Saturday, August 23, 2014

2-day KL Walkathon Tour

"I have been to Masjid Jamek!"

On the way back to KL…

At first I thought of taking the Transnacional bus, however the next trip will yet be at 2pm. One barker walked towards me and offered a seat for MYR35 in the next bus to leave Butterworth. I took it of course; it would be better to reach KL early. When the bus moved out of the bay, around quarter of 12 noon, a Bus Personnel (I trust he’s from the company because of this uniform) collected out tickets. I was expecting to get a copy when he came back but he never came back. I saw this other passenger who just caught our leaving bus; he paid the same MYR35 and was signalled to board the bus. I saw it in his facial expression he was perplexed of the signal. I bet he’s also expecting to receive a ticket. He boarded nevertheless.

At the first toll gate, I noticed one signage saying, KL 121KM. That’s odd because it took me 6 to 7 hours of bus travel from Melaka to Butterworth, and that it took me 2 hours of travel from KL to Melaka, so it did not add up. Well, if the signage is right then it will take me 2 hours to reach KL. Then 2 hours passed and I noticed another signage saying, KL 144KM. That meant I still have 2 more hours of travel before reaching the Malaysian capital. It was okay to me to arrive in KL at late afternoon because the bus I was riding will park at the Puduraya Station, which is in the heart of the city and which is familiar to me. Indeed, the bus settled in the arrival bay at few minutes before 5pm of Puduraya Bus Station, the exact place I arrived at during my first visit to KL in 2008.
Time to look for a room accommodation before anything else, have to deposit my luggage before roaming around this familiar yet undiscovered city. I looked for the Pudu Hotel I have stayed before. It gone! The site where it previously stood was occupied by this Marquee Hotel, quite expensive one by the looks of it. So I checked in the neighboring budget KL City Lodge, for two nights at MYR60 a night, an airconditioned room with my own toilet.

Denying the urge to sleep, the long bus trip adding to stress, I studied the map and marked the first set of the five major groups of tourist destinations within the city that I should check that day. In few minutes after I left my bag in the room, I found myself walking along the major streets in KL City. I started at Jalan Pudu towards Plaza Rakyat Train Station. I found it appropriate to start my 2-day journey at the place where I left off, that was the Petronas Twin Towers. On my way back, following the same route in opposite direction, I stopped by the Masjid Jamek Train Station to sight the majestic mosque during sundown. Night came by so quickly. Taking advantage of the lightings around the city, fyi KL is said to be the City of Lights, I walked straight to Merdeka Square where the city government centers were situated. The sight was so European, the Victorian Clock Tower at the center, the City Gallery where the human-sized replica of the country’s National Monument stood to one side and the giant boulder sized peg, “I <3 br="" by="" kl="" other="" side.="" stood="" the="">

Noted Petaling Street

Victorian Clock Tower

Textile Museum

Truly feeling tired, I walked back to the lodge, passing by the Petaling Street, and retired.

One Day of Full Walkathon

Today was the last leg of my visit to Malaysia alone once again. Back in 2008, I set foot around here alone, followed by a group tour in 2010, me tugging along my friends, Dupong, Jacqui and Erick in KL, and then another group tour in 2012, me acting as tour guide for Ruth’s family in Johor Baruh. Since I don’t have wifi access at the guesthouse, I dropped by the 24-hour McDo nearby before starting the tour of the day. This tour would be totally and completely pegged “Walkathon Tour”.
First up was the Batu Caves. Reaching the site which is located at the outskirts of KL city, so walking is not applicable, I took the connecting train rides, LRT from Plaza Rakyat Station to KL Sentral Station and then Komuter Train from KL Sentral Station to Batu Caves Station. I noticed hills and mountains on the nearby horizon. And then an awesome, gigantic, elevated Buddhist Temple welcomed me as I emerged from the train station. Thought it to be the Batu Caves’ temple, I took pictures of the a giant green-colored statue, a Monkey God, guarding its site right outside of the station’s walls. I then climbed upstairs unmindful of any posted reminders. I actually lost manners being overwhelmed by the grandness of the temple, only to find my shoes still on, and so a temple keeper pointed at me and shouted “you are still wearing shoes!” I retreated apologetically and only noticed the caution sign “take shoes off” when I climbed down the stairs. Shame on me!
Ashamed of the incident and feared the keeper might come after me to scold me more, I walked briskly towards the other side of the complex. There I beheld a gargantuan golden statue, known to be Lord Murugan whose height almost as tall as the mountain he’s guarding, towering over the complex, way bigger than the green monkey god. To his right side stood the famous 272-step concrete stairs towards the Hindu temples inside the cave’s chambers. Of course I have to experience the climb. On my way up, I noticed plenty of monkeys jumping from branches to branches and climbing down the twigs of the surrounding trees. On ground, they grabbed foods, usually bananas, from tourists who intentionally brought one to get closer interaction with the primates.

