Monday, January 14, 2008

Mysterious Knocker Part 2: For Real This Time

The knock on the door occurred again this morning, but this time we could not send him away to get more sleep. We had a flight from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur at 9:15 and the airport is over an hour away.

The taxi was on time and started the meter as we arranged ourselves in the cab, but I told him the hotel had paid for the trip. He asked for a receipt, but Ron had seen the clerk hand him a paper already. I told him to turn around and get it from the hotel if he did not have it, because we were not paying the bill. Miraculously, he continued to drive on.

We had paid for Express boarding, but had no clue what it meant. Checking in was a breeze and Air Asia was again great. We boarded first with express boarding directly into the plane getting to choose our seats first and first shot at the overhead storage. Our luggage weight was not an issue, which was a relief. The flight took off on time and we arrived ten minutes early. The landing was the smoothest we have had in years.

From the airport, we took the bus shuttle directly to our hotel for 15 Ringgits each, a real bargain. The hotel clerk remembered us and welcomed us back apologizing for not having the same room available. We immediately took our dirty clothes to the laundry service next door to pick up tomorrow, so when we get home, we will only have one shirt each that needs to go into the wash.

Not having a really good coffee since we left Siem Reap, we had to go to Starbucks for a caffeine fix. We did head back to the mall that had the large white Christmas tree to see if it still graced the lobby, but it was gone. The Chinese Lunar New Year starts on January 18th and the whole mall is decorated in red and gold in anticipation. If you look at my photos, the changes are dramatic. If you want to see my albums, send me an e-mail to

Our enthusiasm is not what it was a month ago and although there are a couple of things we would like to see here, we only have tomorrow. If we see them, fine, but if we don’t, oh well. After being gone a month, our thoughts about tourism transpire from we have to see it all to whatever we see and do is fine. Touring around is work. Being a tourist is mind bending. Not only to you have to transform your thinking to the language differences, but the culture, the food, and a real obstacle is transportation once you hit the ground. It has not been easy getting from one place to another, but it has been an experience that I probably would not have given up when all is said and done. It helped me grow as a person to see what others have to survive with in a microscopic piece of their daily lives making me feel fortunate for living in Budapest.

The WiFi is not working at our hotel, so we have not been able to download mail or post my writing, so we will have to make a trip to Starbucks tomorrow where they have free WiFi at everyone of the 150 stores in the country.

The major difference being back here as opposed to Cambodia or Vietnam, is prosperity. More people are better off here than in the other countries. Malaysia had embraced technology and it has worked for the masses. No one here is hounding us to buy books, cigarette lighters, fruit, combs, bracelets, jewelry of any kind, or offering us rides in their cyclo (there are no tuk-tuks or cyclos here). No one is asking us where we are from, how old we are, or if we have children. The culture shock continues with the majority of women wearing head coverings. Then there is the weather. It is so much hotter and humid here. Just as we were entering the city, the clouds opened up and it poured a torrential rain. Thinking this would relieve the humidity, when it stopped, it was only successful in creating a city steam bath. You can almost see the steam rising from wet pedestrians as the sun is now drying their clothing.

Similarities do exist, each restaurant you pass has someone trying to get you into their door and massage parlors are everywhere outnumbering the number of tourists in any of the countries. Full body massages run on the average of $6.00 for an hour, the same for a foot/leg massage also. From what we can see, they are all legitimate massages, but it goes without saying there are probably other types available also, but not for this writer for sure.

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