First on my agenda for KL was to do the skybridge tour at the Petronas Twin Towers. Not only was it free, but it was way high up in the sky with a great view of the city – and I like heights!
You have to go to the towers in the morning as they only offer a limited number of tickets and only for the same day. We got there about 10:00 am and were slated into the 4:15 pm tour.
The twin towers are 88 storeys with the skybridge connecting the towers at the 41st floor. It took 41 seconds (one second per floor) in the elevator to reach it. The ride on the way down is even quicker! The double decker skybridge was put in to act as a connector (and an escape route in case of emergency) between the two towers which house mainly offices. Over 36,910 tons of steel were used and 77,000 sq meters of glass. Let me tell you, it’s impressive.
We also went to the Aquarium one day where we got to pet some little bamboo sharks. Even though they are harmless, it was still scary sticking our hands in to that tank. They felt like slimy silk – it was strange.
They have the largest underwater tunnel in Malaysia. You walk through surrounded by glass on three sides and watch big manta rays, sharks, eels and other fish swim over your head and all around you. I admit that I had a memory of Jaws 3 where the glass breaks on the tunnel…but we were safe in our water shrouded world. It is quite something to see the sharks teeth inches away from your head. We couldn’t resist this picture of two sharks sleeping, one with his fin over the other in a little cuddle.
The rest of our sharks through the glass photos didn’t turn out. When we emerged from the tunnel, they had a little section where you could get a picture of yourself drawn while you wait. A man sat down to get his face drawn while his burqa clad wife sat and waited. We found that a little ironic…and I also saw my chance to ask for her picture. I didn’t know when else I would be able to get my photo taken with someone wearing a burqa so I went over and asked her. She was surprised and started giggling a little – then she asked her husband and he jokingly said that they would charge me for the photo. Even though her face was covered, I could tell she was smiling and she seemed very pleased that I wanted a photo with her.
I figured it was my turn to ask someone for a photo after the dozens of people who had asked for mine. I had so many people (especially Muslim girls) ask for my photo in Thailand and Bali and some Indian men ask for it on the skybridge (they included Curtis in their request). This woman was very sweet – shy and giggly – and I thought she had beautiful eyes.
We used the KL transit system because the trains were a cheap, relatively easy way to get around the city. They’ve got 5 different lines and sometimes you have to transfer between them – but after our first transfer which involved crossing a street and following the crowd through an underground tunnel – we had it figured out. They’ve got station names like Masjid Jamek, Sultan Ismail, Setiawangsa and my personal favorite – Dang Wangi.
Our four days in KL flew by and pretty soon it was time for our flight to Cambodia.]]>
Today was the first time I’ve had my 50 pound backpack strapped to my back for quite a distance (Curtis usually carries it for me because it’s never been further than 50 feet). We left our hotel and had to walk about a block and a half to the first train station. Up several flights of stairs to the platform and then two stops later we got off, made our way across a busy street and down into the next subway system. I’m now sitting at KL Sentral with our huge packs while Curtis carries on to another station to run an errand before we take a bus to the airport. We’ve decided to take advantage of the price and lack of taxes to purchase a new camera here since our beloved waterproof Pentax has decided it is not so waterproof after all.
When I took my pack off, I literally felt 50 pounds lighter but my muscles are still shaking slightly from carrying all that weight. It’s a great workout!
We have spent the last two days in Kuala Lumpur and have enjoyed being in a big city again. KL has some amazing buildings. We never tired of gazing at the Twin Towers – at night they look like diamonds sparkling in the sky.
We spent one day on foot exploring the city. The Twin Towers, the park surrounding it, the huge mall (catching Iron Man at the cinema a day before it came out back home), going to the observation deck at the KL Tower (the fourth highest in the world). We got to the KL Tower after dark so it might have been more exciting to see the city during the day. We enjoyed looking through the telescope, bringing the cars and people on the street into clear view – spying is fun! We even managed to spot our hotel.
