A Travellerspoint blog

Kuala Lumpur: The Day That DIDN'T Suck

storm 33 °C
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Day two in Kuala Lumpur starting with us returning to KL Tower, where we had ended yesterday right before dinner. Our tickets were still good for a walk through the little patch of tropical jungle below the Tower, so we wanted to take advantage of that. In other words, we are cheap and wanted to suck those tickets for every penny they were worth.

The jungle was interesting. It's an actual tropical jungle, not just some setup made for tourists. It's small, but it's over 3 million years old. During the walk you have the KL Tower looming over you and every once in a while you catch a glimpse of nearby high rises and you remember, oh yeah, you are in a huge city.

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After that we headed back to the mall beneath the Petronas Towers. Josh, in his sciency nerdiness and childlike sense of adventure, wanted to go to Petrosain, which is basically a children's discovery center sponsored by an oil company. And believe me, they have no problem dropping their name and information about oil drilling at every turn.

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Today was basically Josh's day, so whatever he wanted to do, we did. This morning we heard from U Washington, one of the six schools Josh applied to for Grad School, and it was sadly not a response we were hoping for. This makes three rejections (Stanford, Washington, and Berkeley) and three schools yet to get back to us (U Penn, UCSD, and U Virginia). So Josh wanted to act like a five year old today... and that is exactly what he did.

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We even both tried our hand at this thing called the Hurricane. You basically stand in this tube and get wind pumped into it at you at over 100 km an hour. It goes something like this.

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My pictures didn't come out nearly as good.

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We then wandered around the mall a bit more before heading home. The mall looks like just about any mall back at home, but even bigger. This thing is five stories tall plus the concourse (main level) and basement. It's insanely huge! I've heard the malls in Singapore are impressive, but I don't know how you can top that.

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We are now back at the hostel debating going out to Chinatown tonight. We are right around the corner from it and haven't actually gone yet. There's some pretty loud thunder so we may get rained out. Tomorrow morning we head out to Melaka, a town about two hours south of here that's known for it's historical structures and Portuguese influence. We'll be there for one night, then a night in Singapore, then two on the tropical island of Bintan just off the coast of Singapore. Keep in mind we will have no electricity in Bintan, so don't expect an update from there. We probably won't even have running water, windows, or a bed (more like a mattress on the floor with a mosquito net over it). I'm so excited!

Posted by slugtrek 02:00 Archived in Malaysia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

High Above KL: A Rainy Day Adventure

storm 30 °C
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Many things went wrong today, but there were enough awesome things sandwiched between that it sort of evened out. Last night we were advised by a woman at our hostel to get to the Petronas Towers as early as possible or we might not get tickets. So we set our alarm for 7:00am and were out the door by 7:20. To our surprise, there were over 100 people in line in head of us (we got ticket number 144), but we still managed to go up the to the sky bridge at the 40th floor before noon, so it all worked out.

Before getting to go up to the bridge, we waited in a little exhibition room which explained a bunch of technical details about the tower. One particular exhibit explained how the towers are frequently struck by lightening, so they have a system in place to control the electricity and protect the building. Considering the storm from yesterday, it seems like a good safety mechanism to have. Then we had to watch an extraordinarily cheesy 3D corporate video explain just how AWESOME the Petronas oil company is, then shuffled through an intense round of security screenings before cramming onto an elevator like sardines.

It was worth it, though, because the views from the bridge are incredible.
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For those of you who don't know what the Petronas Towers are, it's these monsterous things:
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We were on the bridge between the two. Josh is afraid of heights, but I had a blast. Our feelings on the matter are obvious in our respective pictures.
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We then decided to do the "hop-on hop-off" tour bus around the city. It took us a good hour to find the right bus stop, but we finally managed to get to it just as a bus was taking off. We had to wait a half an hour for the next one, but after all that hassle and waiting we were greeted by a nice air conditioned bus complete with English audio guide. Awesome.

On the spur of the moment we decided to get off at the Aquarium. We really had no plan to see it, but Josh loves fish and we had nothing better to do, so off we went! While the fish and other creatures were cool, one of the biggest "oopsies" of the day took place within the confines of the aquarium.

Here is the last picture I took before things blew up.

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Oh yes, a lovely little fish pond down below. How serene and beautiful. It was then Josh asked "can I see the camera?" I handed it to him, but it was still tied around my wrist in an attempt to prevent it from falling. I untangled it from my wrist just as he let it go, realizing he couldn't get a firm grip on it and... CRASH! The camera hit the ground. He blames me. I blame him. He still blames me and I still blame him.

