13.02.2013 - 15.03.2013
What a difference a day makes!
After a getting the ferry and bus from Koh Tao to Krabi (having a lovely Massaman curry at Mr Krab-I restaurant) we flew to Kuala Lumpur and found ourselves staying here....
Crossroads hotel in Chow Kit, KL
A far cry from our beach at Alvaro
Arriving in KL after nearly two weeks of simple island living was a bit of a shock to the system not only because of all the people, buildings and cars but also the heat and humidity! It was overbearingly hot but we needed to make the most of the afternoon and headed straight out to find the Indonesian Embassy to get the ball rolling with our visa application whilst we were in the city.
We hopped on the metro to Bukit Bintang and walked what would become a very familiar route to the embassy on Tan Razaak. Each stop on the metro is sponsored and so we were getting off at the stop after 'The Colonel'.
Bukit Butang was a bit overwhelming as we walked passed the glitzy shopping malls, designer stores, plush hotels with expensive cars out front and all the traffic. We definitely felt a bit shabby in the clothes we d been travelling in for months even though we had made sure we were presentable to get into the embassy! We did think it might be a laugh to splash out for one night in one of the hotels just to see whether the doormen would let us in with our backpacks.
Arriving outside the Indonesian embassy we were met by a grey wall with a door at one end. We reported in at the window and walked through the door to be met by a sea of people sitting on plastic chairs in a courtyard. It was rammed and then we saw some steps up to another room for people with foreign passports and were relieved that it was practically empty so we wouldn't have long to wait. This relief was short lived as we started to fill in the forms we were told that visa applications were only accepted in the morning, and they would only take 120 applications per day. That morning all the application slots had gone by 9am so we would need to be up early to be at the front of the queue to make sure our application could be submitted! At least we would be a step ahead now we had our forms filled in ready to go.
We headed back to Bukit Bintang and took refuge from the heat in one of the many air conditioned malls. Chinese New Year was in full swing and the mall was decked out in Chinese decorations and it was fun to look at the stalls selling some familiar things from earlier in our trip. One stand had a plasticine artist who could make miniature models with a big head of your likeness, we debated getting ones made of us to send home in case our folks were missing our faces but at about 40 quid a head we decided against it. Would have been funny though as we could have re-used them on our wedding cake!
In the Chinese zodiac I am a rat and Dan is an Ox and we found our signs next to each other (not that its a competition but I had more stars than Dan!)
After Dan was stopped to be interviewed by some students on his thoughts on the mall, this seems to happen to him a lot, we continued exploring the city and came across Jalan Alhor which is famous for all its food stalls but as we weren't hungry we opted for a beer in a bar a few roads over instead. Yep that's right I drink beer now! Although it takes me more than double to time it takes Dan to make my way through a pint!
We continued to explore the city after the sun went down and after a cheap dinner at a local Indian restaurant with the banging of fireworks going off throughout the city we went to find the luminous Patronus Towers!
This is by far one of the most impressive modern buildings I ve seen! So cool!
We were typical tourists trying to taking silly photos infront of it
All that jumping around was knackering in the heat so it was an early night if we were going to have a chance of getting our visa sorted!
The early bird catches the worm so they say... It also finds out that the metro is shut and will be all morning! Great just what you want to hear when you need to get to the embassy on time so we flagged down a taxi and hoped there would not be too much traffic. Luckily we beat the traffic and we also had a friendly driver who pointed out lots of things on the way from their opera house to the local blood bank. When we got to the embassy there was already a queue outside and we were about 30th people in the line. Not knowing if queuing in KL would be the same as 'queuing' in China I was overly aware of any new people coming over that might push in but everyone waited in line. Passing the time in the queue we read our books and also spoke with a local businessman who was in the oil industry and has travelled most of the world it seems through his job, a v friendly guy. As the doors opened we filed in and luckily got a ticket and a seat and waited to be called. After a couple of hours, a few forms, questions and RM170 out of pocket our applications were in and we would need to come back again the following afternoon to pick up our visas. Time to explore the city some more...
We headed towards Imbi market which is meant to be a great place to pick up some breakfast but we were too late and it had already closed for the day. With rain clouds looming we went into a small cafe just as it started to come down. It didn't look like it was going to let up so we went to get a couple of umbrellas on our way...
Some sights of the city...
Whilst looking at the tallest flag pole in the world (100m) in Merdeka square, where Malaysias independence was declared in 1953, the storm clouds gathered again and soon we were in torrential down pour so we dove into the KL City Gallery to keep dry.
It was an interesting exhibition on KL with a great model of the city and all the buildings they were planning to build. It also home to the Arch collection which makes the most amazing pieces of art and models out of wood, we spent quite a while waiting for the rain to die down which meant could take a look around the shop and get myself and my sister a necklace. www.archcollection.com
Dan surprised me with a Valentines meal at Ril's steak house! It was amazing food and also great to have some wine! I don't think we scrubbed up too badly either.
Knowing we would be tackling Kinabalu soon I was on the hunt for some new walking boots as mine were falling apart. Despite all the outdoor adventures you can do in Malaysia and Borneo it was almost impossible to find proper walking boots in KL. From what we found out the outdoor adventures seem to be more done by tourists than by locals in KL which is why there are hardly any outdoor shops in the city. I eventually found some but it would have been easier to get them in the Cameron Highlands where there is a hiking scene than the city.
Boots bought we walked to the embassy to finally pick up our Indonesian visa! And what better way to celebrate than with a cocktail in the Sky Bar on the 30th floor of the Traders Hotel. This has great views of the Patronas Towers and we should have bought our swimming stuff as there is a pool in the bar too!
We decided we wanted to get more of a view of the whole city and so headed to the Menara Tower and its viewing deck (which is 276m high!) for sunset and to see the city light up.
The meal on the revolving restaurant at the top of the tower was a bit pricey for us and so we went elsewhere which was a good decision as we got to see some more Chinese New Year Celebrations of some dragon dancers whilst we sat outside a little Mexican restaurant.
Although the firecrackers they used at the end were a bit OTT, thought a whole building might catch fire! (Video upload not working at the mo but will try to update).