Lumpur, Melaka, Perak and Langkawi
This is a report of our trip to
in November-December 2002. In the first two weeks of December we
our Chinese wedding (traditional Chinese wedding in Shirley's home town
Teluk Intan on December 7th, wedding photo session on December 13th and
party with friends in KL on December 14th). In between, while Shirley
busy shopping and meeting friends in KL, I made some brief trips to
and Langkawi. Between December 15th and 29th we spent two weeks in
(see the corresponding travelogue).
Malaysia still offers very good
for the money and it is possible to stay in hotels and eat in
at relatively low prices. A room in a four star hotel costs around
We didn't book anything in advance
and stayed in a mix of hotels in the price range 50-170 RM (price for a
double room with bath and A/C). It is possible to have a lunch for two
for about 20-25RM in a restaurant (even less than that if you eat in a
food stall). Modern cinemas with comfortable halls cost 8-12 RM. Prices
for internal flights with Malaysian Airlines have increased by about
in the past couple of years, but there are now some discount airlines
which offer very competitively priced tickets. Travel by bus is very
(around 8RM for a two hours bus trip) and confortable (all buses have
/ Exchange rate
US $1 = 3.8 RM (ringgit
Digi and TMTouch offer prepaid cards
(68 RM with 50RM of calls available) for their GSM 1800 networks.
(017 if I'm not wrong) offers a prepaid card for 38 RM, but their
is quite limited (KL, the north-south highway and a few other places).
Maxis and Celcom have GSM 900 networks (with Celcom having the best
and offer more expensive prepaid cards (around 120 RM). For information
on Malaysia's GSM networks see here.
In KL there are Internet cafes
(RM 4/hr). The one in Bukit Bintang road above the 7/11 shop is very
Same for Langkawi, although many Internet cafes there are quite slow. I
used the Jaring internet account of my wife to send/receive emails and
surf the Internet from hotels.
KL: used to be sunny in the mornings
with clouds slowly building up and rain for about one hour around
Overcast but dry evenings.
Langkawi: dry and sunny, with mostly
spotless blue skies. In the three days I spent there it rained only
(in the afternoon for about half an hour).
Normally you need the usual tropical
country vaccinations (polio, Hep A, tetanus, diphteria, typhoid). For
trip however we didn't refresh any. Malaria pills were not necessary
the places we visited (KL, Melaka, Teluk Intan, Langkawi).
/ Entry requirements
A valid passport is necessary. EU
nationals automatically get a three month visa upon arrival. This also
holds for nationals of many other countries - check with the Malaysian
embassy in your country.
No problem at all - Malaysia is a
very stable and peaceful country.
30.11.02: Munich ->
Dubai -> Kuala Lumpur
View, KL, 88 RM/night for a double room with bath and A/C; conveniently
located in Jalan Alor (Golden
with a mix of rain and sunshine; not too warm
We left Munich yesterday afternoon
with Emirates, flying to KL via Dubai. The flight was fine and quite
priced (650 Euro for a 6 months ticket with 35Kg of luggage - this
is however only available to Malaysians and their spouses).
I haven't slept on the flight and
neither did Shirley, which is why we are quite tired when we arrive in
KLIA (KL international airport) at 2pm local time. After going through
immigration and getting the luggage we walk towards the taxi counter.
reaching it a guy approaches us asking if we want to have a taxi (not
of the airport limos). We negotiate a price of RM 55 to go to Subang
(Shirley's home in Malaysia) - which probably is more or less the same
what we would have payed had we taken a limo (KLIA - KL is RM 77 by
But with the limo the (completely useless) company which sells the
would pocket 30% and I prefer giving the full amount directy to the
So we follow the driver, who brings us to his car - a Proton Saga which
is not even a taxi. The driver probably is a freelancer.
We don't take the newly completed
skytrain as it wouldn't bring us to Subang Jaya and would be quite
at RM 35 per person (makes only sense if you are alone).My first
is that Malaysia hasn't changed a lot since last year. The
weather is clouded with a mix
of rain and sunshine. It's not too warm, actually relatively fresh -
because of the rain. After leaving a lot of stuff at
place and checking the email we try to get a taxi. That is we call
taxi companies and none will send us a cab. In the Hari Raya period it
is tough to get a taxi in Malaysia. Finally we find one, but then it
out that Shirley's sister Sara is near Subang Jaya with her car, so we
cancel the taxi and she drives us to the Season's View hotel in Jalan
(which hasn't changed since last year). This hotel is probably the best
budget place in the area around Bukit Bintang road. Bukit
Bintang, the shopping
road of KL, has changed slightly, as they finished modernising a couple
of shopping complexes. The monorail has been completed, but it's not
inaugurated because of an accident which happened a few months ago (a
wheel apparently dropped off and fell onto the ground during a test).
