Sometimes things are not easy. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes you are not prepared.
I left Bangladesh with a little sadness in my heart. My 2 weeks spent there had been fantastic and although I really wanted to visit Nepal I was a little sad to leave all the people I met there that have been so kind to me. As usual I didn’t bring any money across as I prefer not to change currency. I arrived at Kathmandu airport and after all the paperwork for visa (that luckily I could pay by card) I was ready to start my journey.
At the airport there is only one ATM. And it was out of order… Thankgod the taxi driver agreed to take me to my hostel anyway and stop along the way to let me get the money. I tried a few ATM but none would work. As we were getting closer to the hostel I was starting panicking. I had only a few rupees that Joy, my host in Bangladesh had given me. And that was it.
We arrived at the hostel and the guy at the reception was nice enough to pay the taxi for me. Obviously by the time all this happened the driver was already asking for more (1000 instead of the 700 agreed at the airport).
I paid without saying anything because I was too stressed and didn’t want to make it worst. After checking in at Pomelo house hotel I went around the city trying desperately to get money from ATM. Without any luck. The stress at that point was sky high and I was on the verge of a breakdown. One of the CSer I was in touch with contacted me and invited me to his place for dinner. I was so thankful because with the little money I had in my pocket I wasn’t able to buy any decent food. Shalik lives in a two rooms apartment. And when I say two rooms I really mean two rooms. Adjacent but not connected. The bathroom is on the stairs and common to the floor. In one room there is the “kitchen” and one bed. In the other room, the kids’ room, there are 2 single beds. His wife doesn’t speak a single word of English but she’s been very nice and prepared a lot of good typical Nepalese food. When I asked Shalik how they met, he explained to me that his was an arranged marriage. They actually met 10 minutes before the ceremony but they’ve been together for 8 years now. In Nepal divorce is legal but not well accepted.
After dinner I went back to the hostel and I was so tired by the day’s events that I fell asleep right away. The day after I tried again to withdraw money from ATM but without any success. So I resolved to call my bank and after a long chat and many explanations the guy on the phone told me that my card was not compatible with Nepali ATM machines. I was desperate. Shalik was so nice to lend me some money but I couldn’t go very far with that. I could have a decent meal and then some but nothing more than that. It was so frustrating. I had the money in my account but there was no way for me to get it out. I wanted to cry. In the meantime another CSer contacted me and he also tried to help me. Gokarna invited me for coffee and drove me around the city in his motorbike. But my problem was not solved and I couldn’t really relax and enjoy the country. I thought of “cashback” but in Kathmandu very few places have card machines and those that have it don’t even consider cashback. It was a catch 22 situation. I managed to pay the hostel by bank transfer and they agreed on giving me cashback. It wasn’t much but it was something.
And then I thought about money transfer something that I have always considered with horror. But I had no choice. I downloaded the app and tried to make a transfer to myself but the stupid app only allowed me to make the operation in cash. I was stuck again. So I called a friend in Spain and he agreed to do it for me. Earlier I had moved to Gokarna house so at least I didn’t have to worry about rent and food.
Joan made the transfer right away but his credentials needed to be checked. So the money was not available for a couple of days. I was a little more relaxed now but still I really wanted to get the money. Chances are that theses days is holiday here, “Thiar Diwali” some sort of feast of lights, so almost everything is closed. Western Union included. So at the moment I’m still waiting to get hold of my money. Hopefully tomorrow the situation will be back in order and I will be able to start to enjoy Nepal.
I’m so grateful to have good friends. It’s the most important thing in this world. And you know that you can count on them especially in hard times. And it warms the heart.
Now that I’ve left Malaysia I see how much more westernized it is comparing to the other SE Asia countries.
I’ve spent around 40 days in the land where number 4 is forbidden (4 and death have the same sound in Chinese), where English is phonetic (teksi, polis, julai… Etc) and the currency has the name of a cartoon character (Ringgit).
I was not meant to spend all that time there but I decided to extend my stay and take a massage course. Kuala Lumpur is very cheap comparing to every other big cities I’ve been. Food is extremely cheap and being multicultural by nature you can find every type of food. I got stuck with Indian, and with roti canai in particular (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roti_canai).
