Tag Archives: kuala lumpur

Up, up and away

12 May

Walking…so much walking…

Went off to the Petronas Towers yesterday to go and get tickets for the Skybridge so splashed around Kuala Lumpur and found this nestled between the skyscrapers on the way to the train station

We got the train to KLCC – a clean, airconditioned journey that would put the Tube to shame – but found that the tickets had already gone so had to book in for the next day instead. We had lunch and I unfortunately had a toilet drama whilst in the shopping centre…went to the loo and of course, they had three toilets for women on the whole of the ground floor. So there was a massive queue as usual. A cleaner came in and opened a fourth one, but it was a squat toilet and no one wanted to use it, prefering the three western toilets. It finally became my turn…only I found that the woman in front of me left the seat up because she had put her feet on the bowl and squatted over the toilet?? Why not just use the squat toilet in the first place? Anyway, I used the loo and stood up, only to realise that it was an automatic flushing type. It flushed and I had one more piece of paper to put in the bowl, so I sat back down again. Nothing happened. I tried waving my hand in front of the sensor…nothing happened. I noticed there was a knob next to the loo so thought it must be the manual override for the loo so turned it. A massive jet of water shot out, at waist height (what on earth could that be for washing?!), soaking the cubicle and me from chest to knee. I tried mopping it up as best I could but eventually had to do the walk of shame past thirty smirking Malay women who were waiting for the toilet, dripping wet and blushing furiously, so I could wash my hands with my best ‘I totally meant to do that’ face on. Craig thought I had fallen in when I got back to the restaurant!

Once I’d dried out, whilst we were in the area, we stopped off at the aquarium to have a look at the cool fishes

It was really well set out and had loads of amazing exhibits, including a walkway underneath the aquarium like the Sealife Centre in Birmingham, with huge sharks, turtles and manta rays. We spent a couple of hours there, and then went to the cinema to see Safe as it was the only thing on at the time. We went to see The Advengers the other day which was fairly harmless and amusing, but this was very violent and I spent most of it watching through my fingers. It was a good story but I didn’t want to have nightmares :D We wandered off towards home to get some proper Indonesian food (having succumbed once more to junk food – this time Pizza Hut. And I wonder why I haven’t lost any weight :I) but ended up getting massively lost. We were literally on our last legs when Craig spotted this place in the middle of a carpark for an insurance firm

It led to a long tunnel past signs for banquet halls which made us think perhaps it wasn’t a restaurant, but we got to the end of the tunnel and found the most gorgeous place to eat

It was an Indian restaurant and had a live sitar band and the food was served on banana leaf plates

It was so delicious. If anyone’s over this way soon, make sure you visit it – it’s called  A Passage Through India but I couldn’t describe where it was to be honest! Such a lovely meal. We promised ourselves we would definitely try Malaysian food the next day…

But first we wanted to go to the canopy walk in the nearby forest reserve. We thought we’d get breakfast on the way, but got the station far sooner than we thought so we just got the train (with complicated instructions from the staff about how many changes we needed to make). These turned out to be for the city forest, not FRIM like we asked, and the train system here is so complicated – there are three types of train and some stations have all of them, some two and some one – we gave up and got a taxi. The taxi driver told us off and said it was much cheaper to get the bus, d’oh!

We decided we’d have lunch once we found the canopy walk, which was no mean feat considering there were no signs so we first walked a kilometre in the wrong direction and had to retrace our steps :/ The information centre was another couple of kilometres away, and then we found we had to walk for half an hour up an incredibly steep hill to where the canopy walk starts. So by the time we reached the top we were completely knackered and very sweaty. We joined a long queue of people (they only let a couple on at a time) and eventually stepped on to the boardwalk, 30 metres up. I am petrified of heights but felt the fear and did it reluctantly

It was a beautiful view from the platforms…I had my eyes firmly fixed on the treetops until I got to those as if I had looked down I wouldn’t have been able to take another step!

