“The Tell Tales of Inner KL Travels”

November 15, 2012 | Natasha, DVM, AFS, Malaisie, Science of Life Studies

Transportation in Kuala Lumpur has been quite interesting and equally an adventure! From taking the bus to taxis to monorails, I have a story at every corner that is either sad or will have you have laughing your socks off! I feel that with every mode of transportation in KL there is code that one must follow in order to survive the journey successfully…..one can say that it becomes an art that one must master! Now where do I begin? Ok how about having you laugh your socks off!

It was a beautiful Friday holiday morning and my roomies and I thought it would be fun to soak up the Malaysian culture by visiting another state called Penang in Malaysia’s north end. So with our bus tickets in hand, we headed over to the bus terminal around 8h45 am to catch our bus scheduled for 9 am. This is where the sketchy voyage began. Now we were given a platform number to go to and so we waited there patiently for a while (of course it was late) until we saw a man in a uniform calling the passengers over to follow him to our new pick-up spot for that bus. We literally walked out the terminal and down the street to catch what appeared to be our bus; one broken-down looking bus on the bustling side of the road. I kept thinking to myself, what a shame it was for that one person who decided to take a bathroom break simultaneously during our relocation process and how he/she will now stand at that platform waiting and waiting until never for that bus! Anyway, once on the bus, my roomies and I were taunted by an annoying sound of an alarm! Yes an alarm! The bus driver took off knowing full well that there was an alarm going off hinting at him that something was wrong and that the bus may be breaking down! And so it did! FIVE TIMES along the way to our destination that was suppose to only be four hours but ended up taking 13 hours! What made me laugh the most was watching the bus driver pour water over a gigantic over-heated engine from small water bottles over and over to give the bus a little juice to drive 20 KMs/hr until the next stop! At one point, it didn’t even reach the next stop and we literally stopped on the highway under the scorching sun and needed a police escort! It was getting ridiculous as we kept asking ourselves why the driver used this bus knowing full well that it had problems! Anyway after about 7 hours of this, the bus driver dropped us off at some terminal in the middle of nowhere where I honestly felt he left us to die! Ok Ok that’s an exaggeration but at that point I was giving up that we would ever make it! Needless to say, we did make it to our destination very late at night, losing our hotel reservation and were stuck roaming the streets for another hotel…….but that’s another story!

Meter please!…….Those are two proverbial words that every traveller must say when entering a cab in Kuala Lumpur! It’s quite funny actually, because when arriving here over two months ago, this was one of the first things I was told to not FORGET because otherwise I would get ripped off! And so I began using this phrase with perfection, holding my ground when my meter ideology was rejected and learned to haggle to get the prices in my favor. The funny thing about the taxi experience as well was the fact that taxi drivers did not know my requested destination 40% of the time. They would look at me with huge question marks on their faces which made me question if I said it correctly, but no they truly do not know their districts. This made it even more frustrating when they still had the nerve to give out a random price anyway! So as you see, taking a taxi in Kuala Lumpur requires conscious haggling techniques by always keeping a firm hand in the bargain game!

Ok now for the sad story….You hear about it, you read about it and people warn you about it but you never really think that it will HAPPEN to you….but it did for me! I got pick pocketed! Yes! On a monorail! In an overcrowded monorail where no one including myself could even breathe to save my life, some thief saw his opportunity to unzip my purse and steal my wallet (with credit card, bank card and cash). I always followed the whole pick pocketing protocol by holding my purse close to me, making sure the zippers are facing inwards and so on, but that crook caught me at a vulnerable moment. As the train jerked and I was about to fall flat on another passenger, my reflex released my firm grip holding down my purse (the only somewhat free hand I had while squished) to hold on to the side of the train…….for about ten seconds. In that time, I became a thief’s dream as he robbed me blind, got off the next station incognito and walked away with my goods. I realized later what had happened and wanted to kick myself for letting go. At the end of the day, it can all be replaced and my life was not jeopardized in the process, making me grateful that the situation had not been more severe.

Anyway I hope this was a good insight into my inner travels in Kuala Lumpur! Never rely on the bus schedule or the bus itself, never give in to taxi drivers’ opportunities to scam you and lastly, be extra cautious in overcrowded areas anywhere you are. I am proud to now be able to share these valuable travel tips with you as I’ve feel more integrated than ever in Malaysia’s travel hustle and bustle.

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