We check in the hotel at 6pm and
don't do much as we are very tired. Tomorrow we'll start looking for a
photographer for the wedding photo session and I'll see if I can find
a Myanmar travel guide book (couldn't find it in the MPH book store in
the BB Plaza shopping complex). Shirley will be busy in the coming week
with shopping, meeting friends etc., while I'm planning to fly to
for a couple of days on Tuesday (want to shoot a Langkawi photo
Next Saturday we'll have the traditional Chinese wedding in Shirley's
one week later the wedding dinner in KL with the friends. Between these
two events I'll briefly visit Melaka and Singapore (mainly to shoot
photos). Shirley will continue with her shopping/friends visiting
On December 15th we are planning to fly to Myanmar - that is if not all
flights are fully booked. I feel immediately at home while
walking in the KL streets in the evening. There is just so much life,
many people on the streets, tons of food stalls, vendors of stuff,
complexes open seven days a week until 10pm and so on. Compared to KL
German town is pretty much dead and it's easy to understand why it is
for any Malaysian woman to live in a country like Germany.
View, KL, 88 RM/night
in the morning with some clouds, rain for about half an hour at 2:15pm,
after that mostly clouded with some sunshine
Today I manage to wake up at 8am,
which is not too bad considering the jet lag. I check and process my
for about an hour until Shirley wakes up. After breakfast Shirley and I
split - she goes to do her shopping with her sister Sarah, while I head
to the Kimarie hairdresser in the BB Plaza shopping complex in Bukit
road. I don't have to wait at all and take the 'professional' haircut -
they wash your hair three times, massage the head and spend a lot of
cutting the hair. The price is 55 RM - didn't increase in the past two
After that I start my photography
tour of KL. I walk from the Lot 10 shopping complex at the intersection
of Jalan Sultan Ismail and Bukit Bintang road to the Petronas
Towers in KLCC,
now and then. It becomes quite clear that the monorail track has now
been completed. They even set up the train stations. It's just that the
monorail isn't operating because of the accident.
Around 1pm the strong tropical sun
ends up sunburning me. So I walk into the Suria
KLCC shopping complex and have a small lunch. After, I go to the
cinemas on the 3rd floor to book tickets for Harry Potter, but there is
no performance in the evening.
In the meantime Shirley has managed
to get a prepaid card from Digi (68 RM with 50RM of calls, however only
valid for one month, after you have to recharge the card).
Then I start looking for a travel
agency, as I have to book a couple of flights (Myanmar and Langkawi).
spite of the festive day there is one open agency on the third floor.
it's not that much of a travel agency, as they only sell Malaysian
and Thai Airways flights.
MAS doesn't fly every day to Yangon
- on Dec. 13th and Dec. 17th, but not on Dec. 15th when we want to fly.
The MAS price is around 1100 RM. The other option, flying with Thai
through Bangkok costs 1250 RM, but the Bangkok-Yangon Thai flight on
15th is fully booked. Another option would be flying to Bangkok and
catching one of the many flights from Bangkok to Yangon (with other
airlines and Biman), but the price of the return ticket KL-Bangkok has
now been increased to 1280 RM (!), up from 700 RM three years ago. I
to check tomorrow if it is possible to fly with Biman through Dhaka or
with Singapore airlines through Singapore.
After, since the weather is still
halfway fine (you have to use the sunny days to get good images in KL),
I get a taxi to the Abdul
Samad building. On the way I'm planning to get some cash from the
in the Citibank in Jalan Ampang. The first three taxis I stop all
to use the meter. One funny Indian taxi driver even wants to show me
town for 25 RM (!). They must be thinking that I'm new to KL...
Well, I manage to reach the Sultan
Abdul Samad building at 2:15pm, just in time for the rain to
After waiting for about half an hour inside the building until the rain
stops, I take some shots, which however aren't that great as the sky
the building is clouded (no nice blue sky). So I simply take a taxi
to the hotel.
At about 4pm I go to an Internet
cafe where I spend one hour and a half checking my messages and
This is supposed to be a
but actually I'm very busy. At 6pm I call Shirley and we agree to meet
in the Midvalley
mall at 7:30pm and watch Harry Potter there. After taking a shower
I take a taxi (this time no meter, I simply agree to pay 10 RM - but
are cheap and these drivers really don't make so much money).
In Midvalley we find out that there
is no Harry Potter movie at a suitable time, so we change our plans and
go to a restaurant. We skip about a dozen good restaurants and go to
of a Chinese place where they only have noodles with meat or chicken
Kind of a food stall mutated into a restaurant, but still with the very
limited choice of dishes of a food stall.
The by far best restaurants in this
part of the world are Thai restaurants. Chinese restaurants are not
good (here). They cater mainly to the Chinese, who have their own
eating habits (ehm, they always eat the same things). If you are
for a decent Chinese restaurant head to the Esquire Kitchen restaurant
chain (their Tofu home style is very good).
