Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Hindu Temple (Chinatown) - Malaysia

In the cover of darkness we landed in KL safely after a six-hour, red-eye flight out of Seoul. When the doors of the plane opened and as I walked down the steps, I was immediately welcomed with that warm, balmy weather that I knew so well.  With a little drizzle of warm droplets gently kissing me on my weary face, the Siberian cold blast from the North was a distant memory at best.  And for that brief moment as I was making my way to the main arrival terminal, I realized that the adventure that I had been eagerly awaiting for was just about to begin.


While passengers next to me were snoring like a truck driver resting after a long haul, I drifted in and out of my frustration with getting some Zs throughout the flight. Besides the engine noise and the turbulence, the kids fussing around and hollering did not help the matter either.  Can’t these parents control their kids, or do I have to reach over and put them in line?  Times like this, I am so glad that I do not have any kids.  To all you mothers and fathers out there, I do not know how you manage to survive (or survived).  Anyway, why do I bother trying to sleep, right?  I should have just popped in a DVD, eh?


It was a welcome relief not to deal with the ever present, overly aggressive touts at the airport.  People were very helpful and they were not out to drain me like an ATM. Heck, these guys probably had bigger fish to fry anyway.  I hardly look and act like a foreign tourist.  They probably thought I was a local Chinese tourist.  Sometimes, being Asian looking has its advantages traveling throughout Asia.  I can just go about my business like a chameleon and not make a huge splash.  Of course, the downside is that I always get some Caucasian traveler asking me for directions, or asking me how to use the computer at the Internet café. 


My overall impression of the city has been very positive.  The city is very modern, clean and developed.  The road signs are very well marked, and I did not have to play Frogger while crossing the streets.  People drive on the left and walk on the left, so it was a little strange having to look right before darting across.  Or, was it left?  When in doubt, always look both ways, and then do another take before scampering across.


I got lucky and found an open bunk at a hostel in the Little India/Chinatown area.  The prices they were asking for at the other places made me scream out, “Are you crazy? Don’t you know that I am on a strict budget of around $15 a day!?”  I think they thought I was the one that had a few screws loose.  They were probably thinking, “Dream on, buddy!  Welcome to Malaysia!”


My first time here, so I could not really figure out if I was back in India, China, or some other place.  There are three main groups of people here: Indians, who came originally from the southern part of India (Tamil region); Chinese, well they are everywhere as you know; and, the Malay people, who are by law lives in Malaysia or Singapore, professes to be a Muslim, speaks Malay, and one of his/her parents is a Malaysian citizen.  So, technically speaking, a Chinese or an Indian (or a Korean) could be Malay if he/she chooses to convert to Islam and learns to speak Malay fluently.  So, with such diverse language, culture, and religion, you begin to wonder how they are able to live with each other peacefully.  Well, there was a time when they fought, but common sense got the better of them and they decided to coexist in harmony. Although Malay is the official language, English is very prevalent and used in writing pretty widely everywhere to bridge the gap amongst the many, varied peoples of Malaysia.  Of course, the occasional body language always helps the cause as well (that would be me doing the chicken impression to figure out the mystery meat dish).


So, with the exception of the lodging issue, overall, your humble writer is pretty pleased with his first time visit to KL, Malaysia.  He might be returning…



Until next time,