I am glad we did it even if it was terrifying. It was another hour’s walk down again and through the arboretum, so we were fairly tired but had to give lunch a miss as we needed to be back for the towers, and then every taxi we approached was full so it was even further to the main entrance before we managed to find one. We flopped into it and the taxi driver insisted on talking to us, even though I really just wanted to stare out of the window and let my bones rest. But I am glad he persevered as he was a very interesting man – he had an out of body experience, his head was ‘broken’ by someone throwing a stone at a bird and hitting him instead, he saw someone on a motorbike being sliced in half by a truck the other week, his brother stole his inheritance, his other brother made him pay for a truck for him, he earns £20 per day working 7am-1am as a taxi driver (despite having excellent English and a degree in sound engineering from a Singapore university but there are no jobs in KL for him) and he is going to the seaside tomorrow to buy a fish because they’re cheaper there…I honestly considered lying about where we were going so we could stay in the taxi longer as he had some very unusal stories :) But all too soon we were back in Chinatown for a quick shower and then back to the Petronas Towers for our Skybridge tour

It was so cool. You go up in the lift to the 41st floor and the lift has tv screens showing you what you would see if the lift was on the outside of the building, so you can see yourself rising above the other KL buildings. It goes at between 5 and 6 metres per second, so in no time we were there. We got around 15 minutes to take pictures and to see the tiny ant-like people scurrying around the city. The weather was much better than the other day so we could see for miles. The bridge weighs 750 tonnes and somehow it magically stays up in the air (I’m pretty sure it’s magic anyway). Amazing. It’s also double levelled so that the people who work in the towers can use the top level and the tourists can use the bottom level. It’s also a safety measure in case of fire in one of the towers. It was absolutely fascinating and despite being 170 metres up, it wasn’t that scary as everything was so small it didn’t look real.

Next we took the lift to the 83rd floor, and then a tiny lift to the 86th floor. Now that was scary! It was so high I had to hold on to the walls to peak over the edge at the view

It was incredible though and much better value than the other tower we went up as the tour was an hour long and we went twice as high. But I am glad to be back at ground level now! We did finally get the chance to eat and taste some Malaysian food

I went for the rendang, mainly because I wanted to see whether it was better than the one I make :) It was delicious but quite a bit saltier than mine so I am going to declare it a draw because I do mine how I like it. We also tried a nice starter of boiled egg, curry and little crispy things which was also very nice. I did get a bit cross with the waiter though whilst we ordering because he kept saying we should have one thing between us – we hadn’t eaten all day and I didn’t want half a starter and half a curry! Give me fooooooooood!

So after all the talk of being back at ground level, this is only temporary as we fly tomorrow…to Australia. We decided that we would like to get back into earning some cash as our attempts at budgeting have been non-existent, but hopefully we can take a couple of holidays to Indonesia, the rest of Malaysia or somewhere else accessible from Oz during our breaks from work.

Australia – we are coming to get you!

£7.50 for a cocktail? Ouch. The first one has taken the shock out of it though, one more please…

11 May

The roads turned to rivers so we splashed happily through Chinatown in the gloom and ended up near this building

So we decided to walk to it. I don’t know whether you’ve seen the Father Ted sketch where Ted tried to explain to Dougal that the cows in the distance that are far away are normal size, just far away, but it was a bit like that…we walked enthusiastically towards it and it just kept getting bigger, but never closer. I think it was a fair few kilometres we walked in the end (probably not helped by not having a map, so just wandering in the general direction of it!) but we found it eventually and paid our 45 ringitts each (£11) to go up to the observation deck. The lady said it was cloudy so the view wasn’t brilliant and was that ok, and I briefly considered shouting that it was NOT OK AND TO GET ME SOME SUN, but thought that perhaps was not polite so we agreed not to blame her for the weather and went up there anyway.

