I said in my last post that I was off holidays where exercise was required – well I was wrong!
After checking into our hotel in Kuala Lumpur we immediately set off in search of some food. We had spent the best part of 2 hours getting through passport control at the airport – there were plenty of counters open and the process is quick and easy as most people do not require a visa so it is a simple stamp process (and quick biometrics) but the sheer number of people made it a slow ordeal. Add to that the fact that we had left home at 6:30am and after the 1 hour trip from the airport to our hotel it was then about 4pm – we were starving. A short walk away we were in Times Square and found Nando’s (thanks to the fact that our friends and travelling companions are seasoned Malaysian travellers – and South Africans) much to the delight of the kids – a little taste of home.
We had a small detour to the Liverpool Football Club shop for Sholto to get his fix.
We then went on a food adventure – well a food shopping adventure. This entailed catching the monorail to the next station and burrowing through an immense food court in the basement of the Pavilion Shopping Centre until we reached the mother lode – a supermarket that stocks South African produce – I never thought I would be that excited to see Mrs Balls Chutney, Ina Paarman spices and braai spice. We stocked up with goodies to bring back to Hanoi and headed home. That little expedition entailed about 5 km of walking!
The one thing that struck me about KL is the amazingly efficient integrated transport systems – from free buses to the Monorail, standard trains, the newly opened underground train and the express train to the airport. I felt like a Womble – “Underground, over ground, Wombling free”. Even though we fully utilised these systems we still walked about 10km each day – this certainly made our evening beers well earned!
Saturday brought great excitement as we went clothes shopping – it was really satisfying to be able to buy clothes marked as size L and they fitted as opposed to having to buy size 4XL in Hanoi and still feeling like you could do with a bigger size. I had to buy a small suitcase for all the purchases. We visited a couple of malls and then headed to Chinatown to mosey around the market stalls and have a quick bite at a local eatery – fantastic.
We had read about Jalan Alor (food street) and headed off to experience it for ourselves – it was so good we returned the next night as well. This street is lined with food “stalls” – restaurants as far as the eye can see offering all manner of Asian food at reasonable prices and sizeable portions. I was really chuffed to have fantastic crispy duck!
The day of the Grand Prix greeted us with drizzly weather (fortunately we had bagged a bargain umbrella during the shopping trip so we were prepared). We made our way to the track (45km out of town) by Monorail and KLIA Express train and were then bussed to the track. It was quite a buzz to be there as fans of Formula 1. We had great seats between turn 5 and 6 with a view of the start/finish straight as well. A day to remember indeed and the umbrella got christened – it was worth carting it around.
I noticed sign boards that I thought had been written in pidgin English but discovered that in fact the Malay translations are that simple e.g. motorcycle – motosikal; station – stesen; taxi – teksi – it gave me a good chuckle.
One thing we learned is that the rivalry between the likes of Uber and Grab and the local taxi drivers if very much alive in Kuala Lumpur as it is in the rest of the world and in fact two of our party had an unfortunate incident with local taxi drivers – I would suggest hailing your Uber/Grab from inside the venue you are leaving and putting your phone out of site before heading out to get into your ride. We noticed that a few of the malls have dedicated Grab pick up zones that even appear on the app.
It was great to be in the BIG city with its malls and shopping and loads of cars instead of motorbikes but we were really happy to be back in Hanoi.
The pool deck at our hotel (left) and the indoor roller coaster in Times Square – seen from the pool deck