Saturday, January 20, 2007

After what feels like much longer than three weeks I am now back to my college dorm-reminiscent flat in this crazy city of Kuala Lumpur. It feels better to be back here than I had feared. I really felt like I should be going back home with Jono yesterday instead of coming back here. It was so hard to say goodbye on the street in HCMC with taxi drivers watching in amusement.
I flew today from HCMC to Singapore and then caught a bus to KL. I was surprised that the guard almost didn't let me in at the Malaysian border, usually they have said nary a word. All the while he was questioning me about what I was doing in the country and how long I was staying I was praying that he wouldn't admit me so that I have an excuse not to return. It was probably the nonchalance that came with not caring that made him trust my story. But, like I said now that I am back at my apartment and I chatted with my sweet roommates I feel better about the situation.
I want to make some kind of record of this amazing trip, Jono has all the photos and will post some on flickr, but there should be a narrative as well.
I start with the reverse of the trip I made today.
Going from KL to Sinagpore was intended to be an adventure free of stress, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. Taking the overnight train - a quaint idea- was a little more trouble than it was worth. Setting off was fine and we rattled, rolled and chug-chug-chugged our way through Malaysia all night and at about 7AM we arrived in Johor Baru (at the border), only 45 mins behind schedule the cheery attendant told us. I had allowed a four hour window to get from the train station to the airport--surely enough for an island that only takes 40 mins to drive across? In Johor we were told that there was a train coming to opposite direction and that we needed to wait a few minutes to let it pass. An hour and a half later we got rolling again and the worst part was the we had waited so long only to travel for about 5 mins to reach the Singapore border! After getting through immigration it was about 11AM and my flight was at noon. I was freaking out imagining how horrible it would be if I didn't get to HCMC by the next morning to meet Jono at the airport. In my anxiety I asked for advice from a fellow passenger who told me to bail from getting back on the train and catch a taxi instead. Thankfully from here on luck was on my side and I had just enough money for the taxi and I arrived at the airport with 5 minutes left to check in. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to the universe the whole flight.
Arriving in HCMC I was elated to be in Vietnam, riding motorbike taxis, eating pho and taking everything in again in District 1. I was so nervous to meet Jono the next day I woke up way too early and had a long wait at the airport. It was an incredible moment when our eyes met as I think both of us were worried that we wouldn't find each other in the throngs of people crowded around the international arrivals door. As we got in a taxi I was in disbelief that it all worked out and Jonathan was actually there in the flesh and Jono got his first look at this country that has taught me so much.

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