Kuala Lumpur – Day 1

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First stop Sydney – next stop Malaysia. We had been hoping to get an upgrade to lie flat beds using air Asia’s optiontown method however Claire awoke at 4.30am to find an email stating we hadn’t got it. Not really a surprise given how cheap our flight was in the first place.

Taxi came for us at 7.20, stress free drive and a stress free checkin except for the idiots who blocked the entry to the empty checkin queue. They made everyone bunch outside the line in the walkway which was utterly stupid but thankfully air asia staff set them straight. Who does that? Said Claire.

Once through customs and security we got maccas hotcakes and then did some shopping for mags, snacks and water. I of course had to spend $8.50 on 1litre of special “traveling” water. I’m sure it’s got gold in it but at the very least it has electrolytes.

Now we are just waiting at the gate ready to board for our 8 hour flight where we have no food or entertainment on board. Lucky we have food and iPads. See u on the other side!

On the plane we were lucky enough to have seats at the front. Not quite first class, not quite hot seats butnthenones just after. We had been hoping for a spare seat next to us but that was nixed when a guy reading the Koran and smelling of BO took the aisle seat next to Claire. Thankfully though he moved when the plane doors shut so we had the full three seats since the plane wasn’t very full. On the trip we killed time watching stuff on The iPad (which everyone was doing), eating jelly bellies and trail mix (which we brought) and sleeping. 8.5 hours is just long enough on a plane I think. Anything longer than that and you’d go mental.

When we arrived in Malaysia, we did so at the low cost carrier terminal – LCCT. this is about 20kms from the main KL airport of KLIA. low cost is right – we disembark to Tarmac, walk for a while and go in to what looks a bit like an aircraft hangar. It’s more than that though since it has elevators and air conditioning. We got through immigration and customs with no fuss then emerged out in to the departures area.

Claire and I decided to take a taxi to the hotel rather than a bus just because it was more direct and by now we just wanted to get there. We may take a bus on the way back but given it was the same price as it costs us from home to the airport yet the drive took about 1 hr (60kms) it seemed like a bargain. $25!

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On the flight in and the drive out of LCCT we just couldn’t get over how many palm trees there were. They were obviously farmed, but I’m not sure what the are used for. Another notable item was all the McMansions we saw. They were houses all identical, close together but with tree lined streets. You’d have to count your way down the street to find your home. The drive took us past the outskirts of putrajaya and cyberjaya – two modern and planned cities that were quite cool from a distance. The freeways were well maintained and the traffic wasn’t mental at all – no Vietnam or Thailand type introductions here. We went through tolls and eventually we could see the petronas towers in the distance. It’s awesome to see them from a distance – but even better close up, which is what our hotel was about to offer us.

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After a stress free taxi ride to the hotel (terima kasih taxi driver), we headed up to the hotel reception on level 5. If you are staying in club you can actually check in at the club lounge, but we are yet to master the method to getting up to that level without a key card. We always ask the porter and they always send us to main reception. No matter, the check in was totally stress free anyway (after the usual check if “are you sure you want a king bed and not two singles ” question) and within minutes we were on our way to our room.

The thing we noticed immediately about the hotel is how great it smells. Even the lifts have a beautiful fragrance – not even an Aesop store smells this good. Up on our floor we passed funky furniture and wooden doors to get to our room. After sliding the key card in and taking the requisite photos we opened the curtains to reveal the Petronas towers right on our doorstep. At that time of day they were lit up and just absolutely jaw droppingly stunning. Our excitement levels went up as we explored the rest of the room. It had all the mod cons, the design was trendy and functional and frankly we liked it so much better than the Shangri Lain Sydney where we had stayed only days before. Traders is a cruelly meant to be the lower cost business part of the chain, but this hotel is fantastic.

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After gazing for a while at the view we headed up to club for some much needed refreshments. Club has free soft drinks, coffee and tea all day so we took advantage of it. We had just missed the canap├ęs and cocktail hour and could have done with a snack, but didn’t mind that much as we sat and drank our drinks again with a view of the towers. Refreshed, Claire and I decided to orient ourselves by heading to ground and trying to find the covered walkway to Bukit Bintang. We ended up going out the front entrance and wandering the street blindly until we found the convention centre next store and the walkway. We also discovered the subway to the Suria shopping centre, but ended up walking outside past the dancing fountains in to the shops.

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Claire and I were both shocked and excited to see a Marks and Spencer as well as a Harrods. Claire also jumped with glee when she saw the Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo which I had never heard of. We didn’t hit the clothes store deciding we would do that another day and instead wandered the grocery aisles laughing at the names of products and shocked by the amount of uk, us and nz products – we even found Aussie representation with Vegemite and Anzac biscuits! After a feed of some bakery items (just me) we walked the subway in air-conditioned comfort back to our hotel and crashed happily and exhausted in to bed. Kuala Lumpur had given a great first impression and we couldn’t wait to see what else it had to offer.

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