KL April 2013, a set on Flickr.
Here’s my photos from KL – trust me, they aren’t ALL of monkeys…
KL April 2013, a set on Flickr.
Here’s my photos from KL – trust me, they aren’t ALL of monkeys…
It was an earlyish start this morning to get to the airport on time for my flight home to Perth. The airport is a good 45 minutes away from KLCC and we were running late thanks to some people we picked up at the Shangri La who didn’t seem to care that others may be waiting – after emerging from the hotel about 20 minutes late, the “gentleman” proceeded to light up a cigarette. Glad he wasn’t in a hurry, but his tardiness meant I didn’t get any time to check out the duty free shopping before departing from KLIA.
So what did I take in about Kuala Lumpur this time? Did my feelings change? Or do I now know that I gave it my best shot, and I really won’t come back to KL? Well I still think some of the people are quite rude – but I guess you get that in every city – which reminds me I forgot to tell you about when I was shopping in Top Shop the other day – I was going through the racks an arms length in front of me, when a Chinese woman decided it was too much trouble to walk around me and preceded to walk straight between my and my arms which were outstretched to the rack in front of me. I looked at her, she looked at me and said ‘Sorry’ and then kept going! How rude!
Anyway, rudeness aside, I’m happy to say that I’m sure my state of mind probably had a lot to do with how I felt about KL last time I visited. A lot has happened in the last year of my life and things have changed. I think I really needed this revisit to KL and am glad I made the trip. Of course, it was certainly made a lot nicer trip but the fact that I got to see the smiling faces of my friend and her family.
I treat myself to a buffet breakfast at the hotel today, which is really nice. What really impresses me is that when I leave the restaurant, they say “thank you Miss Keller, have a lovely day!”
This morning I have a date with The Spa at my hotel. More specifically a full body scrub. Now for those of you uninitiated with the full body scrub, the biggest thing is getting over the fact that someone is rubbing your body down. Trust me, I spent the entire time of my first scrub stiff as a board and totally embarrassed that someone was scrubbing me from head to toe. But afterwards, I was a bit embarrassed that I actually probably never scrubbed myself down quite that thoroughly. And to be honest, I actually now try to make it a priority to have one on holidays now. So all I can say is that give it a go at least once and give yourself a chance to feel totally refreshed!
I had really wanted to visit Putrajaya on this trip, but it’s not going to happen, because you know what? I just don’t feel like it. I feel more like….shopping.
I find a brochure about a bus called “Go KL” and decide to give it a go. I turn up at Pavillion shopping centre, and just as I walk out the front, I spot the bus departing from across the road. Cool – now I know where it goes from. So I cross the road, but there’s no signs or indications of where the bus might stop. So thank goodness I had seen the previous bus, and I stand there waiting for the next bus. It’s not far away. But as we are driving through the streets of KL, I notice there is not really any indications of which stops are which, either on the bus or on the sidewalk – that is if there is even a bus stop where the bus is making it’s stops. It makes me a bit nervous and I decide to make only one stop – at the Central Market.
Central Market or Pasar Seni is quite the main attraction in KL. It was founded in 1888 and originally used as a wet market. It was built in 1888 by the British who were ruling Malaya at that time. As Kuala Lumpur experienced its own development at a rapid pace in the 1970s, there were plans to demolish the site. The intervention of the Malaysian Heritage Society proved timely as they successfully petitioned against its deconstruction and the site was declared as a ‘Heritage Site’.
The Central Market Kuala Lumpur is arranged in a stall concept, representing the traditional market that has existed in Kuala Lumpur since the 1800s. The second floor hosts a food court, offering an array of food. I find a little shop selling Tenmoku pottery, and while I don’t really like pottery, this stuff is really nice. I buy a few gifts, including some gorgeous earrings for myself for the bargain price of $6!
Finishing up at the market, I head back to the bus stop for a trip back to the main shopping precinct near the Pavillion.
