Throughout my trip to Kuala Lumpur I wrote down snippets of what I was thinking whenever I was feeling particularly poetic…
At 7am Saturday:
Our overnight “sleeper” bus deposited us in Kuala Lumpur ahead of schedule at 4:30am; the five of us spent the last two and a half hours wandering the street to find our hostel, then parked ourselves in front of (of all things) a Krispy Kreme donut shop. We have been sitting in front of an expensive hotel with beautiful marble and decorations, but even walking down a side street made it easy to see the garbage and grime that makes Kuala Lumpur distinctly different from Western cities and especially Singapore. There were burned out and hollowed buildings filled with trash on the street behind the hotel, and several rats which scurried away from their early morning meal when we walked by. The contrast with Singapore is painfully clear.
In a taxi on Sunday:
Many drivers selectively disregard lane markings and traffic signals. Motorcyclists seem blind to them.
On the overnight train home:
One thing I’ve noticed is that people here are less concerned with looks than they are with functionality. The train we took back to Singapore was clean and perfectly functional, but the plastic on the seats was an aged yellow and the uphostery had seen better days. In Canada this would deter customers to the point of putting the operator out of business, but not so in Malaysia. I suppose that’s why it’s possible to travel from KL to Singapore for the equivalent of $15 Canadian.
Monday, at home:
What a whirlwind trip; I’m not sure I would do that again, but I certainly experienced much of Kuala Lumpur. Most obvious to me was the culture shock I experienced the entire time I was there; Singapore has a small but existent white population, but what struck me the most in Malaysia was often being the only person of my skin colour. Not only that, but the expectations and culture of Malaysia are less Americanized than those of Singapore, which left me feeling out of place and confused. It is the first time I have felt out of place to this extent, and made me homesick for the relative familiarity of Singapore.