Our "Free-Day" in Kuala Lumpur!
We've just completed the Phillip Island tests in sunny Australia, and the team is headed back to Europe on a 30+ hour journey that will take us through my favorite airport, Heathrow in Londres, before we separate and go back to the cities we live in. Some will head to the North of Spain, Basque Country, while others are going to the island of Mallorca, Galicia, Madrid, Milano, Bologna, and best of all, Barcelona! I can't wait to get back to the new pad and unwind for a few hours with nothing to do but sleep! Presently, I'm sitting in the "Jungle Room's smoking lounge" at the Kuala Lumpur airport on a short stop-over from Melbourne. Actually, the travel started mid-afternoon on Phillip Island when we departed in a three car caravan to drive to Melbourne. Because our rental cars needed to be back at Avis before 8:30 that night, we made that our priority to save the team an additional three day rental charge. Alex Hofmann, "The Hoff", was flying out earlier than the rest of the team, around 8PM, so we got to the airport with plenty of time for him to check in. He's bouncing through Dubai and then on to Switzerland. Meanwhile, the team spent the evening surveying what little the Melbourne airport had to offer in terms of entertainment, which meant people watching until our flight departed at 12:45 AM. Six hours in the airport? No problem - we're professionals, haha.
How professional? How about this snap I grabbed of my roomate for the season, David Lopez, past midnight at Sepang. We're behind our boys 100% and I hope it will show later in the results.
Which brings me to KLIA, and their fantastic free Wi-Fi. I spent an hour sorting through some work emails and trying to get my head back in the MotoGP game for a bit, and then after everything had been checked, I decided to throw out some pictures I took last week on our free day after the Sepang test. Overall, both tests were great as far as rider performance and the overall package we've assembled for 2007, but almost equally as important (in my mind) was the time the team spent away from the racetrack. I'm really happy with everyone and I like the fact that we can go out together and do things. We're "gel-ling", and it's only going to make us more unified when things get rough later this season.
So what's Malaysia like? For me, I'll always remember the insects from this trip. The mosquitos were vicious! I got this bastard!!
It was a real fight to keep the blood in your body. The temperatures were high, the humidity was typically at 100%, and everything was to be expected in such a tropical place that's right on the Equator. What really got me was that some bites or stings seemed to provoke an allergic reaction from me, and big red splotches were the result. There was also some swelling. . . . .
Sometimes I'd get back to the hotel pretty late, and we were forced to order room service because we missed the restaurant hours. I'd try and sit outside to catch a breeze, and there's nothing more distinctly Malay than a plate of hot Satay and a cold Tiger.
The morning after the tests, we slept in, had a late lunch, then caught some taxi's in to Kuala proper to get some shopping done. First stop? The electronics mall in downtown.
I'm happy to say that most places in Malaysia are "English-friendly", and a lot of people are bi-lingual, the result of being a British Colony. I spent much of my time translating with my team and negociating the "best-price, best-price". Barros is a game-junkie, haha, stocking up on games for both the PSP and the PS3. I picked up a jump stick for work, and a mem stick for the PSP, and for the life of me, I couldn't get ahold of a coconut so I had to make do with chugging Soy bean milks.
We left the mall to head to Chinatown, where you can buy all manner of imitation clothing and more. There's a great metro system in place and it's easy to navigate.
"Don't you wish everyone used Dial?" The trains were full, and the crush of people made it a real challenge to get a hold on anything. Most of us taller types went straight for the ceiling, as Sergio (Popeye), one of the shorter types looks on enviously.
One of the creepier photos I've ever been in. The guy on my right was cool, the guy on my left?!? Not so sure. . . . You can see how tired I am in this shot, because working at Sepang really put me through the wringer. I felt stressed and under pressure the whole time - not only to keep from screwing up, but also because this was something of a "trial by fire". I knew there was only so much I could do in the off-season, and getting it started in Sepang was the real-deal where I'd learn how far off the mark I was and what I was going to have to do to make sure I was getting it done. Just as I expected, I was going to have to polish up the ole multi-tasking abilities, because I'm working on a whole other level out here. This is MotoGP, baby!
After Chinatown, we went back into downtown to one of the best Italian restaurants in the city, Modesto's. There are tons of famous people's photos on the wall, mostly GP riders and F1 drivers with the owner. This photo is a little blurry because there were huge "misters" in place spewing water into the air. Actually, this foreshadowed some huge camera issues I'm having now, namely that my Sony DSC T9 isn't working anymore. The motor for the internal lens is broken and it constantly shakes and vibrates, so taking photos is a near impossibility, and a gamble at best. I think only one out of every six photos came out this trip. I guess six months is too much to ask from a small camera these days - at least for MotoLiam usage!
The interior is sharp, fishtanks and all. Here you can see Fotti Zio flashing us the "V, for Victory" sign.
I also learned that pie "ala mode" comes from this area in Italy, ala modesto, capiche? How sweet is it to get some good apple pie in Malaysia? It's Sweet!
The next morning we headed out to Australia, for what would be a fantastic series of tests and also a chance for me to meet with more race-fans from around the world. More pictures and updates to come after I'm back in BCN, but for now, it's ADIOS MALAYSIA!