The camera sprung open and a battery went careening into that lovely little fish pond. A nearby security guard came over to investigate, but he looked just as perplexed about the situation as we were. We shrugged and asked, "what should we do?" He just stared at us blankly and returned our shrugging gesture, so we just sort of wandered away, broken camera in hand.

The camera was in the middle of turning on as it fell, so the lens was stuck in a half opened, half closed state. I was worried for a while, but when I replaced the batteries it seemed to fix itself. Thank goodness something went right!

We got back on the bus and decided our next stop should be the Bird Park. Ah yes, a lovely green outdoor park filled with beautiful exotic birds from around the world. It was then that the clouds started to roll in again.

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And thunder. And lightening. And flooding.

Yeah, no birds for us. When we got to the designated stop it was pouring. The stop was flooded and there was a crowd of desperate people waiting to get on the bus.

Two stops and ten minutes later the rain had stopped. Of course! It was too far to walk though and by the time the bus looped back around we'd only have a few minutes to enjoy the park, so we decided to just make different plans. To the KL Tower for a different birds eye view of KL!

The KL Tower was actually pretty cool. We got to watch a cultural performance in the little village in the shadow of the tower, which was well worth the ticket price on its own.

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The village was fun to walk around in too.
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Then we headed up to the top of the KL Tower to once more trigger Josh's fear of heights.
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At this point we wanted to head back down into the city for dinner. You know that hop-on hop off bus that had helped us throughout the day? Yeah, the one we got on broke down so we had to walk. Today was exciting to say the least!

We ended up having a decent dinner near the Patronas Towers. I was craving western food at this point so I ordered spaghetti with lamb cutlets, which was only about $3.50 USD! The prices here are almost as good as Thailand, but nothing can beat a $6 massage so Thailand wins that game hands down. Of course, running with the theme that "everything that can go wrong will go wrong today," I overate due to my excitement about a delicious and cheap meal. And of course the LRT train that we were on had to wait several minutes at every stop while I suffered in agony with a bloated stomach. My fault, I know, but it just adds insult to injury.

So here we are back at the hostel firmly deciding we are doing nothing more for the day. Enough bad stuff has happened at this point sleep seems like the best option.

Posted by slugtrek 05:16 Archived in Malaysia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

Pampering, transiting, and KL

storm 33 °C
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Our last night in Bangkok was a very mellow one. We did absolutely no sight seeing. We had a "fancy" hotel, Thong Ta Resort and Spa, near the airport. Keep in mind, this is all relative because everything in Thailand is cheap. Our usual rooms were bout 400-500 Baht a night, but this one was 800 Baht. Converted that's about $25 USD. And this is what we got for it:
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It also included a decent breakfast in the morning, a shuttle to the airport, and cable TV (once again, we found ourselves watching the BBC, whether you believe it or not). It was by far the fanciest place we stayed in all of Thailand. Oh, and we got massages again there, but they were desperately needed. Our legs were cramped and our backs ached.

This morning we headed to the airport and hopped on a Malaysian Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur.

Josh wants to post this screen cap from this ridiculous video as an introduction to KUALA LUMPUR, so I'm obliging him.

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As the train from the airport approached the city we saw dark clouds starting to roll in. I've heard horror stories about the downpours in Malaysia and the weather forecast hasn't been very positive, but it actually wasn't as bad as I was expecting. The rain was relatively light, though it could get a lot worse in the coming days I guess, and the shower lasted only about an hour.

The thunder and lightening was somewhat troublesome, though. We were stuck between a lot of high rise buildings, so we could only see the flashes of light in the sky and not the actual bolts of lightening. The thunder was so incredibly loud and so quick after the flashes of light that it must have been extremely close to us. However, the locals didn't even bat an eye at it, so I guess there wasn't really too much to worry about. We must have looked quite silly reacting to the weather as we did. With every clap of thunder we'd look at each other and go "oooh" and "aaahh" and "wow." The locals just quickly continued on with business as though nothing was happening.

Our hostel is right on the edge of Little India and the main business district of KL. We had a quick dinner in Little India, but we probably won't do much else today. Here is a view from the stairwell of our hostel.

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Tomorrow we'll probably start early so we can beat the crowds to the Petronas Towers, but we don't have much of a plan beyond that.


