2006 Series #1: Now at Kuala Lumpur

After almost missing my plane at Auckland (the guy in Duty Free was a terribly chatty sort who just didn’t stop!), I’ve made it as far as Kuala Lumpur. By joves it’s warm here. And I’ve realised that it smells like Bangkok. I was trying to define the smell last night – a mixture of steam, incense and something else….? Can’t quite put my finger on it. But it’s nice to smell it again.

The plane ride was loooong. And squishy. Has anyone else noticed a jet of something sprays back over the wing, from the direction of the engine, on take-off? It’s a little bit alarming to watch. I have to presume it’s all part of a cunning plan so I don’t panic about it – nobody else seems to.

I sat next to a nice Swiss woman. Fortunately we’re both small. Unlike the (presumably Dutch guy) across the aisle from us. Great big long legs with REAL yellow clogs on the end of them. I was quite fascinated. I’ve never seen anyone where clogs before. They’ve always been sitting on a shelf or hanging on a wall. I wonder how comfortable they are. Anyway, he had to sort of wrap his knees around the sides of the seat in front of him. There are virtues to being one of the little people sometimes.

Got to KL Airport, and it was deathly silent. There were no people around. It was like the scene of a creepy movie………..

By now it was about 1am New Zealand time and the old brain was at half mast. I finally got on the right train thing that takes you to a different part of the airport, found my luggage and then followed Paul’s instructions to the desk where I came unstuck when I got into the elevator. Which is made of glass, and has doors opening on BOTH sides. Naturally I got out on the wrong side, which made all of Paul’s directions make no sense whatsoever. Finally I got to the right place and then had to wait an hour for the ride into KL. Another hour goes by to actually get into town, got to my room and found I couldn’t sleep. By this time it is 2am NZ time. I naturally fell back onto backup emergency reserve plan B and opened the bottle of Southern Comfort I had bought – that did the trick. However, I was cursed with the sudden ability to wake up every 2 hours on the dot. And being in a hotel placed between 2 highways didn’t help. It wasn’t the traffic noise that bothered me, it was the lack of beeping and honking. It just seems so unnatural somehow in an asian country. This place is just too sane!

I finally abandoned my bed at 8am and went down for breakfast. Curses – I forgot my Vegemite! Never mind, the fresh croissants with apricot jam got me through. I ended up sitting with a very nice Australian woman who is an ESOL teacher and was returning to Oz from Latvia. We went shopping – as is a pair of women’s wont. There are many muslim women here, and they seem to be quite solemn. We both realised that we hate shopping in the heat, so we got it over with as quickly as it is possible to be quick in sickening steamy heat and then headed for a food shop. There I was accosted by my first beggar of the trip. But since he already had a fist full of money I didn’t overwhelm him with my concern and humanity and he dipped out.

Back to the hotel, running round like an idiot repacking, downstairs to catch my lift to the airport – which naturally was running late – and back onto the plane. The flight was full of Indians, complete with large amounts of children – screaming, cheeky children – but while sitting in the waiting lounge, I got to know a few of them, and naturally swapped photos of children, got heaps of heavily accented advice of where to go and how to get there, so it was all okay. There were times, mind you, when I was tempted to suggest to the hostesses that the two children sitting across from me who were taking turns to ensure the air was full of screams at all times, that they might like a brandy or two. However, I held back and drank them myself. I’m generous like that. Also, a bit of a shock when a guy walked up to me on the plane and handed my ticket back, which I had dropped in the airport somewhere. Someone was looking after me there…… Prayers of thanks.

Well, the flight was long, and then when we got there we circled the air a lot because the airport was full and we were number 12 in line, but finally we landed. I was ready to make the dash – made it to customs just before an enormous team of American schoolkids. Heh heh – no flies on this cookie. However, the universe paid me back for being a smartypants by delaying my luggage by quite a lot. Finally through the official bits and out into the crowd and saw Paul. Oh yay – he made it through the landslides in the mountains after all. Apparently only just getting back to Delhi in time, mind you.

Crazy, crazy traffic to Pahar Ganj and then finally at our guesthouse.

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