Posts Tagged ‘Malaysia’

KL Bird Park

On my second day in KL I went for a ride on the Hop-on/Hop-off bus. I hopped-off at various points but the main stay was at the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park. This is located in a large green area just to the west of the city centre – other attractions here include a zoo, public gardens for walking around, various botanical gardens and a butterfly park. The National Mosque is on the edge of this area, as is the Malaysian Houses of Parliament.

The Bird Park advertises itself as the “World’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary”. I can’t comment on that claim, but I spent an enjoyable two-and-a-half hours here. I can’t say it was spectacular, but it was peaceful and relaxing. It was also very hot, of course, and to be fair a number of the birds were pretty motionless – perhaps they’re more active early in the morning or the evening? Nonetheless it was enjoyable being to see the birds close-up – to walk around among them, in fact.

There were some areas where the birds were caged, and those parts were less fun. The parrot house was one such, although there was a hierarchy of enclosures. Some species of parrot (I’ll call them all parrots even though there were in fact a variety of species there) were in quite small enclosures while a couple of other species were flying freely within the overall parrot house; and indeed, to interact with the visitors. I’m not sure why some parrots were kept in smaller enclosures – perhaps they’re aggressive with other species?

At the end of the visit I went outside and waited for a Ho/Ho bus. Readers, that turned out to be the hardest part of the day. It was mid-afternoon by this time and therefore very hot and humid, and I had to wait about 30 minutes for the bus, with nothing to take my mind off my discomfort. Given that my intention at that point was simply to return to the hotel, it might have been better to get a taxi. On the other hand, however, if I’d done that I wouldn’t have seen the Petronas Towers, which I passed and took pictures of once I was on the Ho/Ho bus. You can’t win them all.

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Here are a few pictures I took in KL city.

First, in the Pavilion shopping mall in Bukit Bintang. This was just a few minutes walk from my hotel, in the midst of some very busy streets. It’s a very high-end mall: lots of the top names (e.g. Prada, Cartier, Rolex) have stores there. So do some other names that don’t seem quite so high-end: Dorothy Perkins (!) and T. M Lewin (!!). But maybe those brands seem more exotic from the perspective of Asia.

I also did a hop-on/hop-off bus ride and here are a few from that:

The National Palace is where Malaysia’s Head of State resides. Malaysia has a totally unique constitutional model – an elected constitutional monarch. It all goes back to the situation at the time Malaysia independence in 1957. At that time the Federation of Malaya consisted of two British colonies (Penang and Malacca) and nine Sultanates. In 1957 they decided to adopt something quite like the British model and have constitutional monarchy but with the government being drawn from members of parliament. But who should become the monarch? There had always been nine Sultanates; some bigger, some smaller, but all theoretically equal in status. So they decided to rank the Sultans in terms of seniority (length of time as Sultan); then the most senior Sultan at the time of independence would become the King (and head of state) for a term of five years. At the end of that time the first King would be followed by the current Sultan of the next Sultanate, in terms fo the 1957 seniority list. However, although everyone knows who the next King will be, they go through a form of election: the nine Sultans vote for next King, it’s just that the ballot paper only has one name on it, that of the agreed Sultan! I have to say that however strange it seems, it has served them well ever since 1957.

And finally a few images from a visit I made to the National Museum. I didn’t go in, just took some pictures of the exterior of the whole museum, and of the interior of a “Village Chief’s House” that has been erected in the grounds.


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At Singapore airport – I just liked the airline name.

Which the usual abbreviation for Kuala Lumpur, of course – the capital of Malaysia. I’m spending two nights here before heading home.

I flew in to KL International just after lunchtime on Monday. The flight time from Singapore was given as 1 hour, but in fact only 40 minutes of that was in the air. No sooner had we got to our cruising altitude of about 35000 feet than we were beginning the descent. But the flight attendants managed to get refreshments round to everyone and to tidy up afterwards, though the refreshments were just a small packet of peanuts and a carton of orange juice.

KLIA is over 50 kms from the city, so my transfer took about an hour, and was a quite frightening hour at that. It wasn’t that my driver was speeding, just that lane discipline while driving along the motorways seemed to be missing, not only my driver but all around him. There were a number of times when both the car I was in and another vehicle were veering towards each other. We also seemed to drive for miles straddling the white line between two lanes. I now see why the riders of the little motorbikes zip around so much and so quickly – it’s to stay clear of all the randomly-driven cars….

Part – just part! – of the room.

However I did arrive safely at my hotel, the ParkRoyal Kuala Lumpur. This is now my third stay at one of these hotels, the previous two having been at the ParkRoyal on Kitchener in Singapore. That hotel is a solid 4* and perfectly good, but this in KL is more like 4*+. And I found I’m booked into their ‘Orchid Club’ – better and bigger rooms, and use of a separate club area, including a large lounge on the 6th floor where I took breakfast, afternoon refreshments and soft drinks, and early evening canapés and drinks. The latter two – ok, mainly the last one – was a huge pleasure. The canapés could actually be a complete meal if you took a generous portion of all the food on offer – let me say that I didn’t. But they had wine, and they kept coming round and offering to refill my glass, and who was I to refuse?

The hotel is in one of the most commercial ares of KL, Bukit Bintang, home to glitzy malls. I went out for a while later on Monday and explored locally, and again late in the evening.

