I'm sitting at the foot of the Petronas Towers. Not a bad office! The problem is that it's hard to concentrate, I cannot stop looking at them. I don't know why they fascinate me so much.
The detour through Kuala Lumpur will have been worth it, just to see them. Okay, let's start from the beginning.
I arrive at KL after a bus ride not for the faint of heart. The Cameron Highlands road is winding like a ball of wool. The bus turns, then brakes; my indian lunch stewing in my belly. When I arrive at my hostel, I say no to the beer pong game and free beer: I want to see the towers right away. The sky is covered, but nothing will stop me.
I start walking, 5 minutes, and then small droplets. It won't be that bad, say I to myself. And then downpour. I'm almost half way, already soaking wet as if I were coming out of the shower. I'm starting to get fed up of getting rained on all the time! I'm really stubborn and I want to see them, but my second pair of shoes and my only clean clothes are now completely wet. Three quarters of the way, I see half of one of the towers. But I cannot stand the rain anymore. What a mess. I turn back, miserable. The 20 minute walk in the rain is daunting. What more could happen ..? Getting lost, of course!! Why walk 20 minutes in the right direction when you can walk in the wrong one??
I'll see those two buggers soon!
My day begins with an Indian lunch next door (for a change). This will be my culinary headquarters the next few days, I'll eat 2 meals out of three! It's really good and for $ 1-2 it's sinful not to make the best of it. After a morning trying to settle paperwork, I join Konstantine, a German guy whom I met briefly in Ipoh, who is here at the same time. An avid fan of climbing, he finds a center where we can go. He brings with him Christophe, a Quebecer! Hello home!! Konstantine teaches us a lot of stuff, and I really have more fun than I expected! I love it.
In the evening, I finally see my two babies: the Petronas Towers! I'm lucky, the sky is clear (which rarely happens in KL). I take way too many pictures, I am happy as a child on Christmas morning. I've dreamed of seeing them since I was young. I had even begun writing a play with a character who becomes an architect because of them! Then I visit the Heli bar, a bar on the roof of a building facing the towers and the city!
The next day I walk in the city, but I'm rather tired. The city is very badly laid out and it take a while to go from point A to B. There is not much to see anyway. I find comfort, as always, in the Indian restaurant where they treat me almost like family now: they smile to me when I arrive!!! This is rare I'm telling you. I've become a real pro at playing with my food. I eat only with one hand like a champ! I am starting to miss the Japanese bidet on the other hand; it would be nice to sooth the welding torch sensation that await you in the detour! Oh, also, it is to the songs and music coming from the neighboring Indian temple that I wake up every morning.
For the rest, Kuala Lumpur remains quite quiet, read a little boring. But it's okay, I needed to be just stable in one place a few days. I still have the afternoon (which will be devoted to this famous blog) and then the night bus.
Boarding for: Singapore
A luxury night bus: yes please! Individual TV screen and adjustable electric seat that almost turns into a bed ... yes sir! A night ride with a good night sleep.
So, I get to Singapore at 5:45 am. This time, I don't have a hostel, I stay with couchsurfing host (the
travelers community; you are hosted free of charge at a local's place, allowing you to make friends and live a little more like them). My host: Shariff. I walk through the deserted streets of Singapore, including the beautiful Arab quarter, where a splendid mosque resembling the castle from Aladdin, thrones.
Shariff picks me up by car after work. He is a doctor and has just finished a 36 hour shift, as if it was nothing. We get to know each other on the way to his place and drop my bag. I need a little 23 mins nap! Shariff gets an hour (he deserved it) while I dip in the pool.
And then he brings me to a trendy cafe (finally a real, good coffee!!!). Conversations are super interesting, he opens up a lot and tells me stuff about himself and life here.
He is busy for the rest of the day, so we plan to meet in the evening. I begin my exploration of the city with the National Museum of Singapore. It's primarily focused on the history of the country, so I'm learning a lot. Then I walk quite randomly in different areas. The architecture of the city is incredible, it overflows with originality, diversity, creativity ... It is filled with beautiful cafes, bars, restaurants; It is clean, colorful, in short, love it. Even the Chinatown is super clean, ordered and well maintained.
