Tag Archives: Malaysia

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future”

18 Jul

“I am a fortune teller” Em’s mum said.

“Really” I said.

“Yes really”.

I took a pause from drinking my Iranian style afternoon coffee enjoying the sugar lump melting on my tongue as the tea passed over it……

This sounded good.

My future on a plate or saucer…

No more uncertainty.

I could just chill and enjoy the present knowing precisely what my future would hold.

“Can we do it with the tea?” I asked excitedly.


“Why not?” I asked feeling a little dejected..was there some problem with my future?

“We need Turkish coffee to do it.”

“And do you have some?” I piped up trying to hide my enthusiasm.


Oh well that was that.  I’d just have to see what the future held day by day.

Or would I?

Surely in a city of 1.5 million people I could source some Turkish coffee. It couldn’t be that difficult after all here I am circumnavigating the globe…a little coffee finding mission “pif paf” easy easy.

And so early next morning I began my search.

I got my first lead from my hostel.

They suggested that I try the “Turkish Coffee and Istanbul Cafe” in the KLCC Pavilion.  Off I trotted to the futuristic, ultra modern shopping centre.

The Turkish Coffee and Istanbul Cafe wasn’t quite what I expected.  I was thinking medina style middle eastern cafe full of shisha pipes, low tables and people sinking into cushions.

I wasn’t imagining a super posh high quality middle eastern rug retailer complete with tablecloth restaurant.

Still not one to be deterred I entered.

“Do you sell coffee?”

“No we don’t”.

I explained my predicament to the nice salesman.  I needed to know what my future held I said.  He mulled it over, chatted to a colleague and produced a business card for the “Istanbul Bazaar”, Ampang Triangle, Selangor, which he assured me stocked Turkish coffee.

He said I could walk there and that it wasn’t far.  Of course, I’d learned never to trust any directions or indications of distance in Asia.  Especially since it didn’t even feature on my extended city centre map.  Not to worry I’d just ask someone if there was a bus or something…..a few hours later after a few enquiries at the bus station and the train station and of many local people, I arrived at Ampang Point, still seeking the “Triangle”.

The security guard inside the Ampang Point shopping centre assured me that I was near.

“Over there” he said pointing to the back exit of the shopping centre.

Of course, never trust directions.

It wasn’t just over there. It was well round the block and round again.

A helpful local called the number on the business card for me and eventually the owner met us outside the local branch of “Maybank” and took me round yet another corner to the “Istanbul Bazaar”.

I entered and there it was…”Kurukahveci, Mehmet Effendi” (Turkish Coffee).  I felt both exhausted and elated.

After all my small coffee mission had taken me around 4 hours to complete, had involved the help of no less than 12 local people, 2 local buses, 2 local trains, a lot of walking, a few shopping centres and a few cafes for fuel and rehydration purposes.

I placed my purchase, like treasure, in my rucksack and began the long trudge back to my hostel.

Tomorrow I’ll know my future.  And pif paf to those who think wearing perfume can alter something as important as that….


“What time is the first bus out of here?”

17 Jul Petronas tower models, Chinatown

I have this feeling each time that I arrive in a big city that I’m not going to like it….it’s usually because I’ve either come from a much smaller place or from the mountains or the sea and I suddenly feel a bit hemmed in by the big buildings, the traffic noise seems amplified (it’s not crickets and proboscis monkeys but car horns) and there are so many people….

It was not any different when I arrived in KL.  And to make things worse I came in at 3 am without having booked a hostel…a mate had drawn me a little map…you get to the big gate at chinatown, there is a McDonalds, you pass it and then there is 7 Eleven and the hostel is just down a little side street.

Sounded easy….

At 3am after a couple of buses and a flight though it all looks so different.

I couldn’t find the gate.  I did find a McDonalds and a 7 Eleven but not the right ones….there are too many of these things in KL.

I wandered around checking out hostels with my huge pack and with the sympathetic eyes of the hostel owners on me.  Many of the places were full. Arsenal were playing Malaysia and lots of folks had reserved rooms they said.

Eventually around 4am I settled on a place which offered me a private room for 38 ringit a night.  It was a good deal. In the heart of Chinatown. Own space. A fan. Electricity points that worked.  I was,of course, worrying about the expense. Until I did a reality check. This is 2011. I was in the huge city of KL. In the heart of the vibrant Chinatown with my own space for about 7 quid a night….

The next morning I awoke bleary eyed and did what I often do when I arrive in the city from the country. I went to reception and asked the time of the first bus out.  They said I could get a bus to Malacca at any point.  The receptionist kindly suggested that wouldn’t it be better to have a day or 2 to rest and see the city.

I pondered.

His colleague from the travel office arrived at this point and suggested that he show me a little of Chinatown and we grab some breakfast.

Off we went through the myraid of little streets, through stalls selling genuine copy “Gucci bags, watches” genuine copy “Nike trainers”. We passed stalls roasting chestnuts, were offered “cupping”, reflexology, massage…we eventually settled on a little restaurant decorated with cherry blossoms, had a delicious breakfast of rice porridge, pork and veggies, chatted to some guys who were over in KL for work and were envious of the time I had to see the city….

And guess what…..I started to like KL.  After all isn’t a city just a number of little “towns” joined up…isn’t there magic even in a place of 1.5 million people….and shouldn’t I just breathe and soak it up….I’ve now been here for about 5 days. Each day I think I should head on a bus out of here but then one of the other “little towns” sucks me in.   It’s a good lesson to myself to breathe, relax and not to take the first bus out…

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