The Mystery Tour – Dirty Cash

Dirty Cash

Throughout my travels I have picked up lots of tips and good advice, as well as some bad advice. I have overspent, under planned and been sucked into scams. So here’s how you can travel with less hassle. What follows is tips and tricks I have learnt from my recent journey visiting Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

It’s important to have your wits about you when traveling although you don’t want to focus on all the possible things that can go wrong because it would spoil your adventure. Sometimes you have to go with the flow but knowing a few things can make it more enjoyable.

Do not buy bottled water from street vendors, it most likely won’t be the first time that the bottle has been used. In Asia I witnessed people collecting used water bottles from the side of the road, washing them and filling them with tap water. Only to refrigerate them and sell them to unsuspecting tourists.

Always carry some hand sanitiser and use it often because the money you are handling is filthy. When in Tunisia I discovered that lots of tourist get upset stomachs and a doctor told me it’s because they handle the local currency incorrectly. Cash from all over the world is filthy and covered in bacteria, in some countries you use your hand instead of toilet paper.

Use a money belt as deep storage and only have in your pocket what you are willing to lose. Train stations, markets or anywhere there’s crowds there will be pick pockets. Take all the necessary precautions to avoid losing your money.

Be mindful of cash machines (ATM’s). I usually get cash from an ATM before leaving the airport, I will watch, from a distance others use the machine and then take out my spending money. If I do need cash whilst in a town I always go to a bank and use their machine. That way if my card gets eaten I can go and speak to someone to sort it out. Always withdraw and be charged in local currency as your bank will then give you the best exchange rate.

Consider a prepaid debit card but ensure it is Visa / Mastercard and has your name printed on it. In some countries you have to present I.D and it must match the card.

Ask your bank for an extra debit / credit card just in case an ATM eats one, you have one spare.

Pay with the correct change! We are so used to not counting our change that in a lot of countries it’s standard to short change you.

I’m 52 single and love travel but I know if a beautiful women comes to chat with me the likelihood of me being that attractive is slim. Expect a scam to follow, be polite as she is usually accompanied, make your excuses and leave.

Never leave a drink unattended as it’s a great way to get robbed. Drinks are easily spiked and you may well wake up in the bar or cafe and wonder where all your valuables have gone.

When traveling alone do not wander at night in an unknown part of town, unless you specifically know it’s safe or you have Jack Reacher’s skills.

In addition to the one above, never leap over a wall or fence. In Fuerteventura I had to organise a search for a customer’s husband who had gone missing. It turned out he jumped over a 4ft wall at night thinking it was a shortcut back to the hotel. The wall was over 50ft the other side, he broke both his legs and was there all night before the police found him in the morning.

Tie your backpack zip toggles together or wear your backpack on your front, when in busy markets, train stations and anywhere with crowds. It’s really really easy to open a backpack without you noticing when it’s on your back.

Avoid having your DSLR camera on its strap over your shoulder, it takes less than a second to remove your lens without your knowledge and the thief can disappear into the crowd before you notice.

Use Apps like Uber, Grab, Gojek and Rome2Rio to find out the price of a taxi before bartering with a taxi driver. If you don’t the driver will always win as it’s their career, just like you know stuff that others don’t a taxi driver knows how to make money. It still amazes me that if a driver was honest and provided a good service, I would tip them anyway and be happy about it.

Avoid taxis at airport, railway stations and bus stations, theses drivers usually make a lot from stressed tourist. Wait until the crowds have gone and if possible walk a few streets away. If there are no taxi’s visible ask a local or shop keeper to call you one. Again there are some excellent apps Uber, Grab, Gojek, Rome2Rio where you can book a car or bike and know the price in advance.

In general lock the door and keep the windows up when in a taxi. In some countries there are touts at traffic lights and it’s easy for them to grab a bag and disappear before you get out of the car.

The quickest way to get any driver to slow down or drive modestly is to tell them you feel sick, no one wants puke in their car.

Again this goes with the above or with any bartering situation, you may have to Google this or look on YouTube as it’s a bit long winded to explain. Always, always, always start the bidding, the technique is called anchoring and it’s extremely powerful. Don’t bid in whole numbers. I’ll give you 100 means the bidding goes in multiples of 100, I’ll give you 95 bidding can then go up in 5’s. That’s why cars sell for odd prices 6995 rather than 7000 because you’ll get less discount. Google, anchoring psychology.

Most places in Asia you remove your footwear before entering a building or religious venue. Be prepared, most travelers have flip flops which makes this easy, if in doubt ask.

Book a flight which arrives at your destination in the early hours and then get a few hours sleep at the airport. It saves a fortune on accommodation, I carry a ¾ inflatable camping mat and spent 19hrs in Krabi airport, 36hrs in Kuala Lumpur airport and 7hrs in Bali airport.

Take an empty water bottle through security as there are usually drinking fountains in departure lounges.

Ensure your hand luggage fits easily under your seat and avoid the stampede, just get on and off the aircraft last. It amazes me why people unbuckle and stand for ages before the aircraft door is even opened to only then spend ages waiting at the luggage belt!

A recent trick I learnt and tried and to my surprise it worked a treat. Just before checking in for a flight go online and change your seat to either an empty row or one with an empty seat next to you. I did this recently on an Airasia flight from Jakarta to Bali best £4 I ever spent.

I learnt this next tip the hard way, I always feel bloated and rough when I arrive off a flight, I have discovered if you don’t eat on board an aircraft and only drink water you arrived feeling a lot more refreshed.

As soon as you board an aircraft change you watch and any other device to the time of the country you’ll be arriving in. Trust me it makes a huge difference.

A cheap foam neck brace from a chemist is a million time better than one of those neck pillows that don’t work. You also get a bit of sympathy from the crew, I got offered to move to a better seat during a recent flight.

I’ll be writing a whole post on this soon but in brief, when booking accommodation online I use Airbnb, Expedia and Google Maps. Do you have an itinerary for your destination? If yes book accommodation in line with your itinerary. There is no point booking a place far away because it’s cheaper when you then have to travel to and from the sights. Book accommodation close to public transport hubs like a metro station etc. It can be far more enjoyable and cost effective to book somewhere right in the middle of town as most tourist will head back to their hotels on the outskirts and you can then enjoy quieter sightseeing. You also avoid rush hour.

When you are a walk in, always view the room they are offering before paying. In Butterworth, Penang I ended up using my camping gear on the bed because it was so filthy.

Assume your accommodation will have no towels, soap or toilet roll.

Only book accommodation for a few days maximum, you can usually do a deal to stay longer or there maybe, better, cheaper alternatives nearby. I stayed for 10 days in a reasonable place only to discover 2 minutes away was a gorgeous room cheaper.

When visiting an island or area you want to explore book accommodation with your itinerary in mind. So 2 days in George Town, followed by 2 days in Teluk Bahang at the national park etc.

Flat screen TV’s have a USB socket which will charge a device. The same socket can play videos from a USB stick too.

Most of the time a day pass for transport is cheaper and easier, especially if you take the wrong metro train, as I did in Kuala Lumpur.

Consider buying coffee sachets to leave at your accommodation, I stayed in Jakarta and the hostel had a kitchen and a water dispenser which had hot water, I bought a 30 sachet bag of 3 in 1 nescafe, had a dozen in my bag and left the rest by the water dispenser. Word got out and the owner was quite impressed and gave me a free late checkout.

A mosquito net means a better nights sleep.

Carry a head torch in your bag, mine came in handy when the fuses blew in one hotel and we had a power cut in another.

I discovered this in Bali but it’s a simple trick anywhere, carry some dog chews or treats. In Bali there were lots of stray dogs and I had a couple of incidents nasty looking, growling dogs were blocking my way. So I threw dog treats and they picked them up and wandered off. I was extremely surprised how this worked as I was very scared at the time.

Always use a vpn when using the Internet, if you have to look up vpn then you definitely need to use a vpn.

4G is amazingly fast and quite secure, buy a local sim card if you are staying in a country more than a few days. Ensure your device is unlocked though, again if you have to look up unlocked device you really need to use a vpn.

Putting a device in airplane mode will mean it charges faster, a lot faster.

