A nightmare on Pinang street

The end of my trip has not gone to plan.  Malaysian airlines managed to give me the worst food poisoning I’ve had for many years.  And I’ve had no shortage of food poisoning in the Middle East this year.  Food poisoning by itself would have been manageable, but added to this was the problem that the friends who I am visiting in Kuala Lumpur are in the middle of moving house.  Two months ago an apartment in the building directly across from them blew up from a gas explosion.  The popular theory is that a bad seal allowed the apartment to fill with gas and when the tenant came home and turned on the light switch this created enough of a spark to blow the apartment sky high.  The tenant, predictably, did not survive.  The explosion damaged my mates’ apartment enough that they decided to move.  For the last two months they have been living in temporary accommodation.  Only this week did they finally sign a lease for their new apartment.  It was all meant to be finalised before I arrived.  Unfortunately shit happens.  Occasionally it even dribbles down your leg.

My friends have two young boys.  Ethan is two-and-a-half and Connor is ten months old.  The second bedroom in their temporary apartment was Connor’s room.  This meant that I was sleeping on the couch.  Having travelled rough for a few months this normally wouldn’t have been a problem.  I also had no intention of spending more time than absolutely necessary in their apartment and was planning to explore the city while my friends dealt with moving.  After a long flight I arrived late on Tuesday evening.  We had dinner and a few catch up drinks before I collapsed on the couch.  What followed was an exceptionally long night of tossing and turning.  The next morning I attributed my tiredness and queasiness to jetlag, which I normally don’t get badly affected by.

Deciding to have a quiet day I went to the cinema across the road and watched Transformers 3.  By 1pm I was feeling rather off.  I pushed through and around 2.30 I treated myself to a Malaysian KFC lunch.  No one does Hot and Spicy KFC like the Malays.  No one.  From then my condition deteriorated quickly and by 5pm that afternoon I was shivering uncontrollably, running a fever and spending a lot of time sitting with my pants around my ankles.  Panadol reduced my fever and a few drinks helped me get to sleep easier.  My friend had administered the drinks and Panadol with unquestionable authority.  Because of my condition we dragged out a proper mattress from Connor’s room for me to sleep on that evening.  Sleep was fleeting.  The following day I made it down to breakfast before having to make a quick exit back up to the apartment.  I spent most of the day confined to the couch.

I’ve had salmonella before and it was horrid.  It also took 24hrs to hit me and when it did it knocked me flat for a week.  While this hasn’t been as bad it has still had all the same symptoms.

As my friends were in the middle of moving, chaos reigned and stress levels were understandably high.  In the middle of this was little sick me, trying unsuccessfully to find somewhere to hide from the boxes and the kids and the noise, while always maintaining a close proximity to western facilities.

My third evening in KL arrived and I had barely left the apartment.  I hadn’t even really managed to write, read or watch anything.  I set up my bed in lounge room in front of my laptop.  We all then lay down to watch Game of Thrones.  Before long my two companions were fast asleep and snoring.  I turned my laptop off and sent them to bed.  Praying for sleep to come quickly I tried to position myself in such a way that the air duct above didn’t freeze me and the thick quilt didn’t roast me.  Two hours later I woke up in a slick of sweat.  Wiping the sweat off I tried to go back to sleep. Over the next few hours I tossed and turned until 3am when I awoke again drenched in sweat.  The entire bed was soaked and the air conditioning was quickly turning it icy.  Considering I was dehydrated from the food poisoning I was very impressed by the amount of water I had sweated out.  Moving to the couch I put on a few more layers of clothes so I wouldn’t need the quilt.  Extra clothing and the fact that I was slightly further away from the air-conditioning duct helped to minimise my sweats.  The rest of the night continued predictably and the morning found me exhausted.

This paragraph may be a little emotionally charged thanks to my current conditions, but, I’m done.  Take me home.  I need my own bed.  I need my own space.  I love my friends and it’s always awesome to see them, but I’ve been travelling for a long time now and I’m sick of living out of a backpack and I’m sick of getting sick.  I want to sleep in again, naked.  I want a routine.  I want a proper diet and I want to cook, although I still don’t want to clean.  I also want to headbutt Malaysian airlines, or kick ‘em in the nuts, maybe both – but I’ll wait until after my flight with them tomorrow night…

I am determined to go out for dinner tonight and I am determined to make the most of tomorrow, my final day in KL.  Then I am determined to get back to Australia as fucking quickly as humanly possible.

As I write this I am overseeing the furniture install at my friends new apartment while alternating between intense abdominal pain and the niggling feeling that I am also famished.  Maybe it’s time for some more Malaysian KFC.


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