| Teluk Intan, KL
Malaysia hasn't changed much since last year. The only thing I noticed
is that now the hotels are getting slowly more expensive. You can no
longer stay in a four star hotel in Kuala Lumpur for 140 RM, as was the
case a few years ago.
At the end of my trip to Laos I'm planning to meet Shirley in Malaysia,
where I will spend a couple of days with the in-laws in Teluk Intan and
a few days in Kuala Lumpur, before moving on to Thailand where we will
spend a few days on a beach before getting back to Munich.
While still being a relatively cheap place where to spend a holiday,
the prices of hotel rooms have risen since the past years. We spend 225
RM for a room in a four star hotel a bit out of KL, while in 2002 we
just spent 168 RM for the nicer and much more central Concorde hotel in
KL. Otherwise the overall price level hasn't changed much, with very
affordable restaurants and local trasportation (I just pay 170 RM for
the trip from KL international airport to Teluk Intan, about 200km).
/ Exchange rate (December 2005)
1 Euro = 4.60 RM
The cheap US dollar made the
trip less expensive (the Malaysian RM is sort of linked to the USD).
the Universal Currency Converter.
phones / Prepaid GSM
Prepaid cards for GSM phones are available for every GSM mobile network
operator in Malaysia and are a much more affordable option to the
roaming service offered by your home country network. While I was in
Malaysia there was a promotional offer from a provider - less than RM
20 for a prepaid card with about RM 8 of calls (sufficient for a few
days of phone calls).
Internet cafes are available everywhere and cheap. Personally I
connected to the Internet with the notebook computer from the hotel
using a dial-up service. The hotel in KL offered a fast Internet
connection in the room via a network cable, which however I didn't use
as the cost didn't justify my limited usage.
Hot, humid and more or less overcast.
You will need the usual set of tropical vaccinations. No risk of
malaria in the places we stayed.
VISA / Entry
No visa is required for nationals of most developed countries to enter
Malaysia. A three months (Malaysia)
visa is automatically granted upon arrival.
Malaysia is still a very safe place. We have never experienced problems
in the past years. The worst that can happen is that every now an then
a taxi driver will try to cheat you, but that happens only with the
ethnic Indian taxi drivers.
Since we were travelling with a small child, we mostly used taxis to
get from A to B.
-> Teluk Intan
No hotel, I spend the night at the
place of my in-laws in Teluk Intan
Weather: slightly overcast early
morning in Bangkok. Quite hot and overcast in Malaysia; it rains in
I'm woken up by the alarm clock at 6:45am and rush to get ready. At
7:20am I'm in the lobby and check out. I manage to get a taxi at 7:30am
and explain "airport, international, Thai airways". The driver
understands that I want to fly to a destination in Thailand and drives
me to the domestic terminal. After some explaining and finger pointing
he finally brings me to the international terminal, where we arrive at
7:55am. After that it's a bit of a rush, I even check in at the first
class counter because it's late. I'm at the gate at 8:20am, go to the
toilet and get shaved (skipped that in the hotel to save time - I also
skipped breakfast to get a longer sleep by the way).
At 8:25am, while I'm still in the toilet doing the shaving, they
already start boarding the plane. What a hectic morning. The plane
however only takes off at 9:25am and arrives in KLIA a bit late
After that I find the driver who will drive me to Teluk Intan. Very
good value, at RM 170 for 200+ km of distance. We leave the airport
around 1:20pm and arrive in Teluk Intan shortly before 4pm. During the
rest of the day not much happens. I check my emails and hear that one
of my sites was shut down, apparently for unpaid bills, even if all
invoices have been paid. Essentially the host of that site has
automated everything, and a small glitch in the billing systems can
automatically shut down a site, without advance warning. Which is
pretty scary. In the evening we have a dinner in a Chinese restaurant
in Teluk Intan.
No hotel, I spend the night at the
place of my in-laws in Teluk Intan
Weather: partly overcast, then sunny
with clouds. Very hot. It rains at 5pm.
The baby wakes me up at 9:30pm. I haven't slept too well this night,
because yesterday's dinner was too heavy. We (Alissia, Shirley, her mom
and me) are in town around 11am, for a late breakfast at a food stall.
All friends of my mother in law cheer Alissia. They must have seen her
already over the last few days. Many "kidnap" her temporarily - Alissia
is quite different from the other children here.
After we drive to a cocoa plantation in Teluk Intan. I had asked
Shirley about this, because I wanted to shoot some photos of cocoa
trees and fruits. It's quite interesting - I didn't know that cocoa
fruits were like that.
