Malaysia was the last of the new countries on my itinerary and I super excited to visit this melting pot of cultures. I was also excited to be visiting a Asian Muslim country for the first time, having visited Qatar several times before, to see how they differed culturally. (Spoiler alert: they’re worlds apart!).
I flew with Malaysian Airlines into Kuala Lumpur from Taipei and they were great! Polite staff, no trouble with anything and they even got my special meal request right (you’d be surprised how airlines don’t). Unfortunately the queue for immigration was horrendous and I ended up waiting about an hour in line with what felt like the rest of the country, argh.
The place I was staying at was on the outskirts of the city so it was recommend to take a taxi there. Tip: make sure you go to the taxi coupon counter!! I was tired and not thinking straight and so when I got the front of the airport building and saw a group of waiting taxi drivers and one approached me asking where I wanted to go, I just went with him. As a result, I’m pretty sure I got ripped off! He was a nice enough man and I don’t think I paid a crazy amount more than I should have done but still, it was a stupid thing to do and I should have known better!!
There are three general ways to avoid one of Malaysia’s rampant taxi scams: (1) if hailing a taxi off the street, never agree a fixed price with the driver and always ask him to use the meter before you get in the vehicle. If he refuses (like several refused me) then find another taxi. (2) If taking a taxi from an airport, train station, shopping mall or other large public place, there will usually be a taxi coupon counter. Here you tell the person behind the desk where you want to go and they will give you a definite price for your journey. This is the exception to the ‘fare-agreeing’ rule! You pay them, not the driver, and you get a receipt which you give to your driver. You don’t personally give the driver any money. Sound confusing? I found a really handy online guide that tells you all. You can also book a ride using the Malaysian equivalent of Uber, (‘Grab’), which I frequently did with only the occasional minor glitch. It’s cheap and convenient in places where it’s difficult to find a taxi that’s not already occupied.
After my taxi hoo-ha, I made it safely to where I’d be staying. This was the first time I’d be doing a ‘homestay’ type thing through Airbnb, as I had decided to book a private room rather than an entire place. I guess the main reason was I wanted to see the city from the perspective of someone who lives there, as well as giving my trip a slightly more ‘homey’ feel. I stayed with an Australian couple, Mika and Chris, who were English teachers and had lived in Kuala Lumpur for two years, having previously lived in Argentina for two years. How cool! And they were simply wonderful people! My hearts bursts with how lovely they were!
I can’t lie, I did very briefly feel a bit apprehensive about the situation (in a good way?) because it felt like I was staying with distant relatives or something but instead these were complete strangers welcoming me into their home because I’d paid them money! But as soon as Mika had shown me around their home and we got to know each other a bit better, I felt very comfortable and happy to be there. I’d feel a little odd posting my own photos of their beautiful home but if you’re interested in having a look at here, here’s the link to their Airbnb listing with plenty of info/photos. And if you fancy trying it out yourself, you can get £30 off any Airbnb stay by booking through this link! (Using that link means I get £15 in travel credit in return, at no extra cost to you 🙂 So everyone wins, yay!)
All settled into my new home, it was time for bed. I was like a child at Christmas that night, barely being able to sleep because I was too excited to explore yet another new country and city in the morning!