Thursday, February 18, 2010
Mentos and Mirinda
We are writing you from our posh hotel in Kuala Lumpur (KL)....it is quite the fancy establishment. Hot water. Cold Water. Electricity all day and all night. There are phones, actual showers, pillows, towels and its built on an actual road and there are cars here and all. Quite the town let us tell you. We last left you after our valentine's day/chinese new year evening....
The next morning we checked out of our hotel and hung around Langkawi waiting for the overnight bus to KL. We didn't want to beach it all day because we figured we would be hot and sandy all night on the bus. We walked around and ended up trying out the aquarium in town because it was cheap, had air-con, and could kill an hour or so. It was pretty cool just seeing all the names and habitats of all the sea creatures and fish that we had been seeing snorkling. We also must confess that the pictures on the post below are from the aquarium and not a snorkeling trip- we wanted to play a little joke on you all but Bridget and AP caught on!!
We got to picked up and taken to the pier for the ferry at 530. We were the 7pm ferry to the mainland...arriving at 8pm for our 945 bus departure. We thought all that extra time seemed crazy but we went along with the plan the travel agent set up for us...and its a good thing. We got to the pier at about 615 or so. And it was an airport style terminal with thousands of people packing in all just sitting there. We followed the signs to where our ferry would be departing from and decided why wait inside when you can just walk up to the boats. Then we realized all the people were waiting because there were guards who did not let you out onto the ferry boarding area until the proper time...just as we were getting sent back to wait with the masses we smiled pretty and were granted permission to wait on the concrete pier. Every so often the doors would open and people would flood out for about 10 mintues stright..so many people. Each time we ran up to a worker and showed our tickets and asked where our boat was...they kept telling us to "wait wait" and they would let us know when it was time. Those "we will let you know when its time" turned into "I don't knows" and vauge points in the opposite direction. (even the guy with the megaphone didn't know!) Finally with about 5 mintues before our scheduled departure, we were able to corner a worker and although he first told us to "wait wait" but then said that it was coming into the pier at the opposite side of the terminal. We asked three more workers just to cover our bases and we only got vague nods each time but we figured we should hustle somewhere and try to do something as to not miss the last ferry off the island. With Caitlin pushing our bags on a cart and Kate walking out in front trying to move people out of the way...we weeded through one of those walls of poeple walking onto the piers...against the stream we fought and make it back into the terminal. We asked everyone where our boat was and no one seemed to know. At about 710 we finally got a little cross with some guy behind a desk and he told us where the boat was...it was crazy and hectic. But the boat pulled off at about 740 after the other 200 people on the ferry found the boat..with all our stress we were still one of the first on it! It was one of those moments where you may or may not be the last team in the Amazing Race and can't find the boat moments.
We got to the mainland, got some takeout dinner, and made it to the bus station with 20 minutes to spare...so much for all that time we thought we would have to change out of our bathing suits and eat and take our time. The overnight bus had lots of leg and hip room with reclining seats...and we made it to KL at about 6AM. After the cockroach situation we booked a fancy hotel online to just be able to chill out for a night and relax and do absolutely nothing. SOOOO we rolled into our hotel 6 hours before check in-just time wearing bathsuits and coverups with cardigans over it lugging our backpacks and plethora of carry-ons looking quite the sight. On the bus we each had our plaid cambodian scarfs out and were using elephant printed sarongs as blankets...wish we took a picture of our hot mess-ness! We must have looked pathetic because they gave us a room right away...prob to get us out of the lobby not wanting the other guests to see the rifraff checking in. Our hotel room is glorious...plush pillows and great water pressure...have you all seen our cribs tour(probably not because the video is taking forever to load)??
We napped and ordered room service breakfast and showered and headed out into the city for a little...we left the room for about 3 hours. 2 hours was spent at the markets and one was spent getting something to eat. SHOCKER!! Once again we failed the budget backpacker test because we decided to buy little rolling duffel bags to ease our transport woes. The backpacks aren't the problem...it is our heavy heavy carry-ons with all of the electronics and books and acutromonts that make things cranky. So with our new rolly bags we can just carry our backpacks and pull the rest and not be weighed down with carry bags and across the shoulder bags and whatnot...i mean we are traveling with pool floats here people!!
We promtly returned to our room and watched movies and got pizza delivered and caught up on school work and facebook and did some laundry and relaxed. It was beautiful. We woke up this morning to a bit of construction outside our room--but no cockroaches and still good water pressure so we didn't complain. Eventually we got dressed, then headed out into the city to see the Petronas towers and get something to eat (we found bagels and cream cheese). Unfortunatly all of the tickets to go up to the skybridge in the Petronas Towers were already all given away, but the building were cool to look at from the outside anyway. After the towers we headed back to our comfy beds with the nice pillows and the water pressure and the electricity. We are pretty sure heaven has to be a little something like this.
