kuala lumpur (again) - Where's Byrne?

kuala lumpur (again)

01.03.2012 – 03.03.2012 Sunny 30°C

The flight to Kuala Lumpur was OK. The four-hour wait in Tianjin Airport dragged despite me raping one of the cafés Wi-Fi and really, we just wanted to get there. We landed late, about 11pm and got on the Aero Bus which was 8RM to KL Sentral Station, where you get a taxi for the remaining short distance into town. Unfortunately the bus didn’t leave until gone midnight after the guy who sold us the ticket in the airport said it was leaving in 10 minutes. Gullible. KL Sentral was dead, no one around apart from a few taxis that worked on a coupon system. You go to the counter and buy a coupon which are priced differently depending on where you want to go. A good idea as it gets it out the way and you know how much you are paying. Usually though, these are much more expensive than regular taxis. With no other taxis about I wasn’t going to argue about our ticket for 15RM and so got dropped off in Chinatown. We checked in at 1am to the Esta Hotel near Jalan Petaling. 85RM was steep but I was in no mood to go shopping and he wouldn’t budge on the price.

With us down to a T-Shirt and shorts each, we chucked four-kilos of clothes into the Red Dragon Hostel the next day, where we stayed back in July last year, we tried to get a room too as they were 45RM but alas, they were fully booked but free the following night which we snapped up. Shopping for toiletries, boxer shorts, as I was down to 3 pairs from the 7 I left England with (the washing people keep nicking them and I had to ditch some) and eating were the activities for that day and the next but we did get our arses in gear and planned the Petronas Towers (last attempt), the KL Bird Park and the Planetarium for the following. Rock on.

Petronas Towers (again). 6am, we were up and about but not fully with it, we got ready and were out the door flagging cabs down at 7am, it was hot already. 20RM lighter for the taxi ride (slightly overpriced but we didn’t want to argue over 5RM) we got to the Petronas and joined the fifty strong queue already there for tickets. An hour and a bit went by and the queue starts to move and finally, another half an hour later, we got tickets to go up at the 10:00 slot. When we were called we excitedly changed our strides in tandem to overtake the tourists already walking to the entrance and get there first. Now smugly the front 2 in our group. After a boring safety talk we were ushered into a lift but were now at the back of the group. Bollocks. We walked out (last) to the skydeck, that links the two towers at floor forty-three and took some photos. It wasn’t great. It was cloudy outside and the fucking chrome safety barriers reflect on the glass and conversely into every photo we took. I hoped the top was going to be better. Back in the lift, deliberately hanging back so we were last meaning we’d be first out the top, we went up to floor eighty-three and were pushed out by the lift attendant. We walked round a corner and there was another lift to floor eighty-six, we walked in and realised we were at the back of the lift again. We walked out last, again, sulkily kicking our heels against the floor. The view was pretty cool even though it was cloudy, the immediate vicinity looked brilliant, KLCC park and few snazzy hotels but you couldn’t see that far away. Tower two looked dazzling in the sunlight so close up and there were a few activities for you to do whilst you’re up there to waste your 20 minute time slot. That was that, in the lift back down and out to the exit (through a gift shop). Verdict: Probably the most amazing part was the speed the lift goes up and down with your ears popping with the altitude. More of a ‘I’ve been up that’ when it comes on TV than something to shout about. 50RM (£10) each though is about right.

Coming out of the Petronas we once again decided to fuck public transport (not a bad idea in KL because it’s shit) and get a cab. I thought when a concierge opened the back door for us it would be a bit more than a regular red and white cab, the standard paint job for KL taxis, but wasn’t ready for the Indian driver to rape us. After spending ten days or so in a place, you kind of get to know where things are and as soon as we pulled off we turned the wrong way, which I pointed out to him and he came out with some bullshit excuse. The meter is rolling. 10 minutes in we hit traffic and sit in it for another 10 minutes, all the while he is quizzing us on where we are from etc (never say London, they think you’re rich). A further five minutes went by leading him to ask whether we wanted to take the motorway instead which while being longer was quicker as we would avoid the traffic. I said I wanted to get to the KL Park as cheaply as possible. Onto the motorway we went. As the meter was approaching 50RM (£10) I noticed an ‘Extras’ light had lit up with a further £3 to be added at the end. I said to him, when it hits 50RM pull over and we’ll walk, recognising we were near the park anyway. He said it was already past it with the £3 extra which I then said something like ‘I ain’t paying that mate, you can whistle for it’. A disagreement went on for a few minutes when he eventually said ‘OK 50RM I’ll take you there’. We got there, the meter was on 58RM + the 14RM charge = 72RM (£14.40). You can take a bus to Singapore for that. Wanker. It’s not often we get caught.

KL Bird Park. 48RM each to get in was a little steep to see some birds but it was OK. There were Peacocks and three or four other bird type species just walking around everywhere which get right up close to you. There were some Hawks and other birds in cages which looked thoroughly miserable, their enclosures very small. The Hawk I remember in particular kept trying to fly but just kept banging the roof and landing again. Very sad. An Ostrich was walking about behind a wire fence attacking bits of it and that’s about it for one side of the park. The other contained cages for Parrots and Macaws etc which were also very small and an amphitheatre where a bird show was performed, which was quite fun. The rest of the park was made up of a building which explained taxidermy (it originated in England, apparently) with various stuffed animals on display, a building with incubators for chicks where you could watch the eggs hatching and a chained off walk through, full of Parakeets that you could buy milk for to feed. You just hold the tub and they land on your arms and head. The latter was actually the best part, that was fun. One pissed on my hand. Further on there was an opportunity to have your photo taken with various Parrots, Hawks and other birds resting on your arms, shoulders and head which we did. That was well worth the £2 each, the best part, me hugging a black hornbill that was placed on my lap. Out through the gift shop. Verdict: It was good few hours. If the bird photo taking and the milk for the Lorikeets are chucked in with the entrance fee I think the price would be about right.

Planetarium. Rubbish. Awful even. Round the corner from the bird park and free to get in but 15RM to see the 3D show. The ‘anti gravitational room’ was a sectioned off space with a wonky floor going uphill and some ultraviolet lights. Every activity in there was either crap, outdated or didn’t work. Verdict: Don’t bother. The National Museum is linked by a walkbridge over a main road – try that instead maybe.

We went back to the Red Dragon Hostel where we had dumped our bags that morning and checked into our room, which was horrible. Our bags were covered in fag ash too, I presume from the heavily smoking manager. In our room there were bodily fluids on the wall behind the bed, it was baking hot and the fan kept cutting out. The showers and toilets were filthy and the Wi-Fi was slow and only available downstairs. At least we were moving on to Malacca that morning. I awoke in the night to find a cockroach crawling on my arm. Says it all really.

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