Adventures in KL

We finally got to KL on our adventures around South East Asia!  We flew in to Kuala Lumpur and spent a few days there on an extended visa run.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

But first, we had to leave Thailand.  Which is not always easy.  Because we didn’t want to pay $$$ for airfare from the island of Koh Samui we had to leave a day early and take the ferry to Surat Thani and then get a hotel close to the airport.  Which sometimes leaves me thinking… would it have been cheaper altogether to just pay the rate for a ticket from Samui??

Either way our stop in Surat Thani was pretty good.  The hotel that we reserved (The O Valley Boutique Hotel) was really nice.  It was a big enough room (always a bonus!) and the beds were comfy.  But it was amazing how different a non-tourist destination felt.  As we tried to negotiate cab rides, dinner and an extra pillow at the hotel, we realized NO ONE spoke English and there were NO food options for Wesley.  I think we managed to buy him a pack of sandwich meat from the local “Kwik-E Mart” and that was his dinner.

The Surat Thani airport was crazy.  Instead of leaving the tarmac and entering the terminal to find your bags, you actually end up walking along the tarmac for a long time.  Damon had an AirAsia security guard tell him to go to the wrong area… I wonder how many people end up walking aimlessly on the tarmac??

Surat Thani Airport

Surat Thani Airport

But then we arrived in KL… and sat in traffic : )

The first (and main thing) I can say about KL is the traffic is horrendous.  Worse than Houston, LA, or NYC.  Damon said only Bangkok traffic was worse.  But we still managed to have a great time.  We stayed in the Chow Kit area of town.  It was a LONG taxi ride from the airport, but our room was big enough and we didn’t spend a fortune… both good things : )

Because traffic is so bad, we mostly used the KL Monorail and the KL Light Rail.  They were both fast and cheap.

Waiting at the monorail stop...

Waiting at the monorail stop…

Connecting to the LRT...

Connecting to the LRT…

Rush Hour

Where’s Wesley??

We didn’t realize how busy the monorail gets until rush hour… we went from an empty train (and Wesley standing by himself), to 15-20 people rushing in at one stop.  He was surrounded immediately.  It was hilarious because it was mostly Muslim women who thought he was the cutest thing ever : )  They tried to pat his head, smile and talk to him… and he was NOT having it!

Where's Wesley?

Rush hour on the monorail.

He gets so much attention in the cities we’ve been in… they call him “Harry Potter” and want to pat him.  Thank goodness he’s not blond or a ginger…  he would never be left alone!

Akubekam Visit

I went to the clinic yesterday for my first akubekam treatment… and all went well.  I saw Dr. Sharifah Junaidah and she was very professional and helpful.  Of course some of our conversation was lost in translation… but for the most part I felt very confident letting her work on me.

First she took down my history and listed my ailments and complaints.  Since most of my responses were, “No… I don’t really have that problem.  It’s just the migraines.” I realized that I’m actually doing pretty good : )

Then she examined my fingernails (squeezing them and marking things on her chart) as well as my eyes… tracking my vision and listing the results.  Then we went into the “clinic.”  I undressed and put on something that wasn’t a paper gown, and wasn’t just a blanket.  It was like a super-sized Buff.  You know, a tube of fabric.  Except this one would have fit two other people in there with me : )

I lay face down on the table and she started the treatment.  She pressed on the trigger points (based on my ailments) and then when she found the “sweet spot” she put a vacuum cup there.  She left it for a moment and then used something that felt like a diabetic lancet to poke holes all over the area.  Then she reattached the vacuum cup and sometimes pumped it manually and sometimes attached it to an electric pump.  I was left with spots like these:

Middle lower-back area

Middle lower-back area

Upper back

Upper back… look at all that sun damage!

She ended up putting the vacuum cup on four spots on my back, two spots on my chest/sternum and a smaller cup on my temples, neck, and the top of my head.

When she would remove the cup there would be some blood and usually a small blood clot as well.  The thing was, it didn’t seem like the vacuum cup was sitting there long enough to make a clot.  I mean, I’ve had my share of injuries and nose bleeds… and blot should not clot that fast.  But mine did.

In fact, the vacuum cup she put on my right upper neck area (a spot really affected by my migraines) pulled out a blood clot the size of a lime!… and it felt great while it was doing it!

She explained (and I think I understood most of it) that she was removing blood from the skin and the capillaries, not from the blood stream… like when you have an IV inserted.  So the theory is that this “capillary blood” has been damaged.  Just like a cancer cell is damaged or sunburned skin cells are damaged, this blood is damaged and clots too fast.. leading to pain and migraine headaches.

The entire treatment took about two and a half hours and was really relaxing.  In fact I felt like I was going to fall asleep.  She gave me some herbs to take every night and also a bottle of “antibiotic” to put on the circles… it looks like soy sauce and smells like every Asian tea shop you’ve ever visited : )

So far I’ve only had one short bout of dizziness, and I feel fine.  She said I should come back for one more treatment, but I should wait one day.  Of course we’re leaving before I can go back… but if it seems to help, I’ll make my way back to Malaysia to see Dr. Junaidah again!

Akubekam Treatment… 21st Century Bloodletting?

Many of you know I’ve suffered from migraine headaches for most of my life… after my last birthday I can tell you it’s been thirty years since my first migraine.  I remember it well.  We were moving across country the next day and I had to pack my suitcase for the road trip… I ended up throwing in the worst mis-mash of clothes and one pair of flip-flops so that I could just lay down and hope for death.  That was in 1982.

