It’s all been rather wonderful so far. I was expecting crippling heat and humidity but although it’s hot (31 degrees) there is enough of a breeze to temper it. Paul says it’s decidedly chilly compared to how it was when he was here last.
For most of the journey here we were in air conditioned environments, so it wasn’t until we arrived at Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday evening that I felt the temperature for any length of time. The hotel we stayed in that night was to be a treat after a 24 hour journey with only sporadic periods of sleep. For no apparent reason, other than he ‘must have liked the look of us’ according to Paul, the receptionist upgraded us to an open plan suite at no extra cost. Five star splendour indeed.
We only had a few hours before we needed to leave for our flight to Langkawi, so after making the most of the wide range of fabulous-looking dishes on offer for breakfast (six different flavours of porridge, dim sung, sushi and miso soup to name but a few), we headed out into the city. Kuala Lumpur is a bustling, noisy and traffic-choked capital city. It was quite a feat to cross the busy main road outside the hotel, even with the aid of a crossing – and the petrol fumes were overpowering in the heat. We set off for Chinatown, about 20 minutes’ walk away in the old part of the city, being careful to avoid the deep chasms next to the pavements which act as drainage gutters. No one seems to worry about health and safety here. On the way, we paid a visit to the Hindu Temple below. Inside the peaceful courtyard, incense was burning and people were praying – a welcome ambience after the crowded streets.
From here we walked to Petaling Street in the heart of Chinatown. It was late morning by then but Paul said it was nowhere near as busy as it would get later on. Still it was a feast for the eyes, ears and nose. Vendors were selling food of all descriptions. I saw the frog porridge Paul had put on an earlier blog entry, as well as other unusual (to our eyes) fare. It’s common practice here for pet cats to be kept in cages. The two we saw had signs on them informing people that they were not for sale – they were pets! Later we discovered that this is done to keep them safe from predators and to stop them running away. I guess the signs were to stop people getting the wrong idea. The pic below shows the narrow, chaotic and wonderful street that I would loved to have had longer to explore.
At about 1pm, a taxi took us to the airport for the hour long flight to the island of Langkawi. On arrival, laden with a trolley full of heavy luggage (we’d had to pay £8 excess baggage for being just 1kg overweight), we looked for a taxi to take us to the marina. The way this works here is that you go to the taxi stand within the airport, tell them where you want to go, pay for the journey up front and receive a piece of paper with the driver’s registration number on it. Outside, you wait in a line while a member of staff offers help to anyone who might be bemused by the operation. It was quite amusing to see everyone clutching their little pieces of paper and bobbing up and down to see approaching cars’ number plates.
We arrived at the marina at about 6 30 and made the most of the daylight (it gets dark at 7 30 all year round here) to get our stuff on to the boat. Sister Midnight, our home for the next four months is wonderful. She’s a lot more spacious than Lady Stardust and Paul has worked so hard to make it clean, inviting and comfortable. I was delighted to go down in to the air conditioned cabin and check out the facilities, the galley and all the extra cupboards and lockers – mentally planning where to put things. This is an ongoing job but luckily there’s no great rush at the moment. After a quick trip to a nearby supermarket for basic provisions, and a light snack as it was getting late, we did just enough sorting for the night’s needs before a much-needed sleep. Below is a picture of some monkeys I was thrilled to see on our way out this evening. There were several more following them and Paul managed to get them on video.