So we are here...
Our hostel has a shelf full of abandoned books which knowledge-hungry backpackers can borrow. Predictably, the tome i removed from the shelf was a biography of Brian Clough. Interestingly the first chapter referred to a Robert Louis Stevenson quote which suggested that it might be 'better to travel hopefully than arrive'. I imagine Cloughie would've dismissed that with a wave of his hand and a 'f*** off'. And i'd be inclined to agree with the great man.
Although there are things i'll miss in the UK (family, friends, real ale, cider, Sky Sports News, a monthly salary, gardening, my springless mattress, TV shows with David Attenborough's mellifluous voiceovers) arriving in Malaysia was an amazing feeling. Actually getting here was pretty arduous. It took an awful long time and the journey included broken iPods, delayed aeroplanes, snotty National Rail conductors, pitifully small (and pretty disgusting) in flight meals and a terrible battle between the desire to fall asleep and the need to stay awake during the marathon from London to Kuala Lumpur. Luckily 'awake' won the day and we arrived tired but relatively free of jet-lag.
Kuala Lumpur is pretty much what you would expect from a capital city in South East Asia - it's smelly, dirty, there are rats, hawkers, vivid colours, spillages, traffic accidents waiting to happen on every corner - the works!
Thus far we've wandered around opulent shopping centres, bustling street markets and craft fairs. We've had close encounters with sharks and turtles at the amazing aquarium. Our feet have been cleaned by some strange little fish which nibble away the dead skin (Rachel found this terribly ticklish and could barely keep her feet in the water - probably a good thing for the fish).
Unfortunately all the photos i've taken over the last few days (prior to leaving and since we touched down) were erased when a rogue computer in our hostel got the hump at me. I'm sure there'll be numerous opportunities to take more, but unfortunately the only photographic record of my amazing birthday cake (thanks Mark & Andrea) has been lost.
The blank memory card also means that the journalistic assignment i've embarked upon will need to be restarted. In my posession is a small stuffed toy dog who has stowed away in my luggage. His continuing adventures will be sent to the kids at Northstead School via the magical medium of email. Unfortunately his journey to the other side of the world, his posing at the bottom of the Petronas Towers and his courtship with a particularly vicious crocodile will never now be seen. Let's just hope the kids believe that he really did what he claims!