Capital city time, rather than just the airports
17.01.2014 - 18.01.2014 28 °C
Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, centrally positioned halfway down the Malaysian peninsula. So far we have only used it as a base, taking advantage of their low cost routes to Sabah and Brunei. We had a couple of days to explore the city, before enjoying another flight to Australia.
We landed promptly from Sabah and managed to get out the airport within 20 minutes, managing to catch the half one bus to KL Sentral with minutes to spare. Perfect!
From there, we took the monorail to Bukit Bintang, where we had booked our accommodation. Checking in was relatively long process, with them wanting the passports and for Chris to sign the reservation as they filled out his details. We paid, and then the spent ages writing out the world's most detailed receipt. This though is fairly standard in Malaysia, where of all the countries, check in seems to take considerably longer. Once everything was sorted the receptionist casually announced that he would call someone to show us to their second hostel as that one was fully booked. And so the fun began. But it was OK as their second hostel was the same, just as good, same price, just 10 minutes drive away in Chinatown, where we did not want to be based. The second man arrived to take us across town and was very put out that we were being so ungrateful as he had organised and paid for a room for us at what turned out to be his girlfriend's guesthouse. He became quite rude, complaining that he would lose his money and that this happens all the time in peak season, especially when it transpires that a group booking for 24 had come in and that was naturally too good an opportunity to refuse. We took our refund and checked into the guesthouse next door for convenience, which rather annoyingly cost twice the price. We moved on the second night to KL Sentral station to stay in a cheaper hotel, ready for our early start to Australia. This room was so small, the bed was in the way of the door!
Particularly over the last few weeks, we have woken up a few times either in the middle of the night or in the morning, wondering where we were. On our first morning in KL, the alarm went off and I had no idea where we had stayed, but immediately thought, do we need to get up promptly for a flight, as we had flown so much over the past few days. I remembered Australia was next, but didn't think it was that day. After about a minute, I remembered where we were and that today was set aside to Kuala Lumpur. You feel so stupid that it is gradually taking longer and longer to work out where we are. At least it wasn't as bad as when I woke up in Koh Jum, convinced we were in a canoe! Nothing like another continent change to help with that!
We visited the Petronas towers and had a wander around the shopping centre underneath, stopping for a coffee part way round. This shopping centre has loads of designer shops and a few travel shops. The following day we visited the Pavilion shopping centre, which had virtually every shop you could imagine yet still Chris and I managed to leave without buying anything.
We wandered around the colonial part of town and Merdeka square, which was being used for various bike races. We stopped and watched the ultimate foldies race, which required participants to run the first few metres to find and unfold their bikes. Some of these folding bikes really did not look as though speed output even nearly justified the energy input required.
We ate at an Indian restaurant one night and one of the Chinese market restaurants the following night. As usual, the food was tasty and the waiting staff were on another planet. You can only laugh at their incompetence. They bring out dishes, which do not look as your expect or the picture, question what it is and they have no idea or ask what did you order. If you say is this rice, even if you were pointing at noodles the response would probably be yes. You might get your drink, you might not. Your food could be dumped on the table as they pass by. They will ask who ordered the chicken (maybe) before putting it down in front of the other person anyway. As rice comes from a large pot, it will come 10 minutes before your food. And the best part is 10% service charge appears to be compulsory, or at least as a tourist it definitely must be paid. Not like in England where if service is shocking, you can argue the 'compulsory' service charge.
We tried to visit the national mosque, which holds 10,000, but the opening times were different to what we had read. There were some pleasant fountains around the edge, but this mosque is not as grand or impressive from the outside as others.
In the evening, we decided to head up the telecommunication tower over the Petronas Towers as if you're up the Petronas, there's not too much else worth seeing. We went up to the observation deck a little too early, so had to wait about an hour for dusk at 7.15pm, allowing us to see KL by day and night on one ticket. The high rise tower blocks are relatively spread out with a lot of low rise buildings in the middle. The Petronas towers look brilliant lit up with white lights after dark.
While we were waiting for sundown, a lady approached Christopher, asking to take pictures of the side of his head, as the one she had taken from afar had not come out too well. She spent the next five minutes taking Chris' headshots from various angles with the city behind him. She showed him the photos afterwards, most of which were blurred; however Chris was unsure as to whether this was intentional to create an art effect. Who knows what she is going to do with them!
We returned to our box room, showered and went to bed, ready to get up at 5am for our flight to Sydney.