The hard part's over, right? We figured out the public bus. Win. We managed to figure out the mad shuffle that happens at immigration. Double win. But now we're sitting on the same bus from Singapore, driving down a dark road in southern Malaysia with very little idea as to where we are headed. I ask the guy I'm sitting next to if we are headed to another bus station. Instead of answering, he asks me if I am Ethiopian (a question I get a lot) and exactly how sure I am about it. Being black in Asia, locals and travelers alike assume I'm either French or Ethiopian. For most, a traveling African American just isn't on the ballot. After talking with this guy for a while, without him ever answering my question, we pull up to another bus station. This spot had a very "Philadelphia after dark" kind of vibe, dark and a bit sketchy. Again, our whole situation gets tossed up in the air. Before we can step off the bus, young guys are banging on the windows, waving tickets around trying to get our attention. I tell the first kid that runs up on us that we need to get to Kuala Lumpur. He brings us to an older guy that quotes us an outlandish ticket price. We've been in Asia for almost 3 months at this point, we're not new spring rolls out to get our pockets plucked. I immediately cut his price in half and hand him the cash. Now I know at some point during all of this, Eliana had to go pee, but by the time I had looked up, she was gone. I held the bus there, one foot on and one foot off, giving the kid rushing me my gangster rap face until Eliana got back. Smooth... now just a five to six hour ride to Kuala Lumpur, piece of cake... right!?
It's around 3am when we get to the station in Kuala Lumpur and the place is like a campsite. Bodies just strewn across the floor, seeking some rest until the sun came up. The original plan was to get picked up by our Malaysian mom, Rozita, but somehow we ended up at a different bus station than we expected, go figure. Before dawn, wrong station, no one conscious around us, and only armed with the address we need to end up at. Literally sitting ducks for any taxi driver that may pull up. We flag down a cab speeding through the parking lot and show him where we want to go. Anyone that's ever caught a long cab ride in New York would know the look that this guy gave me... it read "$$", cash. Being blessed with Google Maps, I can see where we are versus where we need to go and instead of cutting through the city to get there, this guy takes us on an unwarranted loop tour around the entire city, meter slowly getting more ridiculous by the second. It costs us 90 ringgit, about 21 dollars, by the time we get to Rozita's house (and a comfortable bed to pass out in), twice as much as we would've paid if we weren't starry eyed tourists with little to no options.
Making your way around foreign countries on your own can be just as taxing as it is rewarding. Getting lost, finding your way, and getting lost again is probably one of the greatest things about the travel experience because you're forced to very literally find your way in the world. That being said, if you find yourself making the hop from Singapore to Malaysia, save yourself the "fun times" and buy a tour bus ticket.