It was still an impressive sight despite the clouds

The famous Petronas towers

The ticket also gave you free access to the Animal Zone – a sad and smelly corner outside the tower itself. There were many snakes

that you could pay to hold and get a picture with, but this one was shedding and was covered in slimy water so I decided just to hold the parrots instead (well, someone just put parrots on me and then asked me for 5 ringitts)

In general, the cages were cramped, the animals didn’t have much to do or anything in the way or plants or toys to brighten up their cages and the biggest enclosure was full of rabbits and cockerels…to fed to the snakes. There was a pretty cool two-headed terrapin though

And weird hairless things

but overall, we thought it would be better if they got rid of the animals and just charged you less for going up the tower.

We thought that the Petronas towers couldn’t be that far away if we could see them (they’re over 450 metres tall – you can see them everywhere in KL – will we ever learn?!) so walked off towards them. On the way we spied a TGI Friday’s…and shamefully we went in, eschewing all the delicious Malaysian food for a burger and fajitas. And a pint or two, which, even in the Happy Hour, still cost £4.25…ouch. That’s LONDON prices. We’re from the Midlands, we should never have to pay London prices! But we did, and moved onto Long Island Iced Teas as they were the same price, and then went off in search of the Petronas Towers

Amazing! It’s not often you can say a modern building is beautiful but I thought these were gorgeous. We were too late to walk across the bridge but we will hopefully do that today instead. The first floors are a temple to consumerism – Gucci, Prada, Louis Vitton (and weirdly, Topman!) all have super shiny shops where nothing has prices on because ‘if you need to ask, you can’t afford it’.

I can dream, can’t I?

We were damp, slightly flushed (and probably smelly) from walking across KL all day so we of course fitted right in. But when in KL you might as well make the most of all the fancy cocktail bars, restaurants and cafes so we got stuck in at the Rum Jungle and ended up meeting three Dutch boys

r-l Wim, Mills and Mordor (not his name but anyone with a normal tongue couldn’t pronounce it so we settled on Mordor)

We joined them for beer towers and cocktails and had a great evening. We even got free brown Rum Jungle headbands after Craig said he liked the staff’s uniform, so I think you know what we’ll be wearing along with our matching teeshirts today! Oh yes!

Good morning Kuala Lumpur!

11 May

Our last few days on Koh Samui were very relaxing – well, this was kind of enforced as I couldn’t move any of my limbs after the evil Thai massage. So we pottered about, raised a glass to Matt, explored a few last restaurants and suddenly it was time to go. We didn’t go and see the dead monk – a mummified monk who died 40 years ago and has been sitting outside the temple ever since, nailed to the wall so he doesn’t fall over and with sunglasses on because his eyes fell into his head – but I think we covered most other things to do. It was still sad though as we had to say goodbye to the lovely Oh, Andy, Meow and Guy who had looked after us for a month. They gave Craig an embossed Thai ashtray (with instructions never to us it) and me a little painted wooden box…two things we can hopefully get into Australia as they’ve got strict rules about what wood you can take in. This proved prudent as I went to pack my bamboo cup from trekking in Cambodia and found termites were nibbling away at the bottom of it :(

So after a mammoth packing session (stuffing everything into three bags), we were finally ready and got the ferry over to the mainland. Having been relieved of money on the way over to Koh Samui on the ferry, we tried to take our bags off the bus, but the driver said no. So we sat in the car compartment the whole way there, watching the bus in case anyone tried to take anything. This tactic worked and we didn’t lose anything from the bags this time. We got back on the bus for the trip to Surat Thani, which is a fairly non-descript and faceless town, but close to the airport for our flight the next day.

We found a hotel and dumped the bags, and wandered around the town trying to find a restaurant. There were plenty of street sellers but with getting a flight the next day, we wanted to be as sure as possible that the food wasn’t going to cause us problems. As the Greek girl who was also staying at our hotel put it, she wanted “food with a few less flies on it”. So Craig and I ended up eating back at the hotel – this was clearly a rare occurrence as it looked like we’d woken the staff up when we went in. The dead cockroach in the pot next to us should have been a warning sign in retrospect. Stupidly, I ordered Western food (the rule is, the fewer the tourists in a place, the worse the Western food will be), but I just fancied some comfort food so took the risk.

