Malaysia

After I left Singapore I made my way through Malaysia. I only spent about 4 days here, with my time divided between Kuala Lumpur, several overnight trains and a stopover in Penang. After hopping on a night train from Johor Bahru across the border in Malaysia, I arrived in Kuala Lumpur just as the sun was rising.

The Petronas Towers in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Each one of these towers is taller than the Empire State Building, and they were the tallest buildings in the world when they were built. They’re currently ranked at 6th tallest, and are just over half the height of the new tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

My time in Kuala Lumpur was spent mostly in the Chinatown area, although I did walk around the city quite a bit during the day. Chinatown was filled with curbside food carts serving satay, clay-pot chicken and a variety of other Malay dishes.

I have to admit, at first I was a little jarred by the apparent complete lack of proper food safety here. My time spent some years back working in kitchens left me pretty apprehensive about eating food off carts full of raw and pre-cooked foods that essentially sat out in the sun all day. After hanging around and seeing how the satay was prepared and being offered a sample, I ended up giving in and trying my luck at this bit of culinary roulette, and boy am I glad I did.

The meat was obviously very fresh, and the sauces served alongside the satay were what really made it for me. The spicy peanut sauce especially was unlike anything I’ve ever had before.

I didn’t have a chance to try the clay-pot chicken, but hey, there’s always next time.

My friend Rizal from Singapore mentioned to me that he comes up to Malaysia every so often solely for the food. I couldn’t imagine why at first since the food in Singapore was so awesome, but after roaming around seemingly endless streets and alleys full of carts like this I began to see what he was talking about.

It seemed like pretty much everyone was eating at these carts, including the locals. I did catch this lone guy sitting in an otherwise-empty cafe, but I’m not even sure if he was having anything to eat.

And with that I decided to call it a night, ready to spend the day in the city again tomorrow before hopping on another night train to Penang.

I can’t imagine this guy was very comfortable, considering it looked like he weighed about 75lbs and was sleeping on solid rock.

This was a rather odd sight. A relatively nice, new car parked in the middle of what appeared to be an abandoned, deteriorated house.

I popped into a tattoo parlor and met some people from Nigeria here on holiday getting some ink done.

This guy seemed to be all partied out at the reasonable hour of 11 o’clock AM. I don’t know if he had been there all night, but something tells me neither did he.

After wandering around aimlessly for the rest of the day, I headed on down to the train station and hopped on a train to the Penang/Butterworth station for a quick stopover on my way up to Thailand. I didn’t plan on spending much time there, but upon arriving I found the next train was sold out so I had to book one for the next evening and find a place to stay for the night. I had contemplated hopping on a ferry over to Penang Island, but I didn’t. I wish I had, because there really wasn’t much going on in the town of Butterworth.

While trying to find a place to stay I happened upon this windowless, gutted building, which seemed to be full of squatters. After walking down street after street of similarly occupied windowless, gutted buildings I began to question my decision to stay here.

I did end up finding a cheap room farther into town, but while laying in my bed I almost began to envy the squatters.

So after a surprisingly great night’s sleep, I hopped on my next train that would ultimately take me up to Thailand, where I’d be spending the next 3 weeks bumming around Bangkok and the northern region of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

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