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What line is this anyway?

Summer Vacation 2008 - KL to BSB

semi-overcast 32 °C
View Summer vacation 2008 - The return to Malaysia on agc_cwm's travel map.

We woke up again this morning without any real plans. We had the morning left in KL, then we had to make our way out to the airport to fly to BSB, in Brunei. Without any real plans for the morning it took us even longer to get going.

We did a little bit of packing then hit breakfast. Court has had a sore throat for a week or so, and seeing this was our last day in KL we thought we'd get her checked out at the clinic. We were going to go to a clinic from LP, which happened to be across town. But, Court asked at the front desk just before we left. It turns out there was a clinic two doors down the street from our hotel. We hit up the clinic, saw the doctor, and Court got some medicine.

After we finished at the clinic, we decided we should go back and check out of the hotel before we went anywhere else. We squared up our bill and got them to watch our big backpacks as we headed out for the morning. On the way to the station, we walked by a cafe with a shelf of hookahs (water pipes) outside.

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We saw signs around for a hop-on hop-off bus that does a circuit of the city. Unfortunately, at MYR32, we realized that it wasn't a good value for us, seeing we only had an hour or two to ride the bus. We went back to KLCC to walk around the gardens at the base of the Petronas Towers instead. After shooting some video around the park we went into the mall for some grub. We settled on a Indian restaurant. Actually, Court decided and I was standing next to her in line and got pressured into ordering something by the guy behind the counter. Oh well, it was quite good. After lunch we had a few more things to pick up and then it was back to our hotel to get our bags.

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Our trip back was uneventful. We got our bags and went outside to try to convince a cabbie to use their meter to take us to the bus stop. But, once the cabbie found out where we wanted to go he would never use the meter. The conversations would always go like this:

Us: Do you have a meter?
Cabbie: Where are you going?
Us: KL Sentral station
Cabbie: 10 Ringgits
Us: No. It's too expensive. Use your meter and we'll go with you.
Cabbie: No. And he shut his door or point us to other cabbies.

Needless to say, we took the monorail back to KL Sentral station with just enough time to get a sub from Subway to eat before we got on the plane. We got the subs and went back down to where the buses were and everyone started yelling at us to get on their bus to the airport. We choose the actual AirAsia bus. It was quite nightclub swank. It had good leg room, and nice faux leather seats. The actual ride was nothing to write home about.

Once we arrived at the airport we went to check in for our flight. This is always a bit of experience with AirAsia. If you've never travelled to southeast Asia, it's important to remember that lines don't always count or matter. We were waiting in line, or we thought we were waiting in line, when four people came and cut in front of us. As we were waiting longer, even more people came up and started crowding us to the front of the line. But, there was nothing we could do. The family in front of us was trying to check 10 bags. It was crazy. We gave our bags and what was left of Court's sanity to the AirAsia staff, then we were out of there. We had to search for some chairs to eat our Subway spread. It took too long for us to find some chairs. There aren't many in the airport at all. But, don't worry, we persevered and found some.

AirAsia doesn't assign seats for their flights. If you want you can pay extra and buy express boarding which lets you start the race to the plane before everyone else. This means you get your choice of seats. I didn't buy express boarding for the flight to BSB because I didn't think it would be too crowded.

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Because of this we got in line as soon as we went through security. We were about 8th in line. We watched the people with express boarding go and then they let us go. The people in front of us weren't too pushy, but there were two Malaysian women who were trying to move as fast as they could to get on the plane. But, they were weighed down by all the stuff that they bought. Don't worry, we beat them on to the plane. We got our two seats together and we were off.

The flight again was nothing special. But, our deplaning experience was outstanding. 25 minutes. From the time our plane doors opened, we went through customs, immigration, got our bags and a cab to our hotel. I didn't think that fast was possible, it was our travel four-minute mile. But, now it will always be our challenge to beat it.

And now we are in Brunei. Tomorrow we will explore BSB some more.

Posted by agc_cwm 06:45 Archived in Malaysia Comments (1)

Stolen is the unguarded banana.

Summer Vacation 2008 - Dodging monkeys and eating Indian food.

overcast 30 °C
View Summer vacation 2008 - The return to Malaysia on agc_cwm's travel map.

Day 3, I woke up and felt kind of hungover, which was odd because I've had nothing to drink on vacation. I blame it on the durian. I heard that there is a protein or enzyme in them that actually causes you to warm up as you eat them. Most people recommend drinking a certain type of tea while you eat them.

Moving on. We pulled ourselves together, albeit slowly made our way down for breakfast and then headed off to the Batu Caves. It was a whole lot easier to get out there after we scouted our root yesterday. We got to to the closest train station and decided to brave a cab again. We found a guy who'd use his meter and he took us to the caves. It cost MYR6.50 to get out to the caves. We gave the cabbie a 10, he grabbed it said thank you and basically kicked us out of the cab. He got a nice 50% tip! We haven't had good luck with the cabs so far.

