Malaysia – Journeys, Not Destinations

Our hostel in Kuala Lumpur was not easy to get to from the airport. The sky opened up as soon as we landed, and we were stuck in a lightning and thunder storm. We took the first bus we found to a SkyTrain to a bus station, then we had no clue where to go. After finding a ritzy hotel and pretending we were guests in order to get the free Internet code, we were able to map out directions to our destination via my iTouch. We wandered a bit, cause the street signs in KL are garbage, but finally found our hostel. It smelled like veteran hippies and cat pee, and it was full. Even though we put down a deposit and reserved our beds, etc., it was full.

They took us to their “guest house” accommodations 5 minutes away. Not great, but at least it wasn’t full of smelly kids.

Neither of us really loved Kuala Lumpur. It was unbelievably hot, and all of the attractions cost more than our meals and accommodations, put together. We only had a day there, so we went to the KL tower, which is supposed to have the best view in the city. It was too pricy to go to the top though, so we satisfied ourselves with pictures from the bottom.

Kuala Lumpur Tower


Our hostel was in the heart of Chinatown, which was very interesting.

Kuala Lumpur Chinatown

We wandered around the shops and vendors, and Zac just had to try some weird dried meat. It tasted like I imagine dog or cat food would taste.

Zac's Dried Chicken, aka, DOG FOOD

Dried Pork, Dried Chicken, and Bacon

Lots of towns in Southeast Asia seem to love Reggae, so we ate at a nearby reggae bar, which felt a little out of place, but kind of awesome.

The coolest thing we tried came at dinner time. We happened upon a food stand that had tables in the back with boiling water pots in the middle. They offer up some raw foods on kebabs, and you can cook them to your own preference. One section had meats for grilling (which they do for you) and the other has veggies and dumplings and such for boiling. It was pretty fun, and really delicious!

Malaysian Fondue?

It’s the journey, not the destination, right?

Beware: long story ahead. End here if you’ve had enough of me.

Well, we had quite the journey getting from Kuala Lumpur to Thailand. It seemed easy as pie at first. We’d take an 8-hour bus ride to Hatyai, and then a 12-hour overnight bus to Phuket. Then we’d find a place to stay, drop our stuff, and go exploring.

We were only a 5-minute walk from the bus station, so we bought a ticket to Hatyai for 40 Malaysian Ringgit each, which is about $13. Everything in Malaysia is like a Chinese Fire Drill, from getting off the SkyTrain to getting on a bus, it’s frantic. Now deemed the Malaysian Fire Drill. We waited for the bus for about 30 minutes, and then had exactly 45 seconds to throw our bags underneath, and board the bus before it started pulling away. Some people were in the wrong seats, so we all had to wait, as the bus drove away, while they moved in slow-motion to their proper seats.

Our Comfy Bus

The first bus was very comfortable, and we didn’t mind too much that the 8-hour ride took 9 hours. There were women dressed in head-to-toe burkas. Gloves, socks, veils over their eyes, the whole deal. I can’t say that I’ve really seen that before, and it was very interesting. The bus driver stopped at all the immigrations and custom stops, and bam, we were all set for Thailand. The journey was relatively uneventful, though we did actually see the victim of a motorbike accident sprawled out on the street, partially covered with a sheet. That was kind of intense.

We arrived in Hatyai at about 7:30pm, and found a bus company with a bus headed to Phuket at 8:30, and they said for us to be back there by 8. We frantically bought the ticket, scarfed down the only remotely meal-like item in the place (the spiciest cup o noodles I’ve ever had), used the bathroom, and stocked up on snacks for the overnight journey. As we sat waiting in front of the bus, watching Thai soap operas on the fuzzy TV, the minutes ticked by, and nobody was getting on the bus. Finally, at 8:40, I went to the counter to see what was up. In a miming skit only found in foreign language conversations, he let me know that the bus was in fact on schedule and would leave at 8:30, which was 50 minutes away. Apparently Hatyai is an hour behind Kuala Lumpur.

Ah well. We finally boarded the bus, which was not nearly as nice or as comfortable as the first one. The TV was playing Thai music videos, and blaring the Thai pop songs over the loudspeaker. I figured it would stop when the bus departed, or at least when the karaoke DVD ended. We found entertainment for about 3 songs, but then it was unbelievably awful. I considered all means of escaping the torture – from throwing myself out of the bus the next time it slowed down, to ripping the speakers from the ceiling. When we stopped at midnight, Zac fished our earplugs out of our bags underneath, which did little to soften the screams of cuckolded Thai lovers. I even asked the porter if they could turn the music down, but I’m not sure if he understood me. (Pointing to ear, “music?” Pointing down, “down?”) Finally, around 12:30, they turned the music off, and Zac and I both faded in and out of unpleasant sleep for the next few hours. Oh and that 12-hour bus ride? It was only 7 hours, which means we arrived at the Phuket bus station at 3:30 am, rather than the originally expected 9:30am. We waited/slept/whined in the bus station until the tourist information office opened at 6:30. Then it was off to finally find a place to stay in Thailand.

We’re safe in Kata Beach, Phuket (pu-ket), Thailand for now. Thanks for sticking with us!


Categories: Asia, Food, Malaysia | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Malaysia – Journeys, Not Destinations

  1. Grace

    When I say this music is too loud, Tommy says, “If the music is toooo loud, you’re toooo old.” Maybe that’s not always the case. Tee!Hee! I glad you finally got there safely.

  2. Mama Jo

    Wow! That all sounds like quite the experience. Ill be looking forward to hearing some of the Thai love songs I’m sure you both have memorized and are dying to share with us!!!!! Its all part of the experience, and Im happy for both of you. Now Caitlin, if you come back in full burka, we shall have a talk…………….

    As far as the dried meat?????????????????? I’ll take your word for it Zacky zac…..Props to you for not being afraid to try new food, neither am I babe, just food that I cant recognize!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing your stories! Love you guys,
    Mama Jo

  3. Kathy Heisey

    Oh sure it all sounds so exciting when you plan a trip from the Internet brochures. The azure blue water, the almond eyed Malaysian babes with orchids in their hair ” Come to Malaysia” the airlines taunt and sing! Hell that’s how Mike ended up on a smelly diesel submarine with 90 sweaty men!….and a tatoo of a hula dancer to prove it, although he has little to no recollection of the experience thanks to Lucky Tiger beer… Or was it Lucky Tiger cologne? Or perhaps it was both…actually it was both? You know dried chicken looks a lot like well… Dried anything you say it is! For lily white Americans It Is Chicken… For the Chinese it’s duck and for the locals it’s the Taco Bell chihuahua!…. And yet I’m still envious of you both being there experiencing unwashed hippies and urin soaked kids…. I dare say that would be some good times to resell fondly albeit ten years later.
    Be well Zac and Caitlin
    Love Scott and Kathy

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