Kuala Lumpur days 1, 2, 3

Anyway, so we’ve been pootling around here in Kuala Lumpur for a few days now and generally having a nice time. It’s been warm and humid but not nearly as much as I remember it being last time (2 years ago). On the whole people are really polite and friendly. The kind of polite you just don’t get in korea — like “do you want to go in front of me?” at the checkout counter kind of thing.

I’ve probably been eating too much, but doing plenty of walking too so hopefully it’ll balance out. Food and beverages (everyone’s just saying F&B now) are much cheaper than Korea but the standard of living isn’t any lower. It’s hard to work out but I’m guessing that people here don’t get paid as much. I’m starting to think there’s some kind of global conspiracy where the proletariat get the same kind of income in any country which is set in relation to how much food and various services are. I.e. you could live in Norway where supposedly the standard of living is high, and you get high wages, but then the cost of groceries is ultra-high too. I remember back to when I was travelling through countryside Vietnam and noticing that the price of petrol was hella cheap — like 9cents a litre, but then thinking well, when you think of what the average peasant on a motorbike earns, then that’s not cheap — but then, how do the Vietnamese petro-corporations get the oil to sell at that price…?   It’s a mystery.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8444637646/” title=”scarlet Ibis by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8506/8444637646_86f9b9a2d3.jpg” width=”500″ height=”374″ alt=”scarlet Ibis”></a>

_The Scarlet Ibis – more hardcore than your average Ibis._

We went to the Bird Park today. They say it’s the largest free-flight bird aviary in the world, and that they have 200 different kinds of birds in there but I would say it’s closer to 40. When I really make myself think about it, I don’t really like places like this anyway. Similar to zoos. Invariably the animals don’t look well, or they’re stuck in cages that are way too small. I know it’s nice for the kiddies to be able to see the animals for realz, but mostly when I see the kind of kiddies that get taken to the zoo/bird park, they’re the ones that should be locked up.

I think if there was a worldwide referendum to get rid of all zoos, and even all safari jeep tours, then I would vote YES. If you want to have the experience of seeing those animals in the flesh then you have to go out there by yourself and risk being eaten by them. Same with more normal animals, like the barn owl. If you live out on a farm and walk into the barn one day and see a barn owl then that would be an amazing experience! and one that you would not forget quickly.


*The KL City Hop on – Hop off Bus Tour*. I guess I would say it was okay in that the bus wasn’t too crowded and it can be a good way of getting to several different tourist areas in one day. However the 24hour pass is _not_ valid for 24 hours. We bought ours one day and they were punched for 10:30am, and then went back the next morning at 10:10am to be told that we couldn’t get on.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8443529233/” title=”incompetent tour guide boy by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8354/8443529233_4d5235f53c_n.jpg” width=”320″ height=”320″ alt=”incompetent tour guide boy”></a>

I’d say this was one of those situations where, due to a lack of training, the staff (pictured) make bad decisions which eventually come back to bite them on the arse. For the most part the Tourism & Hospitality sector in Malaysia is pretty good, (you’d hope it was, considering it’s something like their 4th largest industry) but I’ve learned from many, many experiences of touring around korea that when you run tourism operations with untrained, low-paid employees, you’re going to lose in the end.

tony fernandes ate my lunch

First thing I have to say is golly it’s nice to be on holiday. It’s been a long 12 months and when I do take the opportunity to visit somewhere different I usually end up having to go by myself, but this time my sweety is with me.

And we tried flying with Air Asia. It’s a different set up they’ve got going. It’s all online booking, and lots of detail to it. You chose where you want to sit, and there’s different areas — like a no kids ‘quiet zone’, “hot seats” ie. the first row of economy/coach class (you know if I owned my own airline, I would call economy class Riff-raff class) and instead of business/1st they have premium. We went for the No kids section and it worked well.

Meals are not standard either. You can order a meal when you’re doing the online thing, and it costs about 7 bucks. There’s a fair few different choices, and in theory it’s a good idea. In reality, the meals we got were really crappy.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/8437394416/” title=”Flight etc by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8051/8437394416_60fb1a32f5_n.jpg” width=”320″ height=”320″ alt=”Flight etc”></a>

This was my green curry. It was mostly rice. When I say crappy, I mean really cheaply put together, and small. Airline food has never been known as being good but this is a new bottom. J/e’s chicken rice was also regrettable.  All part of the learning-curve I guess. The idea is to eat up good before you get to the airport and then bring wholesome munchies for mid-flight — except their rule is you’re not allowed to bring food or beverages (everyone’s saying F&B these days) on board, but how are they going to know if you bend down, stick your head in your backpack and munch away like a horse on chaff. A horse bag.

There’s no screens anywhere, not even a standard one at the front of the section on the wall showing where the plane is in geographical space. I kind of missed that graphic. But really it’s a clever idea. Those back-of-the-headrest things are looking mighty dated now that everyone’s carrying their own tablet/phablet/smartphone around.

There’s no complimentary newspapers, blanket, pillow, there’s no free drinking water (gulp!), the only coffee available is cheap instant stuff – 5 ringgits please, and when we got to KL A.A. have their own budget terminal where the plane just pulls up on the tarmac and you deplane down a set of steps like when the Beatles invaded America. Air Asia’s gone budget in areas that other airline’s wouldn’t think of changing, and it’s working for them. Apparently it’s the fastest growing airline in an era when airlines are going belly-up left, right and centre.