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Give Me One Reason
Tracy Chapman & Eric Clapton

Saint 2.0

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
no maps, no experience, just pure insanity! | 6:14 PM

Long Way Up
Driving up North Part 1
no maps, no experience, just pure insanity!

Now before we begin the journey, the photo journal version of it, that is, I must confess that I might have misled some of you out there to think that I had been on some gastronomic tour of the West Coast of Malaysia.  My travelling mates and I did not plan a makansutra trip per say.  Our Malaysian counterpart threw in the food stops to spice up the trip.  And spice up our senses it sure did!

My 2 fellow female travellers were the extra eyes for the drive up the N-S Highway.  None of us have done this before.  The furthest I've driven up was to Johor Bahru and it was via the Causeway at Woodlands.  You read and hear about highway thugs operating in cars to hijack Singaporean vehicles, corrupt cops who book drivers just to get some extra pocket money, the maniac drivers who edge you out of the lanes - the list goes on.  Be they urban myths or just exaggerations by the press, this virgin drive to Kuala Lumpur via the Second Link was as daunting as - just to use a funny analogy mentioned by a friend some time ago and that which may not be appropriate for some young readers here - discovering the rubber having fallen off at the end of a passionate session between a married couple and then facing the OPPS! OH DEAR! moment.  You get the point.

Anyway, being the adrenalin junkie I am, I swapped my vehicle for my parents' Suzuki Swift and volunteered to be the Captain behind the wheels.    

You drive, and drive and drive and drive that 300 odd km along the highway and KL seemed the distant reality. 

You sometimes forget the rest stops to pee until someone cries out too late.  When that happens, you realised you have just passed one such stop, you smile meekly and say, "Tahan another 20 minutes til the next stop can?"

You encounter nature's beauty like this spider with very long legs and threatening bright spots on its body hiding behind this pot outside the male washroom entrance. Oh how we city dwellers, all the while soaked in the artificial Garden City, need to get back to authentic nature again!

You do not snap much pictures along the highway because you teether on the edge between trying to focus on driving safely and resisting the urge to beat the speed limit of 110km/hr - WOOHOO!!!!  Okay.  AHEM.  Kids, do not speed and buckle up always!   

Then you enter KL.  Thereby began our nightmare.  The madness of our plan start to unravel. Without a city map nor any prior driving experience in KL, we make every wrong turn and commit road hogging at every 100m to make out the myraid of overlapping junctions, slip roads, tunnels, overpasses and equally confusing signs (to newbies that is) - which we laughed over in spasms of self-mockery.  

"Call Joe." was my desperate plea to the ladies while trying to appear un-desperate.  We described what we see and he pin-pointed out locations spot on!  I mention the plural locations because we continue to make wrong turns despite his specific directions.  More laughter broke out among the cabin crew of course.  

In between at least 3 international phone calls, we realise that KL drivers do not horn at other drivers - which is amazing!  Whether they were cussing behind their wheels at this undecisive Swift manoevring on the crowded roads of KL, they sure appeared very forgiving with an absence of hand gestures.  

Eventually, Joe had to attend a meeting and we were left on our own to locate Sunway Pyramid where he would meet us for lunch.  Right.  Now we have to locate Pharoah's secret getaway with his concubines!  Stopping by the road - wherever we were of courfse; I had insisted upon it of course - Pearl's Peranakan Malay was put to the test when she engaged a local at a bus stop.  The ladies operated in pairs of course.  I remained cocooned in the orange mothership of my Swift - with all locks activated of course.  

We passed the test.  In fact, Joe was surprised we had arrived much earlier than expected.  I smiled sheepishly and wiped the sweaty palms off my whatever and that look of a speed demon.  I was just warming up for next year's F1 Nightrace of course.   
If you had expected more pictures of our perilous journey, you are not getting any.  Simply because all our senses were focused on trying to get to KL, finding our way around the city and then beating all the other imaginary contestants in our Amazing Race.  

After a nice lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant at a mall beside Sunway Lagoon, Joe took the wheels and drove us to our hotel.  No pictures of this either because the 3 of us were still recovering from the trauma of the journey.  HELLO?!  Amnesia freezes over.  It is so bad that I cannot even recall the name of our hotel - something International something up to this point.  :)

Joe had a wedding to attend in the evening.  In our hotel room, the 3 Singaporeans, all of us being teachers, lamented about work and then we laughed at the crazy journey we had just survived.  At the back of our minds, which we verbalised several times, we tried not to think about having to figure our way back to the highway for our journey home.  

I have some pictures of the stuff we did at and around this attached mall called Pearl Point.

The girls would be looking at shoes and I needed a haircut.  My hairdresser was a pretty sight and somehow she coaxed me into colouring my hair.  The saloon had a promotion going on, so why not?  

You don't come across this sight in Singapore anymore, I believe.  This was the facade of one of the shophouses along the small roads where we sat having our
zhi-char dinner.  The venue was recommeded by this lady at a manicure shop which my friends frequented while I was at the saloon.  Their ruse to get me a manicure failed terribly of course - what is it with women who try to get guys to join them in their girly ventures???   Try harder. 

The food was above average.  We ravaged it upon the arrival of the earlier dishes and I only remembered to take a picture of it but it was just too late.  So I thought I shall placate everyone with a picture of the cooks in action outdoors!  

I was in a trigger happy mood by then.  The authorities should bring back mailboxes in Singapore.   They would truly brighten up the sterile manicured landscape of our Garden City. 

I spin 360 and spotted this clutter of bottles and cans at this makeshift recycling corner under this huge tree.

Okay, back in our room, I just have to take a self-portrait with my new hairdo and colour before that shower - simply because I can never wax the hair the way these hairdressers do!

That's it for now.  The next update will be after my next trip from tomorrow til the following Monday. Haha!  Nah.  I'll try to do some pre-post entries for the days I'm away.  They will include the host of pictures of the 3 camps I was involved in and now, the KL road trip!

Next update...
Ibor to Ipoh 
drive. stop. eat. drive. stop. eat some more!

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