Learn how to use the app “fing”

Here’s a list of the apps I use for traveling

Google Maps
You can now download areas for offline use, however not everywhere is available and directions won’t always work. A 4G sim card is a life saver here because Google Maps has some amazing features. Did I mention I’m a Google Maps Contributor, that means some of the stuff you see on there, I put there.
A great offline piece of mapping software. Important note, download app, change storage settings to SD card then download maps. The maps are pulled from openstreetmap so they tend to update often, I would suggest switching off auto update.

Google Trips
This app is in its infancy but has some great features, I would suggest if you have a Gmail account which you use for booking travel than this app is ideal as it pulls in the info from your email account. You can also download information on things to do, food and local transport for places you’ll be visiting. There was a comment that you can’t add stuff that’s not been sent to your Gmail account, I’m sure it’s coming but a work around is to send yourself an email with all the details in, it worked for me.

Such a good app for planning journeys of almost any kind, I use it to plan from Airport to accommodation or today I used it to workout how to get from my accommodation to the Bali national park.

I am writing an article on my Airbnb experience and how to use it to your advantage. The app is a really good way to locate and book accommodation. I would recommend to always read the reviews and do a Google search to check it’s not a commercial property trying to fly under the radar of safety regulations.

Trip it
This app is brilliant but is run by a different company and I’m a little annoyed that I bought the original app years ago and they want me to buy it again. So I only use the free version. It is feature backed and highly recommended to keep track of your itinerary.

Grab, Uber, Gojek and Bluebird
I’ve grouped these together because of their similarities, I would suggest downloading all of them as it’s a great way to compare the different options. Grab is Asia’s answer to Uber but Uber is still available in Asia. Gojek is motorcycle taxi’s and Bluebird is a metered taxi company in Indonesia.

Trabee Pocket
An excellent way to keep track of your budget and spending habits on any trip. Ensure you ‘sync to server’ to get the latest exchange rates.

Exchange Rate
A great app for calculating any exchange rate, useful when traveling in lots of countries.

The above apps are my main go to apps when I travel, I have lots of other apps from social media, video editing to photography. I’ll save that list for another day.

Thank you for reading this post, please subscribe and share.

Hi I’m John Holt

In 2004 I started traveling extensively working in various countries to fund travel. In 2014 I reached my 50th Birthday and decided to launch The Adventure at Fifty Project which is a combination of a YouTube VLog, Website and social media to record my adventures.

Originally this was just for my benefit but now I would like to think that I’m showing anyone who is single and older that you just have to do it. Live your life your way!

The YouTube channel and blog demonstrates how to travel on a budget on your own.

I have visited 14 countries. So far!

I have worked in Menorca , Mallorca, Benidorm, Tunisia, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote and Italy.

I have cycled across Europe from London to Venice
I have Cycled from Blackpool to Amsterdam
I have become a Dive Instructor, a Local Guide, Wine tasting demonstrator, I had my own excursions and I am a Google Maps Contributor.

I am currently touring Asia for 3 months.

I worked for 18 months in Lanzarote to be able to take 10 months off.

Hire me to create a website for you!

Support via the Donate Button at

You can also support me by using my Amazon affiliated links at no extra cost to your self.

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Shopping Malls and Plastic Bags

Shopping Mall

There’s a mouse in the house

Penang is sometimes a bit overwhelming, take today. I decided to have a lazy morning, mainly because I spent most of the night searching for the mouse in my room. I woke to a rustling noise and saw it jump out of the rubbish basket and scurry under the bed. This then entailed me moving the bed which turns out not to be a real bed but a feat of clever engineering, finely balanced wood which utilises a mattress to hold it all together. The mouse had vanished through the hole next to the air conditioning pipework. So now he has gone how was I going to prevent him returning and disturbing the rest of the evening. Luckily I had been to a stationery shop a few days ago and bought A4 plastic sheets to make a hologram (video coming soon). I used the plastic sheets to cut out shapes which would cover not just the hole next to the air conditioning pipework but every hole and there were a few. This had the desired effect and although prevented the mouse from returning to my room, it didn’t prevent him from trying to get in the room. He obviously was a bit confused at why he could see his way in and had previously been in but now there was some kind of force field preventing him entering. The noise woke me again but I just lay on my bed and watched the confused mouse until he gave up. I’m not sure how long it was before I heard my neighbours complaining loudly that they had a mouse in their room, plastic sheet anyone?

