I’ve been to the lovely Kuala Lumpur International Airport
over two dozen times more times than I want to admit. The city of Kuala Lumpur, on the other hand, I’ve not been to as often as I’d like, though my return here had me immediately feeling right at home.
After landing, I made my way to KL’s gem of a hostel, Explorers Guesthouse, right in the middle of Chinatown. I gave my passport to the receptionist and she looked at it thoughtfully before saying, “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” I said yes, last September. She said, “Oh yes, I recognized your name!” Seriously? There are hundreds of tourists coming and going out of that place a month and I really don’t think I made all that much of an impression, although it’s in the realm of possiblity that she knew me as the sickly looking girl that stayed on the 3rd floor with killer diarrhea for 5 days. Hopefully that wasn’t the case because that isn’t exactly my ideal way of being remembered, though I’m sure I’ve been remembered for far worse… Whether she really did remember me or not, I was impressed and feeling the warm and fuzzies nonetheless.
HUNGRY CAITLIN, NEED FOOD NOW
There’s something excruciatingly cruel about airports in the way they almost enjoy dehydrating and starving its patrons. You can’t have water, water fountains aren’t exactly prevalent and the food costs nearly as much as the flight. My post-airport stomach is never a happy camper, so after getting settled at the hostel my next order of business was food. I went right around the corner to Arab Shwarma, home to the best falafel and shwarma stand in the world. And for only 6 MYR ($1.40)!
Omar, the young owner, is a quiet and unassuming guy but also a hoot. He says hello to almost everyone that passes and will poke a baby or two to make them smile. To be clear, they are nice pokes, I don’t want it going around that he’s poking random babies left and right in torturous ways and then having my beloved falafel stand shut down by PETA for babies for crimes against humanity. Anyway, I was waiting my turn to order and he popped out of the food stall for a moment and shook my hand. “Long time,” he said. I looked at him curiously and he pointed at the tattoo on my forearm and said, “I remember you.” We caught up a little and ten minutes and a couple of super sweet baby pokes later and I’m greedily devouring the best falafel. Happiness at long last!
BACK AT THE HOSTEL…
Ready for bed and tired from a day of travel (where I do nothing but sit around, so why am I tired? Someone, please explain this phenomenon to me), I was pooped and making my way upstairs. So what if it was 8pm… I made it only a few steps when I overheard a girl telling a guy that she lived 30 minutes from Seattle. Naturally, and trying to not be weird, which 98% of the time results in me being almost handicapped by awkwardness, I popped over to their table and asked where she lived. She had been living in Everett for work and was thinking of moving to Seattle after traveling rather than returning to Reno. Reno or Seattle? Easy choice! That’s a no-brainer for me personally, but of course I’m only a little biased.
The guy she was talking to happened to be on his way to Indonesia next and asked for recommendations. I started telling him about Bali, where most tourists aim to go, but he said he wasn’t going there because he wanted to spend his 3 weeks on Java instead. Java! No one really goes there, or at least they always go to Bali eventually. I was impressed and happily dumped all my knowledge as he wrote everything down and showed me pictures of places hoping that I could decipher where they were taken.
He got a kick out of the names I was spitting out at him. At one point he said, “So you want me to go to the city of… Bon-you-wan-gee…,” he sounds out the word as he looks at his notes, “and stay at a…an OsingVacation to meet a guy named Beni… who can get me to… Ka-wah I-jen?” I beam back at him, “Yes, exactly!” He laughs, “You make these places sound so normal, like, ‘Oh yeah, Probolinggo!’ or ‘Kawah Putih between Sukabumi and Bandung!’” To be fair, they are normal to me now.
SIMPLE DAYS ARE THE BEST KIND OF DAYS
My welcome back to KL couldn’t have been better (well, actually, the Uber driving from the airport was the worst, but I’ll just set that aside for now). I instantly felt at home at the hostel, ate dinner with what felt like an old friend, and then got to chat with one person who had just been living near my home in the States, and another who was on his way to my second home in Indonesia.
After taking a hot shower with actual pressure, cuddling up in a comfy bed and laying my head on a soft pillow, I reflected on my day. It was everything I’d ever wanted and more and, as always, Malaysia is only blissfully good to me.