In Kuala Lumpur


We arrived in Kuala Lumpur this morning after staying in a small airport hotel last night. Taking the airport express train, we were carried from countryside through to suburbs and then briefly through the city until we alighted at KL Sentral, the main train station of the city.

After booking train tickets on to Ipoh for tomorrow, we found a taxi which took us in the central shopping and business area of the city, Bukit Bintang. It is also where we have reserved a room in a quaint guesthouse within sight of a large hotel we had been considering before our friend recommended otherwise. As we had arrived too early to check in, we left our bags with reception and set out to take a short wander around the locale.

It wasn’t hot outside, nor was it humid. The city held itself in a cool after-rain balm which had yet to be pestered by the afternoon sun. As it was early enough in the day, the streets seemed lazy and trafficless, but we knew better as the taxi we took on the way spent some time negotiating almost perpetually red-lighted crossroads. We made our way into a large shopping mall and wandered downstairs to explore the restaurants.

It may seem like a peculiar decision to do something like this, but after living in Asia for some time I find that food halls in shopping malls actually serve a function other than feeding the working and shopping masses. As a traveller, before you dive into the street food and corner restaurants pack with locals, a food court gives a base from which to approach other eateries. Invariably mediocre but never overpriced, food courts give you an idea of the variety of food on offer and also an idea of how much you should actually be paying for a meal. I always take a moment to explore all the small restaurants and consult their picture menus, then if I’m lucky I can come to a decision and pick up the courage to order something. Once I’ve eaten, I’ve had my fill of food courts and can feel more confident approaching local cuisine from local restaurants.

After eating, we wandered around a little more but slowly we made our way towards the guesthouse where we were to stay. On return, we checked in quickly and made our way to our room where we lay in the cool of the air conditioner for a while. I stepped out and made my way down to one of the communal lounges. As I sat there reading up on Kuala Lumpur it started to rain. A prompt and straight rain that the drummed heavily and incessantly on everything, while in the background thunder sounded like heavy goods vehicles hurtling down a country road. A stiff breeze blew in the wide open windows and cooled the room where I sat, and it is still the case now.

Since then the rain has lessened and some construction workers on the streets outside have returned loudly to their tasks. There is an occasional hiss of a car passing through puddles near by, and the the tap-tap-tap of rain here and there. We will go out soon, rain or no, and finish our first day exploring the capital city of Malaysia.

Exploring Seoul


The Instigator – Sinnae-dong, Jungnang-gu.

When I first arrived in Korea in 2005 I was based in Jungnang-gu, which is on Seoul’s most north-eastern extremity. On face value, there wasn’t really much going for the place but it was close to the Costco in Sangbong, so I used to walk down to it every so often to get more cheese. I also found a little hill, which was often described as a mountain, next to me, which I would wander up regularly because I had the mornings free. This mountain was called Bongwhasan, and the subway station at the end of line 6 is named after here. When it was a little warmer I would also walk to Bongwhasan to take the train into Itaewon. This was as adventurous as I got back then. After a while, I got a little bored with seeing the same things.

Jungnang-gu, Seoul

I first started walking around in the morning after I got up and had breakfast. This was usually after I realised that having all this morning time allowed me plenty of freedom to go out and do stuff, and then come back in time to go to work at two or three o’clock. Staying in bed late into the morning just wasted the whole day. Later, when it was hotter I would walk around at night as I finished work around nine o’clock and didn’t really feel tired. I would walk for hours sometimes.

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