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  • Day97

    Day 97: Brunei to KL

    September 20, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Had a decent night's sleep, our hotel was extremely quiet as we seemed to be the only guests in the place! Downstairs for breakfast around 8:30 and there was a pair of girls at another table, so at least we knew we weren't alone! It's a very quiet hotel though; indeed the entire country is quiet.

    Our flight back to Malaysia wasn't until 3:30pm, so we organised a 1:30pm shuttle with the hotel and checked out, leaving our bags in the luggage room. The main thing we wanted to see this morning was the royal regalia museum, which was essentially a shrine to the sultan. Some detail and artefacts about his early life, lots of relics from his coronation in 1967, and then the rest of the museum was taken up with gifts he'd received from various world leaders.

    It was all very impressive but it's difficult to be too overawed by all this veneration of someone who hadn't accomplished much beyond being born into the right family. Although I guess he's been leader of Brunei for nearly 50 years and it's been stable, moderately prosperous and peaceful for the majority of that time. I don't know what kind of person he is but I guess that's something to be proud of at least.

    After finishing up with the museum we wandered back into the "CBD" in search of lunch. We followed a stream of office workers heading into a food court and and had some Bruneian food for lunch. I did note however that the food court was on level 2 of an eight storey building, and none of the floors above us were accessible or in use.

    As we wandered around downtown after lunch, it struck me that there seemed to be very little investment or new development going on. A lot of the buildings had an early 90s but unmaintained heritage look to them. I think Brunei's economy was hit pretty hard in the mid-90s Asian economic crisis and took a long time to recover. And since the majority of their money is in oil, and the oil price has been plunging for years....

    Fast running out of time, we walked back to our hotel and arrived precisely at 1:30pm. We drove to the airport just as another deluge started, thankfully the departures unloading area was under shelter! We were very early for the flight so checked in and sat around for an hour leeching airport wifi and munching on snacks to spend our Brunei coins. Once we decided to head for the gate we set a new record for airport progress - no queue at emigration and no queue at security screening, and no duty free store since it's a dry country meant that we were at the gate within 2 minutes of leaving our seats near the check-in desk. For an actual airport, that's amazing.

    Had a slight dispute with AirAsia ground staff who insisted that I wasn't allowed to take two bags onto the flight. Even though women are allowed a carry-on bag and a handbag (and all of the women near us had comically large handbags, some even nearly the size of their carry-on bag), my small laptop bag was Against The Rules. I'd just seen them force another man to check one of his bags (admittedly much larger than mine) and it cost him $100, so I was ready for a serious fight. But I insisted politely that I was allowed a carry-on bag and a laptop bag, and eventually they relented (it's true for some low-cost carriers but not others, I'm not sure about AirAsia). Amazing that this is our 11th flight with AirAsia in 3 months and it's the first time they've even checked the weight.

    And with that it was so long Brunei. It's an interesting little place and I'm glad we came - I even think we spent about the right amount of time, clocking in around 36 hours! Longer than that and I think we would've been struggling for things to do unless we started doing jungle tours, and we had plenty of that in nearby Sarawak.

    The flight was quite bumpy as afternoon flights in the tropics tend to be, and we arrived in KL pretty much on time despite leaving late. Only thing of note was that the lady in the seat behind me was mashing on a mechanical counter, making a constant clicking sound. After a couple of minutes I turned around and glared and the noise stopped. I felt bad but holy shit that sound drives me up the wall.

    Not to report from our first evening in KL - we got a taxi for the long ride into the city and settled into our small but arty room. Dinner at a local Muslim restaurant of tandoori chicken, naan and briyani rice. Had a quick look around Berjaya Times Square shopping mall, but got cut short as the shops were closing - 10pm!
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    Joel Baldwin

    Royal Regalia Museum

    Joel Baldwin

    Old buildings in Brunei

  • Day99

    Day 99: Sleeping

    September 22, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    After getting to bed at 4am that morning, we had nothing planned for today and we definitely delivered on that. We first woke up at 9am when our breakfast was delivered (this hotel doesn't have a restaurant, but breakfast gets delivered to your room), so I grabbed our food and immediately went straight back to sleep. Shandos ate hers, but I don't know when as I slept until about 11:30.

