The places where moments reside

Kuala Lumpur : Truly Asia

Over the years hearing about the tagline of Malaysia, “Malaysia truly Asia” was about to come true, but not with its own set of nightmares and jetlags. My nightmare started from Lucknow itself when I took the flight to Delhi. Air India, notorious for delaying the flight. The flight got delayed 2 times before I reached the airport, sending my family into a worried frenzy as the time between the two flights was reducing by the minute. At last Air India stuck true to its name and took off... My sorrows did not end here as my flight to Kuala Lumpur in Delhi was delayed even more and took off some 3 hours late. For an approximate flight time of 5 ½ hours my back was crying discomfort as I’m not used to sleeping in long-distance flights. Thank God to English language, I would have got lost in the airport of Kuala Lumpur looking after the signs in Malay. Following the signs I reached the immigration counter and prepared for the long wait as at that time, only a few counters were working. After being in line for some 30 minutes we were through and headed out of the airport to the man who had come to pick us up. The drive from the airport to the city was 62 km, a distance, which was covered in max 1½ hours because of morning traffic and also because of six lane roads, traffic discipline and things which we don’t see in India. 

Arrival: The city was awesome, probably because I felt like playing Max Payne 1 in real life as I stepped out of the airport. That setting was so so true to the game. The drama at the hotel unfolded as we reached there at 11:30 AM (malaysian time), only to realise the checkin time was 2 PM. So you can imagine that we had to wait 2 hours in the lobby for a room to be provided to us. We waited and then gave the agent guy back in India more than any earful at not having being communicated this fiasco to us earlier. An all Indian women group from Kochin arrived and I would tell you later that what hilarity ensued. In the meantime, I went on the market hunt to procure local sims. It had took me quite a few rounds of the various shops and in broken English with shopkeepers to understand the things provided with the sim cards as well as its costs. 

In the hot and humid weather when I got back, the lobby of the hotel was a sight to behold. That women group had come back from the supermarket and all were carrying soaps which are available in India too. Then, without caring a damn about anything, all of them just opened the luggage there in the lobby and started stuffing their recent purchases without caring about how awkward it might look to others. This room situation was not just for us. It was common for every person out there and there were some heated exchanges at the reception in this regard too. By the time we got the room and had things in order it was well past 4 PM. Hungry we headed out in search of a Indian restaurant and found a bunch of them in the very next lane adjacent to our hotel. 

Shopping : My immediate need after that was a Nikon DSLR lens which I was not able to get in India, the destination – Lo Yat Plaza. It’s called the supermarket of electronics, a building 7 to 8 stories high and which could put any Indian so-called market to shame when you consider that it has almost every latest electronic gadgets which you could think of. Its all there. After paying a GST of just 6%, the lens was all mine (a wide-angle lens priced just 1k bucks more than India). From the very latest Xbox to the very latest iPhone to the yet to be unreleased Redmi note 5 in India, I was overwhelmed.

While roaming the market, we came across a large space where various food trucks were lined up neatly, all selling their wares without any shouting or dirtiness, which you don’t see in India. Truly tired from all the constant travelling we returned to the hotel after dinner for a very well-deserved sleep. 

Sights and sounds: The next day was sightseeing. After breakfast our driver cum guide took us on a city tour and I visited the king’s palace, a magnificent structure. It’s a hotspot for the various tourists and the place always beams with foreigners snapping pics of the palace, swivel 180 deg. and you would see the view of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline with Petronas and Kuala Lumpur Towers in the background. 

The next stop was the national war monument, remembered for all the fallen soldiers who had fought for the country’s freedom. I would put it as Malaysia’s India gate and Amar jawan Jyoti. A nice, quiet, serene place which pays homage to the fallen soldiers. A flight of steps takes you to the top and you can spend as much time as you like. 

Next was a handicraft store and the things there were quite beautiful and tempting to buy and I did buy. The Independence Square is a very large field in the middle of the town where elaborate functions take place on the Malaysian Independence Day, nothing much to write about it except that it gives a picturesque view of the various museums just across the road. The National Mosque and railway station are on either side of the road. There is a time and day restriction on non-Malaysians in the mosque, apart from that, you could easily roam in the courtyard and take snaps if you like. How come you come to Kuala Lumpur and not talk about chocolates?? 

One of the delicious stops, I was overwhelmed by the variety of chocolates and also where we got ripped off. A shop where variety of chocolates were made and sold. I spent a sizeable amount of time and by mistake bought 2 boxes of chocolates which had the Petronas Twin Towers engraved in them thinking them to be an assortment of various chocolates inside the box. At 38 MR it was quite steep, but thought it of as memorabilia, only to realise later on in the hotel room that it was just one type of chocolate in the box (think of Nutella in the box). The last stop was the Petronas Twin Towers... And it was huuge when you looked at it. Every type of picture and angle available and it was clicked. The whole tour got completed in just six hours . After lunch and a bit of rest, I headed out to check the monorail along with my father. Switching on the GPS and Google maps we ventured out to the nearest station approx. 2 km from our hotel. We purchased the token till the main railway station but after seeing the chaos, crowd in the coach we aborted our plan and got down 2 stations later. In an effort to get back to the initial station we decided to follow the monorail track above us but somewhere along the line we lost direction and lost our way. Not even Google map was helpful. So we decided to hail a cab and go to the hotel. 

