"The world is a book, & those who do not travel read only one page" St. Augustine

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" St. Augustine

Friday, April 8, 2011


(Monday) After another breakfast of toast and coffee, I went on a self guided walking tour of KL. When I first arrived on the monorail, I had seen a large building with a gorgeous blue dome. I decided to walk there and thought it was the Islamic Museum. I was greeted by two men and then asked to put on a robe and scarf. The site was quite humorous as I drowned in the pink robe and my babushka. The man awkwardly asked me about my menstrual cycle before heading into the mosque. The grand building was simplistic inside and was mostly decorated with the hundreds of names for Allah. There was also some nice woodwork, but I was distracted by the man who was trying to convert me to his faith. I stood and listened for nearly an hour about the Islamic faith. It sounded a lot like Christianity to me, but I'm still no expert on the subject. He gave me pamphlets and a DVD about how to live life through Allah. It was interesting, and although not what I was anticipating, I learned a great deal.
I felt a bit uncomfortable when I took off my robe to leave because I had just learned about women covering up so as not to be seductive. I just had a sundress on that was not revealing in Western terms, but he preached the idea of women being conservative and not wearing makeup and covering their bodies. He also told me how big of a sin it is to drink. If one drinks, there's a 40 fast that must be held to seek forgiveness. I enjoy my cocktails and my sundresses; those two alone would keep me from ever converting (not that that was even a consideration).
I continued my walk and came across Chinatown. There were markets everywhere each selling anything and everything. Every designer knockoff was available there. There was nothing exceptionally different about this market, but I did have some delicious vegetable dumplings with roasted garlic on top. I enjoyed those slowly as I walked along. My attention was grabbed by a massive tin garbage can. It was filled with walnuts that were being turned and roasted. My dad normally roasts these in an oven versus a garbage can so that was interesting! The aroma was overwhelming and good.
I walked past the old buildings that offer a European influence. There was a mix of these buildings piled one on top of the other, beautiful mosques and modern high rises. They offer a blend of old and new. I walked to the Central Market. For those who cannot read maps, there's a giant balloon that says, "Central Market" lingering overhead. The market was filled with more artwork and souvenirs.
My feet guided me around the Masjid Jame which is a large mosque. It lies on two rivers and is the oldest mosque in the city. Its size is impressive as well as the architecture. I decided to enjoy the view from a nearby park. There were benches under a floral gazebo. In the center was a water fountain; several people gathered to take a break from the heat. Although it was only 93, the heat index was 104. I sat for some time enjoying my book and the rest of my dumplings.
An hour later, I walked back to the guesthouse. This man started talking and walking with me. The conversation was the usual exchanging of background information that seems to be the base of conversations while traveling. To my surprise, he started to ask personal questions that I had no desire to answer. I hardly talk about such sensitive subjects with my friends let alone stranger. Thanks but no thanks! As we said on our group trip, “Too much, too soon!”
 I saw the Menara Tower which is the 2nd largest free standing tower in the world. I had wanted to go to the top and enjoy some lunch or dinner, but the food reviews were not pleasant. My interest faded, and I went to take a long nap. It was raining when I woke up so I went to the internet café and bought my flight to Qatar. This excited me very much.
I treated myself to a nice Italian dinner with Pellegrino and a glass of Malbec to enjoy. There’s something comforting about a glass of wine and a glass of Pellegrino. I sat by myself just people watching. The server brought me a magazine, but I felt a bit offended. It’s nice to have nothing to do. In normalcy, I would be reading a book or sending texts to distract me. However, I am working on enjoying the act of doing nothing. Why do we always need something to occupy our time? Is it so terribly awkward to be somewhere alone with nothing to pass the time? A few months ago my answer would have been yes. In college, I wouldn’t eat all day if I had to sit in the cafeteria alone. It was a huge fear of mine. I would have rather gone without eating then face a room full of strangers. I refused the magazine and quietly enjoyed each sip of my wine and each strand of spaghetti. The time went by slowly but memorably.
(Tuesday) This morning I had breakfast at the guesthouse with two of my roommates. There was an older gentleman who was very enthusiastic and personable. We talked for quite awhile before Raj joined us. We got on about traveling and that spark I had came back. For a moment, I thought it had become a dim light, but in talking this morning the spark was back. Uh oh. Is that trouble for me? Will I be planning another crazy vacation? I thought I was done with long-term trips for the recent future. Who knows now! I found out Raj was going to be in Bali the same time I was so we exchanged information. I headed to the island Langkawi while he headed to Hong Kong.
Getting to the airport was fairly easy. The public transportation in KL was easy and efficient. I took the monorail to the bus station. I met this lovely elderly couple, and we exchanged stories of our travels. They were so cute! I couldn’t help but smile at this couple in their later years still enjoying life and exploring the world together. They gave me lots of helpful hints and blessings of safe travels. Then I got on the bus and made my way to the airport.

I landed in Langkawi in the early evening. Unfortunate for me, it had started raining. I was supposed to be staying at one of the top 101 hotels in the world when Anastasia and I were going to be traveling here. However, I expedited my time in Malaysia and arrived solo a few weeks early. There were no rooms available to change the reservation so I booked a villa just 50 meters from the beach. The villa was so beautiful and modern. It looked like it came straight from an IKEA catalogue. I was very happy with my decision.
The rain lingered throughout the night. I grabbed some dinner and tried to find a bar. The two that were recommended were closed. There were plenty of shops and restaurants but nothing entertaining. I decided to go back and take a nice hot shower and use every towel in my room because I haven’t been able to use towels often. I’ve been using a sarong as a towel while traveling, and they are no substitute. I laid in bed writing and watching TV. I was so tired and eventually fell asleep only to be woken up by the sound of rain crashing against the tin roof. The rain became deafening. I dozed in and out of sleep thankful to at least have a comfortable bed and pillow to hide under.  

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