My hotel is in THE best spot. I already mentioned how close it is to Em’s, but it’s also so close to the shopping – especially Suria and Pavillion. Best of all, Suria is connected by an undercover and partially airconditioned walkway. The walkway is maybe a couple of kilometres long and has security guards along the way, which makes you feel safe while you are carrying all your shopping back to the hotel!
I finish up the afternoon with a bit more shopping – just one more book at Kinoukinya I swear, before having lunch at the Pressroom Bistro and happily spy a Chardonnay from Pemberton on the menu.
Tonight I catch up with Em for dinner and drinks at Suria. We decide to have dinner at The Little Penang Café – it’s really nice to try some local food, so I order Nasi Lemak and a lime juice for the grand price of about $6. We do a brief last minute shop and then head back to my hotel for drinks at The Skybar. It’s a fantastic view and a wonderful evening spent sipping cocktails and chatting with Em.
I’ve really enjoyed this trip, and it’s a shame I have to get up so early in the morning for my flight home, because I’m really enjoying this night with Em. But at least this time I can say, I think I will probably be back…
…after all…I still didn’t get to Putrajaya!
This morning was an early start to get to the Batu Caves to beat the heat and everyone else. The Batu Caves is a limestone hill, said to be around 400 million years old, which houses a series of temples inside a cave. It was named after the Batu River, which flows past the hill, and is also the name of the nearby village. It is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, and it is dedicated to Lord Murugan. Some of the cave entrances were used as shelters by the indigenous Temuan people.
Local Hindus visit the shrine during the annual Thaipusam festival. Outside the shrine are a number of stalls selling flower garlands and milk as offerings to the God. I made the unfortunate uneducated traveller mistake of leaning in for a sniff of one of the garlands, only to be told that I wasn’t allowed to. When I asked why, the lady told me it was because it was an offering. I must admit that I just thought she didn’t want me to sniff them unless I bought one, but when I got back the hotel and researched it a bit further – turns out I was wrong. The garlands are supposed to be pure offerings and I had mistakenly taken all the sniff out of one of the garlands. I felt bad. Just for the record, the garland I sniffed had orchids in it and it smelt divine and yes they are real flowers.
There are 272 steps to the entrance of the cave and the way is littered with – well litter and monkeys. You need to be careful if you are carrying food or shiny objects as the monkeys are not adverse to frightening visitors by leaping at them screeching, should they be carrying items that they find interesting. One screeched at me just for taking its photo on the way down from the cave! Once upon a time (ahem, last year), I would certainly not have been able to walk up those stairs to the temple, but today it was a breeze.
While the cave is not mind blowingly exciting, it was well worth the trip and the hundreds of photos of entertaining monkeys.
Heading back to KLCC, I really wanted to head out to Putrajaya today, but I just couldn’t get into the groove of dealing with it. It just felt more like a shopping day, so I decided to head on out to find Lot 10 and the Pavillion. I was a few bags heavier by the time I decided to head back to Suria to search for Royce Chocolates at Isetan, but I was in luck. Unfortunately it was only a tiny store with not much stock, but fortunately there was one box only left of the chocolate covered potato chips – so PSU team, count yourselves lucky!
I stopped off for an average lunch at Limoncello before passing by the Masjid Asy Syakirin for a couple of photos. The mosque, also known as KLCC Mosque is situated near Suria and is considered the jewel in the park because of its strategic location and location facing KLCC Park. It can accommodate up to 500 people.
Heading back to my hotel room, I reflected on all my new wardrobe additions. I pretty much managed to get everything I set out to, though I really would have loved another jacket and always more shoes. I think I’ve done pretty well though, what do you reckon?…
Well, it will be enough until the next trip anyway!
I’d been sitting in the hotel room relaxing when it occurred to me that my hands and feet were a disgrace and I should see if I could get an appointment at the hotel spa for a manicure and pedicure. I was in luck, and hurried up to the 34th floor for some indulgence = a couple of hours worth it turns out. It was really relaxing and I sure am looking forward to the massage I have booked in for tomorrow!
