Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
We’d both been to Malaysia previously. Once together and another time each with our families. I was 13, with Dad, as part of a stop-over on an Indonesian trip. Though we didn’t venture much further than K.L my most resounding memory is being in one of the grittier parts of China town and using my powers of Bahasa, had deciphered one food vendors stall to be selling ‘Cat Soup’. Or ‘Sup Kacing’.
‘Hah.. it’s true.. they do eat them’ I thought to myself at the time. But now that I’m older, I understand that they’re eaten for a reason. Cats are delicious.
It’s a horrible cliche that’s written time and time again written into travel journals of those with aspirations of having their works one day reach the brilliance of Twain or Redding but in this case it was true, so here we go again, just one more time.
As soon as you exit the plane, the humidity smacks you in the face. It fills up your lungs and sits there like a wet sponge. As you get out onto the streets it’s so thick that the smells of the orient can’t escape. It felt like my brain was being manipulated to cast synapse after synapse of the familiar, and, oddly; the comforting, memories of South East Asia.
I’d like to paint the picture that we checked into a fritzy, damp hotel of sorts where the cockroaches are noisier than the ceiling fans but that’s simply not true. Go and Google ‘Furama KL’ and you’ll get an idea of where we ended up. I always get a bit shirty rocking up at these places looking disheveled and dusty with filthy backpacks and a grubby beard. If there’s any advantage it does seem that we get through the whole check-in process and shot up to our executive suite (.. I know right ..) much faster.
It’s probably 11pm but we haven’t really eaten and so we venture out to the small stretch of shops around the hotel. There’s plenty of the seedy kind ‘Happy Happy Pub’ and ‘Kareoke Sex’ .. nah I fudged that last one but it’s not far off. There’s plenty of local girls walking around in what look like just t-shirts and heels. We pick a small outdoor diner, very local looking but there’s a mix of everyone there and it’s busy so we grab a seat and dig into some Mee Goreng. It’s a really wonderful experience. My body tells me I secretly yearned for this food. It’s been 11 and a bit months without anything close, and it’s really good. And cheap. About 3 bucks a plate. There’s motorbike flying past, broken side-walks with that guttery stagnant water smell, and wafts of cooking meat, spices and food. Being Malaysia there’s all representation here, local, Chinese, Thai and Indian places and people. No-ones staring at us, everyones ridiculously polite, smiley and not interested in our belongings. It’s weird, but incredibly calming.
Well until about 4am, when Rebeccas noodles came marching up the way they went in that is. Rebeccas got a pretty little nose and what would appear to be a pretty short sinus network so on the extremely odd occasion that she’s vomiting, it tends to venture into the back of her nose as well. Horrible I know. And you should hear the sounds. Like a koala’s mating call. But she’s such a tough girl.
For the next day and bit she didn’t leave the hotel room. Cooped up in bed, bucket beside her. I made the occasional dash to 7-11 to grab some lemonade and plenty of water and used that soft, re-assuring but rational voice that nurses use.
‘Hey how you going there? Yeah, look I think it would have gotten worse by now if it was going to. You’re gonna be fine, just keep drinking lots of water.. kay?’
It gave me a chance to catch up on the journal, and order room service, which I never do. I ventured out the next morning for a few hours just to walk the local area. There’s a bunch of malls not far from here but I couldn’t find them, but nor was I really aiming to. There’s plenty of activity on the streets in those typical double-storey, open front end, concrete shop-fronts running everything from printing to rubber stamp making and paper supplies. Chinese signage, Malaysian restaurants on corners serving Roti Canai. Roti bread with a beautiful curried sauce. Get some.
The next day, with Rebecca feeling better (and just in time..) we take a cab out to the low-cost carrier terminal to catch an AirAsia flight out to Penang. It’s a hub of activity there, and more like a bus station but we’re soon in the air again for the short jump.