Friday, July 11, 2014

Bus Trip

After four lovely days with Baby Boy, I jumped on a bus and rode away to spend my second weekend in Malaysia with my friend, Yuli, in the beautiful city of Penang. Here are a few fun facts about that journey.

1. I have never traveled by bus from one city to another. Yes, I grew up riding the school bus, and commuted to work by bus in Chicago, but I have no experience whatsoever in the mysterious world of long-distance bus travel.

2. I made the trip alone.

3. Though English is commonly spoken throughout Malaysia, my native tongue is apparently a rarity in the world of bus travel. All of the announcements, signs and printed materials were in Malay only. 

3a. I can speak a smidge of Malay, but in these circumstances, I was way out of my league.

4. I had never been to Penang before. In fact, once we drove beyond the familiar circle of the greater Kuala Lumpur metro area, I was completely out of my comfort zone and wandering though an unfamiliar landscape.

5. Our bus left the station at 8:30 pm, and as soon as we were underway, all of my fellow passengers closed the elaborate satin curtains at the bus windows and promptly fell asleep. The old Indian woman in the jeweled sari sitting across the aisle from me received a number of phone calls on her circa 2005 clam shell cell phone, which had the spunkiest little ring tone ever. 

6. Thankfully, my seat partner was a friendly Malay woman who generously took care of me. She chitchatted with me about my trip, offered me chewing gum, accompanied me to the washroom at the rest stop, and offered to alert me when we arrived at my stop. I am eternally grateful to her.

7. At exactly 3:10 a.m., I stepped off my bus to a deserted station. After texting Yuli, who promised to pick me up in twenty minutes, I huddled beside an unmanned guard station to wait. During that time, I fended off a few determined taxi (in Malaysia, it's teksi) drivers. stared at two cigarette butts in the gutter and contemplated my life.

This was a trip that I will never forget.

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