We woke up at a reasonable time and since I was done with all my packing yesterday itself, after breakfast I headed to Times Square just to roam about and see if there was anything I could pick up for the last time.
Unfortunately most shops were still yet to open
Most shops only post 11am
There's a fairly big exclusive Nikon store on the ground floor
I did go around looking for camera tripods but as mentioned earlier, most shops were closed.
Once all three of us were packed and ready, we checked out of Irsia and hailed a taxi. We initially asked him to take us to KL Sentral, from where we thought of taking the monorail to the airport. Then the taxi driver offered to drive us to the airport for RM60 (Rs. 875/$20/€14). The three of us looked at each other and wondered about all the luggage we had, sighed… and then said “fine” to the taxi driver.
The journey was nice -- and long
Sepang Circuit, home to the Malaysian F1 and MotoGP events, is close to the airport
We arrived at the LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) an hour later, and were among the first to check-in for our 3:30pm flight.
First, we had to shrink wrap our IKEA boxes; cost RM30
We had pre-booked for 20kg luggage (per person) and fortunately all our luggage came just under 60kgs!
Relieved everything worked out alright, we went through customs and made our way towards the departures lounge. There is a Duty Free at the LCCT but liquor prices weren’t that great (read: cost more than Bangalore Duty Free) but you get good enough selection of international brands and chocolates. I instead went to a store selling traditional Malay sweets and snacks, and picked up tea biscuits, chips, etc. Something different for a change I thought.
Once it was time, we made our way in. We pre-selected our seats as myself and Ramesh were keen on window seats.
Even laptop makers want to cut costs on flying
Kuala Lumpur International Airport is all the way there
In case you wanted to fill up before taking off, there's a Petronas station here
We took off...
... and flew over lot of palm trees
Malaysia is the world's largest producer of palm oil, and you can see why
Guess that's the site of the new LCCT
Selat Kering island
Container ships making their way to Malaysia
I took a break from taking photographs to reminisce about the last few days. I guess its always sad when a holiday comes to an end, especially when you think how fast time flies by.
We began planning for this trip as early as March. Booked our flight tickets in April. Made arrangements for stay in Singapore first, since we were going during F1 weekend. We made most of our booking via Hostels.com and Hostelworld.com, with only our Langkawi booking done via Agoda.com.
We flew Tiger Airways (one way) to Singapore (which cost Rs. 4500 per person) and our Air Asia one way journey from KL to Bangalore (with 20kgs luggage and pre-booked meals) cost us Rs. 3600 per person. All in all, this 9 day trip (10, if you include today) cost us around Rs. 36,000 ($810/€560) — that’s flight, stay, food, commuting fares, and sightseeing expenses!
I didn’t do a whole lot of shopping, so I spent the least among the three of us.
If we had gone via a packaged tour, it would have easily cost us more than Rs. 50,000 per person and I doubt we would seen all that we saw the past 9 days. Sure, we didn’t check out Sentosa Island (and Universal Studios) but that’s due to lack of time in Singapore. It was either Sentosa or the Zoo — we chose the Zoo. In Malaysia, we skipped Genting Highlands as well because it was another theme park and casino — places subsidized package tours include so that they bring in droves of tourists in hopes the tourists will spend some money.
Looking at the world map, I believe this was Indonesia we were flying over
The long wait at the airport made me quite hungry and I was looking forward to the meal I had pre-booked. Not that I had high expectations, I was just hungry.
Microwaved Nasi Lemak for lunch. It was a bit dry, but alright.
So would I go back?
To Singapore, that’s a definite ‘yes‘! Mostly because the experience of being in Singapore during F1 weekend is just too good. The whole city really comes alive during the Grand Prix. The main lesson learnt from this Singapore visit is that 3 days isn’t enough, even for such a small city state. You can spend an entire day at the Zoo itself — go see the animals in the morning and then the Night Safari once it gets dark. You can spend an entire day at Sentosa, for which they have activities from daylight to sunset. Next time, I’m definitely going to Universal Studios Singapore.
