19th Mar – Arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

(Daniel) After a slow morning in Bangkok, I took an afternoon flight to Kuala Lumpur (KL), arriving at around 4pm. After a pleasantly smooth transition through immigration and customs I found myself outside the airport without much plan of where to stay. I approached one of the many taxi drivers outside and after haggling for a while, despite not having a clue what I should pay, was headed for town an hour away. I still didn’t know where to stay, so I asked the driver where the majority of guest houses were located. He told me that Petaling Jaya (Street) was my best bet, which sounded familiar from a previous visit to KL. I remembered it was the area that Chinatown is located.

The taxi dropped me off to a bustling throng, and I struggled along the street with my two backpacks, down narrow alleys and past stalls and hawkers in the Chinatown market. I was hindered at every step by offers fake Rolex watches and copied DVD’s. I passed a couple of shabby hotels, with outer doors flanked by Chinese prostitutes, and quickly began to realise that this probably wasn’t the best spot in town to find a guesthouse after all.

As it was late, and I would be heading off early in the morning, I decided to stay anyway, and walked through the door of a less seedy looking one. Behind the receptionist, a poster advertised room rates by the night and the hour, and an ever changing selection of girls hung around the front door, only moving if their phone rang, or a policeman walked down the street. After each movement, they would return soon after or be replaced by another pair. I looked at the room, which seemed barely liveable, but as it was late I checked in. There were no windows, and a strange sound effect in the place caused by the false ceiling, which meant that you could hear pretty much everyone on the same floor as you, as if they were whispering in the corner of the room. The place was quite eerie and this freaked me out to the point of not being able to sleep, so I decided to take a walk outside and see if there was anything to do.

Just around the corner from the hotel, was the Reggae bar, a lively place that sold overpriced beer and always forgot to give you change. I sat in there for a while and met a Dutch guy who I played a few Games of pool with, again I found myself explaining the whole Expedition to him. He was suitably impressed, and I made a tentative plan to see him again tomorrow, along with a Malay girl who had got in on the pool games also. Then, after having sunk a few more beers than I should have, and been offered a bag of weed by the barman, I went back to my windowless room in the seedy hotel.

At around 1 or 2 am, I was woken up by the most amazing thunder and heavy rain. I could hear crashing noises like the roof was falling apart, and the air seemed heavy, as there was clearly some serious weather going on outside. Of course I didn’t have a window in my room, so I got up and took the lift downstairs to walk outside. The most amazing tropical rain was pouring down, sheets of solid water like nothing imaginable in Europe, and possibly worse than I have seen in the height of the monsoons in Thailand. I stood outside and watched the empty street and piles of rubbish floating by. While I stood mesmerised, I realised that I was not alone, someone had appeared next to me. An Indian woman had been sheltering in the darkness. She looked around 30-32 years old, but could have been much younger, she was smiling and asked if I was looking for a woman. I could see that she was a drug addict and seemed to be suffering badly with some kind of withdrawal symptoms and asked what drugs she took. She looked shy at first, but then told me that she smoked Ice, I am not sure what this is, but it sounded something like Crystal Meth. I asked if she had any family, she said that she had a daughter, and her eyes seemed to light up for a minute. Standing there, together under the ledge outside the hotel, I tried to tell her in the nicest possible way that hard drugs were going to ruin her life, and possibly her daughter’s, and that this was not a way to make a living. We talked together for a few minutes, about how much money she made, and how much of it she spent on this Ice stuff, and I began to notice a few more people coming closer in the shadows around us. I started to feel a bit exposed on the street alone, and decided to go back inside. As I walked back towards the door, another two men appeared and offered to sell me some Ice. I said no, and walked quickly back into the Hotel. An interesting first night in a country so famously hard on drugs.