Kuala Lumpur (A Rant and a Survival Tip)

We spent a week in Kuala Lumpur. I almost blissfully forgotten that the city was true to it’s name. “Lumpur” means mud in Malay.Behind the bustling backdrop of a city that never sleeps,¬†lay the bodies of people who would be the poster faces of poverty. No they’re still alive, but they seem lifeless. When they are not sitting on the streets begging for coins, they are sleeping on any surfaces they can find that aren’t already occupied.

It’s hot & humid there. And dusty. And most of all dirty. At the back of restaurants we see scurrying rats and mice scourging for scraps, and street cats waiting to pounce on potential preys. Some cats are much smarter and come up to hawkers and open air restaurants and wait for diners or staff to throw them scraps.

Construction goes on 24/7. Since it’s everywhere no one complains about it and since it’s so many, who is going to complain? In a city like Kuala Lumpur, life is fun if you have the monetary capacity to afford comfortable living spaces, and an overall quality of life. You also have to live by night time.

During the day the heat is intense and dirty. The constant traffic of cars doesn’t help either. The heat amplifies when you’re walking closer to vehicles. It’s best to take the monorails or LRTs to get around. The network stops at most major places which are great if you’re there as a tourist and only want to go to those places.

By night time, it’s still warm but without the sun over-bearing it’s rays above you, it’s more bearable. We stayed in Kuala Lumpur for about a week and decided to escape to the highlands for some chill time. By that I mean Cameron Highlands, though before leaving there’s some highlights of Kuala Lumpur that are definitely worth sharing.

  1. Nearly every cafe has Wi-Fi (and sweet coffee)¬†–¬†If you don’t want to shop, or see tall buildings, this was one of our favourite ways to pass the time in KL. We own a¬†web store¬†selling our¬†wearable art. For those that travel and work online this is what KL is so good for. You have hundreds of cafes (and I don’t just mean Starbucks) to pick from. Our top pick is the Old Town Kopitiam Sungei Wang for the friendly manager, choice of outdoor or indoor seating, large servings of special Malaysian coffee, good Wi-Fi & A.C, and powerpoints for your laptops and chargers. Also that interior! It’s old-school and so cosy! 
    Address: AS116, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Trading Hours: 10am – 10pm

     

  2. FREE BUSES –¬†Paying for public transport and being stuck in traffic for it isn’t really everyone’s favourite things to do. So at least escape one. There is no way to avoid traffic on the roads of KL but the free purple bus (more lilac than purple) from the Pasar Seni train station¬†will allow you to enjoy some A.C while en route to Pavillion & Starhill Mall. You may also meet colourful characters. We met an elderly Indian man with a funky personality who gave us a break down of our future and personality through the spelling of our names. It was great! Visit¬†GoKL for other free bus routes.¬†Image result for gokl buses
  3. CHEAP EATS –¬†14659438566_8b5e82a912_oOne of the things I miss greatly about being in Asia is how cheap it is to feed our tummies. Mind you they aren’t always the healthiest options, but I love my dirty Asian food! It can be pricey too depending on where you go but this paragraph is dedicated to, and in gratitude to the random street vendors that sell a huge variety of food. From kuihs (Malaysian style cakes) to fish crackers to street burgers. Breakfast costed RM2 each, the stalls in front of Low Yat, facing Berjaya Time Square had just what our tastebuds wanted. Large powdered donuts for Cl√©m and fried vegetable pancake for me! Lunch were sushi train visits which obviously costed a bit more, and night time meant we got to visit the burger boys! At RM2.30-RM3 for a banjo (egg) burger made before your very eyes, how could you refuse? Look out for the Ramly burger stalls!

    There are also plenty of shawarma places around the heart of the city and roti canai (Indian flatbread) is abundant @RM1.50 per serving. We once had a night out with drinks and devoured 8 pieces of roti canai with some really good dahl curry. This was at 5am by the way, this city never sleeps! Below is what RM1.50 will get you, one roti and 3 dfferent curries (fish, dahl and chicken).

    roti-canai

 

4. Natalie’s Guesthouse –¬†59583897In the midst our accomodation hopping, trying out all the affordable accomodations to find one that feels like home, Natalie’s Guesthouse hits the spot. It’s not luxurious, it definitely falls in the cheaper budget accomodations @RM40 per night for a room with a fan. It was RM60 for one with A.C. Bathrooms and toilets are shared and are located with the communal kitchen where guests can opt to cook healthier meals if they wish to get away from street food. Towels are provided and coffee & tea are on a self-serve basis. There’s also Wi-Fi and you get reasonable security; guests are given a code to key in for entry after business hours. You can request a laundry service or handwash them yourselves. There’s soap and a bucket provided. It was super old-school style! I just loved it! The Filipina that looks after the place is really lovely and will dote on you like a mother. The place is really basic and can get quite warm but being born and raised here, it just reminds me of my grandmother’s house in the village and I thought it was something really special to find in the heart of KL. Also they had a promotion on Booking.com @ RM36 per night at the time! P.S they also have a rescue cat who sometimes cosies up into your room if you leave your door open.
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There’s also a laundry area and chill out/smoking area with murals at the back. We are definitely going back there when we return to K.L!

