Stopping Over In Kuala Lumpur

Jalan Petaling gets you to Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.
Jalan Petaling gets you to Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — If there were a contest for the greatest distance between an airport and the city for which it’s named, Kuala Lumpur would win hands down.

Before taking off from Bali, I’d been concerned I wouldn’t be allowed on the plane after a typo meant my ticket was issued to “Brunjo” instead of my actual name. As cool as my inadvertant Indonesian name was, I was used to airline red tape.

But the AirAsia customer service rep at the airport was pleasant and efficient, and I was on my way.

After a comfortable flight aboard yet another brand-new Airbus A300 jet from Bali, I caught a prepaid taxi to Chinatown.

The air-conditioned car actually sped down these smooth, spacious highways — a treat after Bali’s twisty roads that often slowed traffic to a jogging pace, although most of the time, such as during the drive to Amed, the extra sightseeing time is great. But at night, the trip from KUL lacked much in the way of sights. (One red neon building sign near downtown read “Nirvana,” which I tried to photograph, unsucessfully.)

At this rate we’ll be there in no time, I thought.

An hour later, now past midnight, we arrived at the budget City Hotel in a dark, abandoned, dirty part of town. A cockroach, not unlike the ones in New York, scurried across the sidewalk as I scanned the addresses for where I needed to go.

Once inside the lobby, the hotel employee said my reservation was no longer available but that they had one room left, at a higher rate. I thought I smelled a bait-and-switch move. But a young Western woman I’d seen outside moments earlier walked in, was told there was no vacancy and walked off into the night to find other accomodations.

They really were out of space.

My room, simple and equipped with a TV, was one floor away from the nearest elevator stop. Up or down, your choice. It contained two queen size beds, which made me think I should’ve offered to share it with the female backpacker who was turned away.

A free tourist map I picked up at the front desk showed some points of interest, which I made a point to try to get to before catching my flight to Kolkata the following day.

I watched some TV, a novelty at the moment, and went to bed, hoping that tourist found lodging soon.

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