This your Malay Massage

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Where I stayed
Frenz Hotel

Flag of Malaysia  , Wilayah Persekutuan,
Saturday, May 7, 2011

Today we woke up early as we only had the morning to explore before our bus to KL. We still had a lot of eating to do.  We only spent 14 hours total in Penang, and we used these 14 hours to eat ourselves silly.  The first stop on the tour today was to a coffee house.  Amy read that the hand pulled coffee and tea are a must try.  I don't drink coffee, but the tea with condensed milk was amazing.  Amy said the coffee was some of the best she ever had.  Next stop on the tour was to the Chinese market.  We grab a table and Amy walks around to get some food.  Once again we are the only westerners, but the people in Malaysia are so nice, they are very willing to help at all times (and stare at us the other times).  We decide to have dim sum for breakfast (as well as more coffee/tea).    We get Chee Chong Fun, broad paper thin rice noodles that are steamed and rolled around a filling of prawns and served with a chili dipping sauce and good ol’ fashioned pork dumplings.  It is a little different than the Hong Kong version, but still very good as well.  We had time to walk around the market and everyone wants to talk to us.  This was the most local experience we have had since Cambodia and we were loving it.

On the way back to the hotel, we decide to have one last meal at an Indian Restaurant.  The local specialty is roti canai (pronounced "chanai") for breakfast.  This consists of the Indian bread roti covered with a curry sauce.  I decided to get mine with chicken.  We enjoyed it immensely and each ordered another roti for the rest of the sauce we had on our plates.  This was our first experience eating in a halal Indian restaurant as Malaysia is a Muslim country.  Amy was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and was getting some not-nice looks from the locals and in an effort to not offend them we ate in a corner and kept to ourselves.  One more coffee and tea finished our meal.  It was getting close to 11 at this point so we quickly went back to our hotel to pack up and check out.  Around 11:30 the minibus comes to get us, and this is the most beaten up bus yet.  Not another day of this.  The bus was old with no aircon and one of the seats had no back.  Luckily for us we only had to ride in it for 5 minutes to the bus terminal. 

Once at the bus terminal we board a large bus with huge leather seats, tons of leg room, and a foot rest that came up to almost a full horizontal position.  It felt like we were in a la-z-boy recliner.  This is the way to travel.  We took the bus from Penang (which is an island) to Butterworth, the first city on the mainland and had to switch to another bus (I knew it was too good to be true).  We are separated onto different buses and were taken to the KL bus.  We get on board and the seats are just as nice.  I also notice a control panel next to the seat, so I push a button and the chairs have massages built in.  Up until now we had a massage in almost every country, so I turned to Amy and told her that “This is your Malay Massage.”   There’s also a flat screen TV showing Bangkok Blow in Malay and then the Punisher in English.  Just when we have a bad day of travel, it is immediately followed by a good day.    We are told the bus ride to KL is anywhere between 4 and 6 hours depending on the number of stops and traffic.  We make a first stop at the gas station an hour into the trip for a bathroom break (there is no bathroom on the bus) and to fill up the bus.  Amy, after 3 cups of coffee, takes advantage of this stop, but I don’t want to leave my seat.  I look over and see that the driver just put 396 ringgit ($132 usd, 200 liters) of petrol into the tank.  There are only 9 people on the bus and if each paid 35 ringgit like we did (most are locals who might have paid less), this entire trip is a losing venture for the bus company.

We get back on the road and continue another hour.  Here I am sitting in my massage recliner on a bus to KL with great scenery and I am thinking that it is too bad that the ride is only 4 hours.  Right as I am thinking this, the bus exits the highway, drives around a local town for a few minutes, and pulls into a mechanic.  Turns out we have a flat tire.  We have made it through 2 months of travel in places where the word road is an exaggeration and buses that were built 30 years ago and never had a problem.  Now we make it to a city with brand new buses and perfect roads and we get a flat.  But I guess better here than another country.    We were fixed up in an hour (which gave Amy a chance to go to the bathroom two more times) and back on the road.  Now we are quite a bit behind schedule, so the bus is starting to hustle with no planned stops for the next 2 hours.  Well no planned stops until they found out Amy with 3 cups of coffee in her system were on board.  We politely ask to stop one more time to use the bathroom (which was humorous for the locals) before finally making it to KL.

We have heard stories about how clean Singapore is, I think KL is learning from their neighbor to the south (or maybe my perspective has been skewed lately).  The city is gorgeous especially since it is quite diverse with a large Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist population which is reflected in the architecture.  Our hotel is near Little India, which is just north of Chinatown.  Being such a nice city, the prices for hotels are a bit higher.  The hostels we found contain shared bathrooms and didn’t get the best ratings.  So we decided to pay a little more for a proper hotel.  We spent $45 on a hotel (which to us has been a lot of money) and are very impressed.  I would compare it to a Hyatt in the states.  As is typical, we drop off our bags, relax for a bit, then immediately go in search of food.  The receptionist tells us to check out the night bazaar directly behind the hotel.  The bazaar was many streets long.  One side of the street contained food, while the other side contained just about any other item you can think of (one stand was selling nothing but Oral-B toothbrushes while one other stand was had 6 staplers for sale).  We didn’t know where to start with the food, so we started with the first thing we saw which was similar to a gyro.  We then had a deep fried sandwich (don’t knock it till you try it) of some sorts, coconut juice, and meats on a stick (chicken, lamb, and beef).  We later found out that this was the famous Saturday Night Market in Little India.  Guess we had good timing.

Once stuffed, we walked to the LRT station to head to the Petronas Towers. Outside the LRT station were loads of high-end shops and we felt like we weren't in Asia anymore!  When planning this trip, we contemplated going first thing in the morning, waiting in line for 2 hours for tickets, then going halfway up to get a view of the city from the sky bridge, but I thought it would be good to get it out of the way at night when it was all lit up.  We were very happy with this decision as the towers are amazing at night.  We took some pictures, then had other people take pictures of us, then moved across the street for a better angle, rinsed, repeated, rinsed, and repeated.  Finally my camera’s battery died, so we had no choice but to stop taking pictures.  We then went inside in hopes of pimping the system and sneaking up to a high floor to get a view.  No luck as the elevators were roped off.  Finally, we tried to see if there was a bar at the top to get a drink, but no luck there either.  So instead we (Amy) got to go shopping in the mall.  Amy has been looking for another pair of shorts because for some reason she only brought one pair (after I told her numerous times we were going to one of the hottest areas of the world at the hottest time of year).  We found UniQlo, an upscale H&M.  Apparently there are stores all over the world, including New York, and the Kuala Lumpur store opened that week (we met the manager who we spoke to for a while since he lived in Philly, he told us about all the store openings across the world).  The place was mobbed, but having been to China, we now know how to push people out of the way, and Amy got a pair of capris.  It was getting late and the stores were closing, and we still had to decide whether we were leaving for Singapore tomorrow or stay in KL for another night, so we decided to head back to the hotel for the evening.  Based on our first impression of this city, we want to stay as long as we can!
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