Malaysia August 2007

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[edit] Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur and Cherating

In August 2007 I was in Malaysi in Kuala Lumpur, during my summer 2007 east asia trip

[edit] Highlights Kuala Lumpur

[edit] Arrival - New Central Train Station

I travelled from Singapore, using the ... Express train. The train arrived at the new central train station of Kuala Lumpur. The priorities upon arrival where restrooms, then ATM to draw some malaysian cash – the Malaysian Ringgit, then a taxi (they have 'teksi' or 'teksi premium' roofplates) to The Heritage Hotel. The passenger hall made a modern impression, toilets and ATM where good. The taxi stand had a waiting queue, and even with the taxi coordinator it looked not too coordinated. Waiting time for taxi was about 15 minutes.

[edit] The Heritage Hotel

The Heritage Hotel is within the facility of the old central train station. There are still a few operational platforms, but the importance of this station seemed low, and during the two night stay there seemed not many people using the station. As it was written in the travel guide I used, the room was dark, large, and very aged, and the whole hotel looked aged and poorly maintained. They have a nice very old elevator to the third floor (second floor seemed inaccessible) to the rooms, and the interior showed the remains of colonial, muslim and malaysian features. The exterior facade looked like from a 1001 arabian nights scenery. I always used a taxi for transportation from and to the hotel, but upon departure I detected that not far away there is a bus station and a monorail station. The bath room seemed newer, there is an AC with remote control, windows are not to open, I did not used the very small telly, no safe, no refrigerator, you get one key only even if you are a party of two. The rate was 108 ringgit per night per room for a double room, including breakfast. The breakfast is very simple, a boiled egg, a cup of tea or coffee, 4 half slices of toast with some butter and jam. You get a breakfast voucher for one day, and have to get a new voucher each morning at the reception. In the dining area, not in the rooms, is a wireless hotspot with encryption enabled, the very simple encryption key can be given by reception staff. The reception was open 7 am – 11 pm, but hotel is open 24x7. The receiption had a sign you should beware from thieves and protect your belongings.

[edit] KLCC and Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers are an impressive pair of skyscrapers with a skybridge connecting them, and the petronas tower complex contains also a park, a convention centre, an orchestre hall and a large and glossy shopping mall. Around the complex is an aggregation of other skyscrapers including office buildings and a subway station. Petronas is the national oil company. There is a free tour to the skybridge, which is half way up on the 450 something meter high towers, where the tour uses the bridge level on the 41st floor. To get a ticket, you have to see the ticket office in the morning. It opens 8:30 am and issues tickets, first come first serve, from the morning to the evening, in tours every 15 minutes during the day. I was there ona sunday and arriving at 8 am there was already a queue, so I got a ticket for 2:45 pm. You have to arrive early for the tour, then you can wait in a waiting area with some nice exhibits related to the towers and its construction. One exhibit is a model behind a transparent wall, maybe two meters high, and during the waiting time they introduced electrical lightning hitting the models. Finally you are asked to go into a small cinema first, where you are shown a petronas and islam appraisal movie, in 3D (you get polarisation glasses for the show). Then you have to wait, and have to pass a security gate, eventually leaving your bag there temporarily, though you can take your camera up and make photos. The elevators used are service elevators not looking impressive, but they were fast, around 5-6 meters a second, going up to the 41st floor in 41 seconds. The view from the skybridge is nice.

[edit] Public transportation

The only situation where I used public transport in KL was when I went from the KLCC to the pudu train station. I had to switch between the underground train and an overground train, and the missing system did not allow to buy a single ticket. The tickets I bought on the service counter did not work on the destination, but the service staff left me out with no charge, but some discussions. I have no clue what went wrong, but had similar cases in the waiting line. The ticket machine I tried issued a ticket which worked, but only issued single fare tickets, and only accepted exact payment. The subway train, sunday 2 pm, was extremely crowded, and both trains smelled. The single fare to pudu was 1.60 RM + 3.40 RM. There were no clocks, no good information displays, and no leaflets. The whole system looks very underdeveloped. Still it worked and was cheap for a single person. In a party of two the system seems expensive compared to taxis, or taxis look cheap compared to the public transport.

[edit] Pudu train station

I went to see the Pudu train station because of its prominent appearence in the movie 'Entrapment'. I got the impression the movie scene did not used the original station or they beefed it up.