So that is why this morning was slow, I spent between 06:00 and 09:00 writing and then slept until 11:00 followed by a shower and then out for a wander. I decided to go in the opposite direction than usual and came across a big shopping mall. I have come to the conclusion that shopping malls are all the same. Once inside I could have been anywhere except this shopping mall had some interesting and funny characteristics. I entered via an underpass where lots of rickshaw drivers were asleep.

Trishaw siesta time

I went into the right side of the mall first, straight into the mobile phone and gadget area. I think I have a sixth sense when it comes to gadgets. What was remarkable is how cheap it all is, some brands I had never heard of but comparing an Oppo F1 smart phone to a flagship brand like Samsung or Apple the price for the specs were unbelievable. A hopefully won’t burst into flames Samsung sells for around £600 an Oppo is around £189 I say around because it’s priced in ringgit’s here. If I was in the market for a phone I would definitely buy one from Malaysia.

As I turned the corner I saw a cordoned off area with a black carpet, a stage and in the middle a car covered up with a black cloth. The huge flag style sign above announcing that this month and only in this mall you could win a Mercedes.  Very nice I thought and noticed they were still setting the stage for this event. A company had turned up with flight cases full of screens and they were followed by even more flight cases which I have no idea what the contents were. I was curious at first and thought, what if the prize was just the big Mercedes-Benz cloth, it would make a good bed sheet. I then did something I wouldn’t normally do, okay I probably would, in all the commotion I took a peek under the cloth to see the Mercedes and to my surprise there wasn’t a car under the cloth but a frame in the shape of said Mercedes and boxes of stuff under the frame. Well I suppose it would be a waste to have a real Mercedes sat there for a whole month, crafty buggers!

I have no idea why but I scarpered pretty sharpish and headed back out to the underpass and across to the opposite side of the mall. Surely this can’t be the same mall, it looked dingy, I followed the sign downstairs to the food area which consisted of 2 expensive restaurants, back on the escalators and up 2 floors which is the sexy shop floor, condom world, love house and my favourite name ever for a sexy shop “Willies”. I headed back over to the real mall and went for a wander. Nearly made a typical tourist error in the bread shop, the price was 3.50 for my bakery items, however I gave the cashier a 50 instead of a 5, luckily she was honest and chased me out of the shop to give me my change. Next incident and this one was in my favour, now I’m not saying all McDonald’s staff are like this because I know a lot of people who work at McDonald’s.

As I was walking around the mall people would pass me with a McDonald’s ice cream, you know the 50p ones that you can’t resist. So I couldn’t resist, I search each floor until I found McDonald’s, in Malaysia there is a separate counter for desserts. So I joined a small group of people who were getting ice cream. Above the counter was a sign saying that my ice cream was going to cost me 2.50 ringgit about 50p, so I’m happy with that. The next series of events tickled me, first the young chap behind the counter told me off, not in a big way but I was at the pickup end of the counter and not the order end. He was very stern but I complied as I really wanted my ice cream, luckily no one else was queuing so I ordered 1 ice cream, expecting to pay 2.50 ringgit.  I gave our young employee a 10 ringgit note, he then took a double take at the change he had got for me, then he counted it again. He had 9 ringgit in his hand and gave it to me, of course as an honest individual, I kept it! He then proceeded to pull 2 ice creams, when he offered them to me I said I only ordered 1, my turn to be a bit stern now! The young employee gave me 1 ice cream, threw the other in the bin and went for his supervisor. I waited to see what would unfold here and to my amazement the supervisor came over, opened the till and gave me 2.50 ringgit back. Thanks I had just been paid by McDonald’s for my ice cream, don’t feel bad McDonald’s surely doesn’t pay enough taxes.

So with a smug look on my face I wandered some more, I ended up back in sexy shop land before heading out of the mall.

Buddy Bears Penang

Okay that recollection of my day mentioned nothing about plastic but wait, here it is.

