Category Archives: Kuala Lumpur 2006

Last Day of Photo Updates

2423As promised, I’m going to be done with all the photo updates today. However, before I do that, I just had to do one final big update to the photo Galleries.

First, I have added even more Paris photos. (As [Anna said](/2006/07/16/photos-from-paris/#comment-1257), I have been in Paris a million times.) These photos are from my [Paris trip 2005](/v/paris2005/) with Wenny. Some nice photos there of things I hadn’t taken photos of before: Versailles, Notre Dame, and we were on top of the Eiffel tower, too. Unfortunately, it was in Autumn, so the weather wasn’t perfect.

2002Next up are photos from the [Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, vacation](/category/travelogue/kuala-lumpur-2006/). I had a few of them online before, but that was just a tiny share of the pictures I took. Today I have added about 100 more [photos from Kuala Lumpur](/v/kuala-lumpur-2006/), as well as some from Genting; so enjoy.

2528Last but not least I have also added photos from the recent [voyage to Indonesia]( – again [over 100 photos](/v/indonesia2006/). It’s a representative selection of the pictures we made over there, and I think you’ll like them.

Now all I have to do is fix the titles and descriptions of all of them. Oh my. 🙂

Kuala Lumpur Recommendations

I’ve been back for about three weeks now, and I thought I’d post a few notes on things to consider or to be aware of when you go to Kuala Lumpur.

* **One week is enough**: In one week, you can easily see all there is to see in KL – at a leisurly place. If you stay longer, go to the surrounding areas, or even to Singapore or Jakarta. They’re close by and the tickets – if bought locally – should be fairly cheap.
* **Petronas Towers Skybridge not worth it**: Don’t go up there. Or just show up in the morning at 10:00 and see if they still have tickets. Don’t queue for ten boring minutes on the 44th floor.
* **Taxi prices are negotiable**: If you’re going someplace with a taxi, negotiate a price in advance. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Some places use taxi vouchers (central station, for example). Yellow “first class” cabs are more expensive, but if you don’t want to wait around they’re still a lot cheaper than in Europe. And don’t forget to take a real limo back to the airport – for about 20 Euros.
* **Food is cheap**: Some things, especially restaurants, are dirt cheap by European standards. A lunch for four persons can be had for 20-30 Euros (total, not each!). Dinner on the KL Tower should be about 30-40 Euros per person.
* **Don’t buy electronics**: My conclusion after several afternoons [looking for notebooks and cameras](/2006/02/01/electronics-shopping-in-malaysia/): Not worth it! Prices are not all that much lower, and warranties **much** worse. I assume Hong Kong or Singapore might be better suited for this – plan a short trip to either of them while you’re in the region. Or just go to Akihabara.
* **Total money needed**: I spent about 700 Euros in two weeks, for two persons (and paying for others at times as well).
* **Don’t be squeamish**: You will run across cockroaches. Don’t rent rooms in cheap hotels.
* **Exchange Money at Money Exchanges**: Money exchange services will be available in many places. You won’t have any problems exchanging your money; they’ll offer somewhat better rates thank banks.
* **Don’t bring excessive amounts of currency**: Malaysia has a limit on US$2500 in cash that you can bring into the country. I doubt you’d need even nearly that much. But even running around with 500+ Euros may feel a little awkward. Why not use a credit- or debit card with a pin to withdraw money at a local bank?
* **Don’t bring drugs**: I mean, [really don’t bring drugs](/2006/02/14/they-werent-kidding/). If you can’t live without weed, fly to [Amsterdam](/category/destinations/europe/netherlands/amsterdam/) instead.

Well, I think that’s it. I hope it’ll help someone out there.

_Post Scriptum:_

I forgot one:

* **Islamic Law**: If you’re a moslem, Islamic law might apply to you as you enter Malaysia. I am not sure how this is handled. If you are a very liberal moslem, this might cause inconveniences to you.

Lessons Learned

I always take photos when I travel, but my [trip to Kuala Lumpur](/category/travelogue/kuala-lumpur-2006/) was the first in a long time during which I made a serious effort to create a travelogue. The only other trip I managed to do so was our [Disneyland Paris trip in 2004](/category/travelogue/disneyland-paris-2004/). Unfortunately, I am not very well equipped these days to handle serious geek travel. Now that I am back home I asked myself: What do I need for my next trip?

Continue reading Lessons Learned

Return Home

95Finally, Frankfurt. [My flight](/2006/02/10/amsterdam-to-frankfurt/) landed and rolled across the airport for what seemed to be eternity. Finally parked in one of the outfield positions. Buses brought us to the Terminal 2 building, and I was genuinely freezing by then. When I arrived at Baggage claim, our bags were already being delivered. Mine arrived maybe five minutes after I had gotten there, probably less. I went to the bus stop for line 61 – more convenient than having to go to Terminal 1 only to wait for the subway. I was wearing my jacket by now, and I was still freezing in the icy air.

