Thursday, October 6, 2011

(Travelogue) Oriental Outings Day 16: A Day in Kuala Lumpur

March 16, 2011

After the Labour Day yesterday, it was impossible for me to wake up early this morning. Misha and Urooba also looked tired due to back to back journeys – first from Cameron Highlands down to Penang and then to Kuala Lumpur. It was two out of last three days that we had to travel from one city to another and the next day we had to move back to Colombo, making that three out of five.

A view from inside the city train
Two Lessons Learned
Spending a couple of nights at one place means you are spending – or wasting – much of your precious time on the road, or in the ‘thin’ air for that matter. Three nights are a bare minimum; especially if you are a family.

In short, we would have been better off spending all four nights either in Penang or in Kuala Lumpur or in Langkawi rather than packing/unpacking the luggage every other day.

Second lesson was about traveling light. Not that we were carrying the entire bedroom! Actually, the extra stuff – which we took not knowing if we find a laundry – kept irritating us throughout the whole trip. So the lighter the better! Lesson Learned!

Lahori Hospitality in Kuala Lumpur
Umair – our Couchsurfing host – and his wife belong to Lahore; which is not only famous for its history but also for the hospitality. And in Lahore, hospitality and food go hand in hand. Keeping up to the tradition, Umair’s wife prepared us a quite lavish breakfast, ignoring all our protest, and made sure that we got ‘stuffed till our necks’, as they say in Urdu. Now we are waiting for them in Karachi to take the revenge!

The Malay Hospitality
Sheherezad – a kind VTer – not only responded to my travel queries patiently while planning the trip but also invited us for lunch when we reached KL! Rather than ‘seeing’ another tourist sight we also decided to meet a local and have an ‘authentic’ experience.  So after the breakfast, we had to ‘rush’ to catch the lunch!

Sheherezad suggested us to first take LRT till Bangsar – past KL Sentral – and then the feeder bus to Mid Valley Megamall, where she was waiting for us, to save us from the interchanging hassle.

Buying LRT ticket

Train coming

Getting into the underground station
As a newbie, it was still challenging for us to cope up with the extensive KL public transport system. City’s mass transit is a combination of intra-city trains – which itself consists of multiple systems and owned by different companies – and buses. Intersections are not as easy as we found in Singapore, especially when it comes to transferring from one company’s train to another’s.

Bourne Tactics
It was after reaching Mid Valley that I realized that it is impossible to recognize somebody you are meeting the first time amid a busy crowd! So I dialed her cell number while keeping an eye, and an ear, who’s mobile rang first!!

The meeting was happening and revealing!

The humble sounding Malay traveler turned out to be a doctorate in genetics and a senior professor! Urooba was all impressed!

Food Again!
She showed us around one of the biggest shopping malls of KL before taking us to her favourite restaurant. The eatery was famous for Kelantanese food (Kelantan: an East Coast province of Malaysia famous for its natural beauty and Islamic jurisprudence).
Food in the making

A Kelantanese speciality

Lemon Grass

Sheherezad in good mood
Shopping Starts
We enjoyed the food – and listening to Sheherezad’s travel stories – which was rich in taste and colour. The lemon grass drink was also very refreshing; wish if we could find one in Karachi! We then tried a couple of local delights made from Malay fruits. Afterwards, we took another round of the shopping mall; this time we did a bit more than window shopping. The food frenzy did not stop as we also tried doughnuts with some unconventional flavours.

For low sugar levels
Back to KL Sentral
I wanted to stay more as her stories were taking new and revealing turns, but since both the ladies had business pending – one had to resume her pedagogic assignment while the other had to tick away the shopping list – we said goodbye to our host and headed back to KL Sentral. 

Going to Imbi

Changing to Monorail
From KL Sentral, we changed to monorail to reach to Imbi, near Bukit Bintang, one of the main retail hubs of KL and a shoppers’ paradise.

It was like a tsunami of consumables; from spacious chain stores to narrow lanes crap full of cubicle style shops, everyone has got business there. From DSLR cameras to Batik prints, from metallic souvenirs to rustic classics, from kindergarten toys to bedroom comforters, from cheap copies to high end brands, every item has got its customers. Supply was plentiful and demand was unending.  

The shopping frenzy continued until I got dried up of all the currency! But that was a lame excuse for the better half so I had to search for the nearby money exchange. And obviously there was one!

Back Home
Loaded like a packed rickshaw, as you can see in Karachi, we – and Misha’s buggy – reached back to Wangsa Maju at around 9 pm, had a quick meal at a roadside food court and finally ended up at Umair’s place.

The next morning we had to catch our flight back to Colombo to watch Cricket World Cup live between Pakistan and Australia!

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