We had to fly via Kuala Lumpur to get to Bali which was our next stop and the way the flights worked out we ended up with a day to kill. As luck would have it, our buddy Becky Reining who lives in Singapore and works as a very successful Sales Executive for the Asia-Pacific Region had some very important and potentially extremely lucrative business meetings in Kuala Lumpur that very Friday. Thus the 3 of us met for the 7th time so far during our 4 month SE Asia stint...
G and I got totally screwed by a series of events which caused us to miss our bus into town and thus wait for the later bus which pushed our journey into town into the heart of Friday afternoon rush hour. Long story short: we made it to the hotel 3.5 agonizing (and famished) hours after touching down at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Los Angeles natives who negotiate the vaunted 405 corridor daily (allegedly the worst traffic in the US) would think that KL locals do it tough...
We stayed at Trader's Hotel, managed by some dodgy Asian company called Shangri-La or something. It's kind of a dump really, but is nice in that it has the some OK views of the Petronas Towers. If you're unfamiliar, these are the twin towers made famous by the film "Entrapment" which in turn was made famous by the film's leading lady's rear end. (Catherine Zeta Jones)
We got there at 6:58 and thus were able to grab 1 drink and one plate of nibblies from the hotel's free happy hour that went from 5-7pm. I'm glad we didn't know that the final 1 hour and 58 minutes of our hellish ride into town could have been instead spent eating and drinking for free at the 32nd Floor of the Trader's Hotel. It would have been just too much for me to handle; I fear I could have done something drastic.
After our drink we went down to the room. We got stuck in this really crappy suite. The bathroom was cavernous and tackily designed with glass and marble. Worse it had awful smelling soap, shampoo, conditioner, and various other lotions etc. by some brand with a French name that nobody could even start to pronounce- L'Occitanae. Nice try Trader's...I'm on to you.
The saving grace in the room was the view; the Towers; front and center and lit up in all their glory.
We'd had a long travel day and Becky was exhausted from all the massive deals she had spent all day pitching, so we decided to stay in for the evening after a quick run out to the market for some supplies.
For a night cab, we rolled up to the 35th Floor which is the rooftop pool/bar/club. They had a DJ who was spinning Punjabi- classic- house- pop- funk beats and the crowd was lively.
After a long night tossing and turning in the scratchy Egyptian cotton 1000 thread count rags the Trader's Hotel calls sheets, we awoke and dragged ourselves up to their pitiful excuse for a gym where we did our best to get a work out in.
Next we went down for their buffet breakfast. Now, we've become accustomed to black coffee with Wonder Bread toast as breakfast, so the Trader's buffet was almost inedible in comparison. Lattes, fruit plates, pastry plates, cheese plates, assorted egg and breakfast meat dishes...No, not for me thanks.
We managed to survive breakfast and headed down for a rinse in the pathetic excuse for a shower; too much water pressure, too much water volume and, if you can believe this, piping hot water.
We headed out to check the town rearing to go for a day of Play It By Ear and maybe some shopping. After all, nothing spells Play It By Ear like some good old fashioned impulse purchases...
On our way out of the lobby there was an annoying lady in a uniform asking prying questions about our day and plans and offering taxis and/or directions. Apparently, her name was "Concierge" but I could have sworn she looked Malaysian and I didn't take her accent as French either. She gave us detailed directions, but I didn't trust her at all. I swear she was trying to get us lost or steer us to the shady part of town.
We made it about 6 blocks into town, no thanks to "Concierge's" directions when the first rain drops came crashing down from the Kuala Lumpur sky. The thing is they literally did not stop for the rest of the afternoon, except for a few short stints when it would slow to a manageable drizzle. Otherwise, it pretty much down poured.
It's tough to do Play It By Ear in the pouring rain so after the second hour of rain we ducked into a cozy looking Irish Pub to seek refuge from the elements and for a snack and some hydration. We ended up staying there for a while due to the awesome music videos they were playing on the TVs and the fact that it was raining cats and dogs with thunder and lightning to boot. It seemed a safe enough place to wait out the storm.
When the weather let up slightly we made a run for it, but only made it a few blocks further before we were again forced to seek refuge from the elements. This time it was a Cuban Bar called Havana that was in closest proximity; thus we ended up with a round of Margheritas...the "House Specialty". I don't think they got the memo that Margheritas are Mexican and that a Mojito would be a far more appropriate house specialty for a bar named Havana. I wonder how they'd like it if I opened a restaurant in SF or Sydney called Kuala Lumpur and offered chicken chow mein as my "house specialty"? Just sayin'...
Anyway, when we tired of dodging rain drops we hailed a taxi back to Trader's where, cooincidentally (not at all actually), the 5pm free Happy Hour was firing up on the 32nd floor. We'd negotiated access to this again on Saturday eventhough we had plans of staying somewhere nearer to the airport that evening.
That's when things went disastrously awray. Gina ate a dodgy piece of sushi and slipped into a 2 hour bout of food poisoning. She didn't end up puking, but was white as a ghost with serious cramping and extreme nausea. It really took it out of her.
As I mentioned, we were supposed to stay somewhere closer to the airport as our flight was early the next morning; but G was in no state to travel. We decided it would be best to stay again at Trader's incase she got really bad and we needed to crack some skulls.
As it turned out, as quickly as it came on, she came back to life and felt OK after a little rest. We think that some of the sushi was actually chicken instead of fish and that the chicken just took her stomach for a ride. Pretty negligent of the Trader's Food and Beverage staff to have unlabeled meat products interspersed amongst their Happy Hour nibblies; and we told them so. It had absolutely nothing to do with the Margheritas or several several pitchers of beer that she'd also consumed that day.
In the morning G and I arose early for the long cab ride out to the airport to catch our flight down to Bali where my folks were waiting.
Things I'll always remember from Kuala Lumpur: Traffic, Rain and the view from the Trader's Hotel. Hell, at least the view was better then the sushi.