Sunday, November 21, 2010

1st Stop: Kuala Lumpur

Ok, so finally starting the blog! Sorry for the delay but we've just been having too much fun! I'll try to catch up to date as soon as I can! So, let's start at the very beginning...

We flew out from Cork to Stansted on the evening of the 2nd (my bag clocking in at a thoroughly satisfying 14.9kg. Take that Ryanair!) The flight over to Stansted was straightforward enough anyway, AND I made a plane friend, just some woman going over to visit her family in Kent. Plane friend!!

From our memory of booking the flights, we thought we had a layover of about 7 hours in Stansted... it turns out it was 12 hours. We were way off! It was actually grand though. We nabbed a lovely leather couch in Costa Coffee and just stayed there for the night, taking turns napping. Who needs a hostel when you've got a couch in a cafe! And it didn't Costa penny!

Our Air Asia flight was grand, no frills really. We got two meals though which I was delighted about (I don't know why but I love the novelty of eating meals on a plane!) even though they were kind of rank in the end... I watched Despicable Me to pass the time, which was pretty good, but no Toy Story 3 (which I also watched again! It's just so good!) We arrived in KL after our 14 hour flight at around 5am local time, but despite it being in the middle of the night, it was still 26 degrees outside! The blast of heat when we stepped off the plane was unreal! It's hotter in Malaysia in the middle of the night in November, than it is at the height of summer in Ireland! We got a bus from the airport to KL city centre, then a taxi to our hostel. (Just a quick note: there are loads of palm tress in Malaysia, they just can't get enough of them!) Between the heat, the lack of sleep and having to carry all our bags around, we were both dead on our feet, but when we got to the hostel, we were told we had to wait til 2pm to check in... this was at 8am... So, we had 6 hours to kill. I've never been so unenthusiastic walking through a new city...

We went to the Menara tower first, which wasn't too far from the hostel. It was pretty cool actually and it gives you a great view of the city. We were originally planning on going to the Petronas Towers which are a lot taller but you're only allowed to go halway up, so you actually get a much better view from the Menara tower. Plus you actually get a view of the Petronas Towers too! They are awesome in fairness, especially at night! There are so many skyscrapers in KL in general. It's definitely the tallest city I've ever been to! Oh also, while we were up on the Menara Tower, a bunch of Muslim school children came up and interviewed us, for some school project or something. We felt very important. One of them lived in Cork for two years too!

We just had a general wander around then, went to Mendeka Square, went for waffles, then headed back to the hostel. We could barely walk at this stage, we were so tired, and even got lost on the way back cause our brains just stopped functioning. Finally we got to bed at around 3pm in serious need of a power nap! We slept til the next morning... (Or to be more precise, I slept til the next morning, Ash woke up at 1am...)

It really did the trick though, cause the next day we were raring to go! We had a cup of Barry's tea back at the hostel (two boxes of which we brought over with us for the year!). It wasn't the best though... the tea was fine, but the milk... we knew something was up when the expiry date was June 2011. That's one thing I'll definitely miss about Ireland, the milk. After breakfast, we headed to the Batu Caves (we somehow managed to get a bus there, even though there was no bus stop, no timetables and we weren't entirely sure where we were meant to get it from...) For anyone heading to KL though, this is definitely a trip worth making! The caves themselves are pretty good, (if you can conquer the 272 step climb up) but the highlight is definitely the 43m high golden Murga statue guarding the entrance, it is unreal! Just look at the photos! There was also a less impressive statue of some sort of green half-monkey god... i didn't really get it...

We got a bus back to the city (again somehow?!) and headed up towards the lake gardens, where we went to the bird park and butterfly park. (We were planning on just going to the butterfly park but got lost on the way and ended up at the bird park...)

Afterwards we headed to the Pavillion shopping centre where Aisling went off shopping, while I got ice-cream... (just writing it now makes me sound like a child... I don't care, I got ice-cream!) There are so many shopping centres here too, and they're all enormous! The nearest one, and our favourite, Berjaya Times Square was 10 storeys high and had a roller coaster inside it! A rollercoaster!! Imagine having a rollercoaster in Mahon Point!

The next day Ash went off shopping for herself while I had a real pampering day! First I went to a fancy salon to get my haircut. It was the best haircut experience of my life! They washed my hair and everything! Twice! And it still only cost like 7 euro. I then went to get a massage in Old Asia, a place recommended in the Lonely Planet. (I made sure to consult the book in case I ended up in, eh... a different kind of massage parlour...) The massage was awesome and, like everything here, very cheap! It was an old asian lady who did it, and I'm no expert on massages, but my theory is, the older you are and the more Asian you are, the better the masseuse.

Myself and Ash met up after our respective days and went for dinner... in Ireland's Potato, an Irish fast food restaurant! We saw a sign for it earlier and decided we had to go there!

I wasn't too sure what to get, (there was very little on the menu not made from potato...) and in the end decided to plump for something called sotong. I didn't know what it was, but I thought 'hey, I'm in Ireland's Potato, how bad could it be?' The answer is very bad. It was deep fried miniature squid.

Now, I know we've away from Ireland for a couple of weeks, but I'm pretty sure that's not something we eat. It didn't taste good. (Another side note: everyone seems to be mad into corn over here! We've seen loads of different stalls selling cups of corn! Who the hell would buy a cup of corn?!)

On the Sunday, our last day in KL, we were planning on heading to the nearby town of Putrajaya, but there was a lot of hassle in organising our way around and we had to catch a flight to Phuket that night, so we decided to just have a fun day in KL! And there's only one way to start a fun day... steak for breakfast! Afterwards we went to the cinema to see Megamind. It was excellent, go see it! (While we were getting the elevator down after the cinema, a little girl walked on with a cup of corn. Myself and Ash burst out laughing!)

Afterwards we went to Petaling Street in Chinatown, just to have a wander around and then headed over to Sri Mahemahamehameha... ok, I can't remember what it was called. It was really good though! And that was about it for our time in KL.

All in all, I really enjoyed our time here. I have to say it was a very aromatic city, there was a different smell around every corner, some good, some very bad... it was strange too seeing so many enormous skyscrapers, especially when a lot of them were surrounded by old delapidated buildings. It was a very diverse city, in every sense. Literally in every sense!

Oh, by the way, on the flight over to Malaysia, we each made various predictions about all of our destinations, under the headings of:

- Best & Worst City
- Best & Worst Country
- Best & Worst Food
- Best & Worst Accommodation
- Best & Worst Tourist Attraction (excluding temples)
- Friendliest & Least Friendly People
- Best Cultural Experience
- Best Temple

and we're not allowed to look at them til after the trip. I'll keep you updated, as the cities go by, as to any possible contenders!

Anyway, peace out for now,
Mark & Ash

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