The the head flight attendant guy, who has a thick Chinese accent and starts all his announcements with "good evening ladies and gentleman, boys and girls..." like a ringmaster, announces that we'll be touching down in Taipei shortly.
TAIPEI?! Why are we going to Taipei? I'm not supposed to be going to Taipei. I want to know why we're going to Taipei. Minor freakout.
Apparently my ticket was issued way back when LA to KL was nonstop. That's no longer the case. Taipei to KL is another 4h40m. Boooooo.
Here's my flight to Taipei:
I'm in the clouds!*
Ooooh, land! And it's pretty, with clouds rolling through black green valleys. I like this.
Wooowwwww, this place is gorgeous! Lookit that river!
THIS IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE ON EARTH! I LOVE TAIPEI! I'VE NEVER IN MY LIFE WANTED TO GO TO TAIWAN AS BADLY AS I DO RIGHT NOW!
KL from the air? Meh.
Anyway, eventually I make it to Kuala Lumpur (KL), and find my way to Elma's. I'm staying at Elma's place; in the photo below, that couch is my bed. We met online. Very normal. She's the matriarch in the photo on the wall, with her 7 children, 2 daughter-in-laws, and 1 grandchild. Elma's one of 14 children. Her father had 3 wives.
Thoughts on getting off the train in downtown KL, in chronological order:
First thought - KL is a very Muslim city.
Second thought - KL is way more Chinese than I expected.
Third thought - Okay, where am I? [checks map: heart of Chinatown]
Fourth thought - I'm an idiot.
At home 6'2" is kinda tall, but here... yeesh. White people are also rare; I stick out hard. Touts are minimal, but they're there (their). Got here yesterday, and the scammers were ready:
This guy came up to me, maybe 50 years old, speaking excellent English, very friendly. I needed to find an internet cafe, and this guy spoke English, so I bite. C'mon Jake, innocent until proven (you know where this is going, but really, that was my thought). He asks me where I'm from, and points me towards an internet cafe. We're walking the same direction, so I say hi. His daughter's going to go to USCD. A woman comes out of nowhere on my right: "Say, you should meet our daughter! Where are you staying tonight?"
So that sucks. I don't want to spend my whole trip as a mark. Maybe I'll learn to avoid/ignore it automatically, the way I don't even see meat options on menus anymore. Anyway, got to the internet cafe, where I am right now. Plunked down $2 for 3 hours here.
3 hours?! What are you doing for 3 hours online?
You have no idea how hard it's raining. I've never heard such loud rain. Animals are lining up in twos, I swear. This happens every afternoon, from about 3-6 or so. Internet cafes are indoors and have a/c. The rain is so loud and constant it sounds like construction.
Oh, I'm kinda a travel superhero. 11 hour time difference, no jet lag. I went to sleep at 10pm, awoke at 7am. And BootsnAll travel forum has, after fiery orations and vitriolic debates, bestowed upon me the honor of "Most Valuable New Member of March 2008." I'd like to thank the Academy...
Obviously this is a long blog post. It's still raining buckets.
* - Tell the truth, I was thinking: lookit how the clouds stratify! So neat! Like when you mix oil and water, and let them settle, and drop a raisin in, and it floats on the boundary? It's neat to see that there are different kinds of clouds, with different densities, and each floats on its respective layer of air. And obviously then the atmostphere has such a density gradient. I wonder if the gradient is smooth and continuous, or with discrete... anyway.
Clouds also follow coastlines, which is neat to see from the air:
And for a bonus, here are the Philippines: