It has been a couple of hours now, waiting at the Malaysian airlines club, having thought that you live every day with many different cultures and you engage with a lot of people from any corner of the world -but yet- I couldn’t experience something that have impressed me, when i met asian friends in London, or that very much awaited “wow! taste” that I was expecting from my trip to the South eastern part of my favourite continent, Asia. Something I still haven’t tried that is not on the London market, that particular dish or maybe a perfume that you just feel in the place where that product belongs! this is probably the reason of a 13 hours flight I was going to face.
My trip to the tropical continent dates back to October 6th.
When I departed from London, a very kind lady asked me at the Boarding desk “what are you going to do in Asia for twenty-two days?” and “what are you expecting to discover travelling for the first time in this fascinating continent? “ I mean, seriously…? It was so obvious for me, but I told her that I wanted something that could have changed my life, the unforgettable journey.
That was an unexpected question! And of course, I knew very well what I was going to do there, and what I wanted to see!! But trust me, it was something related just to sea, beaches, green hills & plantations of teas, nonetheless truly asian architecture, such as buddhist temples, pagodas and Chinese ideograms on the walls.
For me was the very first travel by myself, with a massive luggage and extra bags, I probably was too much equipped, especially considering that I only used my flippers and my swimwear, and maybe a couple of t-shirts… but yeah!! That was the kind of bag that my mum would have prepared for me, knowing that I was crossing the world with such a long flight.
Luckily, ‘soon as I popped out Kuala Lumpur airport, I discovered and breathed a very warm air of sun, hot wind and smiley young men ready to help me out with the heavy suitcase, pushing me to get on each of their taxis, shouting the very cheapest values that made me rethinking how convenient sometimes is to get a cab! I had to pay attention, funny was that they wanted me so much that my bags were going in two separate cars, not on purpose…of course!! but all of them wanted to be very nice to the European tourist!! as I said they try to get as much as they can from tourists, but always being fair and respecting our pockets.
“respect” and welcoming are the two feelings that I still have in mind when I remember those moment. The taxi driver that brought me away from the airport to KL City Centre was Called Abu! and I believe I know very much about his life after that 40 minutes of conversation, he tells about his son studying in Britain, his daughter that loves pizza and her wife’s name Diana!! well…. and he know that at the time I was a bartender and he didn’t lost the chance to address me to some interesting places to see and traditional food and drinks to try .
the most incredible experience was eating at a “noisy” street market between KLCC and Penang, in a borough that seems like a newly renovated posh area, where people with a good lifestyle and a good wage live, just minutes far away the city centre, in tall modern building with swimming pools and security managed car parks.
I wanted something more… so I started to walk away my first accommodation, and I easily discovered how things can chance just half a mile away, when I had banana leaf wrapped sea bass or cod, cooked “a la minute” in a very spiced sauce that still burns my sweaty mouth! dishes varied by super spicy beef and duck, surrounded by a huge selection of chillies, I only have managed to cool it down with a fresh coconut, ripped out by a knifeman, that told me, put your straw in there and you will feel summer!I did feel it like summer, and I loved it so much that I dreamed to drink that every morning, as a breakfast pick me up cocktail. That area had nothing to do with the elegant buildings where I’ve spent my first night, they were poor, dirty, children were left alone playing barefooted in the streets, with sign of poverty marking their faces… I noticed that people are suffering the modern capitalism and lifestyle is not the same for everyone.
What I can remember is that Life in Malaysia is hard, but can be easy if you get yourself a chance to be in the privileged industry of the petrol or in the technology business… I enjoyed my staying, a lot, by visiting the modern and technologic KLCC, the building of the centre are modern cool, the pretty lighted fountains and the multi coloured waterworks of the evening, played an enchanting amazing show that you only admire if you walk between the square of the Petronas towers and the city garden. I saw flickering red and blue artificial little lakes , all along with classical music & violins played loud.
I raised my head and spotted the names of hotels and luxury resorts brands, the famous Barclays, HSBC banks, multiple mobile companies and all those super rich business that have brought modern capitalism down here at the centre .
I am a lover of skyscrapers and I couldn’t spent another moment without visiting a bar located on top of Petronas Tower 3, The well known “Marini’s on 51”.. I had to see it! and I couldn’t miss my chance to watch the city lights from the tallest building.
I must tell, I have never been so impressed by a modern disco-club cocktail bar, before this…
The elegant clientele of this Italian owned place, on top of the Malaysian capital is located not just above the sky, above the non stopping sound of men working building the buildings, it also stands well over every expectations!
When the doorman spots me quite shy at the entrance, hears my British speaking twisted to an Italian accent, and asks me where was I from, he gets even more joyous and happy to see me!!! London!! he shouts! “our cocktail mixologist will be happy to meet you!! and he led me to the bar counter where i met one of the most smiley person of all the times…
Mr Ronald Raymond, the head cocktail man, pours some water , greets me and asks me, if he could have had the pleasure to serve me, and he did exclaimed that he had dreamed for a Long time to work or visit London, and our famous cocktail bars.
He knows the bar where I was working at the time, and he showed an elegant respect, true asian. he wanted me to try his cocktail list, he wants me to try one or two of his creations, and i am happy to let him do the theatre,
he asks me a lot of questions and he works with a super elegant technique, meanwhile he still chats with me and few other guests, being a true showman.
With great confidence he pours Campari, exotic fruits, bitters… he is magic, he shakes, he double strains, he is fast as the loud music, his work ability is as good as we see on the other side of the world… this guy is great!! He leads me to the table, he shakes my hand and he says: enjoy your drink and your view!! i can’t really remember which was best, the cocktail was refreshing and mildly spicy, the view outside was similar to what you imagine you could see from paradise, standing on a cloud and flying with imagination to whatever place you dream to be.
Ronald shakes liquids and ice cubes and talks to his colleagues, he leads his team as a master, moving hands like violins and garnishing his cocktails as pieces of art.
Guests are enjoying their Friday night. Elegant European business man are flirting with pretty skinny sexy asian girls, the night is young and my first experience here is pretty cool.
Late night is getting darker, last orders are fast approaching and my host tells me that would be delighted for me to visit again that place and try more of his creations. I wish I could spend some time with him outside the building as well and getting to know him more from the inside, without the bar counter dividing us. He suggests some places to visit, some more speakeasy bars, and he tells me about “Omakase+Appreciate” which is a very small, minimalist cocktail gem hidden down the staircase of a building, just outside the city centre.
He promises me to arrange some time off to take me around the streets market, where we could see more typical drinks, traditional food, more particular ingredients from the exotic lands out there.
We will meet again after a couple of weeks, I will travel tomorrow to Thailand visiting the southern beach, but for sure I will come back, to see the master of the cocktails above the clouds and to feel again his true example of friendly hospitality that only the community of bartenders know, with no boundaries. Without my or your culture, with no religion or colour of the skin.