Also, next time, I’m going to carry a lot more money. SGD$250 is enough to get by for 3 whole days in Singapore (which is what we spent on getting around, eating, some shopping, and the attractions we visited). But next time, I’ll probably triple my budget and stay for minimum 5 days. I want to have fun in Singapore!
By now, we were flying over Mother India
Would I go back to Malaysia? Well, depends really. I felt I saw all that I needed to see and do in Langkawi. I also saw quite a bit of what I sought in Kuala Lumpur. The one place I do feel ‘incomplete’ about is Penang. Just one day in Penang was a bit of a stretch, plus I didn’t get to see what was on the other side of the bridge, which apparently has its fair share of attractions.
Funny thing though, until last year, I didn’t even know there are two ‘sides’ that make the nation of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Langkawi are all on one ‘side’ — but there is more to Malaysia, on the Borneo side.
(Map image taken from Wikipedia)
Sabah and Sarawak are famous for its wildlife, lush forests and serene coast line — offering an experience quite different from that of the ‘main land,’ so to speak.
But because they are far apart, and not as developed, most tourists to Malaysia are often oblivious to Sabah and Sarawak’s existence.
Air Asia has flights to Sabah and Sarawak, so if I do go back to Malaysia, I would probably hop over to ‘the other side’.
Not sure if these are Nandi Hills
The outskirts of Bangalore, from up above
As we descended, the nice and sunny outside suddenly turned dark and rainy.
Landed at 5:30pm
After picking up some stuff at the BIAL Duty Free, we were out in half-an-hours time. We hired a cab who agreed to take us to Srajapur Road (near Total Mall) for Rs. 650. We opted not to take the airport bus due to the luggage we had.
If felt nice to return to the post-rain, fresh air and experience Bangalore’s greatest asset — its weather. But 30 minutes into our journey, and into peak hour traffic, it didn’t take long for all three of us to get frustrated and say the same thing:
“Man, I wanna go back!”
P.S: I also didn’t get to have bread ice cream in Singapore!
Today was going to be our last full day in Kuala Lumpur, so we had to make the most of it. Some of us had shopping to do, and I wanted to see a bit more of KL.
But the first thing we did in the morning was get ready to go the Petronas Towers again. And when I say “we,” I mean Ramesh and I. Loi wanted to sleep in.
The reason why we were going back to the towers were to try and a get a ticket for the sky bridge/observation deck. Why “try”? Because that’s how the system is. You go there early enough, wait in line until the ticket counters open and whoever gets the tickets, gets to up at a pre-determined time. The earlier you are in the line, the sooner you get to go up. It’s free, but an inconvenient method. (EDIT: Turns out there is a much higher observation deck at the 86th floor for which you can pay RM40 and go. I didn’t know about it until much research after coming back from this trip)
Still, since we didn’t have a whole lot planned for the morning, myself and Ramesh thought: “What the hell, last day in KL. Might as well try and get a ticket”.
So we set out, took the monorail and got down at Bukit Nanas station.
The Malaysia Tourism Centre
We walked towards the KLCC Suria and when we finally made it to the ticketing counter…
... it was 8:55am when I took this
Sold out. Oh well.
Not that we were sorely disappointed or anything, but if you are one who is very keen to visit the Sky Bridge, be in line by at least 7:30-8:00am.
Me and Ramesh then just decided to check out the mall.
Suria mall mostly caters to high end brands and luxury designer wear, most of which are on the lower floors. We checked out a few electronics stores, Ramesh checked out the Harley Davidson store, and then we decided to find out where the Aquaria was.
Oh Ryan Seacrest, there is no escaping you is there?
It wasn't open yet
Ramesh was keen on checking out the Aquaria, the largest aquarium in Kuala Lumpur. I, on the other hand, wanted to see more of the city, so we parted ways. I inquired on how to get to Merdeka Square while Ramesh went in to Aquaria.
