Sunday, September 28, 2014

Memories of Malaysia - Day 2 Oct 19 Exploring KL

The first day in Kuala Lumpur was dedicated to exploring the city. First stop was breakfast. We asked Su Yi's mum for the name of a good nearby eatery for breakfast as we find it is best to always ask a local :). She recommended a cafe on the corner, which we could see from our apartment window. It was a short walk from the apartment and well-frequented by locals, including police officers who worked nearby at the police headquarters.



There was a huge range of savoury delights. We didn't sample from the buffet although it was popular with the locals. 



We stuck with ordering cheese roti which we had never tried before and found to be delicious. This was made to order on the griddle and was basically the roti folded over with a Kraft cheese slice melted in the middle. It was served with a side bowl of condensed milk or a light curry sauce. Sugar is subsisided in Malaysia and we found lots of it added to breads and coffee.
 

 

 

On following days we were to also try banana roti and nutella roti. The coconut milk was fresh and at room temperature.
 

It was not a favourite. 



From here we walked to Jalan Alor, a street lined with outdoor restaurants.


 We thought floss made from meat was a bit unusual....

It was still mid-morning so the street was pretty quiet. We explored a corner supermarket and purchased some Malayasian treats.

 


Sick of walking (already) we grabbed a taxi into the Petronas Towers. At that stage we hadn't realised that the monorail station was so close to our apartment. The taxi fare was about $3 AUS. Taxis varied from being metered to being a fixed price (even if the car signage said they were metered). The regulation was that they run off a meter but that seemed to be a flexible rule according to the taxi driver. I preferred to take a monorail over taking a taxi as while the taxis were cheap by Oz standards, I felt like they were taking advantage of us as tourists. 

Memories of Malaysia - Day 1 arrival Oct 18

Almost one year out from our family Malaysian holiday, I thought I better blog to showcase our adventure and capture our experiences!

Now in case you don't get to read all my posts, I'll just sum up here. I was worried about taking the boys (aged 4 and 7 at the time) overseas and to an Asian country. But they travelled quite well and transport, food and entrance fees were cheap in comparison to Australia. The weather was hot and humid with the occasional afternoon shower but we balanced it with swims and lots of water! People were friendly and there was a good range of food available for all tastes. Our boys loved it all and ask to go back all the time. Now that must be the sign of a great holiday! I hope I can open their eyes to much more of the world based on this experience.

The holiday beings on day 1....

Our trip started on early on Friday 18 October leaving home at 4.45am to make the Air Asia flight out of the Gold Coast. The flight was OK and the boys were relatively well-behaved on the eight hour flight except for the end portion. It was bearable though despite my worst fears. The in-flight service was basic but friendly. I would fly Air Asia again. 

Once we disembarked at Kuala Lumpur LCCT (low cost carrier terminal), we went through customs, grabbed something to eat (Dunkin Doughnuts and McDonalds, $10 each place to feed the four of us) and found the 5pm Skybus to the city. The bus pulled in at the KL Sentral station and then we walked, ignoring the touts, to the taxi counter and paid for our taxi to the apartment. Then it was a long queue (see tips below) waiting for our taxi with two exhausted boys (and parents).

We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment booked through Air BnB. It was located in Jalan Galloway, a short walk to a monorail station and far enough from the city centre without being too far. In the lead-up to our trip I emailed the host, Su Yi, a few times and she helped us with working out transport to the apartment and a few places we wanted to visit. We were met by Su Yi's Mum at the apartment for the keys and orientation. Several times during our visit Su Yi kept in touch via text to make sure we had everything we needed. It was so nice that someone was helping us enjoy their city. The apartment was stocked with a few food items and drinks (including beers!) which was very welcome at the end of the long trip. If you are heading to KL, I highly recommend Su Yi and her apartment and please contact me if you would like her details.

We were a bit unsure at first that we were at the right appartment and the lovely taxi driver stayed with us to make sure all was OK. We were quick to settle in and rested ready for our next day of exploration.

Here are a few photos of the apartment:
View from up the road (zoomed in) of the Petronas Towers at night

 First bedroom. The second bedroom (not pictured) also had a double bed and shower/toilet.
 Living area - so much more space than a hotel room!
 From the bedroom and lounge room windows


 Tips: 
* If flying Air-Asia, pre-order your meals so they arrive first. Highly recommended if you have children as the food keeps them entertained for a little while and the airline can run out of certain meals. We didn't order meals for our way home thinking we would make do as it was an overnight flight and I should have listened to my own advice!

*The airline rules say no food to be bought onto the plane and you must purchase food and drinks onboard but there were people eating packets of chips all through the plane. I suggest packing little individual lunchboxes for each of your kids. Muesli bars and cheese were a hit. 

*Pack a few activities for on-board entertainment, such as movies on a tablet or phone and stick-on mosaic pictures. The saviour was temporary tattoos that go onto the hand from Crazy Clarks. Take a spare battery for your phone if you are using it for games especially if you need to contact someone when you arrive (like SMSing your Air BnB host).

*We took our own little polar fleece blankets and blow-up pillows otherwise you need to rent these on board. The blankets did take up room in our luggage but they were only small and lightweight and worth it as I hate being cold.

*Buy your Malaysia mobile phone credit at the KL airport. There are heaps of sellers. We purchased a Hotlink one which did us for the whole trip (we also had free wi-fi at the apartment and hotels). It was $10 for unlimited internet and SMSs were 7 cents a text.

*Try to avoid a Friday flight as alot of taxi drivers take the day off to have a long weekend plus the KL Sentral is busy with the weekend commute. We had a long wait at the taxi rank in the KL city plus it was peak hour and raining. On the upside it was about $15 AUS in total to get us from the airport to our apartment.

*The Skybus to the city is cheap ($11.20 AUS for four of us for the 1 1/2 hour journey - the airport is a far way out from the city centre) and you can buy tickets on the bus (no need to pre-book). Our boys also had a nap on the way into KL as it was getting late into the afternoon (KL time).On the way back to the airport though we booked a taxi as we thought it was a more reliable and quicker option to ensure we got to the airport on time and saved lugging our luggage around KL Sentral.

*We stayed five nights in KL and we were able to cover all the spots we wanted to see plus a morning and afternoon swim! We would normally head out in the morning, back for the afternoon swim and a quick rest or movie, then out again in the early evening for dinner. This worked well although J was getting a bit tired and took every opportunity he could to have a nap (pictured below in the taxi back to the airport after our stay in KL).