One of the best introductions to a country is the airport taxi driver, and I consider myself as being fortunate to get into a taxi at the Kuala Lumpur Airport that was driven by one of the most congenial and friendliest drivers that I have ever encountered. After purchasing a prepaid transfer for 62RM (17.50USD) at the taxi counter inside the airport, I proceeded outside the airport terminal into the taxi-loading zone. Jumping into first taxi in the line, I automatically established a good rapport with the young driver whose name was Eddie.
A transplanted Indonesian who had lived in Malaysia for the last 20 years, Eddie had a pretty good command of the English language, although he was hard to understand at time because his accent was relatively thick. Eddie and I discussed a variety of subjects including the recent US elections, Malaysian politics and government and the current global recession. Eddie explained to me the affinities between Indonesia and Malaysia in terms of language and culture, as the dominant ethnic group in both countries is people of Malay descent. Eddie also gave me the lowdown on the city taxis – it seems that most taxi drivers in Kuala Lumpur refuse to turn on their meters and try to gouge their passengers by charging exorbitant fares.
After dropping me off at the Ancasa Hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur – the journey took roughly an hour - I asked Eddie if it would be all right to leave him a tip of 8.00RM (approximately 2.30USD) for providing such excellent service. He laughed, and said Ok, Sir. Before leaving, I told Eddie that I would call him for a return trip to the airport on December 5. Nice guy, very insightful and fun to talk with.
Eddie the taxi driver and Kamarozaman, the gentleman who manned the Currency Exchange counter (of whom I discussed in an earlier post) are true Goodwill Ambassadors of Malaysia, and are to be commended for making the tourists first impression of Malaysia a positive one.