Since then I’ve tried various medications, IV treatments, acupuncture, diets, yoga, occipital injections, even surgery to reduce the frequency and/or severity of my migraines.  Basically they have only gotten slowly worse as I’ve aged.

Now we’re in Malaysia and there is a treatment here known as akubekam that may deliver some results.  It is only offered in Malaysia from one doctor.  Damon looked at the site and called it “snake oil” and basically “using leeches.”  I quite agree with him.  The thing is though… I’ll do anything to avoid having a migraine.  ANYTHING.  

We are all going to the appointment together later today… I think Damon mostly wants to be there to check it out on his own, and protect me from the doctor.  I guess that’s what husbands are supposed to do : )

Hopefully I will have great news after my appointment.  Wish me well!

 

Malaysia Visa Run

For those of you who don’t know, Thailand is a country that doesn’t make it (extremely) easy to stay in for long periods of time.  They have different visas that you can apply for (business, retired, student, etc.), but all of them require a “visa run” at least every 90 days.  What that means is you have to stamp out of the country (before your 90 day limit is up), and then you can stamp back in to the country… sometimes even the same day.

There are several companies that offer a “visa run” trip on an air-conditioned mini-bus with all the fees included.  Since we waited too long to book a trip on Air Asia, we had to go with one of these companies that drive.  I have to admit… I wanted to try it anyway.  For $4000 Thb each we could each get a new Tourist Visa for 90 days.  It looked good on the website.

We showed the pics to Wesley of the comfy-looking chairs in the van and told him he could play games on his computer while we drove… it all sounded great.

Party Bus!

Party Bus!

The air-conditioned mini-bus “limousine” picked us up at our condo in Kamala Beach at 9:30pm on Wednesday.  It was lit up with blue lights on the inside and we had a row of seats all to ourselves… it seemed awesome!

For about 30 seconds.

The moment the car started driving Damon moaned “This is the vomit comet!” and could only look straight ahead out the window.  He NEVER gets seasick, so I figured he would get over it in a minute.  I don’t usually get car-sick and Wesley hasn’t been carsick since driving on curvy mountain roads in 2009, so I figured we would all be fine once Damon got accustomed to the van.

Well, the drive from Kamala out of the beach area and onto the main road was incredibly curvy.  Wesley was feeling carsick in a matter of minutes.  I was the only one who was unaffected.

We started out with only 6 passengers, but we kept stopping and picking up more people and Wesley started feeling more carsick.  Damon hopped out at one stop to get Wesley some water, a plastic bag and napkins… the poor kid was looking greener and greener.  I quickly told the driver to stop and let Wesley sit in the front seat with him… or else have him throw up all over the van.

We ended up with 10 passengers in the van and one driver.  There was NO space at all and instead of watching “farang” movies on the DVD player (like they advertise on their website), the driver played a Billboard playlist of “Parental Advisory Suggested” music videos.  Think Nicki Minaj and Pitbull with lots of T&A.  Yeah, it was great.

Now imagine sitting in your tiny seat for hours at a time with a 10 minute break at gas stations for the next SEVEN HOURS.

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Good information to know.

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Squat toilets make for interesting bathroom breaks!

We arrived at the Thailand/Malaysia border at 5:00am.  This is when our driver started being awesome.  He knew what line to get in, where to go, what to do, and how to get in front of all the other buses doing the same thing.  Some of them weren’t just 10 passenger mini-buses… they were double-decker 75+ passenger luxury liners… but he made sure we were never waiting behind them.  That part was the best.

After TWELVE HOURS of driving we finally arrived in Penang, Malaysia.  Since the company had an all-inclusive deal, when we arrived at the hotel there was a breakfast buffet waiting.  Right about the time we finished eating, our driver had our room key ready for us.  We gave him our passports, Tourist Visa applications, photos, and 110 Malaysian Ringgits and went to our room.  They dealt with the Thai Consulate in Malaysia for us.. we didn’t do anything else except collapse in our rooms.

Banana Boutique hotel room

Banana Boutique hotel room

Damon checking out Malaysian TV

Damon checking out Malaysian TV

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View from the door.

Too tired to game...

Too tired to game…

Unfortunately we slept until after 3:00pm that afternoon.  That was really NOT my intention.  It put all of us on such a weird sleep schedule that none of us could sleep that night.

We did manage to go out that evening though.  We had our dinner included at the hotel, (a buffet that was fine), and then we went walking around.  I really liked the city of Penang.  We’ve been in Kamala for so long that I miss that city “vibe.”

I would like to go back to Malaysia and actually see more of the cities… go to the beach… experience more of the culture.  We had to check out of our hotel room the next morning at 6:00am, so we didn’t have much of a chance to experience any of Penang.  Our passports were returned to us (Tourist Visas Included!) and we got back on the mini-bus.

Bathroom stop in Thailand

Bathroom stop in Thailand

I don’t think ANY of us were anxious to start the drive back… the good part was that two of the passengers were only one-way fares… so we each had a little bit more room on our rows.  Thankfully Wesley did NOT get sick on the way back… mostly because we started out on highways and not curvy beach roads.  All of us were able to stamp out of Malaysia and back in to Thailand without any problems.  Mission accomplished.

Ask me which company you should use for a “visa run” to Penang and I’ll tell you KBV because they did take care of us.  But ask me if I’m going to do another mini-bus “visa run” 90 days from now and I’ll tell you I’m too old… that’s for backpackers and students.

I’m flying.