Malaysia ? That wasn’t on your schedule!
That’s right intelligent followers (Mum) Malaysia was absolutely not in my schedule, plan, or my head at all. In fact, I didn’t even know where Malaysia was on a map before I left – just joking, still don’t have a clue where in the world I am. Point being, the cheapest place to fly from India before my visa expired was Pakistan – and I wasn’t feeling Pakistan – so I chose Malaysia instead.
What do you guys know about Malaysia? Anything? Possibly you do, but I didn’t. In fact, the only that the only thing I’d heard about the country was that they have an airline famous for a few “mishaps” we shall call them and I never wanted to board anything to do with that flight. I actually made my travel agent change all my flights with Malaysian Airlines because I knew my worry with flying would be exacerbated on that airline despite the fact it’s most probably fine. Imagine my horror therefore, when I arrive at the airport unknowing of the fact I have to pay an extra £100 for luggage, I’m travelling with Malaysian Airlines and asking for some leg room meant I was in the emergency seat responsible for EVERYONE if (the cabin lady tells me directly, eye to eye) there’s an emergency landing – before she goes into detail about what exactly I need to do. More on that later.
So let’s begin.
I had an adventure in Malaysia it must be said. I arrived in Kuala Lumpur exhausted from little sleep with my fellow German companion of a month – shout out to Mr S who’s has to put up with me moaning about my intolerances for longer than I’m sure he wanted. No sooner had we arrived, Mr S had to leave as he was moving onto Myamar, leaving me alone feeling a bit lost. It’s funny when you travel with someone for a while isn’t it? You kinda forget you’re travelling alone, and then bam, you’re like how do I do this again? I couldn’t really be bothered to talk to anyone, and I felt really weird, like I was totally overwhelmed and incapable of doing anything by myself.
I took a seat, ordered Nando’s and observed people around me before going to bed. I got the vibe that despite being told this was a sociable hostel, it was the opposite. This is not to say the hostel was unsociable, but it is always dependent on the people who are in it. Feeling disheartened and lonely I went to bed, wondering what the next few days would be like. I was greeted with a big hello by a friendly German bunk bed neighbour the following morning (these Germans never leave me alone do they!) and wearily got up to get to breakfast. I sat down and was once again horribly aware of unfriendly people around me. I’m so used to looking at new people I’ve never seen before and smiling, not even talking but eagerly looking around and taking in my surroundings and the people I’ll be sharing a home with for the next however many days. I looked at a group of girls next to me who didn’t even register I was there and looked away, I didn’t need friends, I’d done this before .. I can do it by myself again – or I could at least try I told myself. I started talking to a guy to my right, someone I recognised from eating Nando’s the previous night (obvious connection right there!) and then my German friendly bunk bed neighbour pal sat down to say hello. Whilst chatting and swapping names and countries we lived in, I saw a lost looking girl wander in and asked if she was okay. Turns out she’s British, 19 and had lived in NZ for the last 9 months before losing her luggage en route to Kuala Lumpur, and boom we became a group eager to explore the city – so yes unfriendly group of chicas to the left of me, it’s really as simple as that. Isn’t conversation enlightening?
That morning, 19 year old Kat, Omar the Parkour stunt man, Chris my German bunk bed man and I set off to explore the “7 wonders of Kuala Lumpur”, the first being the beautiful Thean Hou Temple where we got caught in a monsoon, but not caught enough for me to swap my money for an ice cream whilst we waited under an umbrella next to an ice cream stall.
The temple was absolutely stunning against the city of KL, and even though we took a wrong turning trying to walk back and ended up on a highway in a desperate attempt to find food, it was a fantastic day with some awesome people.
Later that night, we visited the famous Petronas Towers – KL’s version of the Twin Towers and despite getting soaked with rain, the buildings were some of the magnificent sites I’ve ever seen.
Later that night, Omar, Kat and I decided to get some authentic Malaysian food and try out the local cuisine.
Jokes, we got Nando’s. We hadn’t seen Nando’s in so long we couldn’t bare to not go for our second day running without it, so along with Chris, we excitably walked to the restaurant which according to their website was the only Nando’s opened until 11pm – and not 10.30pm like the others (remember this, it is important information for later).
When I say walked I meant run because getting Nando’s was a last minute decision, it was 10.25pm and so together with Kat barefoot in her pyjamas and myself also in my pyjamas with my freshly washed hair up on my head, we walked excitably/ran to Nando’s eagerly chatting about which spicy sauce we’d be choosing for our chicken. This dream was THRASHED when we arrived and the manager told us they were closed. Hell hath no fury like a Hangry Emily who gets told by Google that Nando’s shuts at 11pm and not 10.25pm.
Emily: “What do you mean you’re shut? Your website says 11pm”
Waiter: “No Ma’am, we shut at 10.30pm to clean until 11pm”
Emily: “Rubbish, all the other restaurants say they close at 10.30pm, this is the only Nando’s that shuts at 11pm, I’ve run in with a towel on my head and Kat is barefoot, where is the manager?”
