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Trip Malaysia Malaysia   My trip to Malaysia Walter C (US)



My trip to Malaysia

  • 21Nov 2014

    1 Jumping Into Sweaty Weather 21.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


    The trip to Southeast Asia has finally came, as I would be visiting Malaysia and Cambodia. And TravBuddy definitely made it happen, as I wanted to go to a meetup there.

    I would take a flight to Chicago first. Then to Hong Kong, where I had a very short layover, and ended up missing my connecting flight. I would have to go to Singapore, and spend the overnight there. Then hopped on a flight to Malaysia.

    Arriving into Kuala Lumpur an hour later, I was hoping to go to one of the airport capsule hotels, to sleep for a little while. More about the capsule hotel itself, in a later entry. But when talking with other travelers, somehow, I ended up being hooked up with a Vietnamese guy, by another traveler, to go to the city center, as neither of us have ever been to Kuala Lumpur before. I tried to decline it, but he just did not want to listen to it.

    Well, this hookup turned out to be a bad idea, and I'll try to explain the best I can. I wanted to sleep at the capsule hotel, which is time-based. But he did not understand this at all, and kept saying that I just go with him, and check into my hotel. Only problem, is that I booked with a hostel, not a hotel. And knowing how it is with hostels and check-in times, I would not get to a bed for another few hours. Because this guy seemed so helpless and clueless without me, I ended up changing my plan. Plus the fact that I was not sure how to tell him to go away, without being rude. It almost felt like traveling with a family member, and not in a good way.

    We ended up taking the bus, to get to KL Sentral, which is the main train station. That was when we parted ways. Then I walked to the hostel, the PODs the Backpackers Home.

    I had to go through the shopping mall called Nu Sentral, then one block, to get to it. Once there, I tried to check in, but not surprisingly, it was not for some time.

    Even worse, the hostel did not have the air conditioner on from 7am to 7pm. So it was very hot inside, and I knew, coming into Southeast Asia, that I would be dealing with this for the entire trip. I kept hearing how this part of the world is a lot hotter than summers in the Southern US, and now, I can feel for myself why.

    I left my backpack in storage, and took a quick shower at one of the stalls, not too far from reception. Then tried to decide what to do next. I picked up some info, put on sunscreen, and later, some repellent. Then headed to Kuala Lumpur Tower, more commonly known as KL Tower. I took the Metro to a stop, then just walked in a semicircle, getting to the entrance. It was a long and sweaty walk.

    Then there was a shuttle van, that took people from the driveway entrance, to the building entrance. I took it, as it was air-conditioned, and the walk on the driveway was a long one. I went to the ticket desk, and bought one for both the observation deck and open deck.

    Built and opened in 1995, the tower is mainly used to transmit TV and radio signals throughout the city. While not the tallest in the city, it does give a better view and experience than the Petronas Towers (from what I hear). And you get to see the Petronas Towers, though the KL Tower itself is not eyesore either.

    So I went to the open deck first, which was the top level, and outdoors. Hardly anyone there, and I did feel a little whoozy, as there was no fence. After walking around it, as I would see the Petronas Towers for the first time, I went to the observation deck, which was indoors. Walked around that, seeing the city, but in a more bearable enviroment. Plus places to sit down to rest.

    Afterwards, I went back down, and decided to just head back to the hostel. Once I got back there, I was able to check in, and had to get used to having no shoes on, when in the dorm area. But I had my flip-flops on, whenever I went into the bathroom. And I did take a nap, to get some rest and hoping to avoid fall asleep in the meetup later on. But not easy to sleep, as the humid weather was just too much for me to bear. I got ready, and headed to the restaurant, Nasi Kandar, to meet up with other TravBuddies.

    I arrived there, but did not find anyone there. Have to admit, I started to worry a little bit. So I went towards the KLCC. On the way, I would run into some of the TBers, with Jon being the one who recognized me. More TBers would arrive along the way, and we would have dinner and some drinks, and had a very fun time. Even in this hot weather, as I seem to be the only one sweating. And very noticable to everyone else.

