Saturday, April 28, 2007

Return to Malaysia

As we step off the plane, all bleary-eyed and sheepish after our 7 hour flight, the hit of humidity welcomes us back to KL once again. En-route to Vietnam and Cambodia, I’m here with bf; sister and her new white boy husband and; brother and my best friend, for 4 days and 5 nights of eating, shopping and sibling bonding. My sister has just been married this weekend and we’re all gate-crashing the first leg of her honeymoon.

KL is just as we had remembered it from when we were last here 18 months ago – hot, humid, polluted and oh so chaotic. Staying at the KL Hilton, it was disappointing that we only once got time out from our hectic schedule to swim in the gorgeous lagoon style pool. Apart from the fact that we had no time, the weather wasn’t the greatest in KL during our stay – it was overcast, windy and rainy most of the time.

Breakfast at the KL Hilton is the best you could ever image. Of course, the staple western fare was always on offer, but in gourmet varieties – 2 separate egg stations to make your eggs any way you like – poached was the favourite on our table! There was not only regular pork bacon, but there was a newie for us – beef bacon! The boys weren’t fans, but I quite preferred it! There was a huge patisserie section (jam donuts were to become bf’s essential for every day of our trip); every cereal under the sun; fresh fruit platters with papaya, dragon fruit, guava and the sweetest pineapple in the world; a “dessert” station serving fresh waffles, pancakes and French toast with divine condiments to boot – brother couldn’t decide, so he divided his waffles into 4 sections with differing combos! The highlight for us was the international fare – roti canai, roti murtabak, pandan chicken, nasi lemak, just to name but a few. Also in contending top position was the fresh juice station where an attendant was waiting to juice up your favourite fresh juice concoction. We loved green apple and guava! And to help prevent and combat against potentially pooey bellies, a daily shot of yakult was on hand – even dairy nazi bf got in on the game! The only problem about the KL Hilton having such a great spread, was that we spent the rest of our holiday comparing every breakfast to the Hilton's! Truely the best breaky ever!

Day 1 was spent shopping at KLCC where the girls went one way and the boys another – a smart idea indeed! After our intro to shopping in KL, we ventured up to the Twin Tower's bridge, where we took in a bird's eye view of the city. Back to the hotel late afternoon for a quick dip in the pool and outrageously expensive pool-side beverages before making the train journey to Klang to meet up with the rellies for sister’s wedding celebration dinner. We were met by Uncle Peter and Alvin who took us to the restaurant where Uncle Sunny's family and Sophia's family were there to greet us. After a fantastic meal, including whole baby suckling pig (best friend was a little grossed out!), we went to EE's shop to visit Boy Boy and Su Chen and congratulate them on the birth of their new baby son.

Day 2 – Road trip to Taiping. After breaky, we were met by our driver to be chauffeured in a comfy van for the 3 ½ hour journey north. All siblings were knocked out within the first ½ hour – we all get incredible motion sickness, so after a round of avomine, we were gone for all money. The mandatory stop an hour out of Taiping at the roadside eatery and jumbu stalls was quite an experience… As we piled into the car after a quick loo visit and snack grab, our driver was approached by about half a dozen suspect Malay and Indian rather gruff looking males. A mild argument ensued which started to make best friend rather uncomfortable and we all began to feel a bit nervous – perhaps we watch too much tv, but when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, and your driver is being harassed by local thugs, is not a pleasant sight nor situation to be in. After what seemed like an eternity, the driver jumped back in the car and we took off like the clappers. Seems the story goes that the thugs were repo men who troll the roads with a list of in arrears vehicles to look out for and attempt to sort out! Slight mix up with our vehicle as the repo men had mistook the registration number of our vehicle for another – Phew! - we didn’t at all fancy the long walk home! Finally we arrived in Taiping and it was good to see Mama - and she loved seeing the 3 of us and our partners together. Mama had seen bf and I only 18 months ago, brother and best friend 4 years ago, had never seen sister’s husband and it was at least 10 years since she’d seen sister! We took Mama out to lunch at a local Chinese restaurant; for a drive around Taiping Gardens to visit the monkeys; to Burmese Pools and; to also pay our respects at Kong Kong’s resting place.

On day 3 in KL we started the day off with a shopping expedition at Bukit Bintang. 4 hours in Sungei Wang Plaza was enough to send everyone balmy! The centre was just one big plethora of shops intertwined like a big spider web! Lots of jewellery, cheap clothes, shoes (and would you believe, I didn’t make a single shoe purchase!!) and gadgetery or all sorts. The boys later made a split to Imbi and Low Yat Plaza to check out electronics and IT goods. They had a shopping list: laptop, camera, handy cam, media player and hard drives. It was best they went at it alone whilst us chicks explored Lot 10 and the rest of the precinct. PM saw us face a bitter disappointment – Genting. Our cousin Alvin ferried us up the mountain to Genting via an incredibly windy and hold-on-for-dear-life road. Bf doesn’t normally get car sick, but was feeling quite green on arrival. For those who believe that SKYCITY casino in Adelaide is low brow, they need to go to Genting! No flashy lights, no promos, no hype - just dull smokey gaming with emotionless faces lining the rooms. If we hadn’t known better, we’d have thought everyone was in mourning! After white boy’s AUD24 round of drinks (jug of beer and a soft drink!), a rather pathetic exploration of the Genting Shops and no less than 10 minutes in the casino, we were off down the hill again heading back to KL! Once back in KL, Alvin toured us around the red light districts looking for lady boys, tucked safely inside our locked SUV. The close of the evening saw us hoeing into some BBQ stingray at the local mamak - street side food stalls with the tastiest cuisine to be had!

Day 4 – our last day in KL. We kicked off the day with some last minute shopping. Brother spent most of the day finalising his camera and best friend’s laptop purchase but not without bank dramas – HSBC “The world’s local bank”, gave no end of stress when they locked their account after multiple ATM transactions from attempting to withdrawal a bucket load of cash to pay for their purchases. HSBC can be applauded for their security measures, but boy did it put them through grief trying to unfreeze their account from overseas! The rest of us coupled off, spending the day shopping at Mid Valley. Bf was less than impressed, as shopping is most definitely not his favorite past time! We met with our cousin Julian for lunch - it had probably been 20 years since we'd seen him last! Laden with purchases, burning feet and aching bodies, we made our way back to the Hilton for our last supper in KL together – dinner at the Hilton’s Senses Restaurant where world renowned Chef Cheong Liew ran the pot (he also has the Grange Restaurant in the Hilton Adelaide). Our 5 course degustation menu was immensely enjoyed by all, with the most immpecable service you could ever imagine. Seriously, if I could grab all the service staff with me and fly them home, I would. Eloquently sufficed, we ended the night in our room swapping photos between us before we turned down for the night.

Morning brought on a weird and somber mood for all. We met early at breakfast with the harsh reality that our holiday together had finally come to an end, but more horribly, it was goodbye - brother and best friend were returning to London. Lucky for all, our goodbyes were short and sweet. We arrived at the airport all 6 of us, running behind schedule of course! Brother and best friend were the first to fly out, so they had to make their dash quickly. After tight hugs and kisses all round, they disappeared quickly, bolting through the terminal to catch their plane. My tears flooded like the River Nile and I sobbed all the way to our terminal. I’m not sure why – I’ll be seeing them in less than a year when they return for their wedding! I’m such a sook. What made me feel better was the comfort in bf’s arms, and knowing we were about to embark on an amazing journey – 3 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia!