Last spotted in San Francisco, USA on March 28, 2003, 1:23 pm
Who is he? Where is he going? Where has he been? David Barrett / Quinthar
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Alas, though I finally worked up the willpower and blocked out some time to post some picture (I've got over 100 good ones lined up), the Internet has foiled my plans. It's not that access is hard to get or even expensive, but just that it isn't terribly reliable.

Speaking of not terribly reliable, I just had the misforutne of learning that my bank account balance has mysteriously gone into the red. Though I had plenty of cash when last I checked, and my burn rate has come down dramatically while here in South East Asia, for some reason my account is overdrawn. Definitely not the way to start your day. That, and it's been surprisingly difficult getting an international phone line to contact my bank to figure out what's going on:

First I find a place that charges about $1.5USD *per minute*, even if the call is collect. The payphones I find are blocked. I go to this ultraluxury hotel and ask for an international line, and they say they don't have one -- I need to go to a different lush hotel down the street that "I can't miss". Of course, as is often the case, I never find it, and am still left without a phone.

Sigh, I hope I'm not screwed. Anyway, if anyone has any documents they'd like written, I'm a skilled and eager telecommuting technical writer...

In the meantime, Kuala Lumpur is as good a place to be stuck without money as any. It's fun, it's cheap, and boy the nightlife is great. Cafes and clubs stay open late, and there are tons of restaurants open all night long. Even better, the place is still... active at all hours. I've spent enough nights in Denny's with the truck drivers and nocturnal freaks to know the difference, and the difference is quite good.

After miraculously making my flight out of New Zealand (I made it to the airport just fine, but fell asleep while waiting for a flight and awoke as it was boarding), I spent fourteen hours in the air and arrived in the hazy city/island of of Singapore. I really, really liked Singapore, despite the presence of more shopping malls than can be comprehended.

For instance, there's this huge one, right next to another incredibly huge one (with the largest fountain in the world), near a third large mall, with a fourth underground mall to connect them. All four are top notch and have everything anybody could ever want in spades. But together they make up a monolithic structure that defies my spatial capabilities. You wander along these huge indoor spaces, up and down escalators, through long twisting passageways, but you rarely catch more than a glimpse of outside. When you do, you notice that sometimes you're above ground, sometimes you're beneath, but it's hard to keep track of directions and distances. It's all beautiful and very convenient, and there are plenty of cafes to keep me occupied, but it's a little unnerving nonetheless. I imagine that once we have big space stations on inhospitable worlds, it'll feel a lot like a Singaporean shopping mall.

Not that Singapore is inhospitable. It's hot, granted, and pretty humid (though didn't rain nearly as much as I expected). But the island is larger than I anticipated and not at all claustrophobic. It is rather strange that for being in on island, you almost never see the coast. Everything is in the middle (though that's partially due to "the middle" having once been "the coast" due to aggressive land reclamation). Plus, a continual haze surrounds the island that obscures the sun just enough to destroy any sense of direction and time. But for an island nation, they have a ton of open space. Even in the central areas I could find large abandonded or undeveloped areas, overflowing with lush greenery.

Anyway, I spent two weeks wandering the cafes and alleyways at all hours, and up until the day I left I was still finding new places to enjoy. But, leaving was inevitable, and eventually I hopped a bus over the boarder and up to Melacca (a nice but not terribly engaging colonial town) and now Kuala Lumpur. How long I'll stay here I don't know, but I suspect it might be a while. At least... heh... until I figure out what happened to my money. I hope all is well in your sector of th world, and assuming I can get my finances in order, I'm still on track for a March 2003 return. Sorry for the lack of pictures, and I'll talk to you soon!

-david :)

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