Sleep on the Bus

We were not that tired considering we only had a few hours sleep. We went out for breakfast of dim sum and Chinese dumplings washed down qith beforeoxal sweet coffeee before heading to the TBS bus station.

We changed our online ticket to a boarding pass at the small counter as directed, then waited in the departure area for our bus to arrive. We didn't have to wait long before we boarded and were whisked off to Melaka.

We slept all of the 3 hour journey, with our extra layers of clothing to survive the artic bus temperatures. As with all the buses with aircon, it was freezing! After our arrival we scooted through the station to find the local bus number 17. This would deliver us the 4km to the city centre where we were booked onto the SunB Residence.

The SunB is an old heritage building with a friendly owner who loves cats. We took our bags to our room and relaxed a while before heading into Melaka.  We walked all Ng the river and then to the weekend  Jonker Street night market. It was so crowded with tourists from every corner of the planet, local people and weekend visitors from KL. We searched for interesting things and cooled ourselves with a huge mango slushy. It was a nice atmosphere just packed. We eventually made our way back to our room where sleep was definitely calling!



Full

We decided breakfast probably wasn't required after yesterday's gigantic meals, so we skipped it for once. The morning was a fairly lazy one but we did test out the swimming pool and sauna!

Lunch was very special. We went to quite an exclusive coffee shop in a different area of KL. It is where the world champion 'latte artist' often resides. In fact he wasn't here today but one of his senior helpers was there to impress. Along with the extraordinarily beautiful coffee, we had a delicious meal of salmon, rice and wasabi mayo. Truly delicious!

In the same street we found a gadget shop. We spent a long time in there fiddling with all sorts of exciting things. Our favourite has to be the Chinese robot for kids. He could understand what you said, follow basic instructions and sing and dance! The only trouble was ... we couldn't really speak Chinese. We asked the Chinese shop assistant to demonstrate. He put the robot on the counter and asked it to turn left and walk. The robot thought about it for a while and momentarily the shop assistant was distracted. The robot turned and walked straight off the counter! Luckily, the shop assistant caught it just before it hit the ground and smashed into 1000 pieces.

Our next adventure was to the Batu Caves on the edge of KL. It took a little while to get there as the traffic was terrible but eventually we arrived. We walked up to the gate and the man closing up the counter had just one word to share ... CLOSED!  We had missed it by just 2 minutes!!

No problem, we saw what we could from the outside and the highlight for us was witnessing a Hindu wedding ceremony at the temple just before the main colourful steps. We spent quite some time looking around the beautifully decorated temple at a huge number of different Hindu gods. Finally, we decided to leave and headed back to the other side of KL.

Next stop was dinner at a famous satay restaurant.  We shared a mixture of chicken, beef, pork and fish skewers with the most delicious satay sauce.  All washed down with a refreshing watermelon juice.

As this was going to be our last night in KL, we decided to venture into the centre of KL to find a secret bar - The Deceased! We found an indiscriminate doorway, rang the bell but no answer. It appeared no one was there. We tried several times and a lady even helped us to try using a special code on the door lock. It didn't work though. No answer ... Eventually the lady went through the hostel next door and let us in.

As the door opened Christine jumped at the sight of a model of a ghostly man sat in a wheelchair. We continued up a creeky staircase and slowly opened the door in front of us. There was the rooftop bar and a number of people enjoying the spooky cocktails and ambience. We stayed a while chatting and sampling the cocktails. One cocktail came with an Asian themed fan, another with a ghostly mask and a balloon. The bar staff lit a sugar cane cigarette in the mouth of the mask and asked you to inhale the aroma. We were a little suspicious and didn't get too close. Once we had smelled the sugar cane they asked Darryl to take a sip of the cocktail through the straw. He wasn't keen on the idea, not that he didn't like the taste but because he suspected a little mischief! Eventually the bar manager came along with a mini blow torch and lit the cane again. He said that as soon as you smell the sweet delights of the burning sugar cane you should take a sip. As Darryl reached forward, about to put the straw in his mouth .... the manager burst the balloon!

We stayed until about 5am and chatted to a new group of English people staying in the hostel downstairs before heading home to sleep!




Meeting a Travel Companion

One of the nice things about travelling is you get to meet so many amazing people from across the globe. It is even more fun when you can meet them in their home town later in your trip.

Today we spent the day with a friend we met earlier in Indonesia. Chong picked us up and we hit KL! We went for lunch in Little India where we ate a banana leaf meal. It is just like a thali in India ... unlimited! We ate a lot for a bargain price. In fact too much and all felt totally full!

