I’m sitting on a low chair at the coffee table in our room on the 21st floor at the Hilton KL Sentral. Sure, there’s lots of construction work going on and plenty of skyscrapers, but I am heartened to see that there is more green patches in my landscape than I had remembered, particularly when I look out of a side window.
I know that transition is a difficult time and fully expect to have lots of ‘rough’ with my ‘smooth’, but rather like the view from my window, I am determined to focus on the green. And yes, despite the constant wooziness of too little sleep and jetlag, there is much to be happy about.
When I left London on Tuesday my plane was delayed by three hours. We were all left hungry and thirsty on the tarmac while they changed a part that was something to do with de-icer. I was glad to be leaving the onset of winter.
Eventually, we were served dinner – after midnight. The journey was too long but, thanks to the late arrival of the plane, Ian was able to meet me at the airport and there was my first ‘silver lining’, ready to lug my suitcase and navigate the train system. He also presented me with a travel card and a Malaysian SIM card that worked in my iPhone – right away. And that was when I discovered that all my contacts are still on the hard drive (or whatever it is called) and I can even Whatsapp all my usual friends from the Malaysian number. Honestly, I had no idea.
Since then there have been many more things to be grateful for. Not least the array of local fruit on offer for breakfast and the fact that I can order exactly the fresh juice I desire – carrot, apple and ginger.
Wifi is free of charge and works well, all over the hotel. This means I can stay connected and that means I was able to arrange not only to have coffee with a dear writing buddy from The Hague, this morning, but have more things lined up next week, including a morning walk in a park with a new writing friend.
When the chips are down and I’m new in town, I notice the things that really matter to me – seeing green, seeing friends and eating local food. So, last night, on my first evening here, Ian and I went walkabout, taking the LRT public transport to sample an unknown part of town and see if we might like to live there. Apart from discovering that it is almost impossible to cross the road even with a pedestrian crossing (do none of them actually work?), the people are delightful.
As we left the station, we took out our map to decide which direction to take. In a second a local girl was at our elbow.
“Can I help you?” she asked and was soon finding a pen to draw us a map and recommending a good local place to eat. She told us to try something called penang kway teow, a prawn and clam curry served in a spicy broth with noodles and beansprouts.
And that’s what we did. The menu was not in English, so we guessed and I’m pretty sure we guessed correctly. Our first meal here together, in roadside cafe, was just as we had hoped. Local, fresh, cheap and delicious. Though maybe a little too much chilli – that’s one kind of green I can have enough of.