Kuala Lumpur - Day 148-150

Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Grocer's Inn Backpackers

Flag of Malaysia  , Wilayah Persekutuan,
Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 148 - 19/07/08

A relatively long bus journey today to Kuala Lumpur, 6 hours in total but the bus was comfortable and immigration was a breeze so it wasn't bad at all. The last three weeks after returning from Europe, it's just been one big Asian city after another. Really looking forward to arriving in Borneo, it's only a few days away now and I can return back to nature for a while.
I crossed the border into Malaysia on the causeway connecting Singapore to the mainland. It's quickly apparent the devastating effect the world's need for palm oil has had on the native Malaysian forests. Palm oil is used as the primary ingredient for bio-fuel. Big areas of the native forest have been cut down for this lucrative cash crop. I've been looking out of the bus window for hours now, and all I can see is a thick density of palm trees covering the landscape. Brief patches of native deciduous forest can be seen, but it's very rare you catch a glimpse of what the Malaysian peninsula once looked like. A travesty really but very profitable of course, and that's all that matters in today's world it seems.
Arrived in KL late afternoon and found a place to stay called the Grocer's Inn backpacker homestay. It's bang in the middle of the old colonial district and Chinatown, excellent central location near the chaotic street market. I feel like I'm back in real Asia now with people trying to sell you stuff on the street, cheap accommodation and eateries. After 2 weeks in Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore it felt really different, not very Asian at all. More similar to big western cities, but KL although very westernised, still has a very Asian atmosphere.
Defiantly see the Islamic influences in KL. The people and some of the architecture make this obvious. Walked around the market for a while this afternoon, and returned back the hostel where I spent the evening talking to nice Nepalese guy who now lives in Thailand. He came to KL on a visa run. He has to leave the country every three months to get a fresh stamp in his passport.
Day 149 - 20/07/08

Today was a KL sight seeing day. I first visited the Masjid Jamek Mosque, the most famous Mosque in KL which was designed by a British architect just over 100 years ago. Then Merdeka Square, which is just a short walk to the west of the Mosque. The first Malaysian flag was flown in the square after gaining independence from the British in 1957. The lush grass square is surrounded beautiful by old British colonial buildings.
I then walked the couple of Kilometres to KL tower which is a massive 421 metres high. It's the 4th highest concrete tower in the world. Great views of the city and the twin Petronas towers which are only around a kilometre away. The tower sits on a little hill in the city centre and the walk to the tower is quite picturesque through a forest. There's a nature trail and picnic benches along the way too.
Next on the list of sights for today was the Petronas towers, the highest building in the world from 1997 to 2003. I think a structure in Dubai now holds the highest building crown. As a piece of modern architecture, I really like the towers with their metallic cladding and the high foot bridge connecting the structures. The first floors of the towers are dedicated to a large modern shopping mall and offices above. It's amazing what oil profits can build.
Used a knife and fork today for the first time in weeks, been using chopsticks or my hands for most meals. I'd almost forgotten how to use weatern cutlery, it was a strange feeling when I picked them up for the first time.
Day 150 - 21/07/08

Missed my flight to Borneo this morning, doh!! Didn't wake up on time, slept through three alarms, must of been really tired. Woke up at 8am in a complete panic, my flight left 9.30am but KL airport is 65km from the city centre, so no way I was going to make it. Booked another flight online this morning which leaves midday tomorrow so I'm in KL for another day and night. To be honest, missing the flight might be a blessing in disguise. Today's ticket was going to Kota Kinabalu (KK) where I was going to start my Borneo adventure by climbing the biggest mountain in south-east Asia, Mount Kinabalu at 4095 metres. I hadn't booked the mountain hut accommodation, which is required to enter the national park. The huts are normally booked up far in advance, so I was banking on a cancellation, risky I know. My flight tomorrow is going to Kuching in Sarawack, which is over 500 miles south of KK. So the revised plan is to book the accommodation when I arrive in Kuching and work my way north to KK in around 10-12 days, then fly to Manila in the Philippines after the climb.
First flight I've ever missed, normally I'm a punctual kind of guy. Nevermind, it's probably for the best anyway.
Did nothing today, thought I'd have a rest day. Slept most of the afternoon. Been feeling really tired recently, don't know why. I've been on the move constantly recently and it's been all go, maybe this is the explanation for my tiredness. Spend the evening on the roof terrace talking to the other residents. It was a rather surreal and strange night. I don't want to go into too much detail but put it this way, it's another interesting story to add to the collection.
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