Kuala Lumpur was completely the opposite. The trees were replaced with skyscrapers. Clear waters replaced with thousands of people and the dry sun replaced with clouds and humidity.
We made the journey to the city in a taxi and the entertaining taxi driver gave me a tour of his hometown just outside the city center.
He was a very proud man who kept telling me all about his cars, how many chickens and cows he owned and showed me where he used to play soccer as a kid. It looked like a very poor farming area, with goats roaming around everywhere but everyone seemed to be happy and content.
The goalposts were homemade from bamboo and the patch of grass they played on was shared with chickens and wild dogs. About 30 children were playing around one goal, but they all looked like they were having the time.of their lives.
What their playing surface lacked in quality, it more than made up with enthusiasm for the game.
As we came closer to Kuala Lumpur, my driver/tour guide showed me the schools that were ran by the government. The facilities were in such a contrast to the farming area — the soccer pitches at the schools in pristine condition and seating was available for spectators to watch.
Unlike my experience in Hong Kong and the Perhentian Islands, soccer was everywhere in Malaysia’s capital. As I walked around Bukit Bintang, the sport was shoved in my face in the form of pubs advertising live games and market stalls selling all kinds of jerseys, albeit mostly counterfeit.
Even when I finally got out of site of the pubs and stalls, when I arrived at the hotel and put my backpack down, I was amused to find I had been provided with a Manchester United towel to use during my stay.
I left Kuala Lumpur for Indonesia on a Tuesday night when there was a full set of Championship fixtures, so I wore my Boro jersey with pride. Whilst queuing to check in, I heard the name ‘Adam Johnson” from behind, in between a number of other words that made no sense to me.
Next in line were about 20 young Malaysian boys, head to toe in tracksuits traveling abroad for a tournament. They played for Felda United FC, a Malaysian club who played Liverpool in a pre-season friendly losing 7-0 with Danny Ings scoring a hat-trick.
One of the boys began to talk to talk to me about the transfer window, as deadline day was fast approaching. He spoke English well and told me how he wanted Manchester City to land Kevin De Bruyne. He believed if they did this, they would be too hot for other Premier League teams to handle and would have their hands on a third title in May.