Post posting update:
The east coast "jungle train" is apparently rained out right now, so it doesn't look like we'll get to do that. I really REALLY wanted to do it, but you can't control the weather (yet). Instead we'll be headed to Melaka, a historical town two hours to the south. I really don't know much about it, so this should be interesting.

Posted by slugtrek 02:12 Tagged transportation Comments (1)

Day Two in Ayutthaya

sunny 31 °C
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Day two in Ayutthaya started off with another biking adventure. Our hostel conveniently had some to rent, so we took off just after 8:00 and explored the island. We saw many of the same sites that we did yesterday, as well as a bunch of new ones, but we were going at our own pace and could be a lot more flexible. We still ended up coming home after 3 hours, but it was quite an intense three hours.

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Much like Ko Kret, we were sweating bullets by the end of our trip. But it was completely worth it. The sights here are incredible. It was somewhat scary sharing the road with cars and motorcycles though. Lanes here seem more like suggestions than laws.

We ended up having breakfast at the Elephant Camp and then taking another adventure through some ruins. Our vantage point was a little different this time.

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Captive elephants in Thailand can raise a lot of questions for people. I did my research before coming here, though, and was sure to pick the most ethical group possible
. There is no doubt in my mind that these people love their elephants dearly. Our ride was relatively expensive, but I'd rather spend money on well cared for elephants than be cheap and support a poorly run kraal.

Now it is the hottest it has been on this trip, so we are chilling in the shade at the hostel. Our hostel is really interesting. At night these little gecko type lizards come out of everywhere and cover the walls and ceilings outside. I'm not sure what they are exactly. They seem almost clear at times, but they might just be camouflaging themselves.

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There are also a ton of dogs running around the property and another little kitty who I've named Kitty Meows. She seems to like to follow me around and even camped out on our porch this morning waiting for us to wake up.

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Tomorrow we head back to Bangkok, then the next day we head to Malaysia. Here are some final thoughts on Thailand as a whole:

-7/11 is incredibly popular. 7/11:Thailand::Starbucks:USA. There seems to be one every half a block or so. They have the cheapest water in town at 7 Baht (20 cents).
-KFC is also huge. I'm not sure if the locals eat it, or if its just geared towards foreigners who need some good ol' American food.
-Wild cats and dogs are everywhere.
-Traffic laws are more of a suggestion.
-Mosquitoes seem to avoid locals, but feast on tasty foreigners despite copious amounts of bug repellent.
-”Same same.”

Posted by slugtrek 00:57 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (5)

Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand

sunny 31 °C
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After meeting yet another Internet friend this morning, we all headed out to the ancient capital of Thailand - Ayutthaya. We decided to take the slow train, which was only 15 Baht (about 50 cents) per person as opposed to 350 Baht (about 10 dollars). The trip took about 2 hours, but we had stunning views of the Thai countryside along the way.

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When we arrived in Ayutthaya we were immediately bombarded with tuk-tuk drivers offering tours of the city. We declined several offers until we found a guy willing to take us to our hostel for 100 Baht (about 3 dollars). He wanted to give us a tour of the city afterwards, but we just wanted to settle down for a while before taking off.

Our hostel, Banbua House II, is located right on the river. It's a homestay, so there are two buildings: one is the hotel, and the other is the family's house. Awesome place.

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Directly across the street from our hostel is a pile of ancient ruins. That might sound cool at first, but then you realize this entire island is littered with ruins, each one more stunning than the last. We decided to take a stroll around the nearby park just to get a sense of what we were in for.

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When we got back to our hostel we hired a tuk-tuk to drive us around the island. A three hour ride cost 500 Baht split between the three of us, plus 50 Baht per site that we visited. All in all, we spent very little money, but got to see some of the most beautiful ruins in the world.

Wat Mahathat
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Wat Ratcha Burana
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Wat Phra Si Sanphet
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Our tuk-tuk
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Many of the Buddha statues are decapitated or completely destroyed. It makes the ruins just that much more eerie realizing that much of the destruction was intentional. After seeing the Grand Palace in Bangkok, it makes me wonder just how incredible this city must have been in its' prime. The scale is much larger than the Grand Palace, but much of it is rubble now. Regardless of the destruction, Ayutthaya is still breathtaking.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram
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Tomorrow we are going to try and ride some elephants. It should be an interesting day.

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Posted by slugtrek 04:07 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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