Kuala Lumpur was always going to be one of, if not the most luxurious parts of our trip. When Erik was first searching for hotels in this city of high rises, he found a hotel that boasts a swimming pool on the fifty-first floor overlooking both the Petronas towers and the television tower. Although I was far from convinced this hotel would be worth the price, this was Erik’s part of the trip to plan, so he just went ahead and booked us a room at the Face Suits. Still recovering from our stomach issues upon arriving I was glad he had!
We leave the Cameron Highlands around three p.m. and the drive takes nearly four hours – trough three of which I slept. Seeing as we are due to arrive around seven p.m. we are wondering how our taxi driver felt about this trip. He told us he would simply stay in KL (apparently the acronym is mostly used to refer to Kuala Lumpur) for the night and then drive back the next morning with people arriving in KL and needing a transfer to the Cameron Highlands. I thought he would stay with friends or family or even a cheap hotel, but Erik guesses he’ll sleep in his car on such nights. Sadly we’ll never know as neither of us thought to just ask him.
Once we arrive at our hotel, I realise just how luxurious our stay is going to be. There are porters taking up our luggage – and who won’t take no for an answer – which to me feels pretty luxurious already. The lobby is immense and the elevators only work once you scan your door key. That already makes me giggle and another guy in the elevator laughs along. At first I think he is also a bit embarrassed by all these riches that I feel don’t quite fit me, but then he confesses – in aloud whisper so everyone can hear – that he is fucking high and doesn’t know what the fuck is going on anymore. Guess that’s another way of spending your time abroad.
Then we get to our hotel room a it really sinks in. This room is huge. HUGE. It’s bigger than any hotel room I have ever stayed in. I think it may actually be bigger than our apartment back home. It has a big bed, a huge bathroom and even a kitchen and living room area for crying out loud. This is not a hotel room, but a home! And as adverse as I can be about unnecessary luxury – though I guess what that is depends on your point of view, I guess my life can already seem pretty damn luxurious – for now I love it!
We take a quick look around, check out the pool and then head of to find something light to eat. We end up at the pizza hut, depressed by our choice, but not willing to risk unknown food on our still struggling bowls yet. Turns out, even a pizza is too heavy right now and we end up buying some pasta, cooking it in our hotel room and eating it dry.
Thank god we have the amazing infinity pool with a view of the night time skyline of KL to get us happy again. The cool water feels really nice after the smoggy heat of the city and the view really is amazing. I could stare at it for hours, dreaming about all the different lives being led within each little dot of light. This city must be huge – in fact it isn’t that huge by Asian standards, boasting “only” two million inhabitants – and there must be so many stories to tell.
For now, I content myself with imagining how the other tourists around the swimming pool got there. From the Japanese family of three teaching their son how to use a snorkel to the high guy and what appears to be his girlfriend. I watch a group of Chinese girls take an endless amount of selfies with the view in the background – just as we just did – and laugh about a bunch of Indian guys pretending they are the shit in front of their girlfriends. I don’t always watch – and secretly judge – people, but when I do, if give them a background that fits their current behaviour – or not.
After some intense relaxing by the pool, we go back to our room. The plan is to watch a movie with a toilet very near by. It turns out differently through as we are both already exhausted; no reserves left and we are still not getting in all the nutrients we are consuming, though things are starting to feel better. So, within hardly any time at all, we are fast asleep.
The next morning we eat our healthy light but filling breakfast of whole oats with plain yogurt. We are by now both hungry again, but decide to eat plain food one more day. It feels safer and also, we are planning to eat Michelin star street food in Singapore which will be a great start of us eating normal again!
After breakfast we head out again. Yesterday at the Cameron Highlands we were out and about, but still feeling tired. Today we already feel better, though we realise we are not there yet and the smoggy humid heat of today is sure to tire us after spending most of the last few days in either air conditioned rooms or a cooler climate. Nevertheless, we are determined to make the best of it!
We start by walking in the direction of the Petronas towers; two huge and linked towers domineering the skyline of KL. The direction of these viewpoints is easy enough to keep, but every once in a while the towers disappear behind other towers that make up the concrete jungle we are walking through.
I am surprised by the number of buildings that seem to incorporate plant life into their architecture. Erik is less surprised. It is very likely that in a climate this humid and this hot, plants will grow like crazy regardless of what you do, so it makes sense to use that to your advantage while building.
In spite of the growing heat – that type of heat that cannot be described, but only felt – we make it to the Petronas towers in good time. We join the other tourists in taking pictures in front of the towers. Really at times I don’t know why I do it. I can be terribly hard on tourists and some of their stereotypical behaviour and then I see a well-known ( or newly known) landmark and I cannot wait to stand in front of it, stupidly grinning, to have my picture taken. Like I need the proof that I have actually been there instead of contenting myself with the memory of it. Oh well, like Giphart said, “feelings are never hypocritical”.
