Israel and the Afghan and Iraq wars.  They repeatedly told us (while drinking beer with us, and being clearly intoxicated) that alcohol was a terrible drug, and George W. Bush and Tony Blair only started the wars because they were drunk one night.  Great info guys!  Not sure where they heard that from, but they seemed pretty dead-set on the merits of the story.  From here it progressed to them trying in some way to use Hitler and his persecution of the Jews to explain why the Jews were bad?  We didn't really get it, and when we corrected them and told them Hitler killed a lot of people, not just the Jews, hell he even killed Muslims if he had the chance, and that he was allegedly non-religious, they got pretty upset.  Fortunately they left instead of causing trouble, and we decided to disappear into the back of the bar to play pool.  There we met some Iranian girls, drinking, smoking, flirting, and generally not being strict Muslims like I'm sure their relatives in Iran would like them to be.  To avoid conflict we told them we were from Canada and New Zealand.  From there the night was fun, but much more relaxed as we had hoped it would be.

At the end of the night we decided that since neither of us had any major plans for Sunday (today, now almost 7 pm) we would meet up about 11am and go exploring a bit.  We wanted to go up the Twin Towers, but by the time we got there the tickets were all sold out.  Instead we explored the ridiculous designer mall between the bottom 5 floors of the towers - full of shops like Gucci, Prada, Louis V, Marc Jacobs, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Chanel, Armani, etc. etc.  It's nuts, 6 floors of overpriced shops that must sell something, though I don't know to who...

Afterwards we went back to China Town and hopped a cab to little India to get some curry.  It was pretty good and only 6MYR for all you could eat, surprisingly less spicy than I expected!  From little India we walked to the National Museum, which was quite interesting and taught me a lot that I didn't know about Malaysia - this is what I should have been doing all along!  It was only 2 MYR to enter and there was loads of stuff to see, a great deal!  We spent about 2 hours there and met an Argentinian girl who said she'd see us tonight at the bar, though who knows.

Afterwards we walked over towards the National Mosque - not nearly as beautiful as the 2 buildings before it which looked more like mosques.  Nearby was the old colonial railway station, which was an interesting bit of architecture - something like Islamic and British mixed together - and after seeing these, still being stuffed with curry, we went back to our guesthouses and agreed to meet at the bar at 7.30 to go get dinner.  Seeing as it's getting on to that time now, I'm off!

Tomorrow I go to the Indian embassy to apply for my visa...wish me luck!

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