So much has happened in the last two days. I’m just going to go chronologically.
The hostel I booked in KL had free breakfasts, so obviously the first thing I thought when I woke up was – where da roti at?! Not here apparently.
It was just wonder white, some kind of granulated chocolate spread and a jam sweet enough to single-handedly rot the cliffs of Dover. I should of suspected something when they had given me such a shithouse answer when I asked them where to eat the night before. I ate it anyway because that’s what I’m like BUT I’m also like massively into eating and I know I’m going to be riding about 80km a day soon . . . SECOND BREAKFAST!
I walked out into the mecca and sat down at the busiest place and got what everyone else was having – Pete’s pork noodle soup and a fresh watermelon juice. It was awesome of course. The soup had a strange mint like spice that made the roof of your mouth feel like a cold breeze.
As you may know I came into this trip with an embarrassingly low amount of preparation or research. All I know – I’m in KL and I wanna ride to Bangkok before Alice gets there. Someone was going to have to sort my shit out eventually – step up giggly yam shaped Malaysian man.
I now have a plan! I’m going to get a train to the outskirts of KL then ride North East towards the beach and the Thai Border. On the way I’ll stop through a bunch of places I’m finding hard to remember (memorising things in a different language is incredibly hard – I’ve asked how to say thank you in Malaysian about 10 times), through a rainforest and up a hill.
“Don’t ride at night, it’s dangerous,” the giggly yam-man said. I assumed he meant there were dodgy guys or the road resembled the impact-site of a meteor shower.
“hahaha no, it’s perfectly safe but there are lots of elephants. They come out at night.”
I’m now in Kuala Kulu Bharu(KKB). A tiny but vibrant ex-mining town shaped like how kids draw houses – four main streets and a strangely large bus stop shaped like a triangle at the north end.
Despite a stressful exit from the centre of KL (Malaysia isn’t designed for bikes at all, a hostel employee told me mine was the first bike he had ever seen in the city) the ride here was incredibly easy. The roads are huge, most of them have emergency lanes, the weather was cool (KKB is surrounded by rainforest – which does something to the weather to make it less humid, more breezy and less burny) and there was heaps of interesting shit to look at. Particularly this abandoned city – grids of empty houses being eagerly hugged by young forests, collapsed factories, multi-storied complexes with long strangely kept lawns – it was creepy. I really wanted to explore the empty houses in particular but I chickened out saying to myself ‘it’s late in the day and you have to find accommodation’, which was bullshit because there is one hotel in KKB and I’m one of only three people in it.
Every night and early morning KKB is unfolded onto the streets. All of their wide roads are consumed by market stalls – half of which sell the kind of shite I thought was exclusive to scammy tourist shops in places like the rocks (I always thought only tourists bought that crap but obviously not because I was only western tourist in the town), and the other half were food stalls. Most of the food stalls were selling genocide quantities of ayam goreng and other more typical Malaysian foods but a few sold freshly-made bad western fast food – like hand made Pizza Hut, McDonalds and dry sponge cakes. There were also a handful of stalls with lines of enormous buckets of coloured liquid, each of them with some kind of floating mystery inside. It looked like an alchemist bazaar. They were extremely popular so I jostled and asked the all girl alchemist team for the green one hoping it would be pandan flavoured. It was honey dew melon, I gobbled it down just the same with a deep fried qual and a bowl of eggy fried noodles.
Then I met these guys.
I asked to take a picture on the pretence I was a writer but really I just thought their haircuts were funny and wanted to tell them that if they lived in Sydney people might think they liked to stab people.*
Turned out they were too interested in my writing and I ended up becoming embroiled in a ridiculous lie. Now I’m obliged to get all this writing published so I can send it in magazine form to xfilesuncovered@probably shouldntgiveawayastrangersemail.com
The guy on the left was a 24 year old paramedic who runs an international organisation called X Files uncovered. They’re aim is to unite X files fans through the discussion of freaky shit that has happened in real life. I asked him if any freaky shit had happened around here and he told me about the abandoned city. Apparently the government built all these homes around a coin factory in development thinking the income of the coin factory could buttress an emergent city. The coin factory went bust and there were no jobs so every left and now it’s all empty.
*My old boss at Bourke Street used to do this stupid thing when he served asian customers that had bad english – he would put on this weirdly empathic asian accent and neglect all the rules of grammar. Instead of ‘Would you like a pork sausage roll” he would say “pork sausage roll for you,’ accompanied by silly phrases like ‘what you like?’ and ‘all good for you’. I’ve just noticed I’m doing the same thing! I’m enormously embarrassed and trying to my best to fix it. I think it started on the assumption most people here would have bad english, which is completely inaccurate. Even in the small town people, most of the people I’ve met have spoken incredibly clear and comfortable English.
The conversation with the Indian mullet guys helped. I talked to them long enough to see their English was excellent. Eventually I became comfortable enough to use the frugal, which of course they understood and even laughed at (They were incredibly curious about my budget and how much I had spent so far).
Actually talking about learning cultural lessons, I used a Malaysian squat toilet for the first time this morning. It’s essentially a potty in the ground with two bricks either side. You stand on the bricks then do an asian man sqaut, when your rectum is hanging over the hole like an angry spaceship, let a rip. When your done you hose your the dirty bits off your bum.
All good, nice time, whatever but how do you dry your bum. Advise needed.
For those who are interested I have started a food diary. It can be found somewhere on this website. I would give you better directions but safari, google and wordpress seem incapable of cooperating to make a simple and efficient interface for iPad bloggers.