Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kuala Lumpua or KL for those in the know

KL Skyline

First let me say, we are not use to the discipline required to keep up a blog as we travel. Plus adding photos is somehow a mystical thing that either works or doesn't, and for the moment it is a bit challenging.  We are now in Kuching (on the island of Borneo) and have a very busy schedule of tours for the next few day.  So, for now, the plan is to initially post photo free and then later add photos as get free moments. (Photos added while in Singapore a week later.)

Fountain in Little India
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
Dragon Boat at History Museum

We started our visit of KL with KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour.  Stops included Chinatown (market & food stalls), Little India (food stalls), Central Market / kasturi Walk (crafts, food), and Ain Arabia/Arab Street (food).  Touring stops included the National Museum (ethnic and natural history), Lake Garden (huge aviary, orchid garden, butterfly garden), with photo stops at the National Palace & Medara Square.

The next day, recouping from a long day of making the most of the KL Hop-On Hop-Off bus yesterday, we took a morning off.  When we finally went out, we decided to check out the Pavilion Shopping Center with it's 450 outlets…a short walk from our hotel, once we discovered the right route, in the trendy Bukit Bintang district. We went to explore but then Pat realized this might be the place to check into buying a suitcase.  

We know that it seems odd to buy a suitcase when you are well into a trip… Actually we'd already bought two while in CA.  Here's the lesson.  If you buy two sets of suitcases at the same time, and then travel together sharing suitcases (with clothes for both of you in each bag in case one gets lost or delayed, which has happened too often), then when one piece dies, it won't be long before the others do.  In our case, the wheels on Pat's carry-on died on our previous trip.  So we planned to replace that in California.  Then upon arrival in CA, we discovered the seemingly sturdy hand hold on Pat's bag had been broken.  Two new Eagle Creek bags latter we were off to HK.  Enroute to KL, the wheels on Bill's bag died.  

We work our suitcases hard, nearly always at the 50 pound limit, so we need something sturdy and, in this day & age of airline fees for everything, we prefer lightweight.  We've seen many cheap sources of luggage  but we were hesitant to buy from just any street side vendor. So we headed to the flagship store of the Malaysian based Parkson Department Store, where we discovered they were in the midst of a special luggage event. With our third new bag in-hand, we wonder, will they all die at the same time again?  As long as it is many great trips away, who cares?

The Petronus Twin Towers are "The" landmark of KL. Daytime views are impressive but nighttime views are spectacular. Somehow they just gleam like diamonds.  And getting close to them, from what we consider the heart of town (Bukit Bintang), couldn't be easier. Having spent the day struggling with a hard-to-read map, we thought we were finally up to the "cross-town" expedition to KLCC (KL City Centre) as the surrounding area is called.  We started out, dealt with the 3 street crossings to get to the nearby Pavilion Area crossing and then, Voila! There we were facing the stairs to an elevated, air conditioned walkway with signs for KLCC.  Within 10 minutes we were there.

Yes, that air conditioned walkway was much appreciated.  The year round max temperature in KL hovers around 30-33C (86-92F). And the humidity?  Let's just say that is high as well. Touring in the AM and evening are recommended.  Or using air conditioned walkways! 

Petronus Tpwers from Traders Hotel Sky Bar
Petronus Towers from the Base

Looking up at the towers from the base is awesome.  But we really wanted to get close to view the Lake Symphony. This is a 10,000 square meter man made lake with water fountains. The main fountain can shoot water up to a height of 42 meters. The water features occur every day (usually) at noon and in the evenings.  We imagined they are similar to those at the Bellagio in Las Vegas… a delight to watch.  Guess what? We continue to imagine because as of March 1 until June, they are under renovation!  

Food?  Yep, we're still eating.  We confess to succumbing to eating Italian a couple times.  We found a too appealing restaurant (Spasso Milano) on the 6th floor of the Pavilion. Pat's pasta (strozzapreti with mushrooms and crispy braesola) was up there with the amazing risotto with mixed mushrooms she had a year ago at Iguazu Falls.  Basically, she was in heaven.  OK, we admit, we even returned to Spasso Milaon of lunch (pizza with arugula & proscuitto) but the other big food find was, ta da, "white coffee".  Now that does not reach out and grab either of us.  But we were in the mood for cappuccino, but it wasn't to be.  White coffee was recommended.  Based on the waitress's recommendation, we succumbed. Instead of basic American coffee with lots of milk or cream, this turns out to be a local delicacy...coffee beans are roasted with palm-oil margarine, and the resulting coffee is served with condensed milk.  If you didn't know better you might think it was a cappuccino but with some subtle interesting spice.  

Strozzapreti & 3 Kinds of Mushrooms
Want a coconut with that meal?
White Coffee

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