Asia . Malaysia . Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Invasion

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

This is one big entry for one big day. It chronicles the trip from Brisbane, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

There is a theme that is visited twice in this entry: my (Tyler's) retardedness. In both cases revolve around poor booking / reservation choices. The first instance involves our flight. The second involves our accommodation. Excuses can be made, but why? Enjoy.

We had been staying at our friend Bonnie's in Brisbane. Brisbane has a major international airport. When I booked the flight, I chose to depart from "Brisbane / the Goldcoast". Brisbane and the Goldcoast are not the same place. They are close, but the commute by car still takes about an hour in good traffic. The original plan did not involve a car. It involved feet, buses and trains:
  • walk from Bonnie's house (our host) to Carindale mall, Carina
  • catch a bus from the mall to South Bank station, Brisbane
  • catch a train from South Bank to Robina, Gold Coast
  • catch a bus from Robina to Coolongata Airport
The total travel time for this trip was almost 3 hours. Our flight departed at 9:00am. Due to constraints caused by last minute planning, we could not stay overnight in the Goldcoast (the components of journey to the airport were not mapped out until the day before the flight..). Due to constraints caused by the schedule of public transport, the actual trip couldn't start until around 4:30am. This means that the earliest we could arrive at the airport was 8:00am. Yielding a mere hour to traverse the check-in process: check bags (15 mins), security screening (10 mins), find flight gate (10 mins), and deal with unforeseen issues (? mins). Worrisome. Enter Bonnie. We love Bonnie because Bonnie is awesome. Awesomeness in this case translated into her driving us to the airport, before going to work. So instead of having to "walk, bus and train" our way to the airport, we instead "sat" our way to the airport. Also, instead of waking at 4:30am and arriving at 8:00am, we slept until 5:00am and arrived at 6:00am. Brilliant (thanks Bonnie!).

The airport check-in went smooth. We had to go through two security check-ins: one for the main domestic terminal and a second for the international terminal beyond. This was atypical. Apparently the international flights are more worried about terrorists than domestic flights. I guess this means that most terrorists are international. Which begs the question what happened to domestic terrorists? The Uni-Bomber, that Timothy guy with the van, ..others?

The flight was similarly uneventful. Barely noteworthy things included:
  • seats that refused to recline
  • learning that outside food was not allowed on the plane, then trying to sneakily eat our homemade lunches (several lemon-pepper tuna / spicy tuna sandwiches and a bag of dried apricots; yum)
  • a patch of turbulence that made me feel like I was playing on a swing-set

NOTE: the next bit has been compressed to save you time; it's also written in the present tense (I don't know why)

We arrive in Kuala Lumpur. Our first mission: exit the airport.

Collect backpacks from conveyor belt. Exit the new arrival area where the help desk is located. Realize we need some help to find the buses. Realize we cannot re-enter the new arrival area where the help desk is located.. Notice the humidity. Begin to sweat. Withdraw 400RM from ATM (3 Ringgits Malaysian == 1 Australian Dollar == 0.95 Canadian Dollars). Search for buses, find trains. Search for buses, find families. Search for buses, find taxis. Search for buses, find buses. Buy ticket from first vendor who flashes us a smile. Enter bus. Notice the AC. Sweat turns to frost. Shivery ride to KL Central. Exit bus. Frost to sweat. Notice the Malaysians. Dark hair everywhere. Purchase LRT ticket for China Town / Pasar Seni (1 RM == 0.33 AUD == 0.3 CAD). Enter LRT. Sweat to frost. Exit LRT. Frost to sweat. New mission: find hostel.

We meet a nice English girl who's lost. Look at her map and decide we all need to go in the same direction. Start moving. We realize we're lost. We realize we're not lost. She finds her hotel. We find our hostel. New mission: check in.

We check in. We TRY to check in. They can't find our reservation. Confidently I ask to use their Internet to show them my reservation email. Recall, there is a theme. Upon bringing up my reservation email I am informed that I reserved a room for 2 nights, starting February 27th, 2010. Today is January 27th, 2010. The hostel is fully booked. The manager says Jenny and the bags can stay in the waiting area while I go search for accommodation. He lends me his copy of the Lonely Planet to help facilitate this. I determine my destination: a double room with AC at The Original Budget Backpacker Travellers Inn (44 RM == 15 AUD == 14 CAD). I move. I'm on mission. I'm running ("lightly jogging"). This surge of activity acts like a catalyst for my guts. The relationship between the spicy tuna and apricots becomes "excited". Bubbles form, bubbles burst. Images of Earth's primordial ooze. The ooze is in my guts. It's trying to create life again. I turn some corners. I'm whizzing past people. The Lonely Planet in my hand. I carry it close to me. It's the traveller's bible. It lets people know: I'm a tourist, I'm important to the local economy, they NEED to get out of my way. I see the red sign for the hostel. There's a room available. I book in immediately (ignoring my dreams of haggling). I start to make my way back to Jenny. I'm glowing with sweat and success. Bubbles form, bubbles burst.. Life is stirring.

I make it back to her. Bags on our backs, we're moving to our new home. I see the red sign for The Backpacker Travellers Inn. I follow it down a road I don't recognize, into a lobby I've never been to.. I ask myself the question: Where am I? A sign clearly answers me: The Backpacker Travellers Inn.. The attendant smiles at me. I think he thinks I'm stupid. I smile back! Retreating out the door, Jenny in tow. I return to the red sign and notice another red sign labelled: The Reggae Guesthouse.. Then I notice ANOTHER red sign (same font face and same font colour!) labelled: The ORIGINAL Backpacker Travellers Inn. We're off! We find it. Our room already has the AC running.. Awesome. Bubbles form, bubbles burst. New mission: toilet.

