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Linda on BMW: Start of the Trip in Castellar

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Malaysia-Report IV

This just about sums it all up but I'll fill in a few details...

There was a smooth motorway all the way to KL. I tried to get off it as I prefer back roads but kept being redirected back on it again. However at least it got me there with plenty of daylight to find my destination.

Back in May I came down from Thailand by bus to see my work mate from Gibraltar, Choo, while she was here on holiday. She has a flat in KL and said that I could use that while I was in town and asked me to paint it while I was there, which I didn't mind doing at all as I like decorating.

However, before I could get the keys and move in there her friend Sharon, kindly invited me to stay with her for a few days.

Sharon had sent me a map of how to get to her place but, when I hit the KL traffic lanes I got completely confused. Although I was roughly in the right area I didn't know which turn off to take and got caught in a tremendous downpour before I eventually found it.

KL is a big sprawling city of high rise apartments interlaced by a series of expressways. It all looks the same and, unless you really know where you are going you can go round in circles all day.

By trial and error I threw myself into the system and just kept asking taxi drivers til I found the bike shop, Sunny's,  where I had new steering races fitted and a new front tyre. Run by a very nice  Chinese family there was no problem getting it done the same day and Milian, who runs the office, has kindly given me a new wet weather suit which I hope will be more waterproof than the Thai one.

Over the weekend I did some socialising with Sharon, her friends and family. This included helping critique a school presentation on bullying and seeing part of the Mind to Mind Communication Seminar run by Choo's brother in law, Alan Tan. Very interesting. He is well known  throughout S.E Asia for his seminars to help businessmen acheive their aims.

First thing Monday I threw myself into the traffic again to find the Indonesian Embassy to apply for my visa. Usually you need to produce a return ticket but I explained what I was doing, was sent around a series of departments who were of no help but served to convince the visa lady that I could at least put in my application.

Moving into Choo's high rise flat my next challenge was to subdue the riot of colours that the previous tenants had painted it. They were Indians and though I could understand their choices I certainly couldn't live with them.

Vivid green walls, vivid yellow ceilings. Bright violet and bright blue were in other rooms, and, in one room, green, yellow and violet all at once.

Choo wants to sell or at least rent this flat and wanted something a little more discreet. My immediate reaction, being British, was to go for the old standby, Magnolia walls and white ceiling. Over the course of the next few days as I battled with covering the brighter colours with the Malaysian equivilant of these, I had a chance to ponder just how much our culture and climate influences our choice of colours and how we use them. Perhaps the next tenants will look at my choice with equal horror as being far too boring.

Anyway, after 6 days of nose to the grindstone, or rather paint roller, I have learnt quite a lot about living in this area. The flat is on the 23rd floor so has specky views of KL at night. I can see the famous Twin Towers sparkling in the distance. As the rooms are empty it has great acoustics for playing the fiddle but I have to keep the windows closed because of the constant traffic noise. The lift is a bit of a pain as, like most of them, the door closes fast if you are trying to get all your gear inside. Also, all the flats have at least 3 locks on the front door so it takes me hours to lock and unlock.

There is an increasing crime rate in KL and quite an alarming incidence of muggings. Several people have been quite severly hurt trying to stop bag snatchers so I make it a point not to take my bag when I am walking around.

It is quite fun here in this suburb though as there are plenty of cheap eating places, a night market on some evenings,  outdoor telly screen to watch the footy and GP on, lots of cheap internet cafes and some friendly faces. I am the only foreigner around and my bike is of great interest. The Chinese tell me that my bike registration, with the number 8 is very lucky, so I'm pleased about that. It must have worked as I got my 60 day Indonesian visa, no problem and am now all set to leave for Melaka and the boat to Indonesia.

Thanks to all people who have helped me on this part of the trip and thanks to you readers for wading through these lengthy reports.

Happy Ramadan!

Love Linda

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