The population is composed by Malay, Chinese and Indian for the majority. Only a small percentage is made of foreigners (and there are many). In Malaysia is difficult to meet people (as explained in my previous post) but I still managed to meet a few very cool characters. In particular my CS hosts. The islands are beautiful places and in general pretty well preserved. Tourism has not corrupted all yet.
Every nationality is well integrated in Malaysian lifestyle but each of them keep their own specifics. Chinese feel Chinese, Indian feel Indian (as opposed to Malay) but neither of them would like to live in their original country. It’s funny how they insist on the fact that they are this or that although their passport is Malay.
I volunteered for 2 weeks in Oriental Heritage House and even if nothing went wrong I didn’t enjoy the experience (but the house is amazing!!! https://m.facebook.com/orientalheritagehouse/). I didn’t really learn anything and the communication with the management is very poor. Also it is in a very quiet area but this means that you’re far from the city center and the public transport is very bad – as in Kuala Lumpur in general. So, since I was busy only in the mornings I decided to fulfill a dream that I had for long time and take massage classes in the afternoon.
After a research in internet I decided to go to Wellness art training centre (https://m.facebook.com/well.ness.3158) in the very center of the city, a few steps away from the famous towers. It all started on a bit bumpy way. I had discovered that my CC had been cloned so my bank blocked it. Therefore I could not pay the entire price in one go and the management insisted that I had to pay before starting the class. I told them I could not and if it was a problem I would just cancel the course. They told me it was OK but the didn’t stop to send me WA messages asking me how I was and when I could pay. So at one moment I told them that their attitude was very annoying because I felt they didn’t trust me. And I understood that they don’t know me so why should they trust me but also told them that in Europe you can pay in two or three times and it was not an issue. And the management replied that in Malaysia things are different. And so I realized that even in the small things we have to be careful. We all think in different ways and we should understand that something that is absolutely common for us it might not be for some other culture.
If I had to choose one Asian country to live in Malaysia would be one of the candidates but honestly I felt a bit lonely there. People told me that Malaysia is cool, fold is amazing and places are beautiful. And it is true. But still. There’s something missing that I cannot quite spot. I still enjoyed my stay in KL and I loved my massage classes.
I’m still in touch with some of the people I met along the way and hopefully I will see them again some day.
So… Where to start…
I’ve been in KL for more than one month now and I think it’s time for me to move on. The time spent here it’s been good, a needed a little nest to make home for a little while. Travelling is cool but it’s also tiring and every now and then is good to go back to the comfort zone.
But yeah my time here is up. I realized it yesterday. It took me time to buy the ticket to Cambodia. And not only because of the problems I had with my credit card (yes. It’s been cloned… but this is another story…). It’s been difficult to make up my mind and buy the ticket because I was good here in KL, I had a home again and it was nice to settle down in the everyday routine. But luckily for me KL is not the place I wanna settle down again. It’s a big city but still very human in a way. The prices are honest (apart from the rent, like in Barcelona basically) and the food is good. But the dark side of it all is that people here are very busy, for real or not.
It’s really hard to meet anybody, let alone get to know them. Via couchsurfing and other apps I got in touch with hundreds of people (not kidding) but I managed to meet only a few. They’re all super interested in meeting with you but you can never get a date from them. And when you finally get a date they cancel at the last moment. Or you meet, all goes well, “let’s meet again ” but again never comes. You have to organize with at least a couple of weeks in advance. It’s true that distance here can be discouraging and that public transportation is awful but still… There is always something else in the middle. Commitment is a word that is not really taken into consideration in KL. The enthusiasm is killed easily. I feel like they are collecting chats or friends in CS or FB. The virtual word is waaaaaay more important that the real one. Even when people go out together they are checking their phones all the time. There is always someone or something else capturing their attention. They’re there but not really. I’ve wasted so much time and energy try to connect with locals and in the end I was so frustrated that I decided not to open any app anymore.
I have only a few days left in KL. Time to finish my classes (to be discussed in next chapter) and then I’m off to Phnom Penh. I’m really looking forward to visit Cambodia. A change of scenery will do me good.