Buying a phone in Malaysia is a little different to Ireland – ever since the recession hit us hard back home, there’s now more and more staff and less and less customers, so you naturally end up with a situation where you’re always going to get served, provided you can prize a member of staff away from chatting to their colleagues. My phone store of choice over here, by comparison, had some unusual system where you had to take a ticket and hang around until somebody was ready to see you. This didn’t altogether tally with what I’d hoped for, which was that I’d be able to select the staff member who looked like they might know more English. In the end, the guy I got knew from the outset he wouldn’t more than likely be up to the job and we ended up making broken-English small talk for a few minutes before he handed me over to his colleague, where we conducted our transaction through one-word-English, which goes a bit like this ‘prepaid SIM?’; ‘Yes, you want?’; ‘Yes, price?’; ‘RM8.50’; ‘Fine’. So, that was that, phone sorted, although it subsequently ended up not working for the next day and a bit, because you couldn’t activate it without making a call, and I couldn’t make a call because it came with no credit – talk about a major catch-22! Even when I bought credit and went to ring the number to top-up, it was having none of it because it knew I hadn’t made a proper call yet; talk about the height of stupidity. Next problem, a transport pass – and with it, came another issue. Over here, they seem to use these ‘Touch N’ Go’ tickets, a little like London’s Oyster Card or Ireland’s…nothing.
The idea is simple; if you throw on 150 ringgits, then that covers a month’s unlimited travel, if you put on 90, that covers 7 days, etc. Or, you can just put on however much you want that gets deducted as you take various journeys. In theory, you pass your Touch N’ Go over the reader at the station and it lets you through. I bought mine, and by about the second station, had successfully slammed full force into a barrier by passing it over the reader (while walking), only for it not to read properly and keep the gates shut. It kept doing this – over and over, so many times, that eventually, as I kept trying the card at different gates repeatedly, it was blocked and ‘blacklisted’. Great. So yesterday, I ended up making a trip to the office down in KL Sentral, which was another ticketed affair and thankfully all was finally right with the world once again, at least temporarily. The problem, it would appear, is that the monorail’s ticket machines use some sort of different system to everything else, hence the issue with it blocking me so quickly. Not that it really bothers me, the monorail’s exceptionally small given its seeming importance in the transport system of KL, so its best avoided whenever possible anyway given the sheer cramming which I’ve found myself caught in on a few occasions – yesterday morning being one that springs to mind, where the monorail pulled up and the first thing I saw was just a sweaty hand pressed up against the door amidst a load of bodies. So, overall, getting a phone and getting a transit pass has been relatively successful. Now, onto the other issue – accommodation.
This morning, as I write, we’re having to pack our stuff and leave the hotel. With nowhere sorted. Well, that’s a lie, I relented last night and booked a stay at ‘Tune Hotels’ for a couple of nights while we keep looking. Here’s a brief summary of how it’s gone so far – first place we saw was absolutely disgusting, no doubt about it. The occupants were filthy (with whom we’d be sharing) and the place stank of old cigarettes. There was internet – at the pool (who uses their laptop in or right next to a pool?), and the place, even though it was new, had been kept in a terrible state. Next place, the woman sort of doubled the price as soon as we arrived, which I don’t understand because her place was barely worth the original asking price, let alone the next price she gave us. Anyway, I could’ve just left straight away to be honest, but we ended up walking around with her and pretending to be interested, even though we weren’t, seeing the kitchen, the hallway (that had a bunch of mattresses just lying in it) and the bedrooms. Ours wasn’t the worst I suppose, but it wasn’t the best either – next! The next place we saw, well Anna went and saw by herself and I joined the fun later, was palatial to say the least – it was large, spacious, clean and quiet; in a word everything the others weren’t. The only problem was the rent was a little on the high side for us so alas, we’ve kept up our search. The next place we saw had two very friendly girls living in it, but it was also the best part of an hour and a half out of town, which is a bit unrealistic to be honest, even when the rent is nearly absolutely nothing. I could go on and on – but I’m sure you get the idea by now. So we’re still looking – the area where we’ve been staying, Bukit Bintang, is ideal to be honest and probably the place we’d both ideally like to end up staying in. Here’s to finding somewhere…
In the meantime, I’ve started work, which is interesting, and busy, so that’s something, although obviously I could still do with time to look at more places, and we’ve been trying our best to see bits of Kuala Lumpur whenever we can – to date, I haven’t reneged to a steakhouse for a meal, and have opted for local choices pretty consistently. Although we have more or less confirmed that ‘Little Wok’ is our favourite eatery in the city at the moment, and only â‚¬1.50 or so a dish – great! We went to see the aquarium last week, which set us back near-Irish prices at around â‚¬20 or so, and to be honest, I was through it in what felt like about half an hour, even though the part that took up the half an hour was excellent. Assuming we can have some sort of a breakthrough on the accommodation front today, then we may be able to take a train out to an island I was at before, Pulau Ketam, for a little nose around tomorrow, and we’re hoping to maybe try and get a trip in already next week perhaps to Penang – suggestions on a postcard please – depending on how money works out and our long-lasting accommodation search. In the meantime though, I’ve got to get packing to move once again and try and get out of here before check-out time so until the next time,
Talk to you soon!