Here are a few photos from inside the Aquaria, all of which are from Ramesh’s camera.
Entry is RM35 (Rs. 510/$11/€8) for adults
Wonder what they feed piranhas here
Well, that's a bit harsh on the eel isn't it?
This 'turtle+croc+weird' looking creature is called the Matamata
This one is called a Coatimundi
The Aquaria has the obligatory underwater tunnel
The above are only a few of the photos Ramesh took. He took much more. There are sharks, lion fish, water rats and all sorts of other waterborne creatures. From his account, Ramesh said the experience was “okay” — so I don’t know how it compares to a similar offering I experienced in Dubai Mall.
When Ramesh stepped out, he saw a gathering of superbikes and stalls by Yamaha on the occasion of next week’s Malaysian MotoGP.
That concludes what Ramesh saw.
Now back to me
When I left the Petronas Towers, I took the monorail to Hang Tuah station. From there I transferred to the RapidKL line, for which you need to buy another ticket/pass as the monorail card won’t work on this rail service. From Hang Tuah, I headed towards Masjid Jamek station.
Once you come out of the station...
... you are on Jalan Melayu
Luring customers with tickets to new Rajinikant film. Works wherever Tamilians exist
Nothing special in here. The usual street market stocking the usual goods.
I came here to go to Merdeka Square, which is a significant landmark in Malaysia’s independence from Britain.
Merdeka Square literally means "Independence Square"
There was a film shoot happening
No clue if this was a South Indian/Malay-Tamil/Sri Lankan or Bangladeshi production
This flag pole is nearly 312 ft high, one of the tallest in the world
Merdeka Square is surrounded by old colonial buildings
It was here on August 31st, 1957, that the British flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag hoisted for the first time
Not sure what these buildings were
Plenty of tourist buses stop in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad building
Sultan Abdul Samad building in front, several bank HQs in the background
Merdeka Square is the venue for Malaysia's annual National Day Parade
The one on the right seems like the lead actress in this shoot; they were shooting with RED cameras (Yes, I'm a nerd, I notice these things)
It was time for me to move on.
Not that I knew where I was headed next
I just like to roam about and explore
After passing by an area full of businesses serving Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, I found myself in an alley which housed what looked like a Chinese temple.
So I went in
As I left the temple, I found out the name of the place
I walked a bit further out...
... and I soon realized I was in China Town
There was a shopping complex right opposite the entrance to Petaling Street and so I decided to check it out. I unfortunately couldn’t take any photographs inside because the security guard asked me not to. But inside were stores selling essentially the same goods I saw yesterday night in Petaling Street, but at far lower prices.
So word of advice, just because you see bags on Petaling Street with it’s street market appearance, don’t assume the prices are low. There are plenty of other places, like this not-so-fancy shopping complex right outside Petaling Street selling the same stuff at lower prices.
In fact when I called up Loi to tell him about bag prices here, he told me he found similar prices in the shops on the higher floors of Times Square shopping mall.
I had lunch from a burger joint and continued my ‘walk around town’. I asked around for where “Little India” was and was directed to walk towards KL Tower.
I stepped in but quickly found nothing worthwhile
Yes, to the right is a 'chapathi house' named Restoran Santa
I came across this street which looked more like "Little Chennai"
There’s a slew of silk shops, and plenty of pure-veg restaurants on this street.
I found myself back to Masjid Jemak
Masjid Jema' (mosque)
I didn't qualify for any of the above, so didn't bother going in
It was time for me to head back to the room and catch up with Ramesh and Loi.
Some beauty show at Berjaya Times Square
Once I got back to Irsia, the three of us decided to go to Midvalley Megamall, one of Kuala Lumpur’s largest malls.
To get to Midvalley Megamall from Berjaya Times Square, take the monorail from Imbi to KL Sentral. Then, you need to transfer to the Komuter train line, and Midvalley has a stop by itself.
