Hooray, no early start for a bus/ flight/ train to Kuala Lumpur.... in lieu of this was an 11.30pm overnight bus! Having been told so many times before that our bus was to be a "luxury VIP" bus and it not quite being like that, we were ready to face another delightful bus. Imagine our surprise and happiness (after quite an eventful journey to get to the bus, after forgetting which public bus we were supposed to be getting on when we got off the MRT in Singapore and then having to walk through Singapore at 10.30pm with our backpacks, finally boarding a bus and realising we were only one stop away from where we needed to be hahahaha) when boarded the bus to find that it actually WAS a luxury bus! We each had our own giant reclining arm chair, with more leg room than you could shake a stick at and if we so desired, our own personal "entertainment" system (Thai films and random video games!). Even a bottle of water each thrown in! And, instead of being rammed with every Thai person and his cousin, there were only 5 of us on the whole bus! So, we settled down for our relatively short (6 hours) overnight bus journey. Just as we were beginning to doze off after about half an hour, the bus stopped and we were told we had to get off to clear Singapore immigration to leave the country. Pretty simple process, off the bus, in one door, show your passport, out another door and the bus is waiting! Back on the bus and settled back down again and you guessed it, we were ordered off again, this time we had to take all of our possessions with us (including giant backpacks) and clear Malaysian customs. All fine and dandy and we were at back on the bus and had a few hours sleep in our luxury armchairs before we arrived (early! That's never happened before!!!) in Kuala Lumpur at 5am. We had a room booked at a guest house but having spoken to them already, knew that their reception wasn't open until 7.30am when we could leave our bags and that we couldn't then actually check in until 1pm. So, in the dark, we were dropped of f at a 24 hour "cafe" near our guest house. We had a drink each but didn't dare try any of the food.... let's just say it wasn't the best looking place we've been (and we've seen quite some sites!) and after about 45 minutes we were starting to get twitchy (and itchy with the amount of flies around). We'd seen that there was a security guard outside the guest house and he kindly took our bags inside for us and we plodded off to the friendliest place we could find (and the only place open at 6) - McDonalds. We eeked out our time there as much as we could and at 7.30am we were back at the hostel and after a quick freshen up, we left our bags and went to explore a bit of Kuala Lumpur (or KL as we were told to refer to it as).
Sadly for us, the Petronas Towers (our main reason for visiting KL) are currently shut for a refurb until the New Year so our first planned destination was out. There is also the KL Tower, which is a 421m high telecommunications and broadcasting tower whose 360 degree platform is actually higher than the Sky Bridge on the Petronas Towers so we headed there instead. Keen as we were, we were the first ones there (at 8.30) ready for the doors to open at 9! After a very quick lift trip, we were suddenly 276 metres up with panoramic views of KL. It was very impressive (even for us bleary eyed sleep deprived people!) and gave us perspective on KL and where things were. It also gave us an amazing view of the Petronas Towers! You could see right out to the Batu Caves and the mountains in the distance. As well as the Bird Park and Butterfly Park that we would visit later. After a quick look at the "animal park" at the bottom of the tower, we continued our walking tour and ended up at the Petronas Towers and KLCC - Kuala Lumpur City Center. As we neared this amazing building, we couldn't help but look upwards. Much of KL is like this, in the same way as Singapore, it's all so tall that you just can't help but look upwards but the Petronas Towers are really something else. I didn't think it was possible to be in awe and stare at a building for so long. The Petronas Twin Towers are the tallest twin structures in the world, rising to 1,483 ft. They were inspired by the geometric shape in Islamic art and the floor plans are based on an eight-pointed star. The twin towers are joined at level 41 and 42, 175 m above street level by a 192 ft long double-decker Skybridge linking the two sky lobbies (this is what is currently closed for refurb). They sparkle in both the sunlight and the dark evenings. You really can't understand the size and magnitude of them and the incredible feat of engineering until you are stood underneath them looking upwards and unable to see the top without falling backwards! Unable to go up, we consoled ourselves by going in.... to a giant shopping mall underneath!!! It has everything from the designer goods shops to high street shops. The area surrounding and including the towers is KLCC and it also houses a massive convention centre and park as well as shops. Bit different from Portsmouth City Centre! After a quick look around, we found an amazing salad bar and stocked ourselves up for food for the rest of the day! I (Hannah) was still suffering from the tail end of a cold and we were exhausted so we headed back to the hostel and spent the afternoon and evening enjoying the relative luxury of our guest house, watching DVDs on the laptop, writing the blog and eventually sleeping!!! Sleep until 4am when we were woken up by dripping water- right onto my head. The aircon unit seemed to be leaking... a hastily placed towel, air con switched off and we were soon back to sleep. The best part was that it was Lou who had to wake me up to tell me it was dripping on my head as she'd heard it, it hadn't even woken me up! I had been aware of dripping water but the tablets we have been taking for malaria prevention have been giving us crazy dreams so I just thought it was part of a dream haha.