Monkey God

Lord Murugan

Reaching the mouth of the cave, I noticed a Hindu priest in traditional half naked attire. I signalled him asking if I can take his picture. I did not know if he got my true message but he gestured me to come in. I saw him later settling at the ramp of inside a small Hindu temple right at the cave’s entrance. Amazed by the unique very welcoming grandiosity of the cave’s main chamber, I diverted my attention away from the priest who was also entertaining other inquisitive guests. The cave has three cathedrals and just like normal caves, you have to climb up and down in every chamber. What is unique in Batu Caves is that all walkways are concretely paved, there are stairs all around. I pushed on strolling the center chamber, the biggest cathedral among the three, and found several mini-temples, statues and figures fashionably hanged on walls, more monkeys walking here and there, and bats flying overhead. I continued on to the more elevated third chamber with its own Hindu temple and more statues and figures on some of its walls. There I stayed for awhile, observed the activities in each temple, the dry contoured cave walls, the holes above where each cave chambers opens to the skies which rays entered the cave like spot lights, and the roving monkeys. All these I captured in a video. I stood by for a while also to catch my breath from the climb.  Even on my way down, I did not bother counting the steps, instead I mesmerized at the unique feel of the surroundings, marvel at how minute things on the ground look like from up the cave on a hill.

Lord Murugan

Monkey God

I was sweating profusely when I reached the ground. I looked and felt tired already but I need to finish my planned city walk tour today. I headed back to the city on board the same Komuter Train and made a stop at Kuala Lumpur Station (take note: KL Sentral Station is different). I walked the long platform exiting the station to get to the National Mosque, the KLTM Headquarters, and the National Museum. These three major city landmarks have three different touches in terms of architecture and interior and exterior designs. I kind of lost my way in search of the KL Sentral Station from the National Museum but with the help of the locals, the workers who dug the ground to give way to the expansion of the KL Sentral Station, I was back to the right course towards my lodge.
Recharged by the afternoon rest, I went back on foot to the KL Tourism Gallery at 3pm and watched the numerous exhibits. They have this video presentation over a miniature perspective of the whole KL City, the video moved in rhyme with the voice over, along with colourful neon lights dancing to the tune of the background music, showcasing the future of KL City. It was very impressive, the way they packaged their tourism campaign, featuring fantastically the 2020 Vision of KL. This really made me plan as well my next visit to Malaysia in year 2020.

Kuala Lumpur Central Railway Station

I was supposed to watch the MUD play in one of their theatres, but the show was cancelled due to the return of some of the bodies of the MH17 cash victims. So I waited for the late afternoon to arrive, by shopping souvenir and pasalubong items in the Merdeka Square basement, in order to resume my city walk tour in the City of Lights, which is best experienced at nighttime. I started walking the Jalan Raja Chulan that led to the KL Tower location. After several clicks in my SLR camera to capture the now blinking tower, I proceeded to the location of KLCC Suria Mall walking the Jalan Ramlee to also see the Petronas Twin Tower lighten at nighttime.  I was treated more than the bright lights of the tower but also by the colourful dancing fountain at the mall’s façade.

Around the grounds of the National Mosque

Satisfied with the show of lights around, I headed to Bukit Bintang for a grand finale of this tour. I planned to celebrate it with ample food and some booze. This was the journey that lost me a lot, time, direction, and sweat. I just followed the Jalan Ismail until I reached Kuala Lumpur Pavilion, a high-end shopping mall at the corner of Jalan Bukit Bintang. There was a mall-wide sale that day, but just like in Manila, the discounted prices still seemed expensive. I checked on their items on sale and bought few souvenirs and pasalubong items. Then I continued my search for the party zone in Jalan Alor, as pointed out by my Scottish friend, Mark. As per my study of the map earlier, the party-mood street of Jalan Alor is just around the corner from Jalan Bukit Bintang. But then I got lost again, especially when I realized that I was on Jalan Ismail yet again. I just walked in circles! So I entered this McDo store at the corner and recheck my google map. Due to a very disappointing wifi access in this McDo outlet, I forced myself to open the hard map I pocketed. I realized I only need to make a turn one more block from that junction.

