Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 11 – Kuching – Kuala Lumpur

By Jim

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We woke to a gentle rain in Kuching. We had a few errands to run before our flight. One, we needed to go pick up Barbara's shirt from the tailor [This was the ladies' tailor shop next to the men's tailor I went to]. She did a great job on it, and it was cheaper than my shirt. Also I wanted to get some souvenirs for my colleagues. We then headed back, packed up, checked out, and were off to the airport. Once again, I paid overage fees on our baggage (all those sarongs and souvenirs weighed about 7 kilos!), and we were off on AirAsia's 11:55 flight to KL.

The flight was uneventful. We arrived at KLIA and taxied over to the LCC terminal. On the taxiway we saw a Cathay Pacific plane, and wondered if it was our friend Loren's flight back to the US. (We found out later it was.) We collected our bags and got a taxi to the city. At KL International Airport (KLIA), like many other Malaysian airports, they use a taxi coupon system, where you buy a coupon and give it to the driver. For a premier taxi (we needed the space for our luggage) it was RM92.40 (Around US$30).

After about a 45 minute drive, we arrived at the Renaissance Hotel KL. Holy cow, this place is swanky. A 5-star kind of place, for around $100 a night. We were staying in the west tower of the hotel. Barbara has been told that the west tower had a view of the Petronas towers. Unfortunately, this was incorrect. But, it made up for this shortcoming with a spectacular view of the KL Communications Tower (Menara KL).

The small chandelier

Menara KL - Our View

Barbara took a video of our doorbell and our bathroom

The room was suitable for a well-heeled potentate, and had all of the features we had come to expect such as a doorbell and a telephone in the bathroom. We got settled in, then headed out to find some lunch and see some sights.

Our hotel was also right next to the Bukit Nanas Monorail Station, so we hopped on it to go down to Chinatown to start seeing the sights. We passed a pretty temple on our way there from the monorail station.

You can see the banner around the temple from the election

The hawkers were out in force, selling fake Rolexes, purses, everything. The crowded walk and the pushiness of some of the hawkers sort of creeped out Barbara, so we worked our way into the Tang City food court for some lunch. Fried noodles, bean sprouts, green onions, and some little bits of shellfish (cockles or the like). This improved our mood, so we strolled back to the monorail and the hotel for a nap.

That evening Sadiyuk, who put the training program together, came and picked us up from the hotel to show us some of the city. We drove around a little, then he took us to the Suria KLCC, which is under the Petronas Towers. This is a six-story shopping center, with everything that you would expect to find in a high-end mall. OK, what you would expect in two or three high-end malls. This place is huge, and you definitely need the map to help you navigate.

Barbara wanted to check out some pewter souvenirs, so we went to Royal Selangor first. The pewter was beautiful but on the pricey side, so we took a pass on that. After that, we wandered around the mall a bit.

We wanted to take Sadiyuk out to dinner to thank him for the drive around and tour, so we went to Madam Kwan's. I've seen it described on-line as hawker fare without having to sit outside, or sort of a safe way to explore Malay cooking. This description may set off alarm bells for those of us in the US, whose idea of mall food is dreary Applebees or TGI Fridays. In this case, don't worry. Like about everything else in Malaysia, this is good food. Really good. I had one of their signature dishes, Nasi Bojari, which is a big mound of tricolored rice with a leg quarter of chicken that has been fried, assam shrimp, and beef rending, served on a banana leaf.
Barbara ordered the beef rendang, and Sadiyuk had the chicken curry.
Prices were higher than at the hawker stalls and kopitiams, but not unreasonable for a sit-down kind of place. Portions were large, and we sent Sadiyuk home with leftovers.

He dropped us off at the hotel, and then headed home as he had things to do the next day. I stopped in the lounge for a smoke and a drink, then we crashed out. Tomorrow would be a busy, interesting day. Which for us was the norm in Malaysia.

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