My Travel Diaries: Go KL!

After Breakfast we started off on the half day city tour. First stop was the King’s Palace. We were told about the government and history of Malaysia and about the present Kings and his selection. The Sovereign is separate from the Government headed by the Prime Minister. He is more like a religious Leader. He is selected from one among the Sultans of Malaysian states. Each one holds the post for about 5 years and every State’s First Family gets a chance in a round robin manner.
The King’s Palace is just his Office. He stays elsewhere and we heard there’s another palace being built somewhere. It s the First stop on every City tour and it was a crowded place. The Guards are reminiscent of those at Buckingham’s Palace and on some special pre-assigned days there will be mounted guards too. We were lucky to visit on one such day. We took our pictures and posed at all the classic ‘touristy’ positions. The Police officers were riding huge Police choppers and we got a chance to pose on them which was Cool 🙂

Next Stop was the National Monument which is in memory of the soldiers who had lost their lives for the country in Malaysia’s struggle for freedom, principally against the Japanese occupation during World War II and the Malayan Emergency , which lasted from 1948 until 1960.This was constructed in 1966. The monument is 15 meters (49.21 feet) tall, made of bronze and was designed by Austrian sculptor Felix de Weldon, who was also responsible for the famed USMC War Memorial in Virginia, United States. We Went through the gardens after the Group Photo was taken.

Our Next Stop was the National Mosque which was very beautiful. The ladies had to wear the customary Burkha to enter. Then we got back into the bus to our brief stop at Independence Square where the Flag of Malaysia flies high. Its placed around an old Cricket club ground which doesn’t seem to be used now that the colonial English are gone.

Our Next Stop was the Beryl’s Chocolate Kingdom where after a brief introduction to how chocolates are made you can go crazy tasting the various chocolates and also buy some for yourselves and your friends.

After the chocolate binge while we hurried to keep our appointment with the Petronas towers we had a brief stop for a photo session at a point where we are able to catch both the highlights of the KL skyline; the KL tower and the Petronas twin towers.

Finally we made it to keep our date with the Petronas towers. Now this is not normally included in the itinerary but we had to pay 15 RM per person for our free tickets. Petronas give away a limited amount of free tickets per day but the crazy rush of tourists causes touts to come in who stock up and kinda sell them in the black so as to say. Anyways so we got our tickets and we were also watch a small documentary about the history of the towers. After that we could take the Elevator to the 41st floor. Now the bridge connecting the two towers is a two floor one connecting the 41st and the 42nd one. The 41st one is open for tourists while the 42nd one is for the businesses. We were ferried up there in one of the fastest elevators i’ve been in. It was faster than 1 floor/second. We got to spend like 10 minutes there before back down we trooped and headed to our final destination, The KL tower. Lunch awaited us at the bottom of the communication tower which stands 421 metre tall. But we decided to go up and look around before lunch. The tower also contains a revolving restaurant on one of its higher levels. We saw adverts of people getting married on top the tower. Up on the observation deck we get a 360 view of the city, KL.

Lunch was again buffet Indian food which was quite good and the restoran D’Tandoor boasted of Indian Movie stars who had visited it. That was pretty much the end of our Half day city tour. I did have a detour on my own while we waited to head back to the bus and had a quick look at a mini zoo at the entrance to the KL tower.
With the end of the sightseeing came the beginning of the shopping. Our destination was a shopping mall at Bukit Butang. We had time till 5 or so to shop. It was basically a mall area spread into 5 floors and stocking almost every brand there is. This is where i bought some mementos for some of my friends. The Petronas towers too contains a mall but you can the prices are out of this world to most of us. Here is where i bought a Shonen Jump which had the 500 chapter of Naruto out. Although written in a language undecipherable by me i still wanted to buy it. I had already read that chapter anyway but consider this as a way of contributing towards Manga literature. After a tiring shopping session during which i didn’t buy anything else we went back to our Hotel, the Grand Seasons using the Monorail! Now that was an experience. You get surprised seeing the queues maintained to get into the train and there’s minimal shoving. The ticket back to our stop cost us 1.60 RM each. Chow Kit, our stop was 5 stations away and was the last but one stop on the line. Dinner again at a Indian hotel where there were a couple more groups for dinner too. It was noisy and we were too exhausted.

