On repeat : Kuala Lumpur

Why do I keep visiting Kuala Lumpur on an astrologer’s dozen make-beliefs (with every month represented by some pseudo cosmic presence that defines personalities? Come on!), when I really wanted to explore new territories? Maybe it’s travelling within the comfort zone, knowing what to expect, recognizing the roads that’ll lead to where I’m headed… But there’s only so much space in my wardrobe for clothes, and that possibly quantifiable amount of alcohol I can drink before I quarrel with the sanitary bowl. Still, I’m back in KL. Doing the same things… shop, club, shop, club. And I didn’t even eat much good food on this trip.

Had initially wanted to do just a Friday to Sunday skipover, but extended till Monday because more friends decided to run away from Singapore as well. But repeated visits to one place is like a relationship. There were some surprises but I grew familiar and I knew where to touch to get what I wanted. I navigated the map to my enjoyment. Sometimes I have in mind to do more, yet did not. But hey, free-and-easy holidays meant we flow with the go. Still, whenever I travel, especially to places I’ve been before, I make it a point to do something differently. I want to experience life like the locals do. I’d more readily get lost on local transport than position my arms on a 90-degree cab flag-down. And with cities like KL, I realized from this trip that getting around in her three-operator rail system was easier than getting jailhouses to practice non-preferential treatments for celebrity prisoners. (What?! Christopher Lee’s hair was not shaved when he served his only 28-days prison term for drunk driving, injuring two motorcyclists, and fleeing the scene? And he got his own prison cell?) Oh well, on with the country that Chris Lee came from…

KL montage 1 KL montage 2 KL montage 3 KL montage 4

TRAVEL FACTS

Departure (Singapore) : 22 Jun 07, Friday, 8:30am (Arived KL at 2:00pm). Transtar Premium Coach (S$41)

Departure (KL) : 25 Jun 07, Monday, 6:00pm (arrived SGP at 1:15pm). Transtar 1st-Class Coach (S$47, incl S$10 admin charge for changing departure date; else, the return ticket is S$37)

SGP to KL Travel Time : Approx. 5 hours (two 15-mins stops for toilet breaks)

Accommodation : Corus Hotel (S$50 per night per person, no breakfast included). It’s a four-star hotel along Jalan Ampang and about five minutes from KL City Centre. I find that it is not a very convenient location because most of our activities were around Jalan Bukit Bintang (about five minutes cab ride away depending on traffic conditions).

Exchange Rate : S$1.00 to RM$2.23

Is it true that when we get familiar with someone, we tend to take the good things he/she offers for granted and tend to nick-pick? I’ve never remembered KL people to be rude, but this trip I had heaped servings (other than those staff at the M’sian tourism center and Customs) of their hostilities.

Scenario 1 : People pushing past you in the clubs. They literally squeezed past without being the least bit apologetic; no ‘excuse me’ or ‘I’m sorry’. No doubt the clubs are packed but there’s still room for courtesy. Maybe because I’m Asian and not Caucasian.

Scenario 2 : M’sian Indians want more tips. Racial sedition is not cool, but from my two encounters at tipping an Indian bar waiter (he looked Bangladeshi) and cab driver, I was surprised that they actually asked for more than what I gave them. At the Farginnapi Bar, I tipped the waiter RM$10 for bringing us four cans of Coke as mixers. He immediately asked for RM$20 claiming that one can of Coke cost RM$5. But all mixers were free because we opened a bottle of Chivas (RM$420). That guy was trying to dupe me into giving him money he’s not supposed to get. Later he turned around and asked me not to tell the boss about the incident.

And on the way back to the hotel in a cab, I paid RM$8 for a fare of RM$5.80, the extra being tips. And guess what? The cab driver held on to the money without thanks, turned around and gave me a disgusted snigger. I could tell from his body language that he was on the verge of asking for more. It was an Indian driver.

Scenario 3 : Cab drivers who refused to turn on mileage meters and charge a flat rate of RM$10 going anywhere within the prime areas. I thought that problem was eradicated when I was there about a year ago and cabs are metered. Apparently not. If you travel at night or if the cab driver can tell that you’re a tourist, they will tell you that going anywhere is a flat rate of RM$10 to RM$15. I checked with two local friends there and they said that that’s not the case; the drivers should turn on their meters and charge accordingly. But after meeting five of these drivers, you have no choice but to relent to their charges.