After some more lounging around we went up to the 33rd floor of our hotel to check out the rooftop pool. Not gonna lie it was a pretty sweet pool!! The pool had a cool waterfall thing in it and there were comfy sunbeds all around it to just lay on while you took in the awesome 360 view of the city. We did a bit of triathlon training in the pool (two laps) and then headed back to our room to get changed and get some food. We have been craving sushi so we found a cute sushi bar right by our hotel and had a yummy shabu shabu and sushi meal. Shabu Shabu is kind of like japaanese fondue- you cook veggies, meats and noodles in a big pot of broth. We ate A LOT!! We headed back to our luxurious hotel room and did some more lounging around- I mean we really were just trying to get our moneys worth for the room. We filmed a cribs style video blog of our room to show you all- but we are having some downloading issues so keep your fingers crossed there too
Later that night we headed back up to the rooftop pool which turns into a very swanky bar at night. We didnt realize how swanky it was a were a bit underdressed! (we must have walked right by the no flip flops or shorts or tanktop sign on the way in) They tried to sit us at a bad table with no views but we pulled the "we are hotel guests" card and got a VIP table with a great view of the Petronus towers at night. Now we admit we were a bit underdressed for this bar but we were not underprepared- we made sure to bring up a water bottle full of vodka to spike our sodas at the bar. And boy are we glad we did becasue these people charged 34MR which is about $10US for 2 sprites- ridonkulous!! After classing it up for a bit we went and got some Dominos takeout for dinner. We spent the rest of the night washing our shells which have started to smell, taking one last shower with great water pressure and watching Mamma Mia.
We interrupt this blog with a commerical for our 2 favorite Southeast Asian past-times. Mirinda and Fruit Mentos. We can not get enough of these things over here. Mirinda, for those of you who dont know, is this amazingly fabulous orange soda. Fanta and Sunkist have nothing on this drink!! Fruit Mentos are another favorite. I know we have these at home but we have been Mentos crazy over here- especially the orange ones!!
Ok back to the blog- So we left KL bright and early this morning to take a bus to the Cameron Highlands. It took us about 4 hours to get here and it was really cool driving out of the city and into the lush green mountains. The scenery is a welcome change from all of the cities and beaches we have been seeing recently. The Highlands are a big spot for trekking but as we are only here for less than a day we didnt have time to do a full trek.We had really wanted to go see the Rafflesia Monster Flower- the biggest flower in the world which is in bloom here only in january and February but you have to take a morning trek to find them and our timing did not allow for that. Instead we hired a taxi to bring us to a tea plantation and a strawberry farm. Our first stop was the strawberry farm. Strawberries are a big deal here!! The farm was pretty cool because everything there is grown hydroponically- in elevated pots out of the soil. Our taxi driver who doubles as a farmer told us that growning them this way keeps the fruit cleaner and allows it to grow bigger. Strawberries are grown year round here- AJ you would love it! Next we went to the biggest tea plantation in Malaysia. The plantation was huge and so lush and green. It was so pretty! Our driver walked us out to the tea bushes and told us all about growing tea and how to pick the leaves. It was very interesting to listen to all of his knowledge. It turns out he knew all of this information becasue his parents moved to Malaysia from India in 1905 and began working at the plantation during its first planting. He explained to us that tea is so big in Malaysia because of the knowledge all of the Indian immigrants brought with them when they came here to work. after the plantation he even brought us to a little tea shop and bought us a cup of chai. Then as an added bonus he brought us to a honey bee farm. Our driver spoke immpecable english and in addition to all of his knowledge about Chinese herbal medicines and farming we also chatted about how Americans and Indians scrambled eggs and how the Chinese New year traffic is very similar to our version of shore traffic.
In the Highlands the food is predominatly Chinese or Indian. (Mayalasia is a crazy mix of ethnic groups, there are maylays, Muslims, and chinese and Indians all getting along peacefully...we are going to investigate this more cause the direversity is facinating here) So for lunch we had a Chinese Lovers Steamboat which is pretty much the same thing as the shabo, meats, veggies and noodles cooked in broth. There was so much food!! During our taxi tour our driver asked us if we had tried indian and when we told him we were going to have it for dinner he gave us tips on what to try. So when dinner time came we headed to the local indian restautant and had a tandori platter with yummy chicken and a banana leaf platter with chicken and pumpkin and potatoes and rice with lots of deliciosu naan on the side- and of course a beer to wash it all down with. And get this- remember those 2 sprites at the rooftop bar that cost us 34MR well our entire Indian dinner with beers only cost us 30MR!!!
Since we are budget travelers we decided to do a bit of food shopping before we head to the lovely timeshare provided to us by the Yanez family. We stocked up on all the necessities including 5 packs of Mentos (sadly no Mirinda). Tomorrow morning we leave the Highlands bright and early and head to Lumut to spend a week at another fancy hotel!! Thanks Mrs.Yanez!!!!!
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