Dinner with Sandokan 

So after leaving Indonesia one day before my visa expires I land in Kuala Lumpur. The idea of being in Malaysia brings back memories of my childhood.  Sandokan the pirate says hello from the depths of my memories and it feels funny to be here. 

For those who don’t know who Sandokan is,  you can check this link. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandokan

The first thing that attracts my attention is the multi cultural environment in KL. People are Asian,  Indian,  Chinese, Malay and everything in between. It’s fascinating to see these people from so different paths of life coming together as one same nation. 

I meet my host in KL sentral (it’s not a typo.  It’s sentral with S) and by train we reach his house.  We go for dinner in an Indian place open 24/7 like the majority of Indian restaurants and after he takes me for a night ride around town. Obviously the main attraction are the Petrona towers (or twin towers as the called them here) and like many other tourists we stop to take a picture – well more than one. 

The following day I’m on my own around the city as Joko – my host  – has to work.  I really like KL that although is a big city is still very “doable”. They have a free bus that takes you around town like an hop on – hop off thing and once in the center I get off and walk around.  It’s really hot but there is a good amount of shadow so it’s OK.  I visit the main attractions and have lunch in Little India. In the afternoon I meet my host and after dinner we’re off to bed. 

The following day I switch host.  Jr is a very nice man.  With a funny Indian face (although his family is 100% Malay) he greets me in his very cozy apartment on the outskirts of KL,  very close to Batu caves. We chill in his place for the afternoon and we go to yet another Indian place for dinner. The following day we meet with his friend Raizan and his couchsurfer and head to the caves. 

Batu caves are two caves a little hour outside KL.  They are at the top of his hill and you have to climb I don’t know how many steps to get to the top.  It was hard but slowly but surely I made it.  The main cave is pretty big.  I was told that there were bats inside but thankgod I didn’t see any.  My host and his friend stayed down as they had been up there plenty of times and they didn’t feel like climbing in that heat.  So it was just me and the other guest, a young man from Algeria that took at least 40 (thousand) selfies,  ten for each position… I couldn’t believe it!!! 

There is also the Dark Cave that apparently is populated by snakes and rare animals but we didn’t have time to visit as we wanted to go also a waterfall a little further down.

So after the caves and the “cover girl” photo shooting  we headed to the waterfall. Can’t really tell where that is but when we got there it was pretty busy as it was a holiday. We had to walk quite a walk to get to the less populated area of the waterfall but once we got there it was nice to jump into the fresh water and wash away all the sweat and dust of the climb. 

 

The following morning I was to take the bus to Malacca so my host suggested that I spent the night at Raizan’s as he lives closer to the bus (bas) station. 

Raizan’s is the most messy place I’ve ever seen in my life but I felt at home from the moment I put my feet inside.  

In the meantime a friend of Raizan’s arrived and the four of us (Raizan, his friend, Mustapha and I) went for dinner and then to the hot spring nearby.  The hot spring is a shallow pool of hot water that springs naturally near Raizan’s house.  The water is pretty hot and it was very nice to spend some time there.  

The following day I took a bus to Malacca. 

Lost in translation

So, after the islands we landed in Lombok and from there I made my way to Java. I know I did very little in Bali but I felt my time was up. I spent an extra night at the same Mirah hostel and the following morning I was supposed to go to Canggu. It was raining so I just got on a bus direct to Java. 

I arrived at the bus station and got​ once again attacked by people who wanted to sell me tickets. I literally had to show them that I already had one in order for them to back off.

The bus left at 5.00pm and was supposed to arrive some 12 hours later in Malang. It was pretty comfortable but they were playing this Indonesian music that really sounded a constant whining to my untrained ears. I bet for locals our pop music has the same effect. The music was really getting on my nerves so I just got out my iPod and put on my headphones.

There were blankets on the seats because the AC was pretty strong (I actually got a cold). They also provided us some snacks and a bottle of water. But all the announcements were in Indonesian (which is understandable as I was – once again – the only white face on board) and so I lost everything that was said during the trip.

To get to the harbor it took us almost 5 hours and once there we got on the ferry with bus and everything. By that time it was almost 10pm.

Once on the ferry everyone got out of the bus and upstairs to get some food. Apparently here, every stop is a good excuse to get food. I was on the deck recharging my tablet when everyone was getting down the stairs to the bus level. I didn’t understand as we didn’t even left shore yet. 

But worried to be left behind I followed the locals (of course I was the only white on board of the ferry also) and got on my bus wondering if there was something wrong with the ferry and we had to get off. 

But when the bus left the ferry I realized the we were not on the same shore that before. The islands – Bali and Java – are so close that I didn’t even see the ferry leaving the shore!!!

On the Java side we stopped at a “service station” where the driver gave us the voucher to get free food. It was buffet style so I could choose and got rice (what else!) vegetables and tempeh. And for drink a delicious tea.

With my belly full I got back on the bus and fell asleep expecting to be able to have a solid 6 hours sleep. But of course I was wrong. Again.

After a little more than 3 hours we were woken up because we arrived in Malang. It was confusing to me as the trajectory of the bus was Denpasar – Malang but not everyone got out. So here I am, stranded in Malang in the middle of the night (actually early morning) half asleep. 

I decide to send a message to my CS host knowing that probably he won’t see it before morning. After waiting for 15 minutes for an answer I decided​ to call a cab – GO JEK to be precise – and go to the hostel that I booked just in case.

The place is called “Mador Malang Dorm Hostel” and it’s one of the cleanest hostel I’ve ever been. The rooms are small and without window but the “beehive style” bed are super comfortable and clean. I was supposed to stay here just one night but my CSer host although very good person proved to be very unreliable so I decided it was easier to just stay here. In the morning there is breakfast (with ginger tea!!!) and the owner is the sweetest girl I’ve met!!

On the morning after my arrival, I met with another CSurfer and together we went to the hot springs. The place is about an hour by motorbike from Malang, on the outskirts of Batu (also called little Switzerland!!!) and the view along the way is amazing. Rice terraces and fields of carrots, onions, cabbage and apple trees,  the main product here. 

The springs are on the outside, not much of an installation is done but that’s the good thing about it. The pool is not much but you’re floating in warm water surrounded by the jungle. Awesome!!!

After that we drove back to the city and stopped at the only open food stall in town (it’s Ramadan and everything is closed during daytime) and had Gado Gado.

Later that afternoon I met with my “host” that took me to this very fancy restaurant called “Javanine”(Jalan Pahlawan Trip A5, Klojen, Oro-oro Dowo, Klojen, Kota Malang, Jawa Timur 65119) where we met with a couple of friends of his. I had noodles and a broccoli salad. Delicious and not expensive especially because the Australian friend took care of the bill!!!

So today I walked around the city a bit (and I banged my head as here you always have to check where you put your steps and also check if there is anything hanging from the walls of the sidewalk… which I didn’t do…)



I had lunch at this place recommended by the Australian friend called “The library Cafe” (Jl. Baluran No.2, Oro-oro Dowo, Klojen, Kota Malang, Jawa Timur 65119)   and dared to order pasta. It was a bit overcooked but delicious and since it was cheap I also got an orange salad. There I met the Australian friend having lunch, so I took my chance and invited him this time!

Tomorrow I have a train at 8.20am to Yogyakarta, that us, in the opinion of many, fabulous!