A Travellerspoint blog

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One Way or Round Trip?

“One way or round trip?”
A seemingly simple question, considering I was only planning on taking the ferry into the city for the day before returning to Manly to meet up with my gracious host Alex. “Round trip.” Woops.

Before coming to Australia I had planned on spending a fair bit of time in the actual city in Sydney. However Manly was such a great town, it had been 4 nights and this would be my first and only venture into what most people think about when they think of Sydney. I was meeting up with Shaz at the Circular Quay port at 2, and I was looking forward to finally checking out the city.

It was 44 ̊C in the city, which for those of you who are more Fahrenheit inclined, is 111 ̊F. Anything not by the water was unbearable, so we decided not to stray far from the ocean at any point in the day.

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Afterwards, we were picked up by a fedora clad gentlemen named Angus who knew about a party on a beach not too far away. The party would turn out to be one of the better beach parties I’ve ever been to. They had a dj, a breathtaking view of the city, and people ranging in age from 4 to 50. While lounging in a baby pool that someone had brought for a pool toy, I met a few more awesome people including a very sweet girl named Libby who had shaved her head to support her friend who was about to start chemo-therepy. Between the folks who we came with, the new people we were meeting, and the steadily increasing dance party, it was turning out to be quite the day.

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Sydney City in the background

Several adult beverages and an afterparty with comped drinks/ food at a bar later, I realized that I had about an hour until the last ferry back to Manly. Although the party was still going strong, I had promised Alex I would meet her back in Manly. So, slightly reluctantly, we left the party for the night. About 30 minutes into what should have been a 15 minute drive, we were completely stopped in traffic. We were about a mile from the ferry, which left in 10 minutes. After watching the same traffic light turn from green to red three times, I bid farewell to my gracious driver Libby, and decided it was time to run for it. About half a mile in I realized that the heat never really broke even though it was night, and that running in flip flops sucks. Various yells came from the drunken townsfolk as I passed by the bars. But I barely heard them, as all I could think though was that I needed to book it because the last ferry was leaving shortly, I had no knowledge of how else to get to Manly, and I had no cell phone. Oh, and to top it off I was also out of Australian dollars.

My calves were on fire and I was drenched in sweat, but about 100 yards from the wharf I could see my ferry. Rejuvenated, I pulled my return ticket out of my pocket so that I could rush through the gates and onto my relaxing ride home. Then I hear the ferry’s horn blare. Shit. One more horn, and I hear the engines kick in. Shit. I sprint the last 50 feet, only to get a better view of my ride pulling away.

I must have looked pretty pathetic as I collapsed on the ground, muttering expletives to myself and wondering how I was gonna get home. Then I realized that Alex would be waiting for me at the other end, and I had no phone. The ferry worker, who was surprisingly sympathetic, guided me to an internet café where I Skyped Alex, who luckily had previously facebook messaged me her number. She told me that there was a bus leaving in 20 minutes that stopped in Manly, and that I would need to hustle. I left the internet café ready to run to the bus stop, when I realized I had no idea where the bus station was. I inquired the ferry worker who had helped me previously, and he quickly took me over to the train that I needed to take to get to the station. As he pointed it out, the train I needed to take was approaching. I still had no cash to get through the gates. “Just jump the freakin’ gate!” So I did, and made it as the doors of the train were closing.

The first bus came shortly after I arrived at the station, and I asked the driver if it went to Manly. After mumbling several barely comprehensible words about getting close to Manly but not actually there, a girl behind me shouted that I should not take that bus, and that the next bus was correct. Considering she did not have an Australian accent, and probably wasn’t a local, I was taking a leap of faith by trusting her, but it was all I had. She let me use her phone to call my friend Alex, who was being refreshingly pleasant during the whole process considering it was approaching 2 A.M and I had changed plans about 72 times now. I asked the security guard if the next bus went to Manly. He shrugged his shoulders, implying that I was on my own on this one. However after telling him my ferry plight, he offered to let me ride the bus for free, which saved me from needing to negotiate with the bus driver to let me use American dollars.

