Monday in Kuala Lumpur. A day to spend with an old friend whom I have never met. An Egyptian-style shopping mall. Authentic Chineses food. What more could you ask for on a Monday?
Suggested song: Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles
The first real post from Kuala Lumpur is dedicated to the people I have met. They are the spice of travel!
On Sunday, after I had finally managed to get to my abode in Kuala Lumpur, at The Leafz, I was met by my excellent host, Mahesh. His wife and he were kind enough to welcome me into their home, after I had, a little noobishly, made my first foray into finding an accommodation via Airbnb. Another guest on a business trip from China, Din, was already there. Having had a much needed shower, I joined them for an extensive evening chat. Mahesh introduced the house rules and gave me a quick tour of the amenities of both the apartment and the building complex: a nicely appointed room to myself, a complete bathroom to share with Din, stocked fridge (for the apartment), and a gym with infinity pool, looking out over Kuala Lumpur, on the rooftop. Serenity cast its spell over me!
Chatting, the time passed quickly, and the toll taken by an emotional day of traveling showed. It was time to prostate myself before the god Morpheus on his futon altar. Sleep came swiftly.
The next morning dawned, or rather had dawned and was now in full swing, when I rose unmajestically from the comfortable goodness of my bed. A shower and breakfast restored life before I was scheduled to meet an old friend for the first time.
Back in the heady days of dial-up internet, 56k connections and CRT-screens, ICQ was a popular chat program that allowed you to chat with random people from around the world. Eighteen years ago, in the waning days of the last millennium, I started ICQ-ing with Kelly, from Penang. Over the years, the Internet changed: Apple was brought back from the brink of collapse, Yahoo was brought to the brink of collapse, MySpace came and went, and ICQ was replaced by Facebook. Having kept loosely in touch via Facebook, I found out that Kelly was now working in Kuala Lumpur. So, when my itinerary for Malaysia was fixed, we decided it might be fun to have a coffee together. Today, we did.
After catching an Uber ride to Sunway Pyramid mall, reminiscing a bit and catching up was supreme fun, the coffee was tasty.
We chatted a bit about this and that: Jobs, Malaysia, what to do and see in Penang, the impossibility of renting a scooter one-way. And suddenly, the afternoon was gone, Kelly heading off to work and I Uber-ing back to The Leafz.
On my way to the Uber pick-up spot, the tackiness of the mall was apparent. Ancient Egyptian-styled, with columns sporting faux hieroglyphics at the entrance, it could be at home in Las Vegas or Dubai, but felt out of place here. The giant tiger statue, however, gave it a more Malaysian vibe. Wait, no, there are no tigers in Egypt. Darn, it was a lion. So much for the local vibe. But then again, a bit of tackiness and satisfying the lust for exotic locales is on par for shopping malls. Sunway was just a rather spacious, well-appointed and over-the-top example of the species… with an above average number of good-to-excellent coffee joints.
Without a hitch, my Uber-driver, Jeff, found me at the entrance of the Sunway Resort, which is attached to the mall. We started off towards The Leafz and got to chatting, mainly about the way smartphones alienate people. I quickly put my smartphone away, and we both smiled at the irony that we were both using them, I to hitch rides, he to proffer them.
Now, as a friendly piece of advice, Kuala Lumpur is definitely not a walking city unless you are downtown. Distances can be long, highways uncrossable to pedestrians for miles and the next train station may only be a couple of hundred yards on a beeline, but yet unreachable on foot. Both Uber and Grab provide an easy and reasonably cheap way of getting around, with the added benefit that most drivers speak passable-to-excellent English. So, you get from A to B in comfort and, optionally, get to enjoy a nice conversation. Double-plus good!
Arriving at The Leafz, I felt like perusing the rooftop amenities. So I changed into my athletic outfit and headed for the Gym and a swim. Now, while the part I like most about my Airbnb experience is clearly the excellent hosting by Mahesh, the showpiece of the property is the 28th floor gym and infinity pool with a view of downtown KL. Working out and taking a dip in the pool with such a sight is amazing!
The day was coming to a close when Dan suggested we had supper at the Fatty Mok Chinese Restaurant just across the street. So, Din, Mahesh and I did. The food was outstanding and the atmosphere authentic Chinese street corner food joint. Apparently, the restaurant is quite renowned for its excellent dishes, to which I can only attest: I devoured my Chicken Noodle Curry with gusto! All stuffed and sleepy, it is now time to hit the sheets and look forward to another day in KL.
Oh, and in case you ever need an excellent place to stay when in KL, Mahesh and Pramada’s is the Airbnb I would recommend! Here is the link.