Easy. Down the hall. Open stall door, close stall door, lock stall door. Drop pants. Chocolate babies (LIFE!). Success. Awesome. And yet.. Eyes widen with realization of a flaw: where's the toilet paper? Shitshitshit. New mission: hygiene.

I'm looking around: a sink, a bucket, a bar of soap.. Rejected. More looking: a hand held shower head on the wall. Weird. I strip down and hang my clothes on the door. I'm trying to imagine some sort of power ballad (I don't want to half-ass this). The french have a word for it. The French are gross (no offense Jeremy). "Bidet".

After this, things get "technical" and not really worth retelling.. Anyways, success.

We ended up eating at some food stalls in the market. The rumours are true: delicious.

Guess that's all,

Tyler & Jenny

Brisbane, Bonnie, Brigitte and lots of Bundy!

Tuesday January 19th 2010 - Wednesday January 27th 2010

We were really spoiled during our stay in Brisbane. My friend that I met while working in Scotland, Bonnie, let us stay at her place (which she shares with her sister and her sister's partner) for the entire week, she picked us up from the airport and picked Brigitte up from the Gold Coast airport as well and let her crash at her place as well. We were quite the crowd and tried to pay our way in food and drinks to make up for the inconvenience. She has the cutest puppy that was so happy to have lots of people around and just tried to lick our feet and faces all the time (for some reason those were her two favourite body parts).

Bonnie was also our tour guide and took a fake sick day to take us to the beach. We played in the rip tides (as tourists do), had a barbecue and bundy rum with coke while trying to fish. Bonnie got a bit sunburnt during the day off and got teased at work the next day, but not fired so we were happy about that. :)

Most of our time was spent relaxing and getting ready for our big Asian adventure. On the week-end was the big reunion with Renee and Kempy joining the Scotland gang party and helping to fill the house. More barbecue, bundy and beer were enjoyed. :) Plus some wii games and competition was fierce.

For Australia day (Tuesday January 26th) Bonnie took us to her home town of Killarney and we got to meet her parents and they fed us for both lunch and dinner. We also went exploring and got to see beautiful sights, lots of waterfalls and we tried to catch crayfish in the river. I was the only one who had any success but had to put him back since barbecuing one crayfish won't feed 6 people. We're learning new skills though. I think maybe the crayfish like potatoes more than old beef.... we were more successful in Singleton. Bonnie's mom makes excellent chocolate slice, we were hooked and ate a lot of it. :)

More time on the farm

Monday December 28th 2009 - Monday January 18th 2009

We were on the farm for Christmas and New Years - both passed by pleasantly enough. We had to work a lot over the holidays as our supervisor was trying to get a lot done as the owner kept calling him with new tasks to do. Tyler was working pretty much every day, and Anja and I alternated days as we were both doing the same task - herbicide. All 3 of us finally had a day off together - New Year's Eve - so we took the bus in to Darwin (as we weren't allowed to take the car past Humpty Doo) and spent the day in 'the big city'. It was a nice day, we got a lot done that we had waiting and managed to see our first movie in 6 months - 'Sherlock Holmes'. We played cards and made a big dinner for the 3 of us, drank sparkling red wine and toasted to the new year while watching the huge fireworks display taking place in Sydney on tv.

The next few weeks were pretty rushed as Darryl wanted us to get everything done before Tyler and I had to leave (Jan 19th). Since all the herbiciding and insecticiding was done we got new tasks in the new year. Tyler got the hardest job of all - centuring. He had to use a chainsaw and bend down low and make a ring near the base of each mango tree. This makes the tree flower later so that the fruits don't come out too early. The farm had 11,000 trees so it was a pretty big task for just Tyler and Andrew. But they got it done!

While the boys did the chainsawing, Anja and I got to do cultarring, which was also pretty difficult. Cultar is used to stop the trees from growing too big and to make it easier to pick mangoes from them but have more mangoes in a small area. We basically just had to carry 10 litre buckets of the special cultar potion and pour the designated amount on each tree (depending on size, health and type of mango it produced). We got very strong shoulders and arms from pouring and carrying the buckets up and down every row. Darryl drove the truck and filled the buckets with the magic potion, but it was mostly Anja and I that did the carrying and squatting required for the job. We had to pour the liquid at the very bottom/roots of the tree. We also had to fight a lot of ants and try to pour the liquid before they climbed up your leg in order to defend their homes. Very vicious!

The rain ruined a few of our days but not enough that we couldn't finish on time. And since we finished on time we got rewarded with a fishing trip in our boss, Barry Albrecht's boat. That was lots of fun. I was not a very good fisherman, but Tyler caught the biggest fish of anyone on board. And the fish was delicious, Barry even cleaned all the fish for us and we got to eat fresh fish for the last of our days on the farm. So tasty! The type of fish that we mostly caught was Snapper, and it's one of the best in Darwin's waters. Definitely going to try fishing when we're back home in Canada. Anja ended up getting seasick during the voyage, but she did catch a little guy that was big enough to eat. The only fish I caught was a throw-back... but I did manage to catch a lot of other people's lines. So that counts for something....

Our end on the farm was kind of anti-climatic as we were planning on going into Darwin to spend time with Anja and look around in some stores. But since she was staying on the farm to work for a few more weeks, Darryl told her she had to work that day so even though we'd made other plans, she was stuck working all day and we just relaxed and got ready for our night at the airport in preparation for our flight to Brisbane.