We arrived in Kuala Lumpur at 9pm last night (Wednesday) after two full days of travelling! After a great night out in Koh Tao at the Thai boxing, the American won by the way, we got the boat to Surat Thani. This took about five hours and was very choppy - not good with a hangover!! We then spent the next eight hours travelling on big buses and little buses (good drivers and not so good drivers) to finally arrive in Hat Yai, Southern Thailand. By this time it was 11pm and we had been travelling for 14 hrs!! We got dropped off at the train station, where there are lots of guesthouses, and wearily carried our rucksacks past rats and cockroches scurrying across the pavement, to our guesthouse and fell into bed!! It had been a long day!!
The next morning we got up at 5.15am ready to catch the 6am (or so the man at the reception told us!) train to Butterworth, Malaysia. The station was packed with people carrying all sorts of parcels and packages including huge bags of rice and big bags of fruit on their heads, and there was a very big queue for the tickets. When we eventually got served we got told that the train wasn't actually leaving until 6.57am!!
The train cost us 4 pounds and, after a couple of hours stop at the Padang Besar border between Thailand and Malaysia, we finally arrived in Butterworth at 1.30pm. We quickly walked over to the nearby bus station, got some of our new currency out - ringgit, and bought a 2.15pm bus ticket to Kuala Lumpur. The bus station was chaotic and a great place to people watch with everyone rushing around and all the touts trying to sell their bus tickets!! The Malay are almost all Muslims and there is a large Indian and Chinese population so the atmosphere was very different to Thailand. At 2.30pm our packed bus left (no the bus wasn't like the picture the tout had shown us!!) and we set off on the, so called, 4 hour journey to Kuala Lumpur. We arrived at Ipoh, a town on the way, at 5pm and were told that we had a 10 minute break. An hour later, and after chatting to the only other Westerners at the bus station and eating a cup of the yummiest corn ever (for 30p), our bus left for Kuala Lumpur with only us and another guy on it!! On the way we watched an amazing electric storm and arrived in the beautifully lit up Kuala Lumpur at 9pm. After reading 'the bible' (Lonely Planet to you!!) we realised that the lights around the city were there to celebrate 50 years of the nations independence.
After being dropped off in Chinatown, we set off to find our guesthouse. This was luckily only a 10 minute walk away and even luckier for us we got the last room!! Thank god!!
We dumped our bags and headed out to find a bite to eat. Fortunately for us we didn't have to go far and had a delicious meal in Chinatown's very lively night market.
This morning we left the guesthouse at 7.30am and got the train to the Petronas Towers, formerly the world's tallest skyscraper (until Taiwan's Taipei 101 building took over the titile in 2004). First-come, first-serve free tickets are available for visiting the 41st-floor Skybridge that connects the two towers and these are handed out at 8.30am so you need to get there early. We thought we were being very organised only to discover, when we arrived at the towers, that today is Hari Raya Aidiladha which is a Muslim festival and a public holiday and so the Skybridge is closed - great!!
So as we walked back to Chinatown we wandered past Merdeka Square, the symbolic heart of the city which was once a formal parade ground which dutifully pose the architectural legacies of Malaysia's successive conquerors, both Islamic and European.
We're going to spend the rest of the day taking in the sights, that are open, and eating lots of lovely Malay, Indian and Chinese food!!! Tomorrow, after our second visit to the towers, we'll catch a bus to the port city of Melaka and on Saturday we'll head to Singapore.
Bye for now, lots of love & hugs xxxxxx