    The TBers that were at the restaurant are, in alphabetical order by first name: Anna (Avaria), Bree (BreeB), Brian (Besandri), Greg (greg1976), Hali (halilee), Hayley (hayley_phoon), Jon (northlight), Kanak (kanaknaidu), Masayo (masayo), Rolan (rolanzachary), Soon Thiam (soonthiam), Vanessa (Vanessa_Mun_Yee), Walter (WalterC), Yanti (Aurora78).

    After dinner, everyone was headed to the Aloft Hotel. I was about to get in a taxi, until I thought that I left a pair of glasses behind. So I went back into the restaurant to look, until I realize that I had it all along. Then went back out, and everyone was gone. No big deal, as it allowed me to return to the hostel, to drop some things off, and take a quick shower (little good that does, though).

    Then back out, looking for the Aloft Hotel, which was near KL Sentral. Not easy to find, and I had to stop by a few places for directions, as Google Maps is not exactly clear. I would enter by the parking lot, and walk around the building, until I was able to get inside. Then took the elevator to the poolside bar, where all the other TBers were.

    I arrived there, and met a few more TBers: Darren (DAZMAN50), Jantima (TravChef), Laiza (laichee), Lindy (lindyD), Nathan (nathanshivaliew), Suvani (suvanimokhtar), and a few others whose name I don't remember. I apologize for forgetting names and/or TB screen names.

    We all hung around the poolside area, until it started to rain. Then we all retreated inside the bar, where we all hung out until around 2 AM, when it closed.

    I headed back to the hostel, and in the room, where I became that person making the noise and turning on the light. I was enjoying the AC so much, as it was major relief to me, helping me to sleep a lot better.

    [NOTE - If anyone can help me with the names, I appreicate it very much. Again, sorry that I have forgotten names]

    Fotos & Videos


  • 22Nov 2014

    2 Hot and Rainy Day With TBers 22.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


    Getting up in the room, with the air conditioner on, it felt really good. It would turn off around 7 AM, and it was time to get ready for the day. I hoped to visit 3 attractions on this day, plus meet up with TBers.

    After eating a very basic breakfast, I asked directions from hostel staff, and even got a new map, to get to the national museum. But neither were much help, as I got completely confused. I went through KL Sentral, and got out on the other side. I went one way, then the other way, as it seemed the sidewalk would end, making me think that I went the wrong way. Then I decided to go through the Hilton parking garage, and would have to walk along streets with a very narrow or no sidewalk. I was confused, until a local came to help, and showed me the way to the museum.

    I arrived there, and went into one building, which I thought, was a museum. But it was actually a special exhibition, requiring separate admission. So I went to the ticket booth, to pay admission. Then found the entrance to the museum, which is divided into 4 galleries, from A to D. Each one focusing on a different time period on Malaysian history.

    A great museum, and after seeing it, it made me wish that I had more time in Malaysia, as I learned that there is so much more to see than I planned to see on this trip. Only tough part, is getting to it.

    After seeing the museum, I decided to walk to the National Mosque of Malaysia and the Islamic Arts Museum. And oh boy, this was not fun at all. The map that I had, once again, proved not helpful at all. Even worse, was that I forgot to bring a towel with me, mainly used to wipe the excessive sweat on my face.

    I followed a path, which led me to the National Planetarium. I asked for directions, but they made no sense at all. I would go one way, then another way. Until I found a winding, narrow path, that was hard to find, that went down a hill. This wasted away valuable time, as I was dripping sweating.

    Once at the bottom, I found the 2 attractions, but with limited time left, I had to pass on the Islamic Arts Museum, and just visit the National Mosque at this time. When reaching the entrance, it was closed off to non-Muslims during that time. At that point, I just had enough, and headed back to the hostel by train, to wash up again (little good that does for me) and get that towel.

    I went back to KL Sentral, and met up with the TBers there, including some that arrived into town this morning. And ate lunch with some of them in McDonald's there, as we had time until the next train left for Batu Caves. Afterwards, we all rode the train, heading to the Batu Caves.