Address: 135, Jalan Petaling, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, KL, Malaysia
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A Lucky Man

I wonder if you know

that you are a lucky man?

To savour her in her most vulnerable state;

asleep and naked, in your bed.

 

I wonder if you realise your own good fortune,

to be able to watch her brush her damp hair,

that sticks to her moist skin.

Fresh from the shower!

Your towel is all that she has

wrapped around her.

 

It kills me inside, just a little bit and sadly not enough,

to know the sounds that she makes,

are all for you to hear.

From the noisy sips of her coffee,

to her laughter,

her burps,

her muffled sobbing behind cupped palms,

her exasperated moans when she scrunches her face tightly, oh

and her explosions…

Yes, you get to hear them all.

 

I wonder if you have come to realised yet,

what a lucky man you are.

 

-Tiffany Teoh

 

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Halves Finding Other Halves

‚ÄčI spent all the time that I had, convincing myself that I am not a missing piece;

that I was complete. 

But upon meeting you, 

I realised that all along 

I had just been another half 

and with you I feel whole. 

-Tiffany Teoh 

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05/07/2016

I found an old entry in one of my various rotating journals. This one was dated 14/6/2015;

“I met an adorable French girl on the plane.

She sat next to me.

She had blonde hair and blue eyes. Her husband is Vietnamese. He only spoke Vietnamese and French.

They told me they just had their second wedding celebration in Vietnam.

She was so happy to get bread and butter on the plane after spending a month in Vietnam. She said she was also craving cheese.

She told me she had food poisoning, and that she disliked the weather and the humidity. it made her hair develop some unnecessary curls.

 

She also told me about France. She was from the east of France.

She was from the east of France.

She said living in France was hard, that it was not a guarantee to get a job after university, and even if you do, it won’t pay the bills.

She said waitressing was how people tried to make ends meet.

 

Annis and her husband make life more bearable by going to the movies once a week. Just from all she has told me, I can tell, that though she talks about all the bad she has experienced, she can see all the little beauties in life.

 

She couldn’t wait to get back to France.

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Journey to France: Day 109

After wrapping up our two week volunteering work in Langkawi,¬† we packed our tent and one backpack and we’re on the ferry out of Langkawi into Satun, Thailand. We had been looking up Islands such as Koh Tarutao and Koh Adang. We read reviews after reviews and still weren’t 100% set on either island. We thought we would decide when we were at the port and see what the prices were.

When we got to Satun however we were to learn that Tammalang Port,  which is where we were,  was not the same port as the boats that go to the islands. We were told to take a minibus to get us to that port and that the prices for the boats were 450Baht to get to Koh Tarutao and 650 baht to go to Koh Lipe from which you can then go to Koh Adang. Furthermore the Tarutao National Park was closed hence camping was no quite possible as there were no operating  amenities. The bungalows there were operating though but they were 600 baht a night at minimum.

We still decided we could just go to Tarutao and see what we could do with accommodation when we get there. Being in Thailand a few times in the past we already knew there wasn’t much else we were interested in the South of Thailand.

We managed to hitchhike a ride out of the ferry terminal to a bus station. It was pretty easy despite the man’s lack of English and our equally disgraceful lack of Thai. Even with English being my first language, I still think it is very unfair to be impatient or to look down on those who lack the ability to speak English. Some of us learn it as a first¬† language by chance and it’s the only language they learn, yet they can’t master it let alone a non native English speaker. Also it should be a courtesy for those¬† issuing a foreign country to learn a bit of the locals’ language rather than try to speak to them in English. Unless of course they request it themselves.

Our first hitchhike took us to a bus station where we didn’t have any baht at this stage to purchase tickets. Our intention was to hitchhike to the next port/town to withdraw money and purchase items then.

We stepped out of the bus terminal, unsure of which way to go next or where we came from. Simultaneously, an old man riding a motorbike with a small,¬† yellow, ice cream cart attached stopped for us. He clearly didn’t know English and our knowledge on Thai was zilch. Somehow we managed to make him understand (or so we thought)¬† that we needed to get to the port with the ferry that will take us to Koh Tarutao.

He was so happy to take us on his little vehicle. Asia had always been so much more convenient this way for their readiness to load as much  onto a vehicle as possible. We were 2 on his motorbike and me on the ice cream cart as well as our backpack (we only brought one this time) and tent.

We were riding for a while until he brought us to a terminal. I looked around and announced with¬† a profanity that I will omit from the following sentence, “****,¬† We are back at the same terminal!”

