Waking up to the news of unseasonably cold temperatures and rain in London, I decide I should spend my last day in Asia in the sun. Anas and Sharifah drive me to their local club house and wait while I spend two hours at the pool. It is practically empty, and it is the perfect end to my adventures. I sun bathe on the sun loungers on the club towels, walk two metres into the pool and swim a few lengths, then back to the sun lounger and my book. I do this about 8 times. Although I have spent 3 weeks in hot countries, this is the first time I truly relax. I also gives me the perfect opportunity to soak away the travel dust and get ready for Western civilisation, having spent so much time in half clean accommodation and a lot of time on the road. Anas and Sharifah pick me up and drive me back home, only to drive me an hour later to the bus stop in to town.
I get on the ‘hop on hop off’ tourist bus and spent 5 hours looking at a few chosen Kuala Lumpur sights - Central Market, the Orchid gardens, the National Mosque and Merdeka (Independence) square. In the end I conclude that the most intriguing thing about the city is the way it upholds its Muslim heritage within an increasing Chinese influence. Currently, the Chinese more or less control all of Kuala Lumpur's financial institutions.
At the National Mosque, the lady at the entrance disapprovingly ushers me to her station and wraps me carefully in a fully covering long purple gown and a head scarf. It’s an interesting experience, and I ponder what my life would be like as a Muslim as I walk up the steps to the main prayer hall. I get an understanding for those who say that Muslim women are protected by their covering clothing, from being viewed for their physicality rather than their intellect. I feel hidden and quite smug as I enter the religious sites. Soon as the first drip of sweat trickles down my back however it's another story. It's so hot. The Mosque is beautiful and a woman spontaneously stops me to tell me all about its design and how it's used for different purposes, with notable pride.
Having gotten off the bus in search of food I unwillingly find myself in an area with no other Westerners. I have some really bad food in a depressing top floor food court of a dingy shopping mall and feel very lost. Utterly ready to return to more familiar surroundings I catch a cab back to Ampang Point and pack and go to sleep.
Thank you for reading - that is the end of the journal for this time. It's provided me with great company, a way to remember the details of the trip for a long time - and a way to share my experiences with those who couldn't be with me this time. I'm only sorry if I have been too wordy and swamped you with anecdotes.
It's been the perfect travel companion. An extra thank you to Simone who went out of his way to find me the little net book on which I have been writing.