Aug 30, 2007
Days Off to Malaysia
Gwen Stefani, one of my favorite artists (I adore her mostly for her music as a solo artist and as a band vocalist) was touring in Asia, but of course, like many other world artists, she didn’t have Indonesia as one of the countries to hold the show at. Being a fan (but not a fanatic) and needing a vacation so badly, I decided quite impulsively to go see the concert in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and might as well have a couple of days vacation there... :)
Fiscal = Rp 1.000.000,00 (geez)
Return plane ticket, booked via their website = Rp 929.000,00 (we booked for the cheapest hours)
At the time of our trip, RM 1 = Rp 2.720,00 and USD 1 = RM 3.44 ... more or less.
DAY 1 – Saturday, August 18, 2007
Departure : 6:25 AM (my eyes were hardly open), from the Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Terminal 2.
Arrival : 2 hours later. Note that Malaysia time is an hour ahead of west Indonesia time, so we got there at 9:25 AM Mal.
Airport – KL
My friend Sas, who’s lived in KL 4 years, was supposed to pick us up at the airport. But too bad 9:25 AM turned out to be too early for him (haha), plus he had to have his car fixed until afternoon. So Fenia and I took our time in the airport. We also took some KL maps and leaflets near the Information Center.
AirAsia lands in LCCT (Low Cost Carrier Terminal) airport, in the KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) complex. There are choices of buses that can take you from there directly to the city of KL, most recommended is … oh geez I forgot the name, which charges only RM 9 (that’s about Rp 24.480,00 for those of you who are too lazy to count :P )
But.. being a curious cat that I was, I insisted on checking out the highly talked-about airport, KLIA. Rumor has it that it’s got a very sophisticated futuristic design & architecture. So we hopped on a bus called Airport Coach (I think), a simple green bus, that only charged RM 1,5 (Rp 4.080,00) for a 20-minute ride from LCCT to KLIA.
KLIA was actually not as sophisticated as I thought, but maybe that’s because I only saw a half part of it. It’s said that the cool part is the inner part of the airport, so you can’t see it if you’re not realy flying from there. I dunno.
To get to anywhere in KL, you have to take a train or bus to the KL Sentral first. You could take the KLIA Express train (30 minutes ride) : RM 35, or the one we chose, the bus called Airport Coach, charged RM 10 for 1 hour trip to KL Sentral. If you’re in a rush on the weekdays, you might wanna spare more time for the ride because there might be traffic jams (not as bad the ones you’d have in Jakarta, though). Just look for the bus terminal in the airport. If confused, just go to the information center. I think there were other options of buses as well.
It’s a big big terminial building with numbers of train lines & buses departing and arriving. Very busy atmosphere, complete with knickknack shops, fast food restaurants (KFC, McDonald’s), mobile shops, etc.
The first thing that we looked for was lunch. We didn’t wanna have those familiar junk foods as our first taste in the country, so we ate at the only Malay restaurant we could see (in the 2nd floor, next to McDonald’s). I had Nasi Ayam Rendang (Rendang Chicken Rice). It was only about RM 6, and the bottled mineral water was RM 1.50, which was about 60 cents more expensive than the one with same brand sold in other places.
We also bought local mobile number from DiGi there, next to McDonald’s. RM 8.50 for a new number including RM 5 credit. A single SMS to local number costs 10 c, to international number costs 50 c. That’s according to the shop guy, I never really checked.
RM 6 = Rp 16.320,00
RM 1.50 = Rp 4.080,00
RM 8.50 = Rp 23.120,00
50 cents = Rp 1.350,00.
From KL Sentral, we took the Monorail to the hotel that I’ve booked via internet weeks prior to our departure, it’s called Tune Hotel.
Where We Stayed
It’s called Tune Hotel, located on Jl. Tuanku Abdul Rahman (intersection with Jl. Sultan Ismail).
10 minutes walk to Monorail Station Medan Tuanku @ Jl. Sultan Ismail,
7 minutes walk to LRT Station Sultan Ismail @ Jl. Sultan Ismail;
(it’s between the two stations, and yes Jl. Sultan Ismail is a very long road).
Room rate gets more expensive when you book closer to the D Day (just like AirAsia booking system; they’re affiliated with each other, I guess).
Our room rate for a double room (2 persons / room only) for 3 nights (18 – 22 August 07) + 10 hrs of air conditioning per day = RM 227 = Rp 617.440,00 (RM 1 = Rp 2.720,00). So the total was Rp 308.720,00.
