Famous for 5 minutes!

Trip Start Sep 26, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Malaysia  , Wilayah Persekutuan,
Friday, September 28, 2012

After landing at KLIA late last night, we took the Express train to the city centre. Feeling like our bags actually had a fully grown adult in them we dashed as quick as we could. From there we jumped in a taxi and headed straight to the Citrus Hotel in Chow Kit - an area we were assured was popular with backpackers who like to mix with the locals and experience the 'real' Kuala Lumpur! We learnt in the next few days when the say the 'real' Kuala lumpur they mean mice, rats and what looks like dead bodies but actually tramps somehow sleeping through noise you'd almost need to be deaf to ignore. We arrived at about 1am and were so tired we crashed out. We set an alarm for 8.30 for breakfast but that got ignored! so did 9, half 9 and even breakfast finishing at 10. Was gone 11 when we finally dragged our selves up and out of bed! Who needs alarms anyway??
We didn't know what to expect from the hotel as it had such a mixture of good reviews and bad ones. So our question was how can it have so many faults but be so good. Yep it ticked all the boxes. Alright for what we paid and what we wanted it for but pretty awful really apart from the lobby, the view and the pool. Without going into all the details suffice it to say there is a big tick in the 'I won't be staying there again' box.
After a late start, we felt we really needed to make the most of the afternoon so bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus. This proved to be a sensible idea as we were able to tick lots of our 'must sees' very quickly, including: the Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC and gardens, China Town (where Matt haggled for 2 pairs of sunnies -D&G for me and Ray Bans for him - 17 for both pairs, defo not fake!!!!) China Town is absolutely crazy, such hustle and bustle with anything fake you can think of to buy.
We were doing so well navigating our way round the city until we decided to visit the Palace & National Monument... The Palace was closed as were all roads leading to it so couldn't even get close enough for a photo!!!! And despite me finding a map it didn't lead us anywhere near the monument (probably because it was a map of the Botanic Gardens and not of the surrounding area!) A similar problem occurred in Suria KLCC shopping mall when we were looking for a food court as I was convinced I had seen a sign but in fact led us to the car park!!! So we quickly u-turned on the escalators hoping no one noticed. Oops!!! Eventually we found the food court but kinda wished we'd stayed in the car park as it really wasn't very nice & was completely crazy!!! I somehow ordered us chicken & rice in pepper sauce by waving my hands about and shouting numbers then we were faced with the task of finding somewhere to sit in a huge canteen full of hungry customers. It almost felt like how you'd imagine dinner in an ant farm must be like. People everywhere but we got lucky and sat to eat what was pretty horrible food. When I say eat I mean we managed about half!
A very busy first day in 30 degree heat meant we were worn out pretty quickly so we decided on dinner in the hotel - BIG MISTAKE!!!!!!!! The food was way worse than in the canteen earlier so we went to bed pretty hungry!! Better luck tomorrow eh?!

Today we set the alarms again but this time paid attention & were up, washed, dressed and in a taxi by 7am ready to join the queue for tickets to the Petronas Twin Towers Skybridge & observation deck! We were under the impression that free tickets were given out each morning and that was why you had to queue so early but no that all stopped 2 years ago and now you have to pay RM80 each (about 20) and the early start is just for fun! We decided it was still well worth it and in true British style queued until the ticket desks opened at 8:30! We passed the time by chatting to other people in the queue: a group of young French travellers who waited until the gate opened to decide it was too expensive and a Filipino lady who works as a tour guide in Singapore and has planned our trip there for us! By the time we got to the front of the queue the next available time slot was 11:15 so we decided to have breakfast at the Dome restaurant at the back of the posh shopping centre and have another wander around the gardens.
