Friday, August 15, 2014

Visit Malaysia... Again

I was feeling tensed this time. I was sort of apprehensive to travel overseas after a long hiatus.
A temple at Batu Caves
It has been quite a while since my last trip out of the Philippines. That was in February 2013 when I went to Jakarta and Yogyakarta in Indonesia with best friends, Dupong and Jeafrey. Dupong came a long way from Surigao, our home province, and Jeafrey was the host who now teach in one of the International Schools in Jakarta. It was more than a year and I almost forget now how to pass by an immigration counter.

A mosque at Penang Hill
This trip was supposed to be to India, specifically in Calcutta, Varanasi, and New Delhi, with Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia as the connecting stop. Due to financial constraints, having much capital expenditures being paid lately (that I bought a right to a house and lot, 2-storey unit type), I opted to cancel India and diverted the trip to Melaka and Penang instead. I really have to use my prepaid roundtrip air tickets, which I bought since December 2013. More than taking advantage of the promo fare, this would also be my opportunity to reach more Malaysian tourism destinations, which I missed during my three prior visits. My first two visits were all about KL City and the most recent one was in Johor Baruh.

A temple at Penang Hill
I reached NAIA Terminal 3 very early, three hours ahead of check in time. Guessed I was too excited to for this trip. With that, I forgot to pack my toothbrush, among all personal stuffs. I headed directly to the travel tax desk to pay and then approached the nearest Cebu Pacific uniformed Usher guarding the entryway to the check in bay. While waiting for the check in counter to open, the usher told me “6:30pm, Sir!” with emphasis, I occupied a space at one corner of the lobby, squatted near the edge and glass windows, and started jotting down this travel journal.

A park in Melaka
Among the preparations I made, the most important was the map that showed the budget hotels around the Kuala Lumpur Airport and the Central Bus Stations in Melaka and Penang. My travel strategy this time as a backpacker and solo flyer was to “find a place around the bus stations, take the hop-on, hop-off tour, grab a map, and get lost”. I pocketed 680 US Dollars (USD) and targeted to spend the 380 bucks only. I was planning to shell out 100 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) a day for 6 days. I must be frugal during this trip and that must start with lay over at the airport, maybe find a bench to settle, tonight once I arrived in KL Airport. Then wait for the bus ride to Melaka in the morning.

A mosque in KL
I grabbed my dinner from Kenny Rogers, bought a toothbrush from Mini Stop, checked in, and passed the immigration. I readied my old passport in case the agent will be asking about my prior trips. The woman agent only asked for my plane ticket and my office ID, “Ortigas Center”, she mouthed and then stamped exit on my recently renewed passport.

A museum in Melaka
The flight departed from Manila on time at 11:40pm and landed in KL at 2:30am. The ride though smooth had not cradled me to sleep. Normally to me, I cannot sleep while travelling, let alone flying, more so that this was my first flight after quite a hiatus. So much so that one Malaysian Airline flight went missing and another was shot down by a missile. I was just writing this blog the whole flying time.

A temple in Penang

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