Posted by Amanda
Another day that seems lost due to travel. We arrived in Malaysia a bit later than we thought and the customs and immigrations folks took longer than they should have getting on the ship. They didn't even stamp our passports. That is so frustrating because I bought extra passport pages after being told I needed 8 blank ones. Adding to everything, we are tendering at this port. This means we are anchored in the middle of the harbor and one of our lifeboats takes us back and forth to the dock. They appear to be doing some construction to their dock that will last indefintely. I had to deal with a lot of angry students who had made flight reservations to Kuala Lumpur (KL as it is called) and were likely to miss them.
When we finally got off the ship, we were with Mario, Rachel, and Carrie the physician's assistant. We were all heading off to KL later in the day. Our first spot was an ATM to get some ringgots. Of the 5 of us only Noah and I were not successful. The bank said it had something to do with our ATM card not having a special chip in it. We tried a number of other banks, but in the end we assumed it was likely that Bank of America decided to shut off our account detecting suspicious activity. Both Noah and I told them we'd be traveling but I guess Malaysia sets off some red flags as we discovered that two other BofA people had also been shut off. Our fellowship of travellers lent us some money to get the day started.
We had a great lunch at a hawker market. It was mostly noodles and fried rice around the table. It is nice to be in a place where you can eat the food and drink the water. I'm looking forward to having some more Indian food too. Plus, now I can get any Indian things I want without having to worry about getting sick.
After lunch we headed to the airport in a cab. The airport and the flight were unremarkable. There were two nice SAS students with us on the flight. One actually had had her BofA account shut off too and gave me the number to call to remedy the situaton. The bus from the airport to KL took longer than the flight itself. We finally arrived in Chinatown where our hotel is listed as cheap, clean, with a good breakfast. I purposely picked one that I knew SAS wasn't using. I'm ready for a break from trip leading. Our rooms were just as described with the promised lack of windows. We figured we didn't need to pay for the rooms with windows because we survive on the ship without them. Our hotel is in the middle of the Chinatown night market so we set out for dinner and shopping.
We ended up eating at the hotel restaurant and inviting a British man to join us. He is actually living in Thailand teaching English. It was nice to talk with him. He was eager to hear what we thought of our election and who we had voted for. Apparently, only Noah and I sent in absentee ballots. He was actually in town because of a big Formula 1 race. One of those things that as Americans we're totally out of touch with.
The group made some purchases at the market--dried fruit, candy, and such--and headed back to the hotel.