Had it been 90 days already? Pretty close, so it was time for me to head out of the kingdom for a few days. As I said before, I can’t stand doing the standard ‘visa run’ and prefer to explore the surrounding countries when the opportunity arises. Kuala Lumpur was the chosen destination this time, as Juliet has a pal here that she hadn’t seen for a few years and I’d been keen to take a look for some time as well.
We had an early start on Thursday, up at 4 AM to make a 7 AM flight out of Don Mueng, it’s actually much closer for us than Swampy but I don’t care for the airport that much – I’m sure it holds many nostalgic memories from days past for those who have been traveling here for many years, though. Arriving in KL in the late morning we cleared immigration and took a bus into town which was a one hour trip and the cheapest option at RM10 each (roughly 10 baht to the Ringgit). Had to get my own bag out of the bus, the driver had no interest in doing such a menial task. Fending off the taxi drivers, we escaped into the daylight through the carpark of one of the hotels so that I could get my bearings at street level. I always check for ‘last minute’ deals on the websites as sometimes you can pick up a bargain, and in this case I got the Hilton for AUD 100 per night, which is a steal. The trick is not to indulge too much in anything else at the hotel such as room service, breakfasts or hitting the minibar. We were in our room shortly after 1 pm and rested up for a while before exploring the city.
Headed out about 3pm and took the monorail to Bukit Bintang and walked down to the Pavilion shopping centre before making our way to the Petronas Towers via the elevated walkway to KLCC. The towers are impressive indeed and there is a nice park at the base of them. The heavens opened but luckily we could dash into the nearby mall and we grabbed some food while looking at the map for our next stop. Off to Chinatown via the LRT, alighting at Paser Seni, the rain was persistent, and I hadn’t counted on this as it had pretty much dried up in Bangkok. Our umbrella was practically useless as we made our way to the cover offered by the Petling street markets, where We found a great little tea house at the end of the street which was to become a regular haunt over the next few days. I had the detoxifying black tea and Juliet went for the ‘Five flowers’ – both tasted like bad cough medicines, and we followed them with a herbal jelly, the specialty of the house. A bit more walking around and it was time for dinner – sweet and sour pork, noodles and vegetables with two large bottles of beer for RM 72 (great value – a note for beer drinkers, I think it is more expensive in Malaysia than Singapore to drink, and was surprised to find that was the case! The cheapest beer was a large bottle of Anchor (local brew) for RM 15 but it was not uncommon to see small bottles for RM 30. Again, if you like a drink you need to make use of ‘Happy Hours’ and 2-for-1 deals, etc). Made our way back to the hotel and had a couple of Lychee martinis as a nightcap before falling into bed at around 10pm.
Friday saw us sleep in and explore the suburb of Bangsar, which is in the ‘Brickfields’ area, and is home to many Indians. We had a ‘two stop’ breakfast, with a Chicken Biryani as a starter and then onto a more Malaysian themed place for some noodles and spring rolls washed down with lime juice. Each breakfast was about RM20, and one of the reasons I no longer take the hotel breakfasts is that hunger forces you onto the streets and you usually find something interesting – that’s what I love about travel. We than made the trek to Bangsar Village as I wanted to check out a Turkish bath mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide. With the help of some friendly locals we made it there after a 40 minute walk and explored a bit before booking our massages for the next day. Then it was time for afternoon tea and macaroons before heading back to the hotel for a dip in the pool before getting ready to go out with Juliet’s pal that evening. They picked us up around 9 PM and as it turned out, we headed back to the Bangsar area, which is really where the expats in KL seem to live and play, as it’s well away from the tourist area. A nice meal was had at ‘Bodega’ where I knocked back a couple of pints of Stella and some tapas while Juliet played with their baby. I picked up the tab and then they drove us around for an hour or so and showed us some of the sights, and it was great to see the towers lit up at night. Back to the hotel around one in the morning, buggered and off to bed.
On Saturday we headed out again and an Indian brunch was had before I got lost, heading the wrong way from the train station despite consulting my iPhone compass and map – part of being in a new city. Back on track and we found Merkada Square where the Malaysian flag was raised in 1957 replacing the British one. A nice big patch of grass where I can imagine some good cricket matches were played. After hitting the tea house in Chinatown I headed back to the hotel for a dip in the pool while Juliet did some shopping at the nearby NuSentral mall. We got a taxi back to Bangsar and had a Turkish bath followed by a foot massage. Very nice and good clean fun – RM 330, a bit of a treat but didn’t break the bank. We then stayed in the Bangsar area and watched the sunset while knocking over a few bottles of Sauvignon Blanc, oysters, barramundi risotto and some lamb kofta. Great food, this town really is about the food, don’t come here if you’re on a diet!
We left plenty to do next time, as we deliberately avoided the Bukit Bintang area at night as it was some way from our hotel and we were concerned about getting a taxi back at a reasonable price, as taxis don’t like to use the meter in KL. Lots of bars in that area and the street food of Jalan Alor, so in some ways it’s a shame we missed it but with only a few days we were never going to get to all the places we wanted to visit anyway.
On Sunday we made a quick dash to Chinatown for some food before picking up our bag and heading to the airport on the train (KLIA Ekspress – RM 35 p/p one way to KLIA2). We were back in Bangkok late afternoon after a somewhat bumpy ride and lining up with the throngs of people at Don Meung waiting for taxis.