    Once we got there, we walked to the entrance of Batu Caves. Most of us were visiting for the very first time, and the ones that went the steps. A few others, mainly the KL locals, stayed behind, and waited for us at one of the restaurant. Built in 1891, the Batu Caves serve as a Hindu temple, dedicated to Murugan. There are 272 steps to climb to the top and to the end, passing by some Hindu displays on the side. And going through a series of caves, made of limestone. The art is nice to look, and the huge gold statue is really awesome to look at, in person.

    I remember seeing it on TV a few times, whether it was on "The Amazing Race" or "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations". And now, I finally got to see it with my own 2 eyes. The climb was not easy, especially for this out-of-shape guy. A lot more than the Rocky steps back in my hometown, and the humidity just made it harder for me. Plus having to avoid stepping on puddles along the way. But I made it to the end, and it was a nice thing to do. Going back down was not so bad.

    After all of us reached the bottom, we went to the restaurant, and just hung out for a little while. A good way to relax, even if there was no AC. Then we headed back to city center by train. But I got off a stop earlier than the rest, as I wanted to see the National Mosque.

    I got there, and hoped to see the National Mosque and the Islamic Arts Museum. Unfortunately, it started to rain. Not enough time for the museum, as I did not want to rush through it. So I went to the mosque, and had to wait about 40 minutes until it was open to non-Muslim visitors. It continued to rain, and I had to stand in a dry area.

    But once that time came, I had to take off my shoes, and was able to enter the mosque (finally!). I looked and walked around the mosque. Established in 1965 as a symbol of the newly, independent Malaysia, it was definitely worth visiting. I had to take off my shoes, and wear a purple robe before entering. The exterior architecture was nice to look at. But I was not allowed in the main prayer room, which is only opened to Muslims.

    Afterwards, I went back to the hostel, and decided to do some laundry, and take a short nap. When I woke up, I slept longer than I planned, and had to switch my clothes from the washer to the dryer. Not willing to wait until the dryer was finished, I just left them there, as I headed back out. I knew that I would miss the dinner, and just went ahead the next meeting location, to the SkyBar.

    Getting there was a little bit of adventure. Once I got to the KLCC stop, I went through the mall, and going outside, it was pouring rain. I waited it out for a little bit, then just tried to walk fast (but not run) through the rain. I was able to get to the Traders Hotel, where the SkyBar was. Once I reached the top by elevator, I was able to meet up with the TBers there. Turned out, not all of them were there, as they got separated into 2 groups after the dinner.

    We hung out at the SkyBar. Afterwards, some of us headed to Healy Mac's, while others went back to the hotel. I would walk to there with some TBers. We got there, and met the rest of the TBers. Even got to see Jamal, who I met before, at the Los Angeles meetup in 2012. Since then, he has moved to KL.

    After being Healy Mac's for some time, and hearing some retro tunes, a bunch of us ended up going to another place. I rode in a cab with a few others. But by then, it was pouring rain. I hung around for a bit, but realized it got too late. So I decided to head back.

    With the trains stopped running, I would have to take a cab. I got in one, and the driver would not turn on the meter, instead charging 50 MYR after midnight fare. I was not feeling good about this, and asked him to pull over to get out. But he would not do that, and instead, took me on a joyride around town, taking longer than it should have, to get to KL Sentral.

    When I finally got there, I headed to the hostel, and retrieved my laundry, which have been sitting in the dry all that time. Then had to start packing up a little. Then to sleep.


    The TBers that were on the trip to Batu Caves, are...
    Adrian (adrianpalczewski), Anna (Avaria), Anne (super_otap), Brian (Besandri), Devi, Eunice (yzzinceinue), Haiza (yayai), Hali (halilee), Hima, Jon (northlight), Kanak (kanaknaidu), Masayo (masayo), Maya (mmeymey), Nolan (nolan), Rhea (rheagirl), Rolan (rolanzachary), Roslan (Stupidguy), Soon Thiam (soonthiam), Walter (WalterC), Yanti (Aurora78)

    And would meet more at SkyBay and/or Healy Mac's (in addition to the ones mentioned above)...
    Cathy (CATLIM73), Darren (DAZMAN50), Greg (greg1976), Gwen (jesa145), Hady (hady), Hayley (hayley_phoon), Jamal (Jamal1280), Jantima (TravChef), Karina (KarinaKalinka) and her friend, Meimei (meimei2010), Mira (mnmira), and Vanessa (Vanessa_Mun_Yee).

