It came time to renew my visa for Thailand one last time. I decided to head to Kuala Lumpur in Malasyia. I heard the food was amazing and I was wanting to see the Batu caves. KL is truly a mash of the future. It has 5 languages that are spoken, modern sky trains and crumbling relics. The old religions of Islam and Hinduism ares still visible in the dress, the dialect and most certainly the food. Oh, the food!!! After 5 months of Thai food, the prospect of eating in Malasyia was a breath of fresh air. I have no idea what anything I ate was called but I didn’t have one bad meal. The rich deep spices and dry fried beef, they make me salivate today, months past and thousands of miles away.
Once again, I arrived and faced the initial disorientation of a new country, new currency and new languages. I hoped in a cab that was unmarked and by the traveling mercies that have followed me around the globe, I was safely deposited at my hotel, all my limbs intact. I looked out my window onto KL at night and was eager for the day to break so I could go explore. Room service was my only option so I plopped on the bed and watched the first TV I had seen in months. I fried my brain on shitty Australian made-for-TV movies. In the morning I stretched and laid in bed listening to the ominous sounds of the call to prayer. Hauntingly beautiful.
I dressed and set out to find coffee, my one serious and true addiction. My one true love, my dark Lord, master of my morning brain. Taxis flagged me to get in them but I set off to walk instead, packing a large pashmina to hide my scars and tattoos just in case. The smell of toasting spices in the morning filled the air and the variety of faces buoyed my steps. It was good to be out of Thailand and see different shapes and colors again. Varieties of Halal markets with large groups of men drinking tea and coffee, women in Burkas, right next to teen girls in crop tops and daisy dukes. The mashing of worlds, old and new. I sat and drank my coffee and just watched for the first few hours. Then, I started walking. I walked almost the entire city in one day. Poking in and out of shops and food stalls. Tasting here and there and thinking about my upcoming move back to the US. I was looking forward to seeing E in just a few weeks, and I had just booked a ticket to Tokyo to visit my old friend Yuki and to see what Japan had to offer. My mind was twisting and turning as I roamed the hills and drank it all in.
On my second morning there I decided to head to the Batu Caves. I woke with an ominous feeling and tried to push it off. I boarded the train and made the long slow journey to hike the enormous staircase that leads into the caves, As I journeyed up, and up and up I reflected back on the last few years of my life. I was hit by a car the year of my wedding and suffered severe damage to both of my knees. It took me a long time to recover from the accident and as a result I became overweight and severely ill. I was borderline diabetic and severely depressed. The toll of losing my mother, my damaged knees and then losing my sister within the span of a few years had left me seriously broken. I had been sinking with no hopes of surfacing. It had gotten to the point in 2011 that I was so ill, I couldn’t sleep. I finally went to the doctors and he told me I had GERD, which is an early warning sign of ARVD, which my sister died of suddenly one night at 42 years of age. He put me on Prilosec so i could get some sleep and not be in chronic pain. I went home and jumped on my elliptical and threw out anything in my house that might agitate my stomach. I radically changed my life in one day. I called my dear friend Dr. Sundy, a chiropractor, and set up regular appointments. I weened myself off the Prilosec and used papaya enzymes to control my stomach acid. I portion controlled and ate fresh foods everyday and I went to boot camp like a religious nut. It solved my depression and relieved my stress. I quickly found the motivation to live my life again and not just slog through the days.
When I reached the top of the staircase I looked out over KL and all that came back to me. The struggle, the pain and the recovery. I cried as much as I could with all the tourists flocking in and out of the caves. I laughed at the monkeys as they clamored all over, harassing the women and stealing people’s food. Then I decided to take the dark cave tour. I’ve always found caves terrifyingly fascinating. Theres a botany nerd that lives in my heart. During the tour we learned about the cockroaches and centipedes and of course, the bats. I love, love, love bats! Truly, I do. Standing in a pitch black cave with 20,000 bats is freaking awesome! But somehow, it brought back that weirdly ominous feeling that I had been having all day. As I left the caves, I looked back understanding why it was a sacred place, and it left me feeling a deeper respect for religious traditions than I had previously felt.
I wasn’t keen on going back to my hotel and a single woman in a bar in KL attracts some very unwanted attention. So, I went to the movies and had dessert for dinner, like an adult. I walked through the pouring rains with my shoes off till I felt tired enough to sleep. E had been unusually quiet in his texts all day and I knew the inevitable was about to happen. I had just purchased my ticket home and had sent the exciting email for us to celebrate, with no response back. I laid in bed sleepless. Anxiety like a cloud I couldn’t see through. When the call came in that he was calling it quits, I sank like a stone. I did the stupid, and natural, thing and bought a big bottle of shitty Malaysian whiskey and proceeded to drink myself into a stupor. I talked with my dear chef friend Andy Werhle for most of the day and called my girls to comfort me. I had never felt so alone in all my life. The path I thought I was about to walk had been obliterated by a storm. The call to prayer soothed me that early morning and again in the evening. It calmed my mind as I drank to still the pain that was cutting inside me. In one part I felt that honestly, this was the best thing for me.
I have never really been alone in my life. I have gone from one relationship to the next. I fall in love easily and tend to disregard my own needs in favor of the person I am with. I am a demanding partner who requires that I am the center of the relationship. But, I give it all. Everything I have to give, I do. To a fault. To the point where I end up feeling resentful of my partner. It’s my own unhealthy shit to deal with. I have dragged this baggage into every relationship that I have had. This one hit me especially hard. Mainly because for the first time I was with someone I actually saw myself having children with and raising a family of my own. This is something that when I shared with my ladies they were floored. But the last few years have shown me so much about myself that in some ways maybe it’s not all that shocking.
It was time to return to BKK and finish off my time there. I packed my bags, now bursting from over-shopping while drunk and sad, and jumped in a taxi. The taxi driver took me to the wrong airport and when I protested and asked to be taken to the right one he shoved me out of the cab with my luggage and left me there. I raced to get another taxi and he was a total life saver. I told him my story, and he drove like our asses were on fire to help me make my flight. I barely made the plane but before I knew it I was back at work at Quince, serving pastries and trying to keep from sobbing into the food I had worked so hard to prepare. Waew was my sole comfort. She hugged me and raged with me and shook her fist in frustration like any good girlfriend would. You know you have a good friend when they feel your pain and let you just explode all over the place and don’t judge you for the crazy shit you say or do cause they know you are temporarily insane. We went out the next night and drank absinthe and listened to music and sang along with the 90’s cover songs and it was perfect. I wasn’t healed, still working on that, but it was a bandage on a gushing wound.
I love you Waew, your an incredible woman and friend.