Kuala Lumpur: Day 1

Kuala Lumpur Travel Blog

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Aahhh... It was so nice to step off the plane at 4.40am into 24 degrees :) Admittedly, it was also at about 75% humidity, but I'm not complaining. The warm weather makes a nice change after chilly Sydney! Didn't get as much sleep on the flight as I would have liked, owing to my rather rigidly positioned (and taped) shoulder, but enough to not feel like the walking dead when I arrived.

I was pretty annoyed to arrive at the hotel and find I couldn't check in early as planned (and promised) because the hotel was fully booked. I ended up waiting for 4 hours in the lobby because, despite large numbers of people checking out early, my room still wasn't 'ready'.

There were a lot of police staying at the hotel. I think they were in town as part of the extra security surrounding the ASEAN forum being held at the KL Convention Centre, which was not far from the hotel. Can't say I found it terribly comforting having officers walking around the lobby with their service pistols dangling from one finger and unlocked ammunition boxes in the other...

But once I checked in, had a nice long shower and a bite to eat, it was off to do some shopping! First stop was Suria KLCC, the shopping centre underneath the Petronas Twin Towers, where I bought myself a belated birthday present in a little blue box with a white ribbon :D Then I headed off to Sungei Wang to visit my favourite shoe store, Vincci. They make reasonable quality shoes which, when you convert the prices into Australian dollars, are very cheap. Vincci have recently opened up a few stores in Sydney, under the name VNC, but the range is really limited and the shoes are 3-4 times the price they are in Malaysia :(

I thought that arriving on the first weekend of the month-long Malaysia Mega Sale would be great. However, I hadn't anticipated the incredible amount of people (local and tourists) who seemed to have had the same idea. All the shopping centres were absolutely chockers! Trying to buy shoes was a nightmare because Vincci only discount their shoes once a year during the Mega Sale. Still, I managed to find a few in my size, so I was happy :P

By this stage I was feeling pretty tired so I popped back to the hotel for a nanna nap, before going out for dinner with family. After dinner, my cousins, Joo Lyn and Joo Keem, and I went for a quick whiz around the shops again (they're open until 10pm every night!) then for some dessert.

My all-time favourite dessert in Malaysia is ais kacang. At the bottom, theres creamed corn, grass jelly, peanuts and a few other things. On the top, theres a mound of shaved ice topped with evaporated milk and rose syrup. I only like the ice and flavour, so my cousin managed to order one with just that...yum!
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I spent the day just wandering around KL, thinking about how much the city has changed and how it has stayed the same.

The city has been cleaned up quite a lot over the years, especially since the Commonwealth Games in 1998, yet you still smell something different every few metres. And more often than not it can be a little unpleasant :P There are many new buildings with interesting, and appealing, architecture yet some buildings look like they haven't had any maintenance done since the British left.

Some of the public transport, like the light rail and monorail, are modern and innovative but the routes aren't all that convenient and don't meet up in the right places. The best part is the "Touch N Go" system, a swipe card that can be refilled and used on the monorail, light rail, metro buses and for road tolls.

Another obvious difference was the number of Muslim women wearing the burqa. Muslims in Malaysia, and especially KL, tend to be fairly moderate and progressive. Many wear a full headscarf, where their faces are visible but the hair is completely covered, with either traditional-style Malay dress or western clothes. My cousin told me that I wasn't just imagining it, that there were more visitors coming to Malaysia from conservative Islamic countries. She said that it was because they felt more comfortable visiting Malaysia than western countries, especially in the current political climate, and they could buy most of the luxury goods and designer labels in KL that they could get in the UK or the US.

After dinner with the family again, Joo Lyn and I met up with Cynthia and Puay Yeong. Cynthia and PY are old school friends of Joo Lyn and I lived with the three of them for a while when they were in Australia studying at UNSW. It was great to catch up with them and hear about what they were all doing, work wise and otherwise.

Cynthia has been living in Singapore for the past year, working in marketing for the Asian division of an academic book publisher. It was just good timing that she was back in KL on the weekend I was also in town. I now have a place to stay if I want to visit Singapore in the next year or two :)

Puay Yeong was living in Australia for a while after uni, got PR then came back to Malaysia because she felt homesick. She went back to Australia for her boyfriends graduation and they both realised they felt returning to Sydney was like coming home so they'll both be moving back to Australia early next year.

We all had a good chuckle about a conversation we once had, about who would be the first to get married. Cynthia, PY and I all thought that Joo Lyn would be the first, despite her protests. We all agreed that Cynthia and I that would be the last, if at all. As it turned out, I would have been the first cab out of the ranks a few years ago, but it wasn't to be. PY is currently the only one of us with a boyfriend but Joo Lyn has just starting seeing someone and PY has already said that marriage won't be on the cards for her and her boyfriend for at least another few years. So maybe Joo Lyn will prove the three of us right :)

Of course, as it always is when old friends get to chatting, we didn't say our goodbyes until it was way past my bedtime, especially as I had to get a taxi at 6.30am to the airport to make my flight to Phuket. Suffice to say, it was a good thing I was able to make myself a very strong cup of coffee when I woke up a few hours later :P
dodge says:
Haha, it seemed to be nice ganging up with friends and have that kind of girl talk about marriage. My friends and I gang up almost every week and sometime we find ourselves talking about our same old stuff; who gonna get married first. :p
Posted on: Jan 05, 2007