I spent most of today working from the hostel, after waking up late. Went out early evening for 45 minutes in the Telecom Museum. This was plenty of time to read everything, and it's very interesting. A student ticket is 5myr. Upstairs was seating and wifi; had I known, I would have gone there to work.
I had dinner at Water Lily vegan restaurant, which has a huge selection of stuff and I definitely want to go back there to try more. I had the BBQ bao, which previous reviews on HappyCow raved about, and sure enough it was great. I got a set meal: assam soy fish, which came with tofu, vegetables, rice, and herbal tea. The tofu and veggies were bland, but the sauce around the fishy chunk of soy meat was good. I also had lime sour plum juice; 18.60 in total. I got there just after 5 and it was very quiet. Mostly the staff were occupied peeling mushrooms with which they'd covered the entire table.
After that I wandered to Dataran Merdeka, a big open area of grass surrounded by museums and galleries, and containing fountains and a giant flag pole. I also found the library, and I think I'll go there to work tomorrow. As the sun began to set, the lighting here was incredible. Orange reflections cascaded between the glass of skyscrapers, and both the KL Tower and the Petronas towers were in view from some spots.
Kuala Lumpur 4
Spent today around Brickfields, the Indian part of KL. To get there I passed through Petaling St Market (... a couple of times) and scouted bright coloured loose pants. The starting price seems to be 20 to 40 myr, so I can probably negotiate down to lower than the mall ones. Let's also pretend that Kasturi Walk and Central Market were on the way too. Well, they kind of were, it's hard to keep bearings in these windy streets and enormous confusing highway junctions.
Anyway, eventually I made it to Brickfields, and looked into some temples. In one, a wedding in progress. It seemed a bit chaotic. 20 sen for shoe storage outside. I had it on good advice (TripAdvisor forums) that the money changers in Brickfields are abundant and have the best rates. I spent my last few ringgits on a lotus bao to see me through lunchtime, and couldn't find an (open) money changer anywhere. Lots of veggie restaurants I now couldn't eat at though.
Eventually I stopped into PODs hostel and got directions to one. A very specific one, perhaps the guy's buddy.. At PODs I noted excellent seating, wifi, and coffee. I followed the directions to Nu Sentral mall. Another mega shopping complex with many chains and divine aircon. I found a money changer that did not fit the description of the one I was told has "best best price for you", so I noted the rate and kept looking. When I found the one that looked right (orange signs), sure enough it had a better rate, and I swapped $80 for 355.20 myr - probably as close to the exchange rate as I could hope to get.
I wandered the mall for a bit. Contemplated Boost, Nandos and Built (they have a vegan burger) and a cafe called Library Bar Central. Ultimately decided to return to PODs, not least because every outlet in the mall was playing christmas music.
PODs sold me a lukewarm iced coffee for 5myr, and I sat in a super comfy swingseat in the window for the next few hours with my laptop.
When hunger struck, I headed to Gandhi's vegetarian restaurant. The sides are open to the street, it is fancooled (no aircon) and busy and hectic. Staff don't seem particularly interested in helping, but eventually I laid my hands on a menu and got rojak (a salad consisting of shredded veggies, and a sliced deep fried tofu ball, smothered in a slightly sweet, slightly spicy peanut sauce). I found a small sliver of metal in my rojak. Shortly thereafter a mosquito landed in the sauce and died. But let us not dwell. I also ordered nasi lemak, a Malaysian staple I hadn't yet managed to try. Rice, peanuts, sambal, cucumber and fried scraps of something crunchy that I assume are the veggie alternative to dried anchovies. Plus deep fried not-chicken balls that were so chickeny I was a little alarmed. And watermelon juice, and a gooey coconut sweet. It's delicious and this was too much food, but I ate it all anyway. 17.20 myr.
I'd been considering a travel pass, and almost decided not to get one when I came across a TouchNGo outlet in the Nu Sentral mall. So I paid 10myr plus 10myr topup at the machine. I started to worry I wouldn't actually use 10myr of transit by the end of the week, so that (along with the possibility of getting horribly lost and walking for hours... again) prompted me to hop on the monorail at KL Sentral for two stops to get back. I disembarked on the edge of Chinatwon, and walked through Petaling St Market again. On the way, I stopped for fancy bright pants and a baggy vest top with birds on. The starting prices were 28 and 25 respectively, and I asked for them both for 30 together, and paid 35. I was pleased to be buying from a woman, but men are much easier to haggle with for some reason. Further in, I spied the same tshirt and asked, and was given a starting price of 15. Damnit. But for $8/£6 I shouldn't complain.
