Part 1: Kuala Lumpur
I stopped in Malaysia for a total of eight days, between trips to Dubai
and Cambodia and Vietnam. On December 12th-13th I got the Vietnam visa
in KL and acclimatised a bit, then I spent another six days between
December 29th and January 4th with my wife and daughter in KL, before
heading back home.
Malaysia hasn't changed much since my last visit in January 2006. The
pace of development has slowed considerably since the 1990s, but there
are plenty of construction projects undergoing in KL.
This time I leave without a precise idea of when I'll be where. I'm
rather planning to make a stopover in Dubai, then continue to Malaysia,
spend two days in KL getting the Vietnam visa there, then fly to Siem
Reap, do Angkor and then travel to Phnom Penh, Saigon and from there go
north to Hanoi, before heading back to KL.
||Siem Reap-Phnom Penh
|Dec 29-Jan 3
Hotels are getting more pricey in Malaysia, with the Boulevard hotel
now costing RM275 per night (we paid RM225 in January 2006 in this same
hotel, and only RM160 in the nearby Cititel hotel in 2004). Food seems
also to have become more pricey, compared to previous years. Malaysia
however is still very good value by international standards. A four
star hotel can be found for RM200, you can have a simple meal for RM6
while a meal in a restaurant will set you back by RM15-20.
/ Exchange rate (December 2006)
1 Euro = 4.54 RM
the Universal Currency Converter.
It's easy to get cash with a Maestro/Cirrus ATM card in Malaysia, as
there are plenty of ATMs.
phones and prepaid cards
I used a prepaid card of Digi, who have an 1800MHz network in Malaysia.
Coverage is ok in the urban centres. The card cost RM8 initially and I
recharged it a couple of times. It is possible to use this prepaid
Malaysian card in Cambodia, but the cost is steep (better getting a
prepaid card in Cambodia).
Internet cafes are available everywhere. I used however mainly the
Internet line in the hotel room (either dialup with Jaring or the fast
DSL line of the hotel). After December 27th Internet access became very
slow, because an earthquake off Taiwan severed some submarine cables.
Tropically hot, but most of the time overcast, as December and January
are the rainy season in peninsular Malaysia. The weather follows the
following pattern: not too overcast in the morning, even some blue sky,
rain in the afternoon at some point between 1 and 5pm.
You'll need the usual set of "tropical" immunisations. We didn't do any
immunisations specifically for this trip, relying instead on the
protection gained through the immunisations of the previous years.
VISA / Entry
A VISA on arrival is available for citizens of most delevoped countries
as well as of some commonwealth countries. Citizens of other countries
need to apply for a VISA in advance.
Is ok, although my wife tells me all the time that now criminality is
on the rise in Malaysia etc., because she spends too much time reading
online news about Malaysia... Personally I've been to Malaysia since
1999 and have never had anything stolen. The only problem are the
Indian taxi drivers who like to tune their meters.
We used taxis in KL to get around, and used a couple
of times the public transportation system in KL, which is cheap and
very good. We used the bus to go to Genting highlands and I took the
train to Seremban.
-> Kuala Lumpur
Hotel Boulevard, Midvalley Mall, Kuala
Lumpur. 245 RM for a very nice room with everything, including a baby
bed. There is also a cable Internet connection in the room, but you
have to buy a prepaid card, which probably is not cheap.
Weather: sunny with a clouds layer in
the morning in Dubai. Not too hot in the evening in KL (it has been
We start the day after a short night with a wake up call at 5:39am. We
get ready and are down in the lobby for check out at 6:50am. Then the
hotel staff helps us get a taxi, which luckily doesn't take so long
this time. At 7am we are on the way to the airport and arrive there at
7:20am despite some traffic jam initially. It's interesting that the
roads in Dubai are already quite full at 7am.
We get out and there is some initial queue, so that we only are at the
check-in gate at 7:35am. Then we have to wait a long time in the queue
and only finish checking in at 8:10am. Then we get through immigration,
where again there is a queue and by the time we start walking towards
the gate it's 8:40am. Then it's a long walk towards the gate 37. At the
gate there is again a queue, because we have to take a bus to the
plane. We are finally in the plane around 9am.
The plane is a quite new Boeing 777, with big LCD screens and power
sockets in the chairs (!). Wow, I have to say I'm impressed. Now it's
possible to use the 6 hours of the flight in a productive manner, for
instance doing some power-intensive image processing which otherwise
would drain the batteries of the notebook quite rapidly. Overall the
level of service offered by Emirates is much higher than the one of
Thai. The seat is high-tech, with a video-on-demand service with a big
library of movies to choose from.
The plane only starts rolling at 9:40am and takes off shortly before
The flight runs smoothly and we arrive in KL with a short delay at
8:20pm. Then it takes a long time to retrieve the luggage, because the
baby stroller is only returned very late. We get out of the luggage
retrieval area only at 9pm. After some checking we buy a ticket for a
limo to the hotel for 92 RM (simple taxi is 67 RM), because we have so
We arrive at the Boulevard hotel at 10pm. There Sara, Shirley's sister
is waiting for us. She has already checked us in, so we can go straight
to the room. After that we have some late food at a Starbuck coffee
Boulevard, Midvalley Mall, Kuala
Weather: overcast in KL. It rains in
the afternoon at 4pm.
I wake up at 11:10am when the bell of the door rings, after a
more or less sleepless night (slept until 3am, then woke up and could
between 3 and 7am). It's too late to go to the Vietnamese
embassy for the morning opening session, so we call and check the
opening hours. 2-4:30pm in the afternoon, so I'll go there after lunch.
We get up, and at 1pm we leave the hotel room for some food in the
Esquire restaurant in the Midvalley mall. After lunch, at 1:45pm we
split and I initially head to the MPH bookstore where I buy a guidebook
about Vietnam. Then I fetch a taxi to the Vietnamese embassy. It turns
out that today is not my lucky day, because the taxi driver is a ethnic
Indian and ethnic Indian taxi drivers in KL almost always cheat.
Thinking again about it I should have checked the driver immediately
after boarding the taxi. In any case the trip from the Midvalley mall
to the Vietnamese embassy ends up costing almost 40 RM (39.20 RM). The
Vietnamese embassy is a couple of hundred metres away from the KLCC
complex and a taxi ride from the Midvalley mall to the KLCC complex
usually costs 10 RM...
At 2:50pm I'm in the Vietnamese embassy and ask about the
visa. A standard visa costs 180 RM and you have to wait one week, while
the express service costs 240 RM and takes three days. After some
discussion I get a visa valid for two weeks within 10 minutes for a fee
of 240 RM.
It's shortly after 3pm and I walk to KLCC. After some time there I take
a taxi back to the Midvalley megamall, arriving there around 5pm. In
the evening we meet Sara and have a dinner together.
Boulevard, Midvalley Mall, Kuala
Weather: overcast the whole day with
Day spent not doing much. I wake up at 11:00am when the phone rings.
It's Andy Lim who is ready to meet me at 11:30am. So I get up, get
and meet Andy in the hotel lobby. We have a chat in the San Francisco
Coffee shop until almost 1pm. After that I meet Shirley and after some
shopping we go back to the room, because Alissia needs to take a rest.
At 4pm Shaun, Shirley's brother, joins us and we drive to the IKEA
shopping complex in Damansara. There is an IKEA outlet and some other
malls in the same place. By the way, there is freezing A/C everywhere.
It seems that the Malaysians enjoy living in refrigerators. In
between we have some food.
Around 8pm we drive back to the Midvalley shopping complex. I buy some
groceries, then join Shirley in the hotel room.