Hands and feet revitalised I made it to Din Tai Fung at the Pavillion to catch up with Em, Jason and the boys for dinner. I’ve always wanted to dine at Din Tai Fung. It has been named one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the World by the New York Times and even has 1 Michelin Star and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Stuffed full of dumplings, other associated Asian specialities and Tiger beer, it was time to head home.
After a bit of a sleep in this morning, I headed up to the gym to put in an hour on the treadmill. It felt great to put my sneakers and gym gear to use instead of leaving them alone to wallow in my suitcase as is usually the case.
I decided to eat breakfast in the Hotel and not wanting to make my workout in vain, selected the a la carte breakfast instead of the buffet. I ordered French toast with strawberries and maple syrup, ignoring the cream on the side. Though looking at the buffet on the way out, I can’t say that I’m going to ignore it the whole time I’m here.
Just as I’m about to finish breakfast, Em messages me to head on over. I can’t believe how incredibly close to the hotel they are – literally a couple of minute walk away. It was really great to see everyone and we spent some time chatting before Em and I decide to head off to the shops to do some damage.
We spend time in Sephora, Zara, Mango, Uniqlo and Isetan shopping up a storm. Last stop is the Japanese bookstore Kinoukinoya for amazingly priced interesting books (ie. what you DON’T get in Perth). I bought 5 books for $50! Probably would have spent that on two books at home. Thank goodness for the empty suitcase!
Before we know it, it’s well after 5.30pm and it’s time to freshen up before dinner. There’s time however to make a quick stop at the Durian Shop for a few snacks to try. Durian is the fruit which they say “tastes like heaven, smells like hell” – and its apparently a smell you just don’t want to experience. But I do want to taste it in some kind of form. So I grab some Durian biscuits and some little mini cupcakes. All I can say after trying them is that there’s no really distinctive flavour that I could pick up. But at least by eating the durian this way, there is definitely no disgusting smell!
Dinner is at The Apartment on the outside of Suria KLCC. From the dining area, you can see the lightshow which runs nightly. I can’t hear the music from where we are sitting, but the lighting is pretty.
Unfortunately one of the boys is unwell, so the night ends early. But it does give me the chance to stop back in at Zara and try on a little green dress again….and buy a pair of shoes before heading back to the hotel. I do try to find Royce but I’m unsuccessful. It’s getting on towards closing time now though, so I give up and decide to try another day.
It was a great relaxing day after the flight and long night yesterday. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store from Kuala Lumpur tomorrow!
Now, all that’s left to decide now, is which side of my massive king size bed I’m going to get into tonight.
For those who read my blog post from my trip to Singapore and Malaysia about this time last year, you’ll probably remember me saying something along the lines of “Kuala Lumpur is not a place I would ever want to return to”. Well guess where I have just arrived?
Hahaha, yes I’m in Kuala Lumpur! You know, I just don’t like it when I get a bad first impression of a place. I feel like I didn’t give it a good enough chance. Anyway, some friends moved to Kuala Lumpur last year and it got me thinking that I really should give the place another go. Who knows – maybe this time around, and with a local’s perspective, I might think differently.
I’ve just arrived this evening on an afternoon flight from Perth via Malaysia Airlines, so there won’t be much action tonight. But while I settle in with a night-cap of Baileys, let me tell you about things so far.
The flight with Malaysia Airlines was good, but uneventful. The movies were all pretty crap and I couldn’t get into any of them. Dinner was really nice, so apart from getting into my new book, I slept most of the way. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (or KLIA to the locals) is massive. You arrive at a satellite terminal, walk a little way, then board an aerotaxi to the main terminal, where you go through immigration and pick up your luggage. It’s a million times bigger, better and more efficient than PIA (hahaha, Perth Airport).