I’ve noticed when in Asia that they love plastic and I wondered why! Here if you order a takeaway drink it comes in a plastic bag tied at the top and a straw pushed through into the liquid. Every time you buy anything the cashier gets a plastic bag out to put your items in. In fact you get a funny look when you refuse the bag, the funniest thing I saw was McDonald’s making an effort to use paper bags, however they then put the paper bag in a plastic bag before handing it to you. Double bagging! Buy a drink, you automatically get a plastic straw, pot noodle plastic spork. It just goes on and on, I then started noticing the discarded rubbish around the streets and you’ve probably guessed its mainly plastic.

customize waffles

Finding an alternative isn’t that easy because if you use paper or cloth and visit a market, the floor tends to be soaked and that water contains bacteria from everything that’s washed. Fruit, vegetables, fish, meat containing blood and even the plates from the market cafe all get mixed together in that goo you walk on.

So I wouldn’t say Asia is a third world country far from it but people’s priority is to survive daily life. Removing plastic from the environment is low down on their list because Asia is a developing country that is a struggle to earn a living in. Some are trying, take George Town where I am staying. They have just announce no plastic bags, which is fantastic except no one is taking any notice. So I ask that when you visit Asia make an extra effort to refuse plastic. Leave room in your day pack to fit your shopping, carry a reusable cup for your drinks and please refuse straws. You won’t notice the difference but you will be making a difference because this country is clogged up with plastic and it doesn’t go away. Here’s a weird analogy. If Every time you went to the toilet (poo) you had to store it in your house, how long would it take for you to find a better way? What if anyone who visited your house, you had to store their poo too? Did you know astronauts have a diet which reduces pooing because they can’t store a lot.


So I am committed to doing something about reducing plastic use, will you join me?

Here’s a saying I heard but I’m not sure it’s origin.

Every time you spend money you are voting for the world you want to live in!

What kind of world do you want to live in?

Single Buddy Bear

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Things To Do For Free In Penang, Malaysia.

Church Street Pier

Wanting to stay longer.

My original plan was to spend a week in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. I had booked an Airbnb for 6 nights called Rose Heritage. If you like camping then you’ll have no problem at all staying here. I booked their cheapest room which was ideal for my needs, very clean with air-conditioning.  Apparently there is Wi-Fi but after doing a speed test I discovered it was useless, it is also insecure. The showers and toilet are along the corridor and I soon discovered you have to plan how you use them, not because they are busy but the shower cubicle has nowhere to put your wash bag. Unless of course you have a wash bag which hangs on a hook and your clothes are going to get soaked.

I came up with a little routine to solve the problem, shave and clean my teeth in the sink outside the shower cubicles. Take everything back to my room and head to the shower wearing only my swimming shorts and flip-flops, carrying my towel and soap. Think of it as glamping and for the price in this location the minor inconvenience is worth it.

There is so much to do and see here that I decided to stay longer, I have a flight from Kuala Lumpur international on the 16th to Jakarta but for now I will explore what Penang has to offer. Most of my money has gone on accommodation therefore I would like to share with you how I enjoyed Penang on a very limited budget.

To get around the island I either walked or used the local bus service, taxis are ten times the price of the bus although still not as expensive as back home. Walking was fairly easy the only issue was the extreme heat. Walking around you find lots of food outlets which are inexpensive so I ate street food and drank water. I did treat myself to a couple of trips to the Street Art Cafe which was close to my accommodation, although delicious I discovered I could eat for 3 days for the cost of a simple meal there.

Street Art Cafe

The first place I came across was by accident when exploring on my first day, I now know it’s called the Goddess of Mercy Temple. The temple was busy but I wandered inside and took photographs. There is a good atmosphere around this area and if you can find somewhere to sit then I would suggest you take a few moments to enjoy it.

This popular temple is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of mercy. The first foundation was laid in 1728 by Chinese settlers and was completed in 1800.


I purchased a coffee from the 7 / 11 and sat in the park right next to the Town Hall which was previously a social venue for Penang’s elite back in the 1880’s. It’s classical colonial elegance was the backdrop for scene in the popular film Ann and the King, also located nearby is an ornate fountain which was presented to the public by Koh Seang Tat in 1883.

