Hitchhiking through Kuala Lumpur
After a shitty night of sleep at the Kunming airport I did it all again in Kuala Lumpur International. I threw my bag on the carpet floor and plopped my ass down passing out inside the mall of the airport. I awoke twice to security waking me and signaling to me that I needed to move. The first time, the man pointed up. So I drug my feet to the escalator and walked, in what felt like a drunken stuper, to another secluded area. 7:30 AM rolled around and a guard nudged my leg. I awoke in a daze, grabbed my pack and decided to start my new adventure. I realized the only way out of the airport was by train, bus or taxi. For some reason I took the train, and not just the train, but the express train. Shit cost me 10 USD.
I gazed out the window the whole time. My eyes glued to the scenery. Never before witnessing the bright green, drooping palm leaves of the jungle until now. Miles and miles of tropical paradise spread out before me. I looked at it as a positive. A means to explore the unknown without fearing the dangers of its inhabitants.
The train arrived after about a half hour of my ass bone rubbing up against the end of the metal frame on the seat. I kept my pack on so it took up most of it. Excitement, fear, anxiety all rushed through my veins. A new culture and new experience lied ahead of me. Best of all my visa is valid for 90 days and free.
I normally don’t do this, but knowing the Petronas Twin Towers sat so close to my location I needed to pay them a visit. After all, they were the world’s tallest building at one point in history. They still remain the world’s tallest twin towers. Studying the map on my phone and the GPS I continued to wander along in a north east pattern. On the way I detoured through Butterfly Park. The views and history made me tingle with joy. I picked a great place to explore when I booked my ticket for Malaysia. Brazilian walnut trees, Palm trees, bright purple, pinkish flowers and every shade of green you could imagine glowed off these plants. The park looped around, but I kept marching in the NE direction passing a fellow Malay local who verified my route.
After six miles of walking I felt bummed. I thought the two, pointy arches would stand out in the city limits. My pants began to stick to my legs and sweat dripped down my forehead falling off the bridge of my nose. I jarred my head left and realized an athletics shop with shorts for sale. Snagged me a pair of ugly, light blue Eider basketball shorts for 18 RM. I immediately ripped off my jeans, soaked in sweat, and pulled the elastic shorts up over both my legs. The first step outside I felt a breeze hit the hairs on my legs and the feeling of success crossed my mind. This boosted my spirits. I turned the corner and vaguely spotted a tall twin structure. A skybridge connecting two shiny skyscrapers together. As my eyes veered more upwards I noticed the two tall points sticking out of the tops of both buildings, Petronas Twin Towers!
No sooner did I snap a few pictures I began to see a series of dark clouds storm into the area. Drip…drop…drip…drip…drip…whizzed by my ears until splashing on my greasy, slicked-back, ponytail. I put my electronics and paper items in my dry bag and all of a sudden…BAM. Rain pounded down from the sky soaking my jacket, rinsing my scalp and lightly wetting my pack. I managed to scramble quickly and get my waterproof pack cover on in time and casually strolled for shelter at the entrance of the towers nodding my head, no, to the taxi that stopped for me.
It showered for about thirty minutes and I just dozed off into a blank stare looking out at the architecture and the melting pot of diverse culture around me. Chinese, Malay, Indian, and a load of tourists ran around in every direction in the city. After seeing the towers nothing else struck me as jaw-dropping enough to stick around and explore. It appeared to be expensive and full of tourists. I did check out Bintang Plaza and the other facilities in the mall to sit in the cooling atmosphere of air conditioning, but after a few minutes I became bored and decided to head out of Kuala Lumpur for the next city.
I walked down the street. My feet squeaking with each step and my socks getting more wet as I tiptoed trying to avoid the puddles. The rancid smell coming from the sewer water and idea that my socks may be covered in that very smell freaked me out, but I continued to walk South heading back in the direction I came.
