Kuala Lumpur - 19-22/04/15

From the balcony - KL is an overwhelmingly modern city, but with just one world-famous building, the Petronas Towers.

After the mammoth page on Cambodia, this one will be short and sweet - just two days in Malaysia, and no big stories to cover!

Our journey from Phnom Penh to Kuala Lumpur took two days; we overnighted in a hotel near the airport in Bangkok (cheap and cheerful!), then flew via Singapore to KL next day.  By the end of the journey we had walked miles - Bangkok, Changi and KL airports are all enormous, and all seem to take delight in making you walk the maximum distance, both when you embark and disembark!  We arrived quite late in KL and were mightily relieved to see Don Daniels and his partner, Kelvin, waiting for us.  We hadn't realised that the airport is 62km from the city, so it was especially generous of them to come and we were very grateful!

Don was the headmaster of Goroka High School when we lived there and has since set up Port Moresby Grammar School, which provides an international standard of education from Prep to Grade 12.  He retired from "active service" some years ago, but is still heavily involved, both financially and practically.  We were originally going to stay with him in Bangkok, but last year's upheavals there wearied him and he has moved to KL, where he and Kelvin live in a city centre apartment thirty storeys up, with floor to ceiling glass walls in living room, bedroom and bathroom.  Imagine Martin's excitement!  The view from the shower is the favourite - straight out to the iconic Petronus Towers - see the day and night shots from the bathroom!  Don and Kelvin gave us such a warm welcome and looked after us brilliantly for the two days we spent in KL.

They took us to lunch at the KL Tower (also on view from their windows), where the vistas from the revolving restaurant show you everything you need to know in the city.  Kelvin is Chinese Malaysian and proved an excellent guide, pointing out all the important buildings and answering all our questions.  Apart from the Petronus Towers, there are no other outstanding modern buildings, but the afternoon tour in their car took us to the colonial centre, where the remaining buildings really are beautiful.  Soon after that, the traffic build-up forced us home for a siesta, until it was time to go out again, to Jalan Alor, the aptly named "Food Street". The whole street is outdoor restaurants and food stalls, mainly Chinese, and once again, Kelvin was the perfect host, choosing an array of dishes that hit the spot very nicely indeed.  Nothing like the food from the Totnes takeaway!

The next day, Don took us out walking and we were even  more impressed with how much KL has developed since we were last there in the early 1980s.  Our main recollection from that visit is of a scruffy city with appalling pavements. Now, there are smart new buildings everywhere and while there may be scruffy areas, the city centre is tidy and well maintained - and very easy to walk around.  In fact, between the huge Petronus shopping centre and another - equally huge - there is an air-conditioned walkway a kilometre long.  We strolled past all the high-end fashion stores looking for a pharmacy to stock up on shampoo, etc, then had lunch in the food court, before an afternoon trip from one end of the monorail system to the other, checking the layout of the railway station for the next day's journey.  Simple pleasures!

Next morning, after Don had cooked us a delightful evening meal, it was time to head south to Singapore - this time by train.  We didn't quite know what to expect on this train, but I think I had at least expected it to be busy, but as far as we could see, only the first class carriage had any passengers at all - and it wasn't full.  It was a comfortable journey, with the obligatory complimentary water and snacks, but we got a bit of a shock when the train came to an abrupt and unannounced halt on the Malaysian side of the Johore Strait.  We had to get off with all our luggage (we bought an extra case in KL!), to go through immigration and customs.  Then we had to get back on, cross the causeway, and do it all over again in Singapore!  Martin had been fast asleep when the train stopped, so was in a complete daze for most of these formalities.  However, we emerged from the station and there was Midori to meet us!

Lunch on top of the KL Tower.

Looking down on Don and Kelvin's block from the KL Tower. We stayed on the 30th floor - the one just below the broad white band. The dark vertical stripe is our bathroom and shower!

Parking was on the 6th floor!

With Don and Kelvin in Jalan Alor.

The fish course before ............

... and after! A delicious meal, thanks to Kelvin's guidance and local knowledge.

Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), KL. Sultan Abdul Samad Building, built 1894-97 by the British in the Mughal style - still government offices, but in colonial days housed the High Court of Malaya. In the centre is the KL tower where we had lunch - 421m (1,381ft) tall communications mast.

The other side of Independence Square - the Royal Selangor Club 1884, overlooked by KL 2015.

Interesting sign in a country where haggling is common!

Just by way of a change - a view of the Petronas Towers by day, taken from our shower ....

... and by night. This shot was taken by Martin - hence further from the window!