At 11:00, we joined our group ready to enter the lift to the Skybridge and after watching a cool hologram safety announcement we all bundled in with our cameras ready!! It took just a few seconds to zoom up through the floors to the Skybridge and there we had 15 minutes to take in the views and get lots of pictures! Then we were back in the lift to the Observation deck right near the top! There we had half an hour to read the information, look at the models and again enjoy the impressive views of the city! Personally, I think it was well worth the money and would highly recommend it! The towers stand at 452 metres high and comprise of 88 storeys, with the bridge sitting at 170 metres above street level, all of this makes it the tallest twin structure in the world and the 5th tallest skyscraper! From there, it was a few seconds in the lift back to ground floor and after a few minutes in the gift shop (we bought a fridge magnet!) we were back out into the Malaysian heat!!
We popped back to our hotel to book our flights to Penang and hotel there, as well as booking ourselves onto a tour for tomorrow, then we were off exploring again! This time we just managed to hail a taxi as the sky opened and it poured with rain (the first time since we had arrived despite bad forecasts!). The staff in the hotel had recommended Jalan Alor in Bukit Bintang as a good area to get tasty local food so, deciding nothing could be worse than yesterday, we went to check it out! Well it turns out it could be worse plus the locals were really unfriendly and just glared at us! We continued walking, stopping to buy postcards on the way, and eventually came across BB Park! Inside we found bars and restaurants all serving a mixture of Western & Malaysian food and from other people's plates they looked pretty edible! When we got to the bottom of the precinct we were faced with huge crowds of screaming girls and after further investigation we discovered the Malaysian equivalent of T4 on the Beach was about to begin! We stayed to watch for a while, a personal highlight of mine being the 'ridiculously organised to the point of obsessive' crew member insisting each of the youngsters with tickets enter individually and without pushing or they would be sent to the back!! Matt's favourite tho was the Malaysian equivalent of Westlife singing 'You raise me up'!!!!!
We retreated to one of the restaurants we had passed on our way in and enjoyed some 'Malaysian Delights' washed down with Chang beer! Finally a really tasty Malaysian meal! With full tummys and big smiles we headed off to find a couple of big shopping malls (one selling pretty much nothing but tatt) and Time Square. Time Square is just like the NY version. Lots of lights, bars and restaurants. So a few drinks later we headed back to the hotel ready for another early start tomorrow!

Our alarms woke us bright and early again and we just had time to eat some of the 'delicious' hotel breakfast before our tour bus arrived! We were greeted by the driver who informed us we had 2 other pick ups before the tour really got underway! The first was an Indian man in a hotel behind a market but he hadn't finished his breakfast so we went to the 2nd pick up first! At the Citin hotel we collected a Filipino family of 4 but they hadn't finished their breakfast either so we sat and waited for them!! If they were English they would of apologised and hurried up but oh no. When they were fully fed we went back for the Indian man who, thankfully, had finished eating and was ready and waiting!!! Are you keeping up?!
Eventually, we were on the road and on our way to the Thean Hou Temple! This is a 3-tier Chinese temple which was built in the 1980s. Our tour guide didn't tell us this, we read that in a guide book, all he said as we pulled up was "I meet you back here in 30 minutes". Every weekend and public holiday it hosts huge numbers of wedding registrations and we must have seen at least 10 in the 30 minutes we were there - Matt even became chief photographer for one lucky couple! They'll be regretting skimping out on a photographer when they download their camera!! Outside the temple there are 12 statues each representing the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, so we, of course, had lots of photos taken in silly poses with those!!
Next stop was the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery, located near Independence Square (or Merdeka Square: merdeka meaning freedom) which offers a brief history of Malaysia and how it gained independence from Britain in 1957.
