Despite Paul being in arcade heaven, we arrived at Tokyo airport keen to leave Japan, and ready to start our South East Asia adventure. When doing self check-in, we were asked if we had visas for Vietnam. Nope. Ever the optimists, we thought we’d just have to go to a check-in lady to do her magic. Nope. Turns out, ‘visa on arrival’ means ‘you must have a pre-arranged visa on arrival’. Shit. After a little bit of panic research we discovered that we’d have to go to the Vietnamese embassy in Tokyo, which was now closed for the weekend, it being Friday afternoon. So we were left with the option of staying in Tokyo for another 3 nights (something we wanted to avoid, if possible, as we’d intentionally cut down our time in Tokyo because of the cost of accommodation) or source alternative flights. We went with the latter, and after the ever-helpful Japanese Airlines lady did some research we were offered Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, or Jakarta (the only 3 destinations available that didn’t require visas). We went with KL, mainly because we thought that would be the easiest starting point to reach Asia from. So the next day, completely unplanned and unexpected, we found ourselves a good bit poorer and on a flight to KL.
We had 2 days in KL, during which I had a taster, and Paul had a reminder, of Malaysian culture. The highlight was definitely the food, it was amazing. We started on a low – Nandos – and then things got much, much better, Our hostel (the cheapest and also grottiest place in the world) was near Chinatown, and so one evening we had the best Chinese meal I’ve ever had. It was just a street side cafe, but the food was fresh, delicious, and cheap. We finished off with an Indian from a Banana Leaf restaurant, where we once again ordered way too much food and spent the rest of the night with rice belly.
We spent a day on a hop on, hop off tourist bus, visiting mosques, palaces, and a butterfly farm. We also took a trip out to Batu Caves, a Hindu place of worship nestled in giant caves. Paul had been before and had warned me about the super vicious monkeys stealing food, which left me suitably panicky about removing any trace of nuts from my bag. However, Paul must have caught them on a bad day, as this time they were super cute, running around with babies clinging to their bellies, politely accepting any food offered to them.
The caves themselves were pretty impressive, though we couldn’t understand why there was so much rubbish and dirt (as well as dead chickens) lying about. Surely if it’s a sacred spot, they would want to keep it tidy?
After 4 months of travelling we were ready for a little bit of pampering, and so we went to a fish pedicure place. I know these are illegal at home now, but I like them. The fish here were unlike any I’ve seen before – they were HUGE! It took courage, and a lot of encouragement from the owner that we’d be okay, to put our feet in, the fish were so vicious. The session lasted 15 minutes, but after 10 I was done, I wanted some feet left!
Soon our little detour was over and it was time to go back to Plan A. Personally, I was happy to leave, as the men in KL seemed to think it was their right to stare at women as much as they wanted, and it did make me feel uncomfortable, especially when I was on my own. After checking and double checking the visa requirements of various Asian countries, we picked Laos as our next destination. We headed off for our early flight with fingers crossed. Second time lucky!