During the next few weeks then, our life was mostly about cooking, writing, reading and working out. Unfortunately the haze from the wildfires in Indonesia settled on KL during our first day at Stef’s and never left again, so visibility was poor and the air felt stuffed and contaminated at all times. Little did we know we would not see the sun for about a month. Nonetheless, we made the best of it.
Apart from our regular activities during those weeks, there were a few instances (to Stef’s amazement) when we actually left the building…
- The day we arrived, there had been a building meeting to present new recycling ideas to tenants. To entice most people to attend, they were giving out free durian. For those who have not heard of this fruit before, it is a rare and flavoursome delicacy. The whole thing weighs about five kilos, is covered in a thick spiky outer layer and has such a characteristic and pungent smell that it is prohibited in many hotels and public transport. The fleshy inside does not stink and the taste is something otherworldly. No wonder it is called “King of the Fruits”
- On Monday, we visited the Myanmar embassy to get our tourist visa. We walked about 1.5km to the nearest train station, then changed to another line at KL central and hopped off at Ampang. We paid a ridiculous amount of money to print some documentation that we ended up not using and learned our lesson. The embassy was swarming with people, so we first got a bit worried. Soon we realized they were all Burmese people, and the counter for tourist affairs was free. We left our passports and the form we had to fill out with a very friendly clerk and were asked to return at 4pm. That meant we had to hang around he neighbourhood until then, so we set out to explore the vicinity. We had lunch at a pretty amazing middle Eastern restaurant, and then spent a long while in a local supermarket that sold all kinds of strange, western products, writing down the prices of goods so we could later on compare them and start getting an idea of what things should cost. We strolled around some more and found another supermarket that was selling cheap local rum. We bought a small bottle and a coke, and returned to the embassy passing ourselves as we did not want to celebrate just yet. We sat outside reading Dracula out loud to each other to the amusement of many a local that walked passed, and finally went to retrieve our documentation. The whole process was really simple and straight forward, and we already had an appropriate way to celebrate. All in all, a wonderful day 😉
- On Wednesday night we visited a local market that was full of really amazing food and stuff. We tried a lot of different snacks and admired some local craft. Mum, I recommend you stop reading this point and move on to the next… There was a big Malay man that looked completely out of it pick pocketing people. It first came to our attention when he targeted Tim, but he had removed all valuables from the camera bag pockets and there was nothing there to be stolen. So we observed him and sabotaged a few of his attempts. We asked the locals what to do about him, but no one seemed to care or wanted to go through the trouble of calling the police to lose 3 hours with an interrogation that would possible lead to the criminal walking away. I was getting quite frustrated at people passivity when he was so blatantly getting away with stealing. At one stage he went behind a stall and grabbed the phone from a tiny little Chinese guy and started walking away. The small man tapped him on the shoulder timidly, and by then I have had enough, so I put my left hand up to my face in case he went for it and gripped his upper arm with my right hand using all my strength while I screamed at him to fucking return the phone. He turned around to face me and looked at me without seeing me, through glazed eyes. He quickly returned the stolen property and lost himself in the crowd. Tim looked at me quite angrily and asked me what the fuck I though I was doing and to promise him I would never do something so foolish again. I looked at him and apologized, but no, I could not promise that. I have done my share of standing passively at the sight of injustice, but not anymore; not if there is something I can do. Yes, he was much bigger than me and could have hurt me. But in a split second I waged the consequences to my person and decided to take the risk for the greater good. I guess I was lucky, but I still felt horrible that even if I saved the one guy, I did not stop him for good, and I felt really small and powerless regardless. That feeling stayed with me for quite some time, and only made me train harder.
The miniature man came to thank me and gifted me a juice in a blood bag, that happened to be my favourite flavour 🙂
- We attended a festival organized by a flee market. It was located in a mall right next to the Petrona Towers, possibly the most famous buildings in KL. The stalls were selling everything you would expect of such a market, and a concert went on at the terrace. The first band we saw was quite bad, but the second duo was really amazing and we stayed on sitting on pallets with cushins until the end. My newest tiny Chinese friend had a stall on the top floor as well, where he was still selling blood bad juices and coconut ice cream. We went for the latter and he did not let us pay him…
- We were in KL for Malaysia Day – When the peninsula was united with Borneo and Singapore. To celebrate, we attended an awesome festival that was taking place next to Stef’s work place. The KL free tree society was giving away many species of natives, a stand was giving away free cards with pictures of influential art figures from the last century, and the local SPCA had brought a bunch of lovely dogs to give out for adoption. One stand was dedicated to organic food and bamboo sustainable constructions, so it was very interesting to have a chat with the people involved. When we arrived, a group of Indian lady dancers were putting on a beautiful show.
We also saw a band and a portuguese dance group, that ended their number by getting everyone to join them and dance together.
Inside the eating area, post-it had sponsored a wall where people were promted to leave a message to improve Malaysia. A lot of them talked about fewer cars, better public transport system and more green spaces, and people from all ages had contributed showing a lot of ideas and potential.
The most amazing part was saved for last: the lion dance. It is rather difficult to explain, but I will give it a go. Two performers put on a lion costume and jump through raised platforms at the beat of traditional drums. If it still doesn’t make sense, ask YouTube for a demonstration. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, and I found myself holding my breath every time they reached the higher platforms displaying their amazing coordination and intense training.
While everyone was distracted with the dance, a Kolam was made on one side. This is an image made from rice, flour, chalk and other coloured powders that is set as an offering to the Indian goddess of prosperity and wealth among other traditional uses.
- On our second weekend at Stef’s, two more couchsurfers arrived: Rodrigo from Chile and Carmen from Romania. We absolutely loved them and had a great time with them. For Rodri’s birthday, Stef took us all to a waterfall nearby where we got a chance to explore the forest area close to the city, and to climb and swim around this really amazing waterfall. It was a really cool place and we all enjoyed ourselves a lot. For me it was great to have a chance to speak Spanish and hear stories from fellow travellers. Rodri is travelling with a charango, and he taught Tim some songs, so we all sang together and had a lot of fun!
- During the last week we joined a Muay Thai gym and trained a few times. It was wonderful to get back into it and relieve some stress against the bags.
- I found a Meetup Group for Indoors Volleyball that I joined twice. It was fabulous to be able to run, set and hit for a few hours, and my body reminded me how long it had been after the first day (Ouch!)
- The last weekend we attended a Japanese festival, with a little food and some traditional dancing. It was a pretty small venture, but it was cool to see all the girls in Kimonos moving around and the artificial cherry blossom. For dinner Stef took us to a Chinese noodle shop were we enjoyed great soup.
- The last weekend I spent a whole day playing Assassin’s Creed: Unity. It was just perfect! It had been a long time since I played on a PS and my left thumb hurt afterwards, but the controls were very similar to the previous version I had played with my Brazilian friend Milton a few years back so I got into it quickly
- Some of the things we cooked include: loads and loads of bread thanks to Stef bread making machine; a whole chicken, with grilled vegies and mashed potatoes; an argentinian tarta (with home-made pastry); falafel burgers (with home-made buns) and chips; a Spanish Omelette; cherry/macademia cupcakes; plum cake; pesto pasta; aranchini; risotto; pizza; napolitan chicken schnitzel, mac n cheese, and possibly missing something…
All in all, we enjoyed the time spent in KL a lot and it was outstanding to be able to relax and rest from constantly moving around. We will be forever in debt with beautiful Stef for the opportunity, her hospitality and kindness and hope we can someday pay back 🙂