Back to (Reality) Brizzie

The return flight was without incident and AirAsia lived up to their fine standards. Well so far we hadn’t had an issue. I t was worth paying the extra for the exit row, but remember you can’t  move the arm rest.  Luckily we had blankie and some sleeping tablets that helped us get a few hours rest.  Arriving in the Gold Coast just leaves you with the challenge of getting back up to Brisbane.  We opted for the bus to Robina and the train to Roma Street.  Being a Sunday morning this proved easy and we got a seat all the way for $21.  Probably not the best idea during the working week

Home at last!

Last day

5 January 2013

It is Saturday and our last day in KL, tonight at 9:00 we go home.

Determined to make the most of the day, we head back to Pavilion Shopping Centre for breakfast and some serious shoe shopping.

Breakfast is amazing!  Mee Jawa – fried spicy noodles and chicken for MR9.50 – thats about A$3, delicious!  Me love – mee jawa!

Me love mee jawa

Me love mee jawa

Then we hit the shops, 2 hours and 5 pairs of shoes later, I call it a day (also have a new Michael Kors purse, a few casual tops and a few belts).  We only have so much spare room in our bags.

My trusty little Lumix camera has snapped under the pressure and the hinge to the battery has broken.  We are informed that at near by Low Yat Plaza someone will sort us out.  Its a bit hard to find but when we get there … wow! 5 levels of electronics – that’s it – cameras, phones, laptops, tablets.  Unfortunately they do not do any camera repairs, that would require a 45 minute drive to lord knows where.  We wander around in a daze and unable to resist I get a keyboard and touch pen for my Ipad.

Back on the streets we stop at one of the many massage places for a reflexology foot massage.  Howard gets this mute guy that proceeds to work him over.  Jeeze you would think the guy was shoving bamboo under H’s nails the way he was carrying on!  When he wasn’t twitching and giggling, he was gasping and convulsing.  It was hilarious to watch.

Reflexology

Reflexology

For our last meal in KL we have decided to go to the famous Din Tai Fung Restaurant.  H has been to the original in Taipei! This dumpling chain has restaurants all over the world and it is soooo gooood! You order off their menu and within minutes the dumpling chefs, covered in white masks and hats bring the steaming hot baskets direct to your table. Fantastic service. This is dumpling heaven.

  • Xiao Long Bao dumplings
  • Shrimp & Pork dumplings
  • Crab Meat and Pork Xiao Long Boa dumplings
  • Shredded Pork Fried Rice
  • Stir Fried Pea Sprouts with Garlic

For a muslin country they sure have heaps of pork!

The dumpling pastry is wafer thin and steamed to perfection, the fillings are tender and delicious .  There is one of these restaurants in Sydney, I would fly there just to get another fix!

Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung

Chilli oil

Chilli oil

Dumplings, fried rice and pea sprouts

Dumplings, fried rice and pea sprouts

H gets the bill

H gets the bill

Dumplings being made

Dumplings being made

Alas it’s time to go.  We head back to the hotel to grab our bags.  Howard got the phone number of the taxi driver that delivered us into KL and arranged for him to take us back to the airport. Same deal MR75!

The rest of the trip goes without any hassle.  We have found Air Asia to be pretty impressive for a budget airline – efficient, on-time and clean.  I’ve had flights with budget airlines before and said “never again – I’d rather swim”.  But Air Asia I would do again.

In fact we are planning our next holiday already!

KL Shopping and Eating

4 January 2013

The way I see it there is only 2 things to do in Kuala Lumpur – shopping and eating. And I’m ready, willing and able to do both.

KL does not get started until 10:00 am when the shops open. So at 10:30 we head next door to Pavilion Shopping Centre – 7 levels of retail therapy. I’ve read they have the best food court in KL and it doesn’t disappoint.

After circulating the dozens of food vendors I settle on a beef noodle soup (continuing with my soup for breakfast theme) from the Sarawak stall. The broth is not so bad but the beef is like old boots (oh well, H goes for fried Kwai Teow, which is yummmm! I have to mentioned prices – soup MR8.90 noodles MR6.90 how good is that?

