Category Archives: Kuala Lumpur 2006

Electronics Shopping in Malaysia

Of course I couldn’t resist the temptation to check for notebooks and similar things now that I am here in Malaysia. My idea was that, even with the VAT I’d have to pay on return to Germany, if that is actually the case, I might still get a good deal on a nice little notebook or a digital camera.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Both notebooks and digital cameras are similarily-priced here as they are in Germany. The cameras are pretty much the same, with some small exceptions (I couldn’t find a few of the interesting models on amazon.de). The notebooks seem to be a little cheaper; I only looked at the very small models (11.1″ and 10.6″), and their prices seem to be roughly similar to what I’d have to pay back home. My hope that some of the cool, small models available in Japan would also be sold here wasn’t realized. The selection of ultra-portables is definitely poor.

The prices here are “list prices”. We could get a better deal by some nasty bargaining (an area I trust Wenny’s skills very much). However, even if I could get, say, 20% discount which she says is realistic, the prices wouldn’t be that much lower than Amazon. Especially if then I’d have to pay taxes. And **especially** considering all the hassle of warranties, different plugs for chargers and power supplies, and the like.

I guess I won’t do any electronics purchases here. Sorry, Malaysia. Maybe I’ll have to fly to Tokyo for some gadget shopping afterall. 😉

Kuala Lumpur Sundries

Some assorted things we did –

**Times Square** is another shopping mall. Went there for an indoor rollercoaster. Pretty nice, but a little too violent in the turns. I was one of the tallest guys to ride it – in fact a guard called me back to check me against the maximum heigh – which seems to be about 2 centimeters more than I measure. The ride itself was short and quite fun but also very violent – the curves very narrow. And one of the last things is passing through a huge plastic flower – which may be adjusted to Asian size; it felt like it would lob my head off. Afterwards, my shoulders were bruised like hell and Wenny was complaining about a bruise on her back. No more rollercoaster for Wenny 😉

**Aquaria** is a smallish aquarium in downtown Kuala Lumpur, at the KLCC. It’s pretty well done – not that I have visited many aquariums in recent years. There is a tunnel which leads you through the main aquarium, and you get to see all the fish etc around you. Nice. We were lucky enough to catch a fish-feeding, and it was pretty empty (Friday, around 8:00pm). Unfortunately, my old, crummy camera wasn’t able to cope with the lowlight conditions combined with the moving fish. So sad. I’ll post what photos are worthwhile later.

**Kuala Lumpur Rats** We also went downtown to see the Supreme Court building (aka the Sultan Abdul Samad building). It features a clocktower somewhat reminiscent of the Big Ben, if much smaller, and with a decidedly oriental touch. We arrived at dusk, and they lit up what looked like christmas tree decorations. Very beautiful, actually. In front of the Supreme Court is a huge lawn, which features the world’s talles flagpole and a line of smaller flags, which tried to avoid being photographed as if possessed by malign spirits. I managed a few snaps, figuring a waving flag of Malaysia would make for a good cover for my photo album for this trip, but the results were both lower quality and fewer in number than I had hoped.

Another feature of the area is the horrible stench – this part of KL seems to be one huge public urinal – an open-air sewer (called a “river” by Wenny, and I guess the water did move, but it’s really a tiny canal filled with the most vile liquid one could possibly try to pass as “water”), and of course, those unpleasant pests: Cockroaches. With their black, chitinous bodies, these particular specimens were easily 5-7cm in length. Fortunately, they are shy of light, and fled when we came across them, into the nearest sewer grate. I do not even want to think about actually having to confront some of these vile insectoid monsters. I get shivers from the thought of normal-sized cockroaches (or ‘rats’, as I call them here, wanting to avoid the unpleasant images); these asian ones will probably give me nightmares. It was a beast of this size which I shared a bathroom with on my last day in Tokyo back in 2001.

**Sunway** One evening we went to Sunway with Wenny, her brother, and his girlfriend. Out in the suburbs of KL, some crazy person has built a shopping mall in egyptian style. I guess if you have as many huge malls as Kuala Lumpur has, you have to distinguish yourself from the competition somehow. The Sunway mall did so by building a huge sphinx-like creature and pyramids and decorating the mall with egyptian-style pillars and so on. Nice to look at, a little too crowded, and way too far away, it’s still a nice building.

