Well then. Fleeing Thailand we enabled our early morning escape from Phuket by taxi to the airport from whence we ferried ourselves to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We are now in Laos but more on that in another post!

Air Asia. Wonderful low cost airline which we have used and abused mercilessly. Flights from all over the place to all over the place in Asia at rock bottom prices. ~NZ$70 inclusive from Phuket to KL. ~NZ$120 from KL to Vientianne, Laos. They even fly from KL to London for cheap! I know I am expanding my personal carbon footprint at a furious rate but the outrageous excess capacity of the airlines here has driven fares everywhere to the ground. It’s either that or 24hrs in a bus with a/c that doesn’t work and drivers that pickpocket you at night… They were voted world’s best low cost airline in the latest poll so not a bad airline at all. Main hub is in KL but also fly from Bangkok a lot. Interesting business model whereby they’ve gone vertical with their own buses to and from the airport (NZ$4.50 for an hour) and airport hotel chain.

Kuala Lumpur. KL was pretty neat. We arrived and promptly went straight to a Lonely Planet recommended guest house in the Golden Triangle area. Basically there are two main areas for backpackers to stay, Golden Triangle and Chinatown. Bowing to an apparent wisdom (Chinatown allegedly crawling with bedbugs) we bypassed Chinatown for Bukit Bintang (inside the Golden Triangle). Nice place apart from the demolition with jackhammers starting at 8am the next morning in the adjoining building (and on the same floor and shared wall!). Only a deep and abiding state of hangover allowed me to suffer till 10am. In other respects KL is cool especially for shopping (not something we were really interested in). We visited the Mentara (KL’s Sky Tower sans casino) from where we took in the sprawling metropolis with its light haze. Other attractions included the monorail (everyone loves a monorail!), Batu caves (Hindu shrine where you climb up 272 steps into a massive cathedral-like cave) with monkey’s trailing your every step just waiting for you to slip so they can pounce and rip out your larynx with their sharp little teeth… I digress… , Aloha Bar where they had NZ$0.50 beers (most beer in Malaysia being expensive), delightful English lads keen for a couple of nights on the town and 10% Luxor from the shop when not, recently retired Dennis the Ozzie keen to get his Cambodian girlfriend back to QLD and of course the bed bugs.

First contact. They came out of nowhere, rappelling down the walls, rolling onto the bedcover and lunging fiercely for a sup at my veins. Yes. The dreaded scourge of backpackers everywhere, Cimex lectularius, is making a comeback worldwide. Very difficult to get rid of, the advent of international travel and an inexcusable reduction in the application of DDT in urban areas, has caused places of high turnover like backpacker hostels, turn into breeding grounds for this parasite. When you squash ones which have been feeding recently, bright red blood explodes out of it all over the white sheets, whose blood nobody knows. Ok for Quentin Tarantino movies but not for my sleeping area! All in all not the most successful four nights but we are now on the guard for such beasties and will spare not the rod in punishing these harbingers of evil.

Malaysia. Not a lot I can really say apart from KL is a modern city in a hurry and its not super exciting. I have heard from other travelers that outside of KL, Malaysia has a lot to offer. The old capital at Melaka (2 hrs drive from KL) is supposed to be very cool. Also the Genting Highlands are neat with a massive theme park Tristan desparately wanted to see and ride the rollercoaster.

Laos update coming soon. It’s still very hot and the food continues to be wonderful!


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