| Part 7: Tawau, KL
MB Hotel, Tawau. RM 98 for a very nice
room, modern, with A/C, TV, water boiler for tea, telephone, nice
elegant furniture, very nice bathroom. It looks like they recently
built this hotel, because everything is so immaculate and clean. Free
WLAN internet access in the room.
Weather: overcast in the morning in
Semporna, heavy rain between 11am and 12:30pm, more rain at 2pm, dry
and mostly sunny in Tawau after 3pm.
I sleep long and then pack my stuff. By the time I check out it is
almost 11am. Outside the sky is darkening, so I take the umbrella with
me. Indeed shortly after I leave the hotel it starts raining like hell.
Luckily I'm wearing shorts and slippers, so it doesn't matter if my
legs get wet. Initially I walk around a bit, then I go to a restaurant
At 12:30pm it finally stops raining. The streets are flooded with
water, people wading through the ankle-deep water. I spend some more
time exploring Semporna. There is an interesting fish market, with
unbelievably cheap fish (RM3-5/kg), and several markets specialising on
different stuff. There is also a mosque, otherwise Semporna doesn't
have much in terms of sights. It's however interesting to watch the
people on the streets.
I'm back in the hotel at 1:30pm, fetch my bags and ask for a taxi to
Tawau. It's RM 100 according to the staff. Shortly after, around 1:40pm
the taxi driver is there are and we leave for Tawau. The drive proceeds
smoothly until one hour later later when the driver suddenly wants to
turn left to the airport. Somebody must have told him that I want to go
to the airport or perhaps he is assuming that when a tourist says
"Tawau" he/she means the airport of Tawau, because probably few western
tourists visit Tawau. In any case he tells me that it's RM 100 until
the airport and RM 130 until Tawau (80km Semporna - Tawau airport,
105km Semporna - Tawau city). We'll settle later for RM 115.
Once in Tawau we look for a hotel and I spot the MB hotel, which looks
nice. It's 3:30pm now and I check in the hotel. I leave my bags in the
room and immediately after that get out again and have a look at Tawau.
It is definitely a clean, well organised and pleasant city. In the area
where I am located there are several nice middle class hotels and a
number of middle class restaurants, including some western ones. Would
you stay here, you most likely wouldn't get bored in the evenings,
because there are so many places to go (restaurants, cafes etc.).
Semporna has the look and feel of a simple fishing village, while Tawau
is more of a business centre. Except for two mosques, there is a dearth
of sights in Tawau. A few hours are sufficient to explore completely
Tawau. There isn't even a nice public park (I only find this Taman
Sabindo park, which is not worth mentioning. Everything in Tawau is
very functional and no-nonsense.
Shortly after 5pm I walk back to the hotel. I find a shopping mall
(Parkwell), which actually is just a food supermarket. In the evening I
don't do much.
Night spent on the plane.
Weather: mostly overcast in the
morning in Tawau, blue sky with some clouds in KL in the afternoon,
overcast in the evening. No rain
I check out of the hotel at 8:45am, then take a taxi to the airport.
Cost of the trip is RM 40, the distance is approx. 30km and the trip
takes around half an hour. Once at the airport I check in at the
AirAsia counter. This time it's RM 75 for the 5 Kg excess weight (my
suitcase weighs 20kg, max. allowed is 15kg).
The flight takes off at 11am with about half an hour delay and lands in
KL at 1:30pm. I leave my stuff at the left luggage counter of the LCCT
terminal (fee is a hefty RM 30). Then I take a taxi (RM 62) to the
Midvalley shopping complex. The trip takes a bit over half an hour -
I'm at the mall around 3:15pm.
Over the next few hours I get a haircut, eat some food and do some
shopping. At 6:30pm I look for a taxi but there is a huge queue of
people at the taxi stand. So I walk to the KTM station and fetch the
6:53pm train to KL Sentral. There I walk to the LCCT bus stop and
manage to catch the 7pm bus to the LCCT terminal, even if it is already
7:05pm. The bus ticket costs only RM 9 and the bus arrives at the LCCT
terminal shortly after 8pm.