We are back a bit after 12pm. At 2:20pm we go out again into town, this
time for lunch and just Shirley and me (Alissia is taking a nap). I
want to try out the Pizza Hut restaurant they have here. On the way we
stop at the leaning tower and at a fortune teller (to shoot some
photos). Between 3 and 4pm we have a lunch at the Pizza Hut restaurant.
The food is not so good, less good than in a German Pizza Hut
restaurant. I can only guess that Pizza Hut does not enforce the same
quality standards worldwide.
We are back home at 4pm. At 5pm it starts raining and continues to rain
with some stops until 7pm. Then it rains again, non-stop until late
into the night.
Intan -> Kuala Lumpur
Boulevard hotel, KL. Newly opened hotel
attached to the Midvalley shopping complex. 225 RM for a nice room with
everything (TV, A/C, bath+shower). This is probably a four star hotel.
Weather: overcast the whole day,
heavy rain in the morning in Teluk Intan. Some light rain in the
afternoon in KL. Not too hot.
We get up at 9am and leave Teluk Intan at 11am. We are going to KL by
taxi - relatively cheap 120 RM. The car is a 1980 Mercedes driven by a
Malaysian Indian driver. We reach KL at 1:10pm - quite early, I was
expecting to arrive at 2pm. After checking in we have a lunch in the
Midvalley shopping complex with Shirley's sister Sara, who just joined
Around 3pm, Shirley and Sara go shopping and I take a taxi to downtown
KL. I'm in downtown KL until 5pm, and try to get a haircut at Kimarie
in the BB Plaza shopping complex. Not a chance, today is Saturday and
the saloon is full of women who want to have their hair styled up. So I
get back to Midvalley and have a haircut there (A Cut Above, for 80 RM).
In the evening not much happens. I'm basically in the hotel and have
dinner in the Midvalley shopping complex, while Shirley has a dinner
with her brother and Sara in a fish restaurant.
08.01: Kuala Lumpur
Boulevard hotel, KL.
Weather: overcast the whole day, but
no rain. Not too hot. Sunny with a thin clouds layer in Thailand.
We wake up at 8:30am and have breakfast at 9:30am. I call Min, a
Malaysian lady from the Asiaexplorers Laos group, and organise a
At 11:50am I take a taxi to the Batu caves (14 RM, about 20 minutes to
get there). At 2pm I fetch a taxi to get back to the Midvalley hotel.
Surprisingly after a few minutes the fee on the meter is already at 14
RM - the total cost of the trip from the Midvalley hotel to the Batu
caves. Obviously the driver has "tuned" the meter to cheat his
customers. The driver is Malaysian Indian, which is not surprising
because only ethnic Indian taxi drivers do this kind of stuff in
Malaysia. Never mind, I ask the driver to drop me off at the first
suitable place, which happens to be the newly built Welaya mosque
(Jalan Duta). By now the meter has reached 19 RM. Now the driver asks
for another 2 RM of "parking" fee. I tell him that 19 RM is more than
enough and that I could report him to the police. End of the
Since I'm there I have a look at the mosque. Quite nice and
interesting. At 2:30pm I walk back to the road and look for a taxi. It
doesn't take too long until a taxi stops. I'm back in the Midvalley
hotel at 3pm. I call Min - she is on the way.
At 3:20pm I meet Min in the ground floor. We go to the Secret Recipy, a
restaurant in the Midvalley shopping complex. There we have some lunch,
and after some time my wife joins us. By the way, excellent cakes in
this place. We have chat until 6pm. Then Min leaves and I get back to
the hotel room for some rest.
At 7pm we have a dinner with Shirley, Sara, and her brother Shaun in
the Piccolo Mondo Italian restaurant inside the Midvalley shopping
complex. After the dinner we do some
shopping, then get back to the hotel room. Tomorrow we are flying to
09.01: Kuala Lumpur -> Koh Samui (via Bangkok)
Coral Samui resort, Chaweng beach, Koh
Samui. 2000 Baht for a disappointing room with A/C, TV and private
bathroom with hot shower. Not good value (actually overpriced), because
the bed only has some thin sheets and no blankets. Too cold to sleep
with A/C, and in fact all decent hotels who have A/C have beds with
thick enough blankets. Even the cheap USD 6 guest house in Laos where I
one week ago had thick blankets. I suspect the owner wants to save
on electricity for A/C, because with sheets thin like these you cannot
really sleep with A/C. Shirley asks for new pillows, because the
pillows in the bed are smelly, as if some sweating guy had slept on
them. The rooms itself looks old. The door lock is half broken and it
takes a lot of effort to lock and unlock the door.
