Kuala Lumpur and on to Melaka

Trip Start Apr 30, 2004
Trip End Jan 28, 2005

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Where I stayed
Pudu Hostel

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Friday, July 23, 2004

Day 78 - Mon 19th July
A final piece of door step toast, a pot of tea, and a fond farewell to Tan and Mae sees us on the bus to KL, getting a final look at beautiful Georgetown as we cross the 13km Penang Bridge.

By 4.30 (5 hours) we're in KL, checking accommodation. It's Rene turn to sit with the bags and a drink, while I do a flip flop half marathon into Little India, then China Town in search of accommodation. Some rooms were rank, others were rank. We ended up at the Pudu Hostel, a huge backpackers place, it was nearly full so we ended up with a box room, slightly less rank than the others, but only just big enough for the bed. With shared toilets and showers 40 ringpieces a night seemed extortionate. (7RM / pound).

The hostel has all the standard grunge monkey requirements; 3 satelite TV's with DVD players, pool table, dart board, 10 sofas, an internet room, a dining area, a cafe serving "western food", a notice board, a book case graveyard full of dog eared Jeffrey Archers and a surly youth on reception who'd rather be anywhere else.

An after dark walk through China Town is colourful and aromatic. Full of neon signs, pavement bars and restaurants, markets and people.

Little India was a little diferent and after Georgetown a little disappointing, which to be fair, is little surprise. It was quiet and less colourful. We did though, find a small vegetarian restaurant and ate a lovely banana leaf meal. A banana leaf is spread out n the table, then rice and three types of curry are ladled onto the leaf, and off you go, get stuck in. We're not sure if they re-use the leaves or not, but ours were pretty clean by the end anyway.

Expenses (7Rinngit / pound): breakfast 14.50, bus Penang to KL 46, beer 14, sandwich 3, accommodation 40, internet 4, dinner 12, snacks 8.

Day 79 - Tues July 20th
It's the volume of traffic (buses and cars) with the air and noise pollution they emit, that immediately puts us off Kuala Lumpur.

From its origin in 1857 when a band of tin prospectors set ashore at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers, and named the place Kuala Lumpur (muddy confluence), it's grown into an affluent, modern, skyscrapered Asian capital. In amongst the skyscrapers and traffic KL does have a rich and colourful heritage which we ntend to sample before our bus leaves for Melaka at 4.30pm.

We have no real travel plan and decided early on, that if we didn't like the feel of a lace we'd move on and not hang around just because we felt maybe we ought to.

Early start, after packing, breakfsat, checking out and leaving our backpacks in a locked room (2RM / bag), we set off to see the sights of KL. It was a long day, I'm not going to go into detail, so here's a quick summary.

A brisk walk to Merdeka Square, which has a 100m high flagpole at its centre, and is surrounded by magnificent buildings, such as the National History Museum, Kuala Lumpur Memorial Library, the Royal Selangor Club. The Sultan Abdul Sannad building with its blend of Victorian and Moorish architecture is typical of the colonial buildings that give the city so much of its character.

Another walk leads us to the KL train station, all spires, minarets and arches; colonial over the topness designed by British architect A.B. Hubbock. A short ride on the cheap and efficient light rail transit (LTR) delivers us to the Suria KLCC shopping complex, which is right next to the Petrona Towers. Reaching 452m into the KL sky, the towers are impressive. The skybridge connecting them is as high as you can go but is only a third of the overall height, and you need a pre-booked ticket with a given time slot (800 tickets issued daily). We didn't bother. Going near the top would have been fun, but a third of the way?

Back on the LRT, we head to the Masjid Jamek Putra Station where we start a walking trail through Chinatown. We see old shop houses, art deco style imposing buildngs and temples.

We arrive back at the hostel just as it starts raining. A triple decker tuna sandwich gives us the energy to walk, fully laden to the bus station for our 4.30pm bus to Melaka.

A rare, smiley and careful driver, smoothly pulls over at the large and impressive Melaka bus station, 2 1/2 hours later. A battered local bus with stones in the gearbox, drops us in town for 0.50 (taxi 12) and wewalk the rest of the way to the Eastern Heritage Guest House. We'd pre-booked by phone, just to save messing around in the dark. It's a superb 1918 Melaka town house, converted into a hostel, it looks lovely but the facilities don't match up. It was full, and there was only 1 shower and 1 toilet in use, when at least 3 were needed. The walls of the rooms were paper thin, providing little privacy. It was an odd place which we didn't take to.

The food at the nearby Discovery Cafe is good and cheap, but the beer isn't (this is a muslim country though). Last time we had a large Tsing Tao in Beijing it cost 15p, here it's 12 ringit (1.60). A small bottle of Chang beer (about the cheapest), is on average about 6 ringits.

Next to the cafe is a street vendor selling brown liquid in a bowl or a bag. She has an endless queue of customers. The barman (Wensin) tells us she is selling Chinese herbal drink, which tastes awful but is suposedly very good for you. Some people were sipping slowly, others were holding their noses and swallowing the lot, Wensin said it smells awful and couldn't bring himself to take it.

A giggling, chattering, whistling German couple in the room next to ours, woke us several times thrugh the night. Rene was going to bang on the wall, but they were so thin she'd have been through it. Instead she adopted another of her sleep related talents, that of being able to sleep with her fingers in her ears.

Expenses (7 ringit / pound): breakfast 11, books 51.85, train 7.20, bus KL to Melaka 15.60, lunch 12, photo CD 40, dinner 39, water 4, accom 24.
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