My first impressions of KL at the end of the day were that it was noisier than Singapore; more vibrant with lots of energy, but also harder. For example, walking down a street of eateries and being accosted every 30 seconds by the greeters for each one. The traffic seemed worse – more congestion than in Singapore – and the public transport system seemed to be more fragmentary. (Apparently not many people use the in-city systems which consists 3 or 4 monorails and a couple of subway lines. Possibly the fact that they’re not well integrated and may not share a ticketing system has something so do with that). And finally, lots of things seem a little unfinished, whereas in Singapore everything is just-so. (Of course, many people would prefer the KL approach.) It might be a city you could come to love, but I think it’s a city where it takes more effort just to be comfortable. And of course it’s hot – a couple of degrees more so than Singapore.

Tomorrow I’m going out for the day, and I shall report back. More pictures in day or so, too – I have most of the walk-around images on the phone and not available to me at the moment.

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Next week (19th February) I shall be heading back to Singapore and Malaysia. I’m having six nights in Singapore plus a couple of nights in Kuala Lumpur; those, plus the two overnights while I’m on flights will mean that I’ll be away for about ten days.

Obviously I’ve been to Singapore before, so why go back? Well, I came away thinking that there were lots of things I hadn’t seen or visited: Chinatown, for example, or Kampong Glam, or even places like the Zoo. Then there were a couple of major museums that I didn’t visit, one of them being the Singapore Art Museum and the Asian Art Museum. And also one or two out-doors places – I think I’d like to walk the southern ridges, for example.

But the main reason I’m going back is that this is Chinese New Year, which in Singapore finishes with a big parade, the Chingay parade. I’ve timed my visit so that I shall be there for the parade, and Ive bought a ticket for it. Hopefully I shall get lots of images.

Then there’s Kuala Lumpur. I haven’t visited this city before, and I’m not sure what I’ll think about it. But I’m reading more about Malaysia, and liking what I read, so this will be a flying visit to experience that country’s capital. Perhaps next year I’ll do a trip just to Malaysia – I still don’t feel I did Georgetown justice last year, and I’m also attracted by places such as the Cameron Highlands, Langkawi and Malacca, or maybe the islands and cost on the east side of peninsular Malaysia. I’m not sure if I’m ready for Malaysia-in-Borneo yet – Sabah and Sarawak provinces. But who knows….

I shall be blogging from the trip, so stay tuned for posts and pictures.

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Batu Feringhhi beach

I’ve just realised that I haven’t written anything about Batu Feringghi or its beach. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the town, or the resort, itself – just a road running past the beach and lined with eateries and a few hotels such as the one I was staying at, the Lone Pine. To be honest I found the eateries a bit intimidating – there’s a picture below that might explain why that was.

The big attraction (?) in BF (apart from the beach) is the night market. This is basically many, many market stalls running alongside the road and filled with – stuff. There was nothing there that attracted me. Quite a lot of the stuff looked like it was fake – there was one stall selling stuff that looked as if it was labelled Cath Kidston, but for very low prices, while another stall had what at first sight looked like Lego Star Wars kits, but if you looked closely you could see that they were made by “Lelo” and were in that company’s “Star Wart” range…. The pictures were correct, so it was pretty much a rip-off of this model. But basically the night market left me cold. Or hot, actually – the stalls are built right up against the road so the only way of getting along is by walking through the middle of the stall, and they were hot and crowded.

I did enjoy walking up the beach, however. It’s a beautiful setting – a crescent bay, hills at each end, and the sun sets behind them. There weren’t many people in the water, which given the health warnings I’d read about the pollution was understandable. There was a lot of water sports, and one or two beach bars. I decided to patronise Bora Bora, and had a good time there. I also ought to say that the hotel was very good – very restful.

My main reason for going to BF was to have a break between the visits to Singapore and Dubai, which I expected would be hard work (though enjoyable). The day spent around the pool at the Lone Pine was very relaxing, and I certainly enjoyed the couple of hours in the the Bora Bora beach bar on my last evening there.

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I spent most of yesterday travelling, which was interesting and frustrating. It took six hours to get from my hotel in Singapore to the one one in Batu Feringgi in Penang, Malaysia, and of that time only 75 minutes were spent in an airplane. I was at Changi airport (Singapore) way earlier than I needed to be; the flight was completely straightforward; and it then took over two hours to get to the next hotel. Lots of traffic.

I explored Batu Feringgi a bit last night, which basically meant a stroll up and down the main strip. Maybe I was just tired, but it didn’t impress – it seemed very ramshackle. The main feature is a ‘night market’ of hawkers’ stalls all along the road which you have to walk through – they occupy the pavement – and to be honest there’s nothing there that remotely interests me. Then there are the restaurants, most of which seem to be cavernous corrugated iron structures, with random tables and chairs set out inside. Most disconcertingly of all, of course, are the menus full of food that I don’t understand. So I ate at the hotel – it was buffet night – and later walked back up the street and had a glass of wine in a bar I found.

Today I decided to have a lazy day. I got up late and hit the poolside at a bit after 10 o’clock, and didn’t move from it until nearly 5 o’clock. It was a wonderful lazy time, with regular deliveries of ice-cold water. In fact it’s probably the laziest day I’ve had for a long time. At five o’clock I did a bit more exploring and located an ATM in a more developed part of town, and also walked up the beach. On the way back I found a beach bar and enjoyed a glass of white wine. Now I’m back at the hotel about to prepare for dinner and probably more alcohol. It’s a hard life.

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