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My Long Awaited 'Round the World' Trip

The Real Taste of Asia as I Move on to Kuala Lumpur

MALAYSIA | Wednesday, 7 January 2009 | Views [577]

So the time had come for me to take leave of Singapore, as it really is just a city and an expensive one at that compared to the rest of SE Asia, & move on to Malaysia.  My initial plan was to head straight to Melaka but the Thai Visa regulations had changed to only 15 days at a time overland (which is how I was planning my arrival into Thailand) so I thought it would be better to head straight up to KL to arrange a 60 day tourist visa which would just mean that I do my trip a little differently. 

Based on the advice that I got from the guys at the hostel I decided to travel the brave local way rather than the easy luxury bus or train which of course would be the less intelligent way anyway as it is the more expensive option.  So I loaded my backpack onto my back and walked to the nearby Queen Street bus station to catch a local bus to the Malaysian town on the Malaysian/Singapore border.

There was a British couple that left 5 minutes before me, who were wished luck by 2 British boys who it turned out were doing the chicken route & taking a luxury coach from Lavender Street Station straight to KL for $45.  I landed up on the same bus as the British couple as the bus waits until it is full before it leaves.  We started off with our backpacks on seats as there was nowhere else to store them but as the bus got rammed we had to put then in the aisle.  Definitely no health and safety going on here :-)  We had to get off the bus with our bags at the Singapore border check point and then again at the Malaysia check point.  We then had to wait about 10 minutes for the next bus in Malaysia but I asked to make sure that we were waiting in the right place to be sure that we got onto the right bus.

We stuck together when we got to the Larkin Bus station to get cash, food & bus tickets to KL & headed off with no incident 20 minutes later.  We stopped for a loo break half way to KL which to my relief was a western loo so I was saved from having to deal with the squat loo issue just yet.  We got to KL with no problems whatsoever but got dropped off 5/10 minutes walk from the bus station which was confusing as no one told us where the bus station was and we were dropped in front of a building site.  There were a large number of buses around us so it was pretty obvious that we weren’t far from the bus station it was just the issue of being in a new city in a new country trying to find bearings.  The taxi drivers pounced on us trying to convince me that it was 2km’s to the train station (which to walk on a normal day would be fine but to walk with a heavy backpack in the sweltering humid heat is no fun) however I was out of trust mode and did not believe that it was that far as my directions that I had printed out were from the bus station and they mentioned nothing about a 2km walk.  I asked the taxi drivers to rather tell me where the bus station was which they eventually did reluctantly when they realised that their bullshit was not flying with me.  Once at the bus station I asked the hawkers where the train station was which was about another 10 minutes walk up & behind the bus station.  Little did I know that from where the bus dropped us it was only a 15 minute walk to the hostel which I found out a week later when I was heading to the bus station to get a ticket to the Cameron Highlands.

I found my way to the hostel easily enough and as the Thai visa was a drop off on one day, & pick up on the next I thought that I would stay 3 nights as I would only get to pick it up at 2pm on my second day & did not fancy rushing straight off to Melaka from there.  The hostel seemed really cool even though they did not have any water as a water pump had broken downstairs and as soon as the shops and restaurants below us got going the pressure died and could not make it up to the 2nd and 3rd floor.  They gave me the option to stay elsewhere but they were expecting the issue to be fixed the next day and as they had a shower & loo solution I thought I would just wait it out & see how it went.

Hazdy, the really nice co-owner of the B&B/hostel recommended a vegan Waga Mama type restaurant up the road for dinner which was backpacker expensive but totally delicious and worth spending the money as it was 100% animal free and really good, wholesome food.  Mandy, an English girl who was in my dorm, pitched up about 10 minutes later so I invited her to join me.  As it turns out she has been a vegetarian by choice since she was about 7 years old which I find amazing.  Much to her parents dismay she just did not want to eat meat.  Out of 6 of us in our dorm, 3 of us were veggies, which was really unusual and made a great change.  We headed back to the hostel after our delicious dinner and watched a great DVD (Deception – I was very pleasantly surprised with the DVD collection) before going to bed.  I did not think much of KL when I first arrived but as I walked around outside the hostel, which it appears is in the busiest part of KL, the city slowly but surely started growing on me.  It was a very buzzy area, fairly touristy but just cool.


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