Two hours of walking, waiting and the heat was enough for me. I didn’t sleep well the night before, the thought of going somewhere new as well as leaving our puppy behind was churning an inconsistent mixture of excitement and worry.

I asked Clément if he would be willing to change plans and go somewhere else?

“Where do we go? ”

“How about Pai?”

I had heard many wonderful stories from other people about Pai, this small village in the high hills in Northern Thailand, close to the border of Myanmar. More famously known as a hippie community though the perception of that was to be challenged during our stay.

So we changed some currency at the jetty and took the next scheduled minibus to Hatyai, the closest domestic airport. The problem was,¬† the bus doesn’t go to the airport but we learnt that a bit later.

The driver initially stopped at Songkhla’s bus terminal and asked everyone to get out. The rest were locals who looked confused. So the driver then asked where each person had wanted to go including us. We said the airport. It was already about 2pm in the afternoon. We didn’t have a flight but I could only predict as long as we get there before 5pm we would have a flight that same day.

Finally after the driver had finished dropping everyone else off on his round he took us back to the station and told us we needed to get a taxi instead to get to the airport. I kind of expected this and every nerve in me wanted to scream at him “Why did you not tell us sooner and delay us by at least an hour by taking us on a useless ride around the city?!”

It was not something new for us to expect a service that was initially promised only to be told that wasn’t the case and be thrown out to the waiting pool of sharks waiting to take an unethical nip. Taxis started at 300baht.

We went to the bus station ticket counter in hopes of finding someone who would actually be honest with the prices of taxis to the airport. Usually people who have no profit to be expected from monopolising the tourism industry are the most trusted sources of information. It couldn’t be 300baht, how do locals afford that? After all the airport was about 10kms away from where we were approximately.

The ladies at the counter sank my heart when they said that was indeed the price to go to the airport as there were no other means of getting there from the bus station. We could take the local mini vans but we didn’t understand the colour systems and routes.

A bus driver that does the regular route from Satun to Hat Yai and back overheard our conversation. He engaged in a bit of conversation with us and showed us directions to the airport on the map. It was much too far to walk. Perhaps we could hitchhike but it’s always a challenge in cities to get a car to stop for you. Everyone in cities are usually living their own lives detached from those that aren’t related or affiliated with them. And they tend to find a

surprisingly

acceptable

amount

of

satisfaction from living in this manner.

“I can take you there,” he said,¬† and pointed at an intersection. The vertical Road was his route, the one perpendicular to it goes to the airport. He said from the intersection we could jump on a blue big tuk tuk and it should only cost us 60 baht. “For free,” he added with a matter of fact face.

We were happy to accept the offer of course.  He was due to depart at 3pm so we waited until then.

He was very true to his words. He dropped us off at the intersection, we stopped the right blue tuk tuk without troubles, and were confirmed the right price of 60baht. A flow of events as smooth as this when you’re in a race against time (and your time is running out) definitely puts you in a more determined mood.

We arrived at the airport before 4pm. We straight away went to several ticket counters to compare prices. We have done this in the past. Nok Air was our chosen airlines as they had the cheapest last minute flight including luggage. Of course the tickets were not the best prices we could have gotten but we both agreed to close our eyes on this one (I couldn’t even recall the price now as I blog about it). The tickets were purchased and we were about to board the plane to Chiang Mai in 2 hours!

We realised we didn’t pack any clothes for the cold weather/airports..

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Journey to France: Day 102

Hi all, in the past week, Cl√©ment and I have been volunteering at Jeffrey’s Animal Retreat,¬† here in Langkawi. Here,¬† Jeffrey single handedly or with fellow volunteers, manages the day to day activities of caring for, rescuing, homing and rehabilitating traumatised or disabled animals. Not only that, he also cares for additional stray dogs housed by Hindu and Buddhist temples. He manages this out of his own pocket and with the help of some of his friends.

In a week we rescued 3 pups, all are healthy and active babies! This morning we allowed them to interact with the other dogs for the first time.

Cuteness ensued.

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If anyone is coming¬† to Langkawi and is interested to volunteer (there’s no cost) at this shelter and accommodation is provided. You will learn so much on animal behaviour and training. You will feel more connected with animals than you ever had and these skills are transferable outside of the shelter.

Dear readers, I know most of you are animal lovers, I know there are some of you who would cry just hearing of an animal being in pain. I know there are those of you who want to do good by the helpless and will support those that share your love and passion. Jeff looks after these darlings from his own pocket (from his savings during the time he used to work in USA. The care he provides is a 24 hour commitment hence he’s very limited time to gain more income to keep his care going.

I know there are those of you who are truly love dogs. I’ve seen your posts of Facebook and your anger when dogs get hurt. $3 AUD is the cost of a shot of antibiotics for a week here. That’s less than a cup of coffee. Help keep this care going on for longer. Any little amount helps.

If you’re willing to sacrifice a cup of coffee for the life of a puppy you can donate it here : Let’s Help Some Pups!

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