February 9th start of 111 day trip
Adelaide -Singapore Depart 10.35 SQ 279 Arrive 3.30 pm Cross border into Malaysia, Johor Bahru Citrus Hotel
All I know back in January couple of months before being here. As we will be here beginning of February, three-weeks away, and we will be travelling for most of the three-months after I thought I would learn a bit of this place where we will be for a week before going to Lahore.
Firstly, today, 26th January we are in a caravan park in Adelaide, South Australia with the temperature rising – tomorrow it will be about 38C / 100F.
I looked up KL to get a feel for the place – this is what the internet says:
Kuala Lumpur, officially the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and colloquially referred to as KL, is a federal territory and the ceremonial, legislative and judicial capital city of Malaysia. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia and the largest city in Malaysia, covering an area of 243 km² with a census population of 1,982,112 as of 2020. Wikipedia
That’s it. The rest is now. In real time, as of today, the…
As usual for the past twenty-years+, italic notes are Narda – the other type is moi…
February 6th – oops Almost missed this trip. Last Friday, the third of Feb. did my usual six-months visit with my liver dude. He said my ultrasound showed a couple of spots (lesions is their nerdy word) adjacent to some random ‘falciform ligament in segment 4a’ yeah sure tell someone who cares…wait that is Narda and me. He says may need an operation to zap these little fellows within the next six-weeks if they are sinister. Damn! But wait – let’s do a CT Scan to verify or not what the trip is. Being can do people we found a radiology SA centre that can book me in Friday afternoon – three-hours after getting a form in my hand to do this sometime soon. Dr ‘Oh-No’ said if we do go on our trip in a few days to leave roaming on my phone so he can ring and say whether he have to immediately fly back to Adelaide for surgery. So, I get the CT scan in record time – we stand around waiting for the printed results for the scan – and with it in hand go back to the RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital) and leave it with the secretary. She says the good doctor has gone home (after scaring the shit out of me) for the weekend and I would need to have an appointment to give him the results – no appointments available next week. I kind of flirt/plead/beseech the lady behind the desk and say he is expecting this result and needs it soon as we are going overseas. She caves to my charm(s) and says she will give it to him Monday. BTW, as far we could read the CT scan it looked fine. It not only did not find the so called lesions but said the ‘study is unremarkable’. So we think maybe OK, however, being humans we have a bit of a dark weekend thinking not only are we not going on our trip but we will have to move into our caravan and park at the overpriced local caravan park as people who we have a house-exchange with in August (Chicago) are staying in our house starting the end of this week making us homeless. OK, bottom-line as this is getting lengthy in its telling, Doctor Fantastic rings Monday at 1.30 (waking us from our nanny nap) saying all is good and to enjoy our trip. [reminds me of that once-were-president in the USA saying he made a perfect phone call] We were all happy – clouds disappeared and we continued our packing to get the hell out of here in a few days. Yippie.
After book club, where we discussed the apocalyptic book Station Eleven at Lois’ place, we headed off on our way. Carolin and Michael picked us up, dropped us at the Riviera Hotel opposite the RAH (Royal Adelaide Hospital). There’s no secret meaning to this particular location. It’s just nice to get on our way at the end of a day rather than dashing around early morning.
Marcelinas is a nice farewell place, this is the second time we’ve done this. We polished off some great pizza between us with Carolin and Michael and had plenty of laughs.
A public bus ride for free. Only in Adelaide. I was sitting opposite a woman, occasionally making eye contact, and smiling. Then she stood up to get off the bus and walked over to me and said in my ear, ‘I am going to kill myself’. I jumped up and said uselessly, ‘no, no don’t’. By that time, she had walked out onto the pavement and the bus had started moving again. This is a memory I will carry. Shocking.
The flight to Singapore was uneventful.
Instead of the ‘easy’ sky bus we had planned to take, we finished up in a public bus headed to the border of Malaysia. The bus took us on a 2-hour trip through the back blocks of Singapore. Interesting though; all new to us. What was also new to us was that when we arrived in Woodlands, we had to transfer to another bus to reach the actual border to exit Singapore. A long queue as it was a Friday night when all the good folk from Malaysia who had jobs in Singapore where also queuing. Literally hundreds of people in front of us. Then on the other side another bus with folks lining up again to go to the Malaysian border.
It was exhausting. I am exhausted writing about it again, as no doubt you are, reading about it. Anyway, the entry to Malaysia was much easier. We managed to find a ‘seniors line’, and got through customs rather easily.
And no one was rude or pushy in this ordeal. The lines were massive, but strangely quiet.
Then there was Johor Bahru, the border town. Not a town, a big city. Friendly folks pointed us on our way to Citrus Hotel. https://www.citrushoteljb.com/ We did sleep well, though the hotel was little less than we had expected.
Arrive 3.30 pm Cross border into Malaysia, Johor Bahru Citrus Hotel
Changi Airport – Singapore to the border.
Back to our trip… we left the hotel this morning, stopped in at McDonalds for brekky. Didn’t sleep much last night – just all revved up, I guess. I was concerned about a large bag of medical stuff – five-months of pills and five-months of Trulicity, an injectable diabetes medicine that needs to be kept cold. I rambled on about this drug last blog and how it is almost impossible to get because people got it prescribed for weight loss even though it was for diabetics, creating a worldwide shortage. Though I managed to find six-months’ worth via several pharmacies and by being very persuasive, and a bit of a hustler. The company says Australia will be fully supplied by next April. Anyway, I got several ice-gel packs, which are larger that the 100 ml they allow onto flights. I thought they would be confiscated even though I need them in my insulated medical bag. But they weren’t. So here is a tip, at least with Singapore Airlines, frozen gel packs can be taken in carry-on luggage. We will see what the next airline does.
To cut to the end of this whole thing; we are now in Lahore, no issues with any flights, no one even looked – the large insulated bag with all the ice packs went through all the screening devices in Adelaide, KL, and now Lahore. In KL we did not even have anything scanned, no computer out of the bag – no airport scanner to walk through; I can’t go through airport scanners anyway as I have a pacemaker so I get scanned separately, but not in KL. It is all so quick, just walk through the waiting areas and onto the plane. I think it has something to do with facial recognition they can see we are not going to cause havoc, apart from being the pain in the ass elderly demanding people that we are.
I have downloaded a lot of Netflix things. Watched two on this flight which I really enjoyed. The first was Creedence Clearwater – 1970. I was such a fan 1968 – 1969 (ended up in an occult order in Hawaii from December 1969 to finally escaping in 1978 – Baltimore, Maryland – so missed out with keeping up with my favourite rock group). What a great flick to watch high (well not high like in the 1960s, obviously) but high above Australia on the way to KL.
The other flick I watched – wow, Dylan was so much of my life in the 1960s (I lived in Greenwich Village, NYC, a real street person hippie/beatnik at the time), was the Rolling Thunder Revue, Netflix special. I was lucky to grab a train up to Memphis, from New Orleans, to see Dylan with the Band in 1973 and again with Tom Petty in Adelaide in South Australia in about 1984. That concert he seemed not too engaged with the audience but it was still good. If you are a Dylan or Creedence fan gives these a view.
View from our hotel in JB
You can imagine this was not such an easy beginning to the trip. We called a taxi to take us to the train station or the bus station in KL. We had no real information about either option, or no internet. So, we asked the taxi driver if he would be prepared to drive us all the way to KL, 327kms away. He quoted a reasonable amount, so off we went. It took about 4 hours, sometimes reaching speeds of 140 kph. But worth it. He was a friendly guy who spoke a difficult to understand version of English. But he did it right. Right to our Airbnb.
Wow! This dude had no sense of speed limits. Even when there was construction and signs would say 60 Ks he did not slow down. He said he liked motorcycle, motocross, racing to be specific. Narda asked him to slow down at one point and he was good about it and stayed at 110-120 the rest of the way. The posted speed limit seemed usually to be 110 – which is about 68 mph in the States which I know is not fast, but he had a bit of an old car and the memory of crashing once doing 70 mph on a freeway in Mississippi a decade ago is always there. In that case a truck hit us from behind making us spin around and crash into a barrier in the middle of the highway. How we survived that remains one of those lucky things that means you are reading this. If you want to read about it, we still have that blog up @ https://neuage.me/2013/02/01/a-piggly-wiggly-story/
I asked our driver what the trip with the hanging and sitting statues on his dashboard were – he said they protected him whilst he drove. I wanted to say that if he drove reasonably he would be more protected – which any rational atheist such as me would say. Driving the appropriate speed will always be more protective than a bunch of statues. I know. Proof is that I am alive, and I do not worship any plastic nothing. I take reasonable risks. Well now I do, perhaps, like most people in my teen years and twenties and damn my thirties and forties I was a bit over board then – but hey, I am still here., and apart from liver disease, heart disease, diabetes and a few other once were life-styles reminders I am in rather good nick. The downside is our travel insurance cost more than the flight tickets for these little excursions.
Last night we met our host, an interesting guy who told us stories of his days in Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Fascinating. The Airbnb is in Bukit Bintang, a great area. We are near the food street, slept like the dead and decided to move here…no just kidding. But it wouldn’t be hard. The rain falls every day (so far). You get some loud thunder as a warning and then down she comes. We sit on our 13th floor balcony (known here as floor 12A) in wonder. For a person raised in Adelaide, the desert city, this is a real treat.
I like this flat. Even had a large swimming pool, which we never did get around to use. We brought our bathers, with great intent to do some aqua aerobics like we do three mornings a week in Adelaide, somehow, never happened. But we walked heaps and I suppose that is exercise. Also, three days, or was it two? I did use the gym for a bit and put some weights up into the air to keep my well-chiselled body in shape. I have avoided mirrors since turning 70, five-years ago, so not sure if that is true.
Lots of security: two guards at front lobby, scan card to get into and out of building, scan card to get into our section of the building, gate in front of apartment, two locks on door. We always felt safe, but I am sure there is stuff we don’t know.
some photos from our balcony,
view of our building
February 11 – Saturday
I am fascinated by the world’s second tallest building – 123 story up, 2,227 feet. The tower has a mall, a mosque, a Park Hyatt hotel, and Southeast Asia’s highest observation deck. The building overlooks the Stadium Merdeka, where former leader Tunku Abdul Rahman declared Malaysian independence in 1957. Ismail Sabri, who was named prime minister in August, said that the sculptural design “reflects the image” of Rahman famously raising his hand to shout “merdeka!” (Malay for “independent!”) more than six decades ago, and we concur. I wanted to go to the top, but it is not opened until June. Our Airbnb owner said he went to a dinner on the 23rd floor. Lucky him. Narda refuses to go to the top of these tall things.
buildings of KL
Everywhere one goes in this city the building is somewhere in view… We are near Berjaya Times Square, one of the biggest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur. I bought a battery charger for 50 MYR or about $12USD as I have lost mine somewhere along the way to here. I had paid 50 bucks for it in Australia so this was a fourth of the price. The food court here was much better than the food street next to our house though that street is just so groovy. By better, it is about half the price for food. For example, Narda got an omelette for 9 MYR – two bucks USD, three Australian. I got a sweet rice mango dish for about the same price. And forgetting I was diabetic we got Kristy Kreme for 80-cents US or $1.16 Australian. They are 3-4 bucks in Australia so what a good deal. Speaking of diets. Impossible to have low-sugars in Malaysia I think. All coffee has sugar. Even the milk has sugar and other crap. Everything is high carb (think rice and noodles) so my past five-years of a super low-carb diet has gone to shit. However, my taste buds are in overdrive pleasure. So take that body! The other thing I like about Times Square food court is no one hassles about eating in their shop. Our local street food foodie for local and tourists, mostly tourists, is annoying. Every place has a person or two standing in front waving their menu in your face and trying to get you as their favourite customer. No thanks, mate! Just like in many other places foaming at the seams with tourists that try to capture hungry people if some fool puts a menu in my face I definitely will not go to their shitty little shop. See I am not emotional about these things.
Just a slight complaint…the coffee is terrible – unless there is a Starbucks or some similar expensive coffee shop. Local coffee is so sweet if there is any milk in it. We could not find just plain milk. Milk has sugar and many other things in it. Like the label below that we thought was a carton of milk – has one of the ingredients on the list that says contains milk along with all this other stuff…
Central Market began life as a wet market in 1888, built by Yap Ah Loy, the city’s Chinese Kapitan. It served as a prominent landmark in colonial and modern-day Kuala Lumpur. When the wet market was relocated in the 1980s, the Malaysian Heritage Society successfully petitioned against the demolition of the building. Now, Central Market Kuala Lumpur is an iconic attraction and a delightful destination for tourists, shoppers and art lovers.
We bought a sound cable in Chinatown for five times what it was worth. Tourist price even though Narda got the price down from 69 to 49 RM. Now we can listen to Netflix saved movies on my computer linked to our large TV with our little speaker we cart around because my computer speakers are not that good.
We ate somewhere, Often we are not sure what it is we ordered. I make it clear I do not want any road-kill, or meat of any sorts for that matter. Narda – has a different view/taste. In this instance, Narda ended up with someone else’s meal – we thought it looked quite different than what was expected, and it tasted differently than expected. I like her expression – sort of sums up the unexpected experience. The coconut milk was good though.
We ate on food street, lots of hustling and people shoving a menu into your face. We did get a nice meal though. I ate chicken on skewers with peanut sauce, always a winner, and Terrell had a green curry, which he loved.
The area is well painted with wall-art. It reminded us of Darwin – see Darwin https://neuage.me/2021/03/03/darwin/. Not just with the street-art but also with the heat and the heavy rain every day 4 – 6.30 pm.
This morning we discovered a sort of coffee shop very close by. There is coffee in the western style mall for Western prices. In one such mall we came across a recruiting event for Asia Airlines. Lots of hopeful candidates waiting for their interview. Had a really nice meal for tea in an Indian restaurant. One of the best we’ve had in a while.
Back to the local coffee shop for strong coffee, which we soften with some Stevia.
Today some paperwork. I realised to my dismay that I had purchased only 2 days of travel insurance by writing the wrong date. So, a bit of stress here. We had to buy another month’s worth, and unexpected $1,000 added to the costs. Hmm.
