Hello from misty/smoggy/dangerously-polluted Kuala Lumpur!
The Kids and I have been in the Malaysian capital since Wednesday. The arrival was smooth enough up to the point of exiting the LRT (Light Rail Transit) station closest to the hotel, at which point Boy and Girl’s sense of direction disintegrated in the humid rain leading to, you guessed it, an onslaught of tutting from Her Royal Girlness and squabbling over which way to go. As usual Girl was right.
Of course, I learnt all about this when I was liberated from Girl’s suitcase after the Kids eventually reached their
rented cupboard hotel room. I suffered the indignity of a cold, cramped and noisy flight. Come to think of it, though, so did the Kids. At least I didn’t spend 60 baht on an almost undrinkable in-flight coffee that came as a teabag!
So, impressions of KL? It’s covered in what appears to be smog. You can barely see past the closest sky scraper and we’ve not seen any blue sky since Thailand. However, what the place lacks in breathability, it makes up for in atmosphere.
We’re staying in the middle of the busy Chinatown district (I’ll get on to the hotel in a moment). Chinatown is well known for its thriving market streets where you can buy all kinds of cheap goods, fake watches, street food and children (joking!). The area is a wonderful balance of chaos and organisation. Buildings, that look as though they’re on the verge of collapse, house packed squat-like restaurants from which all kinds of delicious smells swirl into the air.
So far, so good. But now for the hotel. I don’t know what the Kids were thinking when they booked this place, but they clearly should leave the thinking to me in future. For a start, the room has no windows! I could just about deal with the lack of natural light for a few days, but the place also bloody stinks due to the lack of air. And, it’s absolutely tiny. Watching the Kids attempt to move around in the few centimetres of floor space not taken up by their suitcases was amusing at first, but the novelty has worn off. I’ve not spent any time in the ‘bathroom’ because I’m a teddy bear, but the Kids have yet to decide on the aspect they hate the most: the lack of shower curtain, the regularly breaking toilet flush (and today the water pressure dropped out too) or the almost see-through walls. Girl summed the place up appropriately with “I can’t wait to get out of this hole.” Seems a bit unfair on holes to be honest.
On the plus side, the Kids have insisted on spending as little time in aforementioned hole as possible, so we’ve seen quite a lot of the city. Highlights include:
- The Pavilion Mall in Bukit Bintang. Although Boy looked to be on the verge of passing out for the duration of our visit, Girl was in her element, whirling around the aisles of several clothes stores like a little tornado and coming out with some rather snazzy new flip flops and shorts. Bonus points for persuading Boy to buy some new shorts of his own.
- Wandering up to the KL City Gallery. Boy wanted to check out the Music Musuem (although apparently it was quite boring) and Girl was intent on taking photos of everything and from every possible angle. My favourite bit was posing for photographs on the iconic I Love KL structure. I felt (and looked, let’s be honest) like a star.
- The Orchid and Hibiscus gardens. Probably my favourite part of KL so far. This place was a dream. Calm, beautifully designed and full of exotic flowers. Whereas Girl and I went photo crazy, Boy sat and rested his unbelievably sweaty back on a bench and read his book. On the walk back down, Girl nearly wet herself when a huge lizard jumped out of the undergrowth and climbed up a nearby tree. Boy and I also nearly wet ourselves from laughing so hard.
- Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC Park. They’re towers, they’re bloody massive and they’re next to quite a cool little park. The Kids seemed most excited by the Marks and Spencer in the mall underneath the towers. They didn’t buy me a chocolate cookie and I do hold grudges.
- Cool cafes. Chinatown has surprised us with its quirky range of atmospheric cafes dotted around in unexpected places. So far we’ve been to LOKL Cafe which is attached to a hostel and plays good music, Merchant’s Lane (formerly a brothel!) which serves delicious food (so I’m told) and has a chilled outdoor area and we’re currently in the eerily quiet Moontree House which is also a bookstore and is known for amazing brownies (do you spot a pattern emerging here?).
Less of a highlight, but funny nonetheless, was the Kids aborted mission to the Thai Embassy to get a visa for travelling to a Thai island next week. They were armed with completed applications, (almost enough) money and passport photos resembling a serial killer (Boy)/12-year-old-boy (Girl) but were told by the nice but difficult-to-understand lady at the embassy to return with a printed flight ticket. Back at headquarters, they decided they would prefer to check out Langkawi island in Malaysia (but near the Thai border) instead, rather than booking tickets and returning to the embassy that afternoon. If I had eyebrows they would be firmly placed close to the top of my head, but I’m looking forward to getting to the beach nonetheless!
That’s enough for now. Next time we speak I’ll be chillin’ it up on the beach with Boy while Girl keeps a lookout for snakes!
PS. It’s my brother’s name day today. Vsechno nejlepsi Frantisku! I miss you and the others very much.