Winter Vacation Part 8 – Kuala Lumpur

The last stop on our one month long vacation through Osaka, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Bali, was Kuala Lumpur. A city made famous by the 1999 crime, romance, action movie Entrapment starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones.

AirBnB

We landed at the airport in the evening and took a cab to our AirBnB, which was incredible. It was an apartment on the 20th floor of a steel and glass skyscraper. The apartment was massive, 3 bedrooms, floor to ceiling windows, a balcony that looked out over an incredible pool. The apartment building also had it’s own store and dry cleaning facilities. This probably says more about me, but this was by far the nicest apartment I’d ever been in. In stark contrast, there was a slum immediately next door made of rusted corrugated metal. Ironically there was a tennis court in the middle of it.

 

Our AirBnB hosts were out on vacation themselves, they were teachers at an international school. However, there were two other guests staying there. A venture capitalist from South Africa named Jacques Van Heerden and his wife. They were looking to set up an office in Asia somewhere and had recently begun their tour around the world. Jacque and I talked quite a bit in the few days we were there. I can honestly say he is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. I encourage you to check out his website.

Nicole gets sick

I mentioned this a little bit at the end of the Bali post, but Nicole got sick, really sick. She couldn’t keep anything down, or in, and felt really nauseous. I suspect it was some of the food we had at the place with the Balinese dancer. It’s called Bali belly and literally 100% of the people I know who visited Bali got it (6 out of 6 people). I felt alright, not great, but alright. Progressively throughout our stay in Kuala Lumpur I started to feel sick as well. Eventually Nicole and I visited the ER across the street and got her checked up. They gave us some hydration salts and we spent most of our time laying around the beautiful apartment feeling terrible.

Petronas Towers

On our last day in Kuala Lumpur we finally made it to the Petronas Towers. We took a guided tour up to the skybridge between the two buildings and to the top of the towers. The view from the top was incredible because sections of Kuala Lumpur aren’t built up so depending on which way you look, you can see straight over the city and for miles outside of it. The towers are the tallest pair of twin towers in the world and for awhile they were the tallest buildings in the world. Each tower was built by a different company. A japanese company built one and a Korean company built the other. Since Japan and Korea are bitter rivals it was a pretty clever way to get the buildings built in a hurry. I found conflicting information on which building was finished first. However, I do know that the Korean one was a little bit crooked and had to be corrected part way through construction.

Nicole and I had a bite to eat at the mall in the base of the towers. The mall was filled with really nice designer shops and a ton of people. However, the vast majority of people were just loitering. No joke, most people were just standing around. Almost no one was actually shopping. Funny story, after lunch Nicole goes to the bathroom and I’m waiting in the mall just checking my phone. This group of Malaysian guys walk up to me and ask to take a photo with me. I oblige and it takes a few minutes to take the photo. While they’re trying to take the photo a line forms. I can’t make this stuff up. After they get the photo another group of people ask to take a photo with me. At this point I realize I’m going to be here all day if I say yes so I tell them I have to meet my girlfriend and politely leave. Nicole told me later another group of people approached her when she exited the bathroom. It was a weird experience that reminded me of Bangkok when we got that really great service and tons of free food seemingly for no reason.

Burger Night

After we got back from the Petronas Towers Nicole and I ordered burgers delivered to our AirBnB. It was glorious, delicious, and came with a truffle sauce for the fries, best burger in Kuala Lumpur. Which leads me to another point, food selection. What is up with the selection of food in Korea? Literally everywhere else we went in Asia, with the exception of Bali had a wider selection of international food than Korea. Heck, Hong Kong had Marks and Spencer. Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur: their selection of beers, wines, cheeses, and meats were incredible, and reasonably priced as well. While Korea has some of those things, they’re often harder to obtain or steeply priced.

Returning to Korea

After our burger meal, Nicole and I packed the last of our things and took Uber to the airport. Our flight was around midnight and we arrived with plenty of time. We flew all through the night and got to Busan, South Korea around 8am the following morning. From there we took a bus back to our apartment in Gwangyang.

