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2015 MAY MALAYSIA - THE ADVENTURE FOR 2015 BEGINS!

flight Coolangatta, Australia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then free days in KL

Tuesday 5th May 2015 (day one)

Departure day has finally come around. The last week has been somewhat busy. Turning half a century last week and throwing a party before a big trip was a little challenging, but it all seemed to go smoothly. Again thanks to all who helped, contributed and came along to help me celebrate.

With most of our luggage already sent on to Thailand with Michael (Lyn’s son) there did not seem to be the normal last minute packing and repacking panic. All of our bike & camping gear and majority of our clothing has already started the journey towards Europe.

This morning we were up at some still dark hour as our flight was scheduled to depart Coolangatta / Gold Coast airport at 8.40am. This meant we had to be at the airport approximately 2 hours before at 6.40am, which meant we had to depart my home at 5.40am, which meant me getting up around 5am and Lyn (who had to drive from hers to mine) at 4am.

Not many friends or family members were putting up their hands to offer a lift to the airport at this ridiculous hour I can assure you. So it was our good fortune that - we were able to sucker – we could ask my good friend Mandy visiting from New Zealand to drop us down the Gold Coast and then drive herself to the airport later that day for her return flight. Rudely, when our flight had been cancelled a few weeks ago I had changed it to the previous day without a thought for my visiting friend who was flying out the same day but hours later.
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The past week has been great having Mandy over. Think I finally found someone who is on par with me in the talking and drinking coffee department. I reckon we must have clocked up close to 100 cups over the last week!

Check in at the airport was easy as we only had carry-on bags and after a last coffee together we left Mandy with car, gps navman and wishes of good luck finding her way back up to Brisbane airport. I’m sure she will be fine and she has like 10 hours to get lost and found. Thanks Mandy!

On the drive down, sitting in the airport and even when boarding the plane it still had not hit me that we were off on another long holiday. I think it’s the fact that in the last 6 months I have been on several flights having travelled to Melbourne, New Zealand, Darwin, Broome & Adelaide. How privileged am I that flying has become so blasé.

I’m sure it will hit me once the plane doors open and the old familiar aroma of Asia wafts into the cabin. Then I will let out a sign of relief that the adventure I have spent 100’s of internet hours researching and making numerous bookings for is now underway!

Flight as usual was an uneventful 8 hours. I managed to catch a nap.
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We caught the bus (not pictured) from the airport to China Town for a bargain price of 10 ringget each ($3.52), took about just over an hour as the traffic (pictured) was busy as usual.
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Short walk to Petaling Street to our reserved Hotel Chinatown (2). We have never stayed here before, location is perfect for us and as expected the rooms look nothing like they did on the hotel web site. But hey, at 108 ringget ($38.35) per night for air con, flat screen TV, fast internet and hopefully hot shower - for us its a very comfortable start to our holiday.
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After settling into our room, we headed out to find our usual dinner haunt. Chicken satays and a Tiger beer is the meal we usually start every trip with. The price of the satays had risen to 1myr = 35c each, but they were still as good as ever, but of course it’s the peanut sauce accompaniment that really makes this place our favourite. The old lady in the stall next door pushing drinks onto satay diners has also been there as long as we have been coming to KL. Tax on alcohol in Malaysia is high so us having a beer at 17myr = $5.95 is really a treat. But this repeated habit cannot be left off any of our itineraries that include a stopover in Kuala Lumpur.
That was about it for us for today, early to bed after watching a bit of telly (Animal Planet being the only channel in English that worked). Thankfully the shower was hot and pressure pretty good, so we showered and crashed.
It has been a big first day!

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Wednesday 6th May 2015 (day two)

We woke relatively early today. Too early for Asia as the shops here tend not to come awake until 10ish. There are the early morning wet markets which start very early, and people are out and about, but shops and restaurants do not start to open until much later. This suits us fine, as it gives us an excuse not to have to be up and around early in the morning. Hey we are on holidays.

Finally just before 10 we left the room in search of breakfast. We went via Central Market as we had a couple of T-shirts to drop off to the embroidery man, but the centre was not yet open so we found an Indian restaurant to have some food. No western style breakfast here, unless you stay in a flash hotel that offers buffet breakfast, so not much chance of that for us. It always seems to amuse the locals when we pull up a table at these local food outlets. I guess not many tourists eat at these places, but we are up for just about anything food wise. This place looked clean enough and it was displaying newspaper articles which meant it was semi famous for something on the menu. We were seated and served a pulled milky white tea (which to me tastes nothing like tea in any form). It’s very, very sweet, but is hot and just the treat to wash down the oily roti and dahl we were served to eat. All pretty good really and at a bargain price of 8.80myr = $3.08 for the both of us, our hunger was satisfied.

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So what to do when we have visited KL so many times. All the tourist traps & attractions had been visited on one of our many previous visits to this familiar city. We decided to challenge ourselves by going on a public transport excursion to try and find the IKEA store which is located out in the suburbs. You may think this is a lame thing to do, but like I said we have seen every other attraction and being avid IKEA visitors at home, thought this would be a novel public transport challenge. And it was, but a fairly easy one really. We caught the red transit rail line (2.10myr = 74c each) to the very last station Kenlana Jaya, where there was supposed to be a free shuttle bus to take us to the shopping mall where IKEA was located. We sat at the bus station waiting and waiting, finally giving up and catching a bus (2myr = 70c). Good decision as a local lady on the bus told us we just missed the free shuttle as it did drove past the bus stop where is was supposed to pick us up at.