Idiot. They didn’t let me down – I should have stopped when I ordered spaghetti meatballs and they asked me whether I’d like pork, shrimp, beef, crab or catfish – the ‘meatballs’ arrived and it was pork mince (I had ordered beef) and not shaped into balls, just cooked up like normal bolognaise. Which was fine although there were approximately three strands of spaghetti. But luckily I’d ordered chips too so I at least had those to keep me going. I took a tentative bite…mmm sweet tomato sauce…and what’s that? Oh, they’ve added pineapple. Num num num. There is no way spaghetti bolognaise should ever be able to be described as sweet and contain fruit other than tomatoes. A hideous, hideous mess. Made slightly worse by Craig giving me the money to pay whilst he nipped to the shop to get beer –  the waitress upon receiving the 1,000 baht note, put it underneath her bra strap and told me I had to get it from there. I had no clue what was going on, but this was apparently comedy gold for the other waitresses so I just stood there, laughing confusedly and blushing. I did briefly consider whether to take it out with me teeth – that would show her – but I thought she might call the police so gave that one a miss. She then asked me again, shaking her chest towards me…I just went for the same tack, laughing whilst hoping the ground would swallow me up and she eventually took it out herself. So odd! What is the Thai women’s obsession with breasts at the moment?!

The food issues continued the next day – the breakfast looked vile so I just had some water, thinking I’d be able to buy some snacks on the plane. The airport is tiny and there wasn’t much to do so I bought a Mars bar and a book (A Shattered Youth about a Cambodian girl growing up during the Khmer Rouge years, which was both interesting and disturbing) but this being Thailand, the book cost £11 as for some reason it’s really expensive to buy even used books here. But it kept me entertained and we got on the plane. As usual it was a lovely Airasia plane: new, leather seats etc but this time it was full so we didn’t have the luxury of stretching out like we have done on the last two. But they were serving food, which was chicken fried rice and as I was starving, I bought one and a Pepsi Max, which came to 180 baht…a fortune compared to what we would have paid on the ground.

How can you make chicken fried rice inedible? Put tiny whole fish in it of course! And basically no other flavouring! The disgusting tiny fish had their faces still on, complete with eyes. Except, some of them didn’t have eyes. This could only mean one thing…my rice contained tiny fish eyes. I think I’m not hungry any more. The irony of reading a book about a girl who was actually starving and forced to work all day on just a bowl of rice soup whilst complaining about tiny fish eyes was not lost on me, but I repeat, tiny fish eyes. I just couldn’t do it!

Our plane arrived early by 15 minutes, meaning the whole trip took just over an hour. We swapped the lovely Koh Samui

for this

Absolutely torrential rain. It was still warm, but just bucketing down. So after taking the bus to Kuala Lumpur city centre, we turned on our heels and headed to the nearest Burger King to wait it out and eat something that didn’t contain gross fish. We contemplated using the train to get to the hotel, but in the end decided this was too difficult in the pouring rain so we just got a taxi for 10 ringitts to the guesthouse.

A new language, currency, set of customs…unlike all the other countries we’ve been to bar Vietnam, the Malaysian language doesn’t look like a beautiful drawing, it looks like ours. Ours that has been shaken up – bus becomes bas, restaurant is restoran, taxi is teksi, central is sentral etc. It is confusing because it looks like English, but you find yourself wondering whether they can’t spell in English or whether that’s how they spell it in Malay as lots of words look the same. They also mix Malay and English on the same sign, so you have to look quite hard to work out what language it’s in and what applies to you. The currency also takes some getting used to – 65 baht for a night would be incredibly cheap at just over a pound, but 65 ringitts is actually £16. The whole place is very expensive, so we’re back to staying in grotty accommodation (but paying a lot more for it) to save some cash so we can do all the exciting things KL has to offer a little bit less guiltily.

So we found said grotty accommodation (would you like a room with a toilet or without?), dropped the bags off and headed off to explore the area we are staying in, Chinatown. First stop: umbrella shop!