Overall, it was an awesome trip. We saw Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, and Kuala Lumpur. I’ll remember this vacation as one of my best vacations to date, and one of my longest. Here’s to many more!

Winter Vacation Part 6 – Singapore

Nicole and I never really added Singapore to our list. We always considered it a nice place to visit, but pretty far down our list. However, the cheapest way to get from Hong Kong to Bali, our next destination, was to fly through Singapore. So we figured, why not? Our stay in Singapore was short and sweet. We were there only a handful of days and we saw most of the highlights. If you need to fly through Singapore, take a few days to yourself and explore the city-state.

Singapore

Singapore is really clean. That’s one thing most people know. It’s also a very orderly society. Things run on time. There are no beggars or street musicians. It’s a city that’s been scrubbed clean, and with that you lose the bad and the good. There isn’t any gum on the street or people harassing you, but the media is also censored, you must be over 35 or married to get a government apartment. The same political party has been in charge since 1959. It’s an interesting place culturally and politically. However, without looking under the surface you wouldn’t realize any of that. On the surface Singapore is a clean tourist destination great for those attending conventions or stopping through on a cruise.

Singapore Flyer

Our first stop was a the Singapore Flyer, Singapore’s giant ferris wheel. It’s also home to a beautiful outdoor garden and market, which are both free. We walked through the tropical garden area and got some food in the market. I ordered some fried dumplings, their contents unknown, but delicious. Nicole ordered stingray. It was surprisingly easy to eat and tasted like white fish. I recommend it if you get the chance, even just for the novelty of it.

Little India

Little IndiaOur first full day in Singapore we visited Little India. It’s a small neighborhood centrally located where Indian immigrants settled. Nicole and I walked through the shops taking in the spicy aromas of various curries. If you’re looking to visit Singapore and you want to do it on a budget, there are several hostels in Little India. We had lunch at a North Indian/Nepalese restaurant. We had fish, curry, and naan. It was some of the best curry we had outside of India. It was just like India except not as hot, crowded, or noisy.

Chinatown

Chinatown
Chinatown

Singapore’s Chinatown was our next stop. It’s one stop down from Little India. Chinatown was ramping up for Chinese New Year and the year of the goat. Here’s a great link for everything Year of the Goat. There were streamers up across every street in the neighborhood.

The roads were narrow and pedestrian only for most of the neighborhood with only the occasional large road cutting through. Chinatown Singapore was filled with markets with everything from herbs and spices to a Tin Tin Museum. Nicole I stopped into a little covered alleyway with food stalls and had a bite to eat there.

Swanky Downtown

Singapore has a really cool downtown. It has Marina Bay Sands resort, better known as the building with a ship on it because it looks like three buildings with a cruise ship dropped on top. The cruise ship part on top has a giant pool, as well as garden and bar, looking out over the city. Nicole and I didn’t have $600/night to stay there so we just took pics of it. It’s not the same, but I’ll save some money. Inside the lobby area looks like the Contemporary resort from Disneyworld. It was one of the fanciest places I’ve ever been. There’s a mall with tons of designer stores connected to it that has it’s own miniature river complete with boats. It was nuts.

 Singapore Sling

Ah the Singapore Sling. A drink both created and made famous in Singapore. If you’re ever going to try one, you should go to where it all began. That’s just want Nicole and I did. We visited Raffles hotel and had peanuts and Singapore Slings at the Long Bar.

Leaving Singapore

After our drinks and relaxing it was time to head to the airport. Our flight was early the next morning and rather than get up at 4am we decided to stay over at the airport for the last night. The Singapore airport is a megahub, like Abu Dhabi. It’s open 24 hours a day. It has it’s own swimming pool, movie theater, butterfly garden, and 24 hour food court. Nicole and I had time to do every one of those things, minus the pool because it was closed. We sent video postcards back home, we watched some movies, and visited the butterfly garden, all for free.

Sleeping in the airport
Sleeping in the airport

In the morning we just had a short walk to our gate and then we were off to Bali!