The mall is pretty huge
Midvalley houses a Carrefour, JUSCO, Toys ‘R’ Us, Harvey Norman and plenty of other brands. It isn’t ‘high street’ fare like KLCC Suria mall in Petronas Towers.
This store had a whole bunch of cool imports from Japan
After Loi’s shopping from Toys R Us, Ramesh’s purchases from Carrefour, we headed up to the top most floor.
They have an exclusive ManU store and an 18-screen multiplex up here
Went in here as well
Midvalley has a few nerdy joints up here, including video arcades and a store dedicated to board games. But we couldn’t hang out any longer, it was nearing 7pm. There was one last thing I wanted to do for our last day in Kuala Lumpur — head to the observation deck at KL Tower to get a view of Kuala Lumpur city at night.
To save time, we took a taxi… and got a driver with some pretty good taste in music
After an enjoyable ride, we reached Menara KL, which is perched atop a small hill called Bukit Nanas. Thus making it ‘taller’ than the Petronas Towers. Myself and Loi bought our tickets and made our way up, Ramesh stayed below to check out an F1 Zone.
Tickets cost RM38 (Rs. 550/$12/€8) for adults
I was more keen on visiting the observation deck of KL Tower than the Skybridge at Petronas Towers, simply because the viewing height at Menara KL is much higher.
And I was right...
... the view was great!
But there was one annoying problem
The bright lights from the shops up here!
The whole experience of the view at night from up here is marred by the lights reflecting off of the glass — which also made for tricky photography. And because I didn’t have a tripod, it was tough for me to get steady shots.
Why on earth would you want to sell jewelry up here? 'High' prices?
We went around the observation deck
They have a display showing you the other tall telecommunications towers around the world
Menara KL is the fourth largest telecom tower in the world
The tallest is still the CN Tower in Toronto
You can see Berjaya Times Square from up here -- also 'cos it isn't that far
I took one final shot of the Petronas Towers before heading back down
There are two 'sky high' restaurants at KL Tower
This is the elevator lobby
Timings are 9:30am to 9:30pm
Your ticket also includes entry to the Cultural Village, which was closed by 8pm
So we used our ticket to avail the one free ride around the (virtual) Sepang circuit
In the small cars though, you have to pay to sit in one these life-size replica cars
Ramesh paid to sit & play in the Ferrari car
There's an F1 store here as well
You can opt to use your ticket for a complimentary ride as well
We waited for the free ride down to the base of the hill
Once at the base, we walked towards Bukit Nanas monorail station.
One final look
Walked past the Hard Rock Cafe Kuala Lumpur
Which saw a gathering of Harley Davidson owners that night
One final look at the beautiful twin towers
This is the monorail network map
The monorail trains aren't very big
Once back in the room, we decided to enjoy our final dinner of this trip, and sit somewhere nice. There are a few cosy eateries behind Berjaya Times Square, where we were and so, we sat down at Wings musicafe.
They have a live stage where artists perform every night
Had Kilkenny Irish beer for the first time
It was a relaxing dinner to end our last day of sight-seeing in Kuala Lumpur. The musicians were mostly local artists, aspiring singers who performed mellow acoustic fare. Much needed for us tired souls.
Once back in the room, we packed up. And when I mean “we,” I mean myself and Ramesh…
... this guy was too lazy to do any packing -- and he had the most luggage!
Tomorrow morning, all we had to do was check out and head to the airport in the afternoon for our after Air Asia flight back to Bangalore.
So, it’s not over yet… there’s one more post left!
Today we needed to be out and early as we had to head far out to reach Batu Caves, a famous Hindu temple site — and one of Kuala Lumpur’s must-see sights. Since I was up and ready first, I decided to take a few photos of the place where we were staying.
Irsia, according to the Iranians who run the place, is a fairly new hostel/bed-n-breakfast/budget guesthouse.