Today was moderately productive, from the hostel in the morning and VCR Cafe in the afternoon. I found VCR on workfrom. It's hip, spacious, with good coffee, good wifi, and abundant power outlets. Upstairs are floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony (though, populated by smokers). The wicker chairs are comfier than wood. Coffee seemed kind of pricey - 9 myr for a small americano - but I don't know what's standard for the hip coffeeshop scene. About the same as chains, at any rate.
I ate lunch at Blue Boy, an indoor-outdoor set of stalls supervised by sullen staff serving excellent food. All vegetarian. I got fried flat noodles with vegetables (and requested no egg), a plate of not-pork, and lemon juice, for a thoroughly reasonable 10.50.
Dinner was on the pricier side, from Yuet Sum Hin, a Chinese vegetarian restaurant in Bukit Bintang. There was so much to choose from, and as I was half way through reeling off dishes the waitress warned me I was ordering too much. I confirmed that I could take home what I couldn't finish, and continued. For 44 myr I got sizeable portions of kangkong (water spinach), tofu in black bean sauce, and fried rice with salted 'fish', and a pot of jasmine tea. I finished about one third, and it was all delicious. The fried rice was my favourite.
I detoured through Times Square again on the way back. Surprised by how cheap clothes on the upper floors are for a mall. Initially I was just scouting so I have a basis to haggle at the market, but then I bought some light, knee-length pants for 12.
I wandered around a corner on the 9th floor and was confronted with... this...
There's a literal theme park inside the mall. And it's all quirky and space themed. Full blown rollercoaster. Actual craziness.
Took a wrong turn on the way out and accidentally found the thumping nightlife district. It was awful. Exited with haste. Longer route than anticipated back to the hostel, as my navigating-by-hotels is still not up to scratch, plus the chronic problem of being stuck on the wrong side of uncrossable highways.
Kuala Lumpur 2
(Friday 2nd December)
Woke up early, and caught up on internets in the hostel lobby. Researched some things to do. Concluded that buying a KL Pass was not necessary for the discounts it offered. It's probably good if you want to go to like loads of themeparks and shows and stuff, but even with the discount on the KL Tower it doesn't seem worth it for me. Wifi in the lobby was good until about 9am when the rest of the world came down for breakfast.
Headed out with E around midday in search of food. We went to Bakti Woodlands Indian vegetarian restaurant, a couple of blocks from the hostel. It was full of people who looked like they probably originated from India, and didn't consult menus before food arrived to them, which is a good sign. E ordered a Jain thali, and I had mushroom manchurian and aloo paratha. It was exactly the right amount of food, and so deliciously full of flavour. I'd say I'd go back, but there are a whole bunch of vegetarian Indian restaurants on the same street, so I'll probably try a different one.
I had planned to wander to a monorail station and get a travelcard, then take a jaunt to Titiwangsa park, and be back before dark so I could do some work. We wandered into the first train station we found, which didn't have the TouchNGo card available, so we just bought a one way monorail ticket. The machines issue a little round plastic token, which is interesting but inconvenient because it doesn't fit in my wallet like a normal ticket would (1.70 myr). Then we discovered the monorail doesn't actually connect at this station. So we took a train two stops to one that did. The monorail was packed. But still cool.
Next discovery was that the stationed named Titiwangsa is not that close to the park after all. And requires walking near a horrible, giant, smelly, under-construction highway. We stopped at Gloria Jean's for iced tea and a wifi break.
We finally made it to the park, which has big lakes, fountains, and a traffic park.. a place with pretend traffic lights and junctions and crossings, where you can practice driving and rent little pretend cars to zoom around in. Hah. After lapping the lakes, we exited the park in a different place and found ourselves on the wrong side of the highway for returning to the monorail station. So we figured we'd walk in the general direction of the city center until we reached another station. On the hospital grounds, we chanced upon a free GoKL bus, and hopped on board. We didn't know which line it was though, and the fancy screens inside the bus weren't displaying anything useful, and nor was the onboard wifi working. So we thought we'd wait and see. We waited, and saw it loop all the way back around to Titiwangsa monorail station. Oops. We got off, and got on another... turned out to be the same line. This time we got off in Bukit Bintang, figuring we'd check out Times Square, a giant shopping mall amongst giant shopping malls.
On the way we got distracted by a diner where the seating booths are cars. The sheer delight on E's face was enough to go in and order potato wedges. Also the ice cubes were guitars.
By the time we got to Times Square it was closing up. The security guard let us inside to use the bathrooms, and we had a quick look around. Shops...
We walked the rest of the way back to the hostel. My feet were tired again. Taking today off from walking around.