Shortly before landing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport we noticed a familiar, but unrecognizable smell. As we looked out the window we soon found the source of the smell. It was smoke, thankfully not the kind billowing from an engine, but bushfire smoke. Malaysia was covered in smoke that originated from fire in Indonesia, and although arguments raged as to whose fault it was, it was clearly a massive problem.
We arrived well before dawn and quickly made our way via train from the Satellite Terminal to the Main Terminal, which was equally deserted. We cleared immigration, collected our bags and strolled through custom, literally. Just outside customs we purchased our voucher for the taxi ride to our hotel. We has toyed with the idea of catching the express train, but seeing as we would still have to catch a taxi from KL Sentral station and that traffic would not be a problem at 6am Sunday morning, we opted for a taxi.
There were few vehicles on the expressways leading to the city and our driver took the opportunity to catch up on a few phone calls while speeding along. Apparently speed limits and lane markings are both suggestions only!
We followed expressways almost exclusively until the last few minutes of the journey, which added to the fact that the sun was only just starting to light the sky, meant that we didn’t get much of an opportunity to see the surrounding areas. What we did see was a mix of housing development and high-rise apartment buildings, which seemed to rise out of the suburbs at random locations.
Once in Bukit Bintang we finally got our first real look at KL and it was surprising. Much like cities in other parts of Asia, KL is a city of dramatic contrasts. Hotels with marble foyers sit beside ramshackle apartment buildings with washing hanging over the street. Large expressways that rival any in world give way to alleyways of broken asphalt and busted kerb.
Our hotel was a clear example of this contrast. The relatively impressive and well maintained foyer was a stark contrast to the poorly maintained, basic, window-less rooms. Sheets that were clean, but had that off-white colour that suggests they did the bare minimum. Woolen blankets that were well past there used-by date, covered the beds where quilts or bedspreads should have been. Hot water for showers eventually came, after running the water many minutes.
After showing we decided to go for a walk around the local area. Our hotel, in the Jamal area would be in a good location was it not for the massive tunneling construction project being carried out at the end of the street. The construction site made getting around a little more difficult, but the future underground train line will be great.
We ended up at Times Square shopping mall, hoping to while away a fee hours at the theme park, but an hour before the mall opened. We had Crispy Crème donuts (I still don’t know why people think these are so special) and an awful American-style coffee while we waited for the mall to open.
Sadly, when we finally got inside at 10am, we found out the theme park opened at 11am. Not wanting to kill any more time, we headed back to the hotel for a nap.
We had lunch at a restaurant across the road from the hotel which offered a range of Asian dishes, such as sweet and sour pork and noodles.
We spent the afternoon at the theme park, where level 7 contains a lot of rides suitable for smaller kids. Admission isn’t super-cheap, especially when the adults only really get to watch the children, but it was fun and certainly beats being stuck outside in the heat and smoke. Re-entry is permitted, so you can head out for something to eat, or some shopping before heading back in. Zane’s favourite ride was the pirate ship, but he went on every ride a couple of times, so they must all be pretty good.