Scenario 4 : Shopkeeper cursing you. Being the bargain hunter that I am, I went to KL’s Chinatown (known as Petaling Street) to scout some good buys. As I was moved along the packed roadside stalls, I checked out some sunglasses and asked how much was the brown-tint Ray Ban sunglass I tried on. The Chinese vendor said, “RM$45”. But I had seen the exact same glasses at the Central Market for only RM$12.90 (the sunglasses there weren’t well-maintained and slightly out-of-shape so I didn’t buy there) so I bargained. Almost immediately, he reduced it to RM$20. I was ready to pay the difference since the glasses were in better condition, but I didn’t like the dishonesty of that store so I turned to go out of principle. Then he said in Cantonese, “Okay, RM$8.00”. Wow! RM$8.00!!?? That’s only S$3.50 for really cool sunglasses! Who cares about integrity? So I turned around and wanted to try on more glasses only to have him say in my face, “You wish! You go and DIE early!” I am NOT exaggerating. Those were his exact words… In Cantonese.

THE DOWNSIDE UP

As a traveler, I am pretty accepting of the oddities during a trip. I mean, if I expected everything to be the same as in Singapore, I might as well not go anywhere. But KL being the capital of Malaysia and a developed metropolitan, there must be some urban standards that one will come to expect. And I didn’t expect to find the male toilet at the Pasarakyat Bus Terminal to be in a state of waste. Flies buzzed around and tap-dance on my skin while I took a leak on urinals the color of a smoker’s stained enamel.

For goodness sake, this is a coach terminal! It is the first place a visitor will encounter and the last place he will leave from. Imagine riding in the luxury of a first-class coach to be dropped off into a worst-class toilet. The whole complex is a terminal wasteland. And don’t eat at Yok Yat (Seafood) Bak Kut Teh located a few streets down. For just a bowl of Bak Kut Teh (four pieces of pork ribs), a bowl of pig’s liver soup, two pieces of tow pok (fried beanskin), a bowl of you tiao (fried flour sticks), two bowls of rice and a pot of tea, we were charged RM$29! It could be worth it if the meal was exceptional, but I bet that Joy’s dog food would be tastier. The pigs died in vain being a dish for this restaurant. It’s yuck-a-dy Yat!

Adidas windbreakerThankfully, the wine chicken noodle and curry noodle redeemed that first bad lunch. Don’t know the exact stalls at Jalan Alor they were bought from, but they were really delicious. Also managed to scout some pretty good bargains this trip with my best buys being stylo-mylo Ray Ban shades at RM$15 a piece at Chinatown (around Bukit Bintang, the price was RM$25). The things there were pretty cheap but you must bargain. Other than Chinatown, I also shopped some cheap t-shirts at Jusco. I used to think that Parkson Grand was good value for money, but the Jusco departmental store at Mid Valley had more bargain bin stuff, which are death-traps for my credit card.

As for clubbing, there weren’t much amusement. It’s expensive to piss at the clubs because the bar prices are the same, if not slightly more expensive than in SGP. We went to Onovu and the carpeted entrance smelled of week-old puke and the place was crawling with exhibitionists gyrating to nursery rhymes pretending to be club music. We also visited Namiso where its patronage probably bought their clothes from the Salvation Army donation centers. Well, at least their dress sense provided visual comedy and distracted from the lack of anyone good-looking around. Then half-way through the night, the club suddenly cleared. Within five minutes, the six of us were left bewildered in the empty club with the music still pumping and lights flashing. Apparently, there was a rumored raid by the narcotics police, so those on illegal substances had to leave. And the whole club was empty. We were the only ones left watching the waiters pick up ‘stuff’ from the floor. It was a pity because the music was really groovy. After about 15 minutes, half the crowd returned but it was almost closing time.

The clubs in KL close precisely at 3am. So since we just go warmed up, we went back and continued our drinks with games. Leroy and I checked out of Corus Hotel and stayed our extended night with Adrian and the rest at Somerset Service Residences. It had 2 rooms, a living room and a kitchen. I was told that the apartment rates go for RM$800 a night. But since Karen works for the hotelier’s SGP office, she got it for S$70 per night. It was a very nice stay with TV, hi-fi system and all, but the best part was the service. The staff were very polite and anticipated our needs. After we checked out, they promptly asked if we needed a taxi and went out to the main road to hail one in. I’m not one of those pampered traveler, but I think I could really get used to it.

On the whole, this had been a good break since I hadn’t gone anywhere for more than a year. The only regret is that I spent too much time sleeping and recovering from hangovers than to fulfill the itinerary I had planned for the trip. I still haven’t gone on the morning tour of the Petronas Twin Towers bridge. Perhaps the next trip.

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28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. blu_tack
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 07:28:16

    oh that windbreaker is so darn cheap!!!!!
    U really did it…..
    Wish i had time to go KL….
    😦

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 27, 2007 @ 13:33:53

      yeah… it was a surprise find. the shop selling it was rather rundown and i expected the clothes to be in tatters or soiled, but no, the windbreaker was perfect! there were other designs that look equally good but i figured i won’t have much use for them in sgp so i just bought one.
      just take a weekend trip there… it doesn’t take that much time… :o)

      Reply

      • blu_tack
        Jun 27, 2007 @ 13:37:49

        but a wondbreaker is somethinu might need…for me even if not neede..i would still buy..as sometimes u wont know when u need it….
        Time is something i dont have…..and need some friends u would like to go with too….