Breakfast done, it’s time to shop. I’ve spilt soup on myself so a new outfit is first on the list and before you know it I have two new dresses, a work skirt and blouse. Howard has been very patient and provides a great second opinion but his patience runs thin when I start to trawl for shoes (this could take all day). Don’t get me wrong, Howard is a shopper, but his shopping tends towards window shopping at the high end of the market. Me, I’m looking for bargains!

Cutting my spree short H drags me from Pavilion for a trip to Chinatown for lunch. We drop of the shopping bags and jump on the monorail, 3 stops away at Maharajalela we exit and follow a few vague signs to Chinatown. This is hawker hell, pushing Indians (yep hardly a Chinaman in sight) knock off handbags, t-shirts and DVD’s. Get me out of here!

I’ve done my research and want to eat at the Old China Cafe it serves up nonya food which is a mix of Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. Eventually we find it and it is from another era, in a pre WW1 building it still retains original features. The peeling walls are covered with old wedding photos, portraits, old wooden clocks and speckled mirrors, antique furniture and old fashioned charm. This place was shabby chic before shabby chic was invented.

Old China Cafe

Old China Cafe

Sui Yook Devil Curry (delicious roast pork in spicy gravy) and Beef Rendang with coconut rice are quickly served and gobbled up. We are just finishing up when the heavens open and it starts to pour. Just a tropical shower we think, 1/2 hour later the thunder is still shaking the building and I decide there is only one thing to do. Yes, order desert! The selection is not extensive (choice of 3) so I order Bubur Pulut Hitan – a broth of black glutinous rice with coconut cream. Ummm interesting!

Devil Curry and Rendang

Devil Curry and Rendang

Black Rice

Black Rice

As the rain seems to be easing off we pay the bill and head outside. Only to be almost immediately halted by the overflowing gutters and more heavy rain. After waiting another 1/2 hour waiting for a taxi to drive by, we decide to brave the wet and make a run for it (I have to do it barefoot or else I will ruin my sandals; eeek; NOT a pleasant experience …. I’m surprised I didn’t pick up a fungal disease). H is wearing sneekers and they are soaked.

Local flooding

Local flooding

Drenched we jag a taxi, possibly the dirtiest taxi in KL, my skin still crawlers thinking about it. As we crawl back to the hotel (I don’t think he goes over 20 km the whole trip) H makes polite conversation about the rain with our Indian driver, he is suddenly ranting and I mean ranting about the government taking all his money and wasting it. “They can build the Petronas Towers in KL but they can’t fix the storm drains!”  We sure can pick them. We get him to find us a shop so we can buy some vodka to chill out with.

Back to our room to wait out the rest of the storm and a well deserved vodka and a rest. Then we hit the streets again, checking out a few shopping centres and then navigating the broken footpaths of KL to the check out the Petronas Towers, two beautifully lit towers that dominate the KL skyline. There is a huge forecourt with a massive water fountain show that is illuminated in all the colours of the rainbow. Hundreds of people sit on the steps watching the show.

Petronis from the ground

Petronis Tower from the ground

I have been told that a must see of KL is Marini’s 57, a very trendy bar and restaurant in the area. It is on the 57th floor and has a spectacular view of the towers and the lights of the city. By chance we find it and we pop in for a few drinks and we agree that it is definitely worth a visit. At the 57th floor we are still only about half way up the height of the Patronas Towers. The view is stunning!

Marinis 57

Marinis 57

Petronis Towers from Marinis 57

Petronis Towers from Marinis 57

It’s now about 9:30 so we head off for Japanese for dinner. We find a respectable looking establishment called Senya and place our order on the ipad provided. With the touch of a few icons our Saki, sashimi, miso soup and chicken karagi are ordered and then shortly arrive at our table.

Senya

Senya

One minute paddy fields the next ……

3 January 2013

It’s strange when you wake up in the morning to the sound of a rooster crowing (at 5 am) in a room without a TV, without a clock, without any creature comforts. And then that night you go to bed in a 5 star hotel in a massive city in a soft bed with delicious pillows.

Yes, from the backwaters of Kep to Kuala Lumpur in a day.