The rain stormed down again for the second time, but I waited under an overpass watching traffic zoom by in both directions. My shoes still soaked in water, but the rest of me dry enough to hitch a ride. I waited for the shower to pass and sprung up off the concrete divider jogging towards the exit. I stood there, smiling, with my thumb out, praying someone would pick me up and take me away from the city. People passed me, waved, smiled but didn’t stop. The feeling suddenly came back to me. The feeling of patience and sitting on on-ramps for hours without a single person stopping. Luckily after ten minutes a kind couple headed towards Pinang stopped for me. I hitched a ride with them and sat in the back of their silver pick up truck. I didn’t care where they took me as long as it was south. Their broken English made it hard to understand my destination, but whatever. It’s always about the journey. We tried to communicate during the ride, but I couldn’t understand them and they only comprehened a little of the English I spoke so we all sat there in silence. I answered the common questions people ask anyone. My name, age, relationship status, etc. and just glanced out the window on occasion remembering passing all these structures in the morning by train. We reached Pinang, they kindly pulled off the side of the road near a mall strip with food and we parted ways.
I decided not to stop for food. I already spent so much money today and I still needed new shoes. I continued to walk South towards Kuala Lumpur International. Slums and construction sites began springing up all around me now that I made it out of the center of the city.
I reached Balakong and heard the dimmest voice whisper out from behind me. Turning around, I began to head in the opposite direction towards a small food stand set up outside under mini, party, folding tents. A man named Zahir happily greeted me in broken English. I felt ashamed I couldn’t speak a single word of Malay, but his eyes twinkled as if he never before saw a white person. We chatted for a while and I enjoyed a free, hot coffee with an iced tea and a dish of rice, random meats I didn’t know, and chicken wings. I signaled to him rubbing my thumb in a circular motion over both my fingers, but he said he didn’t want my money. I looked hungry and he wanted to help me out. The generousity of this man amazed me. He talked about his English boss not knowing Malay and making it hard to understand his job duties. He wrote English well but just could not speak it decently.
I scarfed down the food despite not knowing what it was, waving my hand every few seconds to ward off the flies. Chewy flavors of spicy, squishy juices squirted all over the inside of my mouth. I definitely consumed a meat of some kind, but I don’t know of what animal? I suspect a few other organs mixed in there as well. My stomach gurgled, but I kept it down, unsure of it making me ill or not.
Daylight faded behind the clouds and Zahir and I took a photo. He promised to write me to check in on my travels.
I trudged along in the same direction. Wandering down the wrong side of the road. People smiled and waved at me since most foreigners only stick to the inner city limits. My toes squirmed inside my shoes as the water oozed inside with each step I took. By this point, each little toe looked like a prune and red clay from Kunming still lingered between the webs of my feet.
I needed shoes badly. If not for better support for better hygiene. All the chemicals and nasty black water that seeped up through my socks made me queasy and each creaky squeak in each step made my decision. I needed shoes!
The next store I passed luckily sold shoes. A lot of luck swung my way today. Not for my wallet, but for my needs. I found shoes and shorts to last the rest of my journey in Southeast Asia. I ran the price of blue, low top aasics from 100 RM to 85 RM. The grooves in gel soles gripping up against my feet feel great for support. The material is light-weight and dries quickly so I made out well. I ended up splurging and spent $40 USD today, but everything I bought I needed. There was no way around getting out of the airport, getting shorts or shoes. For food I spent a mere 2.5 RM on water. So from here on out my budget is tight, but strict and achievable.
I pranced off heading south and said goodbye to my 4-year old Supras. I felt bad dismembering them by ripping out the paracord shoe laces and leaving them under a bridge, but I couldn’t give my proper goodbye. Since trash cans seem to only exist inside the city. People just throw shit on the ground like China. So the beautiful image of skyscrapers parading through the city fades with distance. Slums, trash, and impoverished people reside outside the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It’s sad, but it’s similar to China. You’re either filthy rich or dirt poor here. There is no in-between.
I discarded my shoes and salvaged a lace of paracord. Walking up the ramp on E7 I noticed the night dawning upon us. A construction site for an overpass looked off towards the left of the highway and that is when I noticed the perfect spot to sleep, none other than the scaffolding!
I relaxed at the old bus station, writing in my journal and layering into clothes to protect myself from mosquitoes. After two hours the sky faded to black and my shadow followed me in the dark up the five flights of stairs towards a concrete pillar. Here I sit waiting to sleep next to the highway of E7 where I will hopefully hitch another ride south to wherever the journey takes me!