(AC price stays the same whenever you book; RM 5 / 5 hrs or RM 10 / 10 hrs. Ceiling fan you can use for free.)
It provides very minimum of free facilities. We brought our own soaps, shampoos, towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and bottled water because we didn’t wanna spend money on them there. But if you refuse the hassle, everything is on sale in the mini market on the lower ground with sensible prices.
Since the hotel doesn’t serve breakfast, it could be a nice option to munch and sip a cup-a-coffee. Round tables and chairs are also placed just outside the entrance, convenient for those who like to hangout ‘til AM and just chit chat or play cards, etc.
Giant superstore is just across the street, on the basement of Maju Junction. There in the junction you can also find KFC, Kyros Kebab, Pizza Hut, get your local mobile number and top-up credits, even shop for clothes, etc.
Kopitiam, a very widely known coffeeshop, is just in front of the reception desk.
Asian Heritage Row
After meeting Sas (an old friend of mine) at the hotel’s coffee shop, we three went to the Asian Heritage Row by his car. Actually it’s only a couple of blocks away from the hotel, but we had to save energy for the next few days, right?
The row is of cafes, restaurants, and bars with choices of Asian delights. We had our afternoon meal in a Malay restaurant.
Having our tummies stuffed, we went for a drive to Dataran Merdeka. This is where the whole Kuala Lumpur used to be, this little area. It’s like the alun-alun, the center square of the city. It’s got beautiful old buildings, and it’s the meeting point of two rivers with mud (that’s where the name Kuala Lumpur was originated; Kuala = meeting point, Lumpur = mud).
Less than 10 minutes walk from Dataran Merdeka was Central Market, that’s where you could find collections of cheap gifts, varying from clothes, purses, t-shirts, fridge magnets, keychains, etc, in specific Indian, Malay, Chinese, even Indonesian motifs (yup, lotsa Indonesian batik there). Sas told us the prices were as cheap as the ones in the Petalling Street (Chinatown) with less hassle.
SS 2 Petaling Jaya is a Chinese neighborhood, but it’s got a good Indian restaurant called Restoran Nasi Kayu Kandar. It was so nice to eat outdoor at night and not having to worry about the polluted air whatsoever. And the food was good, too. Fenia had canai bread with chicken curry or something, Sas had.. (I forgot), and I only had some refreshments. Sorry, I forgot what they were, what they’re made of, and how much they cost.
Then we headed to Petaling Jaya to see the start of fireworks festival in celebration of Malaysia’s independence day. Too bad it was already too late, so we just went there for sightseeing, for the area was beautifully designed and built. It was one of Malaysia’s huge projects, building a town specially for government offices, with artificial lakes and mega bridges.
DAY 2 – Sunday, August 19, 2007
On the way to Penang, way north from Kuala Lumpur, we stopped by at the tallest fall in Malaysia called Lata Kinjang, located in the Perak Province.
Penang is an island and province in the west coast of Malaysia. It’s divided in two areas; one is on the main land, the rest is on the Penang Island itself, where the capitol, Georgetown, is also located. We headed for Georgetown, 3 hours drive from KL, passing through highways and the 15 minutes drive on the bridge connectiong Penang island and the main land.
The city looked so quiet, not many people scattered, shops were mostly closed. We guessed that was because it was Sunday, lazy time for everyone at home. But we might be wrong.
Our first stop was a food court by the beach. I had the famous Penang Laksa, quite good. Sas told us that there are 2 kinds of laksa, the famous dish from Malaysia, they were from Penang and Johor. The difference is the spice / juice, whereas the Johor one usually has more coconut-milk in it. Gosh, I’m awful at describing food ingredients, aren’t I? :P
Sas had char kway teow, while Fenia had.. I think it was chicken rice something.. We also added BBQ-ed oysters to munch on, dipped in peanut sauce.
If you go to this foodcourt, Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong, be prepared to be urged by mostly Indian men to buy food from their food stands. But don’t be intimidated, just tell them politely if you weren’t ready to order anything yet. Then you can look around the whole food court, choose your likings, then order. Oh, but don’t ask me how to get to this food court, I have no idea, all I know was we got there after going around and around in the city with quite many one-way streets.
