Friday, October 10, 2008

The Malay Supremacy (or, "They're going to steal our kidneys")

The Petronas towers at night are a sight to behold. Especially on a night like this when it is cloudy. It's like fire in the sky, a moon of local color.

So, more stories. Some of them are like coming home.

We decided, on the recomendation of a friend who had gone to Malaysia a couple of years ago, to go to Kuala Teregganu, a town about 300 kilometers away in the Northeast corner of the country. So we booked a hotel, then went down to the bus station on the appointed day, and found a bus. Now, this is glossing over some of the experience. Basically, we were the only white people in the place, and were trying to communicate where we wanted to go, which I kept mispronouncing, not knowing any better. We found a bus. We got tickets, got on the bus. Sat for half an hour past advertised departure time. Drove to another bus station, and collected more passengers. Drove to... the bus company yard. Switched parking stalls three times. Waited. Started to get worried that this was the part where we were going to get jumped and have our kidneys stolen. Suddenly, we hear an explosive, "rat-a-tat-tat-tat." Russ jumps. Realizes that it's just an impact wrench - they are apparently changing two tires on the bus. Tires changed, we take off for KT. About an hour and a half after we were supposed to be on the road.

The road.

The first two hours from KL to KT, through the Malaysia highlands, were absolutely gorgeous. Green, tropical, soaring cliffs, plunging valleys. I can't even begin to describe to you how gorgeous they were.

10 hours (!!!), which was supposed to be 5, later, we pull into KT. We had supper at McDonalds (yell at us, but we live in Kabul. We don't get McDonalds every day.), then got wildly overcharged to taxi to our hotel. That night at the hotel, we watched the greatest movie in the world - a Malaysian Zombie movie. Actually, it was a spoof, but it was hilarious. The next day, we went out to try to find the airline office, to see if we could book tickets to fly back since I couldn't online, but how much was it going to cost at the travel agent? (answer : too much) Then we started going into clothing and fabric stores... I'm pretty sure they all started calling each other, "There are foreigners here buying our clothes! This is crazy!" Now, I was with two girls who had the previously mentioned WILDLY DIFFERENT clothing tastes as far as colors go. So, we went through another hour of, "How does this look?" "Great!"

Anyway, after finishing shopping, we ate at a little store front Malaysian restaurant, where we were educated on the proper position for plates (rice in front, chicken and vegetables in back, and if you rotate the plate, the waiter will turn it back for you.). It was pretty good, actually. Then we got all ready to go to the beach, swimsuits, sunscreen, etc. And head down... to the water front. No beach where they told us there was a beach. We go to the tourist info booth. Apparently, there are regulations against swimming on the beach there. We go back, disappointed, change, and go back out. Go through Chinatown, up to the Sultan's burial site, swing in a park, eat at Pizza Hut (where they serve a soup of the day, and other weird pizzas), go to another clothing store where Russ is forced to buy a belt, then back to the hotel. Change, pack, head to the bus station for our overnight bus back to KL.

I slept some on the bus, but not as much as I wanted. We got back to our hosts' place about 6:00. We goofed around the rest of the day, did some more shopping, tried to find a power adapter to replace the stolen one, did more walking around the city. Got up the next day, and went out and got fast food one last time. Then we took a taxi to the airport, argued with the airline people a little about our friend's luggage in hopes she'll get at least some recompense (moral of this part of the tale? Don't fly on Emirates.) for her stolen items. Got on the plane...

Only to find the rear section where we were filled with Indians. (not Native Americans) Walking up and down the aisle, taking all kinds of pictures. Including of us! The girls hid behind the seats, and the Indian guy in front of us waited until they looked out to snap their picture. They clapped when the plane took off! It was annoying. I think some little Indian kid is going to have a photo album, "Our first family vacation, and the White People too!"

The worst part was the two Indian guys who kept staring at the girls. Even after we switched seats so I was standing in between them and the girls. And I stared them back down every chance I got. I probably should have said something, but they were putting the beers away, and I didn't want to deal with angry drunk guys. They even stared at the girls when we were in Baggage claim!

We got into Delhi at about 9:00 P.M. and our flight out wasn't until 11:30 the next morning. We got a hotel, that from the outside I was sure was going to be a roach motel, we're really loosing our kidneys here kind of place. Instead, it was pretty classy. We didn't leave the hotel and go out to get supper, however, after we looked out the window and said, "It's like a worse version of Kabul out there!" The best part was watching Bollywood MTV the next morning before going back to the airport. One music video was a cross between Metallica or Linkin Park, and Backstreet Boys or N'Sync. I kid you not. It was hilarious.

The rest of the trip is uneventful, so I'll not mention it too much, except for finding Rolos. Duty free in Delhi. Awesome.

We got back on Wednesday, I started Lazy-Moving to my new apartment, set up the Drive-In Movie, which was West Side Story. Now, I don't usually like Musicals, but I can appreciate them for the hard work and the quality put into them. Not this movie. It was lame. I also gave out the coolest thing - I gave our science teacher and his 6 and 3 year old sons Legos that I got in KL. They were really pumped about them. The science teacher's wife told me tonight, "[Science Teacher] keeps saying he needs to bond with his sons. Really, he just wants to play Legos."

It's now Friday Night, I'm in my new place, which is nice. Work starts back in earnest. I'm doing a lot better than I was last week, and I'm pretty excited about the next couple months. Played Frisbee and Volleyball today, and that always makes me happy as well.

Well. I've written a rather long set of narratives today. Hope you like the story of my adventures in Malaysia!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really glad that you had a good and refreshing trip. Green plant life can be so good for the soul. You should give yourself a pat on the back for standing up for the women traveling with you. The world needs more men like you ... seriously. Enjoy your new apartment. Hope it becomes a place that you can call home for a while.