Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sad Day, Happy Feet

Day 267
My alarm went off early and I packed in the cool of the morning. When I brought my things down I was happy to find out that I would be sharing the taxi with a French couple. This meant the cost would be 5 instead of 15 ringgets. The cab driver tried to pull a fast one on us though. He told us that it would be 10 for them and 10 for me. I pointed out that I had already been informed that the cost is 15 ringgets no matter how many people were in the cab and eventually he agreed. It wasn't really the money, it was more about getting ripped off. Five riggets is only US $1.30

I had just enough time before my bus left to grab some water and a coconut bread roll. The ride was uneventful. I spent most of the time reading and staring out of the window.

The bus station in Kuala Lumpor (KL) was a nightmare. I ducked inside to get away from the taxi touts for a minute and to look on my map. I wasn't really all that far from where I wanted to go, but definitely further than I wanted to walk in this heat. The first driver I spoke to actually told me to just take the metro and that it was only a couple minute walk away. Well, it was slightly further, than that and I had to cross a busy highway without any lights twice. Still I managed to get there in one piece and after asking help several times and finally being led by a kind old man I managed to get to my hostel.

Inside it was air conditioned and there was a cat to play with. I decided to stay inside for a bit and work on blog. When I opened my email I had an email from Martin, one of the guys in Warsaw who I met up with again for Halloween. Another guy in our group, Jeremy, had been killed in a car accident back home. The only reason Martin knew was because he was meant to spend some time the following week staying with him and someone in Jeremy's family contacted him. If you don't remember Jeremy was the guy who I switched rooms with because of the really smelly man in our dorm room. He wasn't much older than me and on his first trip, he had planned to travel more. I wish that I had kept in better touch with him.

I wasn't really in the mood for much at this point but decided that it would be best to walk around a bit. I ended up heading to Chinatown. Now this was an actual madhouse and I was definitely not in the mood for it. I didn't stay very long. I wandered a bit more and found the tamer, but more boring, central market. It was kinda like a giant Pier One. This is really a tourist place. As I wandered I saw a sign that said 'cute fish'. I like fish and find them to be relaxing, but I don't think I would call them cute. It turns out that this was one of those places where fish give you a pedicure. I had heard about this in the States, but I remember it being quite expensive. For only 5 ringgets, or less than $2 I thought it sounded like a great idea.

After rolling up my pants and sitting down I stuck my feet in the water. Instantly loads of tiny fish were at my feet. It tickled so much that I had to pull my feet back out. After a second or two I stuck them back in. Getting used to the painless chewing sensation took a couple of minutes. I really had to force myself to stay still. Once I got used to it it actually felt kinda good. Some of the fish seemed a bit confused though and tried to nibble at the backs of my legs. When the ten minutes were up most of the fish had either gotten bored or there just wasn't any dead skin left for them to eat. The woman who worked there handed me a paper towel and I took my feet out. They definitely felt much smoother than before. That was money well spent. After taking a quick picture the woman said something to me that I couldn't understand. I then started to walk away, just to realize that I hadn't paid. Very embarrassed I apologized and gave her the money

On the way back to the hostel I accidentally bumped into a man. I apologized in English so I couldn't use my typical excuse of not understanding when he started to talk to me. He was following me a bit as well. This went on for about ten minutes. I walked slower and slower until he was a ways in front of me. Near my hostel I popped into a supermarket to get some snacks for the evening. As he was ahead of me I figured that I wouldn't see him again. Much to my unhappy surprise he was suddenly in the store as well. He must have doubled back as he had been in front on me. The creepy man kept looking for me in the different isles as I took my time waiting for him to leave. Eventually I just got in line behind a western looking person. He turned out to be from Holland. When I explained to him that I thought I was being followed and asked if he would walk out with me he asked me where the guy was. I looked around and saw that he was only two people in line behind me. When I said that they Dutch man told me that he would walk me back to my hostel, just in case. I thanked him and we went our separate ways. Oddly, I ran into him the next day on the other side of the city.

I am sure that the man was completely harmless, perhaps just confused by western movie messages, or wanted to chat. Still, I figured better safe than sorry. I do seem to be getting a lot of attention here, not just because of what I look like, but also because I am alone. Still, there is very little violent crime here, no more really than in Europe, so as long as I stay on my guard and ask for help when I feel uncomfortable everything should be fine. I did, however, decided to not wander any further than the next door 7-11 after night fall.

Back at the hostel I showered and then hung out for a bit in the common room. I thumbed through a communal China guidebook so that I could get an idea for an itinerary there. I had planned on spending the evening watching movies, but the dvd player wasn't working so I settled in with a book and called it an early night.

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