Malaysia Trip 05 / 06

Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year Part 2

We arrived in KL centre around mid afternoon and checked into our hotel. The hotel was pretty nice, perhaps not everything that had been expected, but for what it cost and its location we were more than happy with everything. I needed to buy some shoes for the evening and we needed to eat so we set out the shopping centre next to the Twin Towers.

Tasty food was first on the agenda of course and I ate some BBQ chicken and rice followed by a bowl of beef meatball noodle soup. It was all excellent of course! Shoe shopping was a rapid exercise (I'm not a big shopper) and I managed to pick up a nice pair of Italian leather shoes for just over thirty quid. They will go particularly well with the hand tailored suit I have also purchased - I had my measuring up done on New Year's Eve and have my first fitting on Thursday.

When it came to leaving the shopping centre the heavens had opened. It is monsoon season here at the moment and so it tends to pour it down for at least a couple of hours a day. It was getting late and we needed to get back to the hotel to get ready and get in our free drinks in the Executive club bar so we decided to just make a break for it. You would not believe how wet you can get in a monsoon in just 5 minutes!

We met in the bar for a few drinks before going out to the club for the night. The way that clubs work over here is very different to England. We phoned up the day before to book a table and order our booze. When you arrive you then get shown to your table and they bring out the bottles of spirits and mixers. For the rest of the night the mixers are just topped up (for free) and you help yourself to the spirits. Entry to the club, our table, two bottles of vodka and a bottle of Jack Daniels cost us about twenty five pounds each which we thought was a bargain.

The club was brilliant, absolutely jam packed and with more glow sticks on display than you have ever seen. Everyone got a welcome pack at they entered containing glow sticks, whistles and party poppers. It was almost like being a part of some strange rave culture. The countdown to New Year was pretty soon after we arrived so we were nicely sober to be able to take everything in and then get on with the serious business of polishing off the alcohol. As well as the eight of us, Doug's friends Shirley and Carl joined us for a while and Carl briefly helped me to drink some of the Jack Daniels. Everyone else was on the vodka though and so when the whisky bottle was empty I was feeling a little drunk.

The evening was ended in a rather bizarre style when someone let of some CS gas in the other side of the club and everyone made a swift escape. Half of us didn't even really notice what had happened we just thought they were chucking everyone out so the night wasn't spoilt at all and we trotted back to the hotel to continue the party there.

After a row with room service about getting some food, Rich and I decided that we needed to eat and headed back out onto the streets to find some curry. We ended up in a small roadside cafe eating chicken curry and egg roti and were invited to join a group of Malaysian lads who were also out eating. They were quite amused by us and we think they may have been having a few laughs at our expense, but they were nice enough and it was good fun to have a chat with some other locals. Susie will be entertained to hear that they were very interested in whether I had a sister!!

We finally crashed out about 5:30 am after a quality evening. For all the New Year parties that had been an anti-climax - this made up for the lot!

New Year Part 1

Today is New Year's Eve so everyone is currently getting ready to head into Kuala Lumpur centre for the party. We are staying in a nice hotel for the night and have a table in one of the best clubs in town. I will add more details of what we got up to tomorrow (if I can handle looking at a computer screen), but for now check out the links on your right to see the hotel and club we are going to.

Friday, December 30, 2005

An Unexpected Casualty

Today was a quieter day after a busy couple of days a a particularly late night. Our other friend Ken, who had been visiting relatives, came to join us at the apartment and we made plans for out trip to the beach in Penang. Some of the others are also planning to make trips to Singapore and Thailand after we have been to the beach, but Doug, Rich and I intend to take advantage of the golf courses in the KL area instead.

Our first food casualty of the trip was a rather unexpected one, Doug!! He woke up feeling bad in the morning and by afternoon was sick and running a nasty fever. He has been blaming the cockles we ate the night before and I've been blaming him for not drinking enough alcohol to fight any possible illness.

With Doug laying low the rest of us spent some time in the pool and wandering around town until it was time to eat in the evening. Rich and I properly discovered our appetites for the first time this holiday and ate what most people would probably consider to be an obscene amount of chicken satay followed by some very tasty beef teppanyaki. Doug managed to venture out with us and drink a mug of ridiculously sweet tea but still couldn't eat anything.