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Of course all IKEA stores are identical everywhere in the world, as is the cafeteria menu. We enjoyed a mushroom soup and shared a plate of the famous IKEA meatballs (which taste the same worldwide) with about 300 other Swedish cuisine eating locals. Prices average out about the same as the prices in Australia, which is pretty high by Malaysian standards, so we were quite surprised that the café was packed to capacity.

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After lunch we had a quick wander around the IKEA shop to confirm they are all identical in products available also. To kill more time before our shuttle bus to take us back to the train station we did a bit of window shopping in the other stores in the mall. Then as we still had time for a coffee, we purchased an overpriced drink in Gloria Jeans Coffee Shop which may just be the worse tasting swill I have ever had served to me, and I think they had a real cheek even calling it anything remotely like coffee!

Boarding the free shuttle just before it departed, we were back at the train station in no time. Usually only a 2 minute wait for the next train we arrived back in Chinatown 20 minutes later, proud of our successful experience on the public transport system.

After collecting our t-shirts from Central Market, we decided to return to our room and celebrate our successful day by drinking our bottle of duty free Amarula! Boy, those litre bottles sure don’t last very long do they?

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Since we’d had a huge lunch and after polishing off the bottle of Amarula, we thought just a small dinner was in order. Earlier at the 7/11 we discovered a vending machine that dispensed mashed potatoes and gravy, which we decided would be a perfect accompaniment to with our chicken satay sticks. Add a bottle of Tiger beer and there we had another well rounded meal.

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The air con in our room is playing up a bit, a lot actually so we are in for a hot humid night. We were offered another room which was half the size and with only a double bed, so we have decided to sweat it out in our original room. After the exciting day we had and with the aid of the bottle of Amarula we drank, I don’t think that sleeping is going to be a problem.

Thursday 7th May 2015 (day three)

First task for today was to find an ATM as we were out of cash. Usually an easy thing to find but after calling into the nearest bank which was just metres away from our hotel I was advised that we needed a 6 digit pin number, not just a 4 digit number as used at home. I have encountered this before and in the past have just added 00 to the beginning and all was fine. Not so this time. The teller in the bank told me the system had changed and we needed a 6 digit pin unless we found an international bank which there of course were none in the China Town area.

We still had about 12 ringgets left which was enough for breakfast so we went to do that and would find a bank later. As usual information was incorrect and the next Malaysian bank we came across I tried my card with a 4 digit pin and it gladly spat out my money to me. I then had to race back to Petaling Street to where our duck lady was as usual selling ducks from a makeshift stall on the foot path. I paid her 25 myr = $8.75 for half a cooked duck and added 2 myr = 70c for a duck foot wrapped in duck liver and kidney as an old man passing had suggested we should try this little treat. Back at our hotel the duck was put in the communal refrigerator for later in the day.

By this time we had missed the breakfast service and as we had returned to the same Indian restaurant as yesterday the waiter and a couple of patrons suggested we have the mee chicken for brunch. Mee = noodles = 2 minute noodles. I find it amusing in Asia where a lot of noodles are eaten everybody uses and all restaurants serve up instant noodles. I don’t think we have ever been anywhere that the noodles have been made fresh. The meal was good enough, noodles with a splash of Maggie and chicken wok fried to within an inch of its life but still moist inside. Highlight for me was again the pulled tea, don’t know why we have never had this before on previous visits, but I’m loving it!

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We covered lots of miles today, seated in the KL Go free buses. There are 4 bus loops that go to various areas around the city. We managed to cover just about every route only getting off to change lines or at the end of a route where we were forced to change buses. Interesting to note these so called free tourist loop bus routes are used by a lot more locals than tourists just to commute to and from work. The buses are pretty good, with most having free WIFI and if you were a first time visitor to KL you certainly could use these buses to get to just about every site and attraction in the city, as well as every major shopping mall, which seems to be a major attraction for most tourists to KL. We are not so much into shopping in this giant shopping centres mainly as they are expensive western brand name shops, but mostly we cannot buy anything as we would have to carry it with us for the rest of our trip and later travelling on a bike extra purchases is the last thing we want.

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It was late afternoon by the time we boarded the last purple line bus which would take us back to Chinatown. We had seen lots of the city today, even a few places we had never been to before. And we were sheltered from the short down pour of rain during the day sitting comfortably in a bus.
Finished the day with a coffee at McCafe in Chinatown, which was half the price of Gloria Jeans coffee yesterday and this one actually did resemble the taste of coffee.

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For dinner we collected the duck from the hotel fridge, grabbed a couple of instant mash potato & gravy from 7/11 and used their tables and chairs to enjoy our feast. The duck was magnificent as usual, we tried the liver and kidney which was inoffensive, but Lyn was a little unsure of how much of the duck foot is actually eaten. Are you supposed to eat the webbing? A mystery we may never know.

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Unfortunately the air con in our room was still not doing much to change the temp so that hotel is going to cop a beating from me on Trip Advisor and we will know better next time. I’m happy to live without air con, but if we have paid for it as we did with this usual upgrade of room, then I bloody well expect it to work! The hotel owner who seemed to live in the room next door to us didn’t really give a shit, he already had our money.

Relatively early night as we have to be up very early for our flight to Thailand tomorrow.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 00:48 Archived in Malaysia Tagged chinatown kuala air duck asia lumpur ikea coolangatta satay Comments (3)

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