Throughout my travels in the past couple months I kept a daily journal just recalling what happened/what I learned. Maybe it will help you plan a trip somewhere. Maybe you will learn something from what I learned.
Here is my [re]wind..
Woke up and ran to elephant mountain. After asking questions from many sweet Taiwanese people I finally found the trail. I started off fairly ambitious but ended up walking up most of it because, true to Taiwanese fashion, the entire “hike” was steps. Steps aside, it was so peaceful, no one was on the trail. I got to the top and though perhaps it was a bit anticlimactic it did have a nice view of Taipei and Taipei 101.
After snapping some pics and exploring the top of the mountain a bit I scurried back down the mountain and to the hotel where I got my stuff ready to take to the Fulbright office.
I dropped off my luggage and made my way back towards one of my favorite places for lunch. I headed to the MRT confident that I would get there soon (I was starving). However there was a bit of a mix up on the mrt and I ended up going in the wrong direction. Then, in one of the mrt train stations I shouldn’t have been in, the fire alarms went off so ALL the escalators stopped working. This was horrific b/c there were 3 long, steep escalators I needed to climb. Needless to say I was very tired by the end of the day.
Anyway finally got to Burger and Co and collapsed on their table and ordered noms.
After I went to a tea house where I drank delicious green tea and killed time untill I hopped on a bus for the airport. I decided to get there early to eat with Julianna and Chris and to chill out before flying forever. I did a lot of reading, and met an American pilot currently from L.A. and originally from Argentina. I ended up asking him about the budget airlines I was taking and he said that I would be fine. (Made me feel better about everything lolol..)
Eventually Chris and Julianna got to the airport and we had noms and talked about life and how to fit Chris’s painting onto his intl flight. I asked a man at a neighboring table to take our photo and then I said goodbye to Chris to go check in for my flight and get through security.
It was really simple and although my bag was over a kilogram overweight they let me sail through. I made it nearly to my gate and charged my phone outside a book store, waiting for Julianna to come through.
But then something dramatic happened.
I had planned to say goodbye to Julianna after she got through security but she texted me and said that they weren’t going to let her check in until 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave. Of course I then elected to do my best to get back through security to see her.
I was exhausted and also super sad at the thought of not getting to say goodbye so by the time I got to the first immigration desk I was already crying. Through only slightly dramatic sobs I asked if I could go back through security to say goodbye to a friend.
The very kind man said this wasn’t normally done but he made a few calls and low and behold 5 minutes later I was grasping my phone and backpack crying as I followed this man back through a huge security line.
I had to call her to get her to the right spot and of course by then I was sobbing. We hugged goodbye and then after the most dramatic goodbye of all time I got back in the security line and cried my way back to the man at immigration who gave me my passport and boarding pass and I returned to my charging station.
End dramatic story.
As I was settling in another girl asked if she could also charge her phone there. Turns out we have a friend in common. After walking to the gate together (we were taking the same flight) it turned out that Julianna made it to my gate and we said goodbye again, this time without so many dramatics.
I boarded the plane and slept most of my 4 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur.
De boarded the plane and like a robot I marched through customs and immigration (sort of a joke), changed for the day, reallocated things in my bags, and then stored my backpack in a luggage storage area.
Then I headed out to the KLIA express train and made it to the city before 6 am. I got to KL central right when everyone and their mother was going to work. I was really overwhelmed in a “I‘ve never seen this many different kind of southeast Asians in such a small place before” kind of way. Despite the throngs of people, it was rather efficient and I made it through in good time.
The trains were super cheap and easy to navigate and before I knew it I was standing in front of the towers.
I eventually made my way inside and found where you line up and check in to go to the top of the towers, but it wasn’t even 8:30 am yet, so it wasn’t opened.
Anyway we finally went up and it was actually pretty cool. First there was a skywalk on floor 42 or something like that and it felt pretty damn high. Then we went up to floor 8…80 something and it was a phenomenal view. There was lots of interesting fun facts and great views of the city.
After descending from the towers I mailed a quick post card and started to make my way towards the National Mosque. My friend had suggested it and after a little research I realized I really wanted to go. I made it over there in time to realize it would be closed for the next three hours to non-Muslims.
But it worked out okay because it was right around then (noon) that I realized I was very dehydrated and also starving. So I went to this little canteen 5 minutes from the mosque and had pattayya fried rice with a mango smoothie. It was pretty good but it’s also possible that I was mostly just starving.
Then, I went to the Islamic Arts museum. There were lots of old relics, swords, and photos.
The museum also outlined how Islam spread and where it is today. It was really interesting and I really appreciated learning some new things. Honestly though, I was so tired after a while I couldn’t read anything so I just walked around and appreciated the ambiance.
Eventually I was like, gotta sit, gotta sit. So I ordered a green tea and sipped on that for half an hour until I felt inclined to make moves.
A funny story..
Before leaving the museum I went to the bathroom. I was so tired (running off 3 hours of sleep) I fell asleep on the toilet.
After waking up from my nap on the toilet I decided to start back towards the mosque, but it was only a 3 minute walk and it wasn’t open to non Muslims yet, so I basically went to a pagoda in front of it and slept for 25 minutes. In public.
Anyway, I woke back up and ambled over to where I was “robed.” I was given a purple robe to wear to be respectful of the religion/mosque.
I stepped into the mosque and took a thousand photos.
After about 40 minutes I decided it was time to head to the airport.
So, I hopped on the subway, then got on the KLIA express train, then grabbed my bag, bought a “Malaysia” Starbucks cup, and then SHOWERED and grabbed dinner.
After lining up to check in I was urgently reminded that I was supposed to apply for a visa to Australia, so I quickly filled out the form online and charged my cc with $20 aud to make it happen. After getting through the gates I struggle bussed through the airport and then prepped for my 9 hour flight to the Gold Coast.
Here’s to sleeping pills, neck pillows, and eye masks.
Thoughts on/learned while in Malaysia:
-On escalators, If you don’t want to walk up you stand on the left not the right.
– Traffic is also opposite switched! Crazy!
– Never seen so many shades of skin tones. It was beautiful and a little overwhelming after Taiwan
– While having many many train lines that took me a hot minute to figure out, I felt it was one of the easiest cities to navigate thus far in Asia
– Sometimes I think I can most easily see the privileges afforded to me as a white pretty American woman when I fly
Soon in [Re]wind…my adventures in Australia!