I arrive at the famous Marina Bay. This is where the Marina Bay Sands hotel is, the gigantic three pillars, support an enormous structure resembling a boat. The science centre just below looks like a lotus flower. The bay is as impressive as I have heard. The shopping center of the hotel counts only low-end stores, like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. I obviously feel I belong and that it is I could shop here for days (NOT!).
I cross to the Gardens by the Bay; large gardens, two immense biospheres and the famous Supertree grove. I arrive at the grove for the sunset. They are tree-like structures standing between 25 to 50 meters tall, covered with colorful plants. Everyone finds a spot for the light show that makes them come alive. Tonight, it's Star Wars themes. These structures are gorgeous and impressive. The show begins, the trees light up, the Star Wars music is loud. My little boy's eyes and ears are overjoyed. It is magical.
I walk through the Marina Bay Sands, admire the illuminated panorama of the bay, and walk in
search of an affordable shopping mall. Why, are you asking?
Fact time. You know how sometimes we find that some nationalities smell 'different' from others? Well it's the same for us! In Kuala Lumpur, I was told: you smell good for a white guy. (Yes I had the same reaction too!). After discussion, the person could not describe precisely the smell, but it apparently pinches in the nose like wasabi. So, I ask Shariff what he thinks of it, since he hangs out with many white people. He confirms. Our smell (I mean when we do not wear half a bottle of Yves St-Laurent, twelve layers of deodorant and stuff), resemble that of sour milk. So that's it, ever since I've been walking around with the phobia of smelling like sour milk. As soon as I get too close to someone I panic: 'Excuse me madam I hope I do not smell too much like sour milk!''.
Back to where we were. I'm looking for a shopping centre because I got so sweaty today, my sweater glued to my back, that I obviously must smell like sour milk. So I want a new t-shirt! I walk past Glutton lane, a street filled with street food. I have to eat a bite. Then I go to the nearest Uniqlo, buy me a spare t-shirt. Moment of semi-bliss.
Once Shariff comes out of the show he was seeing, he comes to pick me up. He offers me to visit some places and he can't believe it when I tell him everything I had time to do and see during my day. Well, since I saw most of it, we'll have a drink in a hotel with a view of the bay. Stylish hotel, uncompromising view, good cocktail. Exhausted, we then go back home, and I dilute my sour milk smell by taking a good shower.
My second day begins very slowly. Paperwork to set, planning, etc. We end up leaving, both still tired from our respective days yesterday. My friend Thomas, who lived in Singapore, recommended me to go to Paradise Dynasty, a restaurant located in a poor shopping centre, where they had the kindness of heart to put a Gucci on either side of the street so that people don't have to cross the street. Dim Sum lunch and Chinese specialties. Always served with excellent conversations with Shariff. Our car rides in traffic are excellent for learning about each other's lives, and having a blast because we listen to the same music. We relax in a cafe for a while, before parting for a bit of the evening. I continue to walk, it is Friday night, the city comes alive, the terraces are full, the atmosphere is warm, people are beautiful.
Later, I join Shariff and his friends and we go out to a club. Drinks are actually large collective pitchers that people share. Since my budget is limited, I stay quiet. We are tired, and since the two have to take an early flight the next day, we leave early. I'm the designated driver! This is my first time driving on right. On a motorbike it's easy, but in car it's another experience.
My stay in Singapore was short but packed. I was really lucky to come across Shariff as a host. He's a really good guy with a good head on his shoulders, big heart and a crazy story behind him. He will remain a friend for sure. After the luxury of Singapore, it is time to change direction and make a step in the past by visiting a country that has only recently become accessible to tourists, after being isolated from the rest of the world for years.
Next stop: Myanmar (Burma)
P.S. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read. These posts take between 6-10 hours of work each. If you have some feedback or things you would like me to improve, or comments you cant contact me here