After eating, the sky started to get cloudy. But it didn’t stop crows, which were easy to find on this island, from flying here and there around the beach and food court. Then when it started raining, we decided to find shelter in a place called… the Gurney Place.. it’s a mall..!! :P
It’s an ordinary mall, just like almost any other mall in the world. But what I loved about it was the piazza of coffee shops on one of the sides just across the beach. We had sips of coffee at Coffee Beans & Tea Leaves (1 mocha latte is RM 9.45 = Rp 25.704,00 incl tax) before finally went walking about 5 minutes to an outdoor food court for dinner.
I had vegetable soup (Sop Sayur) – originally veggies combined with beef as well, but I only asked for the veggies. Not long after we started eating, the rain poured quite heavily. Sitting under the canopy (is that what the umbrella thingy called?) didn’t help our backs from getting wet.
The rain didn’t stop ‘til after midnight. At about 10 PM we started our trip back to KL. Unfortunately, the right wiper of Sas’ car (the one right on the chauffer’s side) was broken, so we had to go very very slowly and be very careful. The 3-hr drive turned to be about 5-hr drive. We arrived at KL just soon before dawn..
DAY 3 – Monday, August 20, 2007
I’m not sure which one is the right name, whether it’s Malaka, Melaka, or Malacca. But they’re all the same. What got us interested in this town was the repute of having maintained its old classical Chinese and Portuguese buildings.
We started the day with a brunch at Kyros Kebab in the Maju Junction. Loved the combo of chicken and beef kebab.
Then when noon stroke, we hurried to the nearest LRT station called Sultan Ismail, took a ride to the Plaza Rakyat station, then walked about 5 minutes to Pudu Raya bus terminal. A very busy terminal, crowded with people, just be careful there.
We bought return ticket KL – Malaka – KL (KL – Malaka at 2 PM, Malaka – KL at 8 PM cos that’s the latest bus from there). It cost RM 18 / person / both ways. There were lots of options and we took the TransNasional bus because Sas suggested so. It went perfectly on time, and we mostly slept on the 2-hour trip between KL and Malaka. The ride wasn’t that comfy, though. The driver drove like mad.
Arrived at Malaka Sentral (their bus terminal) at 4 PM. Tried to negotiate taxi fare with the taxi drivers (not sure they all had official cabs), we ended up getting on a taxi across the street from the Sentral. We got a slightly cheaper deal, RM 13, to go to Jonker Street. I got the info about Jonker Street from the mailing list I’m listed in.
Problem was, we saw no “Jonker Street” signage where the driver had dropped us off. It was some other name of street. A little walk from our stop was the famous red church of Malaka. The plaza in front of it was packed with hawkers selling many kinds of gifts, tourists, and a person holding a big fat yellow snake around his neck as an eccentric attraction. We held off our want to shop for some cool gifts because we wanted to find where Jonker Street was. I was starving and I needed food badly, and I assumed I could find food on Jonker Street. We asked 2 -3 persons where the street was located, but somehow they got us to different direction. When finally we almost got it, there was an attractive big red Panorama Bus that takes anyone around the town’s supposedly interesting sites. So we hopped on, thinking it would be a rare and interesting chance to hop on that tour bus.
Some of the sites that the bus took us passing by: Dataran Pahlawan (restaurants, shops), Kampung Portugis (nothing really interesting, just common houses), Bukit China (the largest Chinese cemetery outside of mainland China; graves here go back to the late Ming dynasty, mid 17th century), Malacca State Library, Hospital Besar Melaka, Melaka Sentral, Plaza Hang Tuah, Hang Tuah Mall, Jonker Walk, etc.
There are 2 kinds of city tour bus, one is the one that we hopped on, the Panorama Bus (Blue Line) was very cheap, RM 2 for the whole route, and the whole day if you want to get on again later. The other is Double Decker Bus (Red Line), also red but it’s a 2-level bus, RM 5 for the whole day. If you had the Double Decker pass, you could as well hop on the Panorama bus anytime you want in the day.
The city tour was a pleasant experience, except for the fact that the whole ride would take more than 1 hour, while we didn’t actually have enough time. Worriedly, we got off at one of their stops, the Hang Tuah Mall. We thought maybe we could eat there as well. The mall turned out to be a disappointment. It was probably new and not much was going on in there. We tried Gloria Jeans nearby, but surely they didn’t serve real meal. Instead of waiting for another panorama bus that might and might not come in ½ hour, we decided to take the cab again to Jonker Street. The taxi fare cost RM 10, and this time we really got to right street.. thank God..
So, what is that street really about? Well, it has old pretty buildings, souvenir shops, restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere..somehow.
