Yesterday, I arrived at KL airport at about noon. The plane parked pretty far from passport control. That was to be expected since I flew on Air Asia a local budget airline. No more flying first class across the Atlantic of Pacific oceans and staying at hotels like the Hassler or the Oriental and the like. It’s strictly budget airlines and budget hotels (barely one step up from hostels) for me now.
It is especially difficult for me this month as it is often at this time of the month. I am waiting for my Social Security check that the government sends with annoyingly bureaucratic regularity every third Wednesday of the month. You would think they would now and then send it a bit early. But that’s government for you. They should have privatized Social Security a long time ago then my SS account could have had as much in it as my 401K, nothing. But I shouldn’t assume that just one screw up by the country’s banking elite indicates that it is a recurring problem, although its been happening with annoying regularity for 400 years now.
Take this morning for instance while I was waiting for my ride to the airport I noticed that it was quite chilly. Chilly in Thailand!! Another nail in the coffin of global warming. I was happy to see the sun rise however, having been scared witless by the Colbert Report that the darkness last night proved that the sun went out and we were sure to be all dead this morning. Dammit I promised not to do this anymore.
Anyway after a surprisingly long walk from the plane to passport control I was pleased that the passport control and customs process proved to be as efficient as I found anywhere. I paid $2.50 (the local currency is called Ringgit) for transportation from the airport into the city, expecting at that price to board a decrepit overcrowded shuttle bus for the 60 K ride into downtown KL. Instead, I boarded one of the most luxurious buses I have ever ridden
We arrived at the central bus station where I left the bus and found that public rail transportation was readily available. I took it to within a block of my seedy hotel. Along the way I was surprised that unlike Bangkok where they proliferate, there were no Arabs to be seen and that struck me as strange. Why did they go to Thailand a country that is at best ambivalent about Muslims and not to Malaysia a Muslim country? On the other hand why did we go into Iraq.. Oh almost did it again.
More about Malaysia later or tomorrow or never, I have just received bad news. Not only did I leave a day early unnecessarily but I just found out that the Thai Embassy is closed tomorrow because of Chinese New Year. The good news is that my return trip ticket is cheaper. The bad news is that I will have to spend more money on shelter and food and things like that. The good news is that my SS check should be deposited by the time I fly out. The bad news is that I feel like a god dammed idiot. Oh oh did I just say something that might get me in trouble here. Jesus Christ I hope not. Now I’ve done it. I think I will go hide under the bed.
No pictures of KL yet, thank whoever, but not to forgo the opportunity I have attached a photo of the swimming pool of the high school in World Club Land subdivision back in Chiang Mai that we are allowed to use after 3PM. That is Hayden in the foreground doing something strange to his nose.
FROM MY JOURNAL
Saturday, February 13, 2010 9 AM
Sitting on Air Asia flight AK 763 from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur, seat 28 D. Hectic morning. Got up (Hayden insistence) at 6Am. Got ready and ate breakfast. of toast and coffee. Waited for Jerry. Picked up at 8AM. Told him that Hayden was going to BKK this morning and was to meet N.’s cousins at 10 AM for trip. J said no can do would have to bring Hayden back to airport after dropping Leo and mother off at school.
While going to gate N. called. Said I told you H’s flight at 10:10 AM, not meeting, he will miss flight, call Jerry, you screwed up, hung up. Tried to call Principal c/n get through. N. called said “ you almost caused him to miss his flight”. Called N. asked “Did that mean you contacted them”. Answered “Yes, I called the school”.
Last night, N. called, spoke with H. H cried “why can’t I go with Pookie. One way or another I will be on that flight”. H. went to bed in his room with Maid sleeping on floor. Series of phone calls. N. made arrangements for H. to fly with cousins to BKK tomorrow morning. Said H. to meet cousins at 10:10AM at One to Go counter.
Am on flight to KL now. Things not done: did not change baht to ringgits or whatever they’re called: did not check ATM to see if I have funds or if TG made deposit; do not know where Thai embassy located in KL; have no return ticket; unsure of transportation from AP into KL; more???
Arrived at KL airport at about noon. The plane parked pretty far from passport control. That was to be expected since I flew on Air Asia a budget airline.
