I’m sorry to disappoint some people maybe, but this is it. My planned “world journey” ended five days ago when I flew back home to Berlin. And now I’m here. I’ve been busy setting things up and not too enthusiastic writing this final post, which is why it took me so long to sit down in front of the computer.
Why did I end this journey?
The answer is simple. I got victim to theft. I just had to get back home quickly. But let me start from the beginning.
After I wrote my latest blog article, I headed to Kuala Lumpur. The latest bit was a bit nasty for hitchhiking. Because I had some ringgits left, I decided to take the bus for the remaining way. Was about 2,50 RM in price. Arriving in City Center of KL, I looked around town. First, I went to the most obvious attraction of the city: The KL Tower. But I would’ve had to pay big money to get up there, around 100 RM. I wandered in the city for a little while as it was becoming night. I tried to sleep here and there. In the 7-eleven shop, I couldn’t. In front of a bank, a security man woke me up and sent me away. So I just slept on the sidewalk at the side of a road.
After like an hour, somebody again woke me up. He told me it’s dangerous here. He himself was homeless, so he brought me to his place where I could sleep more safely. At least I thought so. It was the parking spot of China Town. Behind a food stand where nobody should see you at first sight, his wife slept. Here, I kept my bag for the day while playing guitar for money and buying food in the area. In the evening the two of them left to change location.
I stayed in the parking spot overnight. When I woke up in the morning my guitar was gone. There also was a cut in the front of my bag, and many of the electronics were taken out. My hard drive, notebook charger, travel adapter and some cables. Still, I didn’t worry too much. I was prepared that my guitar could get stolen someday, and who cares about some electronics? With my only legit source of income away, things are getting a little tougher, though. I did miss my guitar. But, as I said, I was prepared.
Now I needed to decide what to do. There’s a couple of friends in Malaysia who told me to call them if anything happens. I decided to pick one of them who was living in Changlun. I sent him a message to call me, and then ask if I could stay at his place for a while. Unfortunately, he didn’t call me. I didn’t care. He’s a good guy, I thought. I’ll just hit the road and ask him on spot.
So Changlun was my goal. Just where I came from. This time I would only take some days because I’m not checking out the places in between. In order to hit the road, I couldn’t start in the middle of KL. When you hitchhike, you need to get out of town. That’s what I did. With the train, I got to a small place called Kuang. There, I asked people for the road to Changlun, or Ipoh, or any place in the direction. They insisted on not telling me because they didn’t know what I was doing. But one guy said I could stay at his friend’s place for a night or more. I gratefully accepted the offer.
Next morning, I got driven to the highway. My friend said I could walk it down until a spot where cars were driving slower. I walked and walked, but there wasn’t. Hardly any car would stop here. So I got back to my friend. He brought me to the toll instead, which is where drivers need to go through and pay a toll in order to hit the highway. My friend drove me to the spot where the road split, so I would be standing on the right side and have better chances.
I held out my thumb. Many minutes later, a lorry driver stopped. He took me to a place he thought was better for hitchhiking. I thought it wasn’t. It was just way away from the toll, in the middle of the highway, where cars were driving fast. If I wanted to get back, I would have a long way to go. At night. Well, great. That means someone had to pick me up.
After a while of holding out my thumb again, a light approached me with decreasing speed. A motorcycle. There were two people sitting on it. I explained my situation to them, but they were not too eager of the details. They said they would get me to a better place. I wondered how there would be space on the motorcycle for me with two people sitting on it already. But I trusted naively, thinking that it would work out somehow. So I went to my bag and locked it with the code lock. “Give me your back”, the driver asked me. I gave it to him. He positioned it properly in front of him while I attempted to take a seat behind the two men. Before I could even touch the motorcycle, it drove away.
I ran. As fast as somehow possible. When I realized what was going on, my mind raced. I was getting robbed, I thought. Running after them is useless, I thought. But I still tried. They were driving double as fast as I was running. They didn’t even have to try and flee, they were just too fast to outrun. “Come back!” I yelled. No use. The thought came that maybe they were just taking my bag to the place and picking me up afterwards, but that was just a hopeful wishing. They would’ve told me. No, they weren’t coming back. Yes, I’ve fell victim to theft a second time.
I waited on the side of the road for a little while. What do I do, I thought. Quickly, I decided to just walk all the way down the highway, back to the toll. It had to be several kilometers, but I didn’t care. I just had to. It was late in the night, and this was the only place I could come up with where I could sleep at. I just kept walking. At some point I would arrive. Occasionally, motorcyclists were stopping and asking whether I would need help. I knew that I needed help more than ever before, but I rejected it. At this point in time, there was no way I could trust anybody I didn’t know. I would have to make it on my own.
Luckily, at some point, there was a way down from the highway back to the small town of Kuang. I could get to the train station and sleep there. I asked a motorcyclist for the way, and he offered to take me there. I thought about it. What should happen? All I had left was my belly bag and my clothes. I was safe, so I gratefully accepted.
A small way to the station and I was there. I examined the seats. Not a cosy, fluffy bed, but the best thing I could get right now. I laid down and closed my eyes. Then, the unexpected happened. A security man. I could not sleep here, he said. I sighed. Why did this have to happen, I thought, but I accepted it. “Sorry”, I said, “I don’t have a place to stay, nor money for a hotel, and the streets are not safe.” While I was already attempting to leave, he said: “In the morning you need to go.” He had mercy and let me stay here. God bless! I laid down on another bench. Oh, it was uncomfortable, and it was cold without sheet or sleeping bag. Even without a pillow. In the end, I didn’t really sleep. I got some rest, but not too good. Well, it had to do.
