A Short Stay in Kuala Lumpur

Between boozing at champagne launches, watching Wimbledon with my mates and attempting to catch up on the mass of books, one could say that my schedule has been quite chock-a-block. Exciting times are ahead writing-wise! Your girl has once again returned to her journalism roots, penning a couple of articles for the dating columns of a newspaper/mag or two that I’ll be sure to link here when they go live because I figured if I’m going to suffer through the horror that is modern dating, then I may as well make some cash moolah from my misery.

Also, a conversation with an editor and literary agent this week which compromised largely of them laughing while I told them the goss and urging me to ‘Write about it!’ in a more broader capacity than this blog was the epiphany I needed. This means that I’m going to be channeling all my efforts into a novel. Now, I know what you’re thinking; we’ve heard this phrase a million and one times before, Sam. Think of all the unfinished drafts!

However, I’m making the unlikely departure from my comforts and dabbling in some non-fiction revolving around the ol’ Tinder which I’m praying will make the actual knuckling down and crafting the manuscript slightly easier. They do say to write about what you know, after all. Plus, I’m praying that by announcing I am writing a book then somehow that means it’ll actually manifest at some point. I can’t say too much about it or the articles just yet, but if you’ve been living for these woe-is-me self-deprecating takes on my love-life, then you’re in for a treat! It also means being restrictive with the content here as I don’t want to give away all my finest shady work – sorry!

If we’ve ever interacted on Tinder or been on a date – and I’m looking at you weird Asian fetish boy and also you, Mr Tennis Player (Bon effort at Wimbledon, baby!) – you may or may not be written about. Can’t guarantee anything yet. Don’t fret, you’ll be awarded a nickname so you stay anonymous for your future conquests and it’ll hopefully be something less emasculating and potentially more creative than Tinder Boy as I now have time on my side. He’s, alas by default, the OG, but even he’ll be getting a re-work in the draft we’re discussing.

Back to the reason we’re all here… Malaysia. Now, this is probably where ‘Tinder Travels goes a bit more left-field. Deciding we’d exhausted Thailand, Tinder Boy and I thought we’d spice it up. We initially decided we’d head to Cebu, my homeland and territory that I am mildly familiar with, before going to Bali instead. Malaysia was never on our itinerary. My guess is he was prepping for the next girl? So conscientious. A real multitasker, that lad. Two birds, one stone, right? Literally.

You know, when you dislike someone so much that the mere thought of their face nauseates you? Well, that’s what happened here, hence the pausing of the writing process until I was in a place where a) I wasn’t ridiculously busy with other ventures and b) I didn’t feel physically sick with regret and disgust for my poor life and dating decisions. As my friends put it lightly over another rose-fuelled afternoon, lust is blind. In addition to that, I’ve had to distinguish what content/witty lines will be used here and what others will be published elsewhere – more on that another time!

All that aside, I cannot remember exactly how we ended up in Malaysia, but I think it was because it made the flights cheaper than going to our next destination direct from Bangkok. So, after about two hours, we found ourselves in Kuala Lumpur.

Now, I am convinced there was some actual ploy to end me in Malaysia because everywhere I turned was a near death experience.

Upon arriving, we then engaged in what could only be described as the most exhausting taxi ride I’ve ever had in which the driver decided he’d try to be sneaky. He took us to what he claimed was the ‘only gas station for miles’ despite us passing like a million gas stations on our way to the hotel and it just so happened to coincidentally be the only gas station with long queues so he could refill while leaving the meter on. Then, he tried to feed us lies by insisting that gas and petrol were different things so we were wrong. Mate, if you’re reading this, we were correct. Great first impression of Malaysia.

After that ordeal, we pulled up to the Ibis in the city centre. I’ve only ever stayed in an Ibis once before, at fourteen on a school trip to Paris and my memory of it includes some very dodgy looking chicken that I, and the rest of my year group, refused to eat. Suffice it to say, I won’t be in a rush to return to one after Malaysia.