We walked off our lunch with a visit to the very tall KL tower and Eco Gardens. They were pretty nice and in the centre of KL. We wandered along a board walk that nestled amongst the trees before heading back to the air conditioning of the car.

Back at base we watched our friend May bake a birthday cake. She even made a small one for us to test. It was really, really nice.

We then headed out to the Thursday night market where we tried lots of different things, even though we were still full from lunch.  We even tried 'stinky tofu', a very acquired taste which we are not sure we were ready for! 






First Full Day in KL

Today we took the LRT train to the centre of KL. We arrived at the Masjid Jamek station on the edge of Chinatown.

First stop was Petaling street where a large market runs end to end. We couldn't find what we were looking for at the right price so we continued our journey. We found a nice little museum of the world's China towns and we were surprised how many cities have them. We then visited a colourful Chinese role and a famous Hindu role.

When we last visited KL our hostel was in Chinatown and we happened to wander past. We also remembered an Indian restaurant on the corner and couldnt resist a quick stop for lunch. Central market was our next stop, where we did manage to negotiate a good price for some trousers. 

Afterwards we visited the KL City Museum, watched a light show on a huge model of KL and admired the spectacular buildings of Medeka Square.

We strolled the streets of KL enjoying the mix and diversity of the big city before deciding to head back to our base. What we didn't really consider was that it was time to finish work for most people ... Rush hour! There were queues for the LRT we waited in line. There was a train in the station packed with people. We did notice a few people from the queues try to wriggle their way into small gaps on the train. It was our train, so we followed suit. The train eventually left but it was slow for some reason, probably due to the weight of people on it!  We eventually got a seat with one stop to go.

A short walk back to where we were staying, a short rest we headed back out for dinner.  A special treat in an area called Sri Petaling - a special hot pot meal called a 'steamboat'! You have a gas burner on your table for cooking and a huge pot of stock bubbling away. You then order from the menu; meat, vegetables, virtually anything you can eat! You then cook it in the hot pot. It was an amazing experience! We stayed out late chatting and laughing together.



Morning Madness

It looked like we could be in for a spot of rain so we skipped breakfast in favour of staying dry on our 20 minute walk to the bus stop. It meant we would be way too early for the bus but meant we didn't need to use our new black bin liners as waterproof covers. In fact, it didn't rain!

We had just decided to have breakfast at a small cafe as we had plenty of time as the bus wasn't expected for another 45 minutes. Just as we prepared to cross the road to the restaurant, a car pulled over and a man asked us where we were going. We told him that we were going to catch the bus to the centre of Ipoh. He then told us to jump in and he would take us there. In fact we had a great journey with our driver to Ipoh. He told us he volunteered to help the local people who lived in the jungle to travel to Ipoh to work. He explained that they couldn't live off the land anymore because of deforestation. There were now no animals to hunt! He was really interesting and not only did he help us get to the train station but he also took us for local coffee and toast with local coconut jam.

We were now about 3 hours early for our train so we went exploring the heritage area of Ipoh once again. We saw lots of street art that we missed yesterday with the help of a cute old lady. It was quite funny because she was looking down on us from high up on her balcony. She would clap her hands to gain our attention and then point in the direction we needed to go. We weaved our way down the Heritage Trail from side to side taking our orders until we reached the end of the street. We looked back to wave a thank you message but the lady had gone. Maybe it was a ghostly image or she had gone back to her famous Ipoh White Coffee.

We were in luck today as the famous tea museum Ho Yan Hor was open. The refurbishment was done and the door was open. The museum was amazing. It told the story of Dr Ho Kai Cheong. He started with a very simple Chinese medicinal street stall. He had no money to open a shop so he sold his medicine to the local workers. He started off being able to make just one pot of tea with the money he had. He sold all of the tea for a small amount but made enough​ money to buy more. His business grew and grew. His wife took over the tea stall in Ipoh and he travelled the length of Malaysia on his bicycle, selling and promoting his medicinal tea.

The business really took off and the story of success continued; growing farms, transport vans (VW split screen vans) and factories. It was a great story and so well told by the museum. At the end of our tour we were treated to cups of medicinal tea. One that helped you sleep, one that fixed many ailments and finally the original blend from way back in the very beginning. Needless to say, it was quite bitter and fairly disgusting but we are sure it would cure everything!

We decided that lunchtime would be spent on the train, so thought we would squeeze in a quick meal at the restaurant next to the central mosque, where we ate yesterday. A great chicken curry with mixed sauces. Mmmm. As we were quite early for lunch the restaurant was quiet and the friendly man who served us and spoke good English came over to talk to us.

