Getting to Kuala Lumpur

I have to apologize to myself for this late post.  I visited KL in April, and now it’s August.  Part of the reason this is coming so late is I can’t remember the details about my trip.  Even my little handwritten notes seem to stop around this time.  Was I having too much fun to write?  Or maybe I was just too full, because most of my pictures are of food.

We left the Perhentian Islands early in the morning.  We took a 30 minute speed boat ride from the island to the mainland, then a quick taxi ride and arrived at the bus station just 15 minutes after the bus had left. So we had to wait about 4 hours for the next bus.  For the 8 hour bus ride.  And the Kota Baru bus station is not a great place to hang out. It’s all open air, so we sat in the heat, and there was only one “working” toilet that served the entire bus station and the busy market next door.  The toilet was the worst thing I had seen in a long time, and despite walking all over, I could not find another washroom or even a coffee shop.  I found a cake shop, but they had no toilet.  I ended up walking across the highway to a restaurant that was closed and used their gravity flush toilet.  How?  Well, I’m pretty sure that the little girl playing among the dining tables lived there, and I may have just used the household toilet.  She stared at me and didn’t say anything.  My bladder was about to explode, and I would have bought something if anything had been for sale.  Sorry!

When we finally arrive in KL it was late at night and we were pretty exhausted from a day of travelling.  Our hostel was just one skip and a train ride away, and soon we could eat, shower, and go to bed.  Why is there a huge line at the train station?  People are standing in lines, but no one is moving.  Actually, no one is going through the turnstiles.  There are constant announcements over the loudspeaker, but we can’t make sense out of it.  We finally make it to the ticket booth, and the exasperated agent tells us that the train is broken.  It might come in an hour.

Well that’s ok.  We’ll just call a GrabTaxi.  We are not the first to think of this?  There are no Grabs, Ubers or meter taxis anywhere.  Just long lines of more exhausted people.  We’ll have to hoof it.

It’s not far, but we barely know how to get out of the train station.  We know which way to go, as the crow flies, but we are on the wrong level of the highway system.  After going halfway down and then back up an off ramp (of gridlocked cars) we make the bold move to go back into the station.  A few taxis drive by, but they all refuse to pick us up.

Back in the station, we take an elevator and are suddenly in a mall.  A few more turns, and we are finally on a street far enough away from the train disaster that we can get a taxi.

Our hostel comes with rave reviews, and it’s simultaneously great and terrible.  The door is secured by a buzzer, which I appreciate for security, and we walk up a narrow stairwell to the front desk.  We leave our shoes with the dozens of other pairs of footwear that smell like dozens of backpacker feet.  The staff are friendly, and we walk up another set of narrow stairs to our floor.

The hostel is really clean, and the AC is nice a cool.  But I feel like I’m in a submarine.  Suddenly I realize that there are no windows.  The narrow hostel is squished between two buildings, and the only windows are the pair of tiny portals in the shared washroom.  8 beds per room.  4 rooms on this floor.  That’s 32 people on the third floor and the only windows are at the far end.  I hope there’s no fire.  Don’t panic.

I can forgive the hostel for not providing water.  It’s not uncommon to not have free water.  What’s uncommon is to have no water.  For water we have to leave the hostel and go to the 7-11 next door.  That’s annoying.  What’s more annoying is that the 7-11 is always sold out of the cheap water.  I feel like I’m being scammed.

Throughout the hostel are signs that boast free wifi and laundry services.  The free wifi is misleading because it only works in the common room, and only sometimes.  The laundry services is an out right lie.  When I bring the front desk a bag of laundry they tell me that it takes a long time.  I tell them it’s ok, because we’ll be here for a while.  “It’s better you do it yourself,” they reply.  But when I ask where to do it, they have no idea.  After asking several staff and other guests, the only laundry we can find is by the YMCA – which can be accessed by the train.  As we take our dirty clothes on a train ride, we see a staff person post a new sign outside.  “Laundry Services.”

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