Saturday, June 18, 2011

Day 46 - Muslims, Motorbikes and a taxi.

Another interesting day to chalk up on this journey. The intention was to head out to a couple of motorbike shops then go and do a bit of sightseeing and it kind of worked out like that but not really. :)

After my morning breakfast I headed off for the day, first to buy some more bottled water then to go and find a couple of the motorbike shops before heading further afield this afternoon to meet the owner of the one motorcycle rental place I had found. I optimistically thought I could maybe walk to the first shop, however, it soon obviously turned out that I couldn't.

After a short break to take refuge in another huge air conditioned mall I was resigned to a taxi ride, however the taxis here are not too expensive. BTW, Akbar my afternoon taxi driver said there were 70,000 taxis in the city. - this is excessive if you ask me! Anyway, my morning taxi guy dropped me to the first shop where I had no luck - they didn't sell bigger bikes, however, he did point me in the direction of a couple of shops that did. I decided to walk the distance and being in a local area I was enthralled by the amount of markets and people hanging out.

I must have walked in to an area with lots of Muslims as there were plenty of men heading to the local mosque for prayer. Friday is essentially like the weekend for Muslims and is known as Jumu'ah. I think this means "Friday prayer" (if any of my Muslim friends are reading this and I am incorrect in any way please do let me know).

After a fairly long walk I found the shops the original guy told me about and they did have a small number of bigger bikes, but they were so expensive this was just not a sensible option.

By now it was about 2.00pm and stinking hot.

As I stood on the side of the road all the men from the local mosque came out. It is obvious this is a religion for the devout and i respect that. Coming from a secular society that is somewhat lukewarm about religion it is very interesting to observe.

I had organized to meet the guy from the rental company at his shop which was a good 25 kms away in outer Kuala Lumpur so I needed a taxi. I flagged down the nearest taxi and Akbar pulled up. We set off and it was a long way away. My poor old taxi driver got very lost and we took a good two hours to get their which was a combination of horrific traffic and not finding the address which as it turned out was a serious needle in a haystack. I was on the phone to the rental guy who was obviously very very rude over the phone to my driver. My taxi man was on the phone to his brother to try and get the directions. I think he was getting yelled at by everyone for not knowing where to go and I felt very sorry for him as i found him a genuine honest man trying to make a living for his family. He works seven days a week, has seven kids and even though we did get very lost I found the afternoon in his company fun and very informative.

When we finally arrived at our destination I asked him to wait as I was only going to be a few minutes to check out the bike and get a bit more information. After a discussion with the owner of the rental shop we have arranged for a half day ride tomorrow free of charge to see whether I like the bike and then if it's all go I will organize to rent it for 10 days from Monday including helmet, jacket and gloves. Not an ideal timeframe but am looking forward to getting back on a bike. He also gave me a website for travel advisories as at the moment tourists are not recommended to travel through southern Thailand so I will make a decision in that regard later.

Anyway, after a quick chat and making arrangements for the ride tomorrow, my driver and I set off again and immediately came across some of the worst traffic jams I have ever been in. By this time we were firm friends and were smoking away and laughing at how the afternoon had unfolded. (well, I was, he felt bad and kept apologizing but I really didn't mind as it had been a very interesting afternoon.)

By the time we arrived back in central KL, the traffic was at gridlock so once we came close to the monorail and moved two car lengths in four traffic lights changes I suggested we stop and then he could head off to his brothers place as his elderly father was not well and I could walk the rest of the way.

....rapidly going nowhere fast....

Men in uniform...

After a fond farewell and swapping contact details I set off on foot and after multiple km's on foot (faster than the stationary cars) I got back in time to pick up my laundry and buy some more bottled water before arriving back in the hotel a sopping wet sweaty exhausted mess !

Tomorrow, I get to finally ride a proper bike again - yay!

Thanks for taking time out of your day to follow my blog. Cheers, Nick.

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