there is one quite nonsensical condition to the Thai 1-year student visa: having to leave the country every 90 days. apart from the fact that it is questionable why you would call the visa a 1-year visa then, there are two possible ways to react: 1, you get really annoyed about the effort you will have to make, about your ever enlarging carbon foot print etc. 2, you take it in a Thai manner: smile, relax and make the best of it.
I tried my best to accomplish the 2nd option. I had let my friend Kristina, who currently studies in KL, know well in advance and we had made plans to meet up and spend some time together in the city. and I arranged for meeting up with my boyfriend in KL, so as to spend a nice weekend away from Phuket’s rain season.
everything went smoothly. surprisingly, even the airport bus showed up, and only 20 minutes late. my flight with AirAsia was pleasant. It’s funny when you recognize the flight attendants – and it’s especially funny when it is the one who gave that hilarious safety instruction the last time, which actually had the whole plan roaring with laughter for 10 mins, and certainly got him more attention than the usual boring routine thing.
another funny experience at Phuket airport:
in KL, another stay in Little India proved to be the right decision. even though it takes me some time, every time, to get used to the (loud) Indian culture, it is lovely to see how much the Indians still express it up till now. I have rarely seen as many people of any other ethnic group who still dress in their traditional cloths on a day-to-day basis, no matter where they live. Indian food was nice for a change, again, and people in Little India were really open-minded and friendly!
on our first day in KL, we did a small city tour in our own way: hopping on local busses, seeing where they would take us, and we managed quite well in getting to where we wanted to. we had a stroll through KL’s historic part of town (which unfortunately is not as well maintained as I would have loved it to be in order to get some atmosphere and in order to let you be part of this experience in form of some nice pix as well. unfortunately neither, nor was on offer.
we strolled through Chinatown, and the Pasar Seni (Art Market) along a small river, which – as opposed to the rivers I have come across in other Southeast Asian cities, such as Jakarta and Bangkok – to my great surprise, actually flew, past the very beautiful Masjid Jamek (Jamek Mosque). we went further on to catch a bus (do use the Go KL free bus service!!!) into the most popular tourist areas of KL’s, that is, Bukit Bintang, and the Petronas Towers.
Heri was very impressed and got dizzy looking up the sky-scraping buildings, while I was actually more impressed by the variety of characters we got to meet in that one city: I couldn’t but be perplexed by the huge gap in the behaviour of the seemingly most and least friendly people I have ever met in my life.
finding a bus to take us back to where we started off that morning was not too easy but worked out as well. we headed out again that night to meet with my friend Kristina in a life bar called Tom, Dick and Harry’s with my friend Kristina that night. the bar is located in a giant shopping mall called the Pavilion, set only a short stroll from Bukit Bintag and easily accessible on any kind of public transport. we didn’t spend any time on shopping there but you could probably spend days (and all of your savings) there, if you were willing to.
the music was very good, with one of Kristina’s friends being on stage, and the bar’s “ginger beer” was a welcome change to alcoholic drinks. nice place to meet friends at, have some bites and a few drinks. just make sure you are not sat too close to the stage, as this will make conversation impossible. unfortunately, we missed to take a picture at the bar, but we did take one outside the shopping mall, in front of this wonderful fountain:
besides chatting and listening to the live music, we had looked through several city guides that night trying to decide how to spend our Saturday. we ended up saying that rather than going to one of the shopping centres or museums, we would prefer to take some take-away and head for the botanical gardens where there is a lake and you can rent a boat to go on to. we thought that spending the day together was what we were in KL for after all, so the gardens should provide a beautiful setting to do so. Kristina had planned for us to go out to one of the sky bars in the city centre that night, so taking it easy while staying close to our hotel during the day sounded like a good plan.
unfortunately, the weather didn’t allow us to get there. having arrived at central station, a massive downpour started to fall, accompanied by the brightest lightening and loudest thunders I have both seen and heard in a long time. and it just wouldn’t stop for more than an hour. instead of heading for the soaked gardens, we went for the city centre once again. there, we just strolled the little side alleys of the bigger streets to get an impression of the real KL while chatting away.
finally, we managed getting to KLLC park which, considering it is located just in the city centre, provides a very nice location to hang out. so we sat down among the many Malays and had more chats and spent a wonderful time together.
on our final day, we met Kristina to head to the Batu Caves. it is only a short (and very cheap) train ride outside the city centre but felt like a different world. the surrounding is very natural and beautiful and it seemed like ages that we had been out of the city. it was my favourite trip during our stay in Malaysia.
the batu caves are several temples set in the natural lime stones of the surrounding. in one of the temples, I met an Indian man who explained to me a lot about Hinduism, its origin, gods and norms, and its appliance in today’s life. he was very informative and would have spent the whole day on teaching me (and insisting to take photos of me), if I hadn’t had to leave for the airport instead.