The bus to Kuala Lumpur – or “KL” as the locals call it – arrived at the station exactly 45 minutes late. It was an inauspicious start, considering my luck on some other recent cross-country journeys; the driver blamed the delay on “crazy traffic” of which there was mysteriously none once we finally got moving.
Fortunately the bus itself was by far the most comfortable yet; huge reclining seats, powerful AC, and loads of empty space. Sure beats those cramped Thai minibuses jam-packed with people falling over you at every turn 🙂
I spent most of the ride just napping or chatting with a friendly British traveler across the aisle. Despite the beautiful scenery on and around Penang, the “nature” between Penang and KL proved altogether monotonous: nothing but acres and acres and acres of never-ending, densely-packed palm trees. Farmed for their oil no doubt. It was pretty cool at the start, but you can’t help but wonder how much diversity was killed off to make way for those farms…
When we arrived in KL a few hours later, the bus drove right past our supposed destination and continued halfway across town. Apparently Puduraya Station was in fact closed for renovation, so once the Brit, his Thai girlfriend and I got our bearings and grabbed a quick hamburger (none of us had eaten and we were literally woozy from hunger), we caught a local bus back to Chinatown.
Unfortunately the place I’d reserved online – again, based on the Lonely Planet’s recommendation – turned out to be another sh*thole. In fact, it was the worst yet. But after checking a few nearby spots it became clear that the pickings were slimmer than slim, so since the WiFi was good – and I was on a tight schedule – I just decided to stay, at least for tonight.
I checked in, dropped off my bags, showered, and was out the door by 10pm.
This was it. At long last, the reason I’d come to Malaysia. The weirdest cultural event I’d ever experienced. Anywhere. Ever.
Thaipusam starts tonight.
Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Wednesday, January 19th.