I stepped out into the arrival hall to look for my transfer and I instantly hear him calling my name – Shelley! Shelley Keller! A little too familiar if you ask me, but what the heck, at least he found me easily and I didn’t have to wait around trying to find him. We step out into the airport pickup zone – it’s a lovely 29 degrees! And this is just after 10pm at night.
The guide locates my vehicle for the transfer to Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) and would you believe – even though I had booked a shared transfer, which usually consists of a shitty little shuttle bus that is a bit past it’s used by date – there sits in the middle of the road – a classic black Mercedes benz. All. To. Myself. Scored!
Now, I was sorry that I had missed the Grand Prix in KL last month, but I needn’t have worried, because it’s not long before we are screaming along KL’s highways. Just as I’m wondering what the speed limit is, I look up to my left and see a speed sign, stating 90km/hr. I glance over at the speedo – hmmmm, touching on 140km/hr. Not to say that I don’t feel safe, he’s actually quite a good driver for an old bloke, but it’s just that the speed doesn’t really drop that much even when he’s going around the corners of the highway off ramps!
Although it’s dark, I can see bits and pieces out the window, and I think I see the bridge in Putrajaya – a place I’m hoping to check out while I’m here. Soon in the distance, I can see the Petronas Towers too – glittering away against the skyline. The trip from the airport is supposed to take around 45 minutes, but as we have gunned it here, it seems much more like 20. Nonetheless, I make it to my hotel safely – as well as in style.
I have booked a room at the Shangri-La Traders Hotel in KLCC. It’s right near the Petronas Towers, the beautiful lush KLCC Park and Suria KLCC – a massive shopping centre which I’m hoping to spend a lot of time in over the next few days. I booked a garden view room, but obviously it’s pitch black outside so I can’t see the garden tonight – but I can see the two massive towers from my window and they look spectacular sparkling in the night.
The room is gorgeous. Aside from the huge window and magnificent view of the towers, I have a massive king size bed to myself. The bathroom is stunning and comes complete with a welcome lollipop. AND there’s FREE wifi EVERYWHERE in the hotel!
So after unwinding and checking out all the features of my room, I should probably get off to bed now so that I’ll be in the best possible state of mind tomorrow to take on KL for the second time, but I have to say I am already starting to feel better about it…
Singapore April 2012, a set on Flickr.
This morning we have a 6.45am start, picked up by our tour group leader and heading to the train station at Woodlands. There are only 4 of us on the tour, Mum and I and a married couple from Sydney. We take the train from Singapore into Malaysia, to a town called Kulai, where our coach meets us for the remaining travel to Melaka.
Melaka has had a long and interesting history, beginning sometime in the 14th century. Legend has it that Parameswara, a Hindu Prince from Sumatra, founded the state when he stopped to rest under a Melaka tree. The port became famous for waiting out monsoons and rsupplying trading ships plying the stait of Melaka. Melaka attracted merchants from all over the region, thanks to its strategic position between China and India, and with easy access to the spice islands of Indonesia. Melaka has been inhabited by the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British and its thanks to Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles that many of Melaka’s historic buildings still remain, when he stepped in to stop their destruction at the end of Dutch reign.
To finish off the evening and take advantage of the cool, we buy a ticket for the Melaka River Cruise. RMB15 buys you a 45 minute ride up and down the river. The cruise runs all day, but dusk is a really nice time to take the ride because all the lights come on. A lot of the old buildings along the river had been painted in all sorts of mural designs and they are simply gorgeous. Also along the route is Kampgung Morten, a living museum of 85 homes, which is open to the public, although it is still a real functioning village. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time in Melaka to visit the Kampung, but I would definitely consider it for a return trip.
I really like Melaka, there’s something I can’t put my finger on – yes it’s a bit grotty, like most destinations in Asia, but the architecture is gorgeous, the history of the town itself is fascinating and the food is divine. I would love to have spent another day at least here, just to fully check out all the sites. There seemed to be a lot of construction going on this trip and it would be interesting to return in 5 years or so to see exactly how much it had changed. I hope Melaka doesn’t lose its unique quality though.