The Spires of Kuala Lumpur

I’ve already mentioned that the KL “Twin Towers” aren’t really worth the time. You only get to ride up to the bridge on the 44th floor, stay for about 10 minutes, then go down again. Sure, it’s free, but it’s really pitiful, especially considering you have to queue up at like 7:30am. You cannot get the tickets ahead of time, and you can’t reserve by phone or online either.

We’ve now gone up the local television tower, the aptly named “KL Tower”. It’s not too far from the twi towers, actually, but then, downtown Kuala Lumpur seems to be a surprisingly small city. We had to walk past stinking sewers and up several meters on the way there, but fortunately the final hill could be avoided by taking a free car ride up. Thank you Kuala Lumpur TV tower staff. The entrance fee for the tower itself is RM20, which I gladly paid. By the way: There is also a restaurant up there. We never found a menu for it on the internet. If you want to know the prices of the KL Tower restaurant: A main meal seems to be about RM 30-40, with menues running at around RM100-120. I am guessing you should just assume RM100 per person. That’s still a lot cheaper than many places in Frankfurt. It’d probably be worth to dine up there for the view, at night. I don’t know whether you have to reserve etc. So, don’t blame me for any oversights 😉

Anyway: The view from the top of the tower is really nice. Downtown KL consists of a sea of highrises. It’s not quiteHong Kong, but there are many interesting designs, many of which are obviously inspired by arabic / indian styles. Some have swimming pools on the roof – I’d like that too, some day. Ah, well – if and when I get rich 😉 At any rate it is a great photo opportunity, and I think I took 40+ snaps. Again, I’ll have to provide the actual photos later.

We descended again, feeling much more satisfied by the trip than after the Petronas Towers.

Genting Highlands to Kuala Lumpur

Slow lines, horrible setup, insecure machines. Get out before you pay.

No really huge updates. We got back from Genting Highlands alright and started to hang out KUL. Read: Food and shopping – as I am travelling with a woman afterall 😉 No offense. We also checked for digital cameras and notebooks, but I found nothing worth the hassle of taking it back to Germany – no great savings it seems.

We went up the Petronas Towers today, which is something I cannot advise you to do. You’ll usually have to queue really early, and then you only get to travel up to the sky bridge on the 44th floor. For 10 minutes. And since it’s morning, there are so many reflections in the windows you can’t even take decent photos. Not worth the hassle – we’ll definitely try for the Kuala Lumpur (TV) Tower as well.

Kuala Lumpur to Genting Highlands

92After we arrived at our hotel in KUL, I was not to have much rest. Wenny had us go out and I had my first impression of Kuala Lumpur. It’s warm, it’s humid, and it’s full of people. And cars.

We went to the monorail and from there went to meet Wenny’s brother at the KL Convention Center (KLCC), which is right next to the famous Petronas Towers. We had some food there and did some essential shopping.

145

A word on prices. One Ringgit (or as I call them, “Ringdings”) is about 0.23 Euros. For the dinner for 4 persons we paid about RM60. A coke of about 0.4L (and way too much ice) was about RM2.50. People were a little amazed on how much more expensive restaurants in Europe are. I guess that the time you spend on earning your living gets you roughly the same purchasing power locally as it does in Europe.

The next day – Sunday – we departed the hotel and went to Genting Highlands, which is a kind of gambling town built on some mountain 50km from Kuala Lumpur. First with the bus, then the ascend to the facility itself in a very cool cable car, rising through the clouds over what I guess could be described as tropical rainforest (a first for me). Very much to my relief, the temperatures here are much more acceptable than in the city itself. It’s a huge hotel complex with a couple of rides, a lot of shops and food stands, and a small theme park attached. Unfortunately, as we were to discover today, most of the interesting rides in the later were closed. Too bad. Wenny didn’t get to scare me.

Finally, we did some gambling. I guess that isn’t a hobby for me. I am too careful, and I have a hard time understanding the rules. We still got out 10% ahead, and we didn’t even try too hard. I’ll let Wenny bet some more of my money before we leave. 😉

Further updates as I have a chance to post them.

Arrival in Malaysia

I arrived in Malaysia without problems. I actually managed to catch some sleep before departing, and was out the door only 30 minutes late – because I couldn’t find my iPod photo adapter. And since I don’t have a notebook here I really need the additional storage for photos.