The 3rd visit was to a Pewter factory, I'd love to be able to explain why pewter is important to Malaysia or how they mine it but the truth is, we walked in, they gave us a pewter cup of orange juice, spoke at 90 miles per hour for 2 minutes during which we just about grasped that they make spinning necklaces of the Chinese zodiac animals and flasks that are air tight then we were whisked into the gift shop where you could choose from a vast array of pewter objects to spend lots of money on!! They don't miss a trick with each person, couple or group being assigned a sales person who follows you round with a calculator and sales book ready to pounce on, I mean assist, you if you stop to look at anything more closely! Matt started asking our in tow sales girl questions which she didn't really know how to answer so she sneaked off. RESULT! Of course not. She soon came back! We didn't but anything and quickly made our way to the safety of the tour bus!!
Our 4th stop was the Batu Caves, the first thing you see (besides all the pigeons) when you arrive is a 43 metre tall golden statue (it's of the Hindu deity Lord Murugan apparently - again from the guide book not the tour guide!) then just behind you notice the 272 steps up to the main cave!! The main cave is about 100 metres high and holds statues of different Hindu gods - it was a really impressive sight and worth the very tiring walk up and down the steps and the monkey encounters - they are all over the place when you get to the top, running their beady eyes over everyone's bag, camera and glasses but we managed to steer clear of being attacked or robbed by them.
Our final stop was a chocolate factory, again the Malaysian sales techniques came into full effect with a 'blink and you'll miss it' dash through the factory and straight into the gift shop, this time they cut out all unnecessary explanations altogether!!! As Matt found out when he got told off for walking too slowly on the way to the shop. We did discover a more chilled salesman here though who was very happy to keep opening up taster boxes and let us try loads of different flavour chocolates - needless to say we didn't buy any though!!!
Whilst outside and waiting for the Filipino family to make their purchases, Matt got chatting to the Indian man while I went off to take photos, this led to an embarrassing situation whereby I thought a Malaysian man was asking me to take a photo of him with his friend and children so of course I said yes! Turned out he wanted a photo of me!! Queue awkward pose next to a man I've never met!!! Only then to return to Matt and his Indian friend who wanted a picture with us as well. 2 strangers in 2 minutes. Eeeek!!
Back aboard the tour bus and back to the hotel! We really enjoyed this varied and slightly random tour!!
After a quick freshen up, we ventured back out, this time we decided to walk from our hotel to the KL Tower (or Menara Tower as the signs call it!) The walk there was slightly longer than anticipated as you have to go round main roads and big buildings!! Our efforts were rewarded though as, after jumping in the free shuttle bus to the entrance and buying our tickets to the top, we were grabbed by a crew member of Malaysian Masterchef and asked to go and taste the food the red and blue teams had prepared and vote for our favourites! Sounds simple but then throw into the mix lots of video cameras and over eager contestants and it becomes really difficult to eat while also grinning like a Cheshire Cat and mmmmming after each bite! The food was absolutely delicious and it was really hard to score each piece out of 5 as you'd be happy if you were served any of it! But we had a job to do and overall my vote went to blue while Matt preferred red! Just as we thought we could escape after our free meal, we were pushed in front of the camera and asked to give our opinions - queue very cringeworthy gushing about how amazing all the food was by 2 very hot and sweaty English people - I even managed to slip in the fact my Mum is a huge Masterchef fan!! Goes to air in about 4 weeks, we anticipate being edited out but if anyone fancies trawling the Internet to find a clip of us, we'd be up for having a laugh at our own expense!!!
After all that excitement we finally went up the tower, which offered another impressive view of the city and watched some crazy base jumpers leaping from the top of the tower, some of which even managed to land at the entrance to the tower!!!!!!! Real white knuckle viewing!!!!
From there, we walked to the Petronas Twin Towers to get some pictures of them at night, stopping for drinks in a couple of bars on the way! Unfortunately it decided to rain on our final evening in KL but in some way that made the photos even more twinkly and getting wet was a small price to pay!! A quick jump in a taxi and back to the hotel ready to pack for our flight in the morning brought our time in Kuala Lumpur to an end!
Our lasting memory of Kuala Lumpur will definitely be that of a crazy city with some beautiful views but a less than friendly atmosphere!
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