[edit] Departure to Cherating – Puduraya Bus station

With no advanced booking I went to the puduraya bus terminal, arrived at 4:30 pm, not knowing what to expect. It is spectacular and worth the experience. At least 80 different bus companies compete, each with at least a few destinations. Tickets and informations are available on counters, but also from 'floor traders'. Yes the whole scenery looked similar in action compared to a trading floor. The ticket and food place is on the first floor where there are steps down to ground level to at least 16 platforms. Most tours stopping in Kuantan where booked out until the next morning at 2 am, I saw at least five different companies offering tickets to this destination. So I decided to book a ticket for my real final destination Cherating for departure time 10:30 pm, 25 RM per ticket. After I bought this ticket, communication happened with one of the floor traders, who offered me a seat to Kuantan, which is the destination I planned for, at 5:30 pm – very soon. I bought this ticket as well, again 25 RM. I had to rush, and it seems they wanted to depart 16:30 but had a few seats left empty. After I got to the bus and put my baggage in and took my seat, just at 16:40, the bus departed. The bus was run down, and the driver had a special driving style, but mass transport is about raching its destination in acceptable time, and this was delivered. The journey took about 4 hours. In the bus terminal I also saw singapore destination for 65 RM. Compared to the 34 singapore dollar for the train this is very cheap. The bus had to cross the island for the journey, and it used a toll based highway. The toll stations have counters as well as a SmartTAG lane – which seems to be an automatic tag based system. As the centre of the island is quite hillside, the bus was slow montain up, and fast mountain down.

[edit] Departure to Frankfurt – Kuala Lumpur Airport

not yet :-)

[edit] Chinatown

Chinatown is a nice place for shopping, eating, and bargaining. On the average I bargained to about 40-50% of the first price for most items. Chinatown is a piracy place, so most goods are illegal copies of famous brands. The goods include t-shirts and shirts, other clothes, shoes, lady and travel bags, watches, movies of all nature, sunglasses, toys, lighters and much more. The quality varies, and the price partially reflects differences in quality. It seemed to me the shops close at midnight. It is very crowded, the sellers engage with you, talk to you, but they respect proper signals of please-dont-bother-me. Due to the crowd, even I did not experienced difficulties, everybody should take good care of its belongings, to protect from thieves. Food is nice and varying between western and many different asian cooking traditions. Even food prices can be bargained in the not so cheap places. It was difficult for me to find a balance between quality and fair price, but I have to admit that I was in extreme bargaining mode. Also there are almost no landmarks inside chinatown, so you may find yourself a little bit lost.

[edit] Sogo Shopping

Sogo and the surrounding seem to be a place where malaysians and KL residents go shopping, so prices and quality are lower compared to the glossy shopping malls, but you can find good deals.

[edit] Food

Loads of food, in particular south and north indian, Halal food, Hindu food, chinese food of different cooking traditions, malaysian food, thai food, western food, japanese food, korean food, and many more. Depending on the place, quality and amount of food I paid between 5 – 15 RM per meal, more for exclusive food like sushi. For those resistent to local food you find all major fast food chains.

[edit] BB Plaza Shopping

Shopping within glossy and non glossy malls, one after the other. Very busy place. I got some original PS3 games for about 30% less compared to european prices, and the PS3 game console 60 GB model was on sale after bargaining for 340 EUR. Again all kinds of goods, brands and no brands, good to bad quality, asian and western designs.

[edit] Highlights Cherating

[edit] Kuantan

I did not saw this place other than when arriving late evening by bus, and departing with a taxi.

[edit] Kuantan Bus Terminal

A large bus terminal, there seem to be many bus companies and routes supported. Many taxi drivers waiting to give bad service at high prices.

[edit] Kemaman

A city about 30 bus driving minutes north of cherating. Run down, but real infrastructure, many shops, even a chinese one with a liquor selling license, and an ATM accepting Cirrus and MasterCard. Loads of other shops and supermarkets, cafe's and restaurants and small food places. There is a Bus Terminal – Gelica – from where busses to Kuala Lumpur depart. A bus ticket sales point is in the city, in a laundry shop 'Dodi'. A single ticket to Kuala Lumpur was 22 RM.

[edit] Holidayvillas Hotel

Free wireless hotspot in the non AC lounge opposite the reception. I paid 200 RM per night per double room, and when I arrived, they switched from a deluxe room to one of their bungalows.

[edit] Cherating village

The village offers a small shop, and some restaurants and hotels. It looks very run down, no real street, many buildings are wrecks, and garbage everywhere.

[edit] Taxi driving

As usual no meters and the impression that taxi drivers rip off tourists. Bad image for this country. The driver who took us from Kuantan to the hotel in cherating, at 10 pm, felt asleep during driving, typically drove at 40 kmh was shifting lanes irregularly, it was an adventure for just 50 RM. This driver should be forbidden to drive taxi as he is irresponsible about his passengers life. But that seems to be part of malaysia today. If you are at a remote location in a restaurant, they will 'organize' a taxi for you, so there seems to be some provision for the places as well.

[edit] Local Busses

Between holidayvillas Hotel to Cherating Village the Bus takes about 10 minutes , drives every half hour at unregular times, and costs 0.5 RM single fare per person. The Bus driver just drives. Another person handels ticketing and helped by answering questions. As in other malaysians situations, most malaysians do not speak good english, but it was enough to get to the destination. The main bus stop for local busses in Kemaman is a different place from the far distance bus stop.

If you wait along the street and give signal the bus stops, even if you are on the other side of the street.

[edit] Cats and other animals

I saw many cats, most of them with a short tail, I got told different stories from cut tails to restrict cats from jumping high to a genetic defect. I saw a few dogs, some rats, a monkey, many eidechsen.

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