    And thanks to Nolan and Jon for organizing a great meet-up. And I hope to attend more in the future, as this was a lot of fun.


  • 23Nov 2014

    3 Leaving KL 23.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


    It was time to leave Kuala Lumpur. I had to get up really early, not really getting much sleep. And had to be one of those people making the noise, as I tried to finish up packing and getting ready. Then went to the lobby, to check out and pick up a quick breakfast.

    I went outside, where it was still dark, to KL Sentral. Not wanting to take chances, I decided to take the KL Express to the airport. The train cost a little more than the bus, but it got there a lot faster. I think the trip took about 30 minutes, to KILA2, which is the 2nd terminal of the airport, and where AirAsia is located.

    Once I got there, I went to the one of the machines at the AirAsia, only to find all of them out of order. This was not good, as it was crowded at the terminal. There were a bunch of lines, but all of them seemed to move so slow. Suddenly, I went from having enough too much time, to not having much of it left. I worried that I would be too late to check in, as I read that if I am too late to the gate with AirAsia, then I would have to buy a new ticket, as they don't rebook onto another flight.

    When it was my turn, I was a little late checking in, and had to pay a 10 MYR penalty. Not really clear what the cutoff time for checking in is, for domestic flights. After that, I walked around the airport, which looked more like a shopping mall.

    And I would run into Nolan, Rhea, and Anne, as they were also getting ready to leave KL as well. They were going on a TB trip to Sri Lanka. It was nice to bump into them, but unfortunately, the meeting was short-lived, as departures for domestic and international flights have their separate security lines in different parts of the airport. And I had to get to my gate quickly.

    I went through security, and to the gate, where I got there with 5 minutes before they started boarding. I got on the plane, which seemed to only be 1/3 filled. And I had the whole row to myself. Surprisingly, the plane was kind of comfortable, considering AirAsia is a budget airline.

    The plane left KL, but I was not leaving Malaysia. I was heading to Penang.

    Fotos & Videos


  • 23Nov 2014

    4 Nice Place and Nice Food 23.11.2014 Malaysia —

    George Town, George Town, Malaysia


    Arriving into Penang, I walked through the airport, I picked up a few brochures, and had to get some band-aids for blisters on my toes. Then to the curb, where I waited until the right bus came, and took me to Georgetown.

    I tend to use Penang and George Town interchangeably in this blog, but did realize that they are not exactly the same thing. Penang is the name of the entire island, while George Town is the name of the city on the island, and capital of Penang. Hell, I am not even sure of the exact spelling of the Malaysian city, whether it's 2 words or just 1.

    Anyway, I had to stand the entire time on an already crowded bus, as the airport stop was not one end of the bus line. The ride took about an hour, and I got off as soon as the bus arrived into George Town, near the KOMTAR building. Then I walked to the hostel, Hutton Lodge. More about the hostel in the review here.

    After getting settled in the hostel, and actually enjoying some serious AC, it was time to head out and experience the food. I have always read and saw on TV, on how Penang is the food paradise of Asia, if not the entire world. And now, I am about to see (or more like, taste) it for myself.

    I came to a place that was like a food court, but the difference is there are food carts instead of stands. Hard for me to describe, as I am not sure of the exact terminology. I sat in the dining area, where it is required to buy a drink there, in order to be allowed to sit there. Then, I looked around at the various food vendors, to see what they offered, as each one specialized on a dish. My first meal in Penang, would be laksa. It is a Penang specialty, a noodle dish in fish broth, which was really good.

    After eating, I considered looking for another place to eat, but then decided to walk around to see George Town. I was heading to the Penang State Museum, and saw some buildings of Georgian architecture. Those buildings date back to the colonial days, when Penang was under British control.

