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KL! Kuama Lumpur AKA Kash Loss

2008 May 29
by rob

May 18, 2008

Alex (the Alex from France, not Canada!) and I were both up early in order to catch a bus to Kuala Lumpur (KL). All of the direct buses that day were fully booked, so we took a small detour to Ipoh first. It probably only added about one hour (at most) to our journey, and the cost was actually a bit cheaper (a total of 22 ringit, or CA$7) than direct fares. On top of that, our bus from Ipoh to KL was very comfortable! Only three seats across… and each seat gave us lots of space. It was like a super VIP bus. No toilet, though.

We found a cheap place to stay near Chinatown and wandered around. We got lunch at a shopping mall. After lunch, I went back to the hotel to use the cheap internet while Alex went to the Central Market to shop for souvenirs. She was on a four-month trip by herself around India and Southeast Asia. Her trip was going to be over in a couple of weeks, though, and the time to start shopping had begun.

Back at the guesthouse, the both of us met Christine (from Cologne, Germany). I had been to Cologne twice and Alex used to live there, so the three of us had much to talk about. We planned a trip to the ferris wheel that night to get a good view of the city skyline. We took the train and ended up wandering around for a while trying to find the place since our directions weren’t great and we didn’t have a map. We asked around a bit and a local helped us find the way. It was a longer way than we expected. We even had to walk along, under, and through a highway interchange! We didn’t have to cross traffic anywhere, but it was a bit unnerving and we would have never found our way without our ad hoc guide.

The views from the ferris wheel were really good, but none of my pictures really turned out well enough for me to post here (except the picture above). I *am* starting to get frustrated by the limitations of my camera. I started to seriously think of getting something better when I got to Singapore. Christine had just bought one the day before and she was seriously loving hers. Sigh. I wanted a new camera, too.

We started the long walk back. On the way, we stopped for dinner and got two huge plates of Chinese vegetarian food from a street vendor along with some Carlsberg beers. Yes! The “Old Man Beer” of Canada became my beer of choice in Malaysia!

We originally wanted to go see the Golden Triangle area of KL that night, but the walk to the ferris wheel was too long. The three of us decided to meet up again tomorrow for dinner and drinks and then proceed to the Golden Triangle after that.

May 19, 2008

My camera battery had died last night and I discovered that I lost my Malaysian plug adapter in the Cameron Highlands. Alas, I had to wander around for most of the day without my camera. It felt like I was missing an arm.

Alex and I decided to go shopping and roaming around shopping malls. We took the KL Monorail to a random station in the shopping area and entered the first mall I saw. Alex thought that I intentionally chose THAT mall to go to. Not at all… it was just the first mall (of many) that I saw from the train station. My motives are rarely very complicated!

The shopping mall reminded me greatly of Harajuku (in Tokyo)! There were Asian teenagers walking around in trendy clothes through a mall with trendy cafes and trendy clothing boutiques. Alex and I had our morning coffees at an comic-themed cafe (not really anime, but more American comics) and walked through lots of stores buying t-shirts. I was VERY HAPPY to buy t-shirts there. My last time in Asia, I was unable to buy any clothes because of my size. Asian men and women are generally smaller than us Westerners, so buying clothes can be challenging. Since I lost so much weight, I was able to buy clothes that fit me! I tried on lots and lots of shirts, but only bought two. One was 10 ringitt (CA$3) and the other was an expensive 28 ringitt (CA$9).

I decided that KL doesn’t really stand for “Kuala Lumpur.” It stands for “Kash Loss!” I was going shopping, and I meant it! I also picked up a Fire Mario toy (about 20 cm tall). The most important purchase was yet to come, though.

Finally, it was time for me to buy contact lenses. There were a million and one places to buy them in KL and rumour has it that they were cheaper than Canada. So I decided to go for it. I picked up a 30 day supply of soft daily disposables for 160 ringitt (CA$51). Is that cheaper than Canada? I don’t actually know for sure *shrugs*. The lenses were pretty basic though. They don’t correct for my astigmatism, but that’s okay. They were just to “try out” and see how much I liked them. I know they wouldn’t perfectly correct my vision, but if I liked them enough, I could get better ones in the future.

What do I look like with my new lenses and T-Shirt? Somewhat like this:

I picked up a new Malaysian plug adapter on my way back to the hotel, too. No longer would I be unarmed.

That night, Alex, Christine, and I met up for drinks (or aperatifs, as Alex called them. Sounds much classier than the official Canadian word predrinking) at a Chinatown streetside restaurant. Tiger Beers were cheap and we drank a few before dinner.

Christine told us about this conveyor belt sushi place she walked past the other night. Alex had never had conveyor belt sushi (or kaiten sushi in Japanese), and it was official Kash Loss day so I was all in for the expensive stuff, too. Christine got a few unflattering pictures of me (you can find them somewhere on Facebook) with mouthfuls of big sushi rolls. Alex commented that sushi was not the kind of food you’d eat on a rendez-vous. Sloppiness aside, we all agreed the sushi place was very tasty. No ootoro, though.

After dinner, we continued to roam around the Golden Triangle area. The Golden Triangle is basically KL’s ultramodern shopping area. Something like Shibuya in Tokyo, Times Square in New York City, or Dundas Square in Toronto. There were lots of malls, restaurants, cafes, and shopping outlets for international chains. The monorail snaked above all of the action below.

All throughout the Golden Triangle, we caught glimpses of the extremely picturesque twin Petronas Towers behind other buildings. These buildings lit up the whole night sky and it was hard to miss them. We had to go there! Beautiful pictures awaited us!