In our planned itinerary, we only had 2 days in KL before heading to Penang, on the Malaysian coast, where we would then venture upwards to Phi Phi in Thailand. When entering Thailand by land (which we would be doing from Penang) you are only granted at 15 day visa, whereas if you enter by air, you are granted 30 days. We were due to be in Thailand for about 21 days so needed the latter so unfortunately we had to change our plans and cancel our trip to Penang and instead book a flight directly to Thailand from KL. Although annoying that we would miss Penang, it now meant me had a couple of extra days in KL. Which meant we could take it at a bit more of a leisurely pace!
We spent the next couple of days exploring the city, both on foot and using the city sightseeing bus. This bus was again great as it meant that we covered much more ground than we would have done on foot and saw a lot more. Our first stop was China Town and Petaling Street and the Old Market. Petaling Street is famous for its fake goods and being a place where you can literally buy anything. We hopped back on the bus after a browse around both places and headed for the Butterfly Park which is on the edge of the Kuala Lumpur Lake Garden. It's a massive parkland area which also houses a Bird Park, Police Museum, Police Headquarters, National Mosque, Planetarium and National Monument. The Butterfly Park was beautiful and there was plenty to look at as well as butterflies- insects, lizards, spiders, all sorts! When we were in the Butterfly Park, we could hear some strange noises coming from somewhere outside the nets, when we looked up, there were 3 monkeys sitting on the netting trying to catch the butterflies which were flying around on the inside! On our walk back to the bus stop, we heard a funny crying noise that sounded like a baby, when we looked up above us, there were the 3 monkeys, 2 of them carrying babies, just sitting on a branch by the side of the road! They are obviously so used to the traffic and people as they didn't even flinch with us standing right under them cooing at them and taking photos! Next stop was the Merdeka Square, The Dataran Merdeka as it is also known, is situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. It was here the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag hoisted for the first time at midnight on August 31, 1957. It's faced by an old cricket pitch with mock Tudor style buildings along the side- you can very much see the previous British influence. On our bus tour, we also passed by the new KL Sentral station. It's the new train hub in KL where all the major trains come into but something that caught our attention was the fact that it also seemed to have a departure hall for flights- but no sign of an airport. Research when we got back to the guest house told us that you can check in for your flight at the train station, your bags will be checked in and taken to the airport, you board a 25 minute train and go directly to your departure gate at the airport. Genius! We were most disappointed to realise that our flight was at 6am (you've guessed it, another cheapo flight!) and so we wouldn't be able to do this and would have to get a boring taxi!! Next time!
Aside from the bus tour, we also did some walking around the city and discovered that just like Singapore there seem to be malls everywhere you turn and to get anywhere you seem to have to walk through a mall! Not that we were complaining ;) We also discovered the KLCC park at the back of the convention centre- it had magnificent views of the Petronas Towers and provides a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the city and the traffic. We sat and ate out our lunch in the peace and quiet here! The Convention Centre also houses a brand new aquarium, unfortunately we had timed our trip to be on a Saturday and we decided that we didn't fancy sharing a trip around the aquarium with a mass load of families!! Another walk home via shopping malls and staring at the Petronas Towers and it was time to pack for our next adventure - back to Thailand and beautiful beaches!