And now for the good stuff

It seems silly to go on holiday and only blog about the bad stuff. So here’s the good bits I haven’t mentioned yet.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_1145 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_1145″></a><br/>_at Tropical Spice Gardens_

Accommodation: In Kuala Lumpur we stayed at the *<a href=””>Classic Inn</a>* for a total of 6 or 7 nights. I definitely recommend it. The staff really make an effort to see that you’re happy. I actually stayed here two years ago too, but then I was in a single room. There was a slight misunderstanding on the first night when we got put in a musty-smelling twin-room with no window (avoid room 105 if possible) but once I kicked up a bit of a fuss (brought on by a distinct lack of sleep) we moved to a better room = ask for room 107; it’s a twin-room but you’re with your with your sweety you can just push the beds together. It’s got a window, is relatively quiet in that it’s down a separate hallway, but the window opens onto the front common area, so if the Inn is full then there will be people out there talking til late. That’s to be expected I guess, after all, it’s not a monastery. Also, the wireless node is on the ground floor so you get the best reception if you’re in the ground floor rooms (the rooms on the top floor don’t get any waves, I believe).

They give a free breakfast of coffee, (very grateful for that) fresh fruit, toast and Malaysian-style pancakes or cold noodles. They do laundry for a very reasonable rate and they’ll store luggage (again price is very reasonable) if you want to head off to other parts of the country. All the other features are on their website. The best thing about the place, I would say, is it’s location. It’s easy to get off to all the touristy places and all of the domestic stuff you might need (supermarket, reliable eateries) is literally just across the road.

*Penang* To be honest we really wanted to go to Langkawi Island but it was all booked up. Penang is a bit more urbanised, or to be more exact, _suburbanised_. There’s a ring road around Georgetown, the capital, that reminded me a bit of Melbourne or Sydney. Things are spread out across the island which mean you’ll be catching a lot of buses or taking taxis or renting a car. We stayed at the Hydro hotel, which, on the whole, was quite good. The room we stayed in was big, had a partial sea view, balcony and was quiet. They have a pool too, which is good because apparently the nearest beach, batu Ferringhi (not <a href=””>Ferengi</a>) was too polluted to swim in.

The best place we went to in Penang was <a href=””>Tropical Spice Garden</a> which had a whole bunch of spice and herb plants spread around some lovely little pathways. If, like me, plants don’t rock your boat then you might be more interested in the … _monkeys!_

<a href=”” title=”IMG_1113 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”374″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_1113″></a><br/>_I’d been waiting my whole damn life to see monkeys in the wild. Last week I did._

There’s a bunch of little (I don’t know what kind) monkeys up in the trees and if you’re lucky (like if you go in the morning) you’ll see one or two come down out of the canopy to a lower level to eat flowers. It wasn’t crowded at TSG and it’s a good way to get away from the main road and its traffic noise.

Also while there we had the best meal of the whole two weeks, at their connected restaurant, called Monkey Tree. It’s actually Thai food and due to the spice gardens, they use all their own fresh lemongrass etc.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_1128 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”500″ alt=”IMG_1128″></a><br/>_Mouthwatering!_

The sample relies mainly on the material object

One last little bit of bad news. We’ve been staying near Imbi, Times Square in KL and been eating inside the ginormous Times Square mall often. Tonight we went to a place (I think) called “Shabu-Shabu”, 4th floor West. Shabu-Shabu is my sweety’s favourite. However the place is infested with cockroaches! — No joke.  They started crawling all over the table as soon as the pots started to heat up. Normally that would’ve been enough to justify going apeshit for me but I’m trying to take it in an Indian, karma-like way. What happens will happen — most likely the place will get shut down.

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=”” title=”scarlet Ibis by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” 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=”” title=”incompetent tour guide boy by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” 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.

what IS ‘rock the casbah’ all about?

The people here are really nice. Yesterday I was walking around and a guy says hello and we chat a little. He says his sister is about to go work at paramatta hospital in sydney and asked me if I wanted to have lunch so he could ask me about australia. I declined, perhaps a regrettable decision but I was roaming, and frankly I was still a little suspicious of motive despite the vibe of the guy being genuine.

It’s a vastly big difference to Vietnam where pretty much everybody is trying to make an extra buck out of you. It’s almost non-existent here. I don’t know why that is – if it’s a byproduct of the more religious attitude, or if there’s some nasty laws against grifting that I don’t know about. I guess things aren’t as cheap as inn vietnam, but still a bit cheaper than korea.

Another situation was that I was in a line to get a monorail ticket out of a machine at a station. I pressed the buttons to get the ticket I want and waqs about to put the note in to pay but it said it wouldn’t take notes and I didn’t have enough coin to pay. They young guy behind me stepped up, dug into his pocket and gave me about 50cents worth of coins. I tried to give him the note I was going to use as compensation but he wouldn’t have it.

I am digging the muslamic architecture, and just notice that the petronas towers kind of look like minarets.

<a href=”” title=”IMG_4901 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”281″ alt=”IMG_4901″ /></a>

Everyone here speaks English quite well. I guess my preconception of the young women wearing the headscarves is that they would be taciturn and a little cool in their approach toward the whiteman, but it’s not the case at all. So I guess I can dig it apart from the thing I notice that there is no equivalent with men. Some of them wear little caps, but very few. When out in groups, the young guys couldn’t be picked apart from non-islamic guys, while the women have the scarf. And so, in order to equalise the situation, I propose that the guys wear <img src=”” />.

Also, I know it’s a thailand thing rather than a malay thing, but I saw a pic of the reclining Buddha on telly and I totally got it. Given the weather and everything. As a novice seeker on the path of slack as a way of being I think I have to get one of those reclining Buddha statues.