As you know, me and seafood have quite the deathly love affair. Literally. So, after declaring my allergy to all things aquatic, imagine my surprise as a plate of fried rice arrives with not just prawn crackers sitting on the side, but with a small, little prawn proudly chilling on the top of said rice. A quick stab of a fork into the rice mound revealed more happy tiny prawns living their best life. Ibis Malaysia’s excuse? They forgot. We were literally the only diners there which led me to believe that they were either utterly useless or Faisal had been hired by a scorned author in a revenge plot to assassinate me. Either way, he done goofed.

I think it’s evident that I wasn’t all too keen on Malaysia. My mother speaks highly of other parts like Penang that she visited on her honeymoon many years ago, but I just don’t think I was halal enough for the community of Kuala Lumpur.

I mean, I may have crossed Malaysia off the map and gotten to drink red wine on a rooftop, but at what cost? An extortionate one. Ah well, at least Tinder Boy knows where to avoid should he likely ever head back there. You’re welcome, buddy!

We all know that I’m the biggest fan of fast food to ever exist. After all, I’m practically on a first name basis with some Uber Eats/Deliveroo drivers. After the earlier fried rice debacle and Ibis staff not really being able to grasp the meaning of a seafood allergy, we decided to forgo attempting to eat at the hotel altogether. Little did we know what an ordeal it would be to obtain some fast food in Kuala Lumpur. Krispy Kreme online rejected us, Dominos delivery wasn’t playing ball, so we dashed in cab to the nearest mall just so we could eat.

When we finally succeeded and returned triumphant with our McDonalds, Tinder Boy was sick. Maybe it was the burger or maybe it was the dizzying thought of the money he’d owe, but that honestly sums up the mood of our Malaysia trip as a whole. Cut to me, cradling his head as we jostled over speed bumps in the car on our way to the airport. To be honest, if I’d known what I know now, I probably would’ve just let him suffer the entire journey.

Maybe my pessimism of Malaysia is born out of how weary I’d grown of my travel companion as I’d seen something I probably wasn’t supposed to on a phone screen in the airport that I’d silently ignored. Funnily enough, that wouldn’t be the last time that would happen. It’s comical now, but only because I’ve laughed about with family, friends and practically anybody who will listen. Like an ancient war painting, there is so much to unpack when it comes to Tinder Boy that it has had column editors I’ve spoken to in stitches.

To be fair, we saw very little of Malaysia. We noped out of there on the next flight after less than 24 hours.

As you can see from the photographic evidence, we did indeed manage to get a glimpse at the Petronas Twin Towers. Now, not to knock the towers because I’m sure they’re an architectural marvel, having been the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 after all. However, they are 451.9 metres of catfish! “Were they a bigger catfish than Tinder Boy?” a pal joked to me when I asked him to proofread this for me and I have yet to come to a conclusion for him as I don’t know what I was more disappointed over. TB or the towers? It’s a tough one that remains unsolved.

OK, so perhaps we got a bad angle from the Ibis, but even after venturing out to get a better look, the whole structure didn’t really look as breathtaking as its Google photos. Someone get Nev and Max on the case!

We turned to our once trusty pals at AirAsia to get us out of Malaysia. They had saved us from the mess that was Thai Lion Air and the plane didn’t go down so they seemed reliable.

All was fine and dandy until it came to dinner. Declaring my allergy once more, staff handed me some noodles that I hungrily began to chow down on. Nothing fishy here, or so I thought, until I checked the ingredients.

Thankfully, a fellow passenger had antihistamines and I spent the remainder of the flight nursing a sore throat. Most of the staff were concerned and very lovely apart from one bloke. I’m still holding a grudge because the sass about needing to bring my meds next time was entirely unwarranted. I hope he’s having a bad day and remembers to read the labels of the food he’s serving!

Contrary to this photo, we did not get baked in KL so the Malaysian authorities can relax. Also, can we talk about how un-halal that poster next to the neon sign is? As a former Catholic school girl, couldn’t help but blush.

Adding to the ever-growing list of grievances I seem to have with Kuala Lumpur, they continued the trip’s tradition of not being able to find some premium home-quality level pancakes. However, considering how many times I nearly came close to death in and leaving Malaysia both either from seafood or from the killer glares I received from citizens who weren’t used to the sight of a lady’s legs, I will count myself lucky to have made it to Bali alive. See you in the bylines of your fave publications!

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