Kuala Lumpur (17th-20th and then 25th-31st March)

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
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Trip End Dec 29, 2008


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Where I stayed
Stayorange.com and then Mayview Glory Hotel

Flag of Malaysia  ,
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kuala Lumpur, or simply KL (as it is it called by Malaysians), literally means "muddy estuary" in Bahasa Malaysia.    Another translation is "confluence of 2 rivers".   Believe me, the rivers are certainly muddy!

We took the ""VIP"" bus from Penang (5 hours) and were hugely impressed as it had a choice of  recent movies and a host of computer games to keep us occupied.  The seats, only 18 in a full sized bus, were just like those in 1st Class on good airlines (and better than many!), but without the masses of people and endless waiting around air travel invariably entails. We  we arrived, a nice surprise was that the the drop off point in KL was just a few minutes walking from our hotel.

The hotel we chose was stay@orange  a backpacker, capsule style hotel, right in the middle of Petaling Street, in the centre of Chinatown.  It was easily the smallest (and most orange!) hotel room we have ever seen.  Think EasyJet but not as luxurious! The "bedroom" only had space for the bed - a small one at that! Clive's first comment was that ïts a good job Joe (son who is about 6ft 4in) ïsnt stäying here as he would be sleeping with his knees under his chin". In fact the bathroom had more actual floor space than the bedroom.  

We planned to spend about a week in KL, partly because we needed to get some arrangements sorted for the Australia part of the trip and partly because we needed to chill out and recharge our  batteries for a while.

We have visited KL a few time now but had never ventured up the Petronas Twin Towers, an icon of KL and are two of the tallest buildings in the world.  This time we ventured up to the 41st floor to take a walk across the sky-bridge linking the two towers. We queued for about an hour for the tickets!  the view was o.k. but not a patch on the Empire State (but then its not in Manhattan!) The twin towers sit on top of a huge, upmarket shopping centre where, we didn't do any shopping but did go to the cinema to watch 10,000BC.  We were also there at the time of the Malaysian Grand Prix, a big thing here, as there is now a Malaysian driver in the line up.  There was an exhibition of F1 cars in the centre and Clive was very tempted bu a VERY flash 3 wheeled motorbike.

Once again, we walked miles and miles around the city exploring and found the confluence of the rivers that KL is named after in Little India, and pretty much all of the sites listed in the guide books.   

A day trip out to Batu caves on a local bus was fun  -  it is an important Hindu shrine in a cave that can be found after walking up 272 steps  (in the heat of the day !).  Thousands of monkeys are monkeys playing everywhere you go.  At the entrance is a really tall statue (circa 50m) of a Hindu deity (not sure which one) and apparently on certain days of the year up to 1 million Hindu pilgrims visit the site (unfortunately for us it was mostly noisy Italian tourists on the day we visited!)

We have started to notice some unusual things about KL.  For instance, on Monday, everywhere we went (I do mean everywhere!), all the music being played was either the Beatles, or a Beatles song.  Another spooky thing is that we seem to be living in a parallel universe where everything is the same orange as the hotel (all the plates at the restaurant, the clothes in the shops at Petronas, the buses.....)

We also realised that for the past 2 weeks at least, it seemed we have eaten Indian meals everyday.  So we decided to venture out and look for an Italian restaurant  -  we found one, and on the menu was a pizza called "Clives Special" -  and it was everything that Clive likes on a pizza. How strange is that.   However, we then  realised that we had already had an indian meal that day  -  breakfast !  (Roti Canai -pancakes with curry gravy). 
Having said that the indian food here is great and certainly much better than in Birmingham's Balti Triangle. 

Ubiquitous in KL are the banana leaf mess restaurants".   No plates, just banana leaves  and no cutlery (just use your fingers) and no menu  (just point at unknown curries or eat what they put in front of you).  We had three types of curry, some dosai and some idli, along with some jugs of spicy soup/dhal/juice and it was delicious, fun and really cheap.   -    Not sure how we will fare in polite society after this trip through ! 

Walking the streets of Chinatown, we had a great introduction to the intricacies Chinese tea from a young and very enthusiastic Chines guy. Apparently, tea is viewed like wine in terms of vintages etc. Did you know it is like wine and can improve with age ?  Some teas they had were 60-80 years old.   We tried a 12 year old tea and it was excellent. We both agreed that some of the best food we have eaten so far on this trip has been in Malaysia probably because of the sheer variety of Chinese, Indian, Malay and just about everything else going!

We stayed a few days in KL, then headed off to Melaka for a few days, then returned back to KL for a further week to stay in a different hotel -  with  larger rooms, this time in Little India.  We are right next door to a Hindu Temple and during the time we were therethere was some sort of festival going on with lots of people visiting the temple, taking off their shoes walking up the street to this very small temple and then throwing coconuts into a metal bin very hard so that they smashed!  A bit bizarre and we never did find out what it was all about.  (Nimit, if you read this, could you please email me to enlighten me?)

On our return trip the KL Marathon was on - how these runners can do it in this heat and humidity beggars belief.  It is certainly a happening place, with lots going on but is a shame that the tourism authorities can't get therir act together. 

The monsoon season seems to be starting early this year.   It is getting hotter, typically 34 to 36degrees most days, with some torrential tropical rain in the afternoon sometimes. 
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