After having our delicious dinner, we shopped for some small gifts across the street. We had bought some souvenirs (keychains & fridge magnets) with “Malaka” writing at Central Market, KL, and we found the exact same ones here, only much cheaper.
Then, knowing we only had short time before our way back to KL, hurriedly we walked to the red church area. It was already so quiet, we hardly saw anyone walking down the sidewalks, and was starting to get dark. Hurriedly we shopped for some Malaka t-shirts (souvenirs were a lot better here than the ones in KL, but also good quality comes with high price, range RM 15 - RM 50 and up).
Shopping was done at 7.45 PM. The way back to Malaka Sentral would take at least 30 minutes. So I was pessimistic that we could still catch our bus back to KL. We took a cab again to the Sentral (RM 15, I think). Malaka after dark was so quiet and deserted, we were so relieved to finally get a cab. Even the shop owner was amazed that we, just 2 girls, were going back to KL so late at night.. (later Fenia and I joked about how she had no idea how early AM we would normally go home from work usually in Jakarta..hehe).
Our bus, having the reputation of always on-time, obviously had gone. So there went our RM 9. Fortunately, there was Triton bus that was going to KL at 8.45 PM. So we bought the ticket for RM 10. The bus came ½ hour late, but the ride was not as crazy as TransNasional. Hey, nothing is perfect, right? ;)
Hopped off just outside the Pudu Raya terminal, we crossed the street to a mini market that sold chocolate bars made originally in Malaysia. Then it took quite a long time to get us a cab that was willing to take us back to the hotel. It was 11.30 PM, so the LRT or Monorail was already done. Finish. Zero. Stopped. Terminated. Finally, RM 15 got us back to our peaceful hotel..
DAY 4 – Tuesday, August 21, 2007
- The twin Petronas Tower
- Gwen Stefani Concert
Somehow, the world fights for the number 1 place of having the tallest building in the world. I don’t see any point of that, but it got me to wanna have my picture taken on the Petronas bridge, in one of tallest tower/building in the world (used to be the numero uno). For that, one must get there very early in the morning (7 AM is early as hell, ain’t it?), take a queue for a ticket to pass in at appointed time. Well, having a habit of not waking up before 7 AM plus the fatigue after Malaka trip, I woke up to the alarm at 6.30 AM, turned it off, and went right back to sleep until 9 AM. Clever. Not.
So, we finally arrived at the KLCC tower at 10.30 AM. We would’ve got there a little earlier, but we first went to Hard Rock Café to do a little shopping at the merchandise store (HRC is at Sultan Ismail street, very close to Bukit Nanas Station). Unluckily, the store was still closed. They would be open at 11 AM. We didn’t wanna wait out there for like an hour, so from there, we walked about 10 minutes to a Putra station (Putra is another line of train system; I forgot what this station was called), and then got off 2 stops later at the KLCC station. (It turned out that from HRC to KLCC are only like 10 minutes walking).
From the KLCC station, we just had to walk through the basement tunnel shortly, then there was the famous Suria Mall, connected to the station and the Petronas towers.
A signage that said that the tickets to go up the Petronas Skybridge was standing annoyingly at the entrance of the towers. Too bad for Fenia because that was her last day in KL, while I still had another day. And why didn’t we go there the days before? No, not because we procrastinated, but because they don’t allow tourists on the skybridge on weekends and Mondays. Oh well, being a patient and un-bothered person that she was, Fenia took the failed plan lightly. Hey, after all it was a vacation, nothing should get in our way of being happy and joyful..!!! :D
Then what we did was having lunch at the mall, at the Madam Kwan’s restaurant, level 4. It was surely more expensive than our usual meals, but worth every penny. I had Nasi Bojari and Fenia had Mushroom Chicken Rice. Both were Y-U-M-M-Y..!! Total: RM 39.68 incl drinks and taxes.
IKEA warehouse is in the outskirts of KL and there’s no easy transportation to get there. We took the Putra Line to the very end of the route, which was Kelana Jaya. Got off, and then looked for the shuttle bus that would take us to IKEA, it’s called the IKANO shuttle bus, which doesn’t charge anything.
Too bad that the bus was only available at certain times (what I remembered were: 9, 10, & 11.30 AM, 1, 3, 5, etc PM). Since we got there at 2.15, we decided to just take a cab across the street where the shuttle bus would stop at, so that we wouldn’t waste the 45 minutes just for waiting for the bus. Why such in a hurry? Well, Fenia was flying back to Jakarta later that night.
