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Kuih on the way

There’s always time for more kuih. Once it was clear that Alex wasn’t going to sleep any longer in the cot we bundled him into his stroller and set out to find breakfast. We returned to East Coast Road behind the hotel to find that most of the shops weren’t yet open. Mary’s Corner, a “coffee shop” on the corner of East Coast and Joo Chiat roads was awake and ready to serve a breakfast of smooth noodles; mee suah and fishballs.

Rumah Bebe was also open for kuih sales. Soft green and white kuih talam, coconut and pandan flavoured, yellow tapioca ubi kayu and banana leaf wrapped savory rice dumplings, amongst others. Large yellow pancakes featured prominently. I asked what they were and the shop lady replied, “chiffon cake, very nice.” So we bought a few slices. When we returned to the hotel I tried one. Something was awfully off with the flavor, a kind of overfermented tropical sweetness. I asked B to taste and my worst fears were confirmed. Durian!

It was time to depart Singapore for Malaysia. We piled into the free shuttle bus to the airport and drove along the canopied road, the median strip lined with colourful bougainvillea flowers, arriving at Changi’s Terminal 1.

The Jetstar queue was short and this time there were no hassles with security or immigration. For the first time ever that I can recall our cabin baggage was actually checked for size and weight. We were able to transport Alex in his stroller all the way to the jetbridge, which was nice.

Terminal 1 was more pleasant this time for having B and Alex with me. B made good use of the free internet terminals. So much so that I thought we were running late for boarding. When we got to the lounge however, it was still pretty empty and there was enough time for Alex to fall asleep and for me to watch some airport operations.

Passengers with infants and young children were asked to board first and the gate staff actually enforced it, with one man turned back. We had assigned seats so there was no undue rush. Poor Alex had to be woken up. He has a bad habit of falling asleep shortly before we are about to change our mode of transport.

The Jetstar Asia A320 seemed a little older and more worn than any of its cousins that I have flown in Australia, although there was nothing wrong with it. We were seated just behind the overwing exit row and listened as a member of the cabin crew gave a long and detailed spiel about the responsibilities of passengers seated in the exit row seats.

The captain informed us that the first officer was flying the aircraft today and that we could expect some turbulence on the short 40 minute flight. Thankfully that turbulence felt as bad as the turbulence warned of in the A380 flight to Singapore, which is to say, not particularly disturbing for me. It was certainly more pleasant than the similar length flights to Canberra.

I sat in the middle seat, B at the window. Alex sat on my lap for takeoff, but was transferred to B’s lap about midway through the flight. He was unhappy at being awoken and required constant attention.

The flight was mainly through cloudy tropical skies. We overshot Kuala Lumpur and turned back south, so I guess the flight could have been shorter. Then we drifted down over the bland palm plantations around the airport and touched down. Thankfully, despite Jetstar being a low cost airline it does not use Air Asia’s low cost terminal. That terminal is awful. Indeed the flight as a whole was much superior to our Air Asia flights of 2008.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport is huge, modern and fairly empty. However, the foreign passport holder queue was very long. This was where B’s Malaysian passport came in handy, as we were ushered into a Malaysian passport holders row, despite Alex and I holding Australian passports. B gets the same treatment when entering Australia with me.

Our bags emerged pretty quickly and we were soon out of the airport and travelling to KL on the fast KLIA Ekspres train, a 28 minute journey despite the distance of the airport from the city. Our hotel, the Le Meridien, is conveniently located adjacent to KL’s Central Station.

There was very little time to rest and unpack, as one of B’s childhood friends, Thomas, was coming to pick us up. He drove us out of Kuala Lumpur proper to Petaling Jaya, where B grew up. We took photos of Alex in front of B’s old house and checked to see if the weekly pasar malam at SS2, or night market, was on. Things were still quiet, so we decided to return later in the night.

The reason for the uncertainty was Merdeka Day, Malaysia’s independence day public holiday. I would have thought that Malaysia would have outdone Singapore in the nationalistic decoration stakes, but there seemed to be fewer flags covering the buildings.

Thomas dropped us off at the One Utama shopping mall while he picked up his wife and young baby. When they returned with him B and Liz began comparing baby notes and sharing knowledge. We were joined by other members of Thomas’ family for a dinner of Penang food while Alex waved excitedly to passers by. Oh and managed to knock over a (fortunately mostly empty) glass of lime juice again.

After dinner we returned to SS2 for the pasar malam. The central square was filled with small stalls selling everything from pirated dvd’s to raw fish. While I carried a now sleeping Alex B bought tropical fruits, more kuih, fake Crocs and a Chinese styled outfit for Alex. The pasar malam had a terrific atmosphere with locals enjoying the occasion and snacking on the huge range of foods on offer. The famous, but dreadful, pasar malam of Petaling Street in KL has nothing on SS2’s.

The rest of the evening was spent at Thomas’s spacious home. Poor Alex was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. He was sneezing, hopefully not a sign of illness.

Back at the hotel, just before I went to bed I was watching an Indian music video on the TV. Each time the male singer moved to kiss his lady companion she moved away. I concluded that she was repulsed by his prickly, dodgy moustache and stubble. It’s a little known fact that the prohibition against public kissing in India stemmed from a lack of decent razor blades.



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