Happy New Year. I first started writing a blog at the end of November, 2008, so if I can hold that one steady for another 11 months, it’ll be a record of dedication worthy of some sort of celebration. A can of beer or two, maybe.
But I admit, quite openly and apologetically, that in more or less a month, I haven’t found time to write anything at all – the site had to ring in the New Year entirely by itself with not so much as a single new post on its barren pages since my trip to the Genting Highlands, which feels like almost a lifetime ago. Everytime this happens, in my mind at least, the site always gets slightly ‘personalised’ as a kid, wondering what it did that was so bad that it’s been completely abandoned, which at least always means I can’t leave it for a couple of months without writing something. I’ll do my very best to summarise what’s been going on, but the schedule’s been fairly hectic; first of all, as I was getting used to walking the mean streets of Kuala Lumpur once again, my wallet was robbed clean out of my buttoned pocket at a monorail station one afternoon. Then, we came to Christmas and things always sort of get a bit out of control then, even if you’re in summer-time heat and especially in retail-heaven KL, where not a single effort was spared to take the decorations to the next level – my mother made her way out from a snow-covered Dublin to be with us, during which we really had lots of fun, enjoyed Christmas in a setting we’re most likely not going to be enjoying it in again anytime soon, before heading off for Langkawi for a couple of days. No sooner had she departed for the long journey back to Ireland, before another couple of friends of mine showed up in town, and once again, we begun our sightseeing tour of KL. But a month can’t be all full of (relative) highs and as soon as they left, I was struck by a particularly formidable stomach ailment, which has seen me largely missing in action for close to a week. Finally, as we race ever-rapidly into the next month, and I face finishing up my time in Kuala Lumpur in less than a month and a half, it seems the least I can do is relay a couple of tales, if nothing else.
So, having recovered from what must have been nearly First Degree burns imposed by the scalding mountain sunlight up at Genting, the next thing on our social calendar was to wait for my mother to turn up to Kuala Lumpur. Having been robbed just the week before, the visit, to my mind at least, took on an almost national importance. However, anyone who spent Christmas back home this year will be able to say much better than I can that once again, Europe in general sort of didn’t really manage too well to cope with the onslaught of bad weather received in the final run-up to Christmas. Flights were cancelled, passengers were left stranded and nobody really knew for sure what flights were going where, if any were going, or what was happening. So in a way, the first problem was ensuring that my mother did in fact board a plane, and that that plane in turn then departed from Dublin, and that, critically, the next plane from Amsterdam also left, since otherwise my mother would have been left in Amsterdam over Christmas with not much to do, and in a place even colder than Ireland. As it turned out, while her first flight was 4 hours late, it did leave from Dublin and nearly 24 hours after setting out, she arrived into Malaysia’s very grand, bordering on the palatial, KLIA airport.
I say very grand, because myself and Anna have both been in it only a handful of times – and that’s if you chopped off most of the fingers on that hand. Air Asia flights arrive and depart from more of an outbuilding on the other side of the airfield, and being ever-frugal with the finances, we’ve never really arrived or departed on any airline other than Air Asia, except for when we both first arrived.
Truly, the following 10 days were great fun. Having not seen my beloved Swiss Garden since we last stayed in it, we all availed of its Ireland-like interior climate and relaxed on what became an almost worryingly nightly basis in the Blue Chip Lounge. For Christmas dinner however, we repaired to the Crowne Plaza for buffet lunch, during which I endeavoured to make up every last sen spent with an additional plate-load of food, and simultaneously make up for four months of not completely pigging out. Thankfully I was by no means ‘unwell’ then, and no effort was spared in getting up and picking up more food over and over again until we had successfully sat there for nearly 3 hours or so and were more or less the last people, excepting staff, still there. With so much food on-board, it was all I could do the next day to relax in the pool and try not to sink. So, as St. Stephen’s Day usually is, it was a complete write-off, with only Monday being the first day anyone was up to much, with a trip onto the Kuala Lumpur hop-on, hop-off bus tour being the order of the day. The bus tour quite conveniently leaves from the end of our street and so we’d always seen it pass by, but never really knew where exactly it went from there. As it turns out, the KL bus tour goes on what can only be described as a very lengthy jaunt back and forth across the city, the route somehow very carefully never meeting itself again, even though it really should. The other thing to note is that as bus tours go, the ‘bus’ aspect of the title is obviously given more consideration, and so the bus is allowed become as packed as needs be.
So off we went, taking in some of Chinatown before coming to our first stop that we actually got off at – Central Market. I’ve seen free shuttle buses for Central Market near our road a couple of times, but had always written it off to a certain extent as being a ‘market’ Market if that makes sense. And after a while, it gets very irritating having to haggle for every bit of souvenir knick-knack that you want to buy, so lately I’ve been avoiding anything with ‘Market’ in the title like the plague. Central Market however, it turns out, has been open since 1936 and is more like the very first effort at a shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur, and comes with fixed prices and most importantly, air conditioning. As it happens, the prices are very reasonable considering the busloads of tourists being dropped off here every 15 minutes throughout the day. We spent quite a while looking around, making some purchases and seeing if ‘Dr Chin’ was around to do some palm readings…but alas, he wasn’t. From there, it was back outside along with all the other tourists to wait for the next party bus to rock up, and it wasn’t long before it did, coming packed to the rafters with hardly a sinner getting off. So, for the next 10 minutes, the mother and I continued our journey perched awkwardly on the steps of the bus, considering that to be a much better option than the previous, which was standing downstairs, where the roof was set so low that we had to stand with our heads bowed.
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before the party bus made its next calling stop on its arduous tour of Kuala Lumpur. And, since this is turning into something of a manuscript, we’ll save the rest for another day soon…