How I missed most of Malaysia...
I knew it would happen. If I wasn’t careful it would devour me again. Like so many travellers before despite my best efforts I was sucked back in. Only by peer pressure and persistence I managed escape and to see more of the world. Another week in Le Village hostel, Kuala Lumpur.
I’d been racked with indecision. Where do I go to after Indonesia? Borneo, the Philippines or Peninsula Malaysia? I finally decided upon the Philippines. I was planning to meet up with Sarah there (one of the “Famous 10.”) The plan was to fly to Kuala Lumpur with Aro and Hakan and then onto Manilla from there, with two nights in Le Village. But the world had other plans for me. My credit card was declined for the KL to Manilla flight. I was running out of time before the flight to KL, so I arrived without a ticket out (something I knew was dangerous.) After a heavily delayed flight we arrived at Le Village at 2:30 in the morning, greeted by Locky (the wild-haired cheeky young Malay who runs the place.) As usual the place was in party mode and entering the kitchen I was assaulted with a barrage of typical traveller questions, asked without time to reply by two Dutch girls and a fiery Latina. “Where are you from? Where have you come from? How long have you been travelling? How long left? Where are you going? What’s your name? “
Despite being stupidly tired after another late night out in Kuta the night before I ended up staying up till the sun rose. That’s Le Village for you. After only an hour in the place I was thinking “maybe I could stay here a couple of days...” And of course I did. There was always something keeping me there just one more day. Kuala Lumpur doesn’t really stand out as a city, but staying in Le village is all about the social.
One of the things keeping me there was Locky leaving party, the worst surprise party in history. Locky really is the lifeblood of Le Village, and loved by everyone who stays there. He was leaving for a few months of travel around India one week into Ramadan. We decided to throw him a party the day before Ramadan started, with Kevin (one of the long-termers, a chef from New Zealand) cooking a big fancy meal. I was part of the “distraction” team, with a few of us dragging Locky along to the cinema to see Inception, buying the rest of the crew a few hours to cook and decorate. As we left the cinema I rang the guys at the hostel, telling them we were on the way. Then I rang them from around the corner, and even made sure to shout “We’re home” from the bottom of the steps. As far as I know Locky still had no idea. As we got to the top of the steps, we saw the silhouettes of about 20 people in the common room. But inexplicably no “SURPRISE!”
Instead everyone sat in the dark waiting for someone else to start. Locky was getting confused. “Why is everyone sitting in the dark? Why is everyone quiet? Why are there balloons....?” Finally a belated an unenthusiastic surprise echoed out, but the moment was somewhat missed. We did however have a great night and some good food courtesy of Kevin.
There’s not a hell of a lot else to say about that second week in Le Village. Late nights and lazy days, it was certainly time to leave. I was planning on leaving to Tioman Island, but I never quite left. In the end it took “the crew” heading to Kuantan on the East Coast to drag me out of the place. The crew was bolstered by Erik, another member of the “Famous 10” who returned from Borneo. We managed to drag him along with us, despite him arriving at 2:30 in the morning. It’s always nice having the “Fake Swedish” around. He’s one of those people whose energy and smiles are contagious. We had one great night in Kuantan, sleeping on the beach. Had a few sneaky drinks (whiskey and coke mixed in Maccas cups) as drinking is fairly frowned upon in conservative Malaysia. A good night was had; guitar and ukulele jams, swimming with the phosphorescent algae and watching the storm roll in. We had to make a quick dash to shelter as the rains hit, and ended up sleeping in a strange deserted tower thing by the beach.
Despite feeling the pull of Le Village, I resisted the urge to follow the rest of the gang back to KL and pushed out on my own once again. Finally heading for Tioman Island. I said my goodbyes to the crew at the bus station, which was quite emotional, as I wasn’t sure when or even if I would see them all again. As it turned out, all of them were in KL when I returned 10 days later...