Part One: Sydney to Saigon via Perth and KL

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. . . and then the time came

We headed off on our trip with equal parts excitement and trepidation about the next 12mths with the first stop being Kuala Lumpur. It felt like such a long time ago that we decided to put our lives on hold to go and experience as much of the world as we could in the next 12mths. But the time was upon us and as we sat in an AirAsia plane for the first time we were expecting a host of possibilities associated with low-cost carriers, but to our surprise, the whole process from check-in to the in-flight experience to the baggage claim all went without a hitch. The Premium Economy seats were roomy and the food was tastey, served up by a professional team of stewards. Sooooper start to the trip!!!

. . . MALAYSIA

Kiara and myself had a few objectives for our three days in KL, namely
1) Eat Ikan Pari (Sting Ray) at Jalan Alor
2) Eat some Roti Chanai and Chicken Curry Sauce from a hawker market
3) Tuck into some traditional Tandoori Chicken

(mmmm, gastronomic!!!!)

We were fortunate to have two amazing hosts in Ben and his girlfriend Sze who not only lived in the heart of KL but were more than up to the task of filling our bellies with our three favourite dishes of Asian fare. Add a few tiger beers into the equation and we have a combination of good food, good times and good friends.

It has been 11yrs since we lived in KL and 8yrs since we briefly stopped over for a night on our way back from Europe. Needless to say, alot has changed in the city over that period of time with one exception: the heat and humidity still remains. There is nothing like that feeling when you step off a plane in SE Asia for the first time and the weather smacks you in the face and you get that feeling of excitement knowing that you have just arrived on your holiday and fun times are around the corner.

Our first impressions of the KL of 2011 was that this place has come along way in a short space of time. It seems like there is more wealth around the place and there is a vibe about town that speaks to the last 30yrs of development. The street where we used to live is now a lively small bar and trendy restaurant scene where the cool kids and expats come to party. Back when we were here I used to get my head shaved from a Bangladesh barber in not much more than a chair in the street. Our washing was cleaned and pressed by a Chinese family that had a tendency to lose the designer shirts and feign a grasp of English when questioned and there was a dodgy gym that we went to that was as hard to find as it was to find a piece of modern equipment in the gym. All this has given away to $10 oyster cocktail shots, sake bars and conversations between foreign bankers about bollinger graphs and collaterallised debt obligations.

One of the things seems to have become stronger is their sense of national identity (Malaysia Boleh!) and a continuation of the harmonious co-existence between the Bumiputra, Chinese-Malay and Indian-Malay. The way three distinctly different cultures mesh into the one Malay social fabric and the way that religion crosses over in day to day life is definitely a blueprint the rest of the world could take a note of.