My Travel Diaries: Halo Malaysia

I woke up just before we were getting ready to land. The teacup was still empty but i didn’t mind. We landed and it was 6:40 am MST.

The Terminal at the KL airport is away from the airport exit. We need to travel by monorail to get to that. After that we need to go down two floors to reach the ground floor. The terminal had a very nice lounge with shops , couches, TVs and internet kiosks. You could live there!
After the necessary formalities with the Immigration authorities and the Exit card in our Pass ports we headed out with our Luggage after a brief fresh up.
Our Malaysian Guide, Zuhra , met us here. We piled into the tourist bus which is something very different from the ones that we see here. It was like a AC Volvo but smaller than those KSRTC buses.
The first stop on Our trip itinerary was the Genting Highlands run by Resorts World. Its the tourist destination built around a casino started by Lim Goh Tong in the late 1960’s. Its has Got 5 hotels with various levels of luxury and it sits atops a mountain. It is located quite a bit away from KL and we made a stop at Batu caves for our Breakfast at Rani Restoran. Batu Caves is a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples and a 140ft high Golden Statue of Lord Murugan. A detailed visit was set aside for our journey back to KL.

After Breakfast of the Biggest Vada and Idlis i’ve seen we were off again. I had caught up with a little of my sleep on the bus so far but the ride into the hills was not to be missed. There was also a brief introduction session during which i came to know who the rest of our travelling mates would be and was surprised to find two other Nitte guys and that the group Consisted mainly of Bank employees and their children who were mostly engineers and a couple of doctors.
It was so amazing to believe that one man could have built such a huge business. But it was all possible for the Late Mr Lim Goh Tong with his contacts. He also owns Star Cruises. Imagine 3 Laned roads going up and separate 3 lanes for coming down. Thats their highways for you. They do have toll stations at regular intervals which fund the maintenance of their beautiful roads. As we travelled up the hill we had to keep our baggage at a location below because it would not be required and cumbersome to carry about too if not required. We had been advised to carry couple of pairs of clothes in our cabin bags so as to manage for the one night stay that we’ll be having there. Unfortunately the new Ropeway up was under maintenance and we had to use the old one to go up. But due to the smaller capacity of the old cabin car the line was VERY long. So instead of wasting time we decided to use their bus service up. Its the comparatively boring way to travel up. It took us about half an hour of travel to reach the bus stop at the top. Since we were a bit ahead of schedule we had to go to our hotel and check if rooms were ready. The Resort has 6 Hotels and a Golf Course! The Thing is These hotels are among the busiest in the world and they follow strict check in and check out times. As we walked through the place to our Hotel, The First World Hotel & Plaza.

We passed by many shops and rode many escalators until we reached a lobby which resembled a forest. Imagine the work that s gone into making that.
The First World Hotel & Plaza holds the Guinness World record for the Maximum number of Rooms numbering 6118 and All the Hotels in Genting were full at our time of arrival. You can just imagine the number of people at that place on a single day. The Line of check in counters were endless. Our guides went to check out the check in.
After some time We were told that we should go to eat first because our rooms were not yet ready. Lunch Time was when we were first introduced to the Food Heaven. It was first experience at a food buffet and this was HUGE. You could choose from a variety of vegetarian(Indian) & non vegetarian dishes, salads, desserts, beverages, juices, etc. And you could take as much as you want. Glorious. We really stuffed ourselves the first day!
We got our room keys around 3:30 and we were on the 12th floor. The hotel has two towers and we were in Tower 2. They had separate elevators servicing different sets of floors. After Dinner we went to our rooms for some well deserved rest till 6pm.
By 6:30pm we were ready to enter the Casino. It had strict rules and no person younger than 21 years is allowed and my Nitte ID card was good enough. We just strolled through. Didnt take part in the action. You shouldn’t when you are not sure of all the rules involved in Chinese gambling. There was free beverage for the people who frequented. Perhaps, An incentive to play more.

We strolled around till it was dinner time. The plaza is filled with shops, attractions, amusement rides, food joints, a multiplex, scary house, etc. Definitely one of the most imaginatively designed places. All those monuments under one roof!
Dinner was huge again and after that we went to explore parts of the plaza that we hadn’t covered earlier. It was around 10pm. After roaming around for a while in its labyrinthine people filled pathways we decided to call it a day and go back to our rooms for a good night’s sleep. Btw All rooms had access cards and not keys and our rooms were really good!