In the early morning I got up. I knew what I needed to do. Get back home as fast as possible. With all the money I had left, some ringgits, I was able to buy a ticket back to the main station of Kuala Lumpur (KL Sentral). I reached KL and made my way to the German Embassy. Arriving there, I found out that it was closed. It was a Sunday, and the embassy’s opening hours are Monday – Friday after 9 o’clock am. I wondered. All the stores in Malaysia are opened on Saturday, and still many on Sunday, but not the freaking German Embassy? This was a bad joke.
I realized that I needed to get it done without the help of the embassy. Maybe it was better that way, anyway. What I needed to do was find an internet café, contact my family, ask them to book a ticket for the next flight to Berlin, and wait for my airplane. Problem being: I didn’t have money. I asked and asked, but few people could help me. Finally, at a restaurant, somebody invited me for a meal. I ate my rice and drank my watermelon juice while telling the two men my story. One of them was willing to help me. He brought me to an internet café, paid my hour there, and gave me 15 RM for tickets to the airport. I found a flight, asked my family to book it, and waited for their reply. My mother would be able get notice and book the flight before evening.
In the street, I was wondering how to earn a little more money. I would need more in order to eat dinner, and for just-in-case purposes. I invested some of what I had left in a can of soy milk, 2 RM. I drank it up and sat down the street. I was trying to figure out how to perform the Cup Song with this can. I wasn’t to good at it, and it didn’t sound good under these conditions in the first place. My clapping and hand-drumming was too soft and the can was hitting the ground way too loud and high-pitched. But without a guitar, this was the best kind of basketing I was able to do. A man came up to me and asked me what the hell I was doing. I was explaining my situation to him and said I’m trying to earn money here. “Stand up”, he said. I did. He gave me 20 RM and said: “Go back home!” It sounded a little harsh, like he wasn’t amused of my little act on the street, but I knew he meant well. I thanked.
Throwing away the trash can, some guys noticed me. One of them was bringing me to an Indian restaurant. He told me to order something I like, and paid the bill for me. I was grateful, being able to enjoy the famous local dish Roti Canai one last time. Plain bread, made up of flour, water and salt, fried in lots of oil, served along with sauce or sugar. Oh, I miss it. The staff of the restaurant even invited me for more meals until I was full. For one last time I could witness the hospitality of this country. It was really wonderful.
It was becoming evening. I went back into the internet café and found out that my family arranged everything for me. Awesome. Now I only needed to get to the airport. I went to the station, got back to KL Sentral and looked for the bus. I was a little late. The bus took an hour, arriving at 22:52. The flight should go at 00:05, midnight. But because I didn’t have luggage and almost nobody was checking in at the counter, check-in went super fast. Within 20 minutes, I arrived at the gate. The flight took even longer to start. When we were finally in the air, I watched some movies and series.
In Frankfurt, I had to wait seven hours until my next flight would go. It was moist and cold outside, and not much better inside. I was freezing, wearing only swim pants, a shirt and slippers. And I could’ve used a meal, for they didn’t have a vegan option by default in the plain. Wandering around in the complex to stay warm, the police stopped me twice. “What are you doing here?” – “Waiting for my flight.” – “Which one? Can I see your passport and boarding ticket?” – “To Berlin. Here.” – “Where are you coming from?” – “Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.” – “You’re dressed quite sportily. Why is that?” – “That was unplanned. I got all my stuff stolen, and this is what I was left with.” – “Okay, thank you. You can go.” I paraphrased a little, but it sounded about as harsh, accusing and investigative as this. I sighed. In smaller places of Malaysia, things were different. The police would first ask whether I was alright and had a full stomach, and offer help. They would really help. The German police isn’t like that at all.
I finally boarded my flight and arrived home. My family picked me up at the airport.
In my latest blog post I said that Malaysia, or abroad in general, isn’t as dangerous as people think. Regarding what happened, please ignore this advice, or take it with a big grain of salt. I still think for myself that you can safely sleep in public places, but you need to be well informed which ones to avoid. And I now know that you need to stay cautious while hitchhiking, or with strangers generally. But I don’t regret it. If things didn’t happen as they did, I wouldn’t have learned those important things. I wouldn’t have made my experiences, and would still be very naive. And I still agree to what other travellers say: If you use common sense, abroad is at least as safe as home. But it doesn’t apply for me because I don’t use common sense. I have done things my bold way, ignoring the advice from almost every local I’ve met that the street is not safe. I wanted to learn it the hard way, and I did. And I’m happy.
Okay, so now what?
For now, I just want to stay home, earn money and live calmly. Work on myself but realizing that home can be just as good a place for personal growth as abroad. And even if not, who cares, I’ve got time. However, I think I want to be abroad again. Maybe next year, maybe even this year, I will see. I will first make sure that I have an income. Even if my possessions weren’t stolen in Malaysia, I wonder what I would’ve done there for the ongoing time. Because I was out of money.
When I go out into the world again, maybe I will ride with a bicycle through Eastern Europe. Or work and save money on a farm in Australia. Or hitchhike through the American continents, all the way from Argentina to Canada. There’s many things to do. I will keep you informed if I hit the road.
I feel that the journey ended at exactly the right time. I figured out exactly what I want to do at home, and I’ve seen enough of both Thailand and Malaysia. I’ve made friends and I’ve made experience. Interestingly enough, the journey lasted for exactly two months. Exactly one month in Thailand, and exactly one month in Malaysia. I took the plain on April 1st, passed the Thai-Malay border on May 1st and took the plain on June 1st. Is this really coincidence? I only know that the universe is funny… 😀
Thank you for you company along this journey. Thank you for reading! I hope I could inspire you with my experiences. And if the journey will continue, I’m sure you will be able to read the next chapters of the story as it’s written.
All the best,