You have to leave your shoes downstairs as no shoes are allowed into rooms
The place is quite clean though. These are the rooms downstairs.
The dining room is downstairs
The kitchen is where you can make yourself toast and coffee/tea
As was the norm everywhere we stayed on this trip, once you are done with breakfast, you wash the dishes yourself and keep it back from where you took them.
The lobby/reception/living area has books, a TV and two computers with free internet service
They sell bottled water lower than what the 7-Elevens charge
This is the sit-out area. Smoking is not allowed inside the rooms.
This is where we sat yesterday night and had our dinner
No elevator. You have take these stairs to go up.
Upstairs, where our triple room was (Photograph by Loiyumba, taken yesterday)
How appropriate our room number was 'F1' for this 'F1 trip' of ours
These are the bathrooms upstairs
That concludes our tour of Irsia hostel/Bed-n-Breakfast/guesthouse/budget hotel
Given that our triple room cost us around Rs. 4300 (RM297/$96/€68) for 3 nights, we couldn’t have been more happier with Irsia, given the location. Yes, the walls are a little thin and ventilation isn’t great, but if you are going to be spending more time inside hotel rooms, you best look at proper hotels. By the way, that is Rs. 4300 for all three of us — Rs. 1400 per person, for 3 nights in KL!
Once all three of us were ready and done with breakfast, we stepped out. We decided to take the monorail to get to KL Sentral.
The monorail station in front of Berjaya Times Square is called Imbi
At 9:30am, the station wasn't all that crowded
The ride takes around 15-20 minutes with all the stops
Once at KL Sentral, we asked the information desk how to get to Batu Caves and were instructed to head downstairs to the train platforms. We bought our tickets (RM2/Rs. 30/$0.60) and headed down.
There are frequent trains to Batu Caves
Unfortunately, in the confusion of which train to get on, I accidentally stepped into the wrong train but was too late to step out as the doors closed with Ramesh and Loi still on the platform.
I got down at the old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which was the next stop
But by then, Ramesh and Loiyumba were in the right train and already ahead of me.
I soon got the next train and was on my way
The ride took nearly 30 minutes and by the time I arrived at the station (which by the way is the last stop), Ramesh and Loiyumba were already at the temple.
There is no entry fee for Batu Caves
Hanumanji's presence isn't the biggest here
Sri Venkatachalapathi temple
This is a Chinese garden; I believe entry wasn't free
Pigeons must hate kids
Scratch that. Pigeons hate humans.
It was time for me go up, Ramesh and Loi were already in the cave
This statue of Lord Murugan is the biggest of its kind in the world
272 steps to climb
Along the way (as was the norm on this trip), you'll encounter plenty of monkeys
And as usual, monkeys will try and grab stuff from you
But they are generally well behaved here
Once I reached the top, I met up with Ramesh and Loiyumba who were done and were ready to head back down. They said they would wait for me down below and so, I went in for my photography.
It only got better once inside
There were gaps in the ceiling through which water was dripping down
There are two temples in side the cave
This. apparently, is the 'main temple'
This monkey was a spoilt one. When this Indian couple gave hims some food, he dropped it and picked up a burger instead.
I was glad I had my wide angle lens with me
Apparently they should have also mentioned 'No Scribbling'
I liked the photos I clicked in here
But even with a wide-angle lens, trying to capture the scale of the caves from the inside (without distortion) was near impossible, so I took a few multiple shots and merged them into one using Photoshop.
Vertical panorama comprised of 10 shots
Vertical panorama comprised of 11 shots
Vertical panorama comprised of 8 shots
I was trying to capture water dropping on to the steps
After nearly 20 minutes inside the cave, it was time for me head down
It was a cloudy day, so I couldn't see the Petronas Towers from here. Actually, I'm not even sure if they are visible from up here.
Vertical panorama comprised of 5 shots
Once down, I caught up with Loi and Ramesh and we decided to have lunch from here itself.