A few beers and games of pool finished off the evening before we headed back to the apartment to get some rest in preparation for the New Year celebrations.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Shopping and Party Time

Everyone surfaced at a reasonable time on the second day determined to try and get over the jetlag without suffering too much. There were still some very tired eyes but a quick game of badminton (for the more energetic members of the party) and a swim soon woke everyone up. We had decided to hit the local shopping centre for some food and to check out the shops and so we called a couple of cabs and headed out.

The shopping centre is pretty big and filled with a combination of international stores and local shops. We decided to eat first and I tucked into a plate of chicken and prawn fried noodles with cockles. Again the food was really good and prepared me for an afternoon of shopping. A lot of the stuff you can buy in the shops over here is not a lot cheaper than in England particularly in more well know places. There are still bargains to be had though and the girls certainly managed to find them. By the end of the afternoon the men had retired to a coffee shop for a drink where we decided to have a bet on how many bags the three girls would come back with. Rich had the highest amount, fifteen, and he was still six bags short. Even more unbelievable was the fact that they quickly pointed out that they would have to come back as they had only managed to get round just over half the centre in the three and a bit hours we were there. I have no idea how they do it.

Doug managed to get hold of some of his friends while we were shopping and we had soon been invited to the sister of a friend of a friends birthday party that evening. Some of the crew were feeling a bit tired by the time we got home and so myself, Rich and Doug headed off to make an appearance at the party with Doug's friends Shirley and Sam.

The party was at the home of Indian family and was quite different to any party I have been to before. There were caterers and waiters making sure you never had to move too far from your seat, and we were fed and had our glasses refilled constantly until it was time to leave. You'll get bored of me saying it but again the food was amazing particularly the Lamb curries and a tofo and cockle curried noodle soup. Doug's friends are some of the nicest people you could ever meet and by the time we'd been there an hour Rich and I were chatting away like we'd know them our whole life. I'm sure we were also of amusement to them especially when we started asking them about some of the weird and wonderful things we'd already seen since entering the country. The thing they found most entertaining was the fact that we thought the builders residence on the local building site was some sort of shanty market. The place these builders live has to be seen to be believed especially since we are in the middle of monsoon season. Any UK construction worker who has ever complained about the standard of their porta-cabin should be thankful for what they have!

Shirley's boyfriend Carl gave us a lift back to the flat and we managed to get our first look at the Twin Towers in KL centre in the distance. Apparently you used to be able to see them from the balcony in Doug's flat but they have recently erected a huge new complex a couple of miles away and so you can't anymore. Carl is a half Chinese half Danish kickboxing instructer and apparently gets called "The Viking" by a lot of his mates. He and Shirley were trying to convince us to go for some sparring with them next week but with no martial arts or boxing experience there is no way on earth I am risking my teeth against people who train three times a week, especially not when I'd seen Carl shadow boxing and talked to him about it a bit. Doug is probably going to go down though and we're all looking forward to watching him put his training into practice in the ring.

The jetlag has kicked in hard by late evening and most of us were still up and about after 4am. Rich and I headed out to get some more food shortly after four and tucked into some chicken and rice at a local cafe while watching Sale vs Northampton egg chasing on the telly. We finally started to feel a bit tired after that and went to bed at about 5ish. Another busy day!

Just a couple of things that I don't know where to fit in anywhere else. Firstly for all you Lost viewers out there the final episode of series one is a must see although Doug and I are now very disappointed that we are going to have to wait a while to see the second series. Also, the internet cafes over here are crazy. I am sitting writing this with shouts of "Monster Kill" and "Killing Spree" ringing out accompanied with excited shouts and a lot of gunfire. To say these people like their online gaming would be a massive understatement.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Outward Bound

OK, so this is my blog of our holiday to Malaysia. I hope to write some interesting tales of our trip and tell you all about what we've been up to in our time here. There will probably be some short entries, and then there will be some longer this one!!

