Saturday, July 07, 2012

Malaysia Day 1 & Day 2 Part 1

Our flight was at 9.30 and we left home in a cab at 6.30, which allowed plenty of time for contingencies. Even on a Sunday morning there a bank up of traffic at the airport. Check in took ages as did Immigration. Our airport really is crap. Are you hearing me Jule and Teddy? We ended up not having time for food or coffee and barely had time to get duty free spirits.

We had paid to select our seats and I am not sure what went wrong but our seats were awful and I can't imagine that we would have chosen non aisle window seats with a bulk head behind us and a panel intruding into the seat area of one. Although we had window seats, we did not have a window. Beside me, trapping us in, was a Malay girl who did not move from her seat for the whole trip. A couple of times we got up to stretch our legs etc. I think perhaps we looked at the wrong plane seating layout or they changed the plane to a different model.

It was the first time we had flown with Air Asia, and apart from our seat locations and the seats not being the most comfortable, the flight was fine and with some gained knowledge, I would certainly fly with them again.

Air Asia has a separate airport on the opposite side of the runways to the main Kuala Lumpur airport. It is known as LCCT, Low Cost Carrier Terminal. Malaysia is rather fond of acronyms. The main airport is known as KLIA, which I am sure you can work out.

The KLIA has a fast express train to KL Central Station but for us to use the train meant catching a bus from the LCCT to the KLIA and then catching the train.

Fortunately our local friend, who I will call Manny as that is close to what we call him, was there to meet us.

I better tell you a bit about him as he featured rather a lot during our visit. We came to know him via our ex NT politician/policeman. He is Chinese Malaysian and visits Melbourne a few times each year on business, pleasure and to see his 'special friend', a retired priest. He has his own business in KL that we suspect was funded by his late partner, a Dutch man who lived with his partner in KL. After meeting the Dutch guy, Manny moved in with both of them and helped care for his partner's partner who was slowly dying of diabetes related matters. Manny was young enough and strong enough to lift the guy from bed and get him into a chair, wheelchair or whatever. One year after the guy died, so did Manny's partner of a sudden heart attack in bed. Did Manny get an inheritance? Possibly. We don't know. Manny is very fond of older guys, like I mean 70 plus, hence the retired priest here in Melbourne. Some of his late Dutch partner's family live here in Queensland and he is well connected with them. By devious means, which I will mention later, we discovered Manny is 37. Never ask a woman or an Asian gay guy their age.

Manny was a wonderful and generous host in Malaysia. The only issue was, instead of us setting the pace, he did quite often.

Once we found each other at the airport, after another long haul to get our cases and clear immigration and customs,  Manny led us to his six month old Audi sports package car. How nice. We drove along the freeway to KL from the LCCT at quite a high speed. I noted the speed limit was 110 but we were going considerably faster. I suppose the trip took forty minutes from the airport to our hotel, the Dorset Regency.

Our check in was painless and we were happy with our 24th level room. Manny left us for a couple of hours and returned to pick us up. He took us around in his car to orient ourselves and at a monster shopping mall, we dined on local food at Madame Kwan's. Like a three year old, I was absorbing things left right and centre. I just read my note that dinner cost us $23 each, which included beer. Not especially cheap.

It was quite late when Manny dropped us back to our hotel. We slept well after a drink and an anaylisis chat about the day.

Monday:

Manny had an appointment with a client in the morning but late afternoon he collected us. We filled in time by walking to the monorail station, catching the monorail to KL Sentral Station, which is not KL Station and buying train tickets for our return journey from Penang to KL.

This was the only time we saw anything like this in Malaysia but the water meters were very exposed in our hotel street Jalan (street) Imbi.

Wow, look, a monorail.What fun.

We fed money into a machine and we received a token to use the Mono Rail. The token was electronically read and opened barriers. At the end of our journey, the system swallowed our tokens. The fare was MR2.10 each, about 70 cents.


Cars and more cars. Malaysia is a car oriented country. Public transport is inadequate, even though millions seem to be being spent on it. However, the monorail is very well patronised. Unlike Sydney's, about to be pulled down, this one goes to useful places for local people. The end to end journey time would be about forty minutes. It seemed quite slow on our first trip but subsequent trips had it travelling at maybe forty km/h.

Our first sight of a temple.

The monorail intersects a light rail line but only very recently was an interchange built. We reached the monorail terminus at KL Sentral, the newish main KL rail station, except the monorail stopped ten minutes walk short of the station. Much work was still happening at the station and I expect the monorail will eventually be extended into the station. It make me wonder about what was going on here? I correctly guessed. Private companies with no obligation to the public to connect things up. The monorail went broke in 2007 and I think the government has taken it over. A lot of work is happening with monorail stations being extended to take longer and possibly new cars. After trudging through the streets of the new Little India, through the noise and dust of the works at the station, up an escalator, we were finally in the cool of the station. As you can see, there is quite a number of shops. What amused me about the directory was for left luggage, I assumed lost or stored, you go to Madam's Keeper. Getting our first class train tickets to travel from Butterworth to KL was quite easy and they cost RM47, about $15, which is not bad for a six hour train trip.

We returned to the Bukit Bintang station and felt the need for a bite to eat and a drink. It was very pleasant sitting at Bon Ton while watching the world pass.

We walked back to the hotel to freshen up and await the arrival of Manny to take us out. I guess 'lintas' means walk.






9 comments:

  1. Martin11:24 am

    lintas means cross.

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  2. Thanks Martin. I thought it was a safe guess. Clearly not.

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  3. Oooooooo, effective and cheap transport actually to relevant places!
    Wonder if Teddy is reading...?

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  4. Anonymous7:20 pm

    What was Little India like? Did you have a nice curry or some other Indian delicasy? I'll be reading your info on Maylaysia avidly because I plan to go there in the not too distant future. V.

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  5. Public transport seems to be inadequate world wide. I think if the Sydney monorail had been built to actually go to useful places it wouldn't be getting torn down now.
    Butterworth? My first husband was staioned there briefly. When he left us behind in Brisbane, the baby had just learned to sit up on her own. When he returned a few months later, she had just learned to walk.

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  6. I hope so Jayne. Malaysia is spending buckets on infrastructure.

    Vik, there were a lot of Indians there. I could just leave it at that with a tongue poking out emoticon. Really, Indians, Indian restaurants and gold shops. Note it was the new Little India. We only saw the original from the car or monorail. I expect it was more interesting. We had marvellous vego India food for lunch a couple of days later. I'll elaborate a little later.

    River, even if Sydney's monorail travelled in both directions, it would have been more useful. Fancy having to do a full circuit at a high cost to go to one station behind you.

    I don't know how parents can bear to not see those high development years of their children.

    Butterworth, from the little we saw from a taxi, was quite modern and unremarkable. Butterworth is on the mainland not far across the water from the island of Penang.

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  7. He only missed four months of her babyhood, she walked at 10 months.

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  8. Our daughter was 'made' in Malaysia and the only word that stuck in my brain was 'Tandas' or toilet, so we weren't too keen on using that as her name!

    Great pics Andrew!

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  9. Ok River. But obviously a lot happens with babies in four months. Ten months sounds very young to walk.

    Kath, indeed you have the word. The only other apart from Jalan that stuck in my head was the word for exit which read and sounded like Kaluha. Thank goodness you did not give Saph the name Tandas.

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