| Part 2: KL
Overnight on the plane
Weather: around 0°C in Munich
when we leave, it has snowed yesterday.
We leave home at 6:10pm and manage to queue up at the check-in of the
airport by 7:20pm. There is a very long queue and we'll have to wait
until 8pm before reaching the clerk at the check-in counter. It turns
out that they messed up with our booking. The plane by the way is
overbooked and Thai has been offering 35 people 600 Euro each if they
fly one day later.
It's almost 9pm when we finally manage to get the boarding passes.
Since we haven't had a dinner today, I quickly rush to the nearby
Burger King restaurant, hoping to grab a burger. Not a chance, there is
a very long queue. We proceed through security and immigration and are
at the gate at 9:15pm. Boarding has already started and we are allowed
to skip the queue because we are a family with small children. The
plane is completely full, not a single seat is empty. Thai have
cancelled the Friday flight and put all passengers of the Friday flight
on the Saturday flight. It's no surprise that the Saturday flight is
Hotel Boulevard, KL. 320RM for a nice
and spacious room. This is actually a deluxe room (they have upgraded
us from the superior room. Internet in the room is not included and
costs RM60 extra.
Weather: warm and tropical in KL.
We arrive in Bangkok as scheduled, have some food in a restaurant, then
it takes more than half an hour of walking to reach the gate E10, from
which the flight to KL takes off. We arrive in KL with some delay,
shortly after 8pm. By the time we finally leave the airport by taxi to
the hotel it's 9:03pm. We are in two taxis, because using a family van
taxi would cost RM180, while two taxis cost only RM67.40 each. It takes
only half an hour to reach the hotel - I'm surprised.
Hotel Boulevard, Midvalley shopping
Weather: blueish sky in the morning
with a clouds layer, getting overcast in the afternoon. No rain, not so
hot (perhaps 28°C or less). Late in the evening, around midnight it
The alarm clock wakes us up at 9am. During the night we woke up every
hour because of the kids. At 4am both Natasha and Alissia are together
with us in the big bed, and Natasha (the baby, 10 months old) and
start a fight. Alissia would like to sleep but Natasha keeps crawling
on her and pulling her hair. We have a deadlock situation because
neither Natasha nor Alissia are willing to leave our bed and sleep in
the baby court (lots of crying, if you put one into the baby court). In
the end, it must have been 4:30am, we manage to get Natasha to sleep in
the baby bed.
We have breakfast shortly before 10am, then go down into the Midvalley
shopping complex for some shopping. We buy prepaid cards of Maxis for
the mobile phones (Digi costs RM30 which includes RM5 of airtime, Maxis
costs RM20 which includes RM4 of airtime). A Malayian id or a passport
is necessary to get the cards activated (the sales clerk does that).
After that we withdraw some cash from the ATM, then we split. Shirley
goes to a hairstylist for a haircut, I go with the kids to the MPH
bookstore where I choose a guidebook for Malaysia (my LP guide is of
1999!). After a lot of browsing I finally choose the Rough Guide to
Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei of 2006. There are other, more recent
guidebooks, but in terms of content, layout and structure this seems to
be the best. Light years ahead of the Lonely Planet guide (only the
Borneo specific Lonely Planet is as good, but I want to buy just one
guidebook). The Footprint guide is also very good, but is less
informative than the Rough Guide and the hotel information is not as
good as the one of the Rough Guide.
I notice the very interesting recommendation regarding the Kinabatangan
valley to stay in a guesthouse in Sukau. Interesting because it
mentions that all jungle camps of the various operators are just a few
hundred metres upriver and that it is easily possible to find local
guides or to organise river tours once there.
After that I walk around a bit in the Midvalley mall. Everything is
geared towards the Xmas season shopping spree. then I join Shirley at
the hairdresser. Natasha has in the meantime already been sleeping for
a while, so I drop Alissia with Shirley and bring Natasha back to the
room. There I let her sleep in the baby bed.
It's about 3 something pm when Shirley is back. Since I haven't had
lunch so far, I leave her in the hotel with the kids and go down to a
restaurant in the mall for some food. Then I take a taxi to the
Citibank in Jalan Ampang. The taxi driver requests some money (RM 3) in
addition to the metered fee. Ok with me, because taxis in KL are very
cheap and these drivers do not make much money. But then it takes a
while for the taxi driver to reach the bank and I wonder if he drove
some weird cirles to increase the fee.
After withdrawing some money from the Citibank ATM, I walk to the
Petronas Towers, where I have a look at the mall. From there I walk to
the BB Plaza mall in Bukit Bintang street. The Delifrance restaurant in
the Lot 10 shopping mall has disappeared.
In the BB Plaza mall I shop around a bit. Do they perhaps have a Sony
70-300 G SSM lens? This is the upscale telephoto zoom lens of the Sony
Alpha range, which can be used both for APS-C and full-frame DSLRs.
Quite expensive but is supposed to be sharp around F5 according to the
reviews, while cheaper telephoto lenses have to be stopped down to F8
and beyond to produce sharp images. I stop in a shop selling Sony DSLR
equipment, and after some discussion it turns out that they have one
such lens in a nearby shop. List price is RM2999, but they are willing
to sell it for RM2600 (and perhaps even a bit less if I negotiate). In
Germany the same lens is 50% more expensive.
So I ask to have a look at this lens. The shop clerk disappears for a
few minutes and returns with a box containing the lens. I make some
test shots with a tripod, using a wireless remote control to trigger
the camera. Already in the shop, when examining the captured images at
100% on the camera's LCD I notice no sharpness improvement at all focal
lengths and apertures compared with a cheaper telephoto zoom. Later in
the evening a more thorough check in the hotel confirms my impression,
that the expensive Sony lens is no better than a telephoto zoom which
costs 1/4 of the price. I suspect that perhaps the lens copy the shop
has available is not good, or defective or perhaps a fake.
Outside the BB plaza mall the taxi drivers are unwilling to use the
meter (it was the same one year ago already). Long queue of idle taxis
waiting for customers. I get back to the hotel by Monorail (very fast
until KL Sentral) and by KTM Kommuter (20 minutes of wait in the
station for the next train).
In the evening I have a common dinner with Shirley, her mother, sister
and brother. Then I check my emails in a Starbucks coffee shop.
Tomorrow we fly with the 11:25am AirAsia flight to Langkawi.