The start of my journey didn't really go as planned due to the genius of British public transport. I know that everyone is entitled to a bit of time off at Christmas (I'm having a month so I guess that's only fair!) but is it really necessary to make it impossible to travel anywhere outside of London on Boxing Day?? My plans to get to a hotel room in Slough for the night before I travelled were destroyed by being unable to get to Slough in the first place. Fortunately for me my sister helped me out and so a night in South London was planned instead with a tube journey to the airport in the morning instead.

We were flying to Malaysia with Qatar airline and despite the tickets we bought being considerably cheaper than those on Malaysian alrlines, the first flight to Doha has was probably the best flight I have been on. Individual screens, a choice of about twenty films, 100 albums and a few Sinclair Spectrum quality games kept us entertained for the six and a half hour flight. The food was alright too (for plane food) and so by the time we arrived in Qatar everyone was feeling a little more into the holiday mood. Unfortunately the best planes in the fleet are obviously reserved for the main routes that Qatar fly and so our plane from Doha to Kuala Lumpur was a much smaller and extremely hot. Being the longer of the two flights, about seven and a half hours, we were all feeling rather scrubby by the time we arrived and were all glad to get to Doug's apartment and take a shower.

Doug's flat is a brilliant place to have as our base camp for the holiday. It is air conditioned (essential for the 90% humidity!) and has tennis courts, badminton, squash, a pool and a shop. Perhaps only a bar in the lobby is all that would be required for it to have all the basics needed for any good holiday abroad! I will try and get some photos online at some point this week but don't yet know if I can use my camera with the computers in this internet cafe.

Once everyone was clean and feeling human again we were ready to head out and sample to local cuisine. Doug had been planning to take us to a restaurant called Little Penang and was dying to eat one of his favourite dishes but unfortunately it had relocated during the last fourteen months and so were had to eat elsewhere. This was not a problem as the neighbourhood is full of street side restaurants all of which look and smell fantastic. I'm not sure that some of the others were so impressed with the smell of the fish sauce used in a lot of the cooking, but I know what it tastes like once it is ready so I was definitely not put off.

We ended up in a restaurant called "Spicy Kitchen" which would perhaps be more appropriately named "Really Really Spicy Kitchen" as the majority of the food sampled in our first meal had a bit of a kick to it. I ate a lamb curry with rice, nuts, dried anchovies and a red chilli sauce the name of which escapes me. It was certainly unlike anything I have eaten before, the curries are amazing and quite different to those we get back home. The fresh fruit juices and milkshakes are also something else and cold glasses of mango juice were going down pretty quickly. A pretty large meal and a lot of drinks cost about [damn it there's no pound sign on this keyboard!!] fourteen pounds which, although we were expecting the low prices, is unbelievable when you see what you get for your money.

The next mission was to source some entertainment for the evening and some beer. The entertainment was easy to find as there is a shop close by that sells all the latest DVDs. I bought the whole first series of Lost in a box set for ten quid and got another film chucked in for free. The beer was actually more expensive than that as the majority of people who drink over here stick to spirits rather than beer. Still, the prices are still a little cheaper than England and I have no problem paying that much for a cold lager, even over here!

As we sat in Doug's apartment watching Lost I could almost have forgotten I was in Malaysia, however the fact that I hadn't slept a wink since getting up in London reminded me that I had travelled half the way round the world that day. We wanted to make sure that we didn't go to bed too early though and so after chilling out for a while we went out to get some more food and beer.

For our eveing meal we headed to the local food court where there is an amazing array of food on offer. Basically you sit down then go to any stall you choose to get your food and they bring it over to the table. I ate chicken and beef satay, squid in peanut sauce, curried fruit, a bit of stingray and rice with oysters all of which were absolutely amazing. I particularly enjoyed the satay although according to Doug's Malaysian friend's the Satay we ate is nothing compared to a place in the centre of the city. I'll let you know once we've been there!!

After being up for nearly 36 hours it was finally time to hit the sack and there were certainly no problems sleeping. The first day had been a pretty tired one but I wouldn't have wanted to miss it!