Anyway after a surprisingly long walk from the plane to passport control I was pleased that the passport control and customs process proved to be as efficient as I found anywhere. For $2.50, I boarded one of the most luxurious buses I have ever ridden for the 60 K ride into downtown KL. During my ride as I looked out my window at the at the built environment of the area, I found it to be one of the more pleasing and organized that I had ever seen. Not at all like the disorganized and dirty environment one finds in Bangkok and most cities. The road from the airport is new and efficient and lined with palm plantations and forests broken about every kilometer or so with a Mosque or an interestingly designed commercial building.
About one third of the way in they were construction a new town that looked fairly well planned to me. After about another third there was a second older new town, again that looked well organized and lacking dirtiness that Americans like me find so unaesthetic. Approaching the outskirts of KL, the city and its skyline was as dramatic and impressive as is San Francisco’s as you approach it from the Bay Bridge or New York for New Jersey. On the left of the skyline rises a sail like building similar to a hotel building in Dubai that for a while was billed as the most expensive hotel in the world. In the middle stands something that looks like Seattle’s Space Needle and on the right soar the twin towers, that used to be the tallest buildings in the world until a taller one was recently built and quickly abandoned also in Dubai. Looking at the twin towers It struck me how we could get back at them for the destruction of our twin twin towers (I know they’re Malaysians and not Saudi Arabians, but they are Muslims and aren’t they all the same). We would just open an abortion clinic in one of the Towers and free our home grown terrorists to get the job done. I know I know, I promised not to do it. I am incorrigible.
We arrived at the central bus station where I left the bus and found that public rail transportation was readily available. I took it to within a block of my seedy hotel. Along the way I was surprised that unlike Bangkok where they are as thick as flies on something gross, there were no Arabs and that struck me as strange. Why did they go to Thailand a country that is at best ambivalent about Muslims and not to Malaysia a Muslim country. On the other hand why did we go into Iraq.. Oh Oh almost did it again.
Again my American aesthetic was pleased by orderliness and absence of disrepair I found in the city. Actually the US built environment is probably one of the most disorganize and derelict built environments in the world. I have travelled by car across the country about 15 times and except for the actions of our government to preserve some of our scenic wonders, I found it in most part to be unrelieved dreck. So where did I and most Americans I know get this affection for the orderly and clean environment (and by clean I mean the appearance of cleanliness). I think that aesthetic that allows us to turn up our collective noses at the chaotic and dirty cities like Bangkok, Newark and Liverpool, comes from the habitations of our upper middle class. Places like in the Northeast like Bronxville as I remember it growing up, or Greenwich of current notoriety located in the middle of the Northeast forest and generally hidden from view. Did you know the Northeastern forest of today are as extensive as they were at the time of first contact? Go figure. It is a climax forest however.
Climax, I love that word. It describes not only what you think it does but you also have climax in novels, and civilizations and a whole host of things. Do you know what it means? It means the end is coming very soon.
In the mid Atlantic, Bethesda as I recall and the Williamsburg area where Ann lives and where I found joy with her and Al are those types of places. In Florida it is hard to find anywhere, I guess some of the Islands in Byscane Bay where we can gaze for our boats and the clean and orderly communities of the very rich. In Northern California we have places like Ross and Woodside and in Southern California we have Aliso Vallejo of which several of us are very familiar and Cappacola a mispronunciation that Southern Italian immigrants where I grew up mispronounce a Gabbagall, a tasty pressed meat that is my bit of humor on the pronunciation of Cota de Caza of Teamster Union fame.
This all led me to think about the putrid canals that criss-cross my subdivision in Chiang Mai choked with Hyacinth and water lilies. Unlike a Disney cartoon with the frog calmly sitting of the pad amid the beauty of the pond, some of these plants are brown and dying or dead while others are in various stages of flowering. It is not a climax environment. That’s what nature is about, the chaos of living and dyeing not the orderly beauty of my garden which is like all well tended gardens in a climax state. Turn your back for a moment and it returns to chaos.
How the hell did I get here? I was in Malaysia. Jesus Christ!
Oh shit I’ve done it now. They will be knocking on my door soon. I think I’ll hide under the bed. See you later.
