milk tea, shoes, and love

If you follow Noel’s blog, you’ve probably read of her brush with love in Malaysia – it’s full of sappy, batting-eye details.  This is my version.  It’s a simple story of cheap shoes, free milk tea in bags, and love at first sight.

Packing for a trip that will span 3 continents, 3 seasons, 11 countries in 5 months is difficult to say the least.  Made especially difficult when the things you pack you’re doom to carry.  So I decided to pack only running shoes (for walking, hiking, and of course running), and a nice pair of crocs (for the beach, shower, going out, etc.).  Well it was very soon into our trip, the first day in fact, that I was very sorry I hadn’t brought flip flops… (who wants sand in a closed-toe shoe?!?).  So to the Chinese night market on Pedaling Street we went!

We were lured into stall after stall with promises of, “we make cheap for you” and “pretty lady, cheap price” only to be disappointed with the unreasonable price 20 ringgit. There was no way I would pay 20 ringgit for a pair of shoes!…. next stall.  The fact that 20 ringgit was only about $6.60 was escaping me at the time. Living in Malaysia for one whole day had taught me that shoes should only cost 4 dollars at the most.  So we continued along stall after stall until we’d come almost to the end.  Everyone was closing down for the night so we were being ignored for the most part, except by one who begged us to come in and look through his shoes.

It was then that this man’s eye fell on Noel and strings were tugged in his heart.  I assume it was the inferior vena cava pulling at the right ventricle. But that’s just a guess.  As I perused, Noel flirted her way into his heart, in the end receiving, not one, but two kisses on the cheek, exchanging emails, and sharing many a lascivious look (mostly on his part, of course). But to the dismay of the lovers, I didn’t find a pair of shoes suitable, and it was time for us to make our way back to our hostel.

That could be the end of the story… but love, or fate, or my determination to find cheap shoes decided it wasn’t.  We ended up on Pedaling Street again the next evening to continue my search, this time I’d woefully resigned to paying the full 20 ringgit if it meant I’d leave the market with a pair of ‘thongs’ for future beaches. I’m sure you know the direction this story is headed and you’ll roll your eyes at the predictability when I tell you that we ended up in the same man’s stall again.  You can just imagine the delight on his face at the sight of Noel again: a woman he thought he’d never see again, showing up, standing in front of the fan with windblown modelesque hair…. his dream come true!!!  The first words out of his mouth: “I can make 10 ringgit shoes for you. If you don’t like, no problem.”  MY dream come true!!!

As in many markets, the merchandise is not kept at the stalls, but instead they have to call or walkie-talkie a store house nearby to have them brought over.  A perfect opportunity for Alex-as he was finally introduced to us as – to pull up some stools for us and continue his attempts to woo Noel.  His first effort to this effect was offering us a drink. Noel was wooed, but not insensible to the danger a drink from a stranger could mean… I mean, where do you think the term, “stranger danger” came from??  Legend has it that it  originated in the year 1694 when two travelers accepted a dangerous drink from a stranger and were never heard from again… of course the legend leaves out the part where one of them (who we’ll refer to as Mary) ran off with the stranger to have babies with perfect teeth, while the other (who we’ll call Meg) became mute and was therefore never heard from by bad luck.  But I digress…

Danger aside, we agreed to have a milk tea.  (If you end up in Malaysia, you MUST have milk tea! It’s tops!) We figured this was the best option as it was hot and wouldn’t have the added danger of giving us diarrhea.  So after 20 minutes of awkward conversation and shoe sales, our milk tea arrived in bags. Bag(s)! I suppose this would be a good example of scary delicious because oh my was it delicious!


Alas we couldn’t remain in the company of Noel’s new lover for long, we had a flight to catch.  But even after explaining all that to Alex, he still begged fervently for her to dine with him.  Sadly for Alex, it was not to be and we went on our way. Noel with more kisses on her cheeks, me with new shoes for $3.30!, and both of us with a bag of milk tea in hand.

I’d call that a successful trip to the market.



(come back later, and I’ll hopefully have put up a photo…)


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