Manager: “Sorry Chef has cleared everything up, we are cleaning until we shut at 11pm”
Emily: “Your website clearly states 11pm, this sounds like a serious case of you wanting to go home early on a Friday night”
Annoyed and hangry, I turn my head in defeat and slowly followed my friends out of the restaurant. As we turned round longingly one last time to look at the meal we could have got knowing that no where was now open, I looked at the writing on Nando’s window, LAUGHING at me:
Then I looked down at the sign by the door of the restaurant:
And then something inside me ROARED – legitimately my stomach.
“NO GUYS, this is NOT ON. I am hungry and there’s no where else to go and I want food so I’m going back in and telling them, be right back”.
Leaving my friends outside, I stomped in like the hungry bitch I was, with a towel still on my head from my nicely washed hair.
“Where’s the manager please? I’m starving and I want the manager”
Manager: “Sorry Ma’am we are closed”
Emily: “LISTEN. I know full well you want to go home early, I’d probably do the same but we are SO hungry, and even your window and sign OUTSIDE say you serve until 11pm, so what the hell man. Can’t you just put some chips in?! I can throw them in the fryer if you want!”
Manager: “Okay I’ll speak to the chef”.
Manager leaves to speak to chef
“Okay we can give you one bag of chips”.
I HAD WON THE BATTLE NOT THE WAR BUT CHIPS WAS BETTER THAN NOTHING.
With a bounce in my step, I happily skipped down to my friends who were astonished at the fact I had actually gone to so much effort to get food and then told me they totally would have done the same. We ate our one bag of chips with three free cokes and then left to have a look at 7-11, the famous Asian supermarket with all their totally weird items of food. I personally really like visiting different supermarkets to see how many flavours of Kit Kat they have and I was rewarded with a bite of Kat’s Green Tea flavoured one – super gross, I don’t recommend.
The following day, Omar, Kat and I took the train to visit Batu Caves and watched the Monkeys in awe mimic our body moments and eat and drink from the bins surrounding the cave. I got really annoyed at other tourists trying to feed and touch and irritate the monkeys – including this boy below. If you ever see this post, please know sir that you are a prick.
That evening, we joined the hostel upstairs drinking and made friends with 2 guys who took us to a club underneath a five star hotel and spent all night dancing until the really early hours. By the time we wandered into McDonald’s – which unlike Nando’s, does not have ridiculous and untrue closing times – we realised the time was 7.30am and people were getting their morning coffees. I asked for a chicken mayo burger and was told they were only serving their breakfast menu and would I like an egg McMuffin instead? I decided that yes, I would love an egg McMuffin and pancakes with maple syrup and as much gluten as possible because I couldn’t be bothered to be gluten intolerant that morning – bad move, I threw it all up but at least the maple syrup was nice.
That was the last nice thing that happened to me in Malaysia – because throwing up pancakes felt a lot nicer than what happened in the following days. Two days post my night out, I decided to leave Kuala Lumpur and travel to Penang, famous for its graffiti and artistic presence. I’d felt a little strange that morning, slightly hot and cold but assumed that was down to the hostel’s air conditioning and the fact I had slept with wet hair. At breakfast, I looked at the possibility of taking a bus and ferry to Penang for £15, but then noticed there was a flight for about £10 more which only took an hour (compared to 6 hours) and was leaving soon. Great! I jumped into a friend’s cab – who was coincidentally leaving for the airport that minute – booked the flight in the hostel toilet and was on my way! En route, I realised I had no idea which airline I was flying with, let alone the terminal and between me and my friend, I shockingly realised I was with Malaysian Airlines, the one airline I had always refused to fly. I should have known then that luck wasn’t on my side that day.
At the airport, still battling with this temperature, I took some paracetamol, struggled to repack items into my overflowing backpack and tried to print out my baggage label – which didn’t seem to be working. Confused, feeling very unwell and slightly running out of time I rushed to a counter where I was promptly told I had not paid for luggage and I owed them £100.
What?? It said on google it included carry on luggage! With a realisation, I was acutely reminded of a previous time I also thought carry on luggage was checked luggage and my heart sunk a little when I realised that I’d now paid for a taxi to an airport to catch a flight that was quadruple the amount of the bus and ferry.
“Can I at least be upgraded to have some extra leg room please to make me feel better about my flailing bank account?”
“Of course! There’s availability!” Said the lovely Malaysian Airlines lady.
Well at least I’ve got leg room I thought. I phoned my mum telling her I didn’t feel well and also had no idea where I was going for my flight – Kuala Lumpur Airport has -up until this point – got me completely lost twice. As I boarded, I horribly realised where my seat was located – the only seat taken in the emergency aisle. And I am the most nervous flyer ever. And I am on MALAYSIAN AIRLINES.