Our start is an early 7:00 am pick up (the wake up made earlier thanks to the previously mentioned rooster, who “woke us” for a full hour).  Apparently our return trip to Phnom Phen airport includes visits to a couple of temples.  We have a driver and a guide in yet another Toyota Camry!

First stop is on the banks of a man-made canal (Takeo Canal) that goes all the way to Vietnam, approximately fourty kilometres long. We get loaded into the “fast boat”, a fibreglass “tinny” with an outboard and before you know it we are racing through a massive flood plain in the Angkor Borey district, 45 minutes of endless paddy fields and a small number of fishermen.

Our launching point

Our launching point

On the canal

On the canal

The fishing is unlike anything I have seen before. Men standing shoulder deep in the muddy fresh water, with a rake like tool, scrapping the mud to catch these weird fish that look like baby eels. All day they do this for a few kilos of fish! We ask our guide to stop along the way and the fishermen show us their catch. They are so happy to have this brief exchange with us and the guide. Their smiles are infectious.

Fisherman

Fisherman

Fresh water fish

Fresh water fish

We eventually unload onto a steep muddy bank. We walk through a small village, where pigs wander the dirt street; small children come up to us and stare in wonder at Janet’s painted toe nails. It is depressing! These people are so poor. They have large pots that they collect their water in during the wet season and this must last them for the dry season. They wash in the canal. There is no running water for drinking and little power. Most prepare their meals over wood fires.

Village pigs

Village pigs

Village child

Village child

Up the steps is the Phnom Da, a bombed out 13th century temple. Bombed by the Americans during the Vietnam war (Vietnam is very close) and then desecrated by the Khmer Rouge; it is a sad sight. There is another temple 100 metres away this one is older and in slightly better condition.  Declining a visit to the local museum it’s back into the boat for the 45 minute return journey.

Phnom Da

Phnom Da

Entrance

Entrance

Then off to Tonle Bati to visit another ancient temple, this one is pretty good, but the visit is brief as we need to get to the airport.

Tonle Bati

Tonle Bati

Just chillin at the temple

Just chillin at the temple

Apsara

Apsara

Temple statue

Temple statue

Four buddhas

Four buddhas

At the airport we of course pick the check in line that has a half wit in charge. Seriously that guy must have checked our passport and moved it from one side of the desk to the other about a dozen times.

Then we pick the guy who must have thought he was working for the US border security. He glared at me for a full minute before he painfully checked my photo and finger prints. Yes, you get a retina scan and a full finger print when you enter Cambodia. What a joke! They do all that and then don’t even pick up that H has another person’s exit papers stapled in his passport. The “passport Nazi” takes forever to process H, I’m beginning to think that he is about to get escorted away and I’m going to have to contact the Australian Embassy. But he finally lets H through. Phew!

H makes friends with a french girl in the departure hall, who is from Rheims. One of our favourite places. She has a Malaysian boyfriend who joins in the conversation and gives us the drum on KL!

Onto the plane and into Kuala Lumpur. No visas required, no finger printing, no retina scans. Straight through, easy peasy.  Air Asia has been good so far!

KL airport is a full 1 hour drive (on the highway) to central KL and to avoid being ripped off by the taxi drivers you buy a prepaid voucher for MR 75 (less than A$25). Breaking a few land speed records we arrive safely (no potholes yeah!). I think our Cambodian driving experiences have totally desensitised us to manic driving.

The Grand Millennium Hotel is located in the heart of Bukit Bintang aka shopping heaven. Check in, shower, change of clothes and we hit the street heading for the famous Jalan Alor, a back street crammed with hawkers stalls with plastic tables and chairs jutting into the street.  We select the busiest one we can find (always a good sign) and chow down on some great prawns, noodles and baby gai lan – all washed down with more beer. MR90 (divide by 3 = bargain). It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s crowded, it’s noisy, and it’s fabulous. This place is pumping from 5 pm to 5 am.

Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor

Jalan Alor

Exhausted by our long day we grab an ice cream and head back to our bed (the first that is not as hard as a plank) to the sleep of the dead.