Town Hall

I made my way to the Gurney shopping plaza, which was a complete waste of time. I thought I could get breakfast there and cool down. Breakfast turned out to be a chicken pie and a cup of coffee. Unless you want to shop I would avoid the Gurney shopping plaza, I did however discover a great viewpoint. I went to the very top of the car park where you get great views of the coast. I walked the 2.9 miles back to little India where I’m staying. The walk back was the most interesting, next to the Gurney Plaza is the Gurney Paragon. The Gurney Paragon is full of western style restaurants so if you’re not on a budget and want western food then head here. I avoided the mall as it was a Saturday and Thomas the tank engine and friends were visiting, so as you can probably imagine, thousands of noisy children.

Gurney Entrance

Walking along the promenade was a pleasant experience and within 5 mins walk of the Gurney empire you come across Wat Chayamangkalaram. Built in 1845 this Thai Buddhist temple is one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in the world. Spectacular to behold, this statue is completely gold-plated and measures up to the length of 33 metres. Also you’ll find magnificent crafted statues of Devas and other mythical creatures on the temple grounds. Open 6:00 am – 5:30 pm

I followed the promenade until I had to go inland this is where the heat of the day was getting too much. I braved it out and although I kept stopping to drink my water I managed to get back to the part of George Town I was familiar with. I stopped at an abandoned school, unfortunately it was in poor condition and the roof had collapsed. I walked around the perimeter and got some great photos.

Ghost School

Next up is the protestant cemetery this old cemetery was created soon after the British East India company established a settlement  in Penang in 1786. It is the final resting place of many important personalities connected to the establishment and early growth of George Town and Penang,  including its founder Francis Light, Governors, Officers and official merchants all rest here. I walked slowly through the cemetery and took some unusual photographs, I got myself into a bit of a pickle as the gate I entered had a chain around it but was open the gate I wanted to exit was locked, so I attempted to climb the cemetery wall. This wasn’t as successful as I had wished for as I got stuck and had to be helped by a local.

Protestan Cemetery

I stumbled across some impressive Street art which is all over George Town, the Penang Tourist app is very useful as it shows you the location of all the famous Street art and makes it easy to follow a walking tour to see them, well most of them as there are hundreds of examples.

Street Art Boy

Walking around George Town is the perfect way to absorb the atmosphere and culture, people watching is a must. The only downside is the intense heat of the day, so I would suggest plan a walk either early morning just as the sun is coming up or the evenings golden hour.

The following day I walked around Little India this colourful lively and sometimes loud part of George Town is where the first Indian immigrants settled down in Penang. It is the islands epicentre of Indian music, savoury cuisine, exotic spices and authentic goods. I visited so many temples in the area that I lost count, the atmosphere is vibrant and when visiting temples don’t forget to remove your footwear and avoid photographing any blessings. You are free to photograph the architecture and interior just be respectful. I was surprised on how much there was to see in this quarter of town a worthwhile day exploring.

Nann Special

Close to Little India is The Kapitan Kelling Mosque founded in 1801, it is the largest historic Mosque in George Town. Designed in mogul architecture it features beautiful minarets and domes. I didn’t enter as there was a tour group looking at the Mosque so I moved on to wander the streets some more.


Dharmikarama Burmese Temple

Located in Lorong Burma, this Burmese temple is the favoured venue during Songkran festivities – Thailand’s traditional new year’s day which is celebrated in April. The temple serene surrounding feature a Bodhi tree,  wishing pond and pagoda. Open 8 am – 5 pm

States Mosque

One of the most beautiful mosques in the country. Construction of the State Mosque was completed in 1980. Elegant and iconic, the Mosque is located on a 45 hectare land that is able to accommodate 5000 worshippers. Open 9:00 am – 5:30 pm

I still have so much more to see and do here in Penang, I am pleasantly surprised at what is possible on such a small budget. Over the last 3 months I have spent far too much and I think by the time I leave Penang and head back to Kuala Lumpur I would have brought my average spend down.

