Kuala Lumpur: Manila in Malaysia

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June 14th 2009
Published: November 18th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

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Langkawi International
Flying in from Langkawi via Air Asia, we arrived at the KL LCCT (Low-Cost Carrier Terminal) past lunch time. Having found out that the cheapest way to get to our hotel was through the Star Shuttle, we immediately looked for their counter as soon as we got our bags. For RM15 per person, the Star Shuttle takes you from KLIA or LCCT to a select list of hotels in the city (check out their website for the listing).
The airport is about an hour away from the city center and as our hotel was the second to the last stop, we arrived at Hotel Istana a little before 2PM already. Kuala Lumpur is just like the Philippines - the traffic, the busyness, the shanties hidden along the stretch of the expressway, the coconut trees, the vendors, the giant billboards, the pollution 😊

Hotel Istana is probably one of the best hotels we have stayed in during this trip. It is very good value for money, especially for a 5-star hotel. Location is perfect - a bit off Bukit Bintang, quiet, safe, right across the Rajah Chulan Monorail station. If you need small goods, there is a 7-11 across the
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street. Jalan Alor is maybe about 10-15 minutes away, Bukit Bintang 10 minutes. The facilities of the hotel itself are very good, except that they do not have Wi-Fi in the rooms and need a credit card if you want an internet connection in your room. The room was huge, modern and luxurious considering we got the deluxe room only. And again, breakfast was amazing! A whole dining room spread of breakfast buffet from breads to congee to noodles to pastries to fruits - heaven! 😊

After settling down and getting our bearings, we set out immediately to explore Bukit Bintang. We were supposed to take the Hop-on, Hop-off tour but figured we will not be able to maximize it since we arrived late. So we just decided to swing it and explore whatever we can in the surrounding area until Dudz and Hannah arrives from Singapore.

We walked about 10 minutes to Bukit Bintang where any shopaholic would go crazy. Rows and rows of shops, blocks and blocks of shopping malls! We first checked out Quiksilver hoping it was cheaper than here but sadly, it wasn’t. We
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hopped from one mall to another - can’t remember them all - and went crazy shopping again. Out of curiosity, we ate at KFC and at first were so happy because the chicken was a lot bigger than ours here in Australia but sadly, not as tasty. Was quite happy to eat chicken rice and meatball soup with the Original Chicken though 😊

After shopping, we decided to head out to KL Menara Tower where we waited for Dudz and Hannah. As it was dark already by the time we all met up and started the tour, it was very disappointing. Having paid RM38 per person just to see lights all over the city, it was a bit of a rip-off. The audio tour would have probably been interesting during the day when you can actually see which buildings and which areas they were talking about but during the night, it all looks the same. There were a couple of souvenir shops and snack shops in the observatory deck. We just ate corn in a cup, that’s all 😊

To maximize the entrance fee, we visited the Zoo as well and had our turns at the F1 simulator.
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our room at Hotel Istana
The Zoo was ok, nothing spectacular, but a welcome respite from the heat as it was air-conditioned 😊 and the F1 simulator? We have better games in Timezone in Manila! 😊

After an hour or so in the Menara Tower, we boarded a cab in the cab stand - remember, no metered taxis in Malaysia so even if it was in a legitimate cab stand, you still have to haggle. We proceeded to Petronas Towers where we had so much fun making fools of ourselves taking pictures in front of the towers. Petronas is beautiful - an amazing gift of architecture to anyone who will have the pleasure of seeing it. We are lucky to have seen it at night when it is at its most spectacular. We just spent minutes and minutes staring at it -- it IS mesmerizing.

After dozens of pictures at Petronas Towers, we went to Jalan Petaling aka Chinatown. We walked around a bit but were so disappointed with the shopping (all fakes and bad fakes at that!) that we just plopped down on the most decent-looking restaurant and had dinner. Dinner was not so bad, only, we were expecting it to be
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our room at Hotel Istana
much cheaper considering the place looked seedy. The only reason we took to the place was because there were lots of other people eating there (mostly foreigners though - maybe that is why it is expensive!). As it was al fresco dining though, we had plenty of time to people-watch and had a good time just passing time away drinking and eating. After that, we looked for Dudz and Hannah’s hotel which was just in the vicinity. They booked themselves in then we dropped by a convenience store for snacks and drinks then went back to our hotel where we spent most of the night just drinking and hanging out.

After a very good breakfast at the hotel, we took the Monorail to KL Sentral where we got our tickets for Genting Highlands. We bought the package (bus, cable car, and Coffee Terrace buffet lunch OR all-day rides) at RM48 each.

The ride to Genting took about 1 hour (I’m not too sure as I was sleeping hehe) and the cable car ride, apparently the longest in the world, 15 minutes. The cable car ride was fun at the start but eventually became boring
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our room at Hotel Istana
as you really cannot see anything else below except forest. Oh and maybe a couple of families of monkeys hooting at the cable cars from trees. The cable car in Langkawi was much more fun.
We chose the Coffee Terrace buffet over the all-day rides pass and made the right decision. The food was good and there were so many choices! We missed Asian food so we ate a little of everything 😊 It was so worth it!

