Tonight, I saw a different side of KL.
It all started off nonchalantly. DH and I fetched from the airport a friend from Auckland, then dropped her off at her hotel in Bukit Bintang. Bukit Bintang is the equivalent of Makati in the Philippines, I would think. Or Singapore’s Orchard Road. Lots of hotels, shopping centres, restaurants and nightspots.
It was already past midnight when we left her hotel, so in attempt to save some time, we took a shortcut through a back alley. As DH turned the car slowly into the narrow corner, I saw a figure move in the darkness. It was approaching us! As DH decelerated almost completely to a stop, the figure in the darkness struck what would have been a seductive pose — a flirtatious curving of the body, eyes half-closed, lips slightly parted — except that ‘she’ was very much a ‘he’, albeit dressed as a woman complete with long hair! Horrified, I told DH to just leave the place. But the road was uphill and narrow (or perhaps DH was having too much fun looking at my expression) that the car could only move forward ever so slightly, leaving that figure in the darkness where it belonged… only to find yet another figure approaching us! I groaned and told DH to hurry up, as it was another mak nyah (a male-to-female transsexual) on the prowl.
As soon as we got back into Jalan Sultan Ismail, my relief quickly turned to annoyance when we found ourselves stuck in a massive crawl. A traffic jam at 1 o’clock in the morning! Oh, for crying out loud! To pass the time, we amused ourselves by looking at pedestrians — two scantily-clad young blondes taking random pics by the roadside, three men with Middle Eastern features craning their necks as they stared after the two blondes, a brunette sporting a pixie haircut sitting at the far end of a bus stop whose ample chest was a complete contrast to a bone structure that screamed ‘MALE!’ — broad shoulders, a square jaw, huge cheekbones.
The bumper-to-bumper traffic continued into Jalan P. Ramlee, where people milled in and around nightspots with flashing lights and thumping music. Taxis were lined up in both sides of the road, their drivers idly watching the stream of humanity pass by. Four portly middle-aged mat saleh (white men) walked out of a club, each with a nubile Asian woman’s arm draped around his ample waist. A few good-looking young men stood, looking bored, in front of a new nightspot. I saw two ladies — one Indian, one Chinese — taking turns kissing a young Indian guy in greeting. A mat saleh in his 20’s walked by hand-in-hand with an Asian woman clad in a tight white top and a short skirt that’s cut so low, you could see the beginning of a thong. A modified van was parked strategically in a busy corner, selling Chinese steamboat. A woman sat cross-legged on the sidewalk, her sleeping child on her lap, her hand holding out a dingy plastic cup. What I couldn’t understand was why there were so many men, young and old, just hanging around.
Traffic moved much more smoothly as we entered Jalan Ampang. DH laughed as he pointed out to me a Malay couple dressed in matching white outfits — baju melayu, songkok and kain samping for him, long white dress with a white veil and tiara for her — posing for a Chinese photographer and his assistant. I hushed him, remarking how they must have paid thousands for that photo shoot. Of course, what better time to take wedding photos than at night, with the marvelous lights of KL streets and the world-famous Twin Towers in the background!
By then, my tummy had started grumbling so I asked DH if we could make a detour into Kampung Baru to grab a bite. When we got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes — the traffic’s just as bad at 1.30 am as it is at 1.30 pm! Cars were double-parked all over and people were still walking around, making it a challenge to get the car through. Worse still, the queue at Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa snaked through the tables, all the way into the roadside. DH and I looked at each other and agreed to just call it a night and raid the fridge at home.
What a night!