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Kuala Lumpur My 1st Aibnb

Petronas Towers from KLCC

The Arrival

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur was exciting and walking the 200 miles from the aircraft to immigration I had a big grin on my face. I know it was there as 4 very sexy air hostesses gave me a wide berth. KLIA as it’s known is massive but it wasn’t busy at all, I followed the signs to baggage collection and at immigration there was only 1 person in front of me. The officer asked what my itinerary was and was I just in transit and after I told him my plans I entered Malaysia. Why is it when you arrive in a country you go through another duty-free shop? I had no cash so found a cash machine and got a million pounds out, well it felt a lot it’s probably only twenty quid. I then waited patiently for my bag and waited and waited and wandered around baggage claim looking for water, eventually my bag turned up and off I went through security who were rummaging through 3 women’s suitcases and emptying cartons of cigarettes out.

KLIA  Kuala Lumpur international airport, took me a while to figure that out, is massive on the outside too. I walked out of security into a city size shopping centre, straight into a maxi telco shop and bought a tourist sim card, which is a lot more expensive than Thailand, £10 for 5 gigabytes with the option to top up of course. I was in a bit of a flap so went to the nearest coffee shop, to get my bearings and relax. I know all this coffee isn’t good for me but some people smoke, some drink, some have sex, I drink coffee.

I decided to get the bus to KL Sentral for a couple of reasons, A. The train was £10 and the bus was £1.87 B. I should get to see a better bit of scenery. I walked to the bus station, level 1. The ticket offices are next to the cubicle hotel, I had to take a closer look as it seemed amazing. Someone has taken shipping containers bolted them together, I wonder if they were putting their bags in a locker and came up with the idea of letting people sleep in a slightly bigger locker and made a hotel chain out of them, I would love to try it out and spend a night there. I went to the ticket booth and asked for a ticket to KL Sentral, I was charged 22 ringgit, at first I didn’t think anything of it until I read the ticket and saw the price is actually 11 ringgit. I returned to the ticket booth and got 11 ringgit back, whenever you’re in Kuala Lumpur watch out for that.

The bus journey was comfy and within an hour we were at KL Sentral, I got the impression that there are pickpockets and bag thieves in the area because the driver didn’t open the luggage hold until each passenger was looking bewildered and wondering why, eventually the door was opened and everyone could get their bags. In this area there are crowds of people asking if you want a taxi or stealing wallets so be careful. The escalator was out-of-order but I followed others to the lift, squeezed in and went to the concourse level. Wow! KL Sentral is crazy, extremely busy with a major buzz to it.

I needed a ticket to Butterworth, Penang for Friday and thought if I got it now then I would save some hassle tomorrow. In KL Sentral there are different train lines, I believe the train system used to be run by different companies but now are all merge together, there is however different lines. I was sent to the ticket counters upstairs and explained to a lovely lady what ticket I wanted, she asked me all kinds of questions, like what day and what time but only gave me a ticket to join a queue. I was number 4066 luckily the L.E.D signs above the clerks were already at 4032 so I didn’t have to wait long. Ticket in hand I headed back downstairs for some food. I had a bad experience in Krabi airport so went for a safe bet and went to Mc Donald’s, how cheap £1.99 for a big mac meal.

Mc Donald’s was packed just like the whole of KL Sentral I ate in and had to sit on a bar stool in a passageway which led out into the station. I was obviously sat in an awkward position as one of my legs went numb, so when I stood up I toppled over. In front of a million people, how embarrassing! Dignity intact I headed to the LRT ticket machine to buy a ticket to Damai station which is where my first ever Airbnb is situated. Google maps said to walk took approx 1 hr 42 mins Grab Car 14 mins and the train 1 hr 42 mins, crickey which route does that train take. I bought my ticket, 3 ringgit that’s about 55 pence, incredibly cheap. It turned out Google has a glitch as it was 8 stops and took 11 mins. I was quite surprised when I arrived at the top of the escalators and onto the platform of the LRT at KL Sentral because I either had deja vu or I had seen this station before in the film The Entrapment. A train had just arrived but I knew they were every 6 minutes so let it go so I could just take this all in. I hopped onto the next train, which by the way are fully automatic and have no driver. Eleven minutes later I am at Damai Station. I get my smartphone out and follow the directions to my Airbnb, funny enough Google said the walk would be 11 mins too.