Bus 61 almost didn’t stop – it was 2 minutes late and had I been distracted, the driver would’ve just left again. Half an hour later, I arrived home to an equally cool apartement. Never turn your heating down too much.

Dropped all my stuff, went food shopping (covered in thick coat and wearing scarf) and finally dropped into bed, exhausted and happy to sleep under a warm blanket.

Amsterdam to Frankfurt

After a long, [annoying flight onboard KL0810](/2006/02/06/kuala-lumpur-to-amsterdam/) I finally arrived in Amsterdam. Local time: 5:30am. Thanks to my seat, I got out pretty quickly. At the gate, someone else was just asking the only KLM employee in sight where he’d get the boarding card for the connecting flight.

“At the transfer desk,” she answered. “Go this way and just follow the signs.”

Nice, that was my question too. I walked into the indicated direction. Peter, the German courier guy, wanted to smoke, but I was in no mood to torture my lungs with passive smoking, so I bade him farewell, and followed the signs. I located the first transfer desk pretty quickly. Unfortunately, it was deserted. No matter. Surely, I thought, they’d man the more central transfer desks first.

Half an hour of walking through a mostly dark and deserted airport later, I had found at least five of the nine transfer desks. None of them occupied by a single soul. I decided that instead of sitting around and waiting, I’d simply go to the arrival hall, grab a coke at McD’s, and then check in at the normal check in.

Easier said, than done. First, I had to leave the international transfer area. I did expect a passport control, and that was short and painless. I didn’t expect a security check immediately afterwards. What is the point of xraying passengers who just got out of a plane and want to actually **leave**? Beats me, but whatever, if that is what floats the Dutchemn’s boats…

After that little surprise I conitnued on, further down and in a bit of a curve, to the baggage claim area. My eyes focussed ahead, I walked through the dark halls. The baggage lanes were all quiet and empty. Unfortunately, so was the toll gates. “No exit” and “closed”. All of them. And again not a soul in sight. A janitor told me how to get out, and indeed, about a half dozen baggage lanes further there was an open door. Still no soul in sight. Had I wanted to smuggle precious diamonds or the plans for the archvillain’s lair, I’d have had no problems at all.

I proceeded first to the departure area. Trusting the screens to give me the right desks, I first lined up at the baggage drop-off for quick-checkins. A big, flat bag – kinda like a wide painting, wrapped – leaned against the first KLM chick’s desk. Of course, knowing how airports deal with lost luggage, I alerted her to it.

“Thank you, I didn’t see that,” she said.

“I know,” I replied. “That’s why I told you.”

“Of course I don’t know whose luggage this is. I am sorry, excuse me please, I’ll have to call security.”

The next KLM woman told me I was in the wrong line. So I walked over to the other line of counters, where the two KLM women on duty promptly took about 15 minutes for 3 people in front of me. Still, at last, I had my boarding pass. I grabbed a quick coke at Burger King and decided to wait at my gate instead when I began to freeze very seriously. (The arrival hall of Schiphol airport isn’t heated. And I was the only guy in a shirt.)

I found my gate pretty easily – no big walk. The longest delay was waiting in line for the security check. Morning rush I guess. The gate had one flight before ours, KLM Cityhopper to Copenhagen. The checkin was completed, one bus left for the aircraft, one was waiting. Schipol has very clear announcements – not like the very nice sugarcoated messages you’ll hear in Frankfurt.

“This is the last call for Mr. So-and-so travelling to Copenhagen. Please proceed immediately to gate B24. You are delaying the flight. We will proceed to offload your luggage.”

Only Mr. So-and-So arrived about 2 minutes after the second bus had left. He whined and begged. “I have an appointment, I cannot be late!” he cried desperately. The KLM staff told him that should then be more punctual. “We can not delay the aircraft,” they said. Mr. So-and-So thanked them by kicking a garbage bin on his way out. Meanwhile, someone in the men’s bathroom commenced to puke very audibly.

Our plane turned out to be delayed again – by 30 minutes. We finally began boarding – and had to enter a bus as well. This is where I began to seriously regret having my jacket in my checked in luggage. Having come from a place 35 °C warmer, I was shivering about 3cm in every direction. The busses doors were kept open for an unreasonably long time, it seemed to me. And thanks to my non-aggressive nature, I was almost the last to actually baord the plane. I must’ve looked really goofy, the only guy in a shirt among people wrapped in warm coats.

At least it was a long-sleeved shirt.

I was lucky with my seat – 14C, at the emergency exit. Despite the delay in departure, we miraculously arrived in Frankfurt on time. And on the approach to Frankfurt International, I saw what I least wanted to see: The area was covered in a thin layer of snow.

Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam

Leaving Malaysia was even less hassle than entering. Polite people, I have to say. Boarding the KLM 747 wasn’t a big hassle either. I guess the night had made people a little more mellow than before.