The Batu Caves were discovered in the 1800's and are now an important Hindu religious site. As you look around the caves you can see a lot of Hindu carvings, shrines and paintings. It's easy to tell the Hindu relics apart from the Islamic ones: Hinduism doesn't have a problem depicting the forms from nature.

Last night when we told Weijin we were going to the caves he asked us what we knew about them. We told him we knew there were a lot of stairs and monkeys. Weijin agreed that, indeed, there are lots of steps and monkeys. We knew going in that there were a lot of steps, but I didn't expect as many as there were. 272 steps in total. We discussed afterwards how much it would have sucked to have been the first person to find the cave: there were no stairs then.

The giant statue in front of the caves was completed with in the last year or so. I'm not sure if it fits into the aesthetics of the site or not; the thing is ginormous.

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We poked around and watched the monkeys, scoping out the big alpha male. That way, we'd know which one to avoid.

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Then we started to the climb up the stairs.

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It actually wasn't as bad as we thought it was going to be. We did stop a few times, to make sure the monkeys were keeping their distance. They kept their distance from us, but some people decided that it'd be a good idea to feed the monkeys. Ugh. What a bad idea. Some people had peanuts, some people had bananas. Some people should know that feeding wildlife is not a good idea.

We completed our climb and stepped into a giant cave. It was huge. The pictures don't do it any justice. In the caves there were a few more Hindu shrines and a few guys making a few bucks taking pictures with snakes. While they were taking one picture with one snake, the guys weren't watching the other snake as it slowly tried to sneak out of the cage. Luckily they noticed the snake before it escaped.

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The monkeys were also very smart and knew that they should go to the area with the most people. This would increase the chances that someone would feed them. This means there were a lot of monkeys in the cave. We watched them for a bit, then noticed they were heading further into the cave.

There was another flight of stairs and more shrines up top. We decided to make our way up there as well. We headed up and found another shrine, more people, and more monkeys. There was one guy up there with a big stick whose job was to try to keep the monkeys away from the people. Court and I figure he must get sooo frustrated with the foolish tourists who keep feeding the monkeys. We poked around here for a while too. And watched a British family try really hard to make sure that their little girl didn't feed or go near the monkeys. At least they had some sense! The top of this cave also opened up outside which provided some nice light in here.

At this point we decided to head back down the stairs.

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As we were walking down we saw a female monkey walking around with a little baby monkey holding on to her.

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We were trying to take some pictures of the two monkeys as it started to head back up the stairs. While the monkey was heading back up the stairs there was a poor tourist heading down the stairs. When BAM! The monkey
grabbed the tourists bag from him, opened it up, grabbed the banana and escaped up over the railing away from the tourist. The monkey took its sweet time eating the banana with a sly grin.

At this point we decided to make our way back to the train station. We talked to the first cabby and he said it was MYR25 back to the station we came from. We mentioned it was too expensive, but he gave us some story about why it was a good deal. We moved on. We went and grabbed another cab. He didn't want to use the meter and he told us something about a coupon. We decided to get out of this cab too. We went out to the main road and hailed a cab. He said he'd use the meter and take us to the correct station. But, I suspect he “forgot” where we wanted to go. He took us the long route and then tried to drop us off somewhere we didn't want to go. It was a little fishy. We told him to take us the monorail. He dropped us off not by the station we originally wanted, but a station further down the line. This station was actually better for us to get back in the city, so it worked out alright in the end.

We got the train back to into the city, swung by the hotel and then headed out for lunch. Court found a restaurant with an antipasto buffet and she really wanted to go there. It was near our hotel so we set off with our map from LP. But we got confused at the intersection just up the street. We wandered down one street, but the restaurant wasn't there. Then we went down a different street, but still no restaurant. We finally found to restaurant on the third try.

We had a lovely buffet lunch. Then we went back to the hotel to do some internetting and rest for a bit.
The only problem is the short rest became a longer rest after I fell asleep for an hour. I woke up then Court fell asleep. It's not vacation until you take a nap. When we both got up we headed down to Starbucks and did some more internetting. We hung out there for a while. Then went off to meet Emily again.

We met up with Emily near her office and she took us down to Little India. She showed us a few shops that sold sari materials, jewelry, and lots of other traditional Indian clothing. We wandered through another little market and headed to an Indian restaurant that Emily usually goes to. She ordered us a bunch of different dishes, thankfully avoiding the spicy ones, and we sat down to eat Indian-style. Using our hands. But, not your left one. That one's for a different purpose.

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There is something kind of refreshing about using your hands to eat. We got a few different Indian desserts and had some masala tea. I forget the names of a lot of the food, but it was great. One of the desserts was basically a ball of milk powder held together with ghee (clarified butter), but mostly what you tasted was the butter. Delightful.

After we ate, we wandered down by the courthouses, around Merdeka Square, and past a crazy pitcher-plant fountain. Then made our way back to the train station. We said our goodbyes and left came back to our hotel to pack it in for the night. We have to get ready for our trip to Brunei tomorrow.

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Posted by agc_cwm 07:00 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

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