It actually says, "Come inside the National Museum"

So I found Jalan Alor. I found it to be a crowded street, guesthouses are everywhere, most of them occupied the upper storeys of every restaurants, where restaurants and convenience stores lined the whole stretch, where restaurants occupied both lanes with chairs and tables, where the supposed 4-lane street is now a lane passable for motorists, where motorists compete with pedestrians in that single lane access. As I scanned the backpacker’s inns thriving here, I noticed that the supposed Town View Inn I planned to stay in to be among them. As I entered the corner, the hanging Chinese lanterns greeted me, the lighted signage of every restaurant blinded me, and the competing sounds of entertainers here and there deafened me. This was the hype of a place I was expecting to be in every night, the party seemed endless and the crowd looked hungry for food and fun. Most crowds were settled in their respective chairs and tables while others were still looking for vacancy, some crowds were busy handsignaling the waiters to order food while others were already munching the servings on their tables, other crowds were done and leaving while plenty more were arriving. Arriving guests including myself were busy looking for the right place, with the right feel, and the right foods.
I planned to reward myself from that tiring, long and winding walkathon; spending MYR100 for tonight would be appropriate. I then looked for a place nicer than the ones I passed by. I did not have much time to look for more others. I made up my mind and finally settled with Xin Ji Kitchen, the one with the live acoustic performer. I found a vacant table for two though I came alone, approached right away by a waitress, scanned the menu, and choose the braised beef, crispy fried shrimps and a small bottle of Tiger beer. After devouring the first set, which I disliked the braised beef by the way, I reordered the crispy fried shrimps, fried wanton, and another small bottle of Tiger beer. The whole street of foodtrippers was a complete chaos, awesome chaos! I can say that I love the nightlife in Jalan Alor. Two hours later, I paid MYR78 for that dinner experience, and followed the traffic towards the Jalan Pudu. I was surprised to note that party and food Alor street, which comes livelier at night, was just two blocks away from the lodge I stayed in Jalan Pudu. Had I known it, I would be at the venue every night I was in town.

KL's National Museum

I encountered two Arabs along the street seemingly lost. When I reached their spot they asked if I was from KL, I answered, “no and why?” “Do you know Jalan Haler?” they asked again. Haler! I just came from there and they passed it, I told them. Feeling jubilant to have discovered the shortcut way, I gave them the direction.  I was so glad I had a wonderful night – a grand finale of my 7-day tour in Malaysia.

Twin tower at day

Twin tower at night

One Extra Day

I still have one more day in KL city. This was actually a souvenir day. I ditched the Petaling Street this time since I have been there in my previous visit twice. I just found my way to the Central Market and this Kasturi Walk, which both sell souvenir items, where kiosks around sell anything under the sun. So what to buy from here? I already have plenty of ref magnets: first set was bought in Melaka, second in Penang and third in Batu Caves. I also have bought ladies dresses and men’s shirts in Melaka, other sets in Penang, and the rest in KL Tourism Gallery and Merdeka Basement Mall. I have bought ladies bangles at Pavilion Mall and the Erick’s requested sunglasses at the National Museum. But I still have plenty of ringgits. I circled the Central Market and found interesting things to buy. I bought shawls for my mother, sister and househelp, leather wallets for my father and brother-in-law, and another sunglass for my boyfriend.

Night out, eat out, hangout? Jalan Alor is the right place

I went back to KL City Lodge at 11am to pick up my already packed up luggage and check out. My way to the airport was fast albeit expensive. I took the LRT from Plaza Rakyat to KL Sentral and then boarded the KLIA Express, which one way cost MYR35. At KLIA 2, I found a place to eat my lunch and then settled at the nearby Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlet for a coffee. I did everything in slow motion to kill the time and while waiting for the check in counter to open.

Replica of the National Monument at Merdeka Square

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