Dotting around KL

Plans are set and I leave tomorrow for Tanah Rata in the Cameron Highlands. In the meantime, some updates on my last couple of days. Admittedly, I’ve spent a lot of them sat on my backside reading, surfing and chilling out. But I have seen a fair bit of the city, too.

First up, a huge “thank you” to Nick and Linda who I met for dinner on Sunday night. Well, I’d eaten by then but I munched on some chicken wings and had a beer while they ate. We chatted for ages about where I’ve been and about KL and Malaysia. They then drove me around for well over an hour so I got to see a lot of the city after dark – not too easy using public transport, especially some areas which are a hike away from the MRT and LRT.

After hardly seeing any of the city on my last visit, I made a bit of effort this time and opted to do both the Chinatown and Little India / Colonial walks from Lonely Planet. Wow. Even looking at the names makes this place sound more like Singapore. Despite the guy in the hostel telling some other guests they’d need to take a taxi or walk to Chinatown, I jumped on the nearby MRT and went three stops west to Maharajalela. This cost about 20p and took less than five minutes.

The walk around is pleasant enough and I was lucky with the weather – hot, but not too sunny. There’s not a huge amount to see, but I can definitely recommend the Central Market if you’re after knick-knacks and souvenirs. It also has a great food court. I got a huge bowl of rice with black pepper chicken for around MR5. A wedding was taking place in the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, so I couldn’t go in. Coincidentally, we’d seen the wedding cars in town the night before.

Nick and Linda had taken me to Merdeka Square the evening before, but it was good to see it in daylight as well. Unfortunately, it seems most government-run things are closed on a Monday so I didn’t get to visit the History Museum. However, I saw plenty of other stuff and the walk did me good!

I lucked out a the rain started just as I returned to the hostel, but didn’t get too heavy. Much better than the downpours when I was here before.

Today was an early rise as I wanted to get onto the sky bridge connecting the Petronas Towers. I couldn’t do this last time as I was only in town on a Monday when it’s closed. The recommendation is to get there early as “only” 1400 tickets are issued. Groups go through in 15-minute segments, but it costs nothing at all. It’s pretty good, too.

An exhibition in the basement tells you a lot about the building with some hands-on gizmos to get some points across. At the appointed time, you’re ushered into a small room and shown a 7-minute advert for how great Petronas is, with a few bits about the towers thrown in for good measure. After this, you head into the lift which whizzes you to the 41st floor where you have 8 minutes to spend on the bridge itself.

The view’s nice but not as impressive as I’m sure it is from the 88th floor. As a tourist, though, this is as high as you can get. It is the highest double-decker span bridge in the world – but I reckon it’s probably also the only one given the obscure description.

I do still think these are pretty cool structures, and even more so now that I’ve been there and read all the bumph about them. They’re certainly one of the more attractive “tallest buildings” I’ve seen. Given the price of the visit (naff all), I’d definitely recommend it. I don’t think you need to get there ridiculously early, but on the other hand I do believe it’s a fairly quiet time now which could have accounted for  the moderately small queue I waited in.

After this, I walked through the park backing onto the KLCC centre and checked out the cinema times at the nearby mall. Despite the poor reviews, I bought a ticket for Babylon A.D. and endured ninety-or-so minutes of complete cinematic tedium. I didn’t even get a salty popcorn – they only do “caramel” and “sweet” here!

Another chilled day, nattering to other people in the hostel then I popped out to a nearby cheap Chinese place for dinner with Alex, a fellow traveller from Switzerland. I patiently walked around with her afterwards as she checked out shoes and dresses – to be honest it made a pleasant change to be out of the hostel and in the fresh(ish) air for the evening.

And that’s KL for this stay. I’ll keep an eye on the Thai situation. If it stays the same I may just head back to KL and fly to Bangkok, or even go to HCM City and leave Thailand for later on. We shall see!

Oh, and as I sit here, Jenny (the Swedish girl I dived with at Sipadan) has just walked into the hostel! Small world…

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