The newly installed alarm clock app on our iPad successfully went off at 3:30am. That means I set it correctly. Mr. King had no faith though and barely slept through the night thinking we’d wake up late and miss our early morning flight to Kuala Lumpur. We’re doing a visa run, having a little vacation and obtaining longer stay visas for Bali in Malaysia.
Flying on AirAsia
AirAsia is the budget airline of the area and their deals are incredible. If you catch them on a special sale, you can get tickets for as low as $10 one way. I think we got a great deal, especially since we had to book this flight while waiting at the Hong Kong airport on our way to Bali. They wouldn’t let us on the final leg of our journey without an exit ticket from Bali. I knew that most people exclusively use Airasia, so I quickly booked 4 roundtrip tickets to Malaysia for $400. Not bad, $50 each way for a 3 hour journey, starting at 6:30 am.
With AirAsia, everything is extra. If you want to choose your seats, it’s $2 extra. Want a meal or drink, you can pre-order it for a very reasonable cost $3-4. Need a travel pillow or blanket?$7 will get you a nice comfort package that includes this and an eye pillow. Our base fare was $34 each way, but by the time I finished with picking our seats so we can sit next to each other and ordering meals…they cost $50 each way.
Our flight was great, on time and totally comfortable and pleasurable. The staff is really, really kind. Another great aspect of being in Asia…the corporate service is usually wonderful.
First Impressions of Kuala Lumpur
Stepping off the plane, the humidity smacks you in the face. It’s way more humid here than in Bali and my hair is doing a very wavy, curly thing near my face. The airport is simple to maneuver and the generous visa (90 days free) is awesome. It nearly makes up for the crappy exchange rate we got when exchanging a few bills at the airport.
We decided to hire a taxi instead of taking the transit system to the center of town. The taxi stand is inside of the airport and we paid 74 ringgets ($28), got our ticket and then proceeded to the taxi.
Our 45 minutes taxi ride took us past palm oil fields, several mosques and tons of greenery. When we got closer to the city, the quantity of construction cranes made it evident that Kuala Lumpur is a healthy, growing city.
Wow! This city moves and bustles and there is no shortage of high end shops: Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, etc. If you love designer stuff…this is the place for you. Me? I’m not so much into that, but already feel like my clothes aren’t up to snuff with the smartly dressed people walking the streets.
We checked into our hotel and now we roam for discovery. We ventured into a more local area of town unknowingly. You see, we didn’t do much research before we came. No maps, no itinerary and no clue. We had a general sense of what we wanted to do, but nothing concrete. Venturing along the local streets, we thought that maybe, just maybe, we should have looked at a map. We weren’t brave enough yet to try the local street food vendors set up with plastic tables and chairs. Most did not speak English and we did not recognize any of the food. Lots of fish heads, noodles in sauces, chicken parts, soups and fried rice. We were in foreign territory now. We bought 2 apples to pacify the kids until we found something.
We stumbled upon a cute restaurant that had lunches from 7 rg ($2.50) and thought…why not…let’s jump into the local experience because this was definitely not on the tourist trail. It was really nice inside with dark wood chairs and lovely fabric. It was a buffet type restaurant and for our $2.50 we got a nice vegetable soup, a scoop of white rice and 2 side items (I chose a spicy chicken and sweet and sour chicken) and a drink. Ooops, I forgot my vegetables. I asked if I could substitute one of my chicken sides with a vegetable and she looked at me in her newly stern asian way “I already put on plate”. Darn…I paid another $1.50 for a vegetable plate.
We started eating and I realized that my sweet and sour chicken was actually pork so I called her over to tell her and she said “Is Pork.” I said “Yes, but you told me it was chicken. I’d like to exchange it” She started to turn around then with the reflex of a ninja and a mean school teacher look, yanked my plate off the table, dumped the pork in a food bin and asked what else I would like, which she gave me 1/2 a scoop of.
Besides the service, the food was good…for $2.50.
Discovering the KLCC
We roamed around a little more and then went back to the hotel for a rest. I really wanted to see the Petronas Towers at night and view the water show. We walked to the newly built and air-conditioned pedestrian skyway that starts at the Pavilion Mall and leads to the KLCC (where the Petronas Towers are).