After dinner we split, Shirley and
her sister go shopping again, and I go to a Pizza hut to get some more
food. Sarah is so kind to drive us back to KL. I do some night photo
of the Petronas towers. We sleep at 2am.
View, KL, 88 RM/night
spotless blue sky in the morning, sunshine. Over the course of the day
clouds start building up until is starts raining heavily at 3:45pm. It
rains for about one hour,then stops for the rest of the day.
I wake up at 8am after a relatively
short night. At about 10:30am Shirley and I go to a travel agency in
Bintang road. It's tough to get a flight to Yangon (Myanmar). MAS, Thai
and Singapore airlines are fully booked on the dates we need.
lots of Burmese workers go home around Xmas and there are also many
visiting Myanmar. Finally we manage to get a flight with Myanmar
in the business class for 1535 RM per person (but we budgeted 1100).
on December 15th and back on December 29th. After, at 11:15am we rush
taxi to the Myanmar embassy (in Lorong Ru, closes at 12pm).
I have to say that Myanmar isn't
doing much to promote tourism - it's so difficult to travel there.
have to bring cash as there are no ATMs and will have to exchange $400
After we finish applying for the
visas we go to the Citibank to get more cash and then we drive to KL
(421 meters, was completed in 1996) for some great views of KL and some
photo shooting. The ticket to go up is 15 RM.
After lunch Shirley and I split
(she has to go back to her flat in Subang Jaya). I simply relax in the
hotel until 4:30pm, then fetch the plane tickets at the travel agency.
Getting the tickets takes over half an hour and the temperature inside
the travel agency is freezing, so I catch a cold. The flight to Langkawi
(I'm going there tomorrow for a couple of days) with MAS now costs 435
RM, up from 285 RM three years ago. The lady explains me that the
decided at some point that the prices of internal flights were too low,
so they raised them by 50%.
Shirley, Sarah and I meet again
in the evening for dinner (Thai restaurant in KLCC, a bit overpriced)
we watch a movie in the TGV cinemas.
My flight to Langkawi is tomorrow
at 1:20pm from KLIA. To "encourage" tourism, they shut down Subang
so now getting to the airport takes between 45 minutes and one hour and
costs at least 50 RM (Subang was 20 minutes and 15 RM).
View, KL, 88 RM/night
with clouds, rain in the afternoon for about one hour at 3pm. The
pattern is sunshine in the morning until noon, clouds building up and
in the early afternoon for about one hour. Clouded evenings which make
evening photo shooting impossible (no sunsets).
I wake up at 1:20pm after a
night. Shirley has left the hotel in the morning to do her shopping. I
decide to cancel my trip to Singapore and postpone the one to Langkawi
to next week. I'll visit Melaka tomorrow and fly next Monday to
My lunch is at Delifrance in the Lot
10 shopping complex. Prices have increased by about 30% over the
two years. Malaysia seems to be experiencing a runaway inflation.
After lunch I check my vaccinations
at the Tung Shin hospital in Jalan Pudu (everything seems fine - the
says that anti-malaria tablets won't be necessary in Myanmar unless I
into the jungle).
After I get a bus ticket to Melaka
at the Puduraya bus station (leaving tomorrow 1:30pm, 9 RM) and buy a
card from TMTouch (68 RM with 50RM of calls available, 1 min = 60
TMTouch is a GSM 1800 operator in Malaysia. Their coverage is not too
- three years ago for instance they had coverage on Tioman, where
no other GSM operator had coverage.
In the evening I spend a couple
of hours in an Internet cafe in Bukit Bintang road (the one next to the
7/11 shop). Price is 4 RM/hour and the speed is good (downloads average
30 KByte/s), but this evening the place is congested and the Internet
is slower than usual.
When walking back to the hotel,
again somebody offers me a "girl". About three or four times a day
offers me a girl in Bukit Bintang road - even in the morning and the
Maybe I should wear a big 'I don't go with prostitutes' sign on my
Possibly they see me walking around with my Malaysian wife and then
that she is a professional. About two years ago Shirley and I took a
in KL, driver was a Chinese, and he told Shirley that she would "catch
a disease" if she continued to "work as a prostitute".
Sexual relations between man and
woman are quite different in the Western world and in Asian countries.
In Asian countries it seems to be quite acceptable, even for a young
to use the services of a prostitute (and here I remember the
I had in August '99 with a young Korean tourist in Koh Samui who was
me that going with a prostitute and paying for sex was actually more
than seducing a woman and doing it for free). In Malaysia for instance
it is relatively complicated for a young Asian to set up a relationship
with somebody from the opposite sex and many young people are virgin
their late twenties. Until one or two generations ago, people, even
couples didn't kiss each other. The kiss seems to be a European
Copyright (c) 2003