Then we decided to test drive the Grab Car phenomenon. It was not great. The app kept changing arrival time, and we finished up in a car an hour after we ordered it. I guess I should have cancelled, but I wasn’t sure. Anyway, we spent some time in the Central Market which thankfully was air-conditioned.
I met a woman in there who was on a day tour from her 68-day cruise, on the Queen Mary. Not too shabby.
Then a treat. At about 6 pm some crashing thunder (the usual) followed by the most intense rain I have ever experienced. Incredible. In no time the streets were filled with at least 6 inches of fast flowing water. The drainage systems coping well. We were hungry and decided to walk out into this wonderful new world of water. We took large brollies, and wore our plastic raincoats, but still got pretty wet. We ate at the local eatery, nasi for me and noodle for Terrell. The rain was deafening on the roof, but no one seemed excited, as we were.
There were some young people all dressed up thing going on at our local times square shopping centre – hundreds of comic looking folks – we felt a bit out of place – not sure why.
Today our train journey started with the monorail, Terrell led us unerringly through the maise of building to the station. We transferred to a proper train at KL sentral, after getting lost in the mall that has taken over the whole bloody thing. It’s a conspiracy, take more money off the intrepid travellers who can’t find the next platform.
It’s a bit of a shit tip, but the natural caves and the cliffs are stunning. The long stairs one has to climb was climbed by Terrell but not by me. Too hot. Lots of nasty little monkeys grabbing scraps of food from the visitors. Watch out for rabies I recon. But Terrell was mightily impressed by the caves at the top as you will see
from his photos.
Batu Caves is a set of Hindu temples built in both caves and the surrounds on the edge of Kuala Lumpur. There are four main cave. Batu Caves is situated on a mogote which is a type of steep-sided hill made out of limestone, marble or dolomite. This limestone formation is thought to be around 400 million years old.
The caves found here were first used by humans as shelter by the indigenous population. Then around 1860, Chinese settlers began taking the guano found here (bat poo) for fertilizing their gardens.
The Batu Caves story really begins when an Indian Tamil trader, K. Thamboosamy Pillai, dedicated a temple to Lord Murugan inside the caves. He promoted this to others in the Hindu community as a place of worship.
Then in 1890, Pillai, the founder of Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur, installed the consecrated statue of Sri Murugan Swami in Temple Cave. There are hordes of monkeys running around. I was nervous of them as Narda’s sister got bit by one in the past. Nevertheless, I tromped up to the top – a zillion plus steps which is a lot to deal with at 75-years-old. Narda stayed below and used our zoom lens to watch me huff and puff up the steps.
The other photos are with my cell phone so not quite the same quality but shows the cave deal anyway. We have a bit of a video on YouTube here
We started off our morning with a western style breakfast at Gravybaby https://www.gravybaby.com/ Quit the good feed. After awhile we had had our fill of rice and noodles and needed just to eat normal – normal to us.
We went for a random walk. After awhile it just became to hot so we got on the first bus we saw. Air-conditioned, free. Our kind of bus. After a few stops we saw those landmark Petronas Twin Towers and got off near them. We were here a decade or so ago. Didn’t go to the top then either. I was hoping to go up to that little bridge that goes between them, Narda had no intentions of going up. Our other photos are in a slideshow with other buildings above. In all transparency I did change the sky here in Photoshop, in the one photo with the obviously sky changed – due to the fact that our zoomed in photo did not show much of a sky background.
No matter, it was booked full for today. I got heaps of photos though from street level. We drank our store-bought ice-coffee (75-cents USD) we had with us in their fancy lobby, and took a free-air-conditioned bus back to our area and walked home. Yesterday we only paid the monorail and train to the spectacular caves, there is no entrance fee and today we spent nothing, oh wait! we have spent nothing on tourists shit this whole trip. That is because we live like locals wherever we go.
Goodbye from KL – on our way to Lahore for our third visit. Lady at customs at the KL airport looked up at me and said “Pakistan?” with a surprised look. We get this. People wonder why a couple of white elderly people are going to Pakistan.
as our next stay – is Lahore Pakistan – and we probably won’t get to finishing it up until middle of March when we are in the UK or Holland you can visit our previous two visits – 2019 https://neuage.me/2019/11/29/lahore/ and last year’s visit when we came for Brendan’s marriage @ https://neuage.me/2022/02/03/covid-world-tour-2021/
Side note; we have enjoyed our first few days in Lahore and will be off to Islamabad for several days whilst Brendan takes his class to Turkey for a week school trip (no, they are not in the same area as the earthquake last week). We are here for three-weeks then the UK then Holland then back to Wales and on and on. We may do one more blog or many more.
Thanks, Terrell–bon voyage! I saw Dylan on his 1973 tour with The Band in Boston, when I was in HOOM! Cheers, Michael Mc