Sunday, August 13, 2017

Malaysia ( Kuala Lumpur - A day tour)

Initially we had no plans of going to Malaysia, but we figured that since we were travelling with Air Asia, we got a free stop over in Kuala Lumpur. Having been to Malaysia about ten years ago, I knew we could tour Kuala Lumpur in a day and Sumit didn't want to miss a chance to visit KL. So, we booked our flights in such a manner that we arrive in the morning around 7 am and our return flight was around 6 pm.

Visa on arrival:

Sumit and I had applied for e-visa online. We had our printed copies of the visas and we just had to get the passport stamped. But the queues for immigration were so long and so slow that it really dampened our spirits. We were standing in those queues for a little over an hour to get our passports stamped, even after procuring the visa before arriving in the country. So be prepared for these slow moving long queues.

Getting around:

We used KLEkspress, which a fast train service from the airport to the city centre. It was quick, convenient and had a frequent service. It took about 45 minutes to get to the city centre from here.
Other option is to Uber. We didn't realize at first, but Uber is very cheap here and cars are usually, neat and clean. So, we mostly ubered for rest of our day.

Our day:

From the skydeck
We got out of the airplane with our day packs. Got our visas stamped and took the fast train to the city centre. Here there was a tourist office where we consulted on what to do and how far it was. We had two things as top priority, KL tower and Petronas Towers.
Petting Zoo
We first grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and then ubered to the KL Tower. The uber driver dropped us right in front of the entrance. Here we got our tickets, which gave us access to the observation deck plus one extra activity. There was a wide range of options to choose from and we chose the Mini Zoo. Since it was still early in the morning, around 10 am, we didn't run into any long queues to get into the elevator the observation deck. After getting some great 360 degree views of the city and taking some pictures on the glass floor (it took us about 20-30 minutes in all), we headed for lunch at the Indian restaurant located in the shopping complex at the base of the tower. Average food, but it was good to grab something as the next meal would be after a while. Now was the turn to visit the Mini Zoo which was a free add-on to our skydeck ticket.
Surprisingly this mini zoo was quite fun. Parrots, iguanas, rabbits, python, tortoise, monkey, birds, this place had every animal I could think of. The moment I thought we were done, they led to another part of the zoo. I really enjoyed this place. It was so much fun! And a learning experience ;)
At the mini zoo
From here we ubered again to the Petronas Towers. We took some pictures at the base of the tower. I clearly remember that I came with my parents to KL about 10 years ago, it was not possible to fit the Petronas Towers in one frame with my digital camera and there was no concept of panoramas then. So, our guide took us to some far away park from where we could get a picture of tall, but tiny Petronas towers in a single frame. Thanks to the new phone cameras, we got some good clicks here.
Next option was to either go to the botanical gardens, aquarium, etc within the city, or head out to see the Batu caves. I had been there earlier with my parents a decade ago and I clearly remember that it wasn't much impressive. So, I researched for reviews and figured it was a clear no-no. So, Sumit and I stepped into a nearby mall - KLCC Suria and spent our time at a coffee shop in this huge air conditioned mall.
Petrona towers - 2007
Petrona towers - 2017
Next up, we had to head back to the airport and we had bought our return ticket through KL Ekspress, so we ubered back to the city centre railway station and got on to the train to head back to the airport. Once we reached the airport, we realized, it was another long queue and long wait to get inside the airport. After about an hour, we got in and head to our gates. We still had about 2 hours before our flight, so we went to the airport lounge. Luckily, our credit cards give us free access to premier lounges, which came as a blessing in this trip where flights are regularly delayed. We relaxed in one of the lounges. Got some food, took a break and relaxed. Then, we headed to our gate through another set of checkins, which took longer than expected and made us anxious tat we will miss our flight, only to find out that the flight was delayed. And, of course the monitors were not updated. The flight was delayed by three hours, which was the same time as the flight duration itself!
We were super hungry it was hard to find vegetarian options at the airport, but we luckily found Maggi cup-o-noodles. It was a long long wait before we got to board our plane.
Once we boarded, there was more confusion. We were sitting on the last seat, row 31, and we figured, the boarding passes were issued up til row 32. So, the passengers with row 32, had to de-board and wait for the next flight to Bali. Whew! Thank God we were row 31!
Nevermind, the flight took off and we were on our way to Bali. It was a short day trip to Kuala Lumpur, but well worth the stop over I think.

What we skipped:

Batu Caves from our 2007 visit
  • Batu Caves: Can be covered in a single day, but I didn't have that many fond memories and reviews changed our may-be to a no.
  • There are a few temples, mosques , Chinatown and famous flea market that you could go to during a day trip. But given that we had no enthu and it was super hot, we skipped it. Here is the walking map I had created. 
  • There is much more to do in Malaysia, for instance Langkawi, Genting Highlands. Having been to Genting Highlands in my last trip, I thought it was just a mini version of Las Vegas, so was not at all interested.