      • celebratelah
        Jun 28, 2007 @ 04:40:55

        yeah, it’s something i might need that’s why i bought only one and not too many la. if our country is colder, then i’ll buy all the 3 different designs!
        i understand what u mean by travelling with frens who make good companions. travelling styles must match for a trip to be enjoyable… otherwise, it’s the fastest way to spoil a friendship. haha…

      • blu_tack
        Jun 28, 2007 @ 06:39:33

        for me traveling is not a big issues as i have not been to most countries so i dont mind going anywhere…
        but some friends i know when i bkk wabs to go to certain places where i dont like to go……(if u know what i meant)
        I rather be a tourist and follow friends who goes anywhere….as i can see lots of things around and learn the culture…

      • blu_tack
        Jun 28, 2007 @ 06:39:33

        for me traveling is not a big issues as i have not been to most countries so i dont mind going anywhere…
        but some friends i know when i bkk wabs to go to certain places where i dont like to go……(if u know what i meant)
        I rather be a tourist and follow friends who goes anywhere….as i can see lots of things around and learn the culture…

      • celebratelah
        Jun 28, 2007 @ 04:40:55

        yeah, it’s something i might need that’s why i bought only one and not too many la. if our country is colder, then i’ll buy all the 3 different designs!
        i understand what u mean by travelling with frens who make good companions. travelling styles must match for a trip to be enjoyable… otherwise, it’s the fastest way to spoil a friendship. haha…

      • blu_tack
        Jun 27, 2007 @ 13:37:49

        but a wondbreaker is somethinu might need…for me even if not neede..i would still buy..as sometimes u wont know when u need it….
        Time is something i dont have…..and need some friends u would like to go with too….

    • celebratelah
      Jun 27, 2007 @ 13:33:53

      yeah… it was a surprise find. the shop selling it was rather rundown and i expected the clothes to be in tatters or soiled, but no, the windbreaker was perfect! there were other designs that look equally good but i figured i won’t have much use for them in sgp so i just bought one.
      just take a weekend trip there… it doesn’t take that much time… :o)

      Reply

  2. blu_tack
    Jun 27, 2007 @ 07:28:16

    oh that windbreaker is so darn cheap!!!!!
    U really did it…..
    Wish i had time to go KL….
    😦

    Reply

  3. roy_az
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 00:44:56

    I was told that if U hail taxi which stop along the roadside, they will charge flat rates…but if the taxi is moving, then they will charge thru their meter readings…
    So much about “Malaysia-truly Asia” and “Visit Malaysia Year” hor….whahahaha…;p

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 28, 2007 @ 04:43:06

      not really leh… we flag down the cabs but the also asked for RM$10… especially during peak hours.
      well, everywhere bound to have some unpleasantness, but on the whole, malaysia and its people are still nice and has much to offer :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jun 28, 2007 @ 04:43:06

      not really leh… we flag down the cabs but the also asked for RM$10… especially during peak hours.
      well, everywhere bound to have some unpleasantness, but on the whole, malaysia and its people are still nice and has much to offer :o)

      Reply

  4. roy_az
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 00:44:56

    I was told that if U hail taxi which stop along the roadside, they will charge flat rates…but if the taxi is moving, then they will charge thru their meter readings…
    So much about “Malaysia-truly Asia” and “Visit Malaysia Year” hor….whahahaha…;p

    Reply

  5. samandsam
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 02:17:16

    I guess the oddities and eccentricities of the people give each city it’s character. My crystal ball tells me that since this trip you got cheated and shouted at, the next trip to KL you will get picked up and propositioned to all the time. Why? Because you will be wearing that $12.90 ray-bans and $13 adidas wind breaker and everyone loves a cool looking dude Heh.

    Reply

  6. samandsam
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 02:17:16

    I guess the oddities and eccentricities of the people give each city it’s character. My crystal ball tells me that since this trip you got cheated and shouted at, the next trip to KL you will get picked up and propositioned to all the time. Why? Because you will be wearing that $12.90 ray-bans and $13 adidas wind breaker and everyone loves a cool looking dude Heh.

    Reply

  7. wordsofweetzdom
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 08:29:59

    Eh, the person in the photo montage, i called him when he was on bus to KL hahaha.. did nt know he was with you lah.. 🙂
    love Rehab the song!

    Reply

  8. wordsofweetzdom
    Jun 28, 2007 @ 08:29:59

    Eh, the person in the photo montage, i called him when he was on bus to KL hahaha.. did nt know he was with you lah.. 🙂
    love Rehab the song!