The room is essentially overpriced. For the same money I had a few days
ago a very nice room in a four star hotel
in Bangkok - this place looks more like a
two stars guest house. If this is what you get for 2000 Baht in Koh
Samui, then perhaps tourists should stay away from Koh Samui, because
prices have become too high.
Weather: overcast in KL, no rain.
Sunny with a thin clouds layer in Bangkok, overcast in Koh Samui.
We wake up at 8:30am and have breakfast at 9:30am. We finish packing
our stuff and check out at 10:50am. The total bill is 467 RM - 450 RM
for the room, 17 RM for local calls (Internet dial up). After that we
take a taxi and reach the airport at 11:50am. There we check in the
luggage. The Thai airways flight is delayed - 1:50pm instead of 1:15pm.
That's ok, as we have enough time in Bangkok airport when changing
flights. I only hope the delay does not grow. We still have no hotel
booking for Koh Samui.
The flight leaves Bangkok around 2pm Malaysian time and lands in
Bangkok around 3:30pm Thai time. Luckily the guy from the travel agency
is there at the gate waiting for us, so we don't have to look for him
and hands us over the tickets. A short discussion follows. There are
two options: 1. go through immigration, retrieve the luggage, go to the
domestic terminal and check in there with Bangkok Airways; 2. go to the
counter of Bangkok Airways at the transfer desk at terminal 2 and ask
them if they can retrieve the luggage for us and check in here (at the
We initially opt for the second option and walk to the counter of
Bangkok Airways. Once we are there it's 3:45pm and there is a queue of
people. I have the uneasy feeling that by the time it's our turn and we
talk to them it may be too late for the flight to Koh Samui at 4:50pm.
Also I don't trust these people to handle our luggage (something might
So we rush through immigration, retrieve the luggage and get to the
arrivals hall. The next challenge is to get to the domestic terminal as
soon as possible, because it's already 5pm. At the Bangkok airport they
have this dumb subdivision between an international and a domestic
terminal. There is a shuttle bus for free, but it takes half an hour to
do the (short ) trip. The other option is to take a taxi, but there is
a long queue of people in front of the taxi stand. So we accept the
offer of a service limo company and pay 200 Baht (!) to them to bring
us to the domestic terminal asap.
It turns out that we would have reached the domestic terminal faster by
walking, because the taxi is stuck in the traffic jam and drops us off
at the wrong entrance. By the time we finally are at the check-in
counter of Bangkok Airways it's 4:20pm - 30 minutes before the flight
takes off. The lady initially refuses to check us in, then, after I ask
what time the next flight is, does check us in. At 4:35 pm we are
finally at the gate.
The PG179 flight to Koh Samui leaves with some delay (around 10
minutes), but hey, it's great that we made it. We land in Koh Samui a
bit after 6pm. Then we retrieve the luggage and I head to the hotel
booking counter at the airport. Long discussion, it turns out that to
get something nice you have to spend at least 3000-4000 Baht per night,
which is too much, considering that this is Thailand. Even the Family
bungalows, which the Canadian guy recommended to me, are pricey at 2800
Baht (the Canadian guy told me the rooms cost USD 40 there, i.e. 1600
Baht). On top of that all places which are sort of a compromise and
have an a bit better price/value ratio, are fully booked (or let's say,
the contingent of rooms allocated to the airport booking counter has
been used up).
It becomes 7pm and we are still discussing the room. I start to regret
not having booked the place through the Internet, but I had very little
time over the last days. So we choose a place, the Coral Samui on
Chaweng beach, hoping it's not too terrible.
The next surprise is that the taxi driver asks 400 Baht to bring us to
this place, although the distance is quite short (a few km). We try to
find a taxi outside the airport and after some time and some effort
find someone who will bring us to the hotel for 300 Baht. There seems
to be sort of a price cartel on the island - taxi drivers are not
willing to go below a certain price limit.
We arrive at the hotel around 7:50pm. The hotel turns out to be a
disappointment (see above). The pool is very small, the rooms are so-so
(the beds are very bad).
We have a dinner at 8 something pm, then have a brief walk along the
(shopping) road which runs parallel to the beach. Around 10pm I check
my emails in an Internet cafe (fast DSL line, 1 Baht/minute, min. 20