We enter the towers and are immediately soothed – and frozen – by the Arctic conditions inside. However, as we see no reason to pay a load of money for a view that we can have for free from our hotel, we decide to explore the gardens outside of the building. But first a few moments of being wonderfully cold!
The gardens are pretty nice and provide a better view of the towers than the front does. It is incredibly hot though. We walk a bit further, but the hot and cold and then hot conditions get our stomachs working again. Erik then has the misfortune that the cleaning lady walks into his stall after he is done – you know, as one does after someone just used the bathroom, audibly. She gets mad at him – for no good reason we make sure we leave bathrooms cleaner than when we enter – and we can then hear her gagging loudly as we walk away. All we do is laugh about it. Erik can’t be bothered by it and I have seen “bathrooms” in China so I know what would be nasty and what wouldn’t.
When we’ve finished exploring the gardens the heat is really getting to us. We buy some fruit juice around the corner and decide to go see one of the many shopping malls of KL. I’m not quite sure how I feel about a city where one of the biggest attractions according to both my Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor are the meriad shopping malls. At first it seemed like consumerism gone too far – who needs all that stuff?! – but walking around this city in the afternoon I realise it is a brilliant way to escape the heat.
We find a shopping mall to our liking and enter a few stores, looking for a belt for Erik. Both of us having lost a few kilo’s, a belt is a necessity untill we manage to eat ourselves to a normal weight again. Knowing how much we love to eat good food, I’m sure that won’t take long!
Not wanting to squander money on items we don’t need and will just have to lug around the rest of our trip, we leave the mall and return to our hotel for a lovely lunch of again plain pasta. After that we escape the heat by lounging by the pool, reading our books and watching trailers of recommended documentaries. I really enjoy doing this every once in a while and for just a few hours, but I still fail to see how this would be a fun way to spend three entire weeks. To each his own I guess.
There is room for more positive vibes this afternoon. We decide that, as we are feeling better and our online holiday doctor sees no reason to have us fly back early in spite of our persisting symptoms, we are at least going to finish our holiday and have the most fun we can manage! Perhaps we do need to pace ourselves a bit. As such, maybe we won’t be doing the three-day hike up mount Rinjani – also saving us from having to take malarone. I cry a bit – again – as this was one the the highlights for me that I had really – REALLY – been looking forward to. But our health comes first. Luckily we won’t have to make any definite plans untill September second when we need to start the anti-malaria medication.
China town, Merdeka square and a taxi-couple
That afternoon we spent walking around KL like we walk through any city. We start in Chinatown and the very touristy but fun market. Erik buys a new snapback as his “rebel” cap got lost on the boattrip to Koh Tao and I am mesmerised by the way they bake chestnuts over here. Something about repetitive motions get to me – am I the only one?
After we’ve explored the interchangeable giftshops enough, we walk towards the Merdeka or independence square. We enjoy looking at the people and buildings around us and generally being out again, but otherwise the walk is unremarkable.
The square itself is big and has a massive flag waving over it. The flagpole is ornately decorated and also the only thing we can see as the square is off limits when we are there. Nothing sinister, they are simply building stands on it for the show that will take place on their independence day. That is also the reason we see a young boy dressed in traditional clothes passionately giving the speech in which the independence was declared. Or so we surmise; the people filming him that we ask about it are just about the first Malaysians we meet that don’t speak English.
After our walk in the still persisting heat, we decide to take a taxi back to the hotel for a nice bland meal of KFC and plain pasta – I’ll be so happy to eat normal food again that everything will taste like Michelin star worthy food! We get in a cab where the drivers wife is driving along for the evening (and also to manage the funds it would seem). They are a wonderful couple, telling us all about their country and asking many questions about our country. In this way, we are back at the hotel quicker than we would like.
We take a nice long hot shower and crash on the bed in the very comfy bathrobes the hotel provides. It may not be obvious, but today we have walked more than we have in a while – and more than we do on a daily basis anyway. And in heat that we are again getting used to. As a result, my legs ache. Thankfully Erik is kind enough to massage my legs, so that I fall asleep nice and comfy and relaxed.
Catching the bus
The next morning we wake up early because we have to take a taxi to another hotel to catch our bus to Singapore. The bus will take us to our next stop in an estimated four hours, so we opted for the ten o’clock bus. We pack our bags – getting better and better at it – take one last look at our lovely huge room and leave, arriving at the bus stop at a punctual 09:15. Ready for our next adventure.