COMMENTS TO POST:
cuz – depression came early this morning. so i went for my walk. an unexpected change in weather arrived rapidly, from low 50’s yesterday to 79 today and i am expecting an earthquake as i firmly believe that when the temperature changes this much this fast that the ground will move and swallow us all up. further down the street two girls had set up what at first i thought from a distance was a lemonade stand however upon getting closer and not seeing any cooler containing a liquid i decided that maybe they were taking orders for girls scout cookies. i took no photo as we three were the only ones on the street at this early hour and i didn’t want to scare them being not far from the police station with its pervert squad. next i passed a woman with a grey headscarf that went down below her waist. she said, “good morning” and smiled. i suspect she was a practicing muslim but i can’t tell as they all look alike to me. if i pass her again i will say, “salaam alaikem” and see what happens. needless to say i did not take a photo as the grey outfit she was wearing was bulging around the waist and it’s possible she was a suicide bomber so i decided to play it safe. the farther i walked the warmer it got but i was all in one piece.
when i am depressed (when am i not? oh yes. when i hear from you!) i get sleepy so i sat down on a park bench and dozed off for i don’t know how long. i awoke to find a small dog tugging at my right pantleg. i thought maybe i was hallucinating or in a roman polanski movie but a lady walked up and grabbed the dog. i did not complain about the little tear marks in my pantleg as i figure i’m lucky my skin was not pierced and why let a good thing turn ugly in green valley, where ms. fountain valley has a wart on her nose.
the only photo i took this morning was of a wild cherry tomato plant growing in someone’s side yard facing the sidewalk. the photo appears below your previous message or you will have to view this vegetative miracle as an “attachment” for reasons known only to my email program which seems to be malfunctioning when it comes to adding pictures to my text. how the plant got there i don’t know. propagation is a funny thing. anyway i felt some strong symbolistic connection between the cherry tomato plant and myself (birdshit?) however any analytical conclusions will have to await the next time i see it.
tell us more about kl. your adventures to date are schematic to say the least. please provide more full-blown descriptions of important things like architecture, food and sex, not necessarily in that order. as to why there are muslims in thailand as opposed to kl, a muslim country, just look around and you’ll see why.
yesterday i decided to have some adventure and left the house. first i drove to a kaiser permanente facility in the city of irvine where man and nature both prosper and perhaps your former client lennar, someday. (about twenty minutes away). the facility was closed. its where my primarily care physician moved to and i have bought him a present which i wrapped myself and intended to deliver to the receptionist. why the present? i figured it might get me some attention and then i could complain without having to have an appointment. from there i went to wholesomechoice market which i enjoy as it has a great selection of most reasonably priced fresh quality produce as well food from all over the world including kosher meat (packaged) and hallal meat(unpackaged). most of the customers appear to be of persian extraction and there are always two or three drop-dead gorgeous women shoppers there at almost any time of the day. i bought a whole smoked whitefish, a can of spicy olives from the westbank, two sweet lemons, roma tomatoes, a red onion, 1/2 dz persian cucumbers, hummas, a bottle of grapeseed oil, a bottle of pomegranate molasses, and fresh out of the oven sarnak (sp?) which is a flat bread made out of whole wheat flower and about two and one half feet long wrapped in brown butcher paper. i almost bought some thai chili peppers but they were $3.29 a pound and when i asked a lady patron how to prepare them she said stir-fry and since i wasn’t cooking i opted out of that purchase – besides my intestines are just about in working order and i think that pepto bismo rather than thai peppers might be more kindly received. from there i went to the post office where i bought some postage stamps and mailed the package to the doctor. then i went to stater bros market and picked up some stuff for tomorrow when it is that my grandchildren are coming to spend the day’ i have no plans for them but there is always cartoons on tv except the girl is now almost eight and insists on watching all 1312 episodes of hannah montana.
i think colbert is right about the sun…just picked the wrong evening.
More from Irwin:
don’t know if you ever heard of kiva but its something i have been paying attention to for some time. i have two loans out (see below). kindly don’t tell my last wife; she wouldn’t understand considering i am always telling her i have no money. when i say “money” i mean extra thousands, not twenty-five dollars.
i thought this might interest you if you feel like doing something for other people who want to be entrepeneurs and are not just looking for a handout.
