Bangkok to Bali - A Return to Kuala Lumpur

I was excited about heading back to Kuala Lumpur, there were so many good memories there, and it was great that my new friends would get to see this great city - with me as their guide.  That's right Nin kindly agreed to my suggestion of taking a few days off and leave the tour guidingness to me.  I thought it should be fairly easy as I had been there for three weeks and knew the place like the back of my hand.  What I didn't expect to happen though on my shift was getting our group lost, people going missing (not just Eric this time) and having to speak to the Foreign Office in London.  

So, after a long gap since my last update, here is the story of KL part two!

Before we set off Nin and I joked that she should take the next few days off and I'll be the tour guide in KL.  Trying on one of her Gap Adventures t-shirts we realised perhaps I'll just wear my own clothes but she, and surprisingly the group, were all up for it.

breathe in !
We stayed quite close to where I stayed before near Majid Jamek station in the heart of the city.  I had a plan of action for the next couple of days which involved a visit to China town, drinks at the reggae bar, some traditional Malay breakfast and a trip to the fantastic indoor roller coaster at the mall.

View from the hotel 

A few of the group headed off to museums and to experience some of the culture of the city and the rest of us headed off to the roller coaster and shopping!  The weather was lovely so we headed off on a walk to the mall, me confident in where we were going.

We arrived at a mall and I proudly guided my group in.  Walking through the shops things began to look a little unfamiliar.  'Hang on guys', I said.  Looking round I realised we were in the wrong mall and I was lost.  I had been to the roller coaster mall so many times and for some reason completely forgotten where it was.  I decided not to let the group know this, and basically told them that this a good mall for your  much cheaper bargains - I don't think they realised.  I quickly approached one of the security guards and asked him where the correct mall was and he pointed the way.
We arrived at Times Square mall and one of the things Nin taught me was that as a guide, you can try and get group discounts.  So as the gang spent sometime shopping, I headed to the archery range, bowling alley and the theme park to do some deals.

Some of them worked, some not so.  For the theme park I had to speak directly with the marketing manager and convince them that I would be bringing further groups back.  They offered a 20% cut off the price which wasn’t so bad.  Though in the end some of the gang decided it wasn’t for them and so I didn’t have the numbers that would warrant the deal.

The guys that did go loved the rollercoaster, and some of the more stomach churning rides which I wasn’t too keen on (I got flashbacks to the rides at Leeds Festival; “please buy your tokens from the cashbox for the next ride” – they really made me feel ill).

So after a couple of goes around the rollercoaster we headed back to the hotel to get prepared for what turned out to be a heavy night.

After meeting in the lobby of the hotel for a few warm up drinks we all ventured out to the famous Reggae bar, a place I frequented a few times on my last visit.  It was great to party the night away after a long day getting lost, ahem, I mean shopping and really good to meet up with some other travellers and knock out a few games of pool – I lost quite a few times, despite playing several games of pool a day during my six week stint in the Philippines (though the table was wonky there so perhaps that’s what I needed in KL).

A nice cup of tea...

...well vodka and coke, but still classy in a cup and saucer!

Waiting for the rest of the gang before we head out (left to right, Naomi, Jenny, Gabby and me)

Our gang looking so civilised! 

Me and Nicole

Jenny and Gabby
A very dangerous cocktail with Sven looking super cool

The next morning a few of the group headed out to some of the other touristy destinations I recommended (with a little help from Nin).  Though my peaceful day was interrupted with a knock on my room door from one of the girls in the group.  I immediately thought what has Eric done?  You see, he didn’t come home that night.  But no.  I wasn’t being awoken from my slumber to hear the words, “Where’s Eric?”, in fact it was…

“Where’s Emma?”.

Emma was a great girl from the UK.  Really kind, sweet and funny too.  She was out with us all the night before and stayed with a few others when I left.  However those girls didn’t remember her going home with them – in fact they barely remembered anything.

Our last known photo of Emma (on the left, with Nicole on the right)

One of the girls was concerned that they recalled seeing a dodgy group of guys from another country try it on with them but told them to get lost, however Emma, a kind person that she was, began talking to them.

They tried calling her phone at first, to which they didn’t get an answer.  They also tried texting her too and at first no reply.

It wasn’t until an hour or so later that they received a text reply back.  The text message didn’t make sense, wasn’t written in clear English or ‘text speak’ and started to arouse our suspicions that she could be in trouble.

I started calling her from my phone using both my local and UK SIM card, the other girls did the same.  We then got a reply from her again with ‘I fine’ (or along those lines), this then made the girls even more concerned and me too.  I thought before we get the police involved we need to go back to the bar and see if we can get any video footage.

Arriving at the bar we had a look round, seeing if anything would jog our memory and it didn’t.  We asked the bar for assistance and initially they weren’t helpful until I spoke to the owner over the phone.  He was happy to help once I threatened bringing the police in.  He suggested that if she doesn’t arrive in the evening then he’ll go through the video footage with me.

When we got back to the hotel I decided that we needed to take advice from the British Consulate, so I contacted the embassy and began the process of reporting her missing.  To be honest, as a group, we all agreed that if it was another one of us we wouldn’t be so worried – it was just that it wasn’t in Emma’s character at all, and coupled with the very dubious text messages and her speaking to some suspicious looking non-Malay guys it was a sensible approach to take.

The embassy was extremely helpful and supportive.  They advised what the procedure for missing persons was in Malaysia and what our next steps should be.  I previously told the group that we had planned to meet up in the hotel lobby at 7PM to go for dinner and I felt that this time was a good cut off point for us to go to the police.  The embassy agreed and asked me to contact the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London at 7PM my time with an update.

It was 7PM, and we were waiting in the seated area of the hotel.  Nothing.  I went to get my phone out of my pocket to give the FCO a call.  And the doors of the hotel began to open.  Walking through them was Emma.  Still wearing the clothes from the night before.

The girls ran over and gave her a huge hug for relief.  Emma looked confused as hell.  We sat her down and asked her to recount the story of last night.

She explained that after we all left she followed but lost us and couldn’t find her way back to the hotel (it was literally five minutes from where we partied).  She kept walking in the streets and began to give up, so found another hotel and stayed there until the morning.  However she slept all the way through to the afternoon and began her long quest to find where we were actually staying.  Her replies to us were half asleep replies whilst she was still drunk and her battery went flat so couldn’t call us to ask us for the hotel name.

She felt so guilty for what we went through but we didn’t care.  For two reasons.  The first and most important was that she was safe and well – though suffering a very sore head.  And the second, it was now no longer just “Where’s Eric?” it was now also “Where’s Emma?”.

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