originally posted 23 November 2006, 6:07 PM
Talk about a day of errors. I woke up at 5:30am today to catch my flight from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Hong Kong. I got there with plenty of time to spare, even enough time to get breakfast at the airport. My taxi driver made it from Xujiahui to Pudong in 35 minutes, I think a new record (via A20 no less).
Once the plane was fully boarded in Pudong, it was announced to us that there would be a short delay since air traffic control had not approved our departure. Fast forward two hours. Still no approval, still sitting in the airplane. You know the situation is grim when they start serving the inflight meal before you’re inflight.
I landed in Hong Kong at 1240pm, easily missing my 1235pm departure to Kuala Lumpur. I went to the transfer desk to see what my options were, and the next flight out at 330pm was oversold and had 10 people on the standby list. They were further flummoxed by the fact I was in the transfer area without a ticket already (since I had come via two separately booked itineraries and thus wasn’t checked in to the flight to KL). In any case, they told me to come back at 230pm.
The designated time roles around and out of whatever miracle, they had a seat for me on the flight. Quick sidebar: I love Hong Kong, but can’t wait to get there on Wednesday. Thus at 645pm I landed in Kuala Lumpur. The first two things that hit me were first how Muslim the country is (headscarves, no pork/alcohol signs on windows of restaurants) and second, how many Indians there were. I changed 500 RMB for ringgit, and bought a ticket (35 ringgit) on the KL Sentral Espress train. The airport is some 70km out of town and the train got me to the central station in 30 minutes. From there it was a 10 ringgit taxi ride to the hostel.
The hostel I’m staying at is quite nice. Clean, very nice staff and decently furnished. There is a sign at the door saying no alcohol or pork allowed inside, too. I put my bags down and went straight out to the street to find food. The first Indian street vendor I saw, I sat down and ordered some daal and two sets of vegetables with rice. The food wasn’t that warm but it was damned delicious. All for 3 ringgit! I’m going to try to eat only Indian food for every meal while I’m here. After finishing me food and watching some of the James Bond movie they had on the wall, I walked around the Golden Triangle area, and up and down the Bintan Walk. It’s out of this world how much shopping there is mixed in with so many tented street vendors, serving Malay, Chinese and Indian foods. I even saw an Iranian restaurant.
As with every other Asian capital city I’ve been to, this city gives me a sense of city that I never seem to get in Shanghai. While there are the 30+ story office and apartment blocks, there is life on the street that conveys culture and cultural mixing. Seeing Indians, Chinese and Malays walking around on the street eating each other’s cultural foods is fascinating. There’s a lot to see in this city, from the old colonial builds to all the masjids.
Originally I was going to leave KL tomorrow for the Cameron Highlands, but I’m going to stay another day and explore some more before I head to Penang. Tomorrow will likely be Little India and some of the older city center parts.