Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Kuala Lumpur

Another vacation over, another one to plan through the hot summer days. Don't know when that will be but planning keeps me going. Always feel in a state of limbo after a vacation...the memories stay with you awhile till life seeps in and makes me wake up to my reality. :)

So here are some notes from my trip in case you decide to visit Kuala Lumpur. Will cover Langkawi in the next post.

Let me start with the things I loved about KL.

1) The cuisine was delicious and the prices are fantastic. There's something for everyone. We could have a meal with drinks at a posh restaurant somewhere in Pavilion Mall and spend RM 80 to 150 (RM 1 is around INR 18) per meal or choose to dine in the numerous curry houses or food courts  with their delicious beef, lamb, chicken, fish fries and curries and spend RM 15 to 20.

My personal favorite were the curry houses. The aromas whenever we went by those curry houses always made my stomach growl. :) I am a fishy person so dined on ikan (fish) most meals including breakfast.
My staple breakfast diet was roti sardin which cost just around RM 3.

If Indian folks don't want to try the local cuisine, there are plenty of Indian restaurants around serving vegetarian fare but don't know much about those because Joy and I didn't venture there.

2) The skywalks were so convenient and comfortable for pedestrians to get around. There was a skywalk right next to our hotel which we used to get anywhere and everywhere. We could use the skywalk to get to Pavilion Mall right across the street, to get to the monorail station on the opposite side, and even the train station at KLCC, or to Petronas.

On our way back via the skywalk from KLCC 

There are different exits to reach various buildings and points and there are clearly marked signs everywhere. Petronas was just a 10 minute walk away from our hotel using the skywalk. Bonus was that it's air conditioned so you get some relief from the sultry weather outside.

3) We also found the public transport fantastic;the public buses, trains, or monorail that we used to get around whether it was to visit the mall at KL Sentral or for our sightseeing trips in and around KL. Most of these stations were in a mall or lead to a mall so there were plenty of information desks to ask for information in case you got lost. Will write more about the costs later.

Okay so I found the food delicious, people friendly and nice and very helpful, the transportation was comfortable. Now about things that weren't so comfortable. :)  One was the sultry weather. Second were the filthy public loos whether in the malls, restaurants, and even the domestic terminal Subang Airport.

Let's move on to sightseeing in and around KL:

1) Petronas is a landmark in KL. You can view glimpses of these towers from many parts of the city. We were lucky that we were staying just a 10 minute walk from Petronas and this was the place we headed to once we landed and reached our hotel. We had time to kill before our check-in at 12 noon and since we reached at 8 am made sense to head out. I decided to heed the advice of my Twitter travel chat buddy and instead of paying RM 90 per person to go inside the towers as we've seen too many views from Asian high rise buildings, headed to the park opposite Petronas. The park is so well maintained and it was lovely walking around and getting glimpses of different views of the towers.

The night before our trip ended, we did go back to get night shots. They have a musical show at the fountains in front of the towers every day at 9 pm and it was gorgeous to watch.

There were several visitors sitting near the steps in front of Petronas to watch the show but then you have your back to the towers. I would advise visitors to go to the other side of the park where you can click pictures of the dancing fountains with the Petronas as the backdrop.

2) Next were the Batu Caves. We checked in at the hotel after lunch, took a shower, and decided to head to Batu Caves. The guy at the reception gave us a map with instructions how to get to Batu Caves. Since we were at KLCC, we had to first reach KL Sentral that is the hub of all transportation and then take a train to Batu Caves.

Train to Batu Caves from KL Sentral

A 2 minute walk from our hotel over the skywalk and we were at the closest monorail station Raja Chulhan. Bukit Bintang station is also close by but we found the crowd less at Raja Chulhan and preferred it coz we always found seats. We bought our tickets from the kiosk at around RM 2.40 per person, collected our change and the tokens, and off we went to KL Sentral in 10 minutes. When you exit the monorail station, you are right at the KL Sentral mall. From there, you just need to take a few escalators up and down inside the mall before you reach the KTM Komuter counter where you can purchase tickets for Batu Caves. There is an information desk right at the entrance to the mall in case you are lost or need directions. We purchased return tickets for RM 4 and headed downstairs to catch the train. Didn't have to wait long. The train arrived in 5 minutes. A very inexpensive air conditioned ride to and fro. The last station was Batu Caves so we got off there, exited the train station and the entrance to the Batu Caves is right there.

There were no entry fees for Batu Caves so just had to spend on the transportation to get there. We ignored the monkeys and climbed all those steps to the top cave. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Murugan at the topmost cave and once you reach the top of the steps you find hawkers selling KL memorabilia.

3) The last day of our trip, after we got back from Paradise Langkawi, we visited Genting Highlands. The previous night I met my Twitter friend Carole who is travelling the world and volunteering along the way. She decided to join us and decided to have a vote on where to go next based on the cable car ride. Here's her post:

So dawn breaks and we wake up and off we go on that familiar route. We go to KL Sentral by monorail and hope to catch the Genting Highland Bus from there but when we reached the counter they told us the next bus is in 2 hrs. So we decided to take a cab instead. In the prepaid counter, they asked for RM 90 but Carole mentioned that we should take the red taxi outside coz they are cheaper than the blue ones. We got a red taxi for RM 70 and the driver dropped us off at the cable car station. We decided to take the bus back so that we could experience the bus ride. How do I write about different modes of transport if I don't try the bus? :) So we went to the counter got a round trip cable car ticket for RM 12 per adult and a separate counter for bus tickets from Genting Highland back to KL Sentral at RM 4 per person. Quite a steal.

The cable car ride was fantastic and we could see the clouds ahead. The resort ahead was an imposing structure. Once we reached the resort, we looked around and had lunch before heading back. I didn't find anything impressive about the resort. Just another glitzy grand structure with casinos but I think the trip to Genting is worth it for the cable car ride. The view is awesome.

About the flight, it was my first time travelling Air Asia from Hyd to KL and we had no idea that Air Asia has a no free checked in baggage allowance. You are only allowed 7 kgs as carry on baggage and there is a charge for any baggage that you check in. So an adventure ensued with loads of irate passengers at Hyderabad airport and towards the later part of my vacation a string of tweets back and forth since from India they were asking INR 900 per kg. However, in KL they had a fare package of RM 105 for 20 kgs which worked out to around INR 90 per kg. Still wonder why the excessive difference in baggage rates from 2 countries.

My Twitter friend, Carole was charged baggage fares that were more than the flight fares at Kochi airport so it sure seems Air Asia was pissing off a lot of folks. Once I reached India, they did call me and I gave them feedback on their rude customer service and the unfair baggage rates in India compared to the charges in Malaysia so hoping for the best that they resolve these issues and are more transparent, fair, and customer centric. As I conveyed to them, low cost does not necessarily mean bad customer service. Travelled Malindo in Malaysia and Indigo in India. The customer service for both these low cost airlines in two different countries were fantastic and they do offer 15 kgs free baggage allowance.

To visit Malaysia, you need to get a visa prior to travel. We applied at TT Enterprises and we received our passports with the visa stamp within 7 working days. The visa is valid for one year. However, wish more countries offered Indian citizens visa on arrival.

Langkawi was my favorite part of the Malaysia trip. Such gorgeous islands. Will cover Langkawi in the next post. 

1 comment:

Chandrima Roy said...

Oh lovely! Reminds me of my trip with my folks back in 2006!