The walk from Damai station to my Airbnb was approx 11 mins, I walked across a footbridge from Damai station to a shopping centre and found a loo before turning left, past the traffic lights and at the next set turn left, right. Reminds me of Rancho Texas line dancing at their BBQ night. Oops!  That sounded like I line dance, I don’t! in fact when I first worked in Lanzarote all holiday reps had to join in the line dancing so had lessons. I was that bad I was told I didn’t need to dance I could just P.R the customers.

Luckily my Airbnb host Zobran pulled along side me on his moped, so finding the property wasn’t going to be a problem. Zobran works nearby and is an excellent host, he gave me a tour of his apartment and showed me to my room. The room is ideal for anyone visiting Kuala Lumpur, there is a double size bed, air conditioning, on suite shower room and free Wi-Fi. I must admit I was very nervous about booking on Airbnb and didn’t know what to expect. Zobran had to go back to work and left me to settle in, I showered and fell asleep on the bed.

Falling asleep at 4pm is not a good idea, even though I had endured 19 hours at Krabi airport. I woke about 6pm, it was already going dark outside so I went to the kitchen and had some water. I then unpacked and charged my phone, I ended up sitting on my bed messaging friends and family, writing a blog post and moving raw video footage from my phone and GoPro to my tablet for editing. Zobran sent me a message via WhatsApp to see if I was okay. Although I was busy I was a little unsure whether to go into the lounge, I was also nervous about going out for food, so at midnight went back to sleep.

I woke at 05:30 it was still dark outside so I snooze until 08:30 before getting ready to explore Kuala Lumpur. I left as quietly as I could and if Zobran was home I didn’t bump into him. I headed back to the Damai station to go and explore the city. The walk back to the station was more relaxed than when I arrived as I had no luggage and knew where I was heading. The LRT is easy to use and very cheap, I waited patiently for the train but when it arrived it was full. I decided not to cram myself in the train but to wait leisurely for the next one. Six minutes later another train arrived and this one had plenty of room. I entered the very front carriage as I wanted a drivers view of the journey. Less than 5 minutes later I arrived at KLCC station where I found a cafe called ‘Loaf’ I stopped for breakfast.

If you are ever at KLCC and want a rest in a friendly air-conditioned cafe that serves delicious coffee and bakery products, then try Greg’s, no only joking Loaf is excellent. I had a cranberry and cheese hot bun, a flat white coffee and sat for an hour taking it all in. Kuala Lumpur is a vast metropolis which I have probably seen less that 0.001%, I headed to my first planned excursion, a trip up the Petronas Twin Towers. This was via getting lost and having to ask the lady at the shopping centre information kiosk, I felt like a lost child. I was directed out of the door, right, left, right, right and left, line dancing again.

As soon as I stepped out of the door I was standing at the side of the Petronas building, so easy to find then. I walked around to the front and away from the towers to attempt to get that typical touristic photo. I will warn you now that as you can imagine the area has a lot of toutes mainly selling wide-angle lenses for smartphones. So bring your own because you have to be a very long way away from the towers to get you and the towers in the shot. I saw people lying down attempting to get the right angle, others had opted just to photograph the top bits. Those toutes are sure on to a good thing because from the fountains you won’t fit it in.

Walking into the Petronas building is a little intimidating, there is police everywhere and I got the feeling I was trespassing. Apparently not as I entered the Petronas Theatre entrance it was obvious I was in the right place. I was guided downstairs to buy my ticket 85 ringgit to see both the 41st floor which is the sky bridge and the 86th floor observation deck. I recommend you do both, you won’t be able to go immediately unless your very lucky, my ticket was for 12:30 so an hour to wait. I went for a wander up the escalators and into the shopping mall. My timing was rubbish as on Friday it’s the Malaysian Gran Prix, so right in the middle of this Petronas building shopping mall was a Petronas F1 event and I had just missed Lewis and Nico.

I walked out of the opposite side of the building and into Petronas park where I sat on a wall and drunk my ribbena. I managed to pass the time nicely before heading to the Petronas Towers.


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