Once at the airport I check in and proceed to the gate. I process my
emails and recharge the batteries of the computer. Then, at 9:15pm the
boarding of the AirAsia X flight D72702 starts. I've reserved an
emergency exit seat for an additional RM 100 and ordered a comfort kit
for RM 25. This consists of a blanket, an eye mask and a neck pillow.
All these items would normally be included in a standard flight, but
this is a budget airline and for the basic fee you only get the seat
and 15kg of checked luggage, nothing else.
This means essentially that you need to spend more than the published
fee, because you will need 20 kg (nobody travels long distance with
just 15kg of luggage), you'll need a comfort kit if it's a night flight
and you'll also need to purchase some food. By the way, the AirAia
hostesses look great in the tight and short skirts. I've never seen a
fat AirAsia hostess and I'd guess that a slim shape is a basic
requirement for anybody aspiring to be an AirAsia hostess.
(continued from the Australia 2009 travelogue)
Hotel Boulevard, KL. RM 295 for a
double room with A/C etc. There is also a hairdryer and a fridge. Fast
Internet access costs RM 60 per day, RM 160 per week.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with a few
clouds, fresh (temperature around 17°C) in the morning in Melbourne.
I check out at 10:30am, then take a taxi to the airport. We
are at the airport at 11:15am. There is quite a long queue at the
check-in counter, I only manage to check in shortly before 12pm, then I
proceed to the gate. The plane, an A330, leaves more or less on time at
12:45pm. It is three quarters full. We land in KL on time and after
retrieving the luggage I take a taxi to the hotel.
Weather: mostly overcast, but in the
mornings the sky is less overcast and almost blue. Tropically hot. No
Days spent with the family, mainly in the Midvalley shopping mall. I
don't do much, except for some shopping.
12.01: KL -> Bangkok
Rama Gardens hotel, Bangkok. 3200 Baht
for a deluxe room (a superior room is 2400 Baht). Very nice and big
room with everything. Two queen size beds, A/C, TV, fridge with
minibar, phone, hair dryer, tea cooking equipment (water boiler etc.),
toilet and separate bathroom with bathtub and shower cabin. Very
elegant furniture, thick carpet on the ground, luxury feeling. Cable
Internet connection in the room (100 Baht for one hour, 200 Baht for
three hours, 500 Baht for one day. Pool in the garden, gym and tennis
Weather: overcast in KL, sunny in
Bangkok but sky is heavily polluted (greyish). Warm, but not hot in
We check out around 10am, then take a taxi to the airport (a van for RM
120). At the airport everything proceeds smooth, we check in, go
through immigration, pass security and proceed to the gate. The plane
takes off on time and arrives in Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport at
1:30pm local time. We manage to retrieve the luggage and go through
immigration relatively speedily, then we head to the hotel reservation
counter. Then starts the mess.
At the old Don Muang airport there used to be an efficient hotel
reservation counter which was able to quickly find an affordable and
high value hotel. But this counter where we go to (they grab us at the
exit and drag us there) is extremely inefficient and is only able to
propose hotels in the price range of 7000-8000 Baht/night. After a
while I manage to retrieve the name of the nice and affordable hotel
where we used to stay years ago (it's close to Don Muang airport). It's
the Rama Gardens and after some discussion I book a room there (room is
2400 Baht, but an additional bed for Alissia costs 1500 Baht, which is
absurd, so we don't book the extra bed.
Outside the next surprise. The bigger, van-size taxis do not use the
meter and charge a flat rate of 700 Baht for the transfer to the Rama
Gardens hotel. Only the small taxis use the meter. So we take a van to
the hotel. It takes 35 minutes to reach the hotel. We spend the rest of
the day in the Rama Gardens hotel.
Home, sweet home.
Weather: Sunny in Bangkok but
relatively cold. It's warmer inside the buildings with the A/C on than
After breakfast we check out and at 11:25am are in a taxi to the
airport (fare this time is 800 Baht). We arrive in Suvarnabhumi airport
35 minutes later at 12pm. This time there are no queues and everything
proceeds smooth. We check in without waiting, go through immigration
again without waiting because we have a baby. After a lunch at the
airport, at 1:30pm we board the plane.