What i forgot to mention was that we made our first purchase that day at Genting. We stumbled across this store BUMCity which has an amazing collection of stuff. I couldn’t decided between the various anime/manga based keychains. I ended up with Cloud Strife’s Sword from Final Fantasy VII: Advent’s Children because it was well done. Liza ended up with a Naruto Shuriken pendant and Kristen bought Ichigo Kurosaki’s Blade ‘Zanpakuto’ Zangetsu.

Day 2 is Done. Next Up: Theme Park, Batu caves and KL.

My Travel Diaries: And We are Off

This was a planned trip which had its own problems till the very end and Finally on 17th July 2010 we left for Bangalore to Begin My First International Trip. Also it would be My First Group Tour so i was hoping it would be fun. The Trip was organised by Nirmala Travels and we were going to have 2 guides Mr Sandeep and Mr Ratnakar Bhat. So after a day Spend at my Cousin’s Flat at Indiranagar we set off to the Airport to reach the rendezvous for our group at 5:50. We set off at 4:00 and reached around 5:15 to the new Bangalore Airport due to the absence of Bangalore traffic on a Sunday. This was my first visit to the New Bangalore Airport. My last trip 4 years ago saw us using the old one but this was definitely a brand new experience.

The terminal was huge and awe striking! We roamed around a bit and took photos with the Samsung Corby TXT because we had been told (misinformed, actually) that we may not be allowed to take the Camera on board the craft. This was because of the new list of restricted items on the flight had something to do with ‘batteries not allowed’. The New List is Huge and even water (all fluids actually) above 100ml is not allowed in Cabin Baggage. So my Canon was tucked in between my clothes and checked in. There were 35 of us, some 9 families i believe. I later came to know that among the families present the Parents were mostly Bank Employees and their children were Engineers and Doctors. There were couple of Non-Bank Families too.

After Check in we had time till 19:20 for our flight to Chennai. This was spent roaming around the Bangalore Terminal.

All our Flights were Booked on Jet Airways (last time too). The Group was still pretty much distant. In the days to come we would become close but it was not so just yet. We boarded the plane on time and thus we began our first short flight of little over an hour. Funnily i was reminded about the Fight Club airplane scene where Jack first talks to Tyler. We lifted off and i was introduced to the JetScreen ,the inflight entertainment system. Mounted LCD touch screens provided with Headphones and a good supply of Movies, TV series, Music, Games, Etc would keep anyone happy. Unfortunately i couldn’t watch anything because my headphone socket wasn’t working. But then it was too short a flight even to watch the 30 Rock episode that i wanted to. We were served Sandwiches as a snack and soon it was time for us to Land.

Right off the flight we were routed to the Departures at the International terminal, Chennai directly. There we had to fill our Immigration form. This form is actually a way of keeping a note of whether you are in or out of the country in a database. The details in it are not all important its just the Bar code in every form that s the most important thing. After filling this we proceeded to our Immigration Check. This is where the Officials check your passport and see if your visa is valid and verify your identity and of course take your Immigration form. All Done we now had to wait around 3 hours for our next flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was scheduled to be at 00:00 hours. The Chennai Airport is in dire need of renovation. The Maintenance was lacking and frankly speaking it was boring. The Food was expensive (airport/airplane food is always), the toilets dirty and even shops sold overpriced Books/Stuff.

Luckily the boarding time was 11:30pm and we boarded the plane. I also tweeted my last tweet for a while from the Plane before i switched off the cellphone. As Luck would have it, Jetscreen on this plane was on the Fritz. It had trouble booting up. In the process i came to know it was built(or is it supported) using Redhat Linux. It had Some Problem loading Configs and got stuck everytime at 93%. Man does this get irritating. This was a recurring event throughout the flight and even switching it off didn’t help. Finally i dimmed down the screen so as not to strain my eyes. Dinner was served at around 1:30 IST which pissed off many hungry travellers. This was due to the long period of turbulence that we experienced. The Liquor cooled some people off after it was served. I opted for a Continental Dinner and got Chicken Manchurian and Fried Rice with Bread & Butter and Apple Juice. We were also handed an Immigration slip which needed to be filled in and submitted upon arrival.

I had a window seat put there was nothing to see in the pitch black environment outside. My Passport was in my Cabin luggage tucked in the overhead compartment so i couldn’t fill the form either. So with the Tea cup on my tray i went to sleep with the LCD screen flickering to life every now and then trying its best to ‘Load configs’.

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