how do you find MY’s official flag?

spending the first day in Malaysia in Selangor area, it was quite surprising to see how different Kuala Lumpur looks like compared to the rest of the other state.

i took the commuter train from Shah Alam to reach KL Sentral. i have expected the worse; the impression being embedded on my mind by my former MY-based colleagues who never took public transportation in MY ever. i was surprised that for RM2.30 (or something like that), the commuter train was comfortable. the seats are comfortably cushioned and none of those crazy vandals you see so often in PI transportation.

when i reach KL Sentral, everything looked different. from the architecture to the facilities to the people. suddenly, 45 minutes from where i took the train, the world became a different place. there were lots of tourists and expats around; international tourists with their backpacks and expatriates in their three-piece suits blending with the rest of the resident’s population. and for some silly reason, seeing familiar coffee shops and fastfood chains, i felt more comfortable.

from the KL Sentral train drop-off, i proceeded to the LRT ticketing booth to grab a ticket to KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center) and paid RM2 for it. i had no plans whatsoever; i just wanted to discover the city on my own. when i got out of the LRT terminal, i saw the famous Petronas Tower and wasn’t moved by it at all. a friend did tell me it is more beautiful in the evening with all its lights on to stress its glory. oh, well.

it took me a while to realize that this is the city with no pedestrian lanes at all and that people actually danced with the traffic to get from one side to the other. it took me longer to realize that i have exited at the wrong side of the road when i got out of the LRT. never having questioned my skills for solo travel before, i thought then that perhaps, i am not ready to travel overseas alone. especially not in a place where i do not speak the language.

though, the good thing with Kuala Lumpur is (i found out immediately), everybody can speak English. and oh, yes, WIFI is free in most coffee shops. don’t you just love it?

i was meaning to visit Petaling Street (KL’s chinatown) but decided against it for safety reasons. i was carrying a laptop bag and a handbag (my backpack was too big to carry around the city) and did not want to run the risk of getting either or both snatched from me while i was walking. but i was meeting the guys for dinner that night and was thinking of going with them instead after the meal. yes, i am that spoiled.

i ended up shopping in KLCC which my former colleagues thought was a bad thing. “stuff are overpriced there.” they shook their heads. but i found a shop, VINCCI, which just had the kind of shoe style i wanted and came out of the shop with two pairs. i got a 10% discount for being an international tourist, which i think was kind of nice.

“are you vietnamese?” they asked.

“no. Filipina. but i get that all the time.” i answered and smiled.

it didn’t take me long to get tired prancing around the mall and decided to chill at the coffee shop instead. so much for being overseas. but on the other hand, it was rightfully so, because if i walked around longer, i would bought more shoes and dresses than i would have.

“how is my baby doing?” zsolt asked when i hooked up with him thru msn.

i do not know about you, but if there is something i missed about being in PI, it was the convenience of seeing Zsolt online. this realization of the dependence scared the shit out of me. i know there will always be things i have to do without involving him, but in some cases, it just feels really different. perhaps, the dependence has a purpose, just like you need railings for the train.

“for some silly reasons, it is so good to see Caucasians without having a girl half their age being dragged by them like a lost dog.” i told zsolt. this is true and i swallow this truth with mixed emotions. it is nice to be in a place where the east and the west mix and not witness something like what i have seen more than i would want to in PI. zsolt agreed with me and said KL is different. good for KL, bad for PI.

i found myself pondering about this revelation for a long time that afternoon, only pausing briefly to wonder why it is still daylight at 7pm. what is in this country that PI doesn’t have? patriotism? they have earned their independence from the brits much later than we have earned ours from foreign forces. and although their national flag looks like it sprouted out from the belly of the United States of America, the fascination of anything western is not as obvious as it is in my country.

what is it that we are missing? or are we missing something?

i didn’t have to wonder for long. my phone rang. and the guys arrived. there was a much immediate need than understanding the wonders of the world. we were starving and the night came.


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