    I found the museum, and while happy to be out of the heat, I was not happy that the AC was not put on full blast, as it was not instant relief. The museum starts off with the history of Penang, from the Malay Kingdom period, through the colonial era, towards the present day. Then the museum has separated exhibitions on the major ethnic groups, which are the Malays, Chinese, and Indians, that helped shape the culture of Penang, which can be seen today, as shown in the city of George Town and the local cuisine. Also, there are exhibitions on the Baba Nyonya (also known as Peranakan) and other ethnic groups.

    After seeing the museum, I continued on, looking at the colonial buildings around it. Some of them include the Supreme Court Building and St. George's Church. Then I decided to head to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. As usual, finding it was very time-consuming and tiring, as I got lost along the way. I did find it, but would not have enough time to see this place without being rushed. So I decided to come back at another time.

    I started to head back towards the hostel, passing through Little India. At some point, I wanted to try out some Indian food there, but I was not really hungry at the time. And could hear the Indian music blasting on the streets. After passing through that area, I came to the Kapitan Keling Mosque, which was a huge building. I looked around the grounds, but could not enter. So I headed back to the hostel.

    Back to the air-conditioned room, where it was too much of a temptation to leave. I decided to catch up on some sleep, so I napped for a few hours. When I woke up, it was already dark outside. I thought about just staying around, but that was a bad idea. So I went back out, and to the Little India area.

    As it turned out, that area and others were very quiet, as most places have closed down. It was around 8 PM. But when coming up to the mosque, there was a restaurant next to it, that was open. And already, a line has formed, so it must be good.

    I got myself some nasi kandar, which is a Penang specialty, that has rice, chicken, egg, vegetables, and some curry sauce. It was so good, and wished I could have more, but this place was overpriced. Also, it started to rain really hard. I tried to wait it out, but that would take too long. So I just walked through the rain, until I got back to the hostel.

    While I did not get to do nearly as much as I wanted, it was a good day, and I got to try out some really nice food.

    Fotos & Videos


  • 24Nov 2014

    5 Walking Around George Town 24.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Georgetown, George Town, Malaysia


    I tried to get up early enough, with some things that I wanted to do, on my final day in Penang (and Malaysia for that matter). After eating the basic breakfast, I would pack up as much as I can, as I wanted to delay checking out, hoping to enjoy the AC as much as I can in the room.

    I thought about going to Gurney Drive, the more well-known food hawker stall, and tried to walk there. But after about an hour, I decided to turn around, as it is just too far of a walk. I headed the other way, when I got sidetracked by seeing activity on a street, Jalan Kuala Kangsar.

    It looked like a Chinese street market, with all the hawker stalls along it. I would stop by the one with all the food stalls, ordered 2 dishes, then sat in the dining area. The first one was Wan Tan Mee, which was a noodle dish with vegetables and pork. It was really good. The second one was Chee Cheong Fun, a bunch of rice cakes in soy sauce. Also very tasty, and another nice eating experience in Penang.

    Afterwards, I walked along the street, seeing the different stalls. Then walked around the block, and headed to the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. I would get sidetracked, looking at some buildings and temples for a short time, but not really go inside of them.

    I thought I knew how to get to the mansion, as I was just there the other day, but no, I would get lost once again. After going back and forth for about an hour, I was finally able to find it. Again!

    I went inside, and started touring the place. I knew about this place after seeing it on a couple seasons of "The Amazing Race", as it was visited during its 16th season, as well as the Asian edition of the show. So I decided to check it out.

    Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a typical home of the wealthy Peranakan people. The Peranakan are the descendants of the Chinese immigrants that moved to present-day Malaysia, dating back to the 15th to 17th century. Also called the Baba-Nyonya or Straits Chinese, they settled and adopted the local Malay culture, while still retaining their Chinese culture. I believe those 3 words are used interchangeably, though I forgotten how any of those words were pronounced.

    I would tour the mansion for about 40 minutes, then had to leave, as I had to go back to the hostel, to check out. I would be allowed back in when I came back later. I was on my way, passing by the same street from before, and saw that it was very quiet, as the stalls just closed up. And it was only around noon.

    Got back to the hostel, finished up packing, and checked out. Also had to print my boarding pass there. Then just sat for a bit, as my feet were really tired. Then headed out, going to the same eating place from the day before, having chicken rice for lunch. Once again, it was really good.