    Woke up, ate a bit of my breakfast (spicy mi goreng, so I didn't have much!) and then stuffed around on the internet for a few hours. Shandos decided to head out shopping so she left early afternoon, while I went out to the nearby Muslim restaurant hoping for a naan or something to tide me over until dinner. Unfortunately they don't do naan or any of the other flatbreads until after 6pm, so I ended up just picking something at random which turned out to be an enormous plate of tandoori chicken, briyani rice, hardboiled eggs and pickled cabbage. So much for a small bite to eat!

    We spent the rest of the afternoon dozing and relaxing in the room, and headed out to Bukit Bintang for dinner & drinks around 6:30. This is the bar area where we'd stayed during our 2015 trip to KL. Had a couple of pints at a random bar (there's a 100m stretch with probably 30 bars to choose from), then walked over to Jalan Alor for some street food dinner. Shandos had a garlic pork stir fry and I just had some satay chicken skewers as I was still stuffed full from my huge late lunch.

    After dinner we wandered around the nearby shopping malls which were of course all still open and very busy. Bought a pair of shorts at Uniqlo, though skipped on buying any new shirts since they only stock Asian sizes that don't fit me.

    Back to the hotel around 10pm; check-out tomorrow and I think we'll be heading north to check out the northern peninsula area of Malaysia - some nice hills and mountains apparently!
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  • Day40


    May 20, 2017 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    Nach der Heli Lounge Bar waren wir noch im Nachtleben von Kuala Lumpur unterwegs. Zunächst zwei gemütliche Bars direkt im Stadtzentrum, dann per Uber in eine kleine, zweckmäßig gebaute Party-"Meile" von Kuala Lumpur - Taste, Relish Experience, Celebrate.
    Hier sind wir frei nach Laune von Club zu Club, von Bar zu Bar.
    Dabei ist uns aufgefallen, dass das etwas ist, was in Singapur teilweise etwas fehlt: einfach mal von Bar zu Bar gehen und Getränke bestellen, ohne dabei fast schon ein schlechtes Gewissen zu bekommen, wenn man schon wieder einige S$ für ein Bier auf den Tisch legt. Dies ist in der teuersten Stadt der Welt ohne irgendwelche Promotions, Sonderangebote oder sonstige Specials auf diese Weise leider nicht so einfach möglich. Daher haben wir das umso mehr genossen! (Was natürlich nicht heißen soll, dass man in Singapur nicht doch auch mit der Zeit gute Möglichkeiten und Bars mit ganz "humanen" Preisen findet.)

    Nach Tapas spät in der Nacht ging es zurück in unser "Birdnest".

    PS: Überlassen wir das Tapas dann doch lieber den Spaniern ;-)
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  • Day59

    Kuala Lumpur

    December 3, 2016 in Malaysia ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    In keiner anderen Stadt, die wir auf unserer bisherigen Reise besucht haben, war ein so krasser Gegensatz zwischen purem Luxus und bitterer Armut zu erkennen wie in Kuala Lumpur. Zum einen gibt es luxuriöse Einkaufszentren - in einem ist sogar ein ganzer Themenpark inkl. Achterbahn zu finden - und moderne Szeneviertel, in denen es sich die Oberklasse und Geschäftsleute gemütlich machen. Zum anderen sieht man viele perspektivlose Menschen, die obdachlos sind und betteln müssen. Auffällig war zudem wie wir von etlichen Bewohnern "begafft" wurden.
    Die Stadt bietet mit dem Menara Fernsehturm und den Petronas Towers ("Twin Towers" genannt) zwei Sehenswürdigkeiten, von denen aus man einen tollen Blick auf die Stadt hat. Der Anblick der Twin Towers bei Nacht ist einfach gigantisch!!!:) Außerdem gibt es eine hübsche Altstadt, die noch aus der Kolonialzeit besteht. Ein kleiner Stadtteil wird zudem als Little India bezeichnet - keine weiteren Erläuterungen nötig...;)
    2,5 Tage reichten uns aus, um die Stadt zu erkunden und die wichtigsten Sehenswürdigkeiten zu sehen.
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    Jan und Madita


    Jan und Madita

    Menara Fernsehturm

    Jan und Madita

    Sultan Abdul Samad Building am Merdeka Square

    Jan und Madita

    Little India


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