Kuala Lumpur

I’m just finishing up a four day trip to Malaysia, and am getting ready to pack and head for the airport. This is the fourth time here this year and again I stayed at the Marriott Putrajaya (see http://www.marriottputrajaya.com ), mainly because it is very close to where I work when I visit. The staff are very friendly, the service is very good and generally the rooms are very nice (although see the note further down the page). The slight down side is that it is some distance outside of Kuala Lumpur itself, so in the evening it is not generally all that convenient to head into town. Interestingly, evenings during the week here in the hotel usually are very quiet. In fact last night was really quiet – picture an area suitable for two or three hundred people almost totally empty (I could only see one person sitting at the bar), but the band hired for the evening was just playing away as if the place was packed, and sounding pretty good as well ! Finally – the only caution I’d offer to people planning to book here (or probably elsewhere in the area as well given the humid climate) is to check your room for mould – twice I’ve checked into a room and found mould growing on the ceiling around the air-conditioning vent or elsewhere in the room – this time the wall covering was hanging off the wall by the desk in the room, and a section of the wall was green with fuzz ! There is never any debate about being able to change rooms or get things cleaned up – its just something to be aware of.

While in KL during the daytime, there is lots to see and do, plenty of shopping and really great places to eat, but inevitably you will be drawn to the Petronas Towers which were were featured in the film ‘Entrapment’ and are genuinely spectacular as they dominate the skyline of the city. See this link for some detail on the building – photos do not do it justice, you really do need to actually see it. From the sky bridge joining the two towers, and if the weather cooperates, the view is really good and its well worth a visit – you’ll be glad you did. The other tall attraction is the Menara Kuala Lumpur, which is very similar in appearance to Toronto’s CN tower, and which also offers great views of KL, as well as dining (the world’s highest McDonalds !) and gifts etc. – more detail can be found at http://www.kiat.net/malaysia/KL/kltower.html. The city is an interesting mix of Asian and European architecture – and at this time of year there are even Christmas decorations, advertisements and shopping sales which seems a bit out of place considering its a predominantly Islamic country, but is consistent with the fairly relaxed and tolerant style you encounter.

If you do want to spend time in Kuala Lumpur (and I highly recommend it), and if you also elect to commute from an outlying hotel then you are possibly in for some excitement – the traffic can be quite heavy going into the city, and it seems everyone thinks they are in a formula one race with some really questionable lane position, high speeds and debatable overtaking ! Of course, the Petronas Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) is held here every year just south of KL so possibly that explains it – people are just practicing ! For more info on the Grand Prix see www.malaysiangp.com.my. I think the hotel web site claims that its about 30 minutes into the city from the hotel, but early in the evening the traffic is often quite heavy, and when returning from the city frequently the drivers get lost trying to find the hotel at night, so I’ve yet to make the trip in much less than 45 minutes and sometimes longer.

One of my own more memorable taxi rides was on a trip back to the hotel from the city – it was only after we’d negotiated down the price and got in, that I realised that at one time the car must have been in an accident on the passenger side and the doors had been replaced, but the frame and floor pan not straightened. This was obvious as from the outside all looked well, but once in the car with the door closed and the driver barrelling down the highway, I became very aware of the one to two inch gap between the inside of the door and the edge of the floor pan, together with the fact I had to hold the door closed as we careened along the highway at 100+KM, getting lost in the dark – but it was a very good price and we did get back to the hotel in one piece !

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