    I returned to the mansion, and finished up touring the place. It was not only a house tour, but also a jewellery museum and an ancestral temple. And I did get to have a nice chat with one of the guides. After seeing this place, I headed back out, going to Fort Cornwallis.

    On the way, I would see more buildings of Georgian architecture, including the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. I don't think anyone could go inside it, as it is in the middle of a busy street, next to some weird looking silver structure. After looking at it, I went to Fort Cornwallis.

    Started in 1786, and completed in 1810, for the British East India Company, to defend the island of Penang from invaders. Turned out, the fort was used more for administrative purposes than for defense. Considering its history, there was not much to see within the fort. And would see the same descriptions get repeated again, and so disorganized, that I gave up after a while. This place just feels like wasted potential. I could say a lot, but I better move on.

    After seeing the Fort, I walked along the waterfront, and seeing a war memorial for the wars that Malaysia has been involved in, going all the way back to World War I. Then I headed towards Little India, hoping to try out some Indian food.

    After doing some searching for some time, I did come to one restaurant, but that was when I realized that I had little Malaysian Ringgits left. So I had to go to an ATM, to withdraw more. That meant more walking back and forth, figuring out my way around. This was just an unfortunate reminder that so few places accept credit cards, which I often rely on during my travels.

    Once I got the cash, I just stopped by a place that was on the way. And it seemed like some locals were eating there, so it looked okay. I got a vegetarian meal set. It was an okay dish, as I liked some of them, but did not care for some of the other vegetables.

    I started heading back, and it started to rain really hard. I got sidetracked again, this time by the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple, as the exterior had caught my attention. I ran through the rain, to enter the temple. Built by the Teochew people in 1870. The Teochews are one of the Chinese groups in Penang, who have their own culture and dialect. There are enough English descriptions around the temple, telling the history of the temple and the Teochew people, as well as background on the religion of the temple itself. Too bad that I did not have enough time.

    After seeing the temple, I tried to visit the Kapitan Keling Mosque, but got turned away, as it was closed to non-Muslims at the time. So I just headed back to the hostel, to get my backpack. Then walked to the bus stop near KOMTAR.

    Once there, I waited until I hopped on the bus, that took me back to the airport. Once again, I had to stand the entire time. The ride took about an hour, getting back to the airport. Once there, I was able to get to the gate with some time left until boarding time.

    I got on the plane, which took me back to Kuala Lumpur. Once there, I would stay at KLIA2, as I would spend the night at the Capsule Hotel for 6 hours, which was the time that I paid for. And a different type of hotel. I had an early morning flight the next day, which is why I chose to stay here, and it's cheap.

    After showering and getting used to the place, I went to sleep. Or tried to.

    Fotos & Videos


  • 25Nov 2014

    6 Leaving Malaysia 25.11.2014 Malaysia —

    Perdana Botanical Gardens, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


    Getting up in the Capsule By Container Hotel by an alarm. I did get some sleep, though not as much as I would liked. I had to get up, and pack up, and check out. This hotel is rated not by number of nights, but by number of hours stayed. There is the 3-hour, 6-hour, or 12-hour stay, for those who have long layovers in KL and need a place to freshen up and rest. When checking in, you will have to leave a 50 MYR deposit. Or your passport if you are planning to leave Malaysia the next day, which is what I did, as I did not want to withdraw more of the Malaysian currency.

    From the hotel, I would use the rest of my MYR at a Dunkin Donuts, for a couple of stale donuts for breakfast. They did not taste good. Then headed to the gate at the International Departures part of the airport.

    Getting there with enough time, I was able to board the AirAsia flight. The plane took off, as I left Malaysia, and heading to Cambodia.

    It was definitely a memorable time, as I finally made it to Southeast Asia. Originally, I planned to come to Malaysia just for the TravBuddy meetup in KL, but decided to see more of it by visiting Penang. And I am so glad that I did, as I got to eat some great food.

    This was the first time meeting TBers outside North America, and I am absolutely sure it was a lot better than going to my high school reunion (which is a story for another time). The meetup was a lot of fun, and hope to attend more in the future.

    Fotos & Videos