The walkway just opened this year (2012) and it is pleasantly non-commercial. No advertising banners or TV screens…just a plain, peaceful walkway that saves you from the noise, dust and traffic.
We roamed around the huge Convention Center looking for exit doors that opened so we could run around in the grass. And then we saw something we didn’t expect! (Again, total lack of preparation, but it made for a great discovery).
A city sized playground and wading pool set among the greenery of a beautiful city park. This thing is huge! It’s like the Great America of children’s playgrounds. As soon as G saw it, he ran, looked back to shout proudly “Mama, you found a playground!”. His joy was uncontainable as he ran hard, cheeks rosy, hair moistened with sweat. Kids can play here for hours and we did! It’s an enormous maize of swings, rope ladders, slides, tunnels and other kids stuff. And it’s free for everyone to use. I love you KL!
Next to the playground is a large wading pool that is no more than 18 inches deep and has several waterfalls to play around. Sweaty and smiling from ear to ear, they hopped right into the water and slipped, soaking their clothes, but unwilling to get out. We stripped them of everything except G’s underwear and off they went playing for another hour. They dived under the water falls, climbed on the tiled circle walkway and ran around plopping themselves in the water. It was a welcome break from the heat of the day.
There is nothing more pleasing to a parent than watching their children basking in pure, uncensored joy.
This was the coolest city park I’ve ever seen and I have a feeling that the demands of going back there are in the near future. If they ask, we’ll be headed there again, this time with a picnic.
I wanted to see the beauty of the Petronas towers at night. At 7pm, the sun had yet to set while we enjoyed dinner at Malone’s/The Apartment near the Suria Shopping complex. The food was delicious and we expected to have a high bill considering it a touristy area, but the bill was only $35 for all four of us and the service was incredible. The food was even more incredible. I had a delicious duck and mango salad that I’m pestering the company to reveal their dressing recipe to me. Mr. King’s quest for a great burger was sufficed. But, laughingly, he barely finished it as he’s not used to such large heavy meals anymore. The kids enjoyed sausages and chicken. Normally, we eat mostly vegetarian. Here it’s a little harder to find. Besides, G says “My belly tells me I love meat”. Mr.King and I shared a Tiger beer and plenty of awesome laughter and ideas.
Water Fountain Show
We finished dinner 5 minutes before the 8 pm scheduled fountain show at the base of the towers. The colors flashed, the music began and for the next few minutes we were absorbed with the beauty of dancing waters.
The malls in Kuala Lumpur are huge, ultra modern. They are convenient place to cool off and be tempted by the fancy stores. Since we have 2 sets of small legs that slow us, we were on the hunt for a stroller, The least expensive we could find was $70 and they looked so cheap and flimsy, I could not justify spending $140 on 2 strollers, but the walk through the mall was awesome.
Petronas Towers at night
These two buildings are the jewelry of Kuala Lumpur. At night, they sparkle like diamond pendants that illuminate the city scape. They are mesmerizing to look at and a little addictive, sort of like knowing a celebrity is in the room, but not wanting to be obvious by staring at them. I couldn’t help it…I stared and stared and stared. Wouldn’t you…? Take a look:
Tired, overjoyed and loving our first day here, we took a short $3 taxi ride back to the hotel and zonked out at 10pm.
The incredible energy of this city…has totally changed our entire perspective on Asia. Asia is foreign to us Americans and we tend to generalize. I didn’t expect such a modern, totally in control and organized city. Makes me want to explore more and more and more. I love busting stereotypes!
Highlights from our day:
- Dinner at Malones / The Apartment Restaurant- Message to Malik, the general manager at The Apartment “Please, please, please give me the dressing recipe to the duck and mango salad!”
- The looks, hugs and pictures that Miss I received. She’s used to them now and just ignores and walks right past people. Perhaps it’s a little rude of her, but she gets them every 5 minutes. I just smile and say “thank you”.
- Happy to find fresh juiced juice at the KLCC. We went back twice.
- Kids kept energized from 3:30 am until 10pm when they finally went to bed. Wow. I’m impressed and I love their normally easy going nature.
- G “Mama, this is the first time I’ve ever been here” He’s in his element discovering new hotels and their pools.
- The unfamiliarity of the foreign names. Street names, food names and directions are tough to follow when the letter combinations are foreign.