Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Kuala Lumpur, the place with very confusing directions

I finished teaching on a Friday. On Saturday, I saw a fantastic Sondre Lerche concert in a small venue and fell in love. Then Sunday had a final dinner with friends. I left Seoul on Monday and headed immediately to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I flew with Air Asia because it was $400 cheaper to fly with them than it was to fly straight to Cambodia, where I was going to see my cousins Jen and Todd. Luckily, I avoided any crashes. Those crashes unfortunately and fortunately occurred after I traveled.

Since I was going to SE Asia and Nepal, I had to pack for 2 different seasons, which meant my suitcase was bulky and I had to check it, even though it was a carry on. I was traveling with my co-worker Dustin for a bit of the trip. (Malaysia and my first bit in Bangkok).

Air Asia is a discount airline, which meant that our flight was a bit cramped and uncomfortable, but you get what you pay for! I slept for much of the ride since I'd been up late talking with Bryan and I believe a few of us played Settlers of Catan.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur in the evening. We made it easily through customs, then went to pick up our bags. Dustin and I had checked our bags at the same time. His bag was one of the first off the plane. I assumed my bag would soon follow.

A few minutes later, my bag was nowhere to be seen. I was slightly alarmed, but figured it would come out soon.

30 minutes later, my bag was still not out and a sign went up and said, "Last bag from Incheon has arrived."

(Break in narrative: that bird was extremely surprising.

That sent me into a quiet panic. In my panic, I asked one of the workers whether or not he knew any information about my bag. He said the system was broken and they probably had not arrived yet. I didn't quite believe him, but about 10 minutes later, my bag did arrive and I wasn't forced to travel luggage-less and buy an entire wardrobe on my first day of traveling.

We easily found the train into town and got off at the station to the hostel. By this time it was dark. This, combined with the hostel giving horrendous directions made finding our hostel difficult. These were the very specific directions to our hostel, copied and pasted from their email:

"After exiting from Pasar Seni LRT station, pls turn right to walk towards Petaling Street (Chinatown) direction."

This would have been fine except for two problems. First, there were 4 exits to the subway and they did not specify which of the 4 exits there were. Second, once we found the correct exit, there were 5 possible streets where you could turn right. There was no differentiation or sign or anything telling us which of those right turns to take, all within 20 feet of the subway exit. Dustin and I ended up wandering around a bit, until he miraculously spotted a woman reading an English book and we asked for directions. I learned that was one of his talents: spotting people who speak English.

I will say that all cities are much shadier looking at night than during the day. I was wondering what I was getting myself into and thinking that I was about to get stabbed, while we were wandering around aimlessly. By day, the same street seemed quite friendly and colorful. 

Murderville by night, paradise by day. 

Ok, not paradise, but definitely not murderville. 

Once we got ourselves oriented, the hostel was perfectly located, central and near to everything.

We stowed our stuff and headed into the Chinese market, Petaling Street, to find dinner, since it was about 7PM and we hadn't eaten anything since a donut at 8AM. We then wandered around the market. Due to space limitations and the fact that I needed my suitcase to be emptier when I left for Seoul than when I started, I couldn't buy anything, but it was fun to see everything.

Our first meal, noodle soup and watermelon juice, was fantastic.

The woman buying the fruit in this picture was hilarious. She was Australian and concerned about the mangoes not being in season. She thought they'd be sour and was arguing with the guy about the season. But then he gave her a piece and apparently they were fantastic.

We headed back to the hostel to go to bed after that.

We discovered the lack of crosswalks and crosswalk lights, which I learned was not limited to our street. We spent a lot of time sprinting behind people trying not to get hit by cars.

This man was washing his clothes in the street, which was my first experience with the poverty in SE Asia. Very difficult to see.

The view from the top of our hostel.

The next morning, we headed out into the city. Our first stop was the Guan Di Chinese Temple, which was approximately 2 feet from our hostel. It's a Taoist temple named after General Guan, who is now considered a god of War because of his skills in fighting.

We unintentionally toured the temple with students from the K.L International school.

I am assuming this is General Guan, but I don't know. His dragon is adorable.

The temple with the city in the background.

The temple and the students.

Here I am outside of the temple.

Afterwards, we headed to another temple, but I will save that for the next blog, since this one is getting a bit long. To be continued!

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