Back to the hotel and a good Bath tub soak later i went to sleep. Little did i know there was so much more tiring journeys up ahead as we travelled to Singapore the next morning.

My Travel Diaries: Fun at the Amusement Park

The next Day we had our date with the outdoor amusement park the whole morning. After a heavy breakfast we queued up to enter the park. We were each assigned a waterproof wristband which while intact allowed us unlimited entry for a whole day to the theme park. Almost all the rides save a few were free for unlimited use provided you had the patience to stand in lines; lines which got bigger as the day went by.

The First ride we took was called ‘Pirate Train’ and it was a dud because it was a Family ride. Next with the Map as our guide we started crossing out things that we would not want to try(Family Rides) , were too old for(Children Rides) or had finished once. In the process we tried out Bumper Boat, Spaceshot , Rolling Thunder Mine Train, the Spinner. By now the crowd had gotten thicker and the lines started getting huger. We couldn’t wait in the roller Coaster line due to that. The other two roller coaster weren’t operational as yet in the morning so we tried other stuff like the Chocolate Kingdom, Parrot Lane, Musical Fountain, etc. We then went on the Pirate Ship which is the ‘Columbus’ that usually we see at Karavali Utsav and went back again to try out something because we had time till 12pm and wanted to find our parents. I saw that a new ride had started operation just some time back and so we headed towards it. The line had gotten huge but suddenly within seconds we were at the front of the line. I guess this was due to the fact that the ride was a wet one. It was called the Sungai Rejang Flume Ride and it basically was a log ride with two Climb and falls into Water. The ride was guided by small water waves and at places by a conveyor belt. After the first fall we were wet and i was considerably dry due to my jacket which also kept my camera safe. Then there was a little time before the next climb. After the Next one, Man! We were wetter than ever and wondering what our parents would say 😛

We hurried off to the entrance because there was hardly anytime left to 12pm. Lucky we found them and decided to opt for the Flying Coaster Ride costing an extra 10 RM each which comes to Rs. 150 INR. After that we were off. We were leaving Genting which was our first stop and this time we were doing so by Cable car. Retrieving our Luggage from the stop below we were off to KL , in the process we also learnt some rudimentary knowledge of Malaysian language, essentially the use of phrases and replies to standard questions. I remember a bit of that still.

Our ride back to KL also meant that we would have a detailed stop over at Batu caves, Before which we had a stop at a duty free place which sells mainly watches. Not interested. Didnt buy anything. At Batu Caves , we had to climb the 272 steps to the top and then go into the cavern to see the temple. The Climb was tiresome because the steps were steep. After the Darshan that other tourists had we were down and off to KL. It started raining and by the time we reached our Hotel, The Grand Seasons, it was Pouring.

We Checked in and were told to be punctual and be down at 7 pm because we were going out for dinner to a Indian Restaurant. The Rooms were good with lovely views. Some had the Petronas towers while ours looked out into the other side of the city, overlooking the swimming pool. It was raining. Had a quick bath before we were off and the Hotel was called Olive tree. It was situated near the KL tower area and the food was good.

In the regions of Malaysia and Singapore there are a lot of Indian themed restaturants. This is due to the fact that there are a considerable number of Indians in the local population and also these places are regulars in an Indian’s Foreign destinations list. I could see this for the fact that i had encountered so many Indian tourists so far itself.

Back to the Hotel and a good night’s rest awaited us. We were heading off at 9am tomorrow and we were notified to be ready after breakfast at that time.

That was Day 3.
Next Up: Half Day City tour, Shopping and More.

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.