Tag Archives: Kuala Lumpur

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.

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](http://coreyandjoelradio.com/) 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.

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.