Seat 33B turned out to be okay, but no prize. Seat 34B would have been at the emergency exit with plenty of space for my feet. Even better, seat 32B would have seated me next to a Malaysian girl. Of course she slept most of the time, so no big difference. My seat neighbour to the left was a free-lance courier named Peter (from Germany). Nice guy, interesting job. On my right sat a very annoying and very overweight Dutch woman. Easily mid to late fifties, she was a head shorter than me but at least as wide. Besides her constant coughing, she had the annoying habit to try and sleep in her seat laying on her side. Naturally, this pressed the armrest towards me and reduced the already scarce real estate I was sitting on. If you ever feel down because you’re a small person, my advice is to fly somewhere and enjoy the tortured faces of big guys like me.

And if you’re a fat person – try not to make an ass out of yourself please.

At least the seat right in front of me was left empty, so nobody leaned back from there this time.

The KLM staff was neutral and didn’t exactly thrill me with their attitude, but they didn’t do anything wrong. The food, of course, was pretty horrible. KLM hasn’t learned anything about food due to the takeover by Air France.

12h+ flights are really not pleasant. This one was in a way not as uncomfortable as [the trip to Kuala Lumpur](/2006/01/22/arrival-in-malaysia/) had been, but it was no joy ride. I was very happy to have my iPod with me as the KLM in-flight entertainment was pretty worthless. I listened to my iPod almost the entire flight, say maybe 10 hours out of 12, probably more, and some more after arrival (in Amsterdam, then back in Frankfurt), and the batteries held. While I had listened mostly to music on my first trip, it was [Corey and Joel’s Radio Show]( all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam this time. I’ll have to buy these guys some drinks some day for entertaining me so much.

Eventually, still in darkness, KL0810 to Amsterdam landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule in the Dutch capital.

Departure from K.L.

98It’s Departure Day. We got up way too early and packed our stuff. We had extended our stay in the hotel until 6pm the night before, as our planes would leave only at 10pm and 11pm. We met with Wenny’s brothers at Secret Recipe; one of them had some additional stuff for her that her mother had sent for her. We dropped that off at the hotel and went out again – checking another of Kuala Lumpur’s many shopping malls. Finally, at 7:00pm and after a last dinner, our taxi arrived – an airport “limo” which is just a taxi that’s a little more comfortable than the normal taxis. Fell asleep multiple time on the way to KLIA. Price for the ride was RM60; when we arrived at the airport Wenny told me a real limo (one of those big ones with 2 seat rows in the back) would’ve been about 100 RM. Too bad she did not tell me before. I’d definitely have spent that money.

We didn’t find the KLM checkin immediately, so we went to Wenny’s Malaysian Airlines counter. Huge queue awaited us – we figured we’d wait forever. I left Wenny there to check for the KLM counter, but the girl at the information stand said the checkins open only 2 hours before boarding, which left us with some time. I returned to Wenny only to find that the MAS people had worked off the line very quickly. The easily 20 people ahead of her had all been taken care of in the ten minutes I was gone.

101Sometime later, the KLM counter opened. The signs were not operating, and they didn’t start checkins. Wondered why until they put up “System Down” signs. The entire KLM checkin had failed, and didn’t get repaired that night either. Took them 10-15 minutes to check in one passenger. With four or five counters open, I have no idea how they managed to check in everybody in time. We waited easily an hour for the four people in front of us to get done; then the KLM girl checked me in until Amsterdam and my luggage until Frankfurt.

Wondering if I’d ever see my bag again, I left with a boarding card for seat 33B in my hand.

This is no Occident

1996I am a sucker for those small details, when and if I notice them. Sometimes they spring into your face immediately, and sometimes it takes just a little while to figure them out. When we arrived in our hotel room, I didn’t oppen the drawer of the desk immediately. I didn’t really expect to find anything there, I was more interested of storing something there. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when the drawer contained not a “Holy Bible” – or even a Koran, Malaysia being a muslim country afterall – but a book containing “The Teachings of Buddha”. Wenny thought someone forgot it there, but I am pretty convinced that the hotel is owned by a Buddhist.

1999I did notice another strange feature of our room immediately after arriving. Someone had glued an arrow to the ceiling, pointing into what seemed a random direction. I didn’t really think much about it – being jetlagged and all – but when we arrived in [Genting Highlands](/2006/01/23/kuala-lumpur-to-genting-highlands/) Wenny told me the obvious explanation: That little arrow is a feature of pretty much every hotel room in Malaysia, and it points towards Mecca – as a convenience to the many Muslim guests so they don’t have to bring a compass everywhere they go. Kinda neat. I like it. And if I owned a hotel in Europe I’d add these arrows to all the rooms too. Maybe Muslim guests would be a small minority, but it’s so little effort for a nice gesture.

And I’m sorry for the pun.

Fresh Young Coconut

127If you order a drink called a “Fresh Young Coconut” in a Japanese style restaurant, know what you are getting yourself into.

Of course, being the naive geek I am, I figured it was just a name, and it’d be some coconut-based drink. Well, I was quite wrong.

The stuff takes some getting used to. The coconut milk is… strange, and the “meat” is difficult to extract. I am thinking I prefer adult coconuts.