Again, after rolling ourselves out of the restaurant, we explored the hmmm, I don’t know what the building is called but it is where you alight after the cable car ride and which is your starting point for the theme parks. We just walked and walked and walked, past the outdoor theme park (our Enchanted Kingdom looks better, honestly) and the hotel and the casino and then finally asked for directions going to the indoor theme park hehe. One of the staff very nicely walked a long way with us going to the indoor theme park and this is where the fun began 😊 First, we went to the Snow World feature. It was an enclosed area designed to simulate the
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Bukit Bintang
snow experience. You have to wear all the appropriate stuff - snow jackets, boots, gloves (it was a bit yukky because many of the outfits were damp... just thinking about it makes me cringe now). You go inside the dome and have 20 minutes of snow time. There was a toboggan ride too and Kim had so much fun doing that 😊 I did it once and never came back because it hurt my back and butt 😱 Oh and we had a cup of free ice cream inside too 😊

After our “snow” experience, we did the Archery thing where, as with anything that involves hand-eye coordination, I did not succeed 😱 Kim got some good shots but me, forget it. Not a one. Embarassing.

Thinking he was actually good stuff for getting some spot-on shots at the archery, Kim tried the wall-climbing. Needless to say, after 2 tries, he only made it to about a third of the wall bwahahaha. I think he spent more time gearing up than climbing 😱

After those energy-consuming activities, we shopped around while waiting for Kim’s schedule at the Sky Venture. I had a couple of good finds at
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the Mango / MNG outlet store at the second floor.

After a while, we proceeded to the Genting Sky Venture which was going to be the highlight of our Genting tour. It is a skydiving simulator, the only one in Asia I think. When we first got there, there were several people skydiving and their suits were so nice. It turned out they were actually a professional skydiving team practising there. How cool is that! Anyway, when it was Kim’s turn, they had to wait about 30 minutes because it was raining. I think there is an open air vent somewhere in the tunnel and they cannot operate the tunnel when it is raining heavily. So when finally the rain turned into a soft shower, they all filed in in their suits and goggles and one by one, off they went! The tunnel itself is enclosed by clear glass so friends and families (and other curious, not-so-brave bystanders) can watch the “sessions”. The participants are guided one-by-one by a professional skydiver and would then leave them alone so they can float bump crash dive in the simulator 😊 Then he would come in again, hook the skydiver into an
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arm and float and dive twosome just like they do on TV! 😊 It was an amazing and sometimes very funny experience just watching them. I’m sure the skydivers themselves had so much more fun and it would have been an unforgettable experience for them all. Kim has his session in video (cameras not allowed, you’ve got to pay for pics or videos) for posterity! 😊

After winding down from the Sky Venture adventure, we went to see the Ripley’s Museum. It was very interesting and I wish we had more time to explore it as there are lots of cool stuff in there! Unfortunately, it was time for our bus ride back to the city so we had to rush towards the bus stop where hmmm, we missed our bus! We were hungry and tired and pissed that we missed our bus, we ended up eating a can of Pringles on the bus stop bench. Boo. We were told that we had to take our chances on the next bus as seats are reserved. If the next trip is full, we will have to commute back to our hotel which 1) we did not know how to do
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KL Menara Tower
and 2) was going to be very expensive. So when the next bus came, we elbowed our way through and finally got seats. We forced ourselves to sleep through the ride because 1) it was a dizzying trip, lots of zigzags and 2) there was an Indian woman puking her guts out all throughout the ride! Fuckine! Made such a friggin’, stinkin’ mess in the bus - disgusting!!!

So we finally get back to KL Sentral still a little bit groggy from sleep in the bus, took the Monorail and went down to Bukit Bintang instead of Rajah Chulan. We decided to look for Jalan Alor, the hawker street, which is only open at night. Lots of choices there, mostly grilled on the spot, with seats and tables on the street itself. Oddly, the street is not closed to traffic so you’d have cars and pedestrians weaving in and out of the street where the tables were laid out. Nobody seemed to mind though.
We had dinner at the first restaurant in the street, right beside the shop that sold smoked meats. The smoked meats were so good but the dinner was so-so. It was expensive too considering that
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at the KL Menara Tower
this was a hawkers’ street. If you can bring food back home (we can’t as Australia is very, very strict on the bringing in of any kind of fresh or dried food), this store in Jalan Alor is a very good stop for pasalubongs. The smoked and dried meats are excellent and there are a lot of other delicacies as well.

I was sad that we will not be able to eat the hotel breakfast on our last day as we left the hotel very early for our 7AM flight to Siem Reap. KL was very like Manila and I probably would not mind visiting it again on a stop-over (like maybe if we are transiting from Australia to the Philippines) but other than that, a visit on its own is not on top of our list. It was good fun though and as always, there is always something to be learned from visiting a new place. Travel definitely expands your world 😊

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