Thursday, October 10, 2013

Malaysia: An Excursion Through South East Asia

Kuala Lumpur, The first stop on our trip. We arrived on Thursday September 5th at around 4:30 KL time, and immediately began our hunt for accommodation. We went walked around the city stopping by five different hotels before we found one that met our liking and price range. John, Bango, and myself checked into Hotel Geo and promptly took our bags up to the room. Upon trying to unlock the door we quickly realized that the key card to our room didn't work so we sent Bango back down to reception to see what was up. As Bango was headed down stairs we were approached by an old Australian couple. They had noticed us struggling to get the door open and came over to see if they could help.We introduced ourselves and the Aussie couple began telling us about their travels and lending us some advice about navigating Vietnam(where we would be the next week). Shortly after, Bango returned with working key cards. We said our thank yous to the couple for the tips and then our goodbyes once we confirmed the keys were working. We got into the room and set our stuff down with a sigh of relief that we finally found a place. The room was a decent size with two twin sized beds, a television with cable, and a bathroom that gave us our first encounter with what I have come to commonly refer to as a 'booty hose'. Many toilets throughout southeast Asia are designed this way. Its a definitely different from the western idea of a toilet but it is arguably more sanitary. I think the jury is still out on that one.

Our room also had free wifi which as we would quickly discover is a scarce resource in the south east of Asia. After we put our bags down we freshened up and hit the streets. The sun had fallen by the time we got back down to the street and the streets were now flooded with food stalls serving everything from chicken satay to live frog.

The night market was also littered with booths selling knock off everything. Bags, clothes, watches, & jewelry. From the time the plane landed the weather had been extremely humid with rain showers on and off so we ducked into a restaurant to have some dinner and to cool off.

After dinner we walked around the market some more picking up little things here and there.We tried to see the Petronas towers that first night but we got lost in the market and just ran out of time. As we decided to try for the twin towers on Saturday we also agreed to call it a night.

Man preparing indian flat bread for roti cani

Day two turned out to be very eventful. We made our way to Genting Highlands(a resort in the Malaysian hills that were Johns old stomping grounds). Upon arriving at Genting we rode the cable cars up to the resort.

One at a time ladies ;)

In our car was an older guy around sixty who claimed to have a good knowledge of the resort. He asked us if we knew where we were staying at. He went on to tell us that he worked for one of the hotels and that he could get us a good deal on a room. The old man said that he'd show us the room and if we liked it he would give us a good price. As we followed the guy through the lobby and up the elevator we had a sneaking suspicion that the dude had ulterior motives. 

When we finally got up to the room and walked in the door, the room was filled with cigarette smoke and there were two other old sketchy guys sitting on the beds. They began to ask if we liked the room and tried stressing how good the view was. One of the guys rolled up a pant leg and pulled a business card out of his sock. The guys told us the room would cost us 180 Malaysian ringgit(the currency used throughout Malaysia) but we knew immediately that this was a scam. I excused myself quickly claiming I had to "go find an ATM" but instead rushed down to reception leaving John and Bango upstairs. In the back of my mind I was worried about the possibility that my friends might get robbed so I hurried. While I was down in the lobby I was approached two different times by the initial guy who kept pointing me in the direction of the ATM trying to persuade me to accept his deal. I told him I just had to ask a question about the hotel and soon found out the room prices were much cheaper so I quickly booked a room legitimately instead of paying a couple of dodgy Malaysian guys for a cigarette smoke filled room.

I rushed back upstairs to retrieve John & Bango and as I walked out of the lift, John was standing there exclaiming "We gotta get the hell out of here" suggesting the situation had only gotten weirder. We jogged down the hall and grabbed Bango who was now in the room alone with the three crooks. We stormed into the room grabbed Bango, our bags, and jetted out of there. The three guys kept asking what was wrong and if we wanted a better price as we were walking out. John, Bango, and myself quickly left that area and found the room we were assigned to. Once we were in our room we laughed about the close call, breathed sighs of relief, and got cleaned up to go out. Had the situation gone differently who knows what the outcome may have been. Luckily we learned our lesson very early into the trip: While traveling through another country don't take advice from strangers so easily. From then on out we had our guards up towards anyone trying to "help us out". 

The resort had a bunch of rides that were closed for servicing because it was the rainy season which sucked but we made the best of it. We went bowling, ate some native foods, and after dinner went looking for night life only to be turned away because John wasn't 21(the legal age). After searching around we finally found a spot to grab a drink and ended the night there.

  Day three we left Genting and headed south on a two hour bus ride to Melaka. Melaka is an internationally recognized & protected city south of KL. The bus on the way there was ridiculously full. People could barely fit in the doors then the driver allowed more people on! The driver also enjoyed a cigarette and a conversation with a passenger all while navigating the jam packed bus. 

In Melaka we got our hotel first thing then went out sight seeing. We saw all of the city's main attractions, almost got bitten by a stray dog, and once again hit the night market. Nothing too crazy happened in Melaka and the next day we were on the bus again headed back to KL. 

Back in Kuala Lumpur we ventured out to the world famous Petronas towers. The twin towers were offically the tallest buildings in the world from 1998-2004 but they do remain the tallest twin building.

That night while looking for a place to grab a drink we noticed a bar that seemed to be the hot spot. It wasn't until after we paid our cover fee and entered that we noticed all of the girls in the place were hookers. And not just most of the girls, I'm talking EVERY WOMAN in the bar was on duty. I'd never seen so many hookers in one place, it was crazy. What made it even more bizarre was that Malaysia is an Islamic country and throughout the day most of the women we saw wore burkas. Since we couldn't afford to take any women home that night and the beers we bought nearly drove us broke we painfully waited around until 2:30 am, went back to the hotel to grab our bags and caught a bus to the airport.

Honorable Mention: Malaysia
While leaving the Malaysian airport, as we passed through customs, the customs officer who checked my passport was playing candy crush!!

Although Malaysia was cool to visit, it was also strange and expensive. We looked forward to the next leg of our trip Cambodia...

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