Yesterday we finally went to view a place that was so good we actually more or less told the guy straight away we'd take it – even though it's not available for a little while, so we'll have to continue Tune-ing it up for at least a week. So, finally, I'm pleased to report that we now have a place to live; in a week, as I say. With that issue sorted, we were able to just get out and enjoy a bit of what Kuala Lumpur has to offer; and what it has to offer in plentiful supply, is shopping centres. Not only do they offer a temporary respite from the ridiculous heat outside (sometimes so cold, you actually wish you'd brought a jumper with you), but they also offer you a chance to drop every last Ringgit you own. It'd be safe to say that we've spent a fair amount of time bouncing from shopping centre to shopping centre in fact but it'd also be safe to say that Malaysians seem to love attending them in droves – so much so that when we showed up on Friday evening to try and get one of my favourite evening dishes, the Teppanyaki, there was unfortunately, already a queue that'd put manners on anyone already waiting…just to order. We didn't wait. The other unfortunate thing about our lack of a proper place to live right now is that we're also stuck bouncing around hotels – our room at Tune is perfectly fine, cheap and cheerful, but small enough that the aim of the game is always to stay outside for as long as possible – not to mention the need to pay for the air conditioning and the internet, which we don't particularly agree with – which sort of necessitates lengthy visits to shopping centres at all times of the day.
So, for Sunday, we thought it might be time to take a break from the city and remembering Pulau Ketam, or ‘Crab Island' from last years trip, I decided that might be the best plan. Now, I'm not too sure how I did this, but I somehow entertained myself much more on the train journey last time around than the pair of us did this time – the train (the ‘KTM Komuter', although there's absolutely not a chance I'd ever ‘Komute' all the way from the last stop) seemed to take forever and on the return journey, I actually started to nod off, head up against the window. And as I dozed off, it felt colder and colder, and then before I knew it, I'd had one of those awkward muscle spasms for all to see, as I startled myself awake having narrowly avoided kicking the guy in front of me in the shins. Anyway, as I was saying, on and on we went, for what seemed to be approaching the fullness of time, until after over an hour, we hit Port Klang. The next problem – last time I went there, I accidentally wandered into some port where you can catch a boat to Indonesia. Anyway, I had a suspicion I was in the wrong place, asked a group of old men sitting down playing cards where to go for Pulau Ketam and that was that. This time though, with Anna in tow, things were a bit different as all I could hear was ‘Mister, Mister' as throngs of people tried to…buy Anna I think. Anyway, I don't have a sale on for her any time soon so we pressed on…
We finally reached the right place, which now requires a trek through what looks Dublin Airport's long-term car park and terminates abruptly at the edge of the pier, at which a woman sat behind a little table like we were at some sort of church sale, with prices hand-written in front of her for the ferry. Now, when I say ferry, I really do use the term loosely to say the very least – imagine a long, narrow boat that looks like some sort of speedboat from the outside, but feels like being on a Ryanair flight from the inside. Basically, the windows are all dirtied over so you can't really see out, the boat itself sits low in the water so much so, that you're only barely seated above the water line and the whole experience strongly resembles what I'd imagine being inside a washing machine on full spin is probably like. That said, the return ticket is only the equivalent of 2.50, so I'm happy to be in a washing machine at any speed as long as it gets me there at that price. Once we were all suitably squashed in like sardines, we set off, the heat building up slowly inside the ‘cabin' as we bounced up and down over the waves, while I tried to get to grips with the Chinese action film playing on the ridiculously-new expensive-looking TV at the front of our ageing vessel. The boat always takes a while, and it was only fitting that having taken so long on the train, we take equally as long on the boat and we did, taking around 35 minutes to make it to Pulau Ketam; which my poor memory didn't actually tell me was indeed Pulau Ketam, so we ended up getting off and asking, just in time too as a red beetle about the size of my fist was slowly making its way towards us on the boat.
Pulau Ketam is a true, honest example of a ‘land untouched by modernity'. I thought it last time I visited last year and I thought it again this time for sure. From the moment you get off, the paths (and houses) are all built up on stilts and slalom across sand, dirt, rubbish and water, sometimes all four together. As you walk along the…main path, because it's not really so much a street…you pass fishing restaurants aplenty, shops selling little knick-knacks and after about 30 seconds of walking, that's it, the main ‘path' is over and you suddenly find yourself facing back to either a Chinese temple one way, the main path another or the final path, which brings you down to the locals’ houses, which consist of little wooden and corrugated-metal constructions perched atop stilts buried into the sand, all with front patios facing straight onto one of these elevated paths, the back patios (which you can just walk straight onto yourself if you feel so inclined) all forming a sort of makeshift jetty out into the waterways. The whole thing looks incredibly haphazard but people get on with it, and it all seems to work out – and I'm sure the fish is delicious (most of the time). The only unfortunate thing is there's not really a whole lot to do once you've taken it in, and before long we braced ourselves for the return ‘crossing', during which things got so packed I'm afraid it was standing room only (imagine something the width and length of a short-haul plane with people standing in the aisle to get the idea). But, if nothing else, it was nice to escape the city for a day and do something useful with the weekend – now that we finally have a place to live…soon…!
Until next time,