Sunday, October 11, 2009

Home sweet home

I arrived back in Sweden last Saturday. The jetlag wasn't too bad, I was back on track in two days. Went back to work on Wednesday, where several people told me I looked really calm. One colleague wanted to rub up against me twice a day to absorb some of it. Sort of like rubbing the belly of a Buddha for luck.

My hope is that this zen-like trance will last at least a week. On Wednesday it felt like I was a spectator, watching from outside as others ran around like headless chickens in the office. A smile on my face all day long.

Something which didn't put a smile on my face was my grandfather passing away on October 1st. Olov Larsson, the rock of my family, was finally eroded by the river of life to a point where he fell apart. Everything points to him going quietly, just going to sleep, which is a relief. He was 98 years old, had spent the last few months in a care facility and refused to eat for the past few weeks, so no one is surprised he passed. Still, I'll probably cry like a baby at the funeral. 'tis what I do. I'm thinking about buying a pipe to leave instead of flowers. I think he would have liked that.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stop eating fruits, stop eating vegetables, it's doing something bad to you. Fruits and vegetables will seduce you, like a woman

Some final impressions of Kuala Lumpur. My cab for the airport leaves in a few hours, and I've spent the day doing some last minute shopping and now just hanging out at a café with the laptop and a lemon ice tea, watching people walk by. I'm actually sitting outside, on a roofed patio, so no AC but plenty of fans around.

Began my day with the usual killer breakfast. Perfectly scrambled eggs, beef bacon, a waffle and heaps and heaps of fresh fruit.

The remains of the fruit table at breakfast after my meal

I did another walk through Sungei Wang. Now, there are a lot of shopping malls in downtown Kuala Lumpur. Not be missed are Plaza Low Yat for electronics, Suria KLCC at Petronas Towers for just about any kind of shopping (but especially for the huge bookstore on the top level) and Pavilion if you want designer brands and those Japanese pastries. I haven't even checked out a few, like the even more upscale Starhill Gallery.

The best one though was Sungei Wang. It's a warren of stores and small restaurants, that gets more interesting the higher you get. On the top floor you can get a tshirt or a top for 10 ringit, about 20 kronor, as long as you don't try it on. There was a big arcade hall, with rows of old school fighting games, most of them completely incomprehensible. Young men hunched over the games or standing around, smoking, their hairdos like something out of manga. This is where they go to kill digital things when they don't find that graphics card they were hunting for at Low Yat.

The best store by far, for me at least, was street wear store Echo Park, which was also in a couple of other malls that I've been to. I now have a membership card there for some obscure reason that I really wasn't able to figure out from what the guy working there told me.

Lunch today consisted of fried dumplings, one serving with veggies and one with mystery meat. When I ordered the ten dumplings the waitress looked at me, confused, and said "Is all?". I nodded yes, is all. She made a face and walked away.

This reminded me of the Mexican place where my brother, my parents and I ate somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the US back in 2005, where the staff seemed to mock us in Spanish when we only ordered one dish each. Around us, 300 pound Mexicans that had tables full of food. So I looked around at this place too, and noticed tiny Malaysians with three or even four dishes each, with rice on the side, and here I had only ordered two. The dumplings arrived, with a side of chili sauce you could strip paint off boats with. There was also a small dish of thin yellow slices that smelled slightly lemony. Turned out it was pickled ginger that made the chili sauce taste like water by comparison. I had to eat an ice cream afterwards, and my tongue is still sore. I ate the stuff four hours ago.

Evil in food form in the middle above the plate

Then I took yet another walk to Low Yat, where I picked up some more electronics plus a killer action figure to soothe my inner not tech-geek.

Bob wasn't sure the makeover had gone all that well

As I walked out a guy passed me on a moped wearing a Darth Vader helmet. Literally. A shiny black Darth Vader helmet. He was too fast so I didn't have time to get the camera. Then the bizarreness continued as I walked past a sign advertising STD Calls. Is that the really bad version of a booty call? I tried to take a pic but the store manager came storming out, shouting at me, so I walked away. Last thing I needed was to be wrestled to the ground by someone advertising STDs...

And then I got to confuse three young Muslim men. Over the past few days quite a lot of Muslims have nodded at me or said hello. 'tis the beard. Now three twenty something men walked by, looked at me, and then one turned around and said "I'm sorry, you are Muslim?"

"No", I replied, to which he said "So sorry for bothering you." I smiled, said "No problem", and then "As-Salamu Alaykum". They all stared at me and then walked away. Win.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

One night in KL and the world's your oyster

Last night in Kuala Lumpur. Tomorrow I go back home, flying out at 2355 to Amsterdam where I transfer to Stockholm. Why the transfer you ask? Mister Control Freak here booked in March, shouldn't he have been able to book a direct flight?

See, I did. I booked a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur to Stockholm. However, those Malaysian Airlines flights have only been half-full, so over the summer Malaysian decided to stop the Stockholm flights from October 1st. Tomorrow is October 2nd. Hence the transfer in Amsterdam. Bastards.

Just finished packing everything, except my carry-on which will hold laptop, some other fragile electronics and stuff I need to get throught the flight without going postal. I will also carry a paper bag with some toys. Yes, toys. I may have passed my sweet sixteen twice over, but I'm still a kid at heart. Or that geek at heart? Either fits. So yeah, toys. One or two for me, one for a friend who doesn't know what he's getting. Eh, Steelwheels?

I was worried I would go over 20 kilos for my two bags, plus five for the carry-on. However, unless the scale in my room is lying (which might be a possibility) I am still a couple of kilos short. Which is a good thing, since excess weight costs 450 kronor. Per kilo.

Earlier today I almost perished in the heat. In two different ways. First I walked from the Suria KLCC mall to Ampang Park, to meet the tailor that did two pairs of pants for Mah Girl, and then back. In 37 degrees, the air like lead weights on my head. Horrible. Smoothies in two places, one pineapple, one pineapple/star fruit helped.

I really can't get enough of those buildings. Or the beard

The second death, narrowly avoided, came when I was walking down the street gawking at skyscrapers and almost fell into a hole in the ground. Now there would have been a spectacularly bad way of ending a trip.

Hans Moleman was having an open house

Since the flight leaves at 2355 tomorrow, I have a lot of time to kill, and since I can't hang out at the hotel room after 12, I will probably try and find some air conditioned place to read and write. Oh yeah, and go out to buy a toy and a portable hard drive.