We wandered down the streets of the Golden Triangle and made our ways to the twin beacons of light. When we got there, we found an extremely luxurious shopping mall, the KLCC, at the bases of the towers. All of the big name brands were there, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Coach, Burberry. Alex told us about the Burberry purse she got for really cheap in Paris. She would never buy a Louis Vuitton bag, though. Everyone and their cousins in Paris carried bootleg ones. And I thought the practice of bootleg name brands was limited to Asia!

As planned, we managed to get good photographs of the towers, too. Here are some of the results!

It was NOT easy to get all of the towers in one shot. Thankfully my camera’s wide angle lens was up to the task. I guess my camera had something going for it after all. Not many ultracompact cameras have wide angle lenses like mine.

The next day was a designated sightseeing day. Christine had some business at the Vietnamese embassy and post office to take care of in the morning. After she was done, she would meet up with me and Alex to roam the city.

May 20, 2008

In the morning, Alex and I started our sightseeing. We went to the Central Market first. The place was very touristy. There wasn’t anything at this market that any local would want to buy, to be honest. We found a nice coffee shop though. Alex and I both appreciated our morning coffees and wanted only the best! Sure, there was a Starbuck’s near our guesthouse, but we demanded better! Sorry to break the news, folks, but Starbuck’s really isn’t that good.

We continued our walk up to Mosjid Jamek (the Jamek Mosque). I had to put on robes to enter the mosque grounds. Alex had to put on robes and a head scarf. As non-Muslims, we were not allowed to enter the mosque itself, but could only walk around. Even with all the restrictions, it was still a pretty place to see. It was an oasis of serenity in the middle of a big, bustling city.

After the mosque, we walked around Little India. It was okay, but not really what I expected. It was mostly fabric shops. Not really my thing. I did pick up some tasty Indian sweets, though.

From Little India, we walked south to Merdeka Square, the same square where Malaysia’s independence was proclaimed in 1957. It was surrounded by pretty colonial buildings. We met up with Christine there, who had taken care of her morning business.

I captured this photograph in Merdeka Square. It’s probably my favourite “arty” photograph in KL. I think it has a nice composition!

We continued south along the busy streets of Kuala Lumpur and walked past the National Mosque. It’s one of the largest mosques in Asia, but we were unable to enter it since prayers were going on while we were there.

The best part of the day was coming up, though! Behind the mosque was a big park. We walked past the farm of museums and art galleries and went straight to a place where we could lay down on the grass in the shade. We had been walking for hours in the sun, heat, and humidity, and a nice nap was warranted. Sightseeing is hard work, after all. That’s why I don’t do it that often. After the nap, I took a picture of a couple of monkeys at a monkey crossing.

This photograph, of course, is my revenge for the unflattering sushi pictures of me floating around on Facebook.

From the park, we walked back to our respective guesthouses for showers and to recharge before again going out for aperatifs and dinner. Dinner was just cheapo (but tasty) Indian food. After dinner we went to the Reggae Bar in KL’s Chinatown for more drinks. Christine was leaving us in the morning, and we had to send her off well. Thankfully for Alex and Christine, it was Ladies Night at the Reggae Bar and they got cheap drinks. Unthankfully, they were out of Carlsberg beer, so I had to drink Tiger (bleck) which was still more expensive. Lame! I tried to get the Ladies Night discount by offering to show the barstaff my driver’s license photo with my long long (and maybe some would say, lady-like) rock star hair, but they wouldn’t go for it. Lame!

May 21, 2008

Today was my last day in the Malaysian capital. Christine had left for the Cameron Highlands, so it was back to just me and Alex. Our plans today weren’t very ambitious. We had cheap Indian food for breakfast and then walked to the Times Square shopping mall. We were there to watch the movie Iron Man in air conditioned comfort! I’m not usually into superhero movies, but reviews said that it was really good, so we were up for watching it. We really wanted to watch the new Indiana Jones, but it wasn’t opening until the NEXT day, so Iron Man it was.

When we got to Times Square we were pleased to see that Iron Man was playing in the mall’s IMAX theatre. A 12:30 showing was super cheap — only 7 ringitt (CA$2)! And that was with a free Coke! I guess watching movies in the middle of the day on a weekday really pays off!

We had time to kill before the movie so we looked for a coffee shop. Sadly, the only place we found that wasn’t obscenely expensive was Starbucks. I knew that I had just knocked it before, but that’s where we went.

The movie was pretty awesome. I really enjoyed it! I liked how the movie was plot and character driven, instead of boring eye candy like many movies. The CG was not “in your face.” I approve.

I need to watch more movies on this trip, especially when they’re only CA$2!

The rest of the day was pretty quiet. Alex and I went for dinner and beers. I ran out of money part way through so Alex had to buy some beers for me. She was supposed to be in Singapore at the same time as me, so I would pay her back then. I was leaving the country in the morning so I didn’t want to take out any more money. It’s very challenging to try and budget your cash so that you run out of money just as you leave a country. Sometimes it leads to last minute spending sprees or last minute fasts.

It was early to bed that night. I had to wake up at 6 AM so I could make it to the airport to catch my flight. Having to wake up at 6 made me sad. I was sleeping much better the past couple weeks. When I was in Laos and Cambodia, I was usually awake at 6 AM anyways. It wasn’t by choice — I was just unable to sleep in. I was doing much better now, though. I was usually sleeping in to 8 AM. That’s a time that I can deal with!

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