After almost 8 hours’ flight from Gold Coast, Australia, we landed in Kuala Lumpur feeling rather more anxious and apprehensive the closer we got to the immigration queue. Charles and I hadn’t really come up with a concrete alternative plan if they denied me entry into Malaysia except for a trip back to the Philippines (as a Filipino citizen I don’t need 6 months passport validity for entry).
The flight was quite uneventful. We were served pre-packed plane-food Nasi Lemak for lunch, and as I ate it I hoped that this would not be the only Malaysian delicacy I would have the opportunity to sample on this trip. We walked sluggishly across the tarmac savoring the familiar warm and humid air that stripped the last traces of Sydney’s winter from our bodies. The heat made me long to find the nearest Cendol stall, a popular Malaysian dessert made of shaved ice, sweetened beans, and soft green starchy noodle.
Credit: The Petronas Tower
That is if I could even manage to get past the immigration desk. I had played out different scenarios in my head, covering all possible arguments with the immigration officer that I could imagine. Finding one who at least looked lenient and unintimidating was a must. It was another long suspenseful wait in the line punctuated by daydreams of jungle treks and lazing on the beach on a secluded offshore island in Sabah.
All I really wanted was to stand at the tip of Borneo and look across at Mindanao from another country, to eat Ipoh’s curry noodles, Penang’s Laksa, KL’s Banana leaf, Melaka’s satay celup and many more of Malaysian’s gastronomic delights. Charles was looking forward to checking out the surf at Cherating and to having a day or two doing absolutely nothing at the beach, which was his only request while I was making the itinerary. My mind continuously wandered thinking of all the things we were going to do in Malaysia and Cambodia, after all it was our last chance to experience
irresponsible and wild adventurous backpacking before having a small tot in tow.
Then, I was jolted back to reality when it was our turn to hand over our passports. We gave our best smile and most enthusiastic hello hoping he wouldn’t notice the expiry date. He had one glance at it, typed something on the computer and then asked me to put my index fingers at the scanner. I was expecting to get notified about the travel advice issued in Australia before we checked in our things, but he just stamped it with a 30-day entry just like that.
After 3 days of stressful anticipation, we finally heaved a sigh of relief and for the first time felt that we were actually having a holiday. We cancelled our trip to Cambodia altogether to avoid going through the whole process again. We went straight to the Sky Bus Station en route to KL Central and boarded the train to China Town where we planned to stay for the first night.
Hello Kuala Lumpur! Now, where can I find the most delicious cendol?