Speaking of photos – I’ll have to show those off once I get back. I am not even going to try and work out a way to get them on the Internet Cafe computers. Nevermind that I fear keyloggers, don’t even want to know how many virusses lurk on this piece of hardware.

Back on topic. I got to Frankfurt International without problems, the bus was maybe 10 minutes too late. However, the KLM desk at Terminal 2 was very empty.

“You’re travelling lightly,” the woman at the xray machine said.

“It was either packing a huge amount of stuff or packing very little. I chose the later,” I replied.

“Well, the counter to the right seems to be empty.”

I looked at the counters. Four lines open, one had a couple there, at another a guy was just leaving.

“Yeah, I don’t think I will steal anybody’s space here.”

The transfer flight to Amsterdam departed an hour late due to the horrible weather. It was alright, nice guy next to me who’s visiting his siter who [emigrated to Norway](http://auswandern.pandemonium.de). He was a bit anxious about flying so entertained him with some stories from my trips. He commented that I seem to fly a lot. Never thought that I do, but I guess he’s right.

82In Amsterdam, I met Arjan. Cleverly, I went to the Meeting Point; he wasn’t able to call or send an sms because he entered his pin code wrong – 3 times. He was smart enough to check there. We went downtown – almost got off at the wrong station – and finally found a nice little place where we did our brainstorming for [Neverwinter Nights 2](http://www.nwnprojects.com/). Very productive.

My long haul flight to Kuala Lumpur left on time at about 20:25. It was a horrible affair – a KLM 747, with the seats seemingly adjusted to Asian sizes. The guy in front of me had to lean back as far as he could for about 90% of the time. He also refused to sit at the window, when a couple with a baby asked if they could sit in the aisle seat. Jerk.

113

Arriving in Kuala Lumpur is not really the immediate culture shock you’d think it is. More like a climate shock. I don’t even want to know what the temperature and humidity were. The immigration process was pretty easygoing, but then I guess no German ever would voluntarily try to sneak into Malaysia. It’s funny how a place like Malaysia has to protect themselves from even poorer countries. The customs inspects was no big deal. After they put big warning labels on the customs form – “FOREWARNING: DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS” – I expected everything from a friendly “open your bag” to a full body cavity search. Not that I would ever carry drugs. Hell, I don’t even smoke cigs. At any rate, I asked the customs guy how things work here and he said, “Well what do you have?” -I shrugged. “Nothing really.” He looked at my bag and waved me through.

One thing that is very different to Europe is the huge crowd of hotel and taxi guys who try to intercept you in Arrival Hall. After about 2 minutes I wished I had a “no thanks” sign around my neck. They don’t accept when you ignore them, and follow for at least 5m repeating the same question again and again. Some didn’t even take a “no” for an asnwer. English must be so difficult.

Oh, and, finally, if you want to meet someone at KUL, don’t agree on McDonalds. Or know that is on the fifth floor in the far right corner.

89After Wenny had finally located me in the chaos, we went to the train station and went downtown to crash at the hotel. 22 hours, 11000 km.

We’ll continue this another day – sorry if there are spelling mistakes, this is an English keyboard and I am thinking I am coming down with a bit of a flu. Not the avian variety, mind you. It started in the horribly cold air conditioning of the KLM 747 and didn’t get better from all the airconditioned places we ran into and out of.

T minus Twelve Hours

148Frankfurt is cold and rainy tonight. The tops of the skyscrapers were lost in the haze when I walked home from going out with my coworkers earlier today. It was definitely unpleasant. Germany is showing me its nasty side, as if to say: “Go away. You will not be missing anything.” I will depart in twelve hours, and I am getting nervous.

I am not used to such huge trips. And I feel woefully unprepared.

My trip, including layover in Amsterdam, will actually take a whopping 21 hours. I depart here at 11am, arriving in Amsterdam at 12:25, departing there again at 20:25 and arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 15:05 local time, which is 8:05 (in the morning) in Europe. In Amsterdam I’ll hook up with Arjan. That should be fun, and we’ll brainstorm on our project for Neverwinter Nights 2. Then a very long flight and I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur – at +30°C. With high humidity. I wonder how well I will take that.

We’ll see.

I fear I won’t be blogging much from the road, but I’ll try to get to an Internet cafe now and then. And if all else fails, prepare for a flood of postings when I get back. I am determined to be better about blogging this trip than the past couple dozen.