Staring out the window of the bus and wondering if the bus would in fact get me where I needed to go, I met a pleasant Canadian fellow who had broken his knuckle earlier from punching a wall because he missed his bus. As he and a local distracted the bus with a loud and increasingly heated argument over the intellectual fortitude of Canadians, the bus driver shouted out “next stop, Manly Beach!”
Still flushed from my previous impromptu fitness test through the streets of Sydney, I happily stepped out of the bus to see Alex approaching in her badass truck affectionately known as “The Beast.”

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The 151, my chariot home

A car ride from a new friend, a sobering mile long sprint in flip flops, a missed ferry, an internet café, a kind ferry worker, a jumped train gate, a bus attempt, a well informed stranger, a comped ticket, a correct bus, and an angry drunk Canadian later, I had finally arrived at my final destination. In the end, a great reminder that things always seem to work out, and a nice warm-up for what will surely be some chaotic transit through South East Asia. Although a sometimes confused tourist, I can always rely on the kindness of strangers, and a little help from my friends.

Posted by dpteitel 22:54 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney beach transportation Comments (1)

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

More than just Guns n' Roses cover bands.

In my few nights in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, I feel like I did so much, but upon reflection there are a few moments that really stand out: Eating street food, wandering through a ridiculously big mall with a new friend, the grand mosque, and Guns and Roses.
When I spoke to people who had been to south east asia before, generally the first response was “ohhh, the food!” I get it now. Not only is the food vibrant and delicious, but it is cheap. Even my meal on the flight over was notable, a spicy lamb curry and jasmine rice. Wow, quite the upgrade from the usual rubber chicken with a side of mush.

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Some kind of delicious soup, $1.50

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Duck. $1.75

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Steve. Lovin some soup.

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Lunch spread with lots of curries. Enough to stuff 3 people, $8.

Another aspect of the city that really pops is the architecture. They have a pair of towers called the Petronas towers. They are huge, and seem to be what all of the tourists want to do first when they get here. The line to buy tickets to get to the top of the tower was three hours. Not happening. I don’t think I would wait in line for three hours for anything. Well, I might right now for a cold Natty Boh and some steamed Chesapeake blue crabs.

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Boh and crabs. Worth a three hour wait.

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Cool, but not worth a three hour wait

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KL Tower. Still a great view of the city, cheaper, and no line.

Malaysia is a primarily Muslim country, so there are amazing mosques everywhere. Generally while wandering around aimlessly and trying to navigate the logic defying, sense of direction humbling roads, I would stumble upon a beautiful mosque. The most memorable mosque in KL would prove to be the grand mosque, which was not only beautiful, but required that you wear a robe to go in. Wearing robes is up there on my list of favorite things, and watching a bunch of giddy tourists scamper around in purple robes creates quite the atmosphere. I’m pretty certain that 75% of the reason why people get talked into cults is because they get to wear robes.

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Even the small corner temples were quite photogenic.

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Going to see beautiful temples and eating delicious food is always enjoyable, but what pushes a city over the edge is having awesome people in your hostel. One of the reason KL was so much fun, was that there were wonderful people to share the experiences with. Of course the major sites were great, but it will be the small things I will look back at fondly when I think of KL. Shooting at giant spiders with automatic weapons in an arcade with Erica. Eating snails and frogs at a chinese restaurant with Alex, James, and Steve, a Spanish fellow who barely spoke English, and two Australians. The consensus: The frog was surprisingly good, and the snails were not worth the effort. Listening to an Asian band’s lead singer try to mimic the all-american tones of axle rose in a cover of Sweet Child O’ Mine is hilarious, but using a Tiger Beer as a microphone and singing along with the lead singer in a bad Asian accent with a Scottish woman makes it memorable. Every city has its own feel and energy, and experiencing it solo is fine enough, but I think in the end the main thing I will remember about this trip is getting the opportunity to share these moments with new friends.

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Erica, giant spider killer extraordinaire

KL was great, but I’m glad to have escaped the big city vibe in a small town called Melaka. Two nights here, then I leave for the Cameron Highlands to escape the heat and humidity for a few days. Spirit is soaring, more stories and pictures forthcoming.

Posted by dpteitel 05:48 Archived in Malaysia Tagged me buildings food religion malaysia friends kl Comments (2)

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