    Reply

  9. gary_ga2000
    Jul 01, 2007 @ 03:39:44

    KL trip
    hehe… I suppose u had a bittersweet trip this time.
    I was at KL the weekend before your trip, and it was fantastic. Maybe coz I ate, shop and club at out-of-the-normal places. Yup, MidValley is a pretty good place to shop. Try visiting One Utama as well, if you haven’t been there.

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jul 07, 2007 @ 08:05:59

      Re: KL trip
      yeah… must go to the out-of-normal places next time provided i don’t have to keep nursing hangovers. haha… dunno where’s one utama. that’ll be where i’ll visit the next time :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Jul 07, 2007 @ 08:05:59

      Re: KL trip
      yeah… must go to the out-of-normal places next time provided i don’t have to keep nursing hangovers. haha… dunno where’s one utama. that’ll be where i’ll visit the next time :o)

      Reply

  10. gary_ga2000
    Jul 01, 2007 @ 03:39:44

    KL trip
    hehe… I suppose u had a bittersweet trip this time.
    I was at KL the weekend before your trip, and it was fantastic. Maybe coz I ate, shop and club at out-of-the-normal places. Yup, MidValley is a pretty good place to shop. Try visiting One Utama as well, if you haven’t been there.

    Reply

  11. comb_80
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:57:57

    Bleah!! Too bad I was in Paris when you come Paris. Else, it willl be cool to meet up.
    Anyway, a few tips for you folks:
    In KL u can haggle anywhere literally, even for food (except in nice fancy restaurants or shopping complexes).
    But you have to be street smart a bit. Dun argue for food that cost only RM 3.50 unless you eating 3 bowls wif some frens. Then you can ask for maybe RM 10.00 for 3 bowl mentioning that it is a round figure.)
    As for Petaling Street. Best if you dun cross any of the people there, as most of them are protected by their own groups (triad, gang etc)
    If you wanna haggle in that area, you can follow the following rules:
    1) ask for cheaper ( they’ll see u chinese, they assume u local and will cut half the price)
    2) think of a price that you think is decent. And then, lower it by 10-20% more and offer to buy it at that price ( they’ll think you hockien, so will relent a bit and cut a bit more)
    3) pretend walk away ( they’ll think you’re teow chew, they will cut to the minimallistic price. if you turn back, you have to make sure that you buy that particular one. If you wanna check out others, you have to give the assurance that you will buy the first one you choose. Else, they scream at you.
    Note: The second one is automactically priced the same as the 1st one by then.
    PS: after (2) and if you do (3) they dun offer you a new price. Then the price given at (2) is probably the minimal price. )
    4) Hope that is a good bargain. Cos you could probably find the next store that is probably cheaper down the road.
    PS: As a safety precaution in Petaling Street, if any of the patron forced you to buy anything. It is probably a CON, best walk or run away at that time, cos you will probably be surrounded by a group of people that will forced you to buy their stuff. (Usually happen at those DVD stores)

    Reply

  12. comb_80
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 06:57:57

    Bleah!! Too bad I was in Paris when you come Paris. Else, it willl be cool to meet up.
    Anyway, a few tips for you folks:
    In KL u can haggle anywhere literally, even for food (except in nice fancy restaurants or shopping complexes).
    But you have to be street smart a bit. Dun argue for food that cost only RM 3.50 unless you eating 3 bowls wif some frens. Then you can ask for maybe RM 10.00 for 3 bowl mentioning that it is a round figure.)
    As for Petaling Street. Best if you dun cross any of the people there, as most of them are protected by their own groups (triad, gang etc)
    If you wanna haggle in that area, you can follow the following rules:
    1) ask for cheaper ( they’ll see u chinese, they assume u local and will cut half the price)
    2) think of a price that you think is decent. And then, lower it by 10-20% more and offer to buy it at that price ( they’ll think you hockien, so will relent a bit and cut a bit more)
    3) pretend walk away ( they’ll think you’re teow chew, they will cut to the minimallistic price. if you turn back, you have to make sure that you buy that particular one. If you wanna check out others, you have to give the assurance that you will buy the first one you choose. Else, they scream at you.
    Note: The second one is automactically priced the same as the 1st one by then.
    PS: after (2) and if you do (3) they dun offer you a new price. Then the price given at (2) is probably the minimal price. )
    4) Hope that is a good bargain. Cos you could probably find the next store that is probably cheaper down the road.
    PS: As a safety precaution in Petaling Street, if any of the patron forced you to buy anything. It is probably a CON, best walk or run away at that time, cos you will probably be surrounded by a group of people that will forced you to buy their stuff. (Usually happen at those DVD stores)

    Reply

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