Asia on a budget (2) – “Cheap Trick”

In this entry: I travel back in time and narrowly avoid being drugged and robbed,

I decided to get an early start to the day and start off with a trek to the Petronas towers. I did not get an early start, instead because of the exhausting heat I snoozed my alarm until around 1pm. Not a good way to begin. However, my luck appeared to be turning around when I arrived at the Petronas towers to find it was only 10:15. How had I travelled back in time you ask? I actually forgot to change the time on my phone, so what I thought was 1pm, was actually more like 9am. This unaccounted four hour time difference was probably the reason I was the only person in bed at what I thought was 2am. It was actually 10pm – however, it was a quick solution to my jetlag. So everything worked out fine.

Exploring inside the Petronas Towers I found to my excitement that entry up to the observation deck was free, sadly I also found out that they only give out 1700 tickets per day and all of today’s were gone. Not to worry I thought, I’ll get up early and see if I can get a ticket  tomorrow. So I spent the morning exploring the area surrounding the Petronas towers. I did the usual things, I tried taking a MySpace pose picture with the towers in the background but couldn’t quite get it right – and my ginger beard does not look good up close – and then found a man trying to do the same thing. We took each others pictures and went on our way. His picture was rubbish. Sure, he got me in the picture, but the top of the towers was missing. How hard is it to get both? Apparently its very hard, either that or the three different people I asked were useless photographers; but its not polite to suggest to people that they are useless at photography so I gave up and settled on the pictures I had.

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While pottering around in front of the towers a lovely old Malaysian lady smiled and said hello, we got chatting and she preceded to ask me where I was from. She said she was Malaysian and also on holiday from one of the islands. She sat me down and we talked for a while. She introduced herself me and introduced me to her sister. Ann and I spoke  about where I’d been travelling and where I’d be going next. It was nice and they suggested I go check out the gardens behind the towers. Malaysians are so friendly.

I had a look around the KLCC, a huge shopping centre at the base of the towers, and browsed all the shops I couldn’t afford, checked out the cinema and what films were playing, resisted the urge to go watch a film and eventually headed out to the gardens. I have to say that the whole Petronas towers area is beautiful, and the gardens are no exception. I ran into Ann again. She said hello and we got chatting again. She told me her niece was going on exchange to Melbourne and wondered if I could give her a bit of information about the place. I was in no rush and figured I’d oblige. I told her what I could remember about the place and she seemed really interested, she even called her niece and asked if I’d mind meeting her. I told her sure, why not? Her niece was busy but would be coming soon so I said I’d meet her again in half an hour. I came back after another stroll around the gardens and Ann and her sister were waiting. I assumed we were waiting on her niece and then we stared walking… over to the taxis. “Um… where is your niece?” I asked, assuming she was inside the KLCC. “At my house”, she replied. It was at this point I thought back to when I was 10 years old and my mum told me never to get into cars with strangers, unless they had really good candy. Since the ladies had no candy (amateurs) I apologised for my rudeness but told them I couldn’t go as I’m travelling alone and need to be careful. They seemed genuinely upset about the mistrust but understood and we parted ways.

I felt bad for not going with Em and Ann, They seemed genuinely lovely and I would have probably got a free meal and drinks out of the whole thing. Oh well I thought. Maybe next time when I’m a little more adjusted. I decided there was more of the gardens to see and so had another long stroll. I decided to walk home the way I came to avoid getting lost. I headed back to the towers and was about to walk through the KLCC when a Malaysian dude stopped me, looked at my beanie and said “Whoa dude, nice hat. Its good for the hot weather!”, I laughed, he laughed. This guy was a regular comedian. I was about to walk away when he asked me where I was from…

“England?”, I responded cautiously. “Oh England! He replied excitedly. “Do you know Leeds?” he added. I looked at him for a second. “Um… Yeah, I know OF Leeds”, I continued. “Great, my sister is going on an exchange to Leeds…”. I knew what was coming next. “Maybe we could sit down and talk about-“. I stopped him right there. “I’m sorry, I have to go”. This had become less of a coincidence and more of a carbon copy of my previous conversation. I’d nearly been had by two scam artists trying to get me into a taxi for god knows what. Lucky escape. My mum was right. Never trust strangers without candy.

I went online later and found out what the scam was. The conversation is often the same but with different details. They will have a sister/niece/cousin who is visiting your country soon and they want to know more. Once they know more they want you to meet them. After this they invite you back to your their house, They continue the ruse but at the house there are obviously men around and shit starts to get real. You chat with the ‘family’ for a while until they goad or force you into playing poker or blackjack. At this point you probably will have been given a drink which is most certainly drugged to cause you to lower your defences. As you may have guessed, regardless of how you play there is no way to win these games, they then take you for all your money and often force you to an ATM to withdraw more.

On my way back to the hostel another lady sat at the bus stop tried it. Three times in on day! Seriously? Do I just have ‘sucker’ printed on my forehead. I decided to go back to the hostel and check in the mirror in case someone had written it there while I slept. They hadn’t, so I avoided distrustful Malaysians for the rest of the day. Just in case.

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So anyway, as I’ve said, I’m on my “no chain foods” kick. This is really hard for me because I’m incredibly picky about my food and there is both a McDonalds and KFC across the road from my hostel. This also leads to meal time becoming more of a challenge than a luxury. As a result by the time I’ve walked around trying to find something I recognise or want to eat, I’m usually so hungry I’ll settle for anything. I’ve had black peppered hot dogs and most substantial meals tend to be some sort of rice dish with some sort of meat mixed into it (this is Chinatown after all). With any luck, I’ll get more adventurous as I get thinner and hungrier, but I refuse to eat at the fast food places.

Things are hard when you’re alone. I’m content but it would be nice to meet somebody to talk to. Sadly, I’m not sure this hostel is the place to do it. My dorm mates consist of a dude who doesn’t talk and spends most of his time on a prayer matt and a dude who is either dead or sleeps a lot. Maybe in my next hostel there will be more options.

In closing. Ann, You are a bitch. I’m totally never coming to your house. Probably.

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About Ryan

This site is intended as a dumping ground for my interests and thoughts, but above all it's a here to record my progress on my ever expanding list of life goals. I want to impove myself, to learn new things, to see the world and to experience everything I possibly can. It's a simple goal which has led me half way around the world and given me some amazing memories to keep, stories to tell and friends to cherish. I try to enjoy my life as much as anyone can and I record these memories and thoughts for my own purposes, but the hope is to inspire.
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