We have spent a week and a half in KL. Despite it being a rather large capital city, our verdict is that's way too long to spend here. We have flights booked to Bali on the 17th of December and hence why were in no rush to move on as we weren't too sure where to move on to.
Initial impressions of the city were good, it had almost a Manhattan feel to it with the large amount of modern skyscrapers - the Petronas Towers are particularly impressive. The food is varied and usually of good quality and the views of the city from Menara KL (KL Tower) are great. We rejoiced at coming across more examples of the Asian brand of crazy (I use that as a term of affection) such as an immense indoor rollercoaster and an apparently Christmas themed musical show involving dancers dressed as some sort of futuristic, silver tin foil clothed, santa's elves with CDs for ear muffs. But...
Maybe we haven't done ourselves any favours with staying in the commercial district of Bukit Bintang. It's very expensive here, even when you eat on the street you're still spending more than you would in Thailand (I know, I know, we should get over our love affair with Thailand) and beer prices are on a par with home. You think the taxi drivers in Dublin are bad, spend a few days in KL and you'll realise how lucky we are. The amount of times I've seen other people, not just us, being refused to be taken to their destination is unreal and as Will so eloquently put it, you'd have to hold a taxi driver's mother hostage to get them to turn on the bloody meter and not charge you four times the rate. They are KL's mafia and there's not a damn thing you can do about it - especially frustrating when each taxi in the city has "this is a metered taxi and haggling is prohibited" signs plastered along the outside of the car.
Everyone seems to be very concerned with how they look and what brands they're wearing to notice anything going on around them - these people seem particularly dozy when it comes to walking along a path and are notorious queue skippers (ok so it's probably a cultural thing I should accept and I am aware that my belief that walking too slow and getting in people's way should be a criminal offence is a touch intolerant). There are way too many men wearing Louis Vuitton handbags and people hanging around shopping malls pretending to smoke. It all seems to be too much show and little substance.
Now I know this might sound like the beginning of a rant against the "reckless westernisation of the east", it's not. I shamelessly like the comfort of knowing a McDonald's is around the corner in the event of a mammoth hangover and god knows I love the air conditioned escape of a shopping centre. There's just something that doesn't feel right about KL and I'm not sure why.
Perhaps this is why the universe provided us with cheap Air Asia flights to Sri Lanka. A destination that has never crossed our minds, ever, never mind for this trip. I have not the faintest clue what to expect, and I know nothing about the country other than the bad press surrounding the Tamil Tigers (to mothers reading this I hear this business is finished with and they're all living happily ever after...for the moment). So we booked our flights and we plan to spend two weeks in the country after a brief sojourn in Singapore.
Singapore was never on our itinerary either as a result of the perception of it being too clinical and boring - I'm hoping this will prove misguided - but in the effort to fill the aforementioned gap in the schedule we booked a weekend with our accommodation this time in the Little India area of the city and as a bonus we get another passport stamp for it.
Our trip has become very rigid now that we have booked certain things, this is both good and bad. We have booked our flights home for example - shocking I know but the price was right. We fly with KLM on March 2nd next year on a flight from Bangkok to Amsterdam where we spend a few days on a last hurrah before we land in Dublin on March 7th. We're spending a week in Bali either side of our 11 days in Lombok at Christmas after which we spend a few weeks in Borneo before heading back to Thailand to greet Will's mum and uncle Sonny who will see Bangkok and Chiang Mai over two weeks at the end of February.
So that's another smug free, not so positive post for you, I guess you wonder why we do it eh? You gotta take the downs with the ups and I think we've done well for being away for three months. We will have more chances to get under the skin of KL as it is the origin of several flights including those to Sri Lanka and Bali, I think there's more to the city than what we've seen so far.