Let me break it down further and make this simple to digest:
I am on a flight I never wanted to pay that much for .. in a seat I never ever want to sit in .. with an Airline I purposely changed all my flights FROM. And I’ve got a temperature and no one else is in the aisle which means I am therefore responsible for the safety of the ENTIRE PLANE if (notice the lady did not say “ the unlikely situation”) the plane goes down or even worse, crashes in the ocean never to be seen again.
“I just want to check you’re happy to be in this seat as you have chosen the emergency seat aisle. Please undo the window by the latch as SOON as you hear the air hostess say “evacuate, evacuate!” In the event of an emergency. Please also read all the instructions on the sheet in front of you.” Air hostess leaves.
Realising I have no time to tell her “Actually Miss Malaysian Airlines, I take Valium for my flight anxiety and I really don’t want to be on this flight, let alone in this seat so can I please just evacuate myself now before I have to do it whilst we’re flying mid air” I reply, “Right, evacuate, evacuate, got it” questioning whether I would have to open the latch before or after the first evacuate and what to do if I couldn’t actually open the window to start with.
Anyway, no time to worry, I couldn’t take a Valium, I felt like shit, I was responsible for the entire plane and not in the mood to be a superhero. Therefore, for the exact hour I was in the air to Penang (yes I bet you forgot I’m actually going to Penang after this entire description) every bump and shake of the plane I prepared myself for my eventual death and the Wham music I wanted played at my funeral – turns out that the plane has to fly really low along the sea line to get to Penang’s runaway so I prayed for the last ten minutes – the worst emergency seater person that there possibly ever was, that’s me.
Upon miraculously landing in Penang, I started to feel even worse – if that’s possible. I was freezing, boiling and sweating profusely but somehow managed to get into a taxi and arrived at the 80s Guesthouse, my hostel for the next three days. I thought that perhaps I was still getting over my night out and put my head down, trying to stop myself from shivering and sweating at the same time but after three hours I wasn’t feeling any better. There was a pain in my head and as soon as I stood up I felt like I was going to black our from how high my temperature seemed. I was too weak to leave the room but Mr S texted me to go to hospital – and Germans are so wise and organised I thought I would follow his advice. It’s a good thing I did because 15 minutes later I was lying on the floor of reception burning up and starting to feel delirious – randomly my friend Russ who I met in GOA showed up behind me and was shocked to see me so ill, before promising to visit me in the hospital which he did and for that I’m SO grateful. Upon being shoved in a taxi by the poor receptionist who I found out later had only started her job that day (whoops sorry) and came to visit me essentially passed out on a hospital bed hooked up to an IV, I had to spend five days in hospital where I was told a multitude of things – could it be Dengue? Could it be worse? Turns out it was an inconvenient case of Acute Tonsillitis, that left me struggling in hospital for five days – who knew? They’ve found a few other issues I need to get sorted as soon as I return to London which hasn’t made me feel the greatest? But I’m trying not to worry about that. Being in hospital in another country was SO scary but I got through it and I’m blessed that friends I’ve met travelling had been so kind to visit me.
When I had recovered, I spent the rest of my time in Penang exploring what the OUTSIDE of a hospital looks like – and it was wonderful! There’s a a great artistic cafe/mansion called China House which serves great food, a huge assortment of cake and I spent a happy day writing and drinking endless coffees with a street painter. I later met up with Kat (remember my friend from Kuala Lumpur?) and together with her friend from back home and a guy they’d picked up from their hostel, we walked around before deciding to venture to the island of Langkawi the day after.
Langkawi is a ferry ride away from Penang, a small quiet island with a beach, waterfalls and viewpoints – perfect for a few days, just grab a moped and drive around. Together with Jessie – another friend of theirs that they’d met the night previously – we became a group, sharing an awesome private dorm all to ourselves, and laughing pretty much all day and night until we had to break up to go our separate ways to different destinations – as is what happens when you just begin to get close to people. Andy, Kat and Izzy were travelling to other parts of Thailand, Jessie was flying to Japan to start her new career and life as an English Teacher and I flew to Krabi to meet Mr S.
I’d spent my last day in Langkawi with Jess exploring everything the small town had to offer on a moped and I would thoroughly suggest the Langkawi Sky Walk which is beautiful and well worth the wait, even the little theme park it’s situated in looks like a fun day out! We also spent sunset in Dash resort, eating and drinking – another recommendation for a lazy day. Overall, despite being so ill and scared, Malaysia was a breath of fresh air (literally) from my time in India. I felt safe, the landscape is clean and magnificent and people are kind and friendly – ADD to the bucket list 😉
PS. There’s actually a TON more to visit other than just the three above but I unfortunately ran out of time. The Cameron Highlands for stunning hikes, Tioman Islands and the Perhentian Islands for sunbathing and snorkelling on beautiful beaches are also worth visiting.