Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kuala Lumpur - We're Back.... To Modern Civilization

Jenni and I arrived in Kuala Lumpur (KL) in the early evening. As mentioned in Jenni's previous post, we flew with Air Asia, a budget airline. Thus, our plane didn't arrive at the normal KL airport terminal, instead arriving at the Low Cost Terminal, about a 45 minute drive from the centre of the city. We managed to get a bus from the terminal to KL Sentral, the main train station in KL. From here we caught a train to China Town where we took a short walk, accompanied by a fellow backpacker to our guesthouse, or more to the point, we followed the directions listed on the Hostelworld website to get to our guesthouse. Upon arrival we were informed that we were at the wrong guesthouse. We had made a booking at Reggae Guesthouse 2, the directions listed on the internet had taken us to Reggae Guesthouse 1. Fortunately, Reggae 2 was only a 5 minute walk down the road, so no harm done.

Upon arrival at Reggae 2, the trouble started. When we told the girl at the desk that we had a booking, she claimed she could not find it. We whipped out the laptop and showed her our booking confirmation as well as series of emails that we exchanged with the guy who manages the bookings for the guesthouse. This didn't seem to help her finding our booking, but fortunately they had 2 spare beds in separate dorms that night so we managed to get a bed each to sleep in. 

The following morning the guy managing the bookings was available for us to speak to. He apologized for the missing booking, but then informed us that we would have to stay in a dorm room for one more night before being able to have a private room for the duration of our stay. We weren't happy about this, but as this was our only option, we went along with it. After another night with us having to swap to different beds within the dorm room for some unknown reason, the guy informed me that we would have to move to the other guesthouse that evening to stay in our private room and then back again the following day for the last night of our stay. At hearing this, I lost my temper and gave him an earful. I sternly told him that we didn't appreciate being screwed around, having to move from bed to bed for no reason each night, not to mention having to move to a completely different guesthouse and then back again. Again he apologized and revealed to me that the reason why they had the mix up was because the booking was originally made for the 30th of August instead of the 30th of July a month too late. Realizing that this was probably a mistake made by me while making the booking via the internet, I was quick to apologize, but even quicker to point out that the mix up had been handled very poorly over the past few days and was still being handled very poorly. I also pointed out to him that over the past few days, I had noticed that ALL of the other guests staying at the guesthouse were only staying for one night only and then moving on. Jenni and I were the only people staying for more than 1 night. I asked him why they had screwed us around by making us change beds, forcing us to sleep in different bunk beds, when at the end of the day it didn't matter because they could have very easily moved one of the many new comers to a different bed, without them even knowing. I also went on to ask him why we had to move from our guesthouse to the other to stay in the private room, when they were so quick to send us to another guesthouse when we arrived. Why couldn't they just let us stay in the private room at the guesthouse we were currently in and just tell the people arriving that night that they need to go down the road to the other to stay that night. After copping an earful, he finally gave in and rearranged some of the other guests that were staying a single night and allowed us to stay in a private room at the same guesthouse for the last few nights. We still had to move from a double room on one night to a twin room on the next, but we figured I shouldn't push my chances any further.

Aside from the guesthouse debacle, our stay in KL was actually very enjoyable. It was a nice change from the cities that we have been visiting throughout Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. KL is very modern with an excellent transportation system and more shopping malls than you can poke a stick at. The area were we stayed, China Town, was all hustle and bustle every night with the busy markets selling all manner of knock off clothes, shoes and DVDs. There was a real mix of people living in KL with many Chinese and Indians. Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim country, so while out and about we saw many women wearing a burqa with their faces all covered except for their eyes. Because it is a Muslim country, not as many people drink alcohol, so the price of a beer is much more comparable to the price of beer in Western countries opposed to the cheap price of beer in the neighbouring Asian countries.

