It wasn’t just any day, for sure! We were about to leave for six months in Malaysia! Clearly, the four of us were the main reason for that flight to exist. Bologna-Istanbul-Kuala Lumpur, wait for us!
And there we are. Nadia, in peace with her life after the last crazy 24 hours in Verona, trying to help the Vietnamese friend who lost his passport just the day before leaving (oh yes, we were supposed to be five…); Isabel, that after checking one hundred times if Cubans need any visa for the Turkish airport finally said “Hasta luego” to the beautiful Florence and her winter clothes; Columba, that after saying goodbye to her beloved friends from Ferrara and her Mexican bike took the train towards the airport; and last but not least Martina, who after a memorable night with her friends in Bologna was suffering all the symptoms of the hangover.
We had no idea of what we would find once there. We knew that the flight would last around 15 hours, that there would be many movies to watch, that the seven hours jet lag was waiting for us. We knew that in Malaysia it’s always hot, that they have a lot of oil palm (boycott!), that the people are nice and that we would live in an Islamic region, just in front of the sea. We knew that before arriving to destination we would have travelled with our backpacks for ten days, even if the itinerary was still to define. We knew that we would see the forest, the Buddhist and Hindu temples, the Pacific Ocean, the Chinese new year. But we really didn’t know anything.
I was in contact with Nadzim, CouchSurfer kind enough to let four unknown girls invade his living room to welcome us. We had no clear idea of who he was and where he was living, but we seemed in good hands and anyway nothing could damage us, the four warriors in love with the future.
And so, after waiting for the last call to the flight and for Martina – slow and stumbling, but still alive – our heroines finally follow the line to get on the plane. Let’s go!
Next came the naps and nice movies. Change in Istanbul and hundreds of exotic languages. A quiet flight. And there we arrive! High luxury in the airport, and nice smiles everywhere! Cool!
Fine. The host’s address written on my notebook, we had to try to figure out how to reach Nadzim’s place. After considering that the 13 kg of our backpacks seemed to weight the double (jet lag effect?), we decided to go for a taxi. Nothing easier, as our pretty white faces were attracting men of all sizes and ages to convince us to take their car. After choosing a tiny and smiley old man, we went for a ATM to get cash (sounds easy, but it took us forty minutes) and finally got on the taxi. First surprise: they drive the other side! They hadn’t told me! Ok, we’ll get used to it. It was night already and we could only see the city’s light and skyscrapers. So many! The taxi driver was super funny – both him and his English full of “can” and “can not”. Close to the host’s house he showed us a Tao temple, wow! It was Chinese new year and we were really excited to know how it would be like.
The arrival at Nadzim couldn’t be better. This guy, living at the tenth floor of a white huge building, maybe far from town, was able to make us feel home immediately. He didn’t take long to get our interest, and after the shower and a few words he pronounced the magic words: “Do you want to go for dinner?”.
With our lighter clothes (it was 40°C guys, where the monsoon?) we went down to see what Kuala Lumpur would offer us. We had a good dinner, lots of spicy sauces, small fish and chicken, everything served with rice on a banana tree leaf. They eat using hands, but we weren’t ready yet and we shamefully asked for forks and spoons. Anyways, we happily ate everything filling our mouths also of questions to Nadzim, to which he answered carefully and patiently. On the way back, Isabel couldn’t betray her habits: she bought strange sweets that we tried curiously. Not even our guide could tell us with were the enigmatic ingredients.
After a worthy sleep, we woke up with the best view we could expect: the terrace of Nadzim was just on a spot of forest! Impossible to forget it, the best morning surprise! Our guide Nadzim, decided that we should eat a lot also for breakfast, brought us to a delicious Indian restaurant. Here we were introduced to what would soon become an addictive substance: THE TARIK, a strong tea mixed with condensed milk. Delicious.
With the satisfaction that only curry and rice can give, we were finally ready to face the city tour of Kuala Lumpur. The day was incredible, we probably walked around 15 hours and we saw any kind of thing and color. Chinatown and it’s icy fruit juices, the typical red paper lights along the streets, the colorful and messy street markets, the Malaysian traditional patterns and fabrics, the crazy hot temperature, the too many languages all together – Malaysian, Hindi, Chinese, English for us and some Italian and Spanish, the parks and the mosques, the huge trees, the temples. And finally Petronas towers, symbol of KL and Malaysian monument, the twin towers that overlook all the city. They’re really big, and they are surrounded by a beautiful and clean park – it seems another planet! The towers are a shopping center, and we did our first shopping in the shoes and book shops. Down in the park, we even saw a Chinese dragon dancing in commemoration of the new year!
It was evening already, and Nadzim led us to a helicopter landing pad at the 34th floor of a building. Did he want to send us back to our countries, was he so tired of us already? Well, luckily not! The helipad turns every evening into a helibar! From there the view is breath-taking, and we could admire the best sunset that KL could offer. Even if it was really crowded and we had our cocktails standing for three hours, but the mountains and city were just amazing. Seriously, what else?
After the drinks, tired and in the dark we were almost ready to go back home. Almost, because we were missing something essential! Sure, our dinner! Nadzim is not only an indestructible guide, but also a politically correct Malaysian. He fairly noticed that in our gastronomic tour an important pillar of the local culture was missing, we couldn’t leave the Malaysian capital city without eating in a Chinese restaurant! We found one (one hundred, to say the truth) in an overcrowded, overcolored and oversmelling street.
Once again with satisfied stomach and heart, we finally walked back home. And after some music and nocturnal chatters, we said goodbye to our first day in Malaysia holding in mind all the colors, tastes and smells that we were getting introduced to.