He explained that the restaurant was very old and owned by his father. He told us many interesting things and we would liked to have stayed longer to talk with him. However, we were now rushing to catch the train and had to leave.

A 10 minute walk plus a game of chicken to cross the busy road and we were back at the train station. The entry gate to the platform was closed and we waited to be let through. The time came and our tickets checked as we were let onto the platform. The train was waiting and our coach was straight in front. The train was very clean, comfortable and quiet. What a great way to travel. Choo choo! Hmmm, maybe that's only the noise steam trains make and this one is electric travelling over 120 kmh.

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur 3 hours later and decided that rather than get off one train straight onto another to our accommodation we would go for little walk first.  We saw huge skyscrapers, a colourful street market and the Masjid Jamek Mosque.   We then caught the train to our accommodation, dropped off our bags, freshened up and headed back out to a famous street food area, Jalan Alor.  This is one long street with restaurants down each side ranging from Malay, Chinese, Thai, Vietnam, to name but a few.  We chose one and tried lots of new things.  Fried carrot cake - not at all what you would think.  This is a Chinese dish made from turnip (which we understand is called carrot in Chinese) which is cooked, mashed with flour then stir fried​ with beansprouts and a tasty sauce!  We also tried oyster omlete, curried stingray, duck and chicken rice - what a feast!   On the way back we tried a local dessert called putu piring, a steamed rice cake and chatted to a man from Manchester.

Back at our accommodation we took the lift to the first floor to check out the swimming pool and then to the 25th floor for spectacular views of the KL skyline at night. We chatted until we realised it was 2am and then Zzzzz.



Bus Stop

We set off for the bus around 8.45am to go to Ipoh centre.  We checked with a local lady and she said the bus should come around 9.30.am, just wait outside. She was serving an Indian breakfast dish of Apam. As we had a little time we thought we should try one.  It's texture was a little like a crumpet and it was served with a dish of coconut milk to dip it in - very nice. When we went to pay, the lady would not take our money, she said it was on her - how very kind. 

We were told we could stand anywhere on the road and flag down the bus, so we waited.... and we waited ... After about an hour with no sign of a bus we decided to walk on a little further.  We asked another local and again were told to just stand at the side of the road and a bus will come .. so we waited ... and we waited.  After another half an hour we decided to head to the main road in Bercham, where we actually found a bus stop.  Again we asked if there was a bus due and this time we were told it would be quicker to get a Grab car however we don't have data on our phones so we waited ... and we waited. After a total wait of 2 hours, when we were just about to give up, along came a bus!! The 32B to the rescue.

By the time we got to Ipoh it was lunchtime so our first stop was a Chinese restaurant for some soy chicken with rice and veg.  We then followed a heritage trail around the old part of Ipoh where we saw lots of beautiful old colonial buildings, old Chinese tea houses, and a Little India.  We headed to a beautiful colonial building which houses a tea museum but unfortunately when we got there we discovered it was closed for renovations.  We also followed a street art trail, much like in Penang with lovely paintings on the side of old buildings. 

Before we knew it it was time to catch the bus back again.  The bus left straight after we had purchased our tickets from the driver. We followed the main highway most of the way back. We passed a huge shopping mall and Tesco Extra.

Christine prepared dinner of a baked egg dish with tomato sauce followed with fresh pineapple. Darryl had a lesson in how to cut the pineapple into a fancy spiral.


Later in the evening we had a small snack of chicken satay and boiled peanuts, just to ensure we were were totally full, all washed down with local coffee.

At least now we know where to stand for the bus tomorrow!



I....Ipoh

An early start as the vintage market starts quite early. Fuelled with Laksa we headed to Ipoh to find the market.

As we explored the market we saw some interesting things we had not seen for a while. Old records, grammar phones and loads of other old things left over from when Malaysia was a British colony. Around the market there were a few stalls selling modern items and even fish. We looked in a few pet shops but we didn't like the way some of the animals looked.

We took refreshments at a small stall. Drinks, durian and a mix of other small treats including Chinese dumplings. Following our mini lunch break we went to the Kek Look Tong Chinese temple, hidden in a huge limestone cave. There were lots of stalagmites and stalactites, a beautiful garden and fish. The fish were in picturesque ponds where they kept the small turtles and ducks company.

Next stop was a local supermarket to stock up on food for the next few days. We visited a 2 Ringit shop, a bit like Poundland but everything is 40p.

We watched a Johnny English movie, made some military models from a cardboard set and ate delicious quick chicken soup.