Maurice Obonyo Omanya in Kenya (Activity: Tailoring)
You Loaned: $25.00
Newly Repaid: $4.17
Total Repaid So Far: $8.34 (33.36% of your loan)
Repayment Status: Paying back on time
View loan profile at:
Daribazar Humbaan in Mongolia (Activity: Clothing Sales)
You Loaned: $25.00
Newly Repaid: $1.39
Total Repaid So Far: $1.39 (5.56% of your loan)
Repayment Status: Paying back on time
View loan profile at:
p.s. i guess i could visit mongolia and calim the trip as a tax deduction in terms of looking after an investment.
And even more from Irwin:
New Straits Times
February 18, 2010
Section: Main Section
Earlier today police were scouring the City searching for an American thought to be involved in the recent assassination of a Hamas agent in Dubai. As to what the purported criminal was doing in Malaysia nothing was revealed except for police acknowledgement of the finding of an incomplete passport application at the restaurant “Bon Ton” which is located on the ground floor of the Shopping Center in Julan Sulktan Ismail. The fugitive is a known frequenter of shopping malls.
It is alleged that the American is none other than Joseph Petrillo, former political operative and lobbyist of California, a western State in the USA, who disappeared from the city of San Francisco some weeks ago.
Acquaintances of Petrillo contacted by this newspaper expressed concern about not hearing from him for several days as well as disbelief in his possible involvement in the Dubai incident given his penchant for avoiding physical confrontations and pasta with red sauce. “I’m quite worried about “Cousin Joe” said family friend I R Schatzman , “if something has happened to him I’ll never get back the Dean Martin records I lent him and he also owes me ten bucks!”
Police continued their search this afternoon. Rumors have spread that he may now be in northern Thailand but he has not been yet spotted by Burmese trackers. Anyone with possible information about his location should contact Kuala Lumpur’s new Police Chief Zul Hasnan at any of the Tourist Police Stations 241-5522; 243-5522; 249-6590 .
And even more from Irwin:
well, they (see below) have only one place left to go….world cup! by the way where are you?? are you ill or wandering bahtless in chiang mai?
today i am attending a funeral. it’s for the sister of the only friend i have here who calls me to see how i am and if i want to go out to costco or for breakfast. even tho i knew the woman having seen her maybe fifteen times in her life, if it wasn’t him i wouldn’t venture to the memorial park on such a day – rain is imminent and my body aches, my nose runs, and a swarm of seagulls is circulating over the cul-de-sac; i think that is a sign of a storm coming or then again it could be that marge, the neighbor lady across the street who has outlived two husbands since we have been here, has spread some bread crumbs on the asphalt. i think it’s probably a combination of both given that it’s unlikely the gulls were on the beach seven miles away and suddenly felt that marge had done her beneficent best for the birds (almost an alliteration, not bad for 8:15 am on a sunday morning;but then again maybe the 1/2 xanax is kicking in).
tell me you are alive and that i can count on having two friends in the world. in the meantime i will brush what few teeth i have left (lost three for the radiation), take a shower, dress and prepare to drive up the 405 when all i really want to do is sleep, if i could, permanently.
Correspondence with Nikki:
The line was bad and we were breaking up so let me say something to clear any doubt
i gave her another 5000 bath for the beby needs dentist stayover friend and return ticket
she told me thet her account shows only 1000 bath
lie or true? who knows……
now this is the program get back with the baby and wait till the bills are coming see if this month we can get a clear situation about the budget now that we start the march month and so we finally can see how much is going to her and how much is going to chang mai
she want to handle the school fees telling me that we should not sign anything and her as a thai can get a bargain
I know is hard for u to handle that mess but u should clear once for good how much she need from u and that’s it make a deal and this is gonna be ur budget forever
me i am stucked with a 50000 thb a month even if some of that is going to her personally but what option i have? leaving her to shuttle the baby back or abandon him somewhere?
if u were in my pants what would u do?
is not a problem for me that money but i want to be able to see the baby regularly and provide a good school that’s all i want rigth now
as far as your planning is going make a dateline and come up with a decision to stay or leave.
i suggest u to wait till the end of march to decide anything drastically and see how things are going no need to rush
evrything is temporary with her nothing is sure is a crazy and strange situation and all i do is for the baby’s sake
good luck for ur visa and hope to come there soon to talk about