This is where we ate. There aren't too many options actually.
Post lunch, we just sat outside for a while and observed the crowds. We were even approached by some PR team for Sony, and asked to pretend we were using Sony camcorders. In return for doing so, we asked them if we could keep them — but they said no.
Not sure if this couple were shooting for their wedding album or not
I took one last look at Lord Murugan before leaving (This is a single shot)
This is the Batu Caves train station
(Photograph by Loiyumba)
In case you wanted to know the Malay words for public signs (Photograph by Loiyumba)
Tandas = toilet (Photograph by Loiyumba)
We bought our tickets (RM2) and boarded our train.
It was a cloudy day, but we could still see the Petronas Towers from afar
If you were looking for nasty hotel in KL. (J/k, it's quite fancy: http://www.dynasty.com.my/)
(Photograph taken by Loi)
Once we got back to KL Sentral, we decided to head to the IKEA store as Ramesh was keen on picking up some stuff from there. The outlet was located in the area called Mutiara Damansara and we asked around on how to get there by bus. We waited at bus stop outside KL Sentral and hopped on to one that went that way.
The journey took us through a lot of residential areas in Kuala Lumpur.
(These were taken on my Nokia E72)
An hour long journey later, we were in Petaling Jaya. Even though it was a long journey, it was quite a relaxing one for me as I got to see residential areas outside of the CBD (Central Business District), something I wouldn’t have seen given where we were staying.
The IKEA store is right adjacent to this
Once we entered the IKEA store, we were hooked! There was soooooo much that we felt like picking up, but just couldn’t, because figuring out how to carry them home was something we couldn’t comprehend.
Regardless, we still picked up quite a bit of stuff and by the time were out, it was well past sunset.
Technically, the IKEA store is not in Kuala Lumpur, it's in neighbouring district
Since we had quite a lot of stuff with us to carry, we decided to just take a cab.
Though bus only cost us RM2.60 for 3, taxi was much required to save time
And save time it did, the taxi took the highway from the IKEA store into KL and we were back in our rooms in just half-an-hour. (IKEA store directions)
For dinner, we decided to head to Kuala Lumpur’s China Town, which was also accessible via monorail.
From Imbi, the monorail stop for getting to China Town was only two stops away, at Maharajalela.
If you ask locals around for "Chinatown" and they don't get it, just ask for Petaling street
Once inside, it was a just one street (probably covering two blocks) with a lot of stores and street shops. No vehicles allowed.
You have the usual gamut of fake goods, pirated CD/DVDs and clothes
But I didn't really find anything particularly interesting about this 'Chinatown'
Plus, the prices were quite high considering the stuff they sold weren't what you would call "genuine"
A lot of the t-shirts were from Thailand and so, cost a lot more than what I saw them for in Bangkok. Yes, you have to haggle, but even when Loi did so for a backpack, the price they came down to was still too high. We soon left Petaling Street.
And just as we left, it began to rain all of a sudden.
Fortunately we had umbrellas
We saw an Malay Indian restaurant and jumped in for a quick dinner.
The place was run by Malay Tamilians; food was simple and decent enough taste-wise
Ramesh didn’t find anything on the menu that was pure veg, so it was just myself & Loi. Once we were done, we headed back to Berjaya Times Square by taxi (cost RM5) as it was still raining.
It was dinner at Krispy Kreme for Ramesh
It stopped raining by midnight
We headed back to Irsia, calculated our daily expenses, sorted out who paid for what, and who owes whom how much — pretty much a daily routine for us on this trip, before hitting the sack.
I was quite happy with some of the photos I took inside Batu Caves and rate the caves highly as one of the “must see” sights in Kuala Lumpur. It only costs RM 2 for the one way journey to Batu Caves by train and is a nice break from the city.
Tomorrow morning, we planned to get up early (again) and head to Petronas Towers to try and get a ticket to visit the observation deck. We only had one more day left in the capital.