The hotel we were staying at was great. It’s called Tune Hotel and the concept is 5 star beds & showers at 1 star prices. Our bed and pillows were the comfiest we’ve ever experienced, even better than the Pan Pacific or Westin Bayshore in Vancouver (at $20 a night instead of $350). It was great taking a warm shower again, we haven’t had hot water since we were in Bangkok. The shower head was one of those big rain shower ones too. You don’t get any extras for free though, you have to rent your towels (great fluffy white ones for about $1.60 each) and buy 5 or 12 hours of aircon (we got 5 hours for $1.50 and ended up using only 3 hours of it over 3 nights. There’s a big fan above the bed so the temperature is very comfortable). We loved the concept of not paying for anything we didn’t need and just purchasing any extras that we would actually use.
The lobby had a 7/11, a subway, some other coffee place and an area with computers that offered free internet. I would highly recommend anyone looking for an upscale budget hotel to stay at Tune Hotels in Kuala Lumpur – you get a lot of bang for your buck!
For the most part, KL is pricey. Dinner and drinks out can cost the same as home but movies and transit are a little cheaper. It’s definitely expensive compared to Thailand but it’s a beautiful city with all the modern conveniences one would ever need. And, best of all there are cheap flights to Bali from KL with Air Asia!
The monorail/subway system makes it easy to get around the city and we’ve enjoyed the architecture here as well.
Our last night in Ao Nang, Thailand, I was feeling a little sad to be leaving but as soon as we crossed the border into Malaysia, I loved what I could see through the tinted windows on the bus. Everything was so green! Rice fields, rolling hills, distant mountains and tons of tropical trees.
Our journey was a long one. We got picked up at 6:20 am in Ao Nang and took a minivan to Hat Yai, arriving there about 11:30 am. We had until 2:00 pm before our bus left so we grabbed a light lunch (fish ball and noodle soup) not far from the station. Walking the few blocks back after lunch, we encountered our first beggars. A few older women and one small child, two of which got up and came grabbing at my arms. A little creepy actually. We just kept walking and they didn’t pursue us.
At the Thai/Malaysia border we had to get off the bus and walk through Immigration with our passports. There were four well-dressed Malaysian women in front of us and when one of them removed her dark sunglasses for the Immigration official, we saw that she had fresh scars on her eye lids. A little trip to Thailand for a cheap eye lift.
At one of the rest stops in Malaysia, Curtis ordered a cappuccino and it came in a plastic bag with a straw. He found it super hilarious.
We’ve experienced a lot of firsts traveling. First time to get served by a waiter with a gun strapped to his side (restaurant in Ao Nang. Turned out he owns the restaurant and is also with the travel police), first train trip, first long tail boat, etc. but there was nothing quite like seeing someone in a burqa for the first time. There are a lot of Muslims in Thailand and even more in Kuala Lumpur – most women here wear head scarves. But it is different walking down the street and seeing a woman in covered in black from head to toe with only her eyes showing. Her husband (dressed in Western clothes) was taking a picture of her. Then in the mall, which is filled with every store you can imagine – from high end name brand clothing and shoes to electronics to absolutely everything in between – to see fully clad burqa wearing women shopping was a little startling. One of them was so covered up that she was even wearing sunglasses (inside the mall) and black gloves on her hands. Of course, I’m sure it was more of an unsettling experience for me because I just finished reading the book, A Thousand Splendid Suns (one of the best books I’ve ever read! I highly recommend it!) so right now view the burqa as a very oppressive thing for women, especially if her husband is making her wear it (which is how it worked in the book). I just couldn’t imagine wearing something that was so limiting – you can’t play sports or go for a run in a burqa, and you definitely wouldn’t be able to go swimming. Oh well, I try to respect others customs and religions, even if I don’t understand them. I’m very glad I was born in Canada and raised in the time of “girl power”.
Next up: Bali! Stay tuned.
Note: I wrote this post just after reading a book in which women were treated terribly in the time of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Now that a few weeks have passed, I’m not as freaked out by the whole burqa thing and do not mean to offend anyone who chooses to wear one.]]>