The next day I was excited because we were going to a hill station Genting Highland, but before that it was a stop at the most anticipated though for me – Batu Caves. Even before that the surprise came to me in the form of my female driver for the day- Fifi. She was the most cheerful lady I had met during my stay. 

At Batu Caves make sure that you should have ample time to fully explore all the four caves and must also be considerable really fit to climb a step of 272 steps to the main cave. Be mindful of the monkeys. 

As the temple is under renovation tourists are encouraged to carry buckets of sand from the base of the stairs to the top spot of the stairs as part of volunteer work. We did that and due to humid weather I was experiencing difficulty in breathing. Once up the stairs there is a huge courtyard and after some 15 to 20 steps more there is the main temple with just the top of the cave letting in air, which can become a bit suffocating, which was exactly as my case. After Batu caves we headed to the main destination Genting Highland, a hill station which is quite far and picturesque as weather can change in an instance. On the way there the weather changed from humid to chilly, with the rain and it was awesome. 

There is a cable car which takes you to the top with just one stop in between, which has a temple, so you can alight if you want to otherwise go straight to the top. The top is a big mall cum theme park in itself. When we reached there, the theme park was undergoing renovation. So the only thing opened there Snow world. 

That’s a small place with artificial ice decorated with various props, the temperature there is constantly at -10. So you need to first suit up in full snow jacket and gloves. The guys there also have a look at your shoes and if they are not sport shoe grip type they also give you gumboots to wear. My father couldn’t handle that temperature and he was out in just 10 minutes. Whereas I spend the whole 40 minutes enjoying the freezing temperature courtesy of a Pakistani photographer Imran, which I met there.

After the bravado of -10, I was down with fever immediately as three drastic weather changes and my body was not ready for it. On our return back. I rested for a while at the hotel and immediately made plans for the night show at the Kuala Lumpur tower, which provides a breathtaking view of the Petronas Twin Towers at night. 

After taking the tickets and waiting in line we took a lift which stopped at various floors. We finally reached the top. There are two levels of which you can take the tickets – the observation deck or the Skyview at the very top( Skyview ticket entitles you access to observation deck too but not vice versa. The full paisa wasool is the Skyview where it’s kind of a open balcony which provides an unrestricted view of the whole city. The main attraction is the skybox glass enclosure jetting out from the balcony having a glass floor- it can freak people out. You have just three minutes to take all the pics as people wait in line for their turns. The most popular is the one which has the twin towers in the background. 

Departure: So in a short period of just 2 ½ days in Kuala Lumpur, I completed my trip and headed to my next destination – Bali. On the airport I was super excited when I saw that the Sepang F1 circuit is just 5 kms from the airport, in fact so close that you can actually see the circuit from the airport. The Kuala lumpur airport is so big that there is a train to take you from the main airport to the departure terminals. 

As always, here are my observations – 

1. You will find a number of Southeast Asians in Kuala Lumpur - Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis so language would not be a problem as you might barge into someone who speaks Hindi. 

2. Calling abroad from there is way cheaper than calling local numbers in Kuala Lumpur. 

3. To save yourself from being ripped off by taxis download the “Grab” app and use the taxi service. 

4. Don’t be surprised if you find women doing majority of work there. 

5. The cheapest water bottles are found at the vending machines at various monorail/railway stations where the 500 ML bottle is priced at 1 MR. 

6. Whether you’re travelling solo or through the various travel agents, please make sure about your hotels check in times. 

7. Exploring Batu caves individually would take you approximately better part of the whole day. So, please make sure you have ample time and are fit to climb stairs. 

8. There are sim counters just before the immigration at the airport while arriving so please make sure you have one card ready to talk or stay in touch. 

9. At the Batu caves there someone told me the true picture of India and temples. A local volunteering there said that he had gone to India, but all the priests cared about in the various temples were just money money money and nothing else. In Kuala Lumpur no one asks you for money in temples. 

10. If you purchase anything in Malaysia which totals to over 300 MR in a single bill amount, keep that bill safe and you can show that bill and the product at the airport and get the refund of the GST amount you paid. You`ll have to do a bit of extra work at the airport to get it although there are markings of “GST verification” to guide you to the offices. The concerned shop would fill out the form at the time of purchase. 

11. Don’t keep your original passport with you at all times. A Xerox copy of that should be enough. 

12. Sometimes it can get confusing even for taxi drivers to take you to the hotel so its better if you carry the address of your hotel along. 

13. The natives there don’t understand fluent English, break it up into words and small sentences and they`ll know what you need. 

14. When you arrive at Immigration at Malaysia keep in mind that immigration is damn slow there and by the time you`ll get through, your luggage would be kept among a heap of other luggages alongside the same belt it was supposed to come to. The baggage dispatch is much faster than immi. 

15. For the Indians who think reving up a discover 150 or 180 cc is showoff here, in kuala lumpur sportsbikes and BMWs are quite common. 

16. You can easily get International and Indian cuisines there although different indian eating places have various price differences for the same food items. 

17. Do not...I repeat DO NOT fold, write or dirty the MR ( Malaysian Riggit) otherwise they wont be accepted anywhere for payment. Majority of establishments make a huge deal if the notes are not clean and/or straight. Keep the Indian habit of holding notes away..

Kuala Lumpur : Truly Asia Kuala Lumpur : Truly Asia Reviewed by Shwetabh on 11:36:00 AM Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. it was very interesting travel account. The pictures are nice. When done with the entire trip mail me the iternary. I'll use it to plan budget for such a trip 😁😁