CHRONICLES OF MY ASIAN ODYSSEY - CHAPTER 5
MALAYSIA -AND THE FUN BEGINS
Prior to flying to Kuala Lumpur ,Malaysia for a week ,I met Thomas ,a good friend of a monk friend from Marseille ,France who nicely introduced me to him a few years ago in France.Thomas lives in Manila now and works as an economist at the United Nations- Manila branch office. It has been a ritual since then to pay each other a visit everytime I am in Manila.I had several hours to kill before my flight to Kuala Lumpur so, I checked into a small hotel near the airport to pass time.I took this opportunity to invite Thomas and his family for breakfast in my hotel.Thomas is a world traveler as well, having almost circumnavigated the globe over the years until he settled and married a nice Filipino lady whom he met while travelling and working all over the world.As all the previous meetings with him ,meeting Thomas and his family once more was a very pleasant experience.He has a jaw dropping goddess beauty and trophy for a wife, so classy with finesse and supremely intelligent.Thomas is not bad either.Being an alumnus of Sciences Politiques de Paris and Sorbonne definitely insure your impeccable career even before you graduate and step out of the university halls. His kids had grown so fast .They were babies when I saw them last year and now they are more than toddlers and speak both French and Tagalog fluently.I was really amazed at Thomas' proficiency in Tagalog as well.No accents at all and he speaks like a natural.I tried to practice my limited French language with him, but he himself seemed to be struggling with his own native tongue. I ended up speaking French with his kids and his wife , who took French Course in Alliance Francaise Manille.Tina,Thomas'wife and the kids were more French than him.I was proud of my little accomplishment. They understood me although the little kids corrected me with my pronunciation. What a sight! LOL! A five year old playing French teacher to a woman of the Paleolithic age. AWESOME !
I have never visited Malaysia before . Malaysia ,being a part of Southeast Asia, I had the presumption that it is probably similar in landscape like the rest of Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines.Thomas is very well versed about Malaysia and even speaks a few words of Malay.He has spent a great deal of time in the jungles of Sarawak,Borneo and Kota Kinabalu discovering tin with tribal native Malays as his guides. Tin is a main export product of Malaysia even up to this day.In all my travels,it has been my SOP(Standard Operating Procedure) to orient myself about the country I am about to visit so I will not be so much at a loss and confused when I arrive. I read guide books which I normally bring with me when I travel but with Kindle application successfully installed in my Ipad ,I downloaded all the guidebooks i intend to use.Carrying guidebooks about where to's ,how to's and what not to do's is history. What a relief not to carry those books as you run from one gate to the other at the airport and trying to maintain your last breath and your poise at the same time.You'll be kissing KINDLE APPLICATION the rest of your life even if you are just a simple traveller or a professional one. I can assure you,Kindle is the best god given Ipad application there is and I am one of the most ardent fans.
With the help of Thomas' extensive knowledge about Malaysia , he was able to give me helpful hints on how to maximize time, and the best places to see ,where to eat the real Malay food- we are talking about street food as the best, how to avoid traps in foreign currency exchanges, best tour companies to avail etc.etc.etc. He was Mr. Wikipedia extraordinaire of the FROMMER'S Book Of the Budget Traveler and The Lonely Planet Guide.We had a hearty traditional Filipino breakfast which consisted of fried long rice, fried bangus (local milk fish only grown in Philippine seas) and marinated with fish sauce,calamansi,(local lime) soy sauce and garlic ,langonisa( sweetened with molasses local sausage) carabao's milk ( yeah, it is true) leche flan for dessert (steamed egg curds with milk and sugar ) and Barako coffee( locally grown coffee beans). About 4 hours of nice visit with Thomas , I headed to the airport which is about 15 minutes drive from my hotel(more like 5 minutes in real time but this is Manila) . It is impossible to drive anywhere in Manila traffic for 5 minutes even if your destination is just around the block.Thomas offered to drive me to the airport which I gladly accepted instead of taking a taxi . He sure knows how to navigate Manila traffic at its worst. I take my hats off for him on this. It has been years when I have driven in Manila and back then, I was known to be a fearless warrior of the road -a trait that I carried with me even when I moved to the States long time ago.Such a trait had cost me totalling my sister's new BMW that I secretly borrowed (in short, stole) from her driveway and flattening her prized rose bushes of which, it tooks months before she wanted to speak to me again and literally wrote me off as her sister.By the way, I forgot to mention, I partially dilapidated her fence as well. Those were the days of my reckless youth .I am older and have moved on to being wiser now. I also have been granted pardon with parole by my sister who swears in our father's grave that our father's spirit literally spoke to her to give me pardon or she will go to hell.Hell is a good excuse to use when you are begging for mercy. But who knows what's lurking behind my unpredictable adventurous wild side .Stay tuned. LOL! These days, I wouldn't even dare driving in Manila traffic even with my pedal to the metal wild driving history.
Almost 5 hours later, I landed in Kuala Lumpur in an ungodly hour at 2 o'clock in the morning with my sister Tina,my cousin Emy, who gifted herself a Malaysian trip after completing her rigorous Md/Phd doctorate program in Radiology and Gynecology and Maureen,my sister's colleague.It was an hour's taxi ride to downtown Kuala Lumpur and we needed Malaysian ringit (Malaysia's currency) to pay for the taxi cab. Thank God for Thomas' advice on Malaysian taxi rides and Malaysia in general. Taxi drivers in Malaysia are not equipped in taking ATM's nor credit cards as a form of payment and also with a lot of business establishments. We had to change our money to Malaysian ringit.So, there we were ,the four of us toeing the line at almost 3 am in the morning changing money at the money exchange booth. Rule of thumb, when in Malaysia , bring loads of hard cold cash because cash is King and cash rules. That means I will not be able to swipe my ATM card to pay my 4 Malaysian ringit Starbucks chai tea latte in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Where in God's world does this country come from? We are not in Timbukto, are we? Bummer!
Well, here we are, girls. KUALA LUMPUR ,Are you ready ? Here we come ! We are ready to conquer the world and ready to conquer you. Let the fun begin!
Chapter 6... coming soon...