This is a travel blog for desktop travelers and other ramblers who want to know the world just a little bit better.

Right now I am living in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where I'll be settled for a while. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Malaysia Malaise

In Hat Yai, Thailand I saw the bullfight, so we finally make a plan. Since our ultimate goal now is to get to Indonesia with a 60 day visa to finish our South East Asia trip (you only get 30 days at the airport). Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia should be the best location to sort everything out. There is a night train from South Thailand to KL. Unfortunatly no beds are available, so we take a seat for the 14 hr trip. Mika says it will be like sitting on an airplane.

A 2hr trip gets us to the Malaysian border. We pass customs and need to wait an hour for the 6:00 PM train. We then get a message that there is a two hour delay. Two hours later we are told that there are problems and the train will be ready at 1:00 AM. The restaurants at the station are closed. Mika goes to see about upgrading to a bed. The station manager who sits comfortably smoking in his air-conditioned office under the no smoking sign wants to charge a much larger fee than required to upgrade to a bed. We are not carrying any Malaysian Ringgit anyway. By now the station restaurants are closed. We could demand a refund but are stuck in a border town. Everyone is left to sit here without food or water (just what we have with us) or any updated information from the station manager or his incompetent staff. I guess this is what happens when the government run train line has a monopoly.
Train delay refugees
Finally at 2:00 AM - eight hours late - we board the train. Figuring that many people have cancelled their trip. Mika asks the train guy for a bed. He says he'll check. I fall asleep before he comes back. Like in an airplane sleep is of course terrible. And like everywhere in South East Asia the air-conditioning is on full blast. Around 8:00 AM and five hours of much interrupted sleep I give up and just stay awake.
Mika's self-mummification  
We get to Kuala Lumpur tired, unwashed and seven hours later than originally planned. We are still without Malaysian money and need to wait 40 minutes for someone to fix the one working ATM that will accept my card. We get to our Chinatown hotel and take much needed showers and naps. We drag ourselves out of bed and wander around Chinatown like zombies. Today is a wash and no chance of getting anything done. It is also Mika's birthday. Luckily she decided a while back to forgo celebration in KL and will have a "birthday week" at a yet to be determined beach location in Indonesia.
Selecting birthday cake at our favorite Malaysian chain
That night, still jet lagged from our train journey and siesta, we go to bed very late and so get a late start the next morning. We decide to take the monorail two stations to get close to the Indonesian Embassy. After the first stop Mika realizes that her bag is open and wallet is missing. She immediately suspects some fishy guy who was standing too close to her a few seconds ago and is now long gone. The good news is that Mika never carries credit cards or much cash. She loses 30 Malaysian Ringgit (US $10), passport size photos and a photocopy of her passport. Apart from feeling violated and thinking about how many meals in Thailand we can buy with the stolen 30 RM, we are also concerned about the copy of Mika's passport which right now must be in the hands of the Chinese Mafia.

We go to a police station and the officer informs us that we have to go to the tourist police office to report the theft. We eventually make our way to the tourist police station which is housed in the complex with the official Malaysian Tourism office. Mika makes the report, and they say that they have never heard of anyone doing anything with just a copy of somebody's passport. Sitting next to Mika is an Arab man who lost a load of cash and his passport to a pickpocket. Mika also calls the Japanese Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and they do not worry about a stolen photocopy of a passport either. They obviously fear the resourcefulness of the Chinese Mafia far less than we do. Running around all day to sort out the snatched wallet, the Indonesian Embassy is closed by the time I get there. Mika is too tired to go to the airline office. This is all the rail company's fault.
On the Monorail
and on the street
We wake up late again the next morning (Wed, Sep 8) and call today a do over. The malaise of the first two days in Malaysia never happened. We finally make it to the Indonesia Embassy and get some information about obtaining a 60 day visa. No one at the window can tell us for sure if we will be able to obtain one or not. Apparently our traveling fate is to be decided by the unseen boss who may or may not grant us our desired 60 days. We also find out that they are going on holiday tomorrow and will not open again until Sep 14 for the celebration of Hari Raya - the end of Ramadan and new year. Our next errand is to buy our airline tickets. We get off the train to a monsoon and wait a half hour in the station just to cross the street. Tickets are a little more we want, but do manage to buy our passage to Indonesia for Sep 17.
During the storm
and after the storm

Since we cannot do anything about our visa until after the holiday we make the move to Malacca two hours south of Kuala Lumpur. This is a national holiday and many people are moving around the country. We look forward to a new city and leaving this bad spell behind us.
Waiting for the bus to Malacca

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