Our first order of business upon reaching KL was to book our bus tickets to some of the other cities we were planning to visit in a few days time. We took a local bus to the long distance bus station to buy the tickets. The long distance bus station is like something plucked straight out of China. As the local bus pulls up to the terminal, there is already a huge crowd of people standing on the outside, banging on the windows and yelling at you to come with them to buy a bus ticket. When we stepped off the bus, us and everybody else had to fight through the mass of people yelling at you and trying to grab you to drag you to their ticket counter to buy a ticket. Unknown to us, there is not a single bus company with a single ticket office that provides long distance buses to other cities in Malaysia. There are many different companies, all with separate ticket counters, clustered together in a large tent, all fighting for your business.

After buying our bus tickets, we spent the rest of the day enjoying one of the niceties that come with modern cities... visiting shopping malls. The last decent sized shopping mall we had visited was in Hong Kong, about 3 months ago, so we were eager to go and see some of the huge shopping meccas in KL. We visited a small dingy mall near the long distance bus station to experience one of the icons of modern civilization, McDonalds, but didn't stay for long as we were eager to make our way to Times Square, the biggest shopping mall in KL. After a bus ride back to China Town and a quick ride on the monorail, we reached Time Square. This place is HUGE! Fourteen storeys... thats right, fourteen; count em'... of retail therapy goodness! Sticking to the theme of indulging in capitalism for the day, we started with a coffee and doughnut from Krispy Creme. We spent the next 4 hours slowly making our way up each floor to look at all of the shops. By the time we got to the top floor, we were about keel over from exhaustion. The last few floors were a bit scarce with many shops either closed or vacant, but this still didn't diminish the sheer size of the place. Included among over 700 retail stores is an indoor theme-park with a roller coaster, cinemas, a fitness centre, a bowling alley and even a hospitality university on the very top floor.

On our third day we visited the lake gardens. This is an area in the centre of the city, similar to Kings Park in Perth with a whole series of lakes and gardens. We couldn't find any straight forward way to get there using public transport, so we ended up just walking as the crow flies in its direction from China town. Along the way we passed through the colonial district which is home to many unique Islamic style buildings like the National Mosque. After wandering around for a bit, we finally managed to make our way up into the gardens where we visited the largest walk-through aviary in the world. Here we saw all manners of birds and were fortunate enough to catch the eagles being fed. As soon as the guy with the food walked into the large cage, the eagles started dive bombing him, narrowly missing him. We soon learned that the reason for this behaviour was because the guy would stand down one end of the cage and throw fish into the air, allowing the dive bombing eagles to catch them in the air as they swooped down. After lunch we made our way up to the top of the hill to visit the flower gardens. There are signs erected at the entrances indicating that there was a cover charge to enter the gardens, but because none of the ticket booths were manned, Jenni and I just waltzed right in. That evening at dinner, we experienced one of the hottest curries that we have ever tasted. The guy at the kitchen said that the dish was 'sweet chicken'. True, it had a nice tasty sweet sauce, but it should have really been named 'bloody hot sweet chicken' as a single taste of the sauce was enough to cause Jenni to go through two whole cartons of milk.

On our last full day in KL, none of the sights listed in our travel guides really jumped out at us, so we instead elected to go and see a movie at one of the local shopping malls. Unfortunately when we arrived at the cinemas in the KLCC shopping mall, we were disappointed to find out that the movie we had our heart set on seeing, 'The Last Airbender', was not out in Malaysia for another couple of weeks. We instead spent the rest of the day just wandering around the mall. It wasn't as big as Times Square, but it was still pretty big with 6 storeys, 2 food courts, cinemas, a fitness centre and even a science centre on the top floor. Jealous of all of the nice and crisp photos that Jenni's new fancy pants camera produces, I picked up a shiny new digital camera to replace my 4 year old Canon camera.

The following day we had to get up early to take a local bus to get to the long distance bus station where we would jump on a bus bound for Melaka.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Gonz, please pick up Dreamcast and a set of faulty Marragas for Samba Di Amigo please! :P

    KL is insane I'm jealous right now I want to go back there!