Kuala Lumpur - How the chicken crossed the road

How the chicken crossed the road.

Learning to cross the road in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The crosswalk man, if I can even find him, never turns to green. He stands there glowing red while each lane of traffic takes their turn. Over and over. Or, more likely, him or his red counterpart never appear at all in the stagnant, useless, blank box.

I tried, on my first morning in Kuala Lumpur, to cross an intersection to see some weird art sculpture that I thought would be perfect for Silly America. The direct route didn’t have a crosswalk so I decided to not take my chances and instead go in a “U”, three streets. I stood at my first corner for 15 minutes not sure when which cars were going where. I watched as others dodged across but I stood there not believing there was any chance I would make it across in one piece. I walked to the other end of the block and back on a futile hunt for another crosswalk.

Weird statue in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Finally I, to some degree, figured out a traffic pattern and made it across road one. The next two were slightly easier but I still hesitated, it still took longer than it should take for any one sane being to cross a street.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The rest of the morning I slowly braved more and more streets. I wandered through a market, got some food, some juice. And then I reached a busy street, crowded with people, crowded with men, where I felt like I was the only woman and the only caucasian and where a bus was riding down with a man hanging from the door calling out for people to board.

I turned around and headed back to the hostel.

Before I left for Singapore I was worried that everything would revert back to my first days of the trip. Where I cried every day. Where I wanted to turn around and board a one-way plane home. Where I wanted to give up. In Kuala Lumpur I was starting to think I would be right.

I curled up in my bed, almost ready to cry, and pulled out my computer to complain to the world.

There was a message awaiting me from Eming. She was going to watch the movie at the hostel’s movie theater (yes, the hostel has a movie theater) and wanted to know if I wanted to join.

So we watched 127 Hours, which only slightly made me nauseous. And ate free caramel corn and drank free Coke.

And then we went out to dinner and out to beers with another friend she had met before traveling.

Tiger Beer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tiger Beer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tiger Beer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Tiger Beer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

And we came back to the hostel and went to the rooftop bar where I drank with her, with my unnameable friend, with Pedro, from Madrid, who I had met in my room, with Ben from Australia and Manir from London.

Hostel rooftop bar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

And we drank until I could no longer count how many vodka and Sprites I had sucked down.

And I drank until I had to pee a million times. So that I had to crawl myself down and crawl myself up a too tall staircase. So that, once, when I came out of the bathroom the Spanish guy was waiting for me. And kissed me. And tried to bring me back to the room with him.

But I instead went back to the rooftop bar.

And so I drank with the Aussie and Brit and some others until the bar closed. And then someone brought out a bottle of Jack.

And we drank that straight until they kicked us out.

And then we went to the streets to find a 7-11. They didn’t have Coke but had Pepsi and we somehow decided on buying Pepsi Max.

Asian streets are much more manageable at 4am. There are no cars. No people. The little green man telling you that it’s OK to move doesn’t matter so much. Those blank boxes no longer leave you wondering. You can cross the street as freely as you wish.

Crossing the street at 4am in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

And so we went back to the hostel. And we drank Jack and Pepsi Max until 5 in the morning.

Drinking in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

And then I went to the bathroom, of course, again, and when I came back the Brit had disappeared. And the Aussie kissed me. And I went with it. And we made our way to the men’s room. But I was tired. And drunk. And so, after I had put back on my clothes, as he was locked inside, using the bathroom, putting his back on, leaving me outside waiting for him so we could back to his room. I left for mine…

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Jaime
    November 12, 2011at3:33 am

    jaja I love everything about this!!! Umm he is so cute… the Ozzie!

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