Archive | August, 2010

Malaysia Madness

4 Aug

This weekend I went to Malaysia with two other volunteers to apply for a 60 day visa at the Thai consulate in Kuala Lumpur. After a 3 hour bus ride from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai ($6.00 including a bottle of water and cookies) we took a flight to KL. I went through some hassle leaving Chiang Mai because I had overstayed my Thai visa by 2 days. The immigration officer took me to another desk and left me there alone, saying “One moment, mai pen rai (no problems).” However, that one moment turned out to be about 25 minutes. Finally, worried that I was going to miss my flight to KL, I asked someone else if they could help me. Officer #2 then went to try and find officer #1. Again I waited alone for 10 minutes. Fortunately officer #3 came to my rescue and filled out the necessary paperwork for me to get out of the country. I arrived at my gate in the midst of boarding, just in the nick of time.
I had no idea what to expect from KL. Zoe wouldn’t tell us anything and I didn’t do any research before we left. Mostly I thought it would be similar to Thailand (mostly poor and kind of dirty), but boy was I wrong. It’s one of the wealthiest countries in Asia and you can certainly tell. KL is a beautiful city full of amazingly expensive cars, rich Arab tourists and very high end shopping malls.

Twin towers: tallest buildings in Malaysia

Boy Zoe (there are two Zoes here at Mirror, boy Zoe and girl Zoe) lives there, so we stayed at his house. The house is split into several different apartments. Zoe’s is on the bottom floor and his sister lives on the upper level. Julian stayed in a back building (the old maid’s room and his father’s prayer room) and I stayed upstairs with Zoe’s sister, brother in law and nephew. The family were amazing hosts. Imagine the nicest, most warm people you have ever met. Multiply that by 3 and then you’re somewhere close to describing them. I felt right at home there.

Zoe’s house in Kuala Lumpur

We got our visas without too much trouble. Just a long wait at the Thai embassy. The rest of the time we spent hanging out with Zoe’s friends and family. Again, his friends are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Zoe drove us around and showed us around the city. Most importantly, it’s filled with DELICIOUS food. Zoe took us to all the best restaurants. I must say, Thailand has got nothing on Malaysia when it comes to food. Thai food is really good, but it gets a little monotonous day after day. There’s so much more variety available in KL. I was really grateful I didn’t have to eat rice 3 times a day. Julian is a vegetarian, so we ate at a lot of Indian restaurants because they always have good veggie options. I didn’t mind at all though since Indian is my favorite kind of food.

Tosai and Dahl: a really thin rice flour crepe with lentil curry dipping sauce (sort of like Indian hummus) = PARADISE

Italian and Mexican food makes an interesting combo, no?
The toilets are much nicer in Malaysia (not to mention you can flush the toilet paper) but some people still don’t get it.

Imagine you’re in the center of a shopping mall filled with designer stores. Wall to wall Gucci, Prada, Lious Vitton. Food court with $50 per plate restaurants. Then you go to the top level, exit into a hidden hallway and emerge into this crazy Asian food court. THIS is where the locals eat.

If you couldn’t tell, I had a great time. I met a lot of great people and ate a lot of good food. However, I don’t think it would have been as fun without a local to show me around. I wish we could have stayed longer. We only had 2 days to spend there, half of which was taken up with visa stuff. On Wednesday morning we woke up at 4:00 am in order to get to the airport in time for our flight at 7:00. After a very long day of traveling we made it back to Mirror. Although I had so much fun, I was happy to be back. Mirror has really begun to feel like home.