On your marks, get set...sweat!
When boarding a plane, a good rule to follow is...don't start a fight with your neighbour.
The trip started with an easy flight to Abu Dhabi and then we had a ring side seat as 3 guys scuffled and eventually got thrown off the flight to KL. Despite this Mr F, as usual, slept pretty much the entire journey and somehow charmed one of the hostesses to boot. When he turned down breakfast, she was so concerned for him that she brought us both a glass of champers. A nice thought but as Mr F didn't want his, muggins had to polish it off to show some appreciation. And so, as we landed in KL, I was feeling a little more wobbly than usual.
This didn't help as we played 'hunt the rental desk' and chased around the airport looking for the obscure company that Mr F had booked a car with. Eventually we found it tucked away at the bottom of the car park and by this time the new climate had struck home. In a vain attempt to adjust to the 100% humidity, our internal thermostat had made the pair of us resemble drowned rats. Mr F carries this off with aplomb a la a true explorer/Indiana Jones- type. I on the other hand just sweat, not perspire like a lady but the full on hair drenching, drip running down the neck variety. A good look it is not. I found my new holiday haircut, designed with just this situation in mind, had one sadly overseen flaw; although the shortness of the back was perfect, the longness at the front acted as a drip tip.
Car in hand and sat nav working (hoo-bloody-rah), we set off to Kuala Selangor, a town on the west coast known for it's mangrove habitat. With driving on the left the norm, the journey was fairly straight forward apart from the scored of toll booths. On our first attempt, failing abysmally at deciphering the signs, we drove down the correct lane by pure chance and were handed a ticket. Sadly, our luck didn't hold for the next one. We again took a guess at the signs but found ourselves stuck in an automated booth with no obvious place to stick the ticket. With an ever increasing line of cars pulling up behind us, even Mr F had a wobbly moment for a spilt second. Luckily, a guy appeared before the wobble could balloon, took our ticket and ran it through a machine. It worked out we owed 27.20 ringgits. We handed over 30 which caused more problems as he didn't have 80 cents to give us and we didn't have 20 cents to give him. A small language barrier arose until he lifted the barrier and waved us through with a pained expression. I'm happy to say we worked out which was the 'cash' lane after that and only ended up in the 'trucks only' lane once.
Eventually we made it to the De Palma Hotel. Unusually, Mr F booked most of the accommodation on this trip and despite having slight reservations about this (let's face it, comfort is not high on his list when birding is involved), he'd done pretty well. From reading the birding trip reports, place was known to have a very large population of long-tailed macaques in its grounds and sure enough, the trees in the car park were full of them. We've had a few run-ins with macaques over the years hence I'm not their biggest fan. Unloading the car I could see the little demons climbing down and tiptoeing in my direction. There was no way they were gonna pinch my stuff again (my sunglasses, St Paul's Bay, Philippines, Dec 1999) so my journey from the car to the reception desk resembled a military operation. I think I even walked backwards at one point to cover my own back.
After climbing a disabled ramp akin to Everest, we checked in, dumped our stuff and went for a mooch around. We tracked down the Kuala Selangor Nature Park entrance - it was too late to go in but it saved on having a crotchety Mr F moment in the morning, time very well spent in my book. We thought we might as well go for an early dinner whilst we were out although we hadn't seen many people around. We walked up amd down the main street peering in the doorways until a guy from 'restaurant makanan laut' beckoned us in with a cheery "you hungry?" What could we do but answer yes!
We went on in and played our first game of 'menu roulette' with only a little advice from the waiter - "lil bit spicy, I make special for you". I ended up with a plate of very nice fried rice with possible squid pieces whilst Mr F had something entirely different in a sauce and not even vaguely close to what he'd ordered. It did taste damn good though so we didn't flag this up. To ne expected, we'd picked the only table in the room that sat underneath a working ceiling fan. Unbeknownst to us this must have been where the staff sat between customers as the TV was set up directly opposite. We spent an entertaining half hour engrossed in a Chinese soap opera set in the Dynasty days and I don't mean the one with Joan Collins. More like Ming. It must have been a comedy as the waitress kept laughing at it as did we, just not necessarily at the same time. After paying the whopping £4 bill, we disappeared back up the road to the 7/11 store we'd spotted.
Now a bit of a holiday tradition, I feel I have gained at least a rudimentary knowledge of the world's convenience stores. Having developed a taste for bright green melon buns in Japan, I was extremely happy to find coconut buns on offer in this branch. They, along with Mr F's more conservative choice of chocolate buns, a packet of samurai curry crisps, a sachet of nasi goreng rice flavouring, a can of chrysanthemum tea and one of something that looked chocolatey went into the shopping basket. I decided against the can of Birds Nest drink in the fridge though as I was trying to give it up.