Surprisingly, the cab was running its meter, unlike the ones we had gotten on. So it only cost us about RM 6 from Kelana Jaya to IKEA. It’s said that at busy hours the area might have traffic jam. Oh, and IKEA / IKANO is located at Damansara, Petaling Jaya.
Most of the stuff didn’t excite me anymore since they’ve only done a little changes in their collections. So I only bought stuff for my mom and sis.
Sas picked us up at the entrance door about 2,5 hours later. He was all neat like a working man would be. We went to Lia (my good friend Anto’s lil’ sis)’s office to pick up my Gwen Stefani ticket that she bought me weeks ago. Then we went back to the hotel, picking up our luggage at the reception (we had checked out in the morning and deposited our bags there – RM 1 per bag). Then Fenia took the KLIA Express Train from the KL Sentral; bye bye Fen. As for my bags were kept in Sas’ car’s trunk because from KL Sentral I directly headed to the concert in the Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil.
The concert should start at 8.30 PM. There was no direct train to Bukit Jalil station, so I had to take the KTM line first, got off at Tasik Selatan station, then took the Star Line directly to Bukit Jalil. Lots of foreigners, as in white people, were going the concert and took the same train as mine.
The concert kicked off at 9 PM with the “Sweet Escape” song, also the name of the concert tour. Stefani emitted charisma from the point she got on the stage.
Because the Moslem students union were against her way of dressing that’s said to be a bad influence for the Moslem easteners, Stefani agreed to cover up, so she did. But trendy and stylish she still was
The big hit “Wind It Up” was sang in the middle of the show, making everybody in the stadium stand up, danced, and just enjoyed the song. From then on, sitting down again was not an option to me :D
The show ended at about 10.30 PM. Sas picked me up across the Bukit Jalil station. It was only like 5 - 10 minutes walk from the stadium to the station. But the night was still so young, my friend. Sas and I went to get Lia at her flat, then up for a late supper at the Desa Sri Hartamas food court. It was an open-air eating place with bars nearby. I had char kway teow, didn’t taste that great. Maybe I should’ve chosen other kinds of food. And again, sauce-dipped oysters was our choice of dessert.
DAY 5 – Wednesday, August 22, 2007
- The Petronas Twin Towers
- Butterfly park
- Bukit Bintang
My last night in KL I stayed at Sas’ place at Damansara. Lucky there was an extram bedroom so no one had to sleep on the couch..haha. Early in the morning I packed my bags and then we went to KLCC tower. Got there at 8 AM, the line was already long.
Then the ticket box opened at 9AM, we got our turn to go up the skybridge at 9.30. From the line, we were guided to wait in the waiting room along with about 10 or 15 other people, where there were several interesting scientific stuff you could do, including an arch-like metal thingy where you stand under it, press a certain knob, then the thing calculates how many times the Petronas tower is taller than you. It’s 303 times taller than me.
From there, we were directed to enter a 3D theater room where they played us a short film about the twin tower itself. Not bad for killing time.Then came time to go up the 41st level, the skybridge. We were given 15 minutes on the bridge for sight seeing and taking pictures.
Our next stop was the butterfly park called Taman Rama-Rama (rama-rama means butterfly in Malay). I heard that it’s best to go there in the morning, like before 11 AM so that the butterflies would still be flying joyfully here and there. The admission fee was RM 17.
At noon, Sas had to go work, and I went on my little adventure in the Bukit Bintang street. Shopping adventure, that was :P There are a number of big malls there; The Lot 10 (mostly branded stuff), Sungei Wang (lotsa knickknacks), Bukit Bintang Plaza, and Low Yat (electronic stuff). I found Vincci store (the famous cheap ladies footwear) in the Sungei Wang, but didn’t purchase anything there. Oh and money changer was easy to find in this area.
At 3 PM it was time to start heading to KL Sentral. I met up with Sas there, he brought me my bags, said thanks and goodbye, then I set off to KLIA by KLIA Express. It was a very convenient 28-minute ride, on-schedule, and most of the ride I listened to Stereophonic’s “Have A Nice Day” song while my eyes were looking out the window at the green scenery, my mind wandered off to the past few happy days, and my heart was feeling a little bit sorry that I had to leave KL…
Next time I go back to Malaysia, I’ll make sure I’ll spend more time in Malaka and see what Langkawi Island has to offer. But in the meantime, I can say that this was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had…
* travel photos are courtesy of Sas, Fen, and me