Serendipitous Side Trip
 

A couple of days before we arrived in Thailand, we discovered that we’d be overstaying our visa by three days. Whoops. Always read the visa fine print, kids.

So we bought the cheapest available tickets out of Chiang Mai, which happened to be to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Of course, this was right after Kim Jong-un’s half-brother was assassinated in that very airport, but hey, cheap is cheap.

We had both contracted a nasty cold in our last days in Thailand, so we spent the interminable immigration line trying to look as healthy as possible while the overhead TVs displayed dubiously fun facts like “Question: Do you know what a half white and half black person is? Answer: A mulatto!”

The airport was full of fabulous Middle Eastern women in Chanel hijabs and huge tour groups with matching luggage. We nabbed a bench from a departing group and settled in to wait for an Uber into town.

It was a hot, sticky night, and the sky repeatedly shattered with heat lightning as we drove through the Malaysian countryside. Eventually we reached Kuala Lumpur and wove our way slowly through the brilliant skyscrapers to our hotel. “You’re so close to them!” our driver said in awe, looking up at the Twin Towers that glimmered enchantingly in the middle distance.

We left our bags in the room and struck out in search of dinner. Our first choice, which promised authentic Malaysian food, had closed up for the night